With year-end game lists pouring out from every media outlet imaginable, I thought I’d throw my two cents out there. Listed here are the games I have personally played that really stand out to me when I evaluate the year in games. You will notice two things: one is that this list is heavily weighted toward Wii games. That is simply because I didn’t own another home console until late in September. The other thing is that there is no overall best pick. I personally have never been able to understand the need to pick a single game that was the “best” all year. So I have broken this down by category. I would appreciate any constructive feedback in the comment section below!
Best Platformer: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Stunning, bright, and well-crafted visuals pair with a superbly composed orchestrated soundtrack and mind-bending gravity mechanics to give players another great entry into the Super Mario Galaxy line of games. It could be argued that it is just “more of the same” from Super Mario Galaxy, but as my grandpappy would say “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Best Action/Adventure: Metroid: Other M
This could easily be one of the most under the radar Wii hits of 2010. This great new take on the Metroid formula has tons of appeal for anybody. It’s a side-scrolling space shooter with a little bit of a survival horror feel to it. A real lack of advertising support from Nintendo means that there is a small chance this game didn’t spark your interest, but you should definitely check it out.
Best RPG – Turn-based: Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light
This game took the tried, tired, and true formula for turn-based RPG games and breathed new life into it by stripping it to its bare essentials. Clever and creative art direction give this game a “storybook” feel that’s sure to appeal to the kid in us all. There is also the twisty and turny multi-faceted storyline we’ve all come to expect from a SquareEnix game, which is executed in a way that somehow doesn’t get tangled or messy.
Best RPG – Action: Monster Hunter Tri
You’ve heard it all before: a backwater village is being plagued by attacks from a huge and vicious monster. It’s up to you to save it! That’s about where the story ends for Monster Hunter Tri, and it is for that very reason I love it. This is a game that makes no allusions about being something it isn’t. You just grab the controller and start slicing and dicing gigantic bosses. This game has the whole package for an RPG fanatic, unless you love wading through heaps of trite dialogue and going on loads of gathering quests.
Best Puzzler: Puzzle Quest 2
Puzzle Quest 2 combines two of my great gaming loves: puzzles and RPGs. This is a game that must simply be experienced to believe. The non-puzzle segments of the game leave a little to be desired, but the overall game is fantastic and well worth the roughly $20 or so you’d have to drop to pick it up.
Best Party Game: Disney Guilty Party
My love of this game actually came as quite a surprise to me. It is a Disney game, yes, but all of the characters are original for this title. There is no sign of Donald, Goofy, or the infamous mouse. It is a lot like a family friendly version of Clue. It has some light hearted comedy, a cute visual style, and is something the whole family could play.
Best Downloadable Game: Super Meat Boy
I wanted really badly to NOT like Super Meat Boy. Considering the small glitch that sometimes inhibits you from saving your progress, I was determined I would consider these Microsoft points to be wasted. But something keeps me coming back again and again. Perhaps I am a glutton for punishment, just like the game’s protagonist who can’t seem to resist splattering himself hundreds and times for the sake of true love. This game is brutal and punishing, but it somehow makes you like the brand of discipline it dishes out.
Best Rhythm Game: bit.trip FATE
For a couple of years now, Gaijin has been combining rhythm games with other genres. When you heard of bit.trip FATE, you probably were scratching your head in confusion over just how a 2D On-Rails Rhythm Shooter could work out, but these elements blend together as seamlessly as peanut butter and jelly. The unforgiving difficulty level of this game probably won’t even bother you as you are entranced by the hypnotic beats and the psychedelic pulsating colors on your screen.
Overall 2010 was a very strong year for video games across all platforms. The lineup for Q1 of 2011 is already looking good, but I can’t help but to wonder how some of these companies are going to hope to top themselves. At least we all have a little something to look forward to. What is your most anticipated game that has been announced so far for the upcoming year?