With only a couple of weeks remaining, major video game releases for 2010 are in the books. Looking over the list of the releases I can remember playing, I would have to say I had a pretty solid year hanging out with my consoles. I can’t remember the last time I spent so much time with my PSP, a testament to the power of the non-Final Fantasy JRPGs that smaller publishers Atlus, NIS and XSEED bring to the handheld.
Below is a breakdown of the games I can remember spending more than three hours with this year, although in some cases three hours was three hours more than they deserved.
Persona 3 Portable (PSP): I have said it before and I will say it for years to come – I love Persona games. When Atlus announced they were making a PSP port of the PS2 best-seller, I almost cried. I loved P3 but wasn’t a huge fan of the battle system. I was a bit hesitant of the port until I read they were revamping the battle system, as well as a few other enhancements. By far the best game I played on the PSP all year. I don’t even think I can go back to the PS2 version after devouring this one.
Alan Wake (Xbox 360): After thinking this game (once a 360 launch title) would never see the light of day, Alan Wake took me on an adventure full of nail-biting twists and turns. The flashlight was definitely the most unique weapon I have used in a long time and I will never go camping without three or four MAG lights ever again. The story was a tad predictable and the in-game Verizon ad spam was annoying, but my trip to Bright Falls was one of this year’s highlights.
Hexyz Force (PSP): I am a sucker for RPGs that blend great characters, strong story and fantastic humour – all of which can be found in Hexyz Force. Especially when the writing department does a perfect job of telling one tale through the eyes of two very different Heroes. My number 2 pick for portable role playing games from 2010.
Professor Layton & The Unwound Future (NDS): I have an almost unhealthy obsession with Professor Layton’s adventures. I definitely have an unhealthy obsession for addictive brain teaser and puzzle games. Level-5 combines intriguing story with a great assortment of puzzles and mini-games to provide fans with several hours of quality entertainment. This series is perfect for gamers of all ages and it is the first series that comes to mind for new gamers over 30.
Rooms (NDS): Rooms is another fun puzzle game for the DS (also on the Wii but I didn’t give that version a playthrough). This one was a gift from a friend who had interned with Hudson and the wonderful PR team there for my wedding. This was a great game to take in the car while we drove all over looking for shoes, accessories and other wedding related items. Time flew right by as I spent the time sliding panels and warping Matrix-style until I reached my exits.
Again (NDS): The interactive novel is a genre sorely lacking presence in gaming, but it is not for lack of trying. Hotel Dusk is still on my “must play” list, and after playing Again, I am wanting to see more titles in this category. Even when it stumped me and left me tapping on the same screen for hours, I never felt like giving up. Best interactive crime novel ever, even with the cheesy bits.
Dead or Alive Paradise (PSP): Yes, my guilty pleasure is in the Good category and I know a lot of people who will disagree with me on this one. To hell with it! DOA Paradise is pure mindless fun and there is nothing wrong with a bit of that every now and then. Sure, the ultra-feminists might say it is extremely distasteful, but really, it’s nothing worse than when our mothers made us play with Barbie dolls as little girls. Brain candy is brain candy, whether it be the Shopaholic novels, Katy Perry music or spending time chillaxin’ with the fighting babes of the DOA universe. Just enjoy it for what it is.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World (XBLA): I haven’t spent nearly enough time with this game as I should have. Scott Pilgrim was a great movie and this arcade side-scrolling beat ’em up really wowed me. It had been a long time since I had played a game of this style and enjoyed myself so immensely. Two player co-op mode with my husband is just like standing at a cabinet at the old downtown arcade back home in Calgary. I might just take a quick break right now and sneak in some single player…….
3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3): The nostalgia this game brings to the PS3 throws me back to a time – no, THE time – I discovered that I loved RPGs but hated Zelda. Thankfully, in my wise old age of 29 and holding, I can play 3D Dot Game Heroes without any bias holding me back. Link and Zelda just aren’t for me, but my snarky female heroine of Dotnia is the bee’s knees.
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom (XBLA): Another one of those fun and quirky arcade titles that I need to go back to one of these days. I adore the Gothic, silent movie art style The Odd Gentlemen used to tell the story of the greedy P.B. Winterbottom, and manipulating time by recording yourself is pure genius. The second best game mechanic only to Alan Wake’s flashlight. And did I mention this game has pie??
Naughty Bear (Xbox 360): Repetitive game play coupled with a lack of stability plagued Naughty Bear. While I agree the concept was fresh and welcoming, playing the same small handful of game modes over and over made the game a chore to play when it wasn’t freezing, which was more often than not.
Fable 3 (Xbox 360): Unfortunately, this felt more like Fable 2.5 than a third installment in a well-loved series. The story itself was extremely predictable, your time as ruler of Albion far too short, and the battle system remained virtually untouched from it’s predecessor, meaning it is just as unbalanced now as it was then. Add on the fact that the game shipped with a laundry list of glitches instead of pushing back the release to Q1 2011 when it wouldn’t have been going up against Kinect, Black Ops and Brotherhood. I, for one, had my entire save file become corrupt while attempting to join a multiplayer game. This has soured me on ever again purchasing a launch day copy of any future releases from Lionhead Studios.
Sid Meier’s Pirates! (Wii): Let’s just say that putting Pirates! on the Wii was a huge mistake. Beginning with the 4 page instruction booklet that didn’t offer much help to a first time Pirates! player and ending with the horrible in-game tutorials, the only part of the game that sort of worked well was the swashbuckling, and even then, a lot of the time my sword thrusts and parries wouldn’t register properly.
Blade Kitten (PSN): I wanted to like Blade Kitten, I really did, but it let me down right from the beginning. Western style “anime/manga” art just never looks as good as to me as the Japanese and Korean styles that inspire them. The main character’s voice got on my nerves and she just rubbed me the wrong way. Just didn’t find myself liking this game.
BioShock 2 (Xbox 360): This was just a disappointment. BioShock didn’t need a sequel but someone at 2K thought it would be a good idea to have another studio create a thinly constructed plot with the most minimal ties to the original as possible, slap in some pointless multiplayer and sell that as a sequel to one of the best first person shooter games I have ever played. BioShock 2 wasn’t a horrible follow-up, it simply didn’t need to exist. It added nothing to the original story and Irrational had nothing to do with it’s creation. The story mode was way too short and the multiplayer was tacked on purely so they could say it had it.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii): I know several people would disagree with me on this one, but I really did not find Galaxy 2 to be fun. First of all, I could play for about 20 minutes at a time before my wrists simply refused to work any longer. The camera angles in a lot of areas were not helpful and reminded me of that awful Sonic game on the 360/PS3. Any game that feels like a chore to play isn’t something I want to keep in my library. There were some fun gameplay elements, but that wasn’t enough to justify ruining my wrists.
Final Fantasy XIII (Xbox 360): Oh Final Fantasy, I really wish this was the Final one. Your story was weaker than most others, your characters weren’t as lovable as so many others and you shoved all side-questing to the very end of the game. You weren’t bad, just mediocre. I expected so much more from you and you broke my heart.
The Stuff I Missed
There were a lot of other games in 2010 that I wanted to play but either haven’t had the time, money or my husband is playing them and isn’t letting me touch them until he finishes so I don’t spoil anything. The plan is to get around to these ones during the next lull in releases. Hey, it’s the plan but that doesn’t mean it will happen.
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood (Xbox 360): This is the one I am allowed to watch my husband play but not touch myself. I have no interest in the multiplayer mode. I just want to sink my teeth into more of the AssCreed story and scale a bunch of buildings.
Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360): I wanted to play this back when everyone else was, but I had to be a bit more selective with my game purchases. Odds are by the time I can afford this one and have the time to play it everyone on my friends’ list will have traded it in or will decimate me online.
Fallout New Vegas (Xbox 360): I’ve technically had NV since it released in October but it’s a Christmas present, so I’ve had to wait very impatiently for it. My biggest concern right now is the glitchiness, which I hope is patched by the time I start playing it. I loved Fallout 3 but had way too many issues with glitches, especially with the DLC quests.
Ivy the Kiwi? (NDS): You know when you go to GameStop and stare at the DS wall for a while and one particular box always ends up in your hand? Well, that’s what Ivy the Kiwi is for me right now. Just one of those games that looks incredibly fun and reasonably priced. I will get it……
Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii): The Wii and I don’t love each other very much it seems. Whenever I find a game I think I will love, it ends up disappointing me. I think that (other than money being tight) is the biggest reason why I hesitate so much when it comes to buying Wii games at full price. Kirby has always been a Nintendo character that I have loved and I don’t want to be left disappointed like I was with Super Mario Galaxy 2.
The Stuff I Finally Finished
Because I love games so much, I usually buy a bunch of stuff that I play for a while and then either get stumped on and swear I will finish later or they just end up on my shelf because they were on sale and I didn’t want to miss them. This year I managed to clear out a few games from my backlog and I am feeling rather proud of myself. Maybe I should buy some new games to celebrate……
Dragon Age (Xbox 360): Another game I had to wait for my husband to finish first, I was hesitant with Dragon Age as I always am with domestic RPGs. All that changed once I got my hands on it and I took three different heroines through the paces (and one male that I used purely for the wooing of Morrigan). I’m hoping that Dragon Age 2 will impress me as much as the first game has.
Dead Space (Xbox 360): Dead Space was a gift from a friend for me to play during Extra Life in 2008. I loved it so much. It made me jump and scared me on occasion. It also made me yell a lot at the TV and throw my controller into pillows. Those damn asteroids (you know the ones) had me stumped for ages. I eventually gave up and had my cousin in law play through them for me. By that point I was too frustrated and left the game to collect dust. By the time I put the game back into my 360 I had completely forgotten the controls and spent 3 hours re-learning them. After that, I breezed right through the game and attempted run number two – where I once more was stumped by the asteroids. At least I made it full circle.
Knights in the Nightmare (NDS): I started the game in September 2009 and then put it down to play something else (most likely a console game). After a lot of grief from someone, I went back to it, playing through all of the tutorials and resuming from where I’d left off. It took me about a week or so to complete and I found myself wishing I had done so sooner.
The Other Stuff
There were other random games I dabbled in this year, too. My Plants vs Zombies addiction moved to the Xbox 360 which also led to playing Zuma. I spent some time with Mod Nation Racers on the PS3 and PSP, just barely scratching the surface. I even played a few levels of Darksiders, which was fun but wasn’t something I was willing to give up time playing something else for.
And then there were the Facebook applications. Those time suckers! I wasted a lot of time with Chocolatier: Sweet Society making batches upon batches of digital chocolates. PopCap introduced me to the fast-paced and competitive nature of Bejeweled and Zuma with their exclusive Blitz editions, and I am sitting pretty on 5 million or so florins in Project Legacy, the Assassin’s Creed application tie-in for Brotherhood.
All in all, I’d say my gaming this year was pretty well-rounded. I dabbled in a little bit of everything, spent time with friends old, new and online, and have learned you can no longer rely on the value of a studio’s name.
Bring it on, 2011! I’m ready for you.
This post was part of Gamer Banter, a monthly video game discussion coordinated by Terry at Game Couch. If you’re interested in being part of this, please email him for details.
Aim for the Head – Favorite Game of 2010