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Friday, January 27, 2012

Downwards Compatible's End Of Year 2011 Game-Stravaganza

"The only End of Year Awards that wait until after the year is over."

This year was a disappointing one here at Down-C. Since we usually play in the Nintendo sandbox, there wasn't much going on. The 3DS started slowly. The Wii barely had any releases. The DS is on its last legs. Some of these games ended up as year-end greats only by default.
Still, there were some genuinely good games released this year, and it’s time to give them their due.

Most Disappointing Game:

Kirby: Return to Dreamland

Kirby games are great because they're usually pretty unpredictable. You may not always like the direction they go, but you can't fault them for trying.

Return to Dreamland, sadly, was entirely predictable and didn't feel like it was trying. The levels were bland. The new powers were dull. Heck, even the screen-filling superpowers got boring after a while. How they managed to pull that off I'll never know.

Nicest Thing Of The Year

Humble Bundles

The Humble Indie Bundle is a group of games that you can pay whatever you want for. They used to only do this every once in a great while, and this year they decided to do, like, 20 of them in a row.

If you participated in the Humble Bundles, that meant that you picked up games like Braid, Super Meat Boy, Cave Story+, NightSky, The Binding of Isaac, Shank, And Yet It Moves, Machinarium, and tons of others for a really low price. That's awesome, and I hope they do some more just like that in the new year.

Best Game I Played This Year That Wasn't Released This Year, But Whatever (Tie)

VVVVVV

Look, if you haven't played VVVVVV, I don't know what to tell you. It's cheap, only about $5. It's hard, but not unfair. It's short and the music is tremendous. Play it. I won't ask again.

Uncharted 2

Before I got a PS3, I was completely content not to play games in HD. Even after having the PS3 for a bit, I was still fine with it. It was only until after I played Uncharted 2 that I saw exactly what HD gaming could accomplish, and there's no turning back now.

It's not just the graphics, although those are nice. It's the facial expressions, the detail of the world, the way that things look lived in, everything. It also got me through a painful recovery time after having my tonsils out, so thanks, Nathan Drake! That extra horsepower that the PS3 delivers accomplishes some amazing things, and it reminds me that we're really in a Golden Age for gaming.

Worst Thing Of The Year

3DS Launch

Let's release a new handheld with a high price and no games and missing half of the promised features! Then let's drop the price by a third! Then let's give free NES and GBA games to the people who bought the system! Make sure they're our crappiest NES games, though! Let's also not tell anyone when we're going to release those GBA games until the moment they're released! Let's delay Kid Icarus, the game that we essentially announced the 3DS with, until after the holiday season!

I like the 3DS. I really do. It turned quickly from a debacle of a system into a must-have with the addition of Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land, as well as the phenomenal eShop. But it's shocking how poorly Nintendo almost completely bungled the launch.

Announcement of the Year

Wii U

When Sony and Microsoft inevitably release their next system, we can bet that it's going to be expensive, incredibly powerful and very similar to what they've already released. And why not? While motion controls made a huge splash at the beginning of the last generation, the waves have died down somewhat, so it makes sense that the major companies provide more of the same.

Nintendo can always be counted on to do something completely out of left field. Whether it's releasing a handheld with a touchscreen, a video game system powered almost entirely by motion controls or a 3D handheld, they've never marched to the same beat as everyone else.

The Wii U looks interesting. Note that I didn't say "promising," just "interesting." I'm interested to see what they plan to do, and if it turns out all right, I'll probably pick one up. It's just cool that Nintendo tries new things when other companies don't.

3DS Game of the Year

Mario Kart 7

I liked Super Mario 3D Land. It was really, really fun. However, I'm pretty sure I'm going to get more long-term enjoyment out of Mario Kart 7, and it might turn out to be the game that's the 3DS' main system seller.

Like I mentioned in my review, it all depends on how much you like Mario Kart. If you don't like Mario Kart, Mario Kart 7 won't win you over. If you like Mario Kart, then there's far more to do than there ever was before.

Game That I'm Sure I'd Love If I Had Time To Play It

Zelda: Skyward Sword

I've played about two hours of Skyward Sword. It's good. I like it. It's just that Xenoblade Chronicles is so good that I can't put it down long enough to play Skyward Sword. My gaming time on the TV is limited since the TV is usually held captive by women. Some day I'll figure out a way around that.

In the meantime, Skyward Sword is on my to-play list, I swear.


Game of the Year That I Played and You Probably Didn't
(Ha Ha Ha)


Xenoblade Chronicles

This game is probably going on my shortlist of favorite games of all time. I've spent 60 hours in its world and I'm still not close to seeing everything it has to offer. The plot is interesting, the locale is fascinating, practically everything about this game is incredible.

Fortunately for the gaming public here in the States, it's coming out in a few months as a Gamestop exclusive. I'm almost tempted to delete my save files and just wait for the US release just so I can do this all over again.

Almost.