Andrew may have had a chance to play more of 2009’s games than I did, and certainly has a pretty good idea of what his favorites games of last year were. I’m in no such position. There were far too many 2009 games that I just did not get a chance to play, but am interested in playing, that I want to give it a little more time to let them sink in. There are plenty that I simply have no interest in what-so-ever (Hello, Modern Warfare 2), though…
But let’s talk holidays. Christmas. Chanukah. Kawanzaa. Festivus. Whatever it is you celebrate, you probably got a game or two (or twelve). What did your loved ones bestow on you this year?
As for me, here are the games from 2009 that I am just now starting:
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Our first experience was four-player madness with the wife, the sister-in-law, and her boyfriend. We made our way through half of the first world, and collected most of the hidden coins along the way. After that, the wife and I have done two-player up to the midway point in the second world. The name of the game so far is “frustration”, and interestingly enough, more-so in two-player than in four-player. With four people playing, it became a fuster cluck of insanity and laughs. With two players, though, we were actually trying to accomplish something, and it just was not happening. Even with coordinated plans spoken aloud, we were slamming into and hopping off of each other, falling to our deaths. The two of us are no slouches when it comes to Mario games, either, both having those lovely little stars next to our 96 exits points in Super Mario World. We will probably swap the controller back and forth for single-player gaming from here-on-out. Between the unpleasant multiplayer experiences and the floaty, imprecise controls Nintendo seems to want to go in the direction of, it is probably for the best to go at it single-player if we want to experience what the game’s levels truly have to offer.
I see what all the hype was about, and I see what all the disappointment was about. The controls are absolutely horrific, and it will be up to the individual player to decide if the brilliance of the rest of the game is enough to overcome that major pitfall. For me, it is doing that so far. The number of items available is mind-blowing, and the charming presentation is enough to keep me smiling… even if I am cursing at Maxwell each time he accidentally hops to his death. I definitely prefer the puzzle stages over the action stages, and am thankful for the raw number of stages that are available to me. It is the perfect game for short diversions, similar to what many iPhone games are currently doing. It has been great to bust out the DS again for this type of “casual gaming” in the purest sense of the phrase, rather than just the iPhone.
Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny
I have only put in maybe half an hour or so into some of the missions with Kratos, but it is what it is — a great version of Soul Calibur IV on the portable system. I can now walk around with my main man Voldo in my pocket. Not that I keep my PSP in my pocket, and not that Voldo of all characters is who you probably want anywhere near your pants…
Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth
Having recently rediscovered my love for the series, despite being completely awful at them, some of those Christmas Wii points went right to the re-imagining of the first Game Boy adventure which I never actually played. The music and presentation is exactly what I was looking for, and which Komani has been perfecting with their “ReBirth” line on Wii Ware. I have not had a huge amount of time to put into it, having gotten midway through the third stage on my sole play session thus far. I love the slightly-updated controls (being able to somewhat guide yourself in mid-jump) that are still based on the classic, rigid play style. The secret paths and bonus areas are a blast to search out. It’s a semi-new, cheap Castlevania adventure, and no-one can really complain about that!
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
I’ll admit that the graphical presentation was what drew me in to wanting to play this game, but it was not just how breathtaking the scenery was, how many objects were on screen, or how detailed the characters looked — it was how people moved. For all the talk about the “next generation” (now the current generation) of graphics, nothing has bugged me more than rigid and awkward character movements which persist to this day. We have had plenty of great advances in the last year or so, but no characters move as fluidly and naturally as those in Uncharted 2. It doesn’t end with just their movements, though. The amount of contextual small-talk is staggering and incredibly performed (with Nolan North deserving all accolades received to date), and has already led to one of my favorite lines in video game history (“There’s a guy above you! There’s a guy above you! *silent take-down, tossing the guy down from a ledge* There’s a guy below you! There’s a guy below you!“). So far I have watched cut-scenes just as much as I have played actual game play, but each part has been intriguing. Even the very beginning of the game, having to climb up the totaled vehicle, kept the wife and I on the edge of our seats — I heard more than one gasp from the other couch as pipes ripped apart with Nathan dangling in mid-air. I am dealing with a bit of frustration from time to time, such as the area early on where you go from the water fountain up around to the right on your way to the tower, doing silent take-downs on guards; I had several instances of being inexplicably seen and having to start over from the checkpoint, and mostly being unsure of which route to take. It leads you along pretty well over all, but there have been those couple instances of not being able to see where I am supposed to go. Right now I have just begun the third chapter, and am eagerly awaiting the next opportunity I have to play.
And that’s just what I have happened to start so far. There are plenty of others to either keep playing (Torchlight) or start playing (Bowser’s Inside Story). I am conflicted on whether or not I want to either bother working on my own top five list for the year — I don’t know about anyone else, but I tend to play games years after their original release. I mean, look at the above list of 2009 games I am playing in 2010. Think about Chrono Trigger, a game that I am determined to play in 2010, which was probably one of the best DS games in 2008 based off of one of the best SNES games in 1995.
I really have to give some love to Retro Game Challenge and Flower, though, both of which blew me away in entirely different ways. The former (combined with a replay of Zelda II) brought me back to my roots and re-introduced me to the fact and revelation that I think I really like open-exploration, side-scrolling, action games. The latter is probably one of the only PS3 games to put the SIXAXIS to proper use, let me relax, and actually moved me on an emotional level at the end. Downloadable games have certainly been a huge area of interest for me this past year, and I look forward to what 2010 has to offer in that department.
Which 2009 games do you see yourself playing in 2010? I think I may give Batman: Arkham Asylum another chance at the next price drop…