By Dalai 7 Comments
More of my favorites of 2008, this time in genre and platform mode.
The "Rock out with your cock out." Award (Best music/rhythm game): Rock Band 2
Rock Band proved that people don't just want to play the guitar or just sing karaoke... they want it all. Rock Band 2 does what Rock Band did last year and ups the ante with new modes, new tracks, and even new instruments to add to your growing collection of wacky peripherals. Rock Band 2, like its predecessor, is best with friends and booze... which is what it's all about in the end.
The "Put your your dukes!" Award (Best fighting game): Super Smash Bros. Brawl
This year had some great fighting games, but it was Super Smash Bros. Brawl that made the biggest impact. 6 years after Melee, Brawl keeps the same kitchen sink formula and does it better than ever. There's no shortage of stages, characters, modes, and customizable options... and if you think there aren't enough stages, make your own. It's balanced, accessible, and fun for everyone.
It's hideous, repetitive, and utterly ridiculous... but there's nothing else quite like it. No More Heroes flips the bird at the gaming establishment as it goes off the beaten path. The whole premise of the game is off the wall and the action, while repetitive, never gets stale. I guess slashing guys in half while blood and coins spurt out like a geyser never does get old. Of course, you also have a bunch of crazy wrestling moves you can pull off and some delicious dessert super moves. The only thing I'll ask for in the sequel is an open world that's not a total wasteland.
The" My brain hurts." Award: (Best puzzle game): World of Goo
World of Goo is one of the best puzzle games to come out in years, and I'll even go a bit farther... it's the best puzzle game since Tetris. World of Goo is all about the goo balls... build a structure to the pipe and suck up as many goo balls as you can. It's a simple enough premise and it starts off pretty easy, but I guarantee you'll be scratching your head several times trying to figure out how to reach those pesky pipes. There are moments where you'll be amazed by the complexity of the puzzles and there will be times where you'll feel your IQ growing when you solve some of these well-crafted levels. The gameplay and the level designs are terrific, but it also adds loads of style, a quality soundtrack, and gooish charm for the complete package. It's one of the most beautiful puzzle games and it proves that a couple of guys can create something special.
The "Shooters don't kill people." Award (Best shooter): Gears of War 2
Marcus Fenix is just your typical protagonist covered in enough armor to choke any normal man, but Gears of War 2 is far from a typical shooter. It takes what made the first Gears awesome and adds significantly more awesome. It looks better (crazy since the original was the standard for console games) and it plays better. There's so much more to enjoy this time around and I expect Cliffy B to push the boundaries in the 3rd game, much like he did here.
The "I must download this game now!" Award (Best downloadbale game): World of Goo
$60 retail games have ruled the roost for too long! It's time that the smaller downloadble games take center stage, and 2008 had a slew of stellar games only available via XBLA, WiiWare, PSN, Steam, or some other way that doesn't involve going to a brick-and-mortar establishment. This year, World of Goo stood out, in my opinion, as the downloadable game of choice. The idea is so simple, get a bunch of goo balls into the pipe, but the challenges become more complex and difficult as you progress. Everything about this game stands out: the physics, the Tim Burton-esque art style, the quirky Sign Painter, and the wonderful story... you're really pulling for those goos to reach the promised land. World of Goo is a world of fun, as silly as that sounds.
The "Wii-only game I heart." Award (Best Wii exclusive): Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Fan service can be a beautiful thing and Brawl proves that theory and turns it into fact. Beating up on your favorite Nintendo characters was just as fun back in 1999 when Super Smash Bros. debuted on the Nintendo 64, but the game has evolved into an institution. A boatload of new characters, new stages, new items, new weapons, new... a lot of shit. The soundtrack alone is an outstanding accomplishment and worth the retail price. If that wasn't enough, you can brawl online with friends, create your own levels, and share all sorts of content with others. If that's not enough, there's a decent single player mode to boot. Beating the shit out of your favorite video game characters never gets old and Nintendo is the only company that can pull this off successfully. 7.5 million people can't be wrong, right?
The "360-only game I'd like to fuck." Award (Best Xbox 360 exclusive): Braid
Good thing the PC version isn't going to ready until 2009 or I'd have to say Gears of War 2. Time travel is not a new subject in gaming, but Braid is like the Tivo of puzzle-platformers, sort of. Manipulating time has never been this fun and rewarding... and you feel smarter when you solve these brilliantly crafted puzzles. To top it off, you've got Tim, a man who really needs a hug. If you have a love of 2D side-scrolling platformers and you love a challenge... and emotional storytelling, playing Braid will be the best decision you'll make this year.
The "PS3-only game that makes me smile." Award (Best PlayStation 3 exclusive): LittleBigPlanet
Sackboy is such an adorable little creature, isn't he? LittleBigPlanet is Sony's ace in the hole, Sony's "Nintendo" game, the feelgood game of the year, the best excuse to buy a PS3 to date. The game is all about user-created content and we've seen hundreds and thousands of great levels built from scratch using only the power of imagination... or the power of plagiarism in the case of the Mario/Mega Man/Donkey Kong inspired creations. Despite the rough launch and the extreme moderation tactics, LBP is one of the best games this year.
The "I love you on all of your platforms." Award (Best multiplatform game): World of Goo
There were dozens of noteworthy multiplatform releases this year, but World of Goo doesn't try to be flashy or violent... it just wants to be fun. World of Goo's simple mechanics, charming visuals, and smart level design outshine the explosions, blood, and complexities of the biggest blockbusters. And yes, World of Goo was the most fun I had this year on any console... and it's all thanks to 2 (alright, 3) guys.
Tomorrow, my game of the year! What will it be? Do you give two shits? Until then, have a happy New Year!