Damn Close 2010: My Honourable Mentions

Games that left a lasting memory for me, or those I hope to play more of in the future.
These 16 games are absolutely not ranked by numerical order.

List items

  • A Boy-yays joint. It's no Black Tiger, but isn't this how we want classic arcade games to be re-released? Other console collections have done pretty good emulating a room with a console hooked up to a TV; but for those that spent time in dingy arcades, there's a level of badassery that this title captures perfectly.

  • Viewers of Giant Bomb perhaps have more of an affinity to the hours of entertainment that Game Room has given them by proxy. Me, I've bought about 10 of the games. That's pretty disappointing in itself, but they do happen to be games I'm tremendously nostalgic for. (Except for that shitty Star Raiders downgrade.) But the point remains that if Game Room had all the factors in place to live up to its potential, it would have been one of the best things to happen to retro gamers in 2010. "Remember it not for what it was..."

  • Red Steel 2 with Motion Plus is what we thought the Wii would offer at launch. Even though I stood in line to buy a Wii on launch day, I didn't have a good feeling about Red Steel, and after renting it once I never finished it. I also didn't play much of the Wii during its first year, but like most consoles, it has come into its own as developers have figured it out. Much of the Wii's commercial success doesn't depend on Motion Plus, but for those that count motion control fidelity as a worthy game mechanic, Red Steel 2 delivers an experience worth playing. And doors. Lots of doors.

  • Not since Bureaucrat have the suit-wearing well-educated professions been so well represented as in the Phoenix Wright series. Linear as hell and textual as hell, they were confident enough to break off and stride in a whole new direction to make a proper adventure game. Miles Edgeworth is one of the most complicated and enjoyable characters in the series, and the affable Gumshoe as a sidekick makes the experience all the more appealing.

  • I admit it, I like more of a good thing. I also admit I haven't touched the multiplayer in Bioshock 2. As a sequel that didn't need to be made, it deserves a spot in the hall of cash-in fame. But as a bridge toward anticipating Bioshock Infinite, it stands on its own as a quintessentially "2K" game, derivative with strong production values.

  • Nobody knows throwbacks like Capcom, and they must have found it ironically disappointing for several of their full retail products to pale in comparison to whimsical noscons and fauxbacks (ahem).

  • The Bit.Trip franchise has been quirky up 'til now, when Gaijin dialed it up to batshit loco. Commander Video is a living embodiment of the old Activision logo, and is able to parkour his way into our hearts despite the fact he has never heard of a checkpoint system.

  • I don't like Westerns, but Rockstar makes really good games. Yeah, that's about it.

  • Fiery buses could not burn their way into my Top Ten, but S/S takes two old formulas that I like (NFS and Stuntman), and paves a new genre of destruction racing. Derby's are so 1980s, land that jetliner on the freeway again!

  • Even for my primitive level of play and hatred of not being able to see the chump I'm battling against, I did buy an arcade stick for this game. It's yet another example of Capcom really pulling off magic, when they know what the fanbase wants. Getting all hands-off mysterious and trying new mechanics for "broader markets" hasn't been working for them. At all. Involve the community, we'll tell ya what we want.

  • Irreverent and enjoyable, another fauxback that was given a good start with a reasonable price. Looking forward to more classics they can crib from. 3D Dot Fantasy anyone?

  • I remember dozens and dozens of plays of After Burner II in the arcades. From full upright and flightstick to rumble and rocker seats, After Burner is to jets what Burnout is to cars, a visceral delight. Climax says "fuck limits" with the EX options, and even after an S-Rank, is always a worthwhile 20 minutes to blast through the missions.

  • A late trial for me in December, but I'm sorry that there wasn't enough word of mouth to get my attention earlier. I have laughed out loud numerous times, much more than with Bayonetta, but as a game it is a visceral and exciting blend of Gears of War and Devil May Cry. Definitely adding to my collection.

  • Before release, very few people were really confident that this game played as well as it demoed, but turns out she surpassed the expectations of people that were predisposed to like a gal with gun shoes. Lush world, uniquely terrifying enemy designs, and that wasabi dash of Japanese crazy that you won't normally find outside of a Suda 51 game. (Shame about the PS3 port tho...)

  • I definitely enjoy Halo, but I cannot say that I preferred Reach's campaign over Halo 3 or even ODST. With the odds and the difficulty stacked against the player, I grit my teeth thinking about the solo Legendary achievement, and it doesn't make me want to try. But purely as a game and a multiplayer experience, excellent work.

  • Like Super Meat Boy, the replayability of Limbo is actually pretty high to collect all possible secrets. What isn't high is the amount of fun in doing so. As an experience, the methodical puzzles and careful pacing to die less than once (nonce) is more a test of patience than the adrenalinated test of nerves and reflexes that SMB is. Also music is such a key part of the experience, and SMB wins that contest hands down.

  • Best Franchise: Buh-rotherhood! Ubi seems to know a thing or two about the marketings of their eyepees. I played and finished AC2 this year, and the campaign continuation of Brotherhood has me itching to collect all my feathers and put the AC2 disc away for good while I start on a fresh S-Rank.

  • Best Marketplace: Certainly there have been stronger years for the games available on Marketplace, but never before has so much been available, and so much attention given to the process of approvals, delays, and pricing. Not to mention another dashboard refresh. It will be very interesting to see where XBLM goes from here.

  • Best Devloper: From 2008-2010 Capcom has made some stupid culturally-driven decisions, as many Japanese game companies are coming under criticism for. But Capcom stands out as a winner in my mind this year for the value it places on the opinions of its audience, us. Way to give us what we want Capcom, keep it up! Viva Japanada!!

  • Best Character: Easily the most human and relatable character in a game filled with shallow archetypes. Sazh lets his age and remorse fuel a beaten-down, pessimistic attitude that contrasts well with other characters that do have their own depth, but seldom show it. Also he can cast Haste, so there you go, permanent party member.

  • Best Soundtrack More Impressive Than Its Game: The Shank soundtrack was released for free, so there is absolutely no excuse for not giving it a try. I was seriously impressed with the sound design and the ability to convey mood, punctuating the couple of hours I've spent playing Shank so far. For setting the mood right, I would put it up there with the Red Dead soundtrack.

  • Best Object: Show you the money? There, it's in that ball.

  • Best Location: Don't fear the fuzz.