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Best of 2009

I didn't play a ton of games in 2009, but the top 4 were wonderful. The rest were fine.

List items

  • I've felt that shooters had passed me by since around the time of Halo 2's release. My friends told me I should really give MW2 a try and after about a month of their pleas, I reluctantly gave in to their request. I should have done so earlier. The single player is engaging and fleshed out well without dragging for the sake of adding hours to the game, but its the multiplayer that made me fall in love with this. Sure, I am still among the bottom half of all players, but the game is both extremely approachable and rewarding. MW2 is more or less everything I could have hoped for from a shooter, and by virtue of its ability to make me excited to play a game in a genre I thought I would never again enjoy, it is my favorite game of 2009.

  • As far as I'm concerned, far too many so-called "hardcore" gamers take this hobby of ours too seriously. There was a time when the value of a game was measured by how much fun it offered to players. Wii Sports Resort is one such game. It lacks pretense and offers players a handful of fun games to demonstrate the then new Motion Plus controller. There are some stinkers in the mix (biking, jet skis, and frisbee to name a few), but there were very few gaming experiences in 2009 with which I had more fun than play basketball and golf in this game. I also enjoyed the archery quite a bit.

  • When I was a kid, I loved Super Metroid. I didn't get into the Metroidvania games until Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow, but both it and Portrait of Ruin are among my favorite games in the past five years or so. Shadow Complex lacks the ambiance of those games, but it makes up for it by being the most accessible of the games and also by being playable in HD on a home console. The story isn't bad but it is kind of silly, but it hardly matters when you enjoy killing each enemy more and more as you scour the healthily-sized map for upgrades. The final boss battle could have been a bit more difficult and rewarding, but it's a minor gripe. I even bothered to finish the challenge rooms, which were very demanding (read: I died a lot and cursed a lot more). I rarely feel compelled to explore every nook and cranny a game offers, but I couldn't get enough of Shadow Complex.

  • I didn't find Uncharted 2 to be the amazing experience that almost everyone else made it out to be, but I really appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the game. The production values are amazing, and the platforming is fun. I am less forgiving about unintuitive aspects of games. A game like Uncharted exacerbates the problems with controls and how a game interprets your intention, particularly in platforming, because everything else is so well done. Well, I don't how almost every enemy takes a dozen or more rounds to put them down, but I really appreciate the enemy AI. I also really appreciate the little quips Drake makes throughout the game and the small talk between characters, even though I found myself rolling my eyes at a lot of the dialog.

  • This is a very competent game and one that I was happy to play through to its conclusion, but I absolutely do not understand the hype surrounding this game. Yes, it's surprising that a licensed commodity can be turned into a competent, fun game, which is a sad commentary on the state of the video game industry in 2009. For me, surpassing the exceptionally low standard set by the genre doesn't indicate greatness, but that's not to say that Batman: Arkham Asylum didn't have great moments. I very much enjoyed the Scarecrow confrontations. Detective mode is a great tool, if a bit of a game breaker. The atmosphere in the game is nearly perfect. The combat becomes mundane and some of the boss battles become annoying when they mix large, powerful bosses with swarms of normal enemies.

  • The worst things I can say about NSMB Wii are that Nintendo was lazy when it couldn't come up with another character besides "different colored Toad" for the fourth player and that this is not much more than the Wii version of the DS game. Fortunately for me, I really enjoyed the DS game and I was happy to play through what was essentially a remixed version of the handheld NSMB. It was also fun to play through parts of the game with three other friends, which is rare for me these days, especially to do so in person. This definitely doesn't have the long lasting impact of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, or Super Mario Galaxy, but it is a fun platformer that is easy to pick up, play, and enjoy.

  • I became very frustrated with Rhythm Heaven when it's required timing did not seem to mesh with what I interpreted as the correct timing. I think it's to the games credit that I stuck with it despite the frustration, which is rare for me these days. I very much enjoy rhythm games, Elite Beat Agents in particular, and while Rhythm Heaven wasn't as fun for me as EBA, it didn't lack much in the way of charm or fun in its own right.

  • I think it's both a good and a bad thing that the new version of Punch-Out did more to fuel my desire to play the NES version of the game than anything else. I wish the practice mode existed in the NES version; maybe then I could beat Mr. Sandman. As for the Wii version, I found the original play through to be a little easy, even for me, while the second play through did not captivate me enough to get me to stick with it even as little as to defeat Glass Joe 2. It's not a bad game, and it was smart to keep it so similar to the original game, but it makes comparisons to the original very easy to make. Once I began making comparisons, it occurred to me that I just preferred the original, which is pretty damning for a game made some 20 years later.

  • This game is presented well and the song catalog is obviously great, but it's ridiculously short. I brought the game home and three hours later had completed every song on expert. The game lacked a few of my favorite Beatles songs and only had a handful that I really wanted to play over again.