Abstract Game of the Year Awards 2009

[blank] of the year awards tend to be rather cliched affairs at times, even if I'm not helping by making my own lists. To rectify that, the following is a list of 2009 games that would get more abstract awards from me. It doesn't necessarily take a whole lot to make it on this list, but you know a game is special when it gets me to use my creative writing thinking powers for good and (mostly) evil.

List items

  • Award: "The Team Ninja Award for Excellence in Sentient Boob Artificial Intelligence" for their use of pioneering new ways to use the Sixaxis to make us all uncomfortable about our sexuality.

  • Award: "Best Game with Different Region Release Dates to Cause Forum Warfare," resulting in unnecessary anarchy over whether users should be allowed to include the game on regular 2009 GOTY lists because of the European release.

  • Award: "Best Game Inspired by the Spirit of Tim Allen's Home Improvement," for giving people everywhere (in Japan) the (Binford) tools to by and large make mediocre WarioWare games that can't ever hope to live up to the series' legacy.

  • Award: "2009's 2007 GOTY," for being the FPS that normally would have died off by now, but continues to live on with continuous updates because Valve feels guilty and needs to make up for so much lost time or something.

  • Award: "Best Atlus-like Localization that Had Nothing to do with Atlus USA at All," because Atlus probably would have gobbled this game up if NIS America didn't magically come into existence after Disgaea 1.

  • Award: "Best Game with a Long-Ass Title that Didn't Require the Words 'Shin Megami Tensei' or 'Raidou Kuzunoha,'" for also proving that you don't have to be Atlus to come up with such a huge, multi-syllabic title for a legitimate game.

  • Award: "Best Game With a Cover that Should Have Totally Been Persona 3's Instead," for totally embracing that whole evoker thing going on with that other game in the box art.

  • Award: "Most Relevant Free-to-Play MMO Ever to Catch the Attention of the 'Hardcore' Community," for unnecessarily giving people the hope that it would actually have a soul, what with the Shin Megami Tensei name attached to it and all.

  • Award: "Best Comic Book Game Since Spiderman 2 to Remind Us that They Don't All Suck," for actually being a game that knows how to translate the source material into something that doesn't reek of being licensing prostitution.

  • Award: "Best Game Depicting an Apocalypse that Had Nothing to do with Western Games Whatsoever," for being a game about a Japanese kid running around with a flashlight in a ruined Tokyo who also spends his time whacking hallucinatory ghosts while struggling with an underdeveloped combat system.

  • Award: "Best Game to Thankfully Not be Published by XSeed," as their work still hasn't quite recovered from the magic that was their translation of Castle Shikigami 2, something which Muramasa didn't deserve.

  • Award: "The Duke Nukem Forever Ironic Release Award," for actually proving it existed by coming out on retail shelves before the way more covered Gran Turismo 5 did.

  • Award: "Best Game to Contribute to the Gay Rights Debate," for having an only ever-so-barely-related author express his homophobia, making both the developers and potential buyers feel really, really awkward about a game that totally has nothing to do with that stuff at all.

  • Award: "The Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei Medal of Courage," for inspiring people to want to kill themselves because of the difficulty in one breath while expressing sheer love and adoration in the next. Oh, and also for being GameSpot's Game of the Year 2009, since it takes balls to tell that user populace "Nah, we didn't think Uncharted 2/MW2/Batman/Holy Invasion of Privacy Badman was, in fact, the best game of the year."

  • Award: "Best iPhone Game that Makes Us Nostalgic for Grade School," for being the only game on the platform that lets you decide whether you want to float your carriage across the river, outright cross it, or just die of dysentery with andy pepperoni and cheese.

  • Award: "2009's 2010 Game Most Likely To Make Innovative Use of Fist-Bumping as a Game Mechanic," since preemptive E3 awards just aren't enough these days.

  • Award: "Best Retro Franchise to Not Get an Arbitrary Modern-Day Reboot," for realizing that Mr. Driller Online kinda screwed things up enough last year that it was time to put the franchise down for a while.

  • Award: "Best Game to Prove Why You Shouldn't Label the Video Game Medium as a Whole as Art," for making curse words contagious things if you repeatedly said "fuck" at the same predictable times as the game did.

    Runner Up For: "Presidential Medal of Freedom," for showing those commies what's what.

  • Award: "Best Place to Hook Up This Year if You're Too Cheap for eHarmony," because even in 2009, Home is very consistent about guys wanting to make out with you so long as your avatar has boobs. This also naturally makes it "Best Online Game for Trolling After Its Initial Release Year."

  • Award: "Most Unnecessary Game We All Still Want Anyway," because the idea of a version of Persona 3 with revamped combat and Social Links to make the standards line up with 4's is still an interesting thing nonetheless. Now whether Atlus USA will actually feel up to localizing this is another matter entirely.

  • Award: "Best Game to not Make Use of Guilty Gear's Convention of Completely Obtuse Subtitles," instead going for the route of being only semi-obtuse since we still need a few more games before BlazBlue becomes a true Guilty Gear successor in that regard.

  • Award: "Best Game Cover that Corners the Otaku Market for Side Boobs," for making the already psychologically unstable character Haru also strike up interesting poses on her own game's box art.

    Runner Up for: "Most TWEWY Like Game Ever," for getting a lot of criticism from fans of Square-Enix's DS RPG who didn't realize that Shin Megami Tensei had kinda sorta had those themes going for nearly two decades and that it was really TWEWY who was new to the dark RPG bandwagon. Score one for logic.

  • Award: "Best Game that Only Needed the Right Soundtrack to Piss Off the Fanbase," for Shoji Meguro doing what he does best again on a kinda-sorta port of a beloved 90s RPG with little gameplay relation to the typically more relevant games in the series.

  • Award: "Best Game that was Relevant for its Preorder Bonus, not its Gameplay," as this game needed an award of some sort so every 2009 North American-released SMT game could be on this list for some reason or other, despite the wonky rationale. Good people bought this game for the Jack Frost plush, not for the actual game itself.

  • Award: "The Twilight Series Living Up to the Cliche Award" for actually being the one game you absolutely could not avoid when riding the Tokyo trains day in and day out. Seriously. For once, the Internet wasn't exaggerating about the game's impact on the Japanese market. I should know; I spent a good chunk of my summer living and studying there.

  • Award: "Best Use of a Classy Demo," for springing a free, bare-bones demo onto the masses after forcing them to pay $40 for a fleshed out one the previous year before. That's how we treat patient fans, ladies and gentlemen.

  • Award: "Best Game to Blatantly Use the Resident Evil 4 Engine Past Its Prime" for not even changing some of the weapon sounds when dear old Frank West fired a gun in an already sufficiently neutered game.

  • Award: "The Pocket Pikachu Revival Award," for deciding to go ahead and remake that wondrous Pocket Pikachu into the NEXT GENERATION pedometer that would then go on to be bundled with every Japanese copy of the games. Now you don't even need Wii Fit to exercise with your Pockeymans!

  • Article: "Classiest Way of Limiting Pre-Release Media Coverage," for forcing press outlets to film the game in only three minute chunks at a time if they wanted anything substantial to talk about at all. As Giant Bomb showed us, that's ultimately a matter of semantics so long as you just censor the boring parts with stick figures and make the three minutes add up over the course of split up parts in a video.

  • Award: "Most GameStop-y Preorder Gimmick," for its inclusion of SERGEANT JOHNSON in HORDE MODE. The game's marketing campaign made damn sure you knew that you were going to get the most KICKASS CHARACTER IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE IF YOU PREORDERED AT YOUR FAVORITE RETAILER EVER, GAMESTOP.

  • Award: "Best Conspiracies Against The Player," for screwing with your head at every turn and, in one ending, proving that Silent Hill really is just a giant spaceship, which is, of course, the game's canon ending in an entry that already messes around with the canon a lot.

    Runner Up for: "Most Ignored Wii Game For Legitimate Award Considerations" because, according to a lot of press outlets, December is an illegitimate and perfectly ignorable time for game releases.

  • Award: "Most Likely To Screw You Over If You Actual Do Scribble," as such an action will either very likely cause Maxwell to die or render you frustrated as you wait for the game to figure out what letter you're writing because you were too cool for the way more efficient keyboard.

  • Award: "Straightest Game Ever," not for its sexual orientation, but rather for literally being a game where you pretty much just move forward the entire time, because turning off to explore other places is for curious wusses. Seriously. Those maps online aren't lying.

    Runner Up for: "Best Game to Justify Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children's Existence," for provoking people into actually importing the Japanese Blu-Ray just so they could play an hour-long demo over and over again.

  • Award: "The Self-Esteem Medal for Finally Getting with the Times," for officially getting the PlayStation 2 this year. Now they can finally put those Sega Genesis consoles to rest. Maybe.

  • Award: "Blockbusters Make Perfect Award," for helping ensure the gaming public at large would pay even less attention to smaller releases than they normally would and for making sure that a number of outlets' GOTY awards would be predictable.

  • Award: "It's Been Ported to Death So Much That It Probably Came Out on Something Else This Year Badge," for probably appearing on another game system or computer platform without any of us noticing because we'd already bought the other three --no, scratch that, four-- versions in gobs and gobs already.

  • Award: "Most Logical Inventory System," for taking away Resident Evil 4's Tetris-like system and replacing it with nine boxes that could be filled with anything, implying that an egg did, in fact, take up the same amount of space as a shotgun or some armor.

  • Award: "Most Innovation in the Area of Expansion Packs," for proving to us that PC RTS and FPS games weren't the only fertile grounds for extra content not in the form of DLC.

  • Award: "Most Likely To Have a Sequel Take Place in NYC If This One Doesn't Already," since we all know that's the only city where being a legitimate firefighter, according to the movies, is possible.

  • Award: "Most Appearances by Leonardo in a Non-Turtle Form," for reminding the world that DaVinci was a person before he was a teenage ninja, which is not a person.

  • Award: "The Half-Life 2 Medal of Courage for Deftly Avoiding Source Code Leaks," for somehow managing to get cancelled without anyone related to 3D Realms leaking assets of the game in any of its forms. That's Splinter Cell-level deftness right there.

  • Award: "Best Music Game Based on an Indie Group," for finally enlightening the masses about such a previously under-appreciated group of Liverpool chaps. Why it took this long, who knows, but thank god it finally happened, as the payoff has been massive.

  • Award: "Best Game to Distract Us from Real Problems in the World," for telling us that we should spending our time vehemently discussing the merits of computerized sexual fantasies first and then deal with, you know, debating the economy, war, education, and whether Holy Invasion of Privacy Badman should be Game of the Decade later.

  • Award: "Most Major Identity Crisis," for not knowing what genre it belongs to. Is it a God of War-style action game? Is it an open-world sandbox? Or is it an RTS? Tim Schaefer would like you to believe it's not supposed to be played like that third option, but hey, since those elements must be in there for some reason, who knows what sort of game this is!

  • Award: "The Old Yeller Euthanization Award," for proving once and for all that the Tony Hawk series is either one that Activision needs to shut down or one that should go back to its arcade-style roots. Both routes require taking the series out to the backyard and pulling the trigger on the shotgun anyway.

  • Award: "The Leon Trotsky Grant for the Advancement of Communism," for displaying how communist regimes are the only ones with enough valor to take on an alien insurgent force.

  • Award: "Most Likely to Provoke a Bypass of Gameplay Entirely in Favor of a Pirated Soundtrack," for having music that would have been better served in a well-marketed mashup than a poorly-selling music game nipping at the heels of Guitar Hero's legacy.

  • Award: "Longest Lasting Game in the ROM Hacking Arena," for probably continuing to foster a community of wannabe game-changers that have no idea how to alter a game beyond swapping palettes or making everything naked. Who needs assembly hacking when you can just give everything penises with the power of a tile editor!?

  • Award: "Best Korean MMO That Isn't MapleStory," because it's both Korean and not MapleStory at the same time. Who would have thought such an achievement could be possible!?

  • Award: "Most Cost-Effective Emulator Without Resorting to Piracy," for actually having a decent ratio of ROMs to dollars.

  • Award: "Best Reference to God Hand," for letting you button mash your way to spank one of the game's bosses. Clover is no more, but at least some small sliver of it lives on.

  • Award: "Best Evidence for the Supposed Decaying of JRPGs," for giving a Bioware guy the chance to toot his own horn and say Western RPGs are the way of the future because employer is hot stuff at the moment. Can't we just have both styles get along and move on with our lives?

  • Award: "The Washington, DC Award for Using Semantics to Make Something Very Old Appear New," for EA's attempts to make the game seem new by calling it anything but a rail shooter, avoiding Shakespeare's wise words of a rose still being a rose under any other name.

  • Award: "The A for Effort Award," for somehow managing to survive longer than the original Metal Gear Online for the PS2 while being even less relevant. Persistence is a virtue to some, after all.

  • Award: "Best Game to Editorialize Nintendo's Legacy Characters," for making Little Mac appear like a Rocky Balboa-esque washout from having such little work after Super Punch-Out (we're not counting the Wii game here) and recognizing Birdo's ulterior transgender nature.

  • Award: "Most Unfortunately Missed Opportune Bargain," for showing up in a 105-yen bin in Tokyo without me compulsively picking it up. We all make mistakes.

  • Award: "Most Demon's Soul-Like Game That Isn't Demon's Souls," for the inclusion of Extreme Mode, a difficulty level made purely to piss off skilled series veterans and compel them to throw their DS at the nearest plaster or brick wall.

  • Award: "The Tortoise and the Hare Award for Respectable Sales Numbers," for reminding us all that good sales numbers for a game don't inherently have to arrive immediately after its release date and could, in fact, come well into another year.

  • Award: "The Shenmue 3 Sash for Succumbing to Fan Demands," for Sega valiantly putting up with localization demands for so long and ultimately caving in at the last minute. Possible Runner Up for next year: "Most Demanded Game that was Hypocritically Abandoned by the Same Fan Base That Wanted it in the First Place."

  • Award: "Best Use of Caps Lock at the Absolutely Wrong Time," for Sucker Punch's complete neglect of English titling conventions, making the lives of reviewers wanting to write the name all the harder.

  • Award: "The Why Don't You NOT Take a Seat Award," for Layton's ability to narrowly avoid Chris Hanson's wrath by doing all of his dirty work in a fictional realm.

  • Award: "Biggest Licensing Fiasco," for Capcom having the guts to actually tackle with numerous Tatsunoko licensees in the States, all in the names of giving the fans something that's not called "Marvel vs. Capcom 3" because of separate licensing issues entirely.

  • Award: "Best Use of Software Developing Phases in the Title," for giving the masses hope that the sequels will be called "Beta," "Alpha," and "Design Document."

  • Award: "Patch Goes the Weasel," for still getting updates to this day because Blizzard has a not-all-that-tiny budget kicking around.

  • Award: "Most Likely Piece of Software You'd Rather Date Over Your Girlfriend," because those stories about guys taking their DS out to theaters or getting married to in Guam are totally, totally real. They understand that the more slots something has, the better, and Love Plus does the best job of all of contextualizing what they're to be used for.

  • Award: "Best MMO Ironically Without a Functioning Chat Filter During Beta," since that was pretty much the only fun thing to do while putting up with the absurdly long 30-item fetch quest that the game gives you as a TUTORIAL.

    Runner Up for: "Best Game To Tell Me I Have the Best Luck Getting Into Betas for Horrid MMOs," for being able to get into it by passing a Hello Kitty quiz with the magic of Wikipedia at my side.

  • Award: "Most Likely to Inspire Poorly-Made AMVs set to Linkin Park/Judas Priest/Whatever the Children are Into These Days," because that totally hasn't happened yet.

  • Award: "Most Likely to Not Inspire a Slew of AMVs Set to Music From those Previously-Mentioned Artists," because who the hell am I kidding about that previous entry?

  • Award: "Best Game to Bring About a Quick and Snappy Breakup/Divorce," for its troll-condoning multiplayer modes that make no attempt to be subtle about telling the losing players, "I hate every minute detail of your existence and want you to stop being a part of mine RIGHT EFFING NOW."

  • Award: "Best Game That Didn't Cover Up Its Tracks Enough," for its imposition of P2P-based matchmaking on the PC version without doing a nearly good enough job to erase traces of the originally intended dedicated server setup. That's not a fossil you want lying around if you're going that route.

  • Award: "Best Game that Inspired a Real-Life Petition," because creating a petition for a game about zombies probably is about as futile as also making a petition about real zombies. In one situation, sales numbers makes petition demands irrelevant and in the other, well, the ones in power would already be zombies anyway. These two situations may not have been mutually exclusive in Valve's case.

  • Award: "Best Game In a Peripheral-Heavy Franchise to Not Require Actual Peripherals," for both playing better than those DS Guitar Hero games AND reminding everyone that Harmonix used to, you know, do Frequency and Amplitude back in the day.

  • Award: "Best Game to Make Us Thankful 4Chan/Anon Isn't a Game Developer," because there's really something to be said for decent title writing.