Best of 2009

Pepsiman: Best of 2009

List items

  • Atlus took a pretty big gamble in bringing the Megami Tensei franchise to a genre it had never operated in before, but Devil Survivor is a great success on a lot of fronts. Fun battling and navigation mechanics that don't make the SRPG portion overwhelming, coupled with a great, intelligent narrative and good use of franchise stand-bys make Devil Survivor a game worth playing, even for people who normally avoid SRPGs like the plague such as myself. It was probably the game that I spent by far the most time with on my DS this year.

  • The nightmare sequences sometimes get a bit tedious as time goes on, but other than that and a few other minor things, Shattered Memories is a fantastic game. Great use of using psychology to dynamically change the experiences on a personal level, coupled with a really well done story, art direction, and environmental design make it pretty easy for the game to land on my personal list.

  • As someone who hadn't played a Sims game since the original one and its expansions, The Sims 3 is a worthy successor to that legacy. The fundamentals might not have changed, but their implementation has gotten refined, making it even easier to get immersed in the minutiae of your Sims' lives. It also naturally has one of the better and more fun character creation screens I've seen in some time, as the personality traits you can give your Sims go a long way to providing replay value and consistent entertainment as you stick them in awkward situations. If you have a PC that can run it, it certainly doesn't hurt to give it a spin.

  • It's still got a few quirks, but Muramasa is easily Vanillaware's best game yet. Really gorgeous, multilayered sprite art combined with a simplistic, but visceral combat system makes the game consistently fun and enjoyable to play through. The story itself is probably the game's weakest point, but at the end of day, almost everything else is so well-done that they make Muramasa a game that's still well worth. If you don't feel like holding out for those elusively hypothetical HD versions for other systems, the Wii one ought to tide you over quite nicely.

  • Space Invaders Extreme 2 doesn't reinvent what its predecessor already set up, but the new features and gameplay changes do nonetheless make it different and more hectic game. The core idea of shooting differently colored invaders for power-ups is still there, but the contexts that it's happening are pretty different. Throw in another great soundtrack for the series and you have a game that's certainly worth its $20 price tag. Extreme Mode is bound to enrage people obsessed enough with the mechanics like myself, but that's deliberate and that rant is for another day.

  • Chinatown Wars' greatest accomplishment is that it's finally a portable Grand Theft Auto game that works and it works really, really well. There are enough features retained from the console versions to make it recognizably GTA, while still being tweaked and used in conjunction with features distinctly designed with portable systems in mind. If you're looking for a Grand Theft Auto game that plays on its own terms and doesn't try to force in what doesn't work, then Chinatown Wars fits that bill pretty nicely.

  • More Layton the way it's known to be done is a good thing. Much like its prequel, Diabolical Box is a charming game whose puzzles know how to get your brain working and rarely unfair by their own merits. The European motif, music, and art design is retained as well, giving the game a distinct feel that only Layton games are able to pull off and that, personally, has always been one of the series' best assets outside of the actual gameplay and plot.

  • Scribblenauts isn't always a success in everything it tries to do, but its sheer charming and freestyling experimenting mentality make it a fun game that's worth trying out. The dictionary might feature redundancy in the sprites it'll actually generate, but the sheer breadth and amount of unique objects that are present is nonetheless nothing short of astounding. The fact that the game also lets you run through the levels multiple times while keeping track of what you use in each run so you can't recycle the same strategies is also a nice touch.

  • You're technically right in calling me out by saying that it only came out in 2009 in Japan, but since that's the version I'm familiar with, that's what I'm gonna work off of. That being said, much like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Fragile has really great environmental design. The little details you'll see, ranging from the graffiti on walls made by people unknown to the generally isolated atmosphere go a long way to making the game's locales feel distinct. Its combat might be the only super wonky thing that it unfortunately has going, but if you can get past that, Fragile is an adventure game worth playing for those who are curious.