It’s that time of year again, where we look back on all the gameage we sampled throughout the year and single out the kick assiest of them all. Since every head of Delta Attack represents a different shade of gamer, it should come as no surprise that each of us had a different choice for 2010 Game of the Year.
I’ll admit, I didn’t buy a lot of games this year. It wasn’t a lack of resources, but a lack of interest that kept me from picking up much of anything. Again, I’m the social gamer here, so most of my gaming was done on the farm or in the mafia.
When I did get away from my computer, though, I spent a majority of my time playing Arcade titles on my 360, not the pricey discs that litter my living room. Some retail games did pique my interest this year. Super Street Fighter IV, Dead Rising 2, Final Fantasy XIII, and Madden NFL 11 all comprised a few days in my life. However, none of the took as much time from me as Pac-Man: Championship Edition DX did this year.
Pac-Man: CE DX had the “just one more time” addictive quality that saw me, many years ago, uninstall “The Sims” after I realized it was time for work, and I hadn’t slept. A handful of fundamental changes make this a new game. For starters, Pac-Man has bombs that return all free-roaming ghosts to the center box. Additionally, the game enters slow-motion when a ghost comes near Pac-Man, giving the player a chance to evade the ghost or detonate a smart bomb. The “Ghost Train” (Fun Lie: With Toru Iwatani gone from Namco Bandai, the development was handed over to foreign development team, The Gorillaz.), a 32-ghost deep chain of ghosts who will follow Pac-Man around relentlessly, is the most notable change. Green, sleeping ghosts are strategically placed around the maze and may well guide your path through the labyrinth. When passed, they awaken with a Metal Gear Solid-esque exclamation point, and join the train. On paper, it doesn’t sound exciting, but as you snake your way through a path with ghosts on your tail and ever-increasing speed, trying to navigate as quickly as you can against the clock, one false move and you’ll be kicking yourself in the ass and forcing yourself to play again to avoid making that same mistake.
With very few retail games distinguishing themselves from the pack this year, with the possible exception of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and critic-favorite Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pac-Man Championship Edition DX garner more accolades. I sure hope it does, as it’s the best value you’re going to find in gaming, perhaps for years to come.
2010 saw the release of many other outstanding downloadable titles, though.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game was a great, old-school beat-em-up that suffered from good, old-fashioned lack of online multiplayer, or it would have been a candidate for my Game of the Year. The retro look and sound likely turned many gamers off, but the game played closer to Devil May Cry than Final Fight. Numerous homages to nerd culture make this a great love-letter. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World could have been more, but it was certainly solid for a meager price.
Plants vs. Zombies saw release on Xbox Live Arcade, as well as many other platforms, and provided many hours of delight. If you’ve played it, you know why it’s so great. If you haven’t, don’t let the “tower defense” classification deter you.
Super Meat Boy continues down the path of N+, which pop and gaming culture references. You navigate Meat Boy through death mazes using only your ability to jump. There are collectable bandages that unlock multiple indie-game characters, like Tim from Braid, and more difficult “Dark World” levels that will test your skill. Death comes early and often, but there’s no real consequence for dying. The control is fairly tight, but the speed of the game can make it difficult to control. For those obsessive-compulsive gamers, there’s tons of value here.
While there have been great games released digitally every year, this is the first year where I could honestly believe in a download-only future. I don’t think I’ll ever live to see that day, as GameStop and other retailers who sell the consoles with little profit will look to leverage console makers every step of the way, but I could certainly live with that future.
First off, I don’t often play games right after they come out. As such, my pool of nominations was pretty shallow. There very well may be a game that was released this year that I play next year and end up liking even better than the title I chose.
That being said, my pick for 2010 Game of the Year is the Nintendo DS title Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City. This is the third installment in a series whose entries are unrelated in terms of story but strongly tied to one another in gameplay. Each one has improved upon the last, making Etrian Odyssey III the best so far.
The EO games are hardcore RPGs and should not be approached by anyone looking for a laid-back adventure. Battle is brutal and only those who put much time and thought into developing their party will make it beyond the first few floors.
Etrian Odyssey III is immensely rewarding for those willing to invest the time it takes to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each character class and then construct a party that can survive the game’s ruthless enemies. Every class has dozens of skills that can be learned and improved upon, but no character can learn or master all of their skills, so having a clearly defined path of development for each party member is crucial.
If you enjoy RPGs and the rewards of seeing careful plans come to fruition, then Etrian Odyssey III is a title I would highly recommend for you.
2010 saw me playing a ton of games, so many that I’m loath to try and remember them all. In fact, as I sit here doing exactly that, I now realize that the best games I played this year actually came out last year. It’s true that I punched through Final Fantasy XIII’s post game and even put my marriage briefly on hold for Fallout: New Vegas, but there is one game in particular that would take me out behind the shed and beat me if I denied its due. That game just happens to be a game that technically came out last year but ALSO CAME OUT THIS YEAR SO IT’S ALL GOOD MY BABIES.
I know some might be thinking “Been there, done that, bought the stick” but one cannot deny Street Fighter’s base appeal. Super Street Fighter IV brought with it a ton of new characters and old favorites, beefing up the roster and changing the entire metagame along with it. The fighting game that started it all was back and in prime form. Many hours were lost as of consequence.
Look, my skills pale in comparison to most but hopping online and having my ass handed to me over and over has never been as exciting, or fun, as it has with Street Fighter’s latest incarnation. How much of my time evaporated at the hands of SSF4? 200+ hours and counting. It’s a game that gets exponentially deeper as you play, where learning is a constant and never goes unrewarded. SSF4 is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
All that said, though, if I were able to pick from the entire crop of stuff I played in 2010, then my choice would most certainly have been…
It’s. Just. That. Good.
While my list of games played this year is certainly less plentiful than that of Markham Asylum’s 2010 Video Game List, I did have an opportunity to play a few great games. Some were technologically astounding, a few were a phenomenal value, others were innovative, but most all were great fun!
The top contenders demonstrated value, innovation, and technology in a combination platter that resulted in a fun factor greater than most games. It is for these characteristics that I decided to choose amongst the following for game of the year, listed in alphabetical order (and coincidentally in chronological order):
Minecraft Alpha, released June 28, 2010
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, released July 27, 2010
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, released December 7, 2010
Each of these deserve a brief word on why they were selected as nominees for Game of the Year:
Although not a final release, the game’s sole creator, Markus “Notch” Persson, has both a free and paid version available, and as of this posting, a Beta version has been released. The game is a single offline, or online multiplayer, sandbox game that I can only describe as a 3D world of legos.
There is no overarching story, theme, or goal, and the player is left to decide how they want to build or destroy their environment with their endless supply of different types of blocks. Sand, glass, lava, water, cobblestone, and various other components make up the world that you can architect in your own way. The world you create persists between sessions.
I nominated this game because it is extremely innovative, especially given the multiplayer aspect, has the potential to be used for fun, team-building exercises, or even building a virtual computer inside of the game!. Minecraft is also an extremely great value since the basic game can be played for free which has never failed to draw me in for hours at a time.
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
Now almost 6 months old, SCII is a throwback to nostalgia from the bar-raising Blizzard Entertainment. Long overdue, the series has been given new life and will appease the market for years to come, as expansions for each of the races is planned each year for the upcoming few years. I wouldn’t be surprised if this segmentation was Bobby Kotick’s brain-child.
The single-player game has a great storyline that has lots of character development, and a little replayability if you are an achievement hunter. The online multiplayer aspect lets you exercise your competitive nerd-ego any time you are ready to give or receive a face-stomping in a match of strategy and tactics against other real life opponents that the Battle.Net system chooses for you.
I added SCII to my nominations because of its technological prowess over its predecessor and for the value it adds to the Real-time-Strategy genre of video games. It is graphically pleasing, and also innovating: the achievement system for an RTS forces you to play the game in new ways.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
Freshly released this month, WoW:Cataclysm has already earned the record for the fastest selling pc title. EVER#. Being a casual WoW player with an on again,off again subscription since the launch of WoW:Classic in 2004, I have to admit that this nomination possibly has a little bias.
In my experience in this new expansion, the questing system is more streamlined so that the story unfolds in a manner the more closely resembles that of a traditional Role Playing Game. You also can’t miss the added color, music, voice-acting, and lore-focused profession of Archaeology, which all contribute to a more immersible experience.
This fun factor combines with the value of a game that calculates out to be less than $0.40/hour of playtime, and that is a lot of value for your monthly subscription. Regardless if WoW:Cataclysm gets any Game of the Year wins, it will certainly be amongst the most played games of 2011.
Conclusion, and Winner of Game of the Year from Delta Attack’s IkeCube:
In consideration of the value, innovation, and technology apparent from playing these games, I have chosen the winner to be, Minecraft.
In comparison to my other nominations, Minecraft delivers the best value, represents the most innovative design in addition to extending a major genre. The big hit against Blizzard’s juggernaut titles though is that, despite being graphically rough around the edges, Minecraft makes great use of existing technology to create value and innovation in a seemingly crowded and competitive game landscape.
My personal congratulations go out to Markus Persson – your creation is worthy of accolades of the masses, and you have out-innovated the best in the industry. BTW, I have a working title for the final release: “IkeCubeCraft”.
From all of us at Delta Attack, a happy holiday to you and yours!Tweet
About the Author
|Mark A. Brooks uses the A. initial in his name so as to seperate himself from the teeming legions of other Mark Brookses (there are at least 65,000 in the state of Michigan alone).
Keep up with him on twitter, because why not. @unoriginalG
Mark A. Brooks has written 592 posts on Delta Attack.