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The Unabridged Compendium Of Games I Played In The Year 2011

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 by

It’s only taken two months and hundreds (if not thousands) of cups of coffee, but it’s finally finished and not a day too soon. Looking back, I’m not exactly sure why I wrote so much about all this stuff; I guess my love of doing stupid shit may have something to do with it. Here is the definitive write-up of every single game I played in 2011. Not just played, but FINISHED. I beat all of these games, like stepchildren, and grinded them beneath my heel as I moved on to the next. And then, like some kind of crazy coup de grace, I fucking wrote about them. Lots of stuff. Really clever things.

So please, by all means, enjoy these witty writings, dear friends. I made them just for you. I made them so that, perhaps somewhere deep inside, you might find it in yourself to love me half as much as I love you. It’s a labor of love and you can’t afford to unrequit this shit.

Without further ado…

DEAD SPACE 2
Platform: PS3
Score: 91

In space, no one can hear you shit your pants.

So you may have heard that Dead Space 2 was scary. Well, it is. It’s the kind of game that you want to watch other people play, just to see how they react when being thrust in situations where they might let loose a pants-ruining shart. The opening cinematic does not fuck around, kicking you headfirst into a science fiction nightmare that will test your fortitude from beginning to end.

Small improvements over the original help to make Dead Space 2 better and more terrifying than the first. Dead Space 2 is, in my humble opinion, the survival horror genre at its best form. That’s not to say it can’t be beat, I’m sure someday it will be. But not today. Also, no whining about Dead Space not being survival-horror. You people make me sick.

CASTLEVANIA: LORDS OF SHADOW
Plaftorm: PS3
Score: 85

A beautiful epic that shamelessly breaks the Castlevania mold.

While not exactly what Castlevania veterans may have been hoping for, Lords of Shadow is a beautiful and sweeping game, stitched together from the functional parts of many other franchises.

Buyer beware: In Lords of Shadow, you won’t find any of the exploration or metroidvania elements usually associated with the name ‘Castlevania’. What you’ll get instead is a God of War clone that, while inspired, may leave the series devout feeling severely disappointed.

SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD: THE GAME
Platform: PS3 (PSN)
Score: 87

…or River City Ransom II.

While I can’t speak for the books or the movie, two things of which I know zilch, I can tell you that the Scott Pilgrim game is wonderful. Heavily inspired by games of yore and beautifully retro-themed, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is ridiculous fun, whether by yourself or with some friends. Hell, writing about it now makes me want to dust it off for some bonified 2012ery.

So much about this game jumps out as awesome, but nothing more so than the music. It brings you back to a time when game soundtracks weren’t afraid to distract you from the game itself.

DRAGON AGE II
Platform: PS3
Score: 82

The more streamlined sequel to BioWare’s critically-acclaimed dark epic.

Dragon Age 2 is a great game that, admittedly, suffers a bit from feeling less-inspired than the first. And while people are free to talk all the shit about it they want, I greatly enjoyed my time spent with Dragon Age 2. It has all the fantasy flavorings of Dungeons & Dragons, but with more blood on people’s faces. And demon tits.

Dragon Age 2′s story is adequate enough, charting your rise from the gutter to the throne, but what really stands out in this game are the characters. All are very likable and your every action shapes your relationship with each of them, creating a satisfying sub-game of social consequence. And then there’s the demon tits. It’s worth mentioning twice.

TINY WINGS
Platform: iOS
Score: 90

Helping a flightless bird to slide and soar between islands has never before been so much fun.

Of all the games I’ve played on the ol’ iPod, none seem to match Tiny Wings in terms of replayability. Months later I still find myself playing it at least once or twice a day; Tiny Wing’s combination of adorable ideas and demanding gameplay is pure gold.

I’m only one achievement from a full set, and I am so hungry for it it hurts. Flying through an entire island in fever mode is hard enough, but doing it on the most dreaded of all islands, Island 4, has proven beyond my capability so far. Mark my words that one of these days, soon enough, I will do that shit and it will feel so good.

ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM
Platform: PS3
Score: 94

The great Nordic fantasy epic of our fucking time.

Let’s not pretend there’s anything I can tell you about this game that you don’t already know. It’s the fucking shit. It’s big as fuck. It was my pick for 2011 Game of the Year and probably everyone else’s who didn’t have a preferential hard-on for Portal 2. Skyrim is gaming decadence wrapped in bacon, cooked like meth, and blown forcefully up your ass… and all these honeyed words despite my massive dislike for the first person perspective.

I went into Skyrim with a bit of a chip on my shoulder; admittedly I was irritated with Bethesda’s terrible, terrible writing in Fallout 3 (the first two set the bar way up there). And you know what? The writing was kind of ‘blah’ in Skyrim, too, but seemed to sit better in a fantasy setting. It felt more at home and appropriate, like Bethesda was more in their own territory this time. Skyrim is great fun for the explorer inside all of us.

COMET CRASH
Platform: PS3 (PSN)
Score: 77

A quirky game that is equal parts tower defense and tower offense.

For years I’ve been something of a tower defense junky (only now, five years later, am I starting to feel jaded) so whenever one of these games makes it to the PSN I tend to gobble it up. Comet Crash came out years ago but it was 2011 that saw me finish it.

Comet Crash is unique in that it pits you against a CPU player (or, if you have friends, up to three humans, but who are we kidding). You’re expected not only to defend yourself but also send out units of your own to whittle down the opponent’s core. It’s a cool game with a lot of mechanics, and an interesting entry into the TD genre.

LITTLEBIGPLANET 2
Platform: PS3
Score: 90

A heartwarming game that gives people all the tools I wanted as a kid.

Like many gamers, I’ve always had an interest in making my own games. As an adolescent I wasted countless hours in a shareware RPG creator (going so far as to have penpal style correspondence with its programmer) and I loved me some motherfucking Mario Paint. Games that gave you tools to create were the stuff I lived and breathed for.

Playing LittleBigPlanet 2 brings back those creation pangs and makes me want for those youthful days of creative juiciness. I’m an old, decrepit 30 something now and as such the ol’ creativity gland has shriveled up like beached kelp. I think of all the kids out there today who, like me back then, want to shape their dreams in game form, and knowing they have LittleBigPlanet at their disposal makes me smile. But then I think about how those kids would probably look down at their iPhones all day instead and it makes me weep for mankind.

PORTAL 2
Platform: PS3
Score: 93

The direct sequel to a game called Portal. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

There’s a reason that everyone, including grandma, knows that the cake was a lie. The reason is because the original Portal was a genre-defying masterpiece. Portal 2 takes those masterfully executed concepts and expands on them in a way that is best described as “holy frak”. Honestly, can they jam any more wit into this box? No. No they cannot.

I was really glad I picked up Portal 2, even if I didn’t really delve into the included co-op experience. I’m not sure it would have ended well anyway if I had; I like to screw up a lot. Well, I don’t actually like screwing up in Portal, it just happens so much that it looks like I do.

BREAKQUEST
Platform: PSP (Mini)
Score: 56

In the world of Brick Breakers, BreakQuest stands out like a one-eyed hooker.

BreakQuest is… how do I say this politely… ugly as fuck. Not just ugly, but badly broken, which is a shame because there are a lot of great ideas in BreakQuest, some really clever stages here and there. These Breakout clones live and die by their controls, though, and in that sense this one falls to its death, exploding on impact.

If, for whatever freak reason, you really want to know why BreakQuest sucks balls with such admirable determination, you can read my review of the game here.

L.A. NOIRE
Platform: PS3
Score: 88

A gripping detective drama set in the late 1940s.

I was going to pass on this one but then the wife got a wild craving for it and, not being one to stand between a girl and her game, agreed that we should pick it up at launch. I’m sure by now you’ve heard that the facial animation is amazing but, if you haven’t played the game, you might be surprised just how convincing it really is.

While not a difficult game by any stretch of the imagination, L.A. Noire does a great job of making you feel foolish when you fuck up, demonstrating how engrossing the narrative is and how badly you want to not screw up your interrogations. It’s a riveting story from beginning to end, and definitely worth the price of admission.

RESIDENT EVIL 4 HD
Platform: PS3
Score: 85

Capcom’s survival horror masterpiece is dredged up and slapped with lipstick for another go around.

So, who wants to play Resident Evil 4 again? Everyone? That’s what I thought. Here, have it in high-definition. Now, while the character models look pretty sharp in the new resolution, there were approximately zero fucks given with regard to updating the textures and movie sequences. Laziness rarely looks this recognizable, but it’s forgiven because Resident Evil 4 is a thing of legend.

No surprise here, but the control scheme that felt so fresh and groundbreaking back in 2005 feels neither fresh nor breaking-of-ground in 2011. In fact, it feels noticeably dated and somewhat shitty. It took me a while to reacquaint myself with Resi 4′s antiquated controls, but when I did they were just fine. It’s no wonder Resident Evil 5 felt like a letdown by comparison; Resident Evil 4 is one tough act to follow. Securing the ballistics was just as fun now as it was then.

PIX’N LOVE RUSH
Platform: PSP (Mini)
Score: 82

A game to help give PSP Minis some much-needed legitimacy.

One of the more appreciated surprises from my now expired PlayStation Plus membership was getting this game as one of my monthly freebs. I liked it so much that I ended up picking it up for the iPod touch months later. This is one of the rare instances where porting an iOS game to the PSP resulted in something not totally shitty. In fact, it’s actually much better on Sony’s handheld – for one reason: motherfucking buttons. They make quite a difference.

Seriously, if you own a PSP, then you would probably really enjoy Pix’n Love Rush. Read the review if you still need convincing.

PENNY ARCADE ADVENTURES I & II
Platform: PS3 (PSN)
Score: 79,82

Still waiting for part 3.

As you might imagine, parts one and two of the Penny Arcade saga On The Rain Slick Precipe Of Darkness are utterly hilarious. It’s just joke after joke after joke, bound together in a tasty RPG package with a nice adaptation of the ATB battle system. A shame that the saga was fragmented into episodic installments; it would have made a fine retail game and, had it been pushed out as one, we would have been able to experience the entire story instead of getting cockblocked at the end of episode 2.

I don’t know the details, but Hothead Games dropped the series, presumably because it wasn’t selling enough. But fear not! Episode 3 is on the way, this time being helmed by Zeboyd Games. There’s no guarantee yet which platforms it will be released for, but it promises to be a 16-bit style RPG done in the same vein as the SNES-era Final Fantasies. Sounds exciting!

FLYING HAMSTER
Platform: PSP (Mini)
Score: 83

Silly-as-shit shooter where cows shoot gatling milk from their udders.

It’s kind of expensive for being such a small game, but the PSP port of The Flying Hamster (originally an iOS app) is probably one of the more impressive Minis on tap. It’s a standard style side-scrolling shooter game featuring not a spaceship, or a fighter jet, but a hamster. That flies. You don’t shoot rockets or lasers – no – you furiously spit your way through any and all opposition.

It’s apropos and asinine, cute as a button, but takes not even an hour to finish. I imagine that playing The Flying Hamster is kind of like eating a flying hamster: it tastes great but there’s just not enough.

GRAN TURISMO 5
Platform: PS3
Score: 86

Like porn for people who want to lick cars.

I’m not what one would consider a racing aficionado, but once upon a time I dumped hours upon days into a game called Gran Turismo, circa 1998 in a busted up PlayStation you had to flip upside down in order for it to work. Gran Turismo was something special; it introduced some major RPG elements into a genre that was usually just about coming in first place. I really enjoyed it and, having not seriously played any of the series’ entries since, was happy to find it very much the same in Gran Turismo 5.

My only complaints about GT5 is that, given its massive incubation time, a nicer presentation would have been appreciated. The cars look fuckin slick, but oftentimes the backgrounds just look lifeless and simple. It’s a weird juxtaposition that brings the experience down a little, but does nothing to hamper then fun.

AGE OF BOOTY
Platform: PS3 (PSN)
Score: 73

A charming (if simple) strategy game of pirate ship battles and conquest, strangely devoid of wenches.

I had a lot of fun with this one despite the horrible audio problems I experienced while playing – problems so severe it was necessary to turn the volume all the way down or risk exploding my sub-woofer. For whatever reason the bass was massively overdriven and, as far as I could tell, impossible to adjust.

A good game but difficult to recommend, y’know, in case someone has the same sound problems that I did. Even at low volume it felt and sounded like shit was blowing up outside.

SUPER STREET FIGHTER IV: ARCADE EDITION
Platform: PS3 & PC
Score: 93

The third and biggest update to the SF4 experience.

Try as I might, I just can’t pull myself away from Street Fighter IV for any prolonged period of time. And this is despite getting my ass obliterated more often than not. Just when I had retired the stick after burning out on Super, SSF4AE hit and I get pulled right back in.

I didn’t spend too much time with the new characters but did manage to finally get decent with someone other than Ryu. Moving from a combo-intensive character like Ryu to a more face-smashy type like T. Hawk wasn’t as tough as I imagined it’d be; in fact, it felt great to bust out of the Ryu rut I’d become stuck in. I still struggle with charge characters like Bison and Blanka, though. The quest to complete all the trials is never-ending.

DRUMS CHALLENGE
Platform: PSP (Mini)
Score: 69

So underwhelming I’m loath to write about it all. Ah, what the hell.

Hold on, what do I remember about Drums Challenge? Ah, yes: It’s completely forgettable.

Many of these PSP minis are ported over from the iOS app store and they totally stink on the new platform. If you told me it was actually good on the iPhone, I’d believe you because it feels like it would be. But on the PlayStation Portable, it’s abysmal.

FINAL FANTASY IV: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION
Platform: PSP
Score: 90

Square’s most enduring Final Fantasy epic.

Yeah, Square Enix is no stranger to remakes; the game that’s spawned more re-releasing than any of the numbered Final Fantasies gets yet another version for the PSP. But I’m totally glad they did, as this one goes straight for my heart. Probably the classiest redux from everything they’ve ever sold us again for the umpteenth time, Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection is achingly beautiful and makes me twelve years old all over again.

The battle is streamlined wonderfully and all the sprite work is gorgeous while remaining completely faithful to the original drawings. Spells flash with speed and brilliance, and the story remains one of the most riveting in all of Final Fantasy. The inclusion of The After Years is like icing on the cake.

DUELS OF THE PLANESWALKERS 2012
Platform: PS3 (PSN)
Score: 79

Magic: The Gathering Lite.

As a retired Magic: The Gathering player with a perpetual lingering interest in the series, this game feels like it was made just for me. It’s fun without being too hardcore and it’s streamlined very well, but ultimately leaves you wanting for more of the depth and complexity that makes the card game so great. Being forced into using retail-style Theme Decks gives the game a much smaller sphere of playability when compared to actual Magic, but, as you might imagine, the video game is much gentler on the wallet.

Magic 2012 moves pretty quickly (all things considered) and the single-player campaign is surprisingly buff. The online component is totally functional and can provide you with hours of duels with actual people, but for whatever reason I wasn’t really into it.

COSTUME QUEST
Platform: PS3 (PSN)
Score: 79

Double Fine’s super cute Halloween-themed RPG adventure.

PlayStation Plus doesn’t always feel worth the price of admission, but sometimes they dole out some pretty good freebies now and then. Take Costume Quest for example. I wouldn’t normally pick up a title like this from the network but, when the cost is zero dollars, it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot. And I’m glad I did.

Costume Quest is so F’n adorable. I had a lot of fun with this bite-sized RPG; the idea is novel and well executed. My son watched me play through the entire thing, it was a bit of a bonding experience between us.

UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE’S DECEPTION
Platform: PS3
Score: 91

Like Uncharted 2 before it, one of the most visually-stunning games ever.

The Uncharted trilogy is one of the better reasons to own a PS3 – all of them are special for their lively cutscenes and clever dialogue. Uncharted 2 is a tough act to follow, but I think they did it well enough with Uncharted 3. I can’t, in good conscience, put it in front of 2 but it’s still an amazing demonstration of just how riveting games can be.

I loved everything about Uncharted 3, but the narrative has a severe hiccup midway through, pushing you through an entire set piece that has no importance or meaningful connection to the story at large. It’s forgivable, but it’s hard to ignore and it suggests that maybe the writers bit off more than they could chew.

LEGO BATMAN
Platform: PS3
Score: 82

Great fun for kids and adults alike, especially for adults who are really just big kids wondering when they’ll start to feel like adults.

My son and I played this together from start to finish over the course of a couple months. This game has the distinct honor of being his “teeth cutter” and the memories I have of us bonding over LEGO Batman will last a lifetime; memories of him rage-quitting in a pitiful fit of tears for not being able to perform basic jumps and such. I’m proud to say he’s come a long way since then and now kicks LEGO Batman ass with nary an effort.

I’ve heard and seen complaints about LEGO games being uninspired and recycled but, and maybe this is just because it’s my first LEGO adventure game, I had a ton of fun with LEGO Batman and I’m kinda looking forward to the sequel on the horizon.

WIPEOUT HD FURY
PLatform: PS3 (PSN)
Score: 93

More Wipeout? Yes please.

Wipeout HD was one of the best deals in gaming – twenty bucks for THE ULTIMATE SHIT OF THIS UNIVERSE is about as good as they get – and when Sony offered up the Fury expansion for free (to apologize for the network getting jacked along with everyone’s personal information), I knew they were after my heart and all was forgiven.

Fury turns it up to eleven with new combat modes and fresh content across the board, giving you damn near an entire game’s worth of stuff to soak up. Everything about Wipeout Fury and it’s HD predecessor is bad to the bone. All the way to the bone, I tell you. Deep into the bone. Like, the spongy marrow parts of said bone.

ANGRY BIRDS
(including SEASONS
and RIO)

Platform: iOS
Score: 90

The massively popular mobile-game trilogy involving unhappy birds.

I was late to the party with these ones but that didn’t make them any less fun. Perfectly simple to pick up and play, and deviously difficult to put down. Angry Birds embodies the best of bathroom gaming, guaranteed to keep you on the toilet much longer than necessary.

Not everyone is in love with those wacky birds, though. Check out Delta Attack’s controversial and spiteful review of Angry Birds (the PSP version, which is probably quite a bit shittier than the original, to be fair). Note that I didn’t write that review, so please direct any scathing “how can you hate ANGRY BIRDS!?!” hate mail to Delta Attack’s other Mark. And that concludes today’s lesson on how to throw a friend under the bus.

PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES
Platform: PS3 (PSN)
Score: 93

PopCap’s most awesomest enterprise thus far.

Plants vs. Zombies should come with the warning: “CAUTION: Addictive as fuck.” At least then you might have some idea of what you’re getting into. I guess you should expect nothing less from the company that brought you Peggle, Bejeweled, and everything else that is good in this world.

More of a bare-bones RTS than it is tower defense, Plants vs. Zombies is a triumph of gaming design and good-old fashioned funnishness. It plays great on the PS3, but if you have the choice then get it for your iOS device instead; it’s only $2.99 (as opposed to, what, like fifteen bucks or something) and the touch interface makes too much sense.

MINI NINJAS
Platform: PS3
Score: 78

A charming epic about kid ninjas kicking ass silently.

Mini Ninjas has so much going for it but feels empty somehow; the simple aesthetic is wonderful and the characters are all super cute, but the action just isn’t all there. If you’re looking for something kid-friendly, though, I’d recommend it wholeheartedly.

Better than the game itself were the promotional videos. Save yourself twenty bucks and just watch these:

DISGAEA 4
Platform: PS3
Score: 78

Disgaea 4 delivers strategy, silliness, and prinnies dood!

As much as I love Disgaea 4, it really feels like the series’ sense of humor has gone downhill since the first two. Sure, Disgaea 4 has some genuinely hilarious moments, but they’re drowned in a sea of inane fluff.

Despite its story-telling shortcomings, Disgaea 4 feels like the best one yet. The updated sprites look great in HD and there’s so much to do that your head will spin; much more than you would probably ever dare to finish. It’s doesn’t break any new ground but the quirky spirit of Disgaea shines on in its most recent incarnation.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT
Platform: PS3
Score: 66

Fuck this game, and fuck this game’s asshole announcer.

It’s the same Trivial Pursuit you know and love, now with 3000% more geography questions! Somehow, they managed to turn over one-third of the questions from all categories into a test of your geographical prowess – you’re frequently prompted to just pick one of the cities from the map for your answer. It’s tres shitty. Aside from that, it’s not a bad adaptation of the traditional game.

The announcer can go fuck himself, though. He takes too much pleasure in insulting you when you answer incorrectly. Even when you get it right, he makes it a point to compliment you in the most back-handed manner possible.

BRAID
Platform: PS3 (PSN)
Score: 89

Jonathan Blow’s indie darling; a puzzle platformer that’s insane in the membrane.

When Braid finally made it’s way to the PSN, I was eager to try it out. Everyone had talked it up so much that I was convinced it might actually be the best game ever made. I initially enjoyed it but felt massively underwhelmed, so much so that I quit playing it before the end and moved on to newer and lesser-hyped pastures. I found the mechanics very clever but wasn’t really into the existential narrative.

Earlier this year I decided to give it another shot and managed to finish it. I really should have seen this one through, as the ending sequence really does make the whole of the game pretty spectacular.

NEW SUPER MARIO BROTHERS DS
Platform: DS
Score: 87

Converting yet another child to the church of Mario.

This marks the first Mario game I’ve played in earnest since Super Mario 64, and the first Mario game ever for my son. It is largely responsible for the hundreds of dollars of Mario crap we now have laying around the house, and though he’s moved on to other Mario games, this is the one that gave him the ILLNESS. My son suffers from a seemingly incurable case of the Mario fever.

It’s crazy how Mario has remained relevant for almost my entire existence; crazier still that he’s more relevant now than he was twenty-odd years ago. New Super Mario Brothers DS is a fantastic game, but that shouldn’t comes as a surprise to anyone.

BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM
Platform: PS3
Score: 93

The big-budget superhero game that’s too legit.

Let me start by saying I normally wouldn’t give a crap for anything Batman, but when a game gathers as many critical accolades as this one, it’s got to be worth a shot. And they were right, all of them. Arkham Asylum is both righteous and just.

I loved the adult approach the developers took, creating a game that’s extremely atmospheric and somehow managing to make me appreciate Batman not only as a protagonist, but as an icon worthy of all the commercially licensed overkill. I can’t wait to play Arkham City.

CUT THE ROPE
Platform: iOS
Score: 91

The mobile gaming staple that no iOS device should be without.

Our family picked up an iPod Touch this year and that opened us up to a world of gaming unlike any other. The games in the app store are a completely different breed, perfecting the science of gaming-on-the-go. Cut The Rope sets the bar high for others in the field.

Cute, clever, and totally playable whether taking a dump or stuck in the waiting room, Cut the Rope was great fun for whenever I had a minute or two to spare. Which reminds me, I really need to pick up the sequel, Cut the Rope: Experiments. But, and this is a question I ask myself whenever in the app store, can my wallet survive a $.99 hit right now?

MIGHT & MAGIC: CLASH OF HEROES
Platform: PS3 (PSN)
Score: 92

Capybara’s beautiful strategy-puzzle game in which you employ a little bit of might, mayhaps a smidgen of magic.

Probably the best network game I played all year, or possibly ever, was Clash of Heroes. Having just come off a prolonged Critter Crunch run (also a Capybara masterpiece), I had high hopes for Clash of Heroes and they were like so totally met. Just when I finished the single-player campaign and was ready to take my skills to all the punks and bitches online, though, the PSN went down. For weeks and weeks and weeks.

But when the network came back to life, it was obvious that Clash of Heroes had not been forgotten. I played many epic matches against many worthy foes – matches mostly lost to unfairly unlucky shitty bad luck – but I digress. Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is my favorite game that I totally suck at online.

TOY STORY 3
Platform: PS3
Score: 83

Fun enough for a man, but pH balanced for the kids.

Toy Story 3 is yet another case of buying a game for the boy and getting totally sucked into it myself. While playing through it together with my son, I was surprised at how well put-together the sandbox portion of the game was, and became more obsessed than he was about completing missions and unlocking all the crazy new crap.

It’s not groundbreaking, nor is it terribly challenging, but it’s a good dose of cooperative fun and, as you might imagine, totally kid-friendly.

CRITTER CRUNCH
Platform: PS3 (PSN)
Score: 92

The quintessential PSN downloadable puzzle game.

Capybara has created the very definition of a must-own network title with Critter Crunch, the massively entertaining puzzle adventure game for the PSN. Everything about Critter Crunch is fantastic; the pacing, the price tag, and the aesthetic are all great.

I had a lot of fun with Critter Crunch and the online battle mode is addictive and intense. If you have a PS3 but don’t own Critter Crunch, you should do something about that.

WHERE IS MY HEART?
Platform: PSP (Mini)
Score: 76

A portable puzzle adventure that is simultaneously familiar and bizarre.

Where Is My Heart? starts out innocently enough, but quickly drops you into a pit of confusion from where it sometimes feels there’s no escape. The screen is fragmented and rearranged like pieces from a shattered mirror, and as you carefully tread from pane to pane you’re never entirely sure where your next step will take you.

It’s moody and pleasantly unusual, but Where Is My Heart? can feel straight sadistic at times. For people who just want to try something different or for those thrive on a stiff challenge, this one was made for you.

YS SEVEN
Platform: PSP
Score: 85

The continued adventures of Adol the Red, pimp among heroes.

I’ve played every Ys game that’s made it out west since 3 on the SNES. I’m not telling you this to brag (I mean, that’s not exactly the stuff of badasses, is it?), I’m just sayin’ so y’all know I ain’t no fake. I can say with some degree of authority that Ys Seven is the best in the series by leaps in bounds, invoking Secret of Mana sensations while giving your thumb a painful blister.

You’d think that integrating a party system would radically change Ys’s flow but nope! Shit’s still off the hook. Provided you can plow past the game’s mind-numbing intro, Ys Seven blossoms into one of the most exciting action-adventure games I’ve ever played. The music isn’t quite up to the snuff of earlier titles in the series, but it’s unmistakably Ys. Don’t ask me how to pronounce that.

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 626 posts on Delta Attack
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  • Markham Asylum

    Unfuckingbelievable. Where do you find the time?

    Scott Pilgrim: Check out the movie sometime. It’s just as much fun as this game sounds.

    LBP2: Great social commentary. But evolution is unstoppable, my friend, whether it makes us weep or rejoice.

    Portal 2: I’d totally do co-op with you, man. I’m very patient, and I’d like for you to experience the campaign that is quite different but just as good as its single-player counterpart.

    LA Noire: Funny, I just started playing this recently. I got stuck on the first interrogation after the 10th retry and rage-quit, but when I later described my experience in the I-room to Mrs. Markham Asylum, she said that we should try it together sometime. So perhaps it will end up being a co-op experience for us. That would be nice, since LBP2′s platforming is beyond her level of expertise, and even drove me nuts at times, especially the unintuitive feel of the grappling hook.

    Final Fantasy 4: This is definitely the best version of FF4 ever (but hopefully also the last one; 5 and 6 could use some love as well). The After Years, though… ugh. Such a shitty story… I couldn’t even finish it, and I got ~80% of the way through it. It felt like a monumental chore, one that not even my love of FF4 could inspire me to complete.

    Magic 2012: I played the original Duel of the Planeswalkers again recently, specifically the co-op mode, and it quickly brought back my love/hate relationship with Magic: I love it when the luck goes my way or seems neutral, but inevitably I get a streak of bad luck and I hate it. Over time, the hate wins out, and I stop playing. I really wish that Wizards would make another encapsulated CCG-type experience (that is, one without any microtransaction costs) for PSN/XBLA that is something besides Magic. Magic essentially made the CCG genre viable, but the fact that most of your resources come from cards that are mixed in with your non-resource cards make the luck aspect way too strong. A game like Magic that had even more strategy and less luck… that would insanely awesome.

    Angry Birds: I would type something in response, but it’s hard to think clearly when the bus’s tiretracks are still on my body.

    Mini Ninjas: Those are some of the best promo videos I’ve ever seen for a game. Perhaps -the- best.

    Clash of Heroes: I played this somewhere into the second section of the campaign, then got bored with it. It’s a great idea, but I think my ability to thoroughly play a puzzle game wrapped up in RPG digs was mostly used up by Puzzle Quest, even though that was years ago and had much simpler gameplay.

    Great work on this post, bro.

    • Mark A. Brooks

      Thanks, amigo.

      I know it seems like a monster task but at least half the games on this list can be polished off in 1-3 days. But still, probably should have spent more time outside last year. Easily the busiest year of video games for me since middle school.

      Luck is a bitch in MTG, I mean, you can mitigate your chances of mana screw by using a full compliment of dual-color producing lands, but that shit’s expensive. My favorite build has always been Red Sligh (or whatever the kids call it these days), which builds on the idea of mana-curve (y’know, 16 cards that cost one, 12 that cost two, 8 that cost three, etc.) and blows the opponent up (hopefully) before they can drop the fifth land and put up a wall. Ahhhh! This conversation is making want to buy shit and play again.

      • Markham Asylum

        Don’t buy any Magic shit! It’s just a sinkhole for time and money. These Duel games are the exception: it’s one price to pay (or a little more for DLC), and that’s it. As you said, you can’t mix up your own decks, but that just helps prevent you from spending hours at a time doing decks. God, that shit got so old with the real game… and even after spending hours, your deck was never as good as that of some circle-jerk chode-hat that just went online and copied a pro deck.

        • Mark A. Brooks

          I still have my cards, amazingly, although the ones I miss most have long since been sold.

          The last time I played Magic in earnest was years ago online… many nights spent duking it out against another certain Delta Attack contributor. Oh wait, make that two, since I’m pretty sure we played at least one game on MTGO, didn’t we?

          • Markham Asylum

            No, we didn’t play MTGO; I just did a few drafts and then bailed on it altogether. We did play IRL at your old deathtrap apartment, though.

            The Mrs. and I just played LA Noire. She looked in the manual and found the difference between Doubt and Lie, which the game didn’t explain… after that, the first interrogation was easy. I wish they had done a better job of explaining interrogation in-game. Oh well. It’s a cool game so far; I’m glad I gave it another shot.

          • Fade to Slack

            MTGO was such a resource hog: both my computer and my money.