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Video Games of 2013 [GO]
Jan 3rd, 2014 by Dan

Chifles

This is where a lot of the magic happened this year.

Writing this list each year is one of my favorite things to do at the end of the year. It forces some perspective on what I played and coheres my thoughts on the experiences this year. I spent less time with video games this year, to the tune of 19 fewer games played. 2013 heralded a shift toward portable games for me thanks to a rapidly maturing 3DS library and a nice, new phone.

JANUARY

Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward – If you thought 999 had the coolest story in video games, you’ve clearly never gotten around to spending enough time with VLR. The advantage of being a one-system game gives 999 a slight advantage in its huge twist moment, but VLR‘s meditations on quantum theory and its further exploration of the morphic resonance forces tons of interesting thought experiments. It’s a narrative gut punch that unravels with a brilliant pace.

The Cave – Ron Gilbert made himself a neat, interesting meditation on obsession and enlightenment, except he also mad ea game with ridiculous padding that required too much repetition of the same puzzles. It’s funny, but, sadly, I wasn’t ever able to motivate myself to go for all the endings.

FEBRUARY

Professional Baseball Spirits 2013 – I absolutely love these games, but I don’t know if I should keep getting them for a few years. I just don’t have the time to finish whole seasons any more. Maybe I should just get the last PS3 one and wait a while for the PS4 ones to get good?

Fire Emblem: Awakening – Allowing players to grind for levels was a weird decision. I think I got too distracted with grinding and lost momentum and motivation to finish the game. Still got a ways to go…It’s a strong SRPG, but I’m so distracted with other portable games that I haven’t gone back to it yet.

MARCH

Tomb Raider – Remember when I beat this game on my channel? It was pretty good. I didn’t have high expectations for Tomb Raider remade to be Uncharted, but it actually held its own pretty well. If it had a better handle on its narrative it might have ended up one of the best games of this year, but you just can’t hide significant story details in found audio or text logs…

Sim City – What a shitshow. Seriously. EA really dropped the ball on this one with the overloaded servers and poor handling of their PR. To top it off, city simulation managed to feel simpler and less deep than Sim City 3000 which, I’ll remind you, was released about 14 years ago…

Bioshock Infinite – Remember how I said that audio logs are stupid? That’s the bread and butter of this series and it’s overdone. The shooting lacked a little impact, but the skyhook was pretty fun. Supposedly this game has a cool ending and a neat story, but I’ve had trouble motivating myself to come back to this to finish my series on it.

Dead Space 3 – Played this all the way through with David. Co-op = fun and awesome. Game itself…not so much. Just a laughably bad story, but we had a good time playing it together.

Harmoknight – Tiny little rhythm game by Game Freak. I ended up not loving the timing of the button presses, but I did like the relaxed plot and creative arrangements.

APRIL

Digital: A Love Story – I don’t really remember why I ended up deciding to explore Christine Love’s oeuvre, but the fact that her first two larger releases were free probably contributed. Digital covers a time period that is slightly before my internet days (one where BBS was king) and the love story is, ultimately, not quite convincing enough, but it was interesting and it tangentially ties into Analogue

don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story – I rant to all kinds of people about how privacy in the modern era is an illusion. don’t take it personally goes and makes the argument for me. It also highlights how those of us in charge and legislating now still don’t really get it (and probably never will). Never have I seen a game do a better job at illustrating the generational gap and give both fairly substantial and even weight. The only thing I didn’t like was the kind of gross romance subplot…

Poker Night 2 – Remember the first Poker Night? It’s a little more advanced than that, but I like Ash and CL4P-TP less…

Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine – There was a fantastic couple of days where Min, David, and I just rocked most of the Monaco campaign and its prestige mode. Man, what a ridiculously fun co-op game. Especially with the way that David plays with his burrowing through every wall…

MAY

Rayman Legends – Better than Origins in some ways. Murfy is interesting too, but I have yet to play a level as cool as the treasure chase levels…

JUNE

Animal Crossing: New Leaf – Slow and leisurely. The feel-good, laid back game of the year. Animal Crossing might be low on action, but it’s so overwhelmingly nice and welcoming that it feels like the kind of world I’d want to live in. It’s just too bad that the guilt factor of being away for too long keeps me away.

The Last of Us – Yet another game I played to completion on my challenge. The chief problem with The Last of Us is that it’s just not fun to play. There’s nothing fun about the ugly violence committed by and against Joel and Ellie. It’s a brutal, depressing game that beats you down and ends with an unreasonably selfish decision that makes for a uniquely interesting ending and experience.

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future – Didn’t quite finish this one. It’s more Layton. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not gonna set anything on fire with its innovative ways.

JULY

Analogue: A Hate Story – The summer sale allowed me to finally pick up a game I’d heard such intriguing things about. Like Christine Love’s other games, Analogue is about a spaceship society that went kind of…weird. It was heavily modeled on an Joseon society that actually existed and it was a little horrifying. The way it all plays out is a little voyeuristic, but also super interesting and fun. I can’t wait to play Hate Plus to learn how the ship developed in this way.

Shin Megami Tensei IV – This is not Persona. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s odd that the two don’t borrow from each other a whole lot more. SMT IV still does things that feel so old-fashioned while Persona feels so progressive and fun. Definitely the best old-school JRPG that I’ve played in a while.

Evoland – It’s all kind of a joke, really, and not a very fun one, unfortunately.

Thomas Was Alone – You play as these little shapes! They’re so cute! There’s a really fun story! British accents!

AUGUST

Pikmin 3 – I was surprised by how much I loved this game. Allowing the player to split attention between three avatars was a brilliant move for efficient play. I’m more surprised that I haven’t yet gone back to finish it because it’s ridiculously fun.

Rogue Legacy – Sharp, tight controls. Super fun conceit with the progression of heirs. Go play it. It’s the Metroidvania/Roguelike-like of the year.

Papers, Please – Have you ever wanted to run a depressing, Soviet-style border checkpoint? Yeah…that’s this. It sounds dreary and boring and it kind of is, but that’s the secret genius of the game. The mundane tasks infect your morality and you actually start trying to game the system in a lot of insidious and awful ways. It’s kind of gross, but also very powerful.

SEPTEMBER

Didn’t start any new games in Sept!

OCTOBER

Plants vs. Zombies 2 – I don’t like playing this on my phone. It’s a silly complaint, but the game just isn’t good on that small a space. I’ll come back to it on PC.

Pokemon Y – The revolution we were all waiting for. 3D pokemon is awesome. Less awesome: the still asinine/mediocre story. I just wish Nintendo would step up the level of interest in the story if they are going to continue to try to force more and more complicated stories on the games. Other than that, the perfect pokemon evolution. Seriously awesome.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – So it’s not the best Ace Attorney game out there. It’s lacking the influence of Shu Takami and that has a bigger impact than I would have expected. The game is more anime-y, if that makes sense, and a little less cohesive, but it’s still the best ridiculous, non-real world law simulator out there. Good times.

Hometown Story – Not good times. It’s by the Harvest Moon guy, but it feels half done and not too put together. I only gave it an hour, but I didn’t like what I played so far.

NOVEMBER

Ridiculous Fishing – Avoid the fish on the way down, hit them on the way up. Slick Disasterpeace music, neat art design, a weird story. Pretty fun way to kill time on your phone.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – The music in this game is so…good. It’s a must to play this with headphones. The way the game handles the 3D graphics is also super fresh and vital. I wish I’d played more, but I’m saving it for after Pokemon and Phoenix Wright.

Super Mario 3D World – The most brilliant execution of game mechanics released this year. That final boss…holy cow! It’s even fun for four players, unlike some of the NSMB games. Perfection. Get a Wii U and play it.

XCOM: Enemy Within – You’d think that the new additions would be incremental and not all that game-changing, but the MEC stuff and the difficulty curve tweaks for Classic have made this game way different and way tougher, but also…more fun. Those robot suits are badass.

DECEMBER

Super Mario 3D Land3D World made me insanely curious about Land, another game people rave about. Holy eff. The way the system makes use of its 3D engine is super cool. This game is so full of brilliant platforming that feels more rewarding than anything else. It’s less ambitious than 3D World by necessity, but this game (so far) is just a wee bit better realized on its platform.

NES Remix – Less fun than I was hoping it would be. Making it more Wario-esque would have been better, I think. Still kind of neat and only $15.

Project X Zone – I think I’d need a little more time to have a definitive verdict on this, but it’s reasonably fun. I just want to play as Rockman. Right now.

The Walking Dead 400 Days – Five (very) short stories. Five (very) smartly told stories. I really do love how the vignettes say something about each person in the camp and about each person who plays the game. I only wish they hadn’t tied an achievement to the Paper, Rock, Scissors part.

The Walking Dead Season 2 – Just as polished and well put together as S1, in my opinion. I have no idea why some people haven’t liked the first episode as much. It’s tragic and brutal and just as insane.

Risk of Rain – Played a few rounds with Min and Lee. Brilliant co-op, but it feels just a touch half-done in its menus and interface. Worth continuing to investigate in 2014.

What I’ve Been Doing 15 April 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Apr 15th, 2013 by Dan

Thethieves

If you’re thinking this movie looks to be overstuffed…it most definitely is. (Photo by Han Cinema)

I actually had a really busy week considering how little media I consumed Mon-Wed. So much baseball too…

Movies

The Thieves – I enjoyed The Thieves, but it had a fundamental issue of elevating every single subplot to maximum import. It was just a little too overcrowded and it wanted to have its cake and eat it too. Still a pretty fun movie. I’m also a big fan of how Korean movies just blend in multiple languages seamlessly. There was Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and English all represented in the movie.

TV

The Amazing Race – Burned through the rest of S3 and, damn, Flo was edited to be really shrill. I’m still glad that she won over Terri and Ian, but Ken and Gerard would have been super fun.

New Girl – Gotta say that they’re doing everything they can to really make Nick and Jess awkward. It’s funny, but tough to watch sometimes. Their characterization of Winston and Schmidt is a little inconsistent though…

Archer – The Sea Tunt episodes lacked some of the oomph of the space station ones from last year, but it was still a fairly hilarious hour of television. The wait for new Archer always feels so long!

Community – The puppets all sounded muffled, but I enjoyed that episode a little more than the dance one. Well…except for the Brie Larson part. I love that girl. She was adorable in the episode.

Music

I don’t have anything really new, so how about my favorite song by The Clash?

Books

Nope. Sorry!

Video Games

Poker Night at the Inventory – Those Four of a Kind and Straight Flush achievements are, well, luck-based. So frustrating! Pumped for the sequel!

Digital: A Love Story – A quick little quasi-visual novel. It’s best quality is how well it emulates the old BBS internet and net behavior in general.

don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story – More conventional as a visual novel. Mostly interesting for how accurately it captures high school drama, high school social media behavior, and as a parable about privacy and sharing in the modern world.

Tomb Raider – The shooty bits are coming a bit more frequently. Good thing I’m so great at them, right? …Right?

DmC Devil May Cry – Spending time away from character action games makes them tough to play. I forgot how much I enjoyed that game. Gonna have to go back to it. It’s also great since I don’t film it and I don’t have to worry about casting at the same time or editing.

PS:

“Did I fall asleep?” – What I’ve Been Doing 18 June 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Jun 18th, 2012 by Dan

Alpha looks seriously creepy there. Wow. (Photo courtesy ComicVine)

In a weekend full of grief over some terrible Marlins losses thanks to anemic offenses I finally got around to finishing Dollhouse…

Movies

Indie Game: The Movie – Steam’s first movie! I didn’t kickstart it, but I was more than happy to support it post-release. It’s not super informative if you don’t already know a bunch about indie video games, but it’s entertaining to see three artists at three stages of their careers and the minds and personalities that go with each. It makes me really crave postmortem analysis of Fez as well.

TV

Dollhouse – I think it’s safe to say that this is Joss Whedon’s weakest show (although I haven’t seen Angel yet…). Most of the complaints were with Eliza Dushku not being up to the part, but I think she eventually grew into the part. The second season was full of a lot of melodrama and, as Min noted, felt very rushed, but I think that Joss had enough time to put a perfect little bow on the series and wrap up all the loose plot threads rather nicely. I’d much rather recommend that people watch The Wire, but if you’re looking for something second tier to enjoy and you’ve already seen Firefly, you could do worse.

Patton Oswalt: No Reason to Complain – Comedy pairs perfectly with Diablo or another similarly mindless game. This isn’t Oswalt’s funniest work, but I enjoyed it alright.

Louis C.K.: Hilarious – Man, Louis C.K. is funny! I don’t know why I’ve never seen his standup before, but you should catch this before it leaves Instant on 1 July. I loved the bits about how unappreciative Americans are. Good stuff.

Futurama – I’ve only seen like six episodes of this show. Everyone seems to love it. I’m checking out the first season. Saw the garbage ball one and the one where Bender gets hooked on electricity. Had some funny moments, but not hilarious ones. I liked the musical bits in hell and seeing the Beastie Boys was bittersweet.

Music

Guys…the video to Girls’ Generation’s new single, “Paparazzi” came out. The stealth conversion of the site to a K-Pop repository continues.

Books

1Q84 – How long has it been since I last read this book? Holy cow! Got a bunch of chapters in. One of the characters has realized that something might be up, but I don’t know how Aomame is gonna tie in with Tengo’s story. I’m intrigued, but I’m frustrated by my usual pet peeve of men writing women like they feel like women think. I mean, I can’t confirm that Murakami is being inaccurate with his portrayal of Aomame’s thoughts, but it doesn’t quite feel right to me. Then again, what the heck do I know about how women think/act?

Video Games

Diablo III – I’m in Inferno! Now I’ve just gotta beat Diablo again. Lost another Hardcore Min. Rest in peace Min the Demon Hunter. Your deeds will be forever remembered.

The Binding of Isaac – Great time killer. Gotta make more progress, but these challenges are tougher than I realized they’d be.

Poker Night at the Inventory – Trying desperately to get the four-of-a-kind or straight flush achievements, the odds of which are 72,192.33 : 1 and 4,164 : 1, respectively. Got a lot of poker ahead of me…at least Texas Hold ‘em has softer odds.

No More Heroes: Paradise – The recent release of Lollipop Chainsaw reminded me that I’ve got a Suda51 backlog that needs clearing. Lotta character and personality to this game. I like Travis Touchdown and I like the fighting for now, but I don’t love the busywork nature of it all. I’ll survive the part time jobs and assassination missions mostly by thinking about the statements that Suda is trying to make, but I have a much harder time dealing with the temperamental motorcycle and overlarge overworld.

What I’ve Been Doing 2 April 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Mar 26th, 2012 by Dan

Goon

Seann William Scott is so innocently dumb in this movie, but it's actually quite good. (Picture courtesy nxusco)

Guys, Goon was really good. More later, but you should check it out. This week was a real scattershot weekend as I tried to play a bunch of games I didn’t give much time to before.

Movies

Martha Marcy May Marlene – The cult in the movie is an interesting contrast to the fundamentalist Christian society in Higher Ground and the hippie commune of Wanderlust. This movie really ratchets up the tension of not knowing what’s real and what’s not. Ideally they would have made Patrick a scarier presence, but the movie is still on pretty solid ground with what it accomplishes. Congrats on the fantastic part, Elizabeth Olsen. Keep it up!

Goon – This is a mostly sweet movie about a guy who had no place in life other than to fight on the ice. It’s done pretty well and it’s funny and it’ll definitely win you over. Alison Pill, who played Kim Pine in Scott Pilgrim, is great as a Canadian hockey girl and Seann William Scott is endearing. The violence of hockey and hockey fights is really the thing that might put you off the movie. It gets pretty brutal if you don’t like it.

TV

Mad Men – Last week’s premiere was amazing and I totally loved it. Can’t wait to see yesterday’s episode tonight!

Breaking Bad – Finished the first season. The six episode arc they had to work with never went anywhere with any definitive statement, but I think they’re playing the long game for all the seasons. Doesn’t mean that it was bad, just that I’m used to a more dramatic season arc. The progression of Walter White from teacher to meth cooker has definitely been interesting as is the seething anger that lurks beneath hsi outside personality.

Happy Endings – A great tribute to all the sitcom tropes of old. Some really good jokes in there that helped keep it from being too hack-y (like it was when the episode started). Elisha Cuthbert’s Ellen was hilarious.

New Girl – I liked the episode, but I’m rather chilly on New Girl at the moment. It’s not bad, but it’s not amazing either.

Justified – Another table setter. The final two episodes of this season are going to be bananas. I’d like for Limehouse to continue to be a force in S4, but we’ll see if he survives the next two eps first.

Community – It’s entirely possible that this episode contained the first “boner” joke I’ve laughed at since I was 13. The Subway corpo-humanoid is the highlight of the ep. Also a highlight: “Put it in a letter, Jane Austen!”. Alison Brie is so awesome.

Up All Night – This show is kind of meh to me too. At least it’s enjoyable meh. I’d rather watch New Girl because Zooey Deschanel is cute, but this is the better show.

The Wire – Finally finished S1 and the commentary of S1. Can’t wait to get moving through S2 because S3 is amazing. I love the attention to detail in The Wire and the devastating verisimilitude of it all.

Music

“Heaven” is one of the best tracks on the Persona 4 soundtrack, but it’s also pretty awesome to listen to any time. Don’t believe me?

Books

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – I’ve got like 10 pages left. So tired of this book.

Video Games

Ghost Trick – Weird ending to this game. Just plot twist upon plot twist. Still one of the better story games I’ve ever played and excellent practice for my Spanish.

Devil Survivor 2 – Still haven’t caught the entire breadth of this story, but I do dig it. Interested in seeing where it goes, but my major play time will probably come when Min and I go to Vegas (he’ll probably sleep through the flight)

Mass Effect 2 – Slowly tearing through this a few missions at a time. For some reason I can’t stomach playing it for long periods of time. I think it’s because ME3 is clearly better and they’re so similar.

Poker Night at the Inventory – Put in a few mins to get some achievements and just play some poker. Still fun.

Jamestown – Was feeling like finally putting some time into the weird quasi-historical/quasi-sci-fi version of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. Fighting the Spanish conquistadors and the Martians is weird, but fun. I like all the different ship types.

Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 1 – I played and beat this many moons ago, but I wanted to play ep. 2 and that required playing this. Decent RPG and pretty funny still.

Sine Mora – Tried it out on XBL. I might pick it up when I finish a few other games. Seems interesting.

Pac-Man CE DX – Um…best game on my Xbox. Period. This game is so good I had to force msyelf to stop to play…

Galaga Legions DX – I was tired of only having like two achievements in this so I went and got to 11/12. Might not get the last one (more annoying than tough), but I’ll probably cave and just do it. Not as good as Pac-Man at all, but still fun.

Shadow Complex – Cave Story + made me think the same thing this game does: Why don’t game companies make more Metroidvania-style games? They’re really addictive and fun. Weird. Also weird: Nolan North in a half-tuck role that’s NOT NATHAN DRAKE! I think the shooting is a little awkward with the right stick because they added the whole 3D aspect to it, but otherwise fun.

2010 in Video Games [GO]
Jan 5th, 2011 by Dan

The Super Potato Exterior in Akihabara

Super Potato in Akihabara

As is typical of me, I played a ton of video games this year. Here’s a listing of what I played along with a few short (or long) words on each game. For the most part, this list is restricted to games released in 2010 unless I did not play them until this year. It’s also mostly in chronological order, with some skips here and there.

Mother 3: Definitely did not come out in 2010. I reviewed it already, but let me say that there is significant beauty to this game. Affecting and heartwrenching, this is easily among the best games I played this year. Do not play this on an emulator because the music-timing of the battles is deliciously fun and the time lag of emulation makes that impossible to experience.

Mass Effect 2: The first AAA game of the year. My review trended toward disappointing, mostly due to the way that story was handled in this iteration compared to part 1. Still, an undeniably great game whose heist-story mechanics and plot are unique and interesting in the gaming landscape. I can’t wait for part three in November.

Heavy Rain: Almost as exciting as actually doing the chores your imaginary wife forces you to do in real life. The execution just missed with this one and its plot twist was asinine and felt cheap. If you’re allowed to hear the thoughts of the protagonists, but you fail to provide a logical reason as to why that person is lying to us (himself?), you’ve lost me.

Pro Yakyu Spirits 2010 (Professional Baseball Spirits 2010): My baseball game of the year. I love taking the Carp to the Japan Series each year. I spent countless hours developing my franchise. This game was worth every dollar I spent importing it.

Final Fantasy XIII: Thoroughly disappointing. Expect more from me on this (edits from the future!), but SqueEnix really dropped the ball something fierce here. A game that suffered from complete lack of creative direction. Final Fantasy XIII is the head of the snake eating its own tail that has become SqueEnix.

Yakuza (1, 2, )3: Did not put that much time into this one, but I did play its prequels to completion. Fiercely Japanese in design, I just haven’t found the time to get deep into this gem. I’m sure it’s actually pretty great.

Mega Man 10: It lacked some of MM9’s magic (partially by being easier), but still a razor sharp example of why the Blue Bomber captured our hearts in the first place. Pump Man’s power, while heavily reminiscent of Leaf Man, is deliciously fun to play with. Using it again Solar Man was also tons of fun for me.

Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilve: It was fun to go back to the best two games in the series. The Pokewalker was stupid, but I have high hopes for Black & White. These games are easily dismissed as rehashes, but they’re still white-hot proof that JRPG design doesn’t have to be needlessly complex to be addictive and elegant.

Alien Swarm: Valve gave me this game for free. I played it maybe twice. Decent fun, but I’d rather play Left 4 Dead 2.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey: Never beat this game. SMT continues to be ridiculously tough and legitimately mature in their presentation of mankind’s eternal struggles against its darker tendencies. Maybe it’s the first-person dungeon crawling, but something about this game prevents me from ever picking it up most days.

Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse: I’m lumping all five episodes into one entity. I find TellTale adventure games to be workmanlike in quality. With the exception of the last two or three episodes of Tales of Monkey Island, they lack the extra oomph that could make them truly great. That said, The Devil’s Playhouse was the most hilarious Sam & Max iteration yet. From Sam & Max’s insistence on pronouncing General Skun’kape as skunk-ape to their episode-wide fight over what to call the menacing Sam clones (Samulacra or Doggleganger?), these games were absolute riots. Now if only TellTale could figure out how to make them great games as well…

Monster Hunter Tri: One gaming session. The sword swipes pack so much friction it’s beautiful. Despite this, never picked it up again. Got a sick black classic controller out of it. Now if only I played Wii more often…

Super Street Fighter IV: Played the hell out of last year’s iteration. Opted to play other games since it was structurally similar to vanilla Street Fighter IV. Kind of wish I’d played it a lot more this year.

Green Day: Rock Band: Played it once, exported the tracks to Rock Band 2/3, never felt the need to boot it up again. Despite only 1 hour of playtime, unlocked an achievement. Fixing the ‘D’ rank that came as a result on Giant Bomb is the only reason I will ever boot this up again.

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies: Practically perfect in almost every way that a JRPG should be. I understand why the story was left more generic than years past, but the lack of an interesting narrative is what kept me from finishing.

DeathSpank: Played the demo once. Bought it on PC to support Ron Gilbert. Might actually play it one day. It seemed funny.

Comic Jumper: Hilarious in a juvenile way, I slogged through the repetitive, mediocre gameplay just to see more of this game. I think Min “played” this the right way. He watched me beat it and got to enjoy the presentation without having to touch a controller.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty: Am I the only person who hates what they did at the end of this story? Sure, it has legitimately far-reaching consequences for the sequel, but I think they’re also legitimately less interesting. Still, as perfectly constructed a game as they come. I fell out of playing it, but it definitely feels like I could pick it up at any time and have fun with it.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game: A loving tribute to River City Ransom wrapped up in a franchise that I really enjoy. Sounds like a recipe for success to me. Loads of fun, but, like most middling brawlers, starts to wear on you toward the end as there’s not enough variety introduced in later levels.

Worms: Reloaded: Love Worms. Loaded this up once and never did it again. I’ve hated all Worms interfaces since Worms 2, mostly because they obfuscate and hide customization options more and more as they transition toward console friendliness. I wish they’d put more effort into their PC version.

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, Dead Rising 2, and Dead Rising 2: Case West: I’ll lump these all together since they are mostly the same game spread out into chunks. The prologue and epilogue (Zero and West, respectively) are just small and feature-gimped enough that they lack the oomph of the full retail release. Dead Rising 2 itself was everything I wanted it to be. A more robust co-op system would be all it needed to be top tier, but I still had loads of fun with it. As a bonus, Min and Dead Rising 2 taught me how to play Texas Hold ‘Em this year.

Civilization V: You probably saw my review where I hated on the terrible AI. I haven’t played since they patched/fixed it, but if they did it right, this game could totally fall back within my good graces. I do sincerely love this game, it’s just not what I hoped it would be and, in its present form, not as good as IV.

Rock Band 3: Harmonix went and made a perfect Rock Band game. Now all I’ve got to do is get my hands on a pro-guitar and I might actually learn something practical from a game that lets me indulge in all my favorite music.

Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale: Ever wanted to run a JRPG item shop? This indie game translated from Japan is charming and fun, but I haven’t had the time to devote myself to it yet in 2010.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West: So good until the end. Can a stupid ending mar an otherwise good game? Yeah, kinda. I still loved it for the great acting (weird to say, right?), but stupid ending + sub-Uncharted 2 traversal-style gameplay mires this one in the mediocre bin. The fighting system could also have used a little less frame-lock in its animations (is that what this is called?). Can’t count how many times I died because I was stuck in a seconds-long super attack aimed at the air.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn: Unparalleled artistic vision ties this game together. I haven’t put too much time in, but it seems super easy. I want to play with a friend to get the most out of this. What do you say, Min?

Super Meat Boy: Juxtaposing Kirby and Super Meat Boy is wrong on so many levels. One is like chamber music. Beautiful, complex, but not so complex it’s tough to listen to. The other is kick-you-in-the-teeth, bite off a squirrel head, make you a man heavy metal. Super Meat Boy is so deliciously crunchy in every way that it might be the best game game on this list. Where Starcraft II is perfect with a Beatles-type polish, Super Meat Boy is The Clash; unabashedly punk rock. I love this game. It’s so addictive and fun.

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX: Did I say Super Meat Boy was perfect? Pac-Man CE DX (PMCEDX) is video gaming distilled to its primal essence. Eat a whole train of 30 ghosts and I dare you not to feel primitive fun stir deep within you. Words cannot express how great this game is in bite-sized chunks.

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge: Is it cheating to count a re-release? This is probably the greatest adventure game ever now with a commentary track recorded by the big three: Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman, and Tim Schafer.

Poker Night at the Inventory: Strong Bad is unbelievably annoying, but banter between Max, Heavy Weapons Guy, and Tycho are always a joy. The second half of this year’s poker lessons were learned here. Now if only I could get straight flush and four-of-a-kind hands so that I can 100% the achievements in this game!

Back to the Future: The Game: The voice acting and atmosphere in this game are both spot on. Unfortunately I hit a game breaking bug and had to start over. That sucked.

Limbo: First played this on 31 December, so it still counts. Deeply atmospheric, but darkly disturbing and difficult for me to stomach more than once a day. I want to go more into that in another post. Unfortunately for the game, I think the controls are a touch floaty, which I mostly find frustrating because I need to beat it dying fewer than 5 times for an achievement.

And that was 2010 in video games (for me). I missed some huge ones (Super Mario Galaxy 2, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, Call of Duty: Black Ops), but I think I got a good spread in there. Here’s to another great year in gaming for 2011.

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