2008 has been great year for gaming. Last year, I talked about how every games enthusiast, reviewer, and/or blogger should have a game of the year. The point isn't to play all the games and try to figure out which one is the "best." Everyone should have a personal GOTY because of what it says about them. Each game represents something different about the development process, game design, and/or marketing. Picking a GOTY is a way of saying, "I uphold these values/qualities in a game and wish to see them reflected in the games of the next year."
So I compiled a list of games that make up my GOTY for 2008. What's interesting to note is that I've written a blog post on each of these games except for one. Here they are and what they represent.
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin
- Sequels that focus on multiplayer balance.
- Internet/web 2.0 community features (posting and voting on user made levels).
- Converting abstract mechanics into concrete mechanics with lots of interplay (CO design).
- Clean new art style.
- Out with the old. New world. New characters. New story. New music.
- Single player difficulty design. (Instead of a hard mode, players can replay missions to achieve higher scores/ranks)
- Still very solid, very next-gen core fighter design.
- Delay until the game is ready. If it's not ready for release, then don't release it.
- Iterating by reducing complexity and clutter. Brawl is now easier for everyone to play, yet still very deep.
- Bad adventure mode. Wonky internet features.
- Unfortunately, included too many modes/features/options that may have distracted developement resources from the core experience.
- The Balance Board provides a new way to play games.
- Body/physical awareness.
- Games that are beneficial to one's health.
- Focused, bite sized games.
- Surprisingly deep and difficult
- Clean, stylized, retro graphics.
- Excellent design (controls, powerups, bosses, levels)
- Next-gen game modes/features (time attack, leader boards, endless)
- Well planned, priced, and substantive DLC.
- Cross platform. Anyone with a console can play Mega Man 9.
- Solid core design well tuned for the DS (the good kind of slowdown)
- Bite sized levels.
- Amazing puzzle mode.
- Competent level editing tools.
- Clever level sharing features using the DS mic & speakers.
- Single player only puzzle games are still viable.
- Clever mechanics, story, and level design.
- Elegant solutions. The better you understand the mechanics, the more beautiful the challenges/solutions become.
- The product of one designer's vision who wasn't afraid to do a little experimenting with the video game medium.
- A poignant poetry like puzzle game.
- Gameplay over graphics.
- Unique level design.
- Tension using timers.
- Short experience with variable difficulty.
If I could only give one game my personal game of the year title, it would be...
- The most robust level editor on consoles. Power to the player.
- Web 2.0 style integrated community features.
- DLC at reasonable prices from costumes to gameplay enhancing upgrades.
- The potential for user generated levels is through the roof. Even a team based, folded, pure-organic, (p)playered level is possible.
- The "made by hand" art/graphical style is very unique complementing the create part of the game.
- Shipped with a somewhat wonky core design with the promise of future refinement.
Now that LBP exists, I see and think in LBP. Ceiling fans are powered by motor bolts. Construction workers on the side of the road mending stone walls are using popit tools. And every now and then, when I drop something I get the feeling that I should hit the rewind button. Like I said before, if no new games come out this year, I'd have more than enough to play and do mostly thanks to Brawl, Wii Fit, and LBP.