The idea is simple; to highlight the games that are the best of this year. The limitation is obvious; I didn't have the time or the budget to play every game that was released this year extensively. The tradition is maintained; to present my GOTY mainly to reflect on my own personal tastes and hopes for design trends that I would like to see continued in 2011 and beyond.
With this flexible GOTY system I don't have to worry about ranking my choices in a list, and I don't have any arbitrary entry limitations. Every game that I feel should make the list makes the list. A free indie game has the same chances as a new Mario game.
- When I beat Phantom Hourglass, I couldn't believe how much the game innovated beyond console Zeldas like The Wind Waker. I was surprised when they announced Spirit Tracks so soon afterwards. Apparently, Nintendo had a lot more ideas to work with and a lot of spirit behind the development. Better music, graphics, battles, scale, and puzzles. Though many have foolishly dismissed the multiplayer, it is fantastic as well. It's one of my favorite Zelda games.
- Just like Spirit Tracks, Galaxy 2 refines what was established in Galaxy 1 and brings a whole host of new ideas to the table.
- Like Spirit Tracks and Super Mario Galaxy 2, Mega Man 10 is in a similar style of its predecessor, yet packed with new ideas. But the addition to the Mega Man series that I feel is worth a spot on my GOTY list is the challenge mode. Once you encounter a boss for the first time in the game, it is automatically unlocked in the challenge mode. The reason this is significant is that players have a way to practice without limitations or distractions. This greatly reduces the amount of potentially frustrating trial and error in the game. Furthermore, because the trials and achievements are much better designed/organized, I was able to earn 98.5% completion of the game. I clocked in well over 50 hours playing this game to the fullest, and I still have DLC to buy. Even if MM9 has the same level of design, I wasn't able to appreciate it like I do MM10.
- Capy is a small company that made a good story with a deep puzzle/strategy engine and multiplayer. The care and attention to detail is apparent. If more companies were as capable as Capy, I'd have a lot more games I must play.
- Reboots and retro-remakes are popular these days. I assume more are coming, so it's important to recognize when a company does it right. Retro has done an exceptional job returning to some of the experiences of Donkey Kong Country while bringing along plenty of modern innovations.
- This game is amazing mainly because of the work Miyamoto and Nintendo put into Super Mario Bros. over 25 years ago. Jay Pavlina's additions are very well designed. From being unknown to getting millions of plays in a matter of days, the success story of this self taught game designer/programmer is worth noting. If for no other reason, Super Mario Bros. Crossover should help us appreciate one of the world's greatest games better by giving us more characters to play. Often this industry moves so quickly, we overlook great games and fail to learn important lessons from them. This blog started with Mario and this GOTY pick will continue to highlight that game.
- I feel that many games are diluting the consistency and believability of their interactive experiences with very forgiving checkpoint/difficulty design. So I must push a game that offers an experience with no save-die-load system, no checkpoints, no easy mode, and no looking back. While challenging, Shiren is very deep and features a wealth of complexities that make the game world richer.
- It plays like a rougelike and a puzzle game. It's charming. It's simple. It's inspiring. It's challenging. It's 2010's Cursor*10? Or maybe Defeat Me is? But that's another story.
- Style. Sound. Button and touch screen controls. Very creative. Worth remaking. Cheap price. Many don't even know about DigiDrive let alone the well designed multiplayer.
- This Pat Kemp game will go down in silent history. Out before Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Spy Party, the multiplayer design of Puji innovates. Learn NPC behavior. Fool your human opponents right before their eyes. This game takes a lot more skill than many will realize.
Metroid: Other M
- I have yet to write about this strange game. There's so many great elements, yet it falls short in a way that's difficult to articulate. I like the game, but beating it only makes me want a sequel to refine the style (perhaps on the 3DS).
- Sure, I love rougelikes. And this is the 3rd rougelike in this article. Like RO9, Desktop Dungeons tweaks the conventions of the genre. Instead of long, complex games where dying ends lots of progress, this game pares down the experience to overcoming just one single screen level. There's lots to explore with the numerous characters and many randomly generated challenges all in a neat package.
- Station 38 is a game that I feel is better than Gamasutra's #1 Give Up Robot. The cleanliness of mechanics, visuals, story, and challenge put this over the top. I feel that many critics reward ambition too much. A great artist knows when to cut back, wrap up, and polish.
And to close, a list of all the games I'm still playing or haven't gotten around to.
- Mother 3
- Shantae: Risky's Revenge
- Sin & Punishment: Star Successor
- Sonic 4
- Pacman CE Delux
- Professor Layton 3
- Space Invaders Infinity Gene
- Super Meat Boy
- Halo: Reach
- COD: BlOps
- Mass Effect 2
- Red Dead Redemption