Welcome everyone to the “Cary’s Best Video Games of the Year 2011 SO FAR Awards Show!” Around this time of year, when it’s halfway through (can you believe it?), I like to take a look back at the games released in the first half of the year and pick out the best ones! Why? Well when people do their Game of the Year awards at the end of the year, some of the games released at the beginning are sometimes forgotten. And all the exciting news of the upcoming games announced at the recent E3 doesn’t help matters. I know that most of the best games come out at the end of the year for the holiday season, but I wanted to give recognition to the early games of 2011 as well.
Now, before we start, keep in mind that these are MY picks only. No polls or outside opinions were taken. Many games may be missing from this list that you would’ve liked to have seen. But I’m only one person and can play only so many games! This list also reflects my tastes in games, so some readers may think this list is a bit biased. But hey, it’s my blog so I can do what I want, right? Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s get onto the awards show!
I’m your host, Cary Woodham, and tonight we’ve got a lot of great special guests: two dogs, Missile the Pomeranian from Ghost Trick and Chibiterasu from Okamiden. Also, She-Hulk from Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Tifa from Dissidia 012, and Reiko Nagase from Ridge Racer 3D. Not to mention Wheatley from Portal 2! OK, none of those are really guests, but I think if someone drew all those characters up on stage, that would be some pretty neat fanart, don’t you think? All right, enough silliness from me, let’s get onto the games!
BEST POINT AND CLICK ADVENTURE
Technically the first episode of this came out late last year, after Christmas in 2010. But the majority of the episodes came out this year, so I’m considering it a 2011 game. It may not be TellTale’s best work, but it’s still a fun romp for fans of the movies. It’ll probably be the closest thing we get to a Back to the Future 4. They got some pretty good voice work, like Christopher Lloyd and even Michael J. Fox in the last episode! The cartoony graphics work, too, actually, like DreamWorks got a hold of the movies or something.
Ghost Trick was made by the same folks who did Phoenix Wright, and you can definitely tell by the characters and story! But the game is a weird mix of point and click adventuring with The Incredible Machine puzzle-like gameplay. You are a ghost and must possess objects to make them move to get to point A to point B mostly, or trigger other events. Great characters and a fun story with a crazy plot twist at the end will keep you on your toes, too. My favorite was Missile the dog, who also appears in the Phoenix Wright games, too. In fact, when I got Nintendogs + Cats for 3DS, I got the version that had a Pomeranian so I could have my very own Missile!
BEST 3-D ADVENTURE
One of the problems with Kingdom Hearts games is they rehash a lot of the same characters and locations, and Re:coded is no exception. They make up some kooky story to explain why Sora is revisiting all these worlds (they use the hackneyed virtual world plot here). But it’s essentially Kingdom Hearts you can play on your DS. And for what it is, it’s pretty good. Graphics are great and the hack and slash gameplay is fun. Plus they added all the gameplay tweaks that I loved in Birth By Sleep. Actually, there is ONE 3-D adventure I enjoyed even more than this one, but it got an even bigger award, so I’m saving it for later.
BEST SPORTS GAME
A lot of people complained that this game was too simple, but I think that’s why I liked it so much! I’m not into sports games, so this will probably win the award at the end of the year by default since I don’t play many other sports titles. But I really liked its Wii Sports simple approach to the gameplay, and it means that players of all ages and skill levels can enjoy it together. Square made this one for Nintendo, and they put in a lot of old school Final Fantasy references and characters, which I liked. It’s not the first time Mario and Final Fantasy were in the same game, but it always still surprises me when they do that. Especially at the end of the tournament mode in Sports Mix when you go up against a giant purple Behemoth in a crazy sports boss battle!
BEST FIGHTING GAME
I almost was going to give the fighter award to Marvel vs. Capcom 3, but when this game came out a little later, I played the heck out of it. Even though it’s nearly the same game as the first one. But it’s such an original fighter and the things they added to it really made it great. Like new characters such as Tifa and Kain. Heck, even dumb old Lightning was cool (but only because she has pink hair). Even though I played the first one to death, I found myself really getting into this one as well. So that’s why it beats Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Sorry guys.
Just because it didn’t win, doesn’t mean that it’s not a good game. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is still a great fighter that gets a lot of playtime around the house even to this day. It was also fun to learn about some of the Marvel characters that I didn’t know much about. In fact, I even wrote a couple of blogs about it that you can read here and here, and it was fun to read your comments on them. This game helped me decide my favorite Marvel character is She Hulk, because her ending in this game had Phoenix Wright in it!
This one really wins by default, as it’s the only RPG I’ve played this year. Well, OK, I’ve played two others, but the PSP remake of FF4 is getting another different award, and Hyperdimension Neptunia wasn’t that great, even if it had cute girls with pink and green hair. Even though it’s more of the same, the newest Pokemon games are still fun. My little brothers and their friends still enjoy them to this day. And the little piggy starter Pokemon is awesome. I think I just OD’ed on Pokemon back when I was writing about it all the time for the newspaper when the game first came out. I’d probably enjoy the games more if I hadn’t done that. Oh well.
BEST ARCADE CLASSIC COLLECTION/REMAKE
And speaking of FF4, it gets this award, as the PSP version is probably the best FF4 remake yet. Yeah the DS version was in 3-D, but the graphics were crappy and it was way too hard. This has all the extra stuff found in the GBA version, and the After Years sequel! Plus tons of extra content. A must for old school FF fans like myself.
BEST RACING GAME
Ridge Racer 3D (3DS)
This one wins by default, as it’s the only racing game I played this year. I hear the 3-D graphic effects are good, but since I can’t see 3-D, I wouldn’t know. But it has Reiko Nagase in it, so that’s nice. I like some of the icons you can put on your profile, they’re from classic Namco games and obscure favorites like Taiko Drum Master and Legend of Valkyrie. And you know I dig that!
BEST PUZZLE GAME
Portal 2 (360)
The original Portal was a brilliant game and the only reason why I bought The Orange Box (I did wait until it went down in price, though). The sequel is every bit as good. It may look like an FPS, but it’s a cleverly disguised puzzle game. But I don’t need to tell you that. What I will say is that I never thought another Portal character could upstage GlaDOS, one of my favorite video game villains. But they did in Portal 2 with Wheatley. Man, he was so hilarious. I liked Wheatley so much that I even looked up what other work his voice actor, Stephen Merchant, has done. Unfortunately, his other work is too highbrow for me, but you know I had to have really liked Wheatley if I actually made the effort to do research on something! Portal 2’s co-op mode was also a blast and me and my brother Jeff had a lot of laughs with it. It really is a game that makes you think.
And now it’s time to announce my Best Game of the Year SO FAR! Taiko drum roll, please…
BEST GAME OF THE YEAR SO FAR
I loved the first Okami game; it was my Game of the Year for 2006 on the PS2. While the portable sequel isn’t quite as ‘epic,’ it’s nearly every bit as good. You get to play as an adorable little puppy, the graphics look amazing on the DS, and it’s a very long and fulfilling quest. I highly recommend it; it’s every bit as good as the portable Zeldas.
Another reason why Okamiden gets my Game of the Year SO FAR award are the memories that I’ve associated with it. When the game came out, I got the opportunity to do an Okamiden Art Contest and that was a lot of fun. I got a lot of great entries that I posted that you can check out here. Definitely a highlight in my video game reviewing ‘career.’
Portal 2 (360)
Normally I don’t condone short games. Nowadays I tend to like short games better than long ones. But the main reason why I chose Okamiden over Portal 2 was because at full price, Portal 2 is only about 8 hours long. Whereas Okamiden is half the price, and nearly three times as long. Plus, again, I have the great memories I’ve associated with Okamiden that I’ve mentioned. But it really was a close battle. In fact, if you’d rather see me pick Portal 2 over Okamiden, you can just pretend I did and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings any.
And that’s my awards show! In the comments section, tell me what YOU think! Were my choices good or stupid? What were YOUR favorite games of the year SO FAR? Would you watch an awards show on TV like this? Please let me know, and I’ll see you all later! –Cary