The GOTY lists each year contain the biggest hits and best games ever. This year is no different. Left 4 Dead 2, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, Assassin’s Creed 2, Infamous, Borderlands, and more are in the running. These games are more than deserving of their praise, but there are lots of amazing games left out in the cold. This is a list of some of my personal favorite games which wont be gracing any GOTY lists for one reason or another.
This game will show up on lots of “best fighting game of 2009” lists but won’t show up on GOTY list. The whole fighting genre has a hard time making it on the GOTY list, especially in today’s gaming landscape. Perhaps it is because of the genre’s limited scope or demanding gameplay, but the fighting genre seems to be slipping in popularity. That does not mean that there aren’t some amazing fighting games that came out this year, and BlazBlue is at the top of that list.
BlazBlue is from the creators of the Guilty Gear series and you can see the similarities immediately. The art style, music, character design, and speed is similar to the Guilty Gear series, but BlazBlue is still very much its own game. The basic mechanics are a little easier to learn compared to GG and it is slightly slower (which still means pretty fast).
The thing that makes BlazBlue the best fighting game of the year is it’s diversity of characters. In BlazBlue each character is completely different from the other. Not simply different moves, speed or strength, different characters in BlazBlue require extremely different strategies. Never before in a fighting game has each character been so unique. Switching characters feels like you are playing an entirely new game. Not only must you master your main character, you must know the other character’s strategy. Even more amazing is the balance between these unique characters. Sure there is one you can totally spam, but most of the time you will not feel like you are at a disadvantage at the character selection screen.
BlazBlue’s art, music, mechanics, and amazing characters make it the best fighter this year. If you love the fighting genre then you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t play BlazBlue.
Twisted Pixel followed up their first great XBLA game, The Maw, with ‘Splosion Man. This game was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. I was expecting to like it, but I ended up loving it . For all those people who want the Sonic series to be great again, forget the hedgehog and download the game that Sonic wishes he was in.
‘Splosion Man may be one of the easiest controlled games on the 360. You use the left stick to move right or left and any face button to splode/jump. That is it. This simplicity in controls meshes well with the complexity of later puzzles in the game. If you die in Splosion Man there is no way your can blame it on the controls. The only thing standing in the way of getting through each level is you, which makes seeing Splosion Man flying across the screen and finishing each level very satisfying.
‘Splosion Man is a small XBLA game. It didn’t reinvent the wheel and it didn’t have a story that will stick with you forever. It didn’t take millions of dollars to make and it didn’t break any sales records, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t one of the best games of the year and provided lots of people with an experience they didn’t even know they wanted.
It is no secret I love Machinarium (put link to review). I had not played many point and click adventures, but the art drew me in before I had seen any gameplay or had any information about the game. Without needing 3 processors or millions of pixels (which I do also love), Machinarium is one of the most stunning games I have ever seen. Fortunately there was a very fun and entertaining game to go along with the amazing art.
For a few dollars, Machinarium is a game that no one should overlook. The charming story will make you smile even while the puzzles are making you feel like an idiot. Each character, despite there being no dialog, stands out as a work of art. Machinarium will show up on plenty of “Best Indie Game of 2009” lists but probably wont end up on an GOTY lists.
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
Professor Layton is a puzzle game that manages to create characters and a story that you actually care about. Professor Layton and his adventures may just be window dressing for the puzzles, but it is beautifully animated and charming window dressing. The character design of Layton and the crazy characters that populate his world are very interesting and unique. Even if 99% of them didn’t have puzzles to give me I would still want to talk to them.
The puzzles in Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box are just as tough as the first game in the series. Many make you think outside of the box in order to come up with an answer. Some of them trick you into thinking to hard when an answer is staring you in the face. Some you simply must try till you get it right. There is a wide array of brain teasers to solve. The ones that do repeat become more and more complex, making you remember how to solve it and build off of that knowledge. Professor Layton takes what could have been akin to a book of brain teasers and turns it into one of the best games on the DS.
It is one of the most brutally hard games I have played. Trials HD tricks you into thinking it will be easy to pull of fast runs and cool jumps throughout the game. It doesn’t let you think that way for long though. The last few levels nearly had me rage quitting and breaking my controllers, but I kept trying and eventually completed even the hardest tracks. This game is short, 2D, punishingly hard, and downloadable. None of that means that I didn’t love playing it (so much so I just bought the DLC for it).
Team Fortress 2
This game was released in 2007, but with all the amazing support Valve has given the already great game, I still think that it should be in contention for GOTY 2009.
3D Dot Game Heroes
This game will be unfairly knocked out of GOTY 2009 simply because it will be released in 2010. Despite the fact that I haven’t played the game, I can tell you it will be the best game ever and should retroactively win this year’s and every year’s GOTY award.