So, 2008 has been a great year for video games, and on first glance, a kind of middling year for Nintendo. I’ve been a whiner regarding the lack of big-time holiday games, but that was just because I wasn’t looking too hard. After giving it a second thought, I’ve realized that there are a bunch of fantastic games that have come out this year. Seriously, there have been a great deal of underground, clever games and I’m quite surprised to find how many second and third party games I’ve played! I’ve decided to just go and list a group of my favorite game found on the Wii and the DS this year, each of which I’ve played enough to pass judgment. I’ve only made a tiny dent into some games that I assume are fantastic, games like World of Goo, Chrono Trigger, de Blob and No More Heroes. One day, I’ll play these! I promise. Now, here is the list of my seven favorite games of 2008.
– Why Haven’t We Gotten More Of This Stuff: Mega Man 9
When I first saw the direction that Capcom was going with this game, I was as astonished as anyone. Knowing the power of nostalgia, Capcom decided to dip into the vault, blow the dust off How To Make Nintendo Games, and craft a gorgeous (ok, 8-bit gorgeous) tribute to one of the best gaming series of all time. Mega Man 9 isn’t something we haven’t seen before (It does break through Dr. Wily’s Robot Master Glass Ceiling with the introduction of Splash Woman), but damn if it isn’t a fun experience. It offers difficult stages, fun bosses with interesting powers, and when you finish the game, you feel just like you did when you were eight.
– More of the Same, But Why Not If The Same Is This Good: Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
I wrote about how much fun this formula is in my review of the game, but I want to reiterate it here. This game is the Metroid sequel we are craving. It is difficult, beautiful, and while the story is just another kind of boring assault on Dracula, at least it’s fun to take the son of a bitch down. This is the finest handheld Castlevania we’ve ever seen.
– Did Anyone Else Play This?: Space Invaders Extreme
I haven’t written much about this, but in the last few weeks, in my spare time, I’ve constantly found myself coming back to this fun gem of a DS game. Space Invaders, to me, was always the grandfather snooze-fest shmorp. What Square Enix has done is take the formula and inject just enough to make it feel youthful and fresh. With pounding music that changes based on what enemies you kill, powerups, new weapons, bonus stages and an all-powerful frenzy mode, this is one of my favorite time-wasters this holiday season. It’s so good, I’m almost tempted to buy the little scroll-ey wheel controller for it.
– I Wish I Were Younger: Super Smash Bros. Brawl
I love this game. I am a big fan of the series, as many of you know, and I love this proud entry into the series and gift from Nintendo to it’s loyal fans. The major problem I have with the game is how little time I had to really relish it. If this had come out while I was in college then it’d be a different story. Now that my close video game friends are spread around the country, I haven’t gotten the play out of this game that it deserves. Yeah, I know it has online play, but I’m one of the few people who can’t stand playing a fun party game like this without having my fellow combatants in the room shouting made-up insults (“Dongpowder”, “Weetsey”, “Snagglebagger”, “Poop-ey Mouthed Woman”). It has Sonic! And cel-shaded Link! R.O.B.! Somewhere, the college version of me is out buying more AA’s for this game.
– Perfect For The Physicist In Me: Boom Blox
I had heard all of the hype for this game, and went in a little bit wary. Jenga is cute, right? But I doubted that I wanted to play Jenga in the most awkward way ever. It only took me ten minutes to realize just how little credit I had given this phenomenal game. I was playing it with my brother last weekend when I realized exactly what made it fun for me:
1. The controls are close to perfect. If you knock over the blocks, or miss a throw, it’s not the games fault – it’s yours.
2. When you screw up, or miss a goal, reloading the round is a breeze. This is such a key thing – I don’t want to sit at any stupid loading screens, please.
3. This is a fantastic game even if you’ve never played a game before, and with some of the multiplayer modes, you can hand a second remote to a family member and trust that you’ll both have fun.
4. ALL BABY COWS ARE LOST
– Best Roadtrip Game: Korg DS
This isn’t really much of a game, but rather a little bleep making machine, but I really fell in love with it when I handed my DS (plugged into my car’s stereo) to a friend while I was driving. After fumbling with it for a while (which is just how things go with Korg DS), he started to find his footing with it, and suddenly the trip music was interactive! A similar thing happened with one of my favorite games of two years ago, Electroplankton. If you are wondering how powerful this game is, check out the youtube videos and mp3s of people’s music creations. One guy used it with the DSi to create a homemade talkbox! Very fun, and it’s why the DS is quickly becoming my favorite console of innovation of all time.
– My Favorite Game of The Year: Prof. Layton and the Curious Village
This came out way earlier this year, and from the day I got it, I was just shamefully hooked to this gem. The story is a little obvious, but the game looks just gorgeous, sounds beautiful, and it really made me think. What a great idea for a game, with the point and click adventuring interspersed with puzzles. The DS is perfectly suited for this type of game, too; the touch-screen allows for you to scribble your thoughts about the different challenges. I played this game and nothing else for two weeks, bringing it with me in my pocket wherever I went. Nothing else made me think like this game. No other title has prompted more recommendations to friends with DS’s like this game. No other game has provided a better experience.
Now, where are my damn sequels?