2011 Gaming Roundup
It’s that time again! Here is my fifth annual overview of the games I played in the preceding year. Previous roundups: 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
All games are listed in the order played and/or beaten; the “Endless Games, etc.” section is from memory and may be out of order and/or incomplete. Linked titles go to that game’s Review, Impressions, or Game Love entry, though many of the unlinked games are discussed elsewhere on this site. Icons were made from press images poached from various places all over the internet. Thanks as always to namatamiku for the initial inspiration, and an additional shout-out to Clidus for writing his own roundup posts this year.
World of Goo (PC via Steam) – This indie puzzler, which I’d been meaning to play for some time, did not disappoint. Features good physics, interesting challenges, and an offbeat sense of humor as the most significant parts of its wonderfully presented whole.
Game Dev Story (iPhone) – A rudimentary but fun management sim where the goal is to become a successful video game developer. Complete with optional booth babes!
Picross 3D (DS) – My favorite game out of those I played this year, not to mention the most surprisingly addictive. Hit full completion—something I rarely do with any game—after beating Game Dev Story.
Rune Factory 3: A Fantasy Harvest Moon (DS) – The best Rune Factory to date features crisp graphics, fine-tuned gameplay systems, and wonderful characters fleshed out over the course of several quests.
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes (DS) – A mashup of a strategy RPG and a match-three puzzler, this game is enjoyable enough, but has a host of small, annoying issues that hold it back from being blissful.
Portal 2 (PC via Steam) – Bigger, longer, and more varied than its predecessor, but with a different overall tone, a seemingly lowered difficulty curve, and slightly less immersion. The co-op mode is on the agenda for 2012.
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (PS2) – My least favorite game of 2011. Dark and depressing with generally lousy cast, bland environments, less story than I had anticipated, and a boring battle system.
Toki Tori (WiiWare) – A very cute—and sometimes difficult—puzzle game where the goal is to collect all of the eggs on a given map. Features the most unexpected ending I have seen in any piece of media this year.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii) – This incredible platformer may be the best Kirby ever made. Couples beautiful fabric-inspired visuals and a piano-heavy soundtrack with a fresh new approach to the series’ standard gameplay. The only disappointments were the “dash” controls and the so-so final battle.
Shiren the Wanderer (Wii) – A much lengthier quest, and one with a far more convoluted plot, than the previous Shiren I played, but fun and challenging enough. Definitely a worthy addition to the mystery dungeon genre.
The Legend of Zelda (GameCube via LoZ CE) – I had never played a Zelda before this one, and now feel richer for having done so. A must-play if one seeks a well-rounded video game education.
Halo 2 (Xbox) – Features a good story marred by a lousy final boss battle, not to mention some nice new features and the introduction of my current favorite Halo series character, the Arbiter.
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (DS) – Despite a convoluted story and a few niggling little gameplay issues, this is a more refined, and happier, SRPG than its predecessor, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.
Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City (DS) – Sports a completely revamped class system, oceanic exploration, multiple endings, and a New Game Plus mode as its major new features. The best game in the series (so far).
Rogue Galaxy (PS2) – An engrossing action RPG that took me way too long to get around to playing. The game’s positives, including gorgeous graphics and an engaging battle system, outweigh its small handful of negatives.
Halo 3 (360) – My first current-gen Halo was interesting and varied in terms of maps and campaign mission structure, but the story felt slapdash at times, and backtracking through a certain area was not fun.
Toki Tori (OSX via Steam) – Purchased as part of the Two Tribes Pack, I took the titular bird on yet another egg collecting go-round over the holidays, including some of the Steam-exclusive Test Lab maps, created as part of a Portal 2 pre-release promotional campaign.
Endless Games, Multiplayer Games, and Others Not Beaten:
Audiosurf (PC via Steam) – Still love this game, which is one of my go-tos whenever I’m tired, but still want to game. A must-have for music and match-three puzzle lovers.
Plants vs. Zombies (iPad) – Another game I found myself busting out during the times I was too tired to play something with a plot. This past year I played way too much of the Beghouled minigame, plus several rounds of Survival.
Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 (PS2) – Haven’t spent as much time with this as I would’ve liked, but I seem to remember being not too impressed with the song list. If I take up DDR again, this will be the first one I play.
StarTopia (PC) – I will never stop playing this, even though there’s more complex city builders available these days, such as…
Tropico 3 Gold (PC via Steam) – This is the formal name for the complete version of Tropico 3. The Absolute Power expansion’s improvements and additions make playing Sandbox mode more enjoyable than it’s ever been.
Puyo Puyo 2 Tsuu (Genesis via Virtual Console) – I think I might’ve gotten a little better at this devilishly fast-paced puzzle game, but of course, I still haven’t conquered the third tier of the single-player mode.
Sonic Colors (Wii) – Tweaks and improves upon Dimps entries such as Sonic Rush with fantastic results. This truly is classic Sonic made modern, but also contains the things you most hate about those old games.
Pokemon White Version (DS) – In terms of story and aesthetics, this is the most impressive Pokemon I have yet played. It also seems to be the most streamlined—either that or I’m just becoming a better trainer.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (GameCube) – Currently playing this co-op with my husband. It has a bit of a learning curve, but we’re pretty well set into our groove now. Among the game’s highlights are the most adorable moogles in the entire Final Fantasy franchise.
Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny (Wii) – Like Etrian Odyssey III, this entry differs from its predecessors in that seafaring is a major theme. Very much unlike every other game in the series, but still decent.