I was originally going to do a “best/worst” sort of thing, but nama has a list of the games he played this year and what he thought of each one of them (by a scoring system). I thought, “that sort of makes more sense”, so here I go:
Elebits (Wii) – What happens when you combine a first person shooter with Katamari Damacy. Features a sometimes flaky camera, and suffers from slowdown whenever several dozen objects (and Elebits) are being tossed around, but is very good overall. Has since dropped in price, so there’s no excuse not to pick this one up.
Gyakuten Saiban II (DS) – aka Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice For All. A strong sequel to a great game, and one which surpasses the original with its mind-blowing fourth act. The Psyche-Lock system is a great addition, and having a bar in place of exclamation points a great improvement, but you still have to guess your way out of a spot or two.
Makai Kingdom (PS2) – Didn’t care about the story or the characters, and changed the voice settings from English to Japanese early on, because the former voices were that bad. The grid-free system of movement worked better in this game than it did in Phantom Brave… but it’s still grid-free.
Kirby’s Adventure (NES via Wii VC) – One of the earliest Kirby platformers. If you’ve every played one, you know what to expect: high-quality gluttonous pink puffball action.
Dragon Quest VIII (PS2) – This game was Pure JRPG Bliss. Old school to the teeth, with only the slightest skews on convention. Also had some of the best voice acting out of any game I played this year, and certainly the best out of the RPGs.
Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales (DS) – Obviously geared toward a younger audience, but not as charming and funny as similar games by Nintendo, or even Squeenix’s own Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime. Good overall, and the music brought a certain nostalgia.
StarCraft: Brood War (Mac) – Great stuff; I can’t wait for SCII. Got my ass handed to me on a regular basis in the CAG League.
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus (PS2) – A fairly solid platformer. The romantic tension between thief Sly and cop Carmelita was sweet and funny.
Skies of Arcadia Legends (GC) – The “director’s cut” of my favorite Dreamcast game. After all this time, I’d forgotten where some crewmates were, but chams were easier to find. Random battles were supposed to have diminished in number, but they were still a little too frequent for my taste. Still features one of the best JRPG endings ever.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (GBA) – A tactical RPG I could actually play on the train! Being able to quick-save in the midst of battle was a godsend. People complain about this one because of the light story, but the gameplay is satisfyingly deep, even moreso than FFT’s in several ways. Can’t wait for FFTA2.
Paper Mario (N64 via Wii VC) – Oh man, I loved this game. So many great characters—Goombario is a personal fave—and a generic, but funny, story. Plays with its 3D environments in inspired ways.
StarTopia (PC) – I loved this game as well. A funny, and addictive, space station simulator. It’s a shame that this was the developer Mucky Foot’s last game.
Adventures of Lolo (NES via Wii VC) – A very early HAL game, and one of the first NES titles I remember playing. A simple room-based puzzle game with repetitive music and some tricky situations. Glad I got to finish this one, even though I did have to peek at an FAQ at one point.
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GC) – I daresay this was better than the first Paper Mario. The same humor is there, augmented by even more riffing on the flatness of the world. My one criticism is that the Glitzville segment was kind of slow, but that part also had some of the game’s best moments, story-wise.
Front Mission 3 (PS1) – I played through the “Emma” scenario of this game; will see if I can do the “Alisa” one this year. Anyway, this game reminded me a helluva lot of Final Fantasy VII in certain ways. Yes. Much preferred FM4’s story and writing, but FM3’s battle system was robust, with some intriguing tactical options. Wanzer customization is still a time-sink, but a fun and worthwhile one.
MySims (Wii) – Cute and features good editing interfaces, but is plagued by long load times and a lack of a sense of “place-ness”. Harvest Moon and/or Animal Crossing it ain’t.
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (DS) – A slowly-paced, highly-linear adventure game with an interesting story and beautiful graphics. The least game-like game I’ve played all year.
Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon (DS) – Harvest Crack with monsters and fighting. The story was largely ignorable and the translation was downright horrible in spots, but it was still Harvest Crack, but with grinding on top of farming (okay, that sounded bad o_O;).
Portal (PC) – The other room-based puzzle game I played this year, tinged with a bit of black humor. Great stuff, scratching at the true potential of 3D gaming. I kind of want to play it again.
Endless Games and Those Not Completed:
Final Fantasy XII (w/Jeff) (PS2) – AUGHAUGHAUGHAUGHAUGH. We really wanted to love this game, but got bored of it instead. We still haven’t listened to my copy of the soundtrack.
Wii Sports (Wii) – Not much to say here; it’s Wii Sports!
ActRaiser (SNES via Wii VC) – I’m currently stuck on the last boss. I enjoyed this game, especially the world-rebuilding aspects, but I don’t think I’ll be able to finish it, a la every Sonic game I’ve ever played.
Planet Puzzle League (DS) – The latest iteration of one of the best puzzle games ever, Panel de Pon/Tetris Attack. Garbage Attack is awesome.
Samba de Amigo (DC) – Played it for a little while, then it got hard and I just kind of gravitated toward DDR instead.
Dance Dance Revolution EXTREME (PS2) – Features some catchy songs. Good for a workout, but Workout Mode is sadly incompatible with Endless Mode.
Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA (PS2) – Features more catchy songs, plus is somewhat better organized than EXTREME and has some great features on top of that. No one seems to like EXTREME, and I’m starting to find out why.
Fallout (PC) – Tried playing this one day. The verdict: I still don’t like western RPGs.
Growlanser II (PS2) – This is a JRPG, but I liked this less than Fallout.
Sly 2: Band of Thieves (PS2) – Will finish it this year. Though it’s as technically solid as the first game, I don’t like the sandboxy elements in this installment and am not enjoying it as much. Can only play for an hour or so at a time.
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations (DS) – aka Gyakuten Saiban III. Will finish it this year. Still a great series, though the translation is a little spottier this time around.