Sunday, January 16, 2011

Paleo's Top 10 Games of 2010

2010 was a very excellent year and a great start for the new decade. It's going to be a very tough act to follow in the coming years. I wasn't able to play all of the great games that came out, but I do have a list of the games that I played (which were released in 2010):

Alien Swarm
Bit.Trip Runner
Bob Came in Pieces
Cave Story
Dive: The Medes Islands Secret
Donkey Kong Country Returns
Endless Ocean: Blue World
Galcon Fusion
Kirby's Epic Yarn
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem
Metroid: Other M
Monster Hunter Tri
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
Picross 3D
Plain Sight
Poker Night at the Inventory
Revenge of the Titans
Rock Band 3
Simplz: Zoo
Super Mario Galaxy 2

I played many more games which didn't release in 2010 (like Bowser's Inside Story), but these are the ones I have to choose from for my top 10, so please don't cry out 'bias!' when you don't see Halo: Reach, Starcraft II or Red Dead Redemption, because well... I didn't play those. Who am I kidding, you'll probably cry 'bias!' anyway.

So... without further delay, here are my top 10 games of 2010! Starting with...

#10 Cave Story

I almost feel like I'm cheating by adding this one in my list because I actually played the freeware version the last month of 2009, and fell in love with it. But since the WiiWare version came out in 2010, I might as well include it, since I could actually beat this version. Surprisingly, it wasn't the Metroidvania gameplay that made me fall in love with this game, it was the characters and story. Strange, right? I mean, the gameplay is pretty awesome, but I think the fact that this game was the idea and dedication of one man who loved to make games made the characters really stand out for me.

#9 Bit.Trip Runner

This was actually gifted to me by Dr. Fink as part of secret santa in Negative World, lucky draw, huh? I wanted to get this game when it came out because I had 600 points left in the Wii Shop Channel and if Runner followed the pricepoint of the previous Bit.Trip games, it would have come out at 600, but nope. So... I bought the first one, Beat, and just waited to get Runner, and what do you know, I get it for Christmas! I'm a big fan of both platformers and rhythm games, so you know this is a great combination for me. The levels get really challenging and it's very satisfying to finally complete a level after multiple tries. No checkpoints in this game, when you mess up, you have to go all the way back to the beginning of the level. Thankfully, most of the levels are fairly short and give you a bit of reinforcement to keep trying if you continuously fail. All of these elements without even mentioning the music (which is excellent chip-tune stuff from Anamanaguchi) makes it deserve a spot on my list.

#8 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

I don't actually own No More Heroes 2 (a friend let me borrow and play it), so you might question why it's on my list... well, this sequel improved so much on the original that it deserves a place. The clunky jobs that were in the first game are replaced by 8-bit minigames that are actually fun. The boss fights are just as over the top and ridiculous as ever, and the music... the music is just amazing.The confusing ending and shorter than expected playtime prevents it from getting higher on this list though.

#7 Bayonetta

Like No More Heroes 2, I don't actually own Bayonetta, I rented it. I haven't played many hack-n-slash/beat-em-up type action games, but something about Bayonetta called out to me. I pushed myself to complete the game during the time I rented it, and it was a really fun and challenging ride. I don't know whether it was the sexy main character, the epic boss battles or the very satisfying combo system, but I had a ton of fun with Bayonetta even though it was just a rental.

#6 Monster Hunter Tri

I have to be honest with you readers, I really thought I wasn't going to get into this game after playing it for the first few hours. I actually pushed myself to play more so I could get a good feel for the game, but then I put it down for  while. Then one day, I decided to try the online mode... wow, what a difference. Monster Hunter Tri is definitely one of the best online games available on the Wii right now. No friend codes to be found and it's very easy to just play with a few strangers. The multi-player seems to be where a lot of the action in the game is and the single-player seems like a huge bonus by comparison once you get the hang of things (as I talk about in my Diary of the Rookie series). I still haven't completed the single-player or the multi-player quests in the game, but I can definitely see myself playing for even longer than the 70 hours I've logged in so far.

#5 Kirby's Epic Yarn

Well, what can I say about this? The game is so incredibly adorable and every level surprised me with the way Good Feel made a game that is "too easy" and still very fun. The thing that stands out the most, of course, is the presentation of it all. I always thought fabric and yarn would be a boring concept, but this game proved me wrong. It's very colorful and pleasing to look at and see how Kirby interacts with the levels. The piano-driven music may make you sleepy at times, (the really good songs aren't until the end), and reviewers have complained about it being to easy (even calling it the worst game of 2010, shut up Entertainment Weekly, you don't know vidya games like we do at PK Gaming), but for me it's my #5 game of the year for 2010.

#4 Rock Band 3

This is the only multi-platform game on my list that's available on all three home consoles, so just about anyone can jump into this. I do address a lot of complaints in the later part of my review, but that doesn't stop this game from being in my list. The addition of the keyboard is the obvious turn-on for a lot of people, and the fact that you can actually learn how to play songs with it. There's also a ton of replay value to be had here. I've already logged in about 80 hours into the game trying to complete the goals and I'm nowhere near halfway done, and even then, there's the weekly DLC that Harmonix has provided ever since the first Rock Band. If there was the 'perfect' music game out there, this would be it, which is why it deserves my #4 spot.

All the 'blue world' logos I found had IGN watermarks on them.
#3 Endless Ocean: Blue World

You know I had to include this, being the aspiring marine biologist that I am. It might be surprising to some people that there is some actual gameplay in this. There a ton of objectives to do in the game, so you're never really finished after you complete the story. The main game took me about 10 hours to complete, but then afterwards, I logged in over 100 hours just trying to complete the extra goals that the game gives you. The variety of the different dive sites is very well done. I've gone back to some places and found some interesting things that I didn't even know was there. If you didn't buy the first Endless Ocean, and were curious to see how it played, go ahead and get this one, it's still only $29.99 (probably even cheaper elsewhere), and for a budget title, there is a lot to do here, which is why it's so high on my list, not just because I'm a freak for liking dolphins and sea life so much. What's that? You say you weren't thinking anything like that? Oh... well... forget I said it then.

#2 Donkey Kong Country Returns

Ho boy, this... THIS took everyone by surprise. We all knew Retro Studios was working on something, but Donkey Kong Country? Who knew? Going from first-person shooter/adventure games to a platformer was a quite a leap, but Retro proved that they can do it.  Unlike Kirby's Epic Yarn, which was designed to amaze you with it's visuals, DKCR's levels were designed to KILL YOU, and still amaze with visuals. I don't think I've died that many times in a Nintendo platformer before. Man, I felt like I was back in the mid-90's when I started playing this game, since Donkey Kong Country was the first SNES game I had. I know it might be a lot of the nostalgia factor that's pushing this game so high up on my list, but I can't help it, it's really just that good, and it's a shame that it wasn't getting nominated for overall game of the year at the major gaming websites. Still... DKCR isn't quite my game of the year... that goes to...

#1 Super Mario Galaxy 2

Did you guess right? Like with DKCR, it is a shame that this wasn't nominated quite as much for Game of the Year (though a tip of my hat goes to Destructoid for them having it as theirs). Everyone thought that Galaxy 2 would be just another collection of levels that were very similar to the first game, but that was a dead-wrong assumption. The new levels felt very fresh and with the addition of new power-ups and Yoshi, it made the concept feel new again. The return of the world-map (akin to Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World) made things flow a lot smoother, and the orchestrated music was just as amazing as ever, with brand new tracks and remixes of classic mario songs. I'm not going to say whether I think Galaxy 2 is better than Galaxy 1, but for the record... if Nintendo made a Galaxy 3, either on the Wii or on the successor, I would not complain one bit if they can strike gold 3 times. This game is the prime example what Nintendo is known for: excellent level design, memorable music, and fun but challenging gameplay. 

Well, those are my Games of the Year for 2010. What do you think of my list? What were yours?


  1. As far as games that actually came out in 2010, probably Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is up near the top for me. It does well with the Golden Sun formula, bringing back enough to connect with the previous games, while still keeping things fresh. It continues the brick-wall-abrupt endings though, balancing your Djinns among eight party members is irritating if you want everyone to be a fully promoted class, and at several points, you just wish the characters would stop talking so the cutscene will end and you can get on with things. My biggest criticism would be that it thinks it has to tell you everything. The starting tutorials are unskippable, even though the basic inteface hasn't changed much at all. Every time you regain control of your character after a cutscene there's a big prompt to keep going complete with floating DS stylus. The phantom stylus also makes an appearance pretty much EVERY time you use your psynergy powers on something in the field too, as if to say "Use this, stupid". And the cherry on top of this is a character whose identity is blatantly obvious to anyone that played either of the previous games, but is treated as some sort of mysterious figure whose identity is shrouded in mystery and whose real name is revealed at the very end of the story, right before the final two boss fights. But the visuals are pretty stunning for a DS game, particularly in combat, the characters are fairly well portrayed (if a little verbose at times...), and the Golden Sun magic system of finding and equipping elemental Djinns to change your classes and abilities still makes the game as interesting as ever, tempting players to spend a fair bit of time just shuffling the Djinns around to see what each character can become. And this game, unlike its predecessors, allows you to continue your save file after completing the game, giving access to a bonus boss that makes the final story boss look like a puppy dog.

  2. bias!...had to do it. :P