jenJEN’s Game of the Year picks for 2010
2010 was a fairly big gaming year for me since I purchased my PS3 in late 2009 and my black Wii in mid 2010. However I logged most of my time playing “catch up” with games that had earlier releases; Uncharted, Borderlands, Lego Batman, Resistance, Ratchet and Clank Crack in Time, and Mini Ninjas. I only just had the chance to purchase and play two 2010 games and judging by most of the comments here on Padinga, I think I chose wisely. Those two games are Rock Band 3 on the PS3 (with the pro drum set), and Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii.
I was a very late Guitar Hero/Rock Band bloomer, and I kick myself for not jumping on the bandwagon earlier. Had I known how much fun it would be and how quickly I would adapt to playing the drums, I would have accepted more Rock Band party invites back in college. I bought myself the Guitar Hero World Tour band kit because by early 2010 it went down considerably in price. Most of you know the story of how I got a little too carried away one night and, in a fit of frustration (failed a Metallica song on medium 5 times in a row), I chucked one of my drumsticks into my flat screen, cracking my display. The first thing I did when I set up my new flat screen was beat that godforsaken song (98% baby!), but then shortly after, the red pad on my drum kit died. Even though I wanted a pro drum kit badly, I guarded my wallet like a Chomp Chomp (heh) up until my birthday. My GH drum kit was dead……I had a brand new tv…….GameStop had one PS3 pro drum kit left…..it was my birthday…….I might as well, right?
Rock Band 3 has an interesting collection of songs, due to introducing the key guitar to the band repertoire. While I enjoy Huey Lewis & the News and Warron Zevon as much as the next person, it’s still a little strange to see them sandwiched between Paramore and Queen. I’m not thrilled about the highlighted songs that COULD be in your library if you buy them on the PSN. Don’t trick me…..I appreciate the suggestions, but sometimes it just feels like you’re being mean. The pro drum options up the difficulty anti, and now not only do you have to quickly recognize the correct color key, you also have to differentiate between the shapes (square for drum, circle for cymbal). If you’re like me and should have advanced from “medium” months ago, but are too much of a chicken to cross the road to “hard”, then the medium pro gives you a nice bridge of comfort.
I should preface my review of Donkey Kong Country Returns with the fact that I’m not, nor ever was, much of a Wii fan. I bought it specifically for Netflix viewing in my room because it was cheaper than an Xbox 360. I was introduced to the Virtual Console and picked up a Classic controller so I could play DKC, just like old times. My world was rocked when I caught wind of the reanimation of my favorite game of all time (second maybe to Yoshi’s Island –which most of you know because I bitch about it incessantly for it’s unavailability on the Wii VC). Counting down to the release, I spent hours online watching trailers and videos of leaked gameplay on YouTube, looking at screen shots and reading reviews –soaking up everything I could to prepare myself before hand. Besides Rock Band 3, Donkey Kong Country Returns was the only game I gladly dropped $50 on as soon as it came out –ignoring the disapproving eye rolls from my sister at GameStop.
I’ve seen nothing but rave reviews for Donkey Kong Country Returns from long time DKC gamers, and recent Wii-hearts, but I think I may have let my expectations exceed a little too high this time. While the environment designs for each level are beautiful and the new characters are inventive, it was the music that grabbed onto my nostalgic heartstrings and ran for the hills. The music score for Donkey Kong Country Returns really does bring me back to the days when I was snowed in with my sister and we sat in the basement for days playing DKC on our Super Nintendo; tweaking from our 48 pack of Surge, our eyes glued to the screen like zombies.
Honestly Donkey Kong is really bulky and heavy –he’s hard to control because he easily falls off things and thumps around –which does make more sense for his character design, but if you’re used to DK from the SNES games, it can be a difficult adjustment. Diddy Kong is easier to control, just like in the original, but if you are playing with DK and jump with Diddy on your back, his little jet pack kicks into gear and you hover awkwardly for a bit –which will throw you off if you’re aiming for particular landing spot. This game really utilizes the background and foreground space –giving you longer level play and more hidden areas to collect more items. Speaking of items, there are so many new items to collect, it’s ridiculous! Bananas, puzzle pieces, letters…..if you love collecting items, this will blow your mind! The jury is still out on how I feel about the complexity of this game –does it improve the original or is it too distracting? Never underestimate the joy that can come from a more simplistic game –most of our favorite games are still the ones from the classic consoles, right?
There are a lot of things I love so far about Donkey Kong Country Returns, and I’m sure that as I play on, I’ll grow even more fond of it (I look forward to the mine cart levels), but the one thing that irks me to my core about Donkey Kong Country Returns is that it’s not compatible with the Classic controller. Maybe I’m just a Wii-tard, but I don’t have the vigorous yet graceful wrist control to be successful with the Wii remote. I’ll have to spend more time practicing with the Wii-mote this year –I picked up Mario Galaxy recently and I have a feeling that it isn’t compatible with the Classic controller.
2011 will be an even bigger and more eventful gaming year for me, since this year I plan to attend E3 and perhaps finally buy an XBOX 360 (we’ll see) to round out my non-portable console collection. Plus I still have Epic Mickey and Kirby’s Epic Yarn on my list to catch up on. I have my eye on an iPhone5, iPad2, and a 3DS –lots of gaming possibilities there! I’ll be working on more video game-based art; I’m currently designing a “gamer girl” pin-up series featuring a girl for every console –calendar, t-shirts, posters, etc. I’ll also be writing more game reviews for Padinga.com, so stay tuned!