Dr. Noh’s Top 10 of 2011
Cave Story+ & Cave Story 3D – PC/3DS
It’s nice to know that sometimes games that deserve an opportunity to shine get that chance. Who knew this freeware Japanese creation would result in a cult following and eventually a retail release for the Nintendo 3DS? If you haven’t played Cave Story yet, it combines elements of Metroid, Castlevania, and Blaster Master in one of the most satisfying gaming experiences of the past 5 years. Although it borrows much from said game series, Cave Story also hold its own with interesting characters and a mysterious plot. Cave Story+ found itself as part of the most recent Humble Indie Bundle and is also available on Steam. It adds an extra level while Cave Story 3D is a remake using 3D graphics. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you end up playing Cave Story as long as you play it.
Bit. Trip Saga/Complete – 3DS/Wii
Over the past 2 years, Gaijin Games has created a rhythm-based series that spans multiple genres of gameplay. Bit. Trip Saga and Complete are same collection of 6 games for 3DS and Wii. Each Bit. Trip title is unified by chiptunes music and pixelated graphics akin to Atari 2600′s pixelated glory. My favorite of the bunch is Bit. Trip Runner, which mixes beat-based gameplay with platforming. All the while tracks from Anamanaguchi (who did music for Scott Pilgrim VS The World: The Game) plays. As you progress through levels the better you do, the more fuller the sound of the music becomes. It that respect, it’s not unlike Rez. Every single one of these games is worth your time. The Wii version even comes packaged with a soundtrack sampler!
Marvel VS Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds – Multiplatform
When you think about it, the combination of Marvel and Capcom is an odd one. Marvel being rooted in American superhero comic books and Capcom being a Japanese video game company might make for a strange combination, but Marvel VS Capcom works. For me Marvel VS Capcom 3 work even greater than the second game because of graphical unity. In the cherished Marvel VS Capcom 2, 2D animated sprites battled in 3D backdrops. In Marvel VS Capcom 3, everything is in 3D, and it looks great. Marvel VS Capcom 3 takes cues from Tatsunoko VS Capcom and combines them with Marvel VS Capcom 2 to create one of the most enjoyable 2D fighting games ever. I haven’t played the “Ultimate” version of this game yet, but I suspect it’s even better.
Batman: Arkham City – Multiplatform
You may have not realized this, but there’s a video game for Batman Begins, but there isn’t one for The Dark Knight. For some reason The Dark Knight video game never came to be and instead we ended up with Batman: Arkham Asylum. Sometimes things do work out for the best. Arkham City envelopes Arkham Asylum with its sheer size and scope. The difference between the two can best be compared to the difference between the first and second Spiderman games from the previous generation of consoles. Like the Spiderman 2 video game, Arkham City give players an incredible amount of freedom to just be Batman and swing around the city. It’s very satisfying.
Minecraft – Multiplatform
I love Legos. Minecraft exemplifies one of the most unique traits of video games as an artistic medium, allowing the player themselves to be a creator. This surpasses just allowing players to make choices. The sense of God-like creation, and the wonder of exploration surpasses even the likes of Little Big Planet, and I believe the key lies in the simplicity of Minecraft’s cubes. Graphically, the game is nothing to write home about, but aesthetically, the repetitious textures of the cubes creates an unique pixel-like world not unlike 3D Dot Heroes. The opportunity of what can be done gives even a game like Skyrim a run for its money.
Battlefield 3 – Multiplatform
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I love DICE’s Battlefield franchise because of the vehicles. I’m a pretty terrible FPS player, but I can find an incredible amount of enjoyment in choosing to commandeer a jeep, tank, helicopter or jet. For me although the modern war setting and single player experience are uninteresting, the multiplayer game is one of the most exciting action experiences of this console generation. Battlefield 3 had a somewhat rocky launch, but after recently updating the UI, fixing bugs, and the release of the Return to Karkand expansion the game has gone from great to amazing.
Super Mario 3D Land – 3DS
Do you remember how the 3D in Avatar was awesome, but the movie as a whole sucked? Super Mario 3D Land is like that except it doesn’t suck! Super Mario 3D Land is essentially what I thought Super Mario 64 was going to be like before I knew anything about it. After the fact, it’s obvious where Super Mario 3D Land gets its inspiration from: a little bit of Super Mario 64, a little bit of Super Mario Galaxy, and a little bit of Super Mario Bros. 3. The result is a platformer that can stand up to the likes of Little Big Planet 2 and come out on top. If you don’t already own a Nintendo 3DS, here’s the best reason you should.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – Wii
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is not only one of the finest Wii game I’ve played to date, but also one of the finest Zelda games I’ve ever played. Skyward Sword is not only significant because it’s a good game, but it’s important because it proves you can incorporate motion controls as an integral part of a deeper gaming experience. I wouldn’t categorize Skyward Sword as casual gaming experience and I wouldn’t describe it’s controls as gimmicky, instead it is the opposite. For Skyward Sword, it’s focus, plot-wise and gameplay-wise is on a sword, and the Wii Motion Plus controls intuitively enhance the experience of playing the game. For a franchise this this caliber, that’s no small feat.
Portal 2 – Multiplatform
Considering the fact that Portal was one of my favorite games ever, I had very high hopes for Portal 2. Those expectations were exceeded. What I didn’t expect out of Portal 2 were its epically cavernous environments, intricately designed ruins, and intriguing plot. I actually enjoyed Stephen Merchant’s Wheatley more than Portal’s GLaDOS. Everything about Portal 2 is better than Portal except for the fact that I still think “Still Alive” is a catchier song. Portal has been replaced by Portal 2 as one of my favorite games ever.
On/Off – PC (browser-based)
Somebody had to do it. At best, On/Off transcends conventional video gaming and makes you ask what a video game is. At worst, On/Off makes you want to murder me. Why not give it a(nother) try?