Game of the Year 2008 Mega Post

NOTE: A GAME ELIGIBLE FOR MY AWARDS MUST MEET THESE CRITERIA:

  • THE GAME MUST HAVE BEEN FINISHED TO MY SATISFACTION
  • THE GAME MUST HAVE BEEN PLAYED FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS YEAR
  • THE GAME DOES NOT HAVE TO HAVE BEEN ORIGINALLY RELEASED THIS YEAR

BEST MUSIC

• Space Invaders Extreme (PSP)
• God of War II (PS2)
• Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)
• The World Ends With You (DS)
• Bionic Commando: Rearmed (PS3)
• Mega Man 9 (PS3)
• Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS)

RUNNER-UP: The World Ends With You (DS)

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I can’t think of a year where there was more great music in games than 2008. This shows in my choice of nominating seven games rather than keeping it limited to five. That is simply how incredible the music this year has been! Metal Gear Solid 4 wins in large part because of its epicness and how grand it was.

BEST SOUND EFFECTS

• Game Center CX: Arino no Chousenjou (DS)
• Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)
• The Eye of Judgment (PS3)
• Burnout Paradise (PS3)
• Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS3)

RUNNER-UP: Burnout Paradise (PS3)

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MGS4 truly is a game that has Hollywood movie caliber sound effects and it really does sound like you are truly apart of a much larger war!

MOST SURPRISINGLY GOOD GAME

• Fire Pro Wrestling Returns (PS2)
• Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth (N64)
• kill.switch (PS2)
• Bujingai: The Forsaken City (PS2)
• DOA2: Hardcore (PS2)

RUNNER-UP: DOA2: Hardcore (PS2)

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Bujingai, the game where you control J-rock icon Gackt as Lau Wong in some very stylish action! Who would have thought that would ever work?

BEST GRAPHICS, TECHNICAL

• Burnout Paradise (PS3)
• Unreal Tournament III (PS3)
• Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS3)
• Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)
• LittleBigPlanet (PS3)

RUNNER-UP: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)

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Who says a game’s graphical style needs to be realistic in order to be the most technically impressive? LittleBigPlanet proves that doesn’t need to be the case!

BEST GRAPHICS, ARTISTIC

• LittleBigPlanet (PS3)
• Arcana Heart (PS2)
• Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (PS3)
• Space Invaders Extreme (PSP)
• Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil (PS2)

RUNNER-UP: Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (PS3)

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Not only is LittleBigPlanet’s engine powerful, but it also proves it can produce very artistically beautiful visuals as well!

BEST COMPILATION

• Game Center CX: Arino no Chousenjou (DS)
• Fatal Fury Battle Archives Volume 2 (PS2)
• Taito Memories II Gekan (PS2)
• Sega Genesis Collection (PSP)
• SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 (PSP)

RUNNER-UP: Game Center CX: Arino no Chousenjou (DS)

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Great compilations are made of not only great games, but plenty of them and that is what Sega Genesis Collection has in spades!

BEST MULTIPLAYER GAME

• Burnout Paradise (PS3)
• Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (PS3)
• Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (PS3)
• The Eye of Judgment (PS3)
• LittleBigPlanet (PS3)

RUNNER-UP: Burnout Paradise (PS3)

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Normally a fighting game would have a really hard time winning this award since any amount of latency is a huge issue when playing one online. SSFIITHDR finally shows that with the right netcode approach, that problem can be overcome very impressively! The best fighting game ever has pioneered the best online play for the genre.

MOST IMPROVED SEQUEL

• Mega Man 9 (PS3)
• Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)
• Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil (PS2)
• Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection (PS2)
• R-Type Final (PS2)

RUNNER-UP: Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection (PS2)

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The main Mega Man series really hit hard times beginning with Mega Man 5 and this new 8-bit entry in the series is not only a big improvement over Mega Man 8, it is also an entry that stands up to the best the series has to offer!

MOST DISAPPOINTING GAME

• Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS3)
• Sega Superstars Tennis (PS3)
• Unreal Tournament III (PS3)
• Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword (DS)
• Ghosthunter (PS2)

RUNNER-UP: Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword (DS)

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Being a pretty big fan of the Unreal Tournament series in the past it was surprising how much lesser a series it feels only four years since the last one. Shooters have seemed to progress quite a bit in that time and now it feels a bit too antiquated for its own good.

BEST ACTION/ADVENTURE GAME

• Bujingai: The Forsaken City (PS2)
• God of War II (PS2)
• Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)
• Yakuza 2 (PS2)
• Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS)

RUNNER-UP: Yakuza 2 (PS2)

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MGS4’s impressive visuals, audio, control, and many ways to tackle each mission makes this an epic adventure that is not to be missed!

BEST ACTION/PLATFORMER

• Kaze no Klonoa: Door to Phantomile [from namCollection] (PS1)
• Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil (PS2)
• Bionic Commando: Rearmed (PS3)
• Mega Man 9 (PS3)
• LittleBigPlanet (PS3)

RUNNER-UP: Bionic Commando: Rearmed (PS3)

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I have played many more platformers this year than I have in a long time and Klonoa 2’s simple, but elegant mechanics combined with it’s charming characters and story is a game that most have not played, but should make it a point to do so.

BEST SHOOTER

• kill.switch (PS2)
• Darkwatch (PS2)
• Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (PS3)
• Unreal Tournament III (PS3)
• Half-Life 2: Episode 2 [from The Orange Box] (PS3)

RUNNER-UP: Unreal Tournament III (PS3)

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2008 hasn’t been particularly great for shooters for me, but even so, Lost Planet was a surprisingly fun time online and much more unique than most shooters.

BEST FIGHTING GAME

• Arcana Heart (PS2)
• Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (PS3)
• Sengoku Basara X (PS2)
• Last Blade 2 [from Bakumatsu Roman: Last Blade 1 & 2] (PS2)
• DOA2: Hardcore (PS2)

RUNNER-UP: Last Blade 2 [from Bakumatsu Roman: Last Blade 1 & 2] (PS2)

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SSFIITHDR really showed that all the extra time put into it was totally worth it. With the help of the fighting game community for input and playtesting, lots of very smart and intelligent decisions went into further balancing the greatest fighting game ever into an even better game than it already was!

BEST PUZZLE GAME

• Wetrix (N64)
• Portal [from The Orange Box] (PS3)
• The Eye of Judgment (PS3)
• Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (PSP)
• Klonoa: Empire of Dreams (GBA)

RUNNER-UP: Klonoa: Empire of Dreams (GBA)

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Being the fan of trading card games like Magic: the Gathering and Versus System that I am, The Eye of Judgment intrigued me. The ability to play the game online using the same physical cards as the offline game is awesome. Oh yeah, and the game itself is really good too!

BEST RPG

• Dragon Warrior I & II (GB)
• Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES (PS2)
• The World Ends With You (DS)

RUNNER-UP: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES (PS2)

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Talk about a fresh take on JRPGs! The World Ends With You exudes tons of style and has a great unique dual screen take on RPG combat that is customizable to your taste for how much control you want over it.

BEST SHMUP

• DoDonPachi DAI-OU-JOU (PS2)
• Twinbee Da!! [from Twinbee Portable] (PSP)
• Espgaluda (PS2)
• Space Invaders Extreme (PSP)
• R-Type Final (PS2)

RUNNER-UP: Space Invaders Extreme (PSP)

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While not overly unique in its mechanics, Espgaluda had top notch gameplay nonetheless and took place not in space, but rather in a traditional fantasy world.

BEST DRIVING/RACING GAME

• Burnout Paradise (PS3)
• Stuntman: Ignition (PS3)
• Ridge Racer 7 (PS3)

RUNNER-UP: Stuntman: Ignition (PS3)

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The insane speed the Burnout series is known for is faster than ever with all of the great racing and crashing you have come to love, but now in an open world that is perpetually online.

BEST SPORTS GAME

• Sega Superstars Tennis (PS3)
• Neo Turf Masters [from SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1] (PSP)
• Baseball Stars 2 [from SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1] (PSP)
• Super Sidekicks 3: The Next Glory [from SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1] (PSP)
• Fire Pro Wrestling Returns (PS2)

RUNNER-UP: Fire Pro Wrestling Returns (PS2)

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Not only do I have a dedicated sports category, but the winner is also a golf game of all things! Neo Turf Masters is easily the best arcade style golf game ever! Give it a try if you haven’t!

BEST GAME BOY GAME

• R-Type DX
• King of Fighters ’95
• Adventure Island
• Battle Arena Toshinden

RUNNER-UP: Adventure Island

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No matter what your memories are of Toshinden, it was a series of largely bad fighting games that debuted at the right time. Luckily there is indeed a great Toshinden game, but it happens to be on the Game Boy and you probably haven’t played it.

BEST DS GAME

• Game Center CX: Arino no Chousenjou
• Nanostray 2
• The World Ends With You
• Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
• Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword

RUNNER-UP: The World Ends With You

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If you like the idea of playing games styled like Famicom/NES games that are actually new games created specifically for this title, then you should do yourself a favor and buy this game! This game will be arriving in North America next month as Retro Game Challenge.

BEST PSP GAME

• Mega Man Powered Up
• Sega Genesis Collection
• Twinbee Portable
• SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1
• Space Invaders Extreme

RUNNER-UP: Space Invaders Extreme

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The PSP has become the portable haven of game compilation titles and it was only a matter of time that one would be so good that it wins best game on that system and Sega Genesis Collection certainly deserves that honor.

BEST FAMICOM GAME

• Takahashi Meijin no Bouken Jima II
• Twinbee 3: Poko Poko Daimaou
• Star Force
• Star Soldier

RUNNER-UP: Takahashi Meijin no Bouken Jima II

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I have always enjoyed the Soldier series of shoot-’em-ups on the TG-16, but I never really tried the original game until this year and it has that great quality all good games in this genre have at keeping you coming back trying to best your score.

BEST SUPER NINTENDO GAME

• Raiden Trad
• Super R-Type
• Skyblazer

RUNNER-UP: Super R-Type

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I had never heard of Skyblazer before so I was surprised when I tried it how much fun the platforming was and using your abilities to make your way through the levels was very satisfying!

BEST NINTENDO 64 GAME

• Dual Heroes
• Deadly Arts
• Mace: The Dark Age
• Mystical Ninja starring Goemon
• Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth

RUNNER-UP: Mace: The Dark Age

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Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth is probably one of the poorer efforts in the series, but even so I found it to still have the replayability of it’s predecessors.

BEST PLAYSTATION GAME

• Gekioh: Shooting King
• Codename: Tenka
• Kaze no Klonoa: Door to Phantomile [from namCollection]
• Namco Museum Vol. 2
• Battle Arena Toshinden 2 Plus

RUNNER-UP: Gekioh: Shooting King

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Here is a game that came out at the wrong time originally and was extremely overlooked. I wish I didn’t miss it then, but having played it now, it really holds up very well and is a series that should be continued past the remake of this game on the Wii. Klonoa comes highly recommended and if you like platformers, you should find a way to play it!

BEST PLAYSTATION 2 GAME

• Yakuza 2
• Espgaluda
• Arcana Heart
• God of War II
• Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil

RUNNER-UP: God of War II

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The PS2 refuses to die and I couldn’t be happier! This system has churned out great games for a long time now and even in its later years it is still home to some of the best of the year! Yakuza 2 continues the saga of Kazuma Kiryu with a highly engrossing story and engaging characters. If you consider yourself a fan of Shenmue (or even if you don’t), you must play this game!

BEST PLAYSTATION 3 GAME

• Burnout Paradise
• Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
• LittleBigPlanet
• Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
• Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix

RUNNER-UP: Burnout Paradise

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2008 was the PS3’s first truly strong year and it shows. Metal Gear Solid 4 was a blast from beginning to end and is definitely a great reason to own the system as is the rest of the nominees on the list!

HANDHELD GAME OF THE YEAR

• Klonoa: Empire of Dreams (GBA)
• Sega Genesis Collection (PSP)
• Battle Arena Toshinden (GB)
• Game Center CX: Arino no Chousenjou (DS)

RUNNER-UP: Sega Genesis Collection (PSP)

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While Sega Genesis Collection barely edged out Game Center CX for Best Compilation, there is no doubt in my mind that the better overall game of the two is Game Center CX. Fully realized 8-bit NES style games that are totally new is awesome and so is the show it is based on. If there was one title that kept me coming back throughout the year when I was on the go, it was Game Center CX.

GAME OF THE YEAR

• Yakuza 2 (PS2)
• Kaze no Klonoa: Door to Phantomile [from namCollection] (PS1)
• Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)
• Burnout Paradise (PS3)
• LittleBigPlanet (PS3)
• Game Center CX: Arino no Chousenjou (DS)
• God of War II (PS2)
• Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (PS3)
• The World Ends With You (DS)

RUNNER-UP: Burnout Paradise (PS3)

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When it comes down to it, simply put, no game wowed me as much as Metal Gear Solid 4 did! Everything was done so well, from the characters, to the story, to the controls and gameplay, MGS4 had it all! It really means a lot for me to name MGS4 as my Game of the Year. I was never a fan of the series before now because the controls in past games were very convoluted and hard to get used to, not to mention the games seemed to really punish you if you got caught. MGS4 really changed the controls very smartly to conform to more of a shooter scheme which worked wonderfully to where I wasn’t thinking about them anymore. You could also play the game run-and-gun if you wanted or you could take the stealth approach if you so desired. I enjoyed a mix of both and was very satisfying to do so. This game changed me into a fan of the series for sure and I am definitely looking forward to more installments in the Metal Gear franchise!

Super Video Game II Turbo Megamix

In the last few weeks I have been playing some serious amount of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. The original Super Turbo is a game I considered to be my all-time favorite, but now it is Super Turbo Remix and I honestly don’t really wanna go back and play the original anymore. The balance changes really do bring the cast of fighters all really close to each other in power which creates all sorts of great matchups that didn’t exist before. Also, how about that netcode? Easily the best playing online fighter so far! I hope all fighters use this netcode until something better can be developed. In the end, it is a superb fighter and easily the best SFII iteration. If you claim yourself to be a Street Fighter fan and haven’t bought this game, do so immediately. If you are one of those “fans” that are passing on it because you think it is “too expensive” then you are certainly no fan.

Since Super Turbo Remix’s release got me back into fighting game mode, I decided to also drudge out some older PS1 fighters and revisit them. First was Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha. This game was pretty good for its time, but now it plays a tad too slow and priority and speed on low roundhouse kicks is too high as well not to mention that well-placed, small combos do tons of damage. On the bright side, the game is pretty lenient on move inputs which makes playing as grapplers like Zangief and Darun much easier than in most other games.

The other PS1 fighter I have been playing is Shiritsu Justice Gakuen: Legion of Heroes which is better known as Rival Schools. This game is still a lot of fun and it would be great if Capcom would revive this series for a third iteration on current consoles. The one big problem this game has is that it has a lot of “too much.” Damage done by most attacks is too high across the board (some double team moves can do up to 40% damage and are easy to spam and abuse!), you start with too much super meter at the beginning of a match (3 stocks out of 9!), and gaining super meter is too easy. Despite these flaws, I still enjoy the game a good deal.

Speaking of good games, I should have Persona 4 this week and I found out that Amazon was selling Eternal Sonata for PS3 for $30 which is half the price it is normally going for! So obviously that is on the way as well and much sooner than I anticipated which I am sure NeonNinja will love to hear! 😀

Next week I’ll be sure to have my Game of the Year Awards post up and all at once! That’s right, one huge mega-post of all of the winners, so look forward to that! Later. ^_^

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