Don’t forget these 2008 games in 2009

2008 ended with a huge bang as November and December saw a parade of high quality releases. While this was good for gamers with enough time and cash (or generous gift-giving family and friends), it also meant that many very good games were lost in the shuffle or looked over in favor of the next big title. Most of these games listed will be worth buying after you get through your backlogs, as they can be found used or at a discounted price. I guess you could say this a “best of the rest” of sorts from me, but these are just a handful of games that I hope don’t get passed over by gamers going into the new year.

Burnout Paradise - Criterion created an arcade racer fan’s dream with Burnout Paradise and they’ve continued to support it extremely well through downloadable content. With more downloads (awesome ones at that!) on their way in 2009, Burnout Paradise is a very good deal for both 360 and PS3 owners. The game is perfect for online multiplayer addicts as there is a very active community, but the single player offering is also large enough to occupy you for countless hours.

Battlefield: Bad Company - EA kind of slid this one in under the radar, but the game was generally received well enough by critics. The game at first glance looks like a typical wartime FPS game, but it actually offers a lot of gameplay variety, an entertaining story, and a very humorous set of well-acted dialog. This will be an excellent pickup for getting through the next release drought on a budget.

Mega Man 9 - Available as a downloadable game on all three consoles, this game is an excellent modern day retro experience. The game is brutally difficult, but ultimately very rewarding. Just don’t send me the bill for your busted controllers, ok?

Bionic Commando Rearmed - Another downloadable game that can’t be skipped, especially if you were a fan of the NES original. Games like these are a prime example of why Capcom survived the transformation from arcade giant to console era bigwigs. Midway, take notes.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village - An interesting mix of puzzle and adventure gaming combined with a very charming art style make Professor Layton one of the more charming and enjoyable games released all year long.

Chrono Trigger DS - Quite possibly the best JRPG ever made, Chrono Trigger DS adds a few new things to the classic experience. If you haven’t played the SNES version, this one is a no brainer and you need to pick this up ASAP.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts - A charming and fun adventure/platformer from Rare that is much better than it’s given credit for. The game has hilarious dialog, very tight gameplay, and an undeniable addictive quality to it. I realize that many people were hoping for a more traditional Banjo-Kazooie experience, but if you ask me, this is every bit as satisfying.

Geometry Wars 2 - Not much to say here except for that this game is amazing. This is still my favorite Xbox Live Arcade game.

World of Goo – This is probably the most criminally overlooked game on the entire list. Available as a Wii Ware title, World of Goo will appeal to anybody that’s willing to sit down with it for a few moments.

Tecmo Bowl DS - Classic Tecmo Bowl gameplay with slightly updated graphics and Wi-Fi support. Awesome.

There are plenty more games that are worthy of being mentioned here, but let’s be honest, you can’t possibly have time to get to all of them, right? I’m sure I missed an obvious pick or two, so sorry if I spaced a pick you’d like to have seen me include on the list. Feel free to include your own in the comments section, however.

Coming soon, I’ll have my picks of games to keep an eye on for 2009.

Jeff Rivera’s top ten games of 2008

I hate top ten lists, but I always find myself kicking them out anyway. I guess it’s something that you just have to do when it’s all said and done. I submitted my top ten for Kombo last week, and it’s currently running on the front page, but I’ll re-post that here so you can stay in the warm confines of this humble little blog. Below my top ten you’ll see a brief explanation of what I was smoking when I compiled this list.

  1. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots 
  2. Fallout 3 
  3. Gears of War 2 
  4. Advanced Wars: Days of Ruin 
  5. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia 
  6. Rock Band 2 
  7. Ninja Gaiden II 
  8. Left 4 Dead 
  9. Call of Duty: World at War 
  10. Mario Kart Wii

2008 was a year that gave us great games and massive backlogs. With tons of huge titles piling up at the end of the year, we’re going to have to stay focused and spend quite a few sleepless nights getting our piles of shame cleared out before 2009′s offerings roll around. While it still doesn’t quite measure up to 1998, I feel that 2008 was still one of the best lineups we’ve seen in the past 10 years or so. I feel guilty leaving off gems like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, LittleBigPlanet, Resistance 2, or Burnout Paradise, but at some point I have to be honest and just settle with the games that really provided me the most thrills and enjoyment. Thanks, 2008, you were quite good to me.

Mainstream media (Time) still hasn’t figured it out

STOP COVERING VIDEO GAMES, YOU LOOK STUPID!

Ahem.

So each year publications like Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, and all the other “mainstream” news companies try to put together top ten lists or best of awards for video games. Occasionally they get a few games right on their lists, but they usually just show why they need to stick to politics or the environment. Here’s what Time put out as their top ten list.

1. Grand Theft Auto IV (360, PS3, PC)
2. Braid (360)
3. LittleBigPlanet (PS3)
4. Rock Band 2 (360, PS3)
5. Gears of War 2 (360)
6. Dead Space (360, PS3, PC)
7. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Wii, 360, PS3, DS, PSP)
8. Hunted Forever (free Flash)
9. Fieldrunners (iPhone)
10. Spore (PC)

This is just stupid. No, it’s not just a matter of dissenting opinion, it’s a matter of stupidity. How do you leave games like Fallout 3, Metal Gear Solid 4, Left 4 Dead, Burnout Paradise, Ninja Gaiden II, Fable II, Mario Kart Wii, and Super Smash Bros Brawl when you’ve got garbage like The Force Unleashed, Hunted Forever (not that great, try it), Fieldrunners (don’t bother), and Grand Theft Auto IV (formulaic garbage) on there? I know that would make for a bigger list than ten, but I’m just offering up some possible and more worthy replacements. Last year Time put Halo 3 at number one, another title definitely not deserving of the top spot.

We go through this every year, mainstream media, stop putting out your top game lists.

Link to the atrocity: http://www.time.com/time/specials/2008/top10/article/0,30583,1855948_1863763_1863769,00.html

 

Edit: More proof of their general idiocy…here are their top ten movies (Speed Racer is in, The Dark Knight isn’t. lol wut)


1. WALL-E
2. Synecdoche, New York
3. My Winnipeg
4. 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days
5. Milk
6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
7. Slumdog Millionaire
8. Iron Man
9. Speed Racer
10. Encounters at the End of the World.

Top Ten GameCube Games

GameCube games? Who cares, right? Wrong! The GameCube was awesome, and despite it’s lackluster performance on the sales charts, it was probably the console that I put the most time into during the past generation. Since the Wii is fully backwards compatible with all GameCube software, now is a great time to grab some of the GameCube classics. So, here are my personal top ten games that were released for the Nintendo GameCube (you’ll notice I cheat the total a bit, deal with it).

  • Metroid Prime 1 & 2
  • Super Mario Sunshine
  • Resident Evil 4
  • Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
  • Pikmin 1 & 2
  • F-Zero GX
  • Animal Crossing
  • Eternal Darkness
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  • Beyond Good and Evil

Funny enough, picking a top ten for the GameCube was actually harder for me than picking a top ten for either the PS2 or Xbox. I’ll share those lists at some point down the line. I fully expect all of you to be waiting with the highest degree of anticipation.

Xbox 360 Top Ten Games as of 6.2.2008

No, this isn’t based on sales or a collection of data, it’s my personal favorite top ten games for the Xbox 360 as of today, June 2nd, 2008. XBLA games aren’t included in this list, I’ll make a separate one for them. So, enjoy the list.

Remember, these are in no particular order, just the ten overall.

  • BioShock
  • Rock Band
  • Halo 3
  • Call of Duty 4
  • The Orange Box
  • Gears of War
  • Guitar Hero II
  • Chromehounds
  • Devil May Cry 4
  • Grand Theft Auto 4

Chromehounds is probably the lone shocker in the list, but I had tons of fun playing that game online when it released. Playing with fellow journalists, industry members, and friends in the ongoing war was something I really had a lot of fun doing each time I logged on. The others pretty much speak for themselves at this point. I have a feeling that by week’s end Ninja Gaiden II will be bouncing one of these titles out of the list, however.

My top ten games of 2007

This is the third time I’ve published this top ten list, so if it looks familiar to you, that’s why. It was a crazy year in gaming and competition to place in the top 10 was about as fierce as I’ve ever remembered it being. Obviously 1998 is still the king as far as quality releases go, but 2007 was definitely one of the best. So here’s my top ten, with some honorable mentions at the end.

10) Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

I understand that this might be a surprising pick for many, especially given the extremely competitive atmosphere this year, but Puzzle Quest kept me glued to my DS for days on end. Combining Bejeweled with some RPG and fantasy elements, Puzzle Quest is a unique puzzle game that begs you to keep playing well beyond the typical time limits you set for yourself in a typical gaming session. Just after the game released I took a cross-country flight with a couple of layovers in both directions, and Puzzle Quest had me more than entertained the entire time. When I first saw this game at E3 last year during a meeting with the boys at D3, I knew that they had something interesting on their hands, but I never expected that they had one of 2007′s most addictive titles in store. Kudos to D3 and everybody involved with the making of Puzzle Quest for putting out a great game on such a small budget.

9) Super Paper Mario

It seems that Super Paper Mario hit at just the perfect time. Right when the inital launch and post-holiday buzz of the Wii was starting to quiet down a bit, gamers were realizing that we didn’t have a whole lot to play on the Wii. Right when the console looked like it was fated to a spell of dust collecting, Super Paper Mario livened things up a bit. I love how charming the game is from start to finish and the nice blend of platforming and traditional RPG battle provided a fresh experience on a very standard genre. While the game had a few nagging quirks, it was one of my favorite RPGs to hit a Nintendo system in years.

8) Halo 3

When it came down to selecting ten titles for my top games of the year, I nearly left Halo 3 off the list. That isn’t to say that the game is bad by any means, it’s just that in a year of high innovation and variety, Halo 3 offered much more of the same that we experienced with Halo and Halo 2 on the original Xbox. Upon further consideration, however, I realized that more Halo wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, by not mucking with the overall formula too much, and by refining and addressing problems that were present in the first two games, Bungie has created the finest game in the series to date. Sure, there are still some things that can be picked at here and there, but the overall experience that Halo 3 provides justifies the cost of entry. The online features of the game are simply mind-blowing and should serve as something to reach for in the development community.

7) Rock Band

After Harmonix split from Activision and joined the ranks of EA and MTV Games, I had a feeling that the dev team would be working hard to push a product onto retail shelves that would make their ex jealous. Rock Band builds upon what Harmonix established with the Guitar Hero franchise and fuses together three different types of rhythm games into one: vocals, guitars, and drumming. The result is a game that easily provides the finest offline multiplayer experience we’ve seen in years. Rock Band proves that gamers are willing to shell out a bit more cash on a single title if the game can manage to provide longevity, a strong multiplayer experience, and depth to a gamer’s personal library. I’ve been enjoying Rock Band since the day it came out, and it’s been the centerpiece activity for several parties I’ve been to or had in my home.

6) Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

The original Metroid Prime was easily the game of the generation for me during the GameCube/PS2/Xbox days, so when I first got my hands on Metroid Prime 3 at its E3 debut, I knew the wait was going to be a painful one. When Metroid Prime 3 released, I found a place where I could pick it up at midnight and I spent the next few hours getting knee deep in Samus’ newest adventure. The Wii controls are excellent, and it was the first FPS style game on the Wii that made me think that motion control could be a great way to experience the genre. With the series moving to a more action-orientated feel, the final installment in the Prime trilogy goes out with a big bang. Here’s hoping that it’s not too long before we get another full-blown Metroid experience, whether it be on the Wii or the DS.

5) Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

The DS is often criticized for being underpowered or incapable of delivering games with both great graphics and deep gameplay. Phantom Hourglass is a shining example of how the DS is not only able to provide both, but that it can excel in the process. Even with the new approach to the series with fully integrated touch controls, I found myself getting captivated by that all so familiar Zelda magic. I was also very happy to see the style of The Wind Waker used for another Zelda game as I found the original to be the most beautiful game from the previous generation. Years from now, Phantom Hourglass will be remembered as one of the finest in the line of Zelda titles.

4) The Orange Box

The Orange Box is hands down the best value in gaming released this year. When you can get Half-Life 2 (former PC Game of the Year winner), HL2: Episode One, HL: Episode Two, Team Fortress 2, and Portal all in one package for the price of a single game, you know you’re getting a steal of a deal. Once I got a few rounds in of Team Fortress 2 I shelved Halo 3, something that I didn’t think would happen so quickly. Portal is my pick for gaming’s most innovative title of the year, and I feel that if it was just a bit longer that it could definitely stand on its own for Game of the Year contention. I really hope that either a sequel to Portal gets released or that Valve can incorporate the Portal gameplay into some sort of FPS game. Whether you pick the package up on the 360, PC, or 360, you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied for quite some time. Oh, and for you Team Fortress 2 beginners, please take the Medic out first!

3) Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Wow. Woah. Infinity Ward caused the gaming community’s collective jaw to drop when Call of Duty 4 hit on the 360, PC, and PS3. Featuring some of the best graphics to be found on consoles, Call of Duty 4 blew my mind whether I was inching through the single player campaign or joining friends online. Call of Duty 4, in my opinion, should be sending red flags up all over the FPS developer community circles…because they all just got shown up big time when it comes to multiplayer integration. Call of Duty 4 is the first game in a while to make me feel satisfaction for each individual kill and consequence for each death. The kill streak reward system helps to keep things tense throughout multiplayer matches and can have you cursing out your opponents when they kill you after your sixth kill in a row (one before you can call in a chopper). Call of Duty 4 has me completely ignoring any other online offerings for the moment except for the occasional Team Fortress 2 break. For FPS and multiplayer fans, it simply does not get any better than this.

2) BioShock

When a game gets hyped to the moon and back like BioShock did, you play through the game half expecting a letdown of sorts at some point. As I made my way through the world of Rapture I was repeatedly blown away by the art, atmosphere, and shattered beauty that the development team had created. The gameplay is solid and there never seems to be any instances where I found the story or gameplay to lag in any way. From start to finish I found BioShock to meet the insane amounts of hyped that were heaped upon it leading up to release, and in many ways surpass it. Right now BioShock is receiving top honors from many individuals and media outlets, and I must say that it is all well-deserved praise. In any typical year BioShock would have been my runaway pick for Game of the Year, but this year was the year of…

1) Super Mario Galaxy

…Mario! Super Mario Galaxy is not only the best game available on the Wii, but it’s the best game released in 2007. In a very crowded year, Super Mario Galaxy was the lone title that pops into my head each time I think of the word “fun.” Technically Super Mario Galaxy has been bested by other games this year, but nothing can match the pure amount of enjoyment that Galaxy provides. It’s early to tell, but it’s quite possible that Super Mario Galaxy ends up being remembered as the one of the finest platformer games ever created. The variety of locations, the crazy amount of power ups (the most since Super Mario Bros. 3), the insane boss fights, and the classic Mario charm and polish make Super Mario Galaxy my easy pick for the best game released in 2007.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
  • Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations
  • Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure
  • Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
  • Picross DS
  • Worms: Open Warfare 2
  • Contra IV
  • Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
  • Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon
  • Mass Effect (I only had limited time with this title)
  • God of War 2
  • Warhawk

Wow, it really was a good year. I had to stop myself with the honorable mentions, because there was plenty more that I could have included. It’s doubtful that 2008 can be as strong as 2007 overall, but there are some big hitters coming around like Metal Gear Solid 4, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Devil May Cry 4, Little Big Planet, Resident Evil 5, and much more.

Top Ten Gaming Podcasts

We’re starting a new little thing around here, and that’s copying the practice of creating top ten lists. Sure, everybody is already doing it, but we don’t care. This list will kick things off, but coming very soon we’ll each be offering up our top ten favorite games of all-time. Unlike many sites, we’ll do these things on a personal level (for the most part) instead of a collaborative effort. This makes it easier to point out which of us has crappy taste (Miguel) and which of us has the most correct and proper taste in all things gaming (me).

There are a TON of gaming podcasts out there, and I listen to enough to cover a full 40 hour work week. Here are, in my personal opinion, the best 10 (in no specific order) out there.

1up Yours – A mix of guys from the 1up team (EGM, GFW, Gamevideos.com, etc.) discuss topics on a weekly basis. New shows appear Friday afternoons and they are an excellent way to close out the work week or start your week on a Monday morning. While the show can be a bit irreverent, you get some of the best analysis and honest opinion you’ll find anywhere.

CAGcast – Cheapassgamer.com puts out a weekly podcast hosted by CheapyD and Wombat. With CheapyD in Japan, and Wombat in New York, you get a nice gaming discussion with insight from both the Eastern and Western worlds of gaming. Like the best podcasts out there, CheapyD and Wombat are very sincere and honest in their opinions. The show is also a great source for upcoming and current deals on games.

Xbox Live’s Major Nelson Radio – Larry Hyrb and his co-host e put out a weekly show dedicated to all things Xbox. Even though the show has a very noticeable spin to it, there is excellent info to be found week to week on the show. There are tons of interviews, contests, and peeks into the day to day workings that drive the Xbox machine.

GFW Radio – The GFW team is hands down one of the funniest group of guys hosting a weekly gaming podcast. Even though the focus of the podcast is on PC gaming, there is still regular discussion of what is going on in the console world. Shawn’s Hero of the Web segment is guaranteed to coax a laugh or two out of you, as well as all the silly anecdotes the crew offers up.

The Penny Arcade Podcast – This show releases on a very spotty and irregular schedule, but it’s worth keeping an eye on it through iTunes or any other podcatcher. The show is just Mike and Jerry (Gabe and Tycho) talking as they hammer out one of their comics. You get about 45 minutes of brainstorming, unrelated tangents, and hilarious commentary on the latest happenings in gaming. By the end of the show you’ll know exactly how they came up with the idea for the current comic and appreciate the genius of these two guys and what they produce.

EGM Live* – Hosted by members of the EGM crew, EGM Live* is a great look into how an issue of EGM is put together and how reviewers arrive at the scores they award each game. For anybody that regularly reads EGM, this show attaches real personalities to the recognizable names you’ve seen in the publication year to year. There’s also opportunities to win some crap in a trivia contest each week.

Three Red Lights Podcast – IGN’s podcast, dedicated solely to the Xbox 360, does a great job covering interesting topics in the Xbox world while providing humor along the way. The IGN Xbox team speaks quite freely about the games they’re reviewing, people in the industry, and their fellow co-workers. Good stuff.

Podcast Beyond – Podcast Beyond is IGN’s PlayStation team podcast. Both the PSP and PS3 are discussed, but the PS2 still gets a little bit of attention as well. Much like Three Red Lights, the editors are very candid and open about the topics they approach. Reader interaction is pretty well-integrated into the show as well.

The HotSpot – Ok, I struggled putting this into the top ten because I think the GameSpot guys are a level below what you find over at 1up or IGN, but the show does cover a lot of topics. Most of this is personal, but I pretty much disagree with everything Jeff Gertsmann says on the show, and they other guys seem to be a little behind on news as well. Still, I catch the show each week as they do find worthwhile topics for discussion and the show is very well produced. No podcast out there has better reader interaction than the HotSpot, especially with the recorded phone calls.

Gamebot Live – What? You haven’t heard of this one? Gamebot Live is the official podcast produced by the Gamebot Online fellas. The show has a somewhat inconsistent release schedule, but it’s always worth the wait. The crew focuses mainly on retro and obscure gaming titles, but you’ll get talk of modern games thrown into the mix as well. Gamebot Live is the last podcast out there when I can still find talk about arcades! As an arcade/retro nut, this show is perfect for me. You’ll also get some awesome retro tunes thrown into the mix.

Other shows worth a look:

  • Wii-k in Review
  • IGN is AFK
  • Game Scoop! Podcast
  • Retronauts
  • The Bungie Studios Podcast

If you’re wondering where the Stupid Gamer Podcast is on that list, well, it’s not fair to the other shows to mix ‘em up with such superior awesomeness. If you’re not listening to us, well, you pretty much suck.