New Games Plus: Looking back

Well, it’s done. After last week, the holiday blitz of fantastic games is finally over. Sure, there are a few games releasing this week, but they’re nothing that great. Instead of spending paragraphs talking about how horrible I think Rise of the Argonauts will be, or how Rock Band 2 is finally being released on the Wii and PS2, I’d rather focus on the good times that the past few months have given me.

  • Gears of War 2 was everything I wanted it to be: an over-the-top action game with an overbearingly stupid story. It was visceral and it was glorious. When I wasn’t yelling at some of the stupid choices made in the game (Act 4 was kinda brutal), I was just enjoying my time, happy not to have to think too hard to enjoy my entertainment.
  • Valkyria Chronicles, on the other hand, was everything I didn’t know I was missing. I knew that I’d like it by virtue of its pedigree, but I didn’t realize that it was the best tactical rpg to come out since Final Fantasy Tactics. The characters were memorable, the battles required strategy, and the game looked simply gorgeous.
  • Rock Band 2 is to Rock Band as Guitar Hero 2 is to Guitar Hero: a refinement of an amazing game, bringing it to near-perfection. Ask any drunken partygoer and they’ll all agree: No-Fail Mode is the best addition.
  • Mirror’s Edge was a game that, uh…well, what can I say? I had a blast playing it, and there’s something ultimately rewarding about hitting a long series of jumps/slides/grabs without breaking your momentum, but I just couldn’t spend too much time with it at once. I think I stopped playing around level five; at that point, I realized that I was done, and everything I’d wanted to do in the game had already been thrown at me. I don’t think I’ll ever pick it back up, but that doesn’t mean I hate it.
  • Castlevania: Judgment isn’t as bad as everybody thinks it is, but if you’re a fighting game fan or a Castlevania fan, you’ll probably be disappointed. Given that it’s a Castlevania fighting game, this begs the question of who is left to play it.
  • Left 4 Dead is by far the most fun game to have come out this year. Once you get a group of four or eight people together, the good times come a-rollin’. I haven’t laughed (and cursed) so rapidly since the Talking Tyrants first started doing Halo Sundays. It even got my girlfriend to start playing first-person shooters, something I never imagined would happen.
  • Chrono Trigger DS is Chrono Trigger. It simply fills me with glee.

All in all, it’s been a pretty damn good year-end for games. What about you guys? What games did you end up playing and what did you think about them? And yes, I’m sure I forgot [your favorite game here], but that’s only because it sucks and you have bad taste.

25 thoughts on “New Games Plus: Looking back

  1. The fact that it is a Castlevania fighting game raises, not begs, the question of who’s left to play it.

    Of course, if everyone gets the usage of that phrase wrong, then that might as well be the correct way to use it.

  2. Castlevania: Judgement is like eating marshmallows. Totally unfulfilling but fluffy, fun, and a little sweet… although too much of it at once makes you feel kind of gross. So, I like it, but in measured doses.

  3. I think the only 2008 games I played were No More Heroes and Super Smash Brothers Brawl. Remember how excited we were for Brawl?? Boy did that excitement not last, at least for me.

    Still, it’s sad to think that No More Heroes has been forgotten in the grand scheme of things. It’s nowhere near perfect but I would argue it was the best Wii game of the year. It has the same problem some movies/albums do where they come out so early in the year everyone forgets about them.

    Otherwise uhhh Mega Man 9, game of the year…that’s the correct answer, right??

  4. Trauma Center 2, The World Ends With You, Final Fantasy IV, Mega Man 9, Chrono Trigger, Kirby Super Star, Smash Bros., two Persona games. I’d probably say Bionic Commando Rearmed if I had the means to play it. Never-minding all the other great stuff I never had the money to get this year, like Space Invaders Extreme, Bangai-O, and Etrian Odyssey 2.

    Add to all that my playing through the Phoenix Wright games for the first time and you have what is pretty much the best year of gaming I’ve probably ever had. And pretty much all of it on a handheld.

  5. I have heard the phrase used correctly. Granted, it was in my discrete math class and we were discussing mathematical proofs and typical fallacies.

  6. I’ve always thought “begs the question” = “raises the question” and “begging the question” = “avoids the question.” But our language is dumb as hell.

  7. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I’m enjoying the hell out of Fallout 3. I wasn’t really expecting it to be much of anything at all since I never was a fan of Oblivion, but it has drawn me in unlike any game in recent memory.

    Also, I rather enjoyed Dead Space despite the flaws. And Space Invaders Extreme.

    All said, this was a pretty good year for games, I’d say.

  8. “Granted, it was in my discrete math class and we were discussing mathematical proofs and typical fallacies.”

    Ah, yes, discrete math class — that bastion of common, idiomatic English.

  9. It isn’t hard to correctly use the accusation, “that begs the question.” It means is that someone is making an argument which relies upon circular logic where the conclusion is based on its immediate premise. (Re-read my first post.)

    Back on topic, I started into Persona 4. I like the feel of the S.M.T. universe, but the whole collecting demons thing doesn’t do it for me. Not that I have a problem with demons, it is just my OCD and completist issues makes the game painful. I do like that it is slightly more organic than P3, which I also couldn’t handle. But it seems to my mind that it is still possible to max all S.Links and get all the Personas, so I want to try. I think if the game made it more obvious that it would never be possible to do those things, and that you should just play getting the tools (Persona/weapons) which suit your style and make friend with the people (S.Links) which will help you the most; I think I’d like the game more.

    Though, as I was say, playing P4 did make me want more of something similar so I’ve started Digital Devil Saga over (I quit a couple years ago after I found I answered both of the questions wrong). Tuning, a few avatars rather than over 100 demons feels much more comfortable to me.

  10. Let’s see…

    Super Smash Bros. Brawl – I love it. The only reason I’m not still playing it every week is Rock Band 2.

    Lost Winds – it’s short and sweet, and it makes better use of the Wiimote than just about any other Wii game.

    MGS4 – It had its problems for sure, but the parts it got right, it got really right.

    Space Invaders Extreme – an excellent game all around. I’ll have to go back and play the more difficult paths later.

    Etrian Oddysey II – I love the party building, but the difficulty has kept me from passing the 10th floor. I haven’t sold it yet, so maybe I’ll go back to it down the road.

    Mega Man 9 – I never played the MM games as a kid, but now that I know what I was missing I’m going to play through 2 and 3.

    Rock Band 2 – drumming is my new addiction

    Persona 3 FES – I’m finally closing in on the end. Saying anything about it here would be preaching to the choir.

    Wipeout HD – I need to set out a big chunk of time to devote to this. I’m never going to get good at it by playing it a bit here and there.

  11. Patapon, TWEWY, MM9, Apollo Justice.

    Excepting LittleBigPlanet, every PS3 game I bought or got from Goozex this year was crap – but with *fantastic* graphics.

    I still need to try Valkyria Chronicles and Gears 2.

  12. I am not buying a PS3 till they lower the price, but I would like to play VC. Its on my to do list.

    I’ve been playing Dead Space, Mirror’s Edge, GoW2, Fallout 3, Braid and Left 4 Dead.
    Dead Space is doom 3 on the event horizon. Its not original in terms of setting but what it does it does very well. They fact they’re making a game based on Dante’s inferno is beyond words awesome.
    Mirror’s Edge is the baby of Assassin’s Creed and Portal, games I enjoyed very much. I like these kinds of dystopian futures too so the setting was very cool by my standards.
    Gears of War 2: a game I can play with my GF! And they made the coop extremely fun by making people perform different tasks. They diversified the objectives and the actions you’re engaged in so GoW2 is a big thumbs up.
    Braid is a unique platformer puzzle game. If you like puzzle games, you will like Braid. It has a unique esthetic and I like it. The music is top notch.
    Fallout 3: I ended up liking it more than I anticipated. I usually don’t like being given that amount of freedom, I like things a bit more linear, but it was a fun game to play. The game was obviously made by hardcore DnD nerds and will appeal more to that kind of player. The setting is nevertheless very good. I think Bethesda needs to recognize what its good and less good at and focus more on improving what its not good at like pacing, and less on what it already does well (DnD mechanics). Nevetheless, the game is solid.
    Left 4 Dead IS a lot of multiplayer fun but I find that it gets repetitive after a while. Its best played in multiples of 4. Higher difficulty levels make it annoying to have a computer with you because you can’t communicate instructions. I also find that being in groups means you’re often stuck following the guy that found a way to cheat the map in some kind of obscure corner. I agree its important to strategize but in some settings, like the Versus setting, playing cheaply makes the game less fun I find. It is still a very good game despite my whining.

    I want to play Fable 2 but have to wait as I am going on a trip and I am waiting for the price to go down on Star Wars TFU. I loved the demo but I stopped from buying when I found out the game was not as cool. I am also saving Tales of Symphonia 2 for my trip (the wii is small enough to bring to my parents) and the latest DS castlevania and chrono trigger.

  13. Valkyria is also my GOTY. Left 4 Dead is great, I just wish I would have bought it on PC.

  14. @Neon Spiral Injector
    In terms of maxing all Social Links, Persona 4 makes it much much easier than P3. I, and people that I’ve talked to, have managed to do it with a month or so of time left.

  15. Best game moment: Learning that my relationship with Chie improved because I’d lucha libre wrestled her in a dream (Persona 4). Persona has definitely given me the most joy this year, especially once I forsook trying to earn a perfect score (which defeats the purpose of trying to create a fantasy identity). Overall, for me this was the year I was finally able to play all those RPGs I’d missed thanks to DS releases and a long commute.

  16. Maybe if I get around to finishing Persona 3, I can sort of give FES co-game of the year honors with Bionic Commando Rearmed and SSF2T:HDR. I think HD Remix deserves at least some mention for being the first (completely and unambiguously legal) instance of near-GGPO-quality netcode in a fighting game. If only someone would remake Tekken 3/Tag in the same light!

  17. My friend runs a theology blog and I hear “begs the question” all the time when he talks with atheists about their worldview not having a basis for morality – it’s where I learned the phrase and its correct usage.

    The World Ends With You has a special place in my heart since I live in Japan. I even got to visit Shibuya and check out all the hot spots, just like Parish. It was AWESOME.

    I’m still playing MM9, too. Every day I work on completing a new trophy.

    LittleBigPlanet just keeps getting better as time rolls along. I have a feeling we’ll be talking about it for awhile.

  18. Just for the hell of it, I’ll throw in what I liked this year too – Sins of a Solar Empire, the World Ends With You, Super Robot Taisen Z, Mega Man 9, Gundam Battle Universe and… Metal Gear Solid 3. Okay, so I was late to the party, what can I say?

  19. Mega Man 9 – It’s great; I’d say it’s the equal of MM2/3. Actually, that’s a problem – it reminds me so much of MM2 and 3 that when I turn on the Wii, I always end up playing those again instead of trying to finish MM9.

    Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia – I haven’t played it enough to say if it’s really that great compared to the rest of the series, but I do like that they’ve finally put away the pastels. Probably the most simplified and user-friendly post-SotN Castlevania in terms of how the weapons/items/magic are found and used, but the difficulty of everything else is turned way up to compensate. You *will* die, often, but I’m the sort of masochist who will keep grinding away until I get it right (as if my liking Mega Man wasn’t a clue).

    Gears of War 2 – The co-op campaign and Horde modes are the best things to happen to the shooter genre this year, IMHO. Competitive multiplayer has a lot of problems, though, not the least of which is just finding a game.

    Castle Crashers / Rock Band 2 – My friends and I would say one of these is the best party game of this year. Which one, specifically, depends on what sort of mood we’re in.

    No More Heroes – The only retail game for the Wii. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I thought it was awesome, even when the ending made me go “What… the HELL… did I just watch?”

    Braid – I wasn’t that impressed when I first tried it, but I’m glad I gave it a second chance recently. At first, I was confused because I thought the levels were supposed to be more of an illustration of the text preceding them than they really are. Once I got that idea out of my head, though, I found it a quite enjoyable puzzle game. Some of the puzzles are really dastardly clever, though the secret stars are just plain cruel. I’m still on the fence as far as deciding whether the ending was a brilliantly subtle reminder that real-life stories rarely have closure or fairy-tale endings, or if it was just a pretentious incomprehensible brain-screw. Regardless, I don’t regret dropping those 1200 MS points on it.

    Warhammer Online – By this time next year, I think it’ll really be an MMORPG to contend with. As it is now, the PvP combat and end-game content still need more time in the oven. I’ll say this much in favor of it: I played WOW for a week on a free trial this summer, didn’t see what the fuss was about, got bored, and quit, but I’ve been playing Warhammer since it came out in September and haven’t gotten bored yet. If they don’t put in more for max-level characters to do soon, though, I’m probably gonna go back to EVE and Anarchy.

    World of Goo – Cute, clever, very well-designed puzzles. Reminds me of playing Lemmings, but far less likely to cause rage-induced ulcers or keyboard damage.

    Persona 4 – I haven’t played this or any of the series yet, being someone who dislikes most JRPGs as a rule, but all the love it’s been getting from this site and others has convinced me that I should at least try it, so I’m ordering it. Heck, I’ve spent 40 bucks on worse things (like Daikatana… I’m so ashamed).

  20. I’m still catching up on a lot of original Xbox games, and I’m playing through all the Strongbad games on Wii. I’m just now finishing up Castlevania: Curse of Darkness. I’m renting Wii Music and I’m going to show off its Balance Board-assisted drumming mode to my parents this Christmas.

  21. Dragon Quest Swords is pretty neat. Could be the best release for me this year. What? Year-end games? I’m just starting to work out the backlog.

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