I’m writing this on the final day of 2008 and while in general it’s been quite a dismal year for me at least I can say I’ve played some great games.
I wanted to do a top ten list kinda thing but I realised I’m not so good at gauging things so now I think I’ll just discuss the games released this year that I’ve had the opportunity to experience.
Let’s start with Super Smash Bros Brawl (Wii).
SSBB promised so much and had me visiting the Smash Dojo daily like some kind of crazy addict (which I probably was). When it finally came to Europe much of the hype had (unsurprisingly) already died. I preordered this game so I got to play a day early and it was great for about two days. I hadn’t really expected SSBB to be what it was, a collection of Nintendo memorabilia in the form of the main game and small objects that you had to collect while you played the game.
Sure it was fun but something was lacking and after continuous playing I realised that pretty much the game was for casual gamers. I hate to divide gamers into these catergories but that’s the best way I can describe it; no longer were battles guaranteed against inferior opponents.
Having said what I said I did feel it was quite an effort from Nintendo to bring in a story to explain why Kid Icarus and Pikmin characters were in the same game and it was okay for what it was. I have many things to rant about SSBB but I’ll cut it short here, in the end the online mode saved it. Without that, the game probably would’ve sucked.
Now to quickly mention another one of Wii’s big offerings, Mario Kart Wii. This game really felt awkward and I mean that in a good way. For the first few days it was so awesome to use the wheel to play the game, I played with other people and I won some and lost some (well most actually but that’s not important). It reminded me of a certain game (I already mentioned that game btw), it seemed Nintendo like everyone to taste victory.
The game was great but when happened after a month of playing it I realised it wasn’t up there with the likes of Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64. Much like SSBB it seemed to have drifted onto the shelves to gather dust for some time. I can still hear the Mushroom Gorge track music in my head so I think that’s good. Swiftly moving on…
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (DS), another game I was hyped up over but this time it was different.
With all the expectations it was carrying from the GBA games after the mess that was Dual Strike (according to many Advance Wars veterans, apparently it was broken or something), I loved the whole atmosphere it set. The post-apocalyptic world was highly believable because obviously Sturm did that meteorite shower.
The game itself was like it’s predecessors and that’s how it was meant to be. New units helped to make the game feel more fresh and the characters were likeable (or detestable) like any good story. Online mode was nicely implemented and the ability to upload/download helped make the game last longer well, actually more like forever. Definitely one of the best games I played this year.
Now onto a game that’s probably not a game I’d like to play again. Casper Scare School: Classroom Capers (DS) was aimed for kids obviously but it seemed quite short and boring. I’m pretty sure this game isn’t original in terms of the get-and-fetch classroom simulator but alas I can’t think of any games that played in the same way. Using the touch screen made things a lot easier though but the repetitive nature of the genre and the monotonous sounds made this a game to forget.
Dragonball: Origins (DS), this game completely wowed me. From it’s full-3D intro (made from the 2D anime) to the neat moves Goku unleashes it fully deserves a mention in any 2008 DS list. It even insisted on the quirky antics of Master Roshi (unlike the upcoming Dragonball movie) and every mission I played was like a dream. I still have the optional missions to play and that’s probably going to be done in 2009 seeing as though there’s not much coming out anyway!
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (DS). Interesting plot but why Phoenix has to butt into everything was frustrating, the ending was good though as well as the 3D evidence examination. Out of the four games that come under this series (although this game isn’t really part of the Phoenix Wright chain) I’d say it’s my second favourite behind Trails and Tribulations as that had a better story in my opinion.
Final Fantasy IV (DS) along with Dragon Quest: Chapters of the Chosen (DS) fed my inner RPG-needing soul. I never beat a Final Fantasy game before so this game really was my chance to negate that. It was incredible challenging but after much perseverance I managed to get through and enjoy the great story unfold. The FMVs were beautiful…
As for Dragon Quest, that was great too. It made me feel all giddy inside and while it was a stark contrast to FFIV I really found it to be one of the best RPGs I’ve played. If I was more determined I would’ve released a mini medal guide just for those people that keep on searching for the locations of those elusive things. :)
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift. Ah, the game that accompanied me in the most troubling times of this year. I spent over 120 hours on near 300 missions on this game. The changes it introduced from the original game weren’t really that great but I liked this game nonetheless, I achieved my goal of a getting a solid clan that can swap out with ease and if I feel brave enough I might even attempt Hard difficulty one day.
FIFA 09 (DS), well I wanted PES 09 to be what this was but it seems EA have won the portable war with Konami (who have failed miserably with the DS so far). The 60 FPS framerate made things more smooth and the online mode as ever was and still is fantastic (provided you don’t get those disconnectin’ losers). Be A Pro is a blast to play on-and-off as well. Great game overall.
Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness (DS). I’m going to keep this short, after playing for about a year in-game I wasn’t happy.
Kirby Super Star Ultra (DS), this game was multiplayer-wise brilliant. Having had the misfortune to not play the original on the SNES I played this until I got 100% and still it proves to be fun. My favourite mode is the one where you get to blast through with Meta Knight.
Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia (DS). When I heard Darkrai would be available as a download for this game I instantly played this. Granted, the one hour tutorial wasn’t something I enjoyed but I overlooked that for the prizes that I awaited in Ranger Net. That included a Riolu with Aura Sphere and a Manaphy Egg (yay!) and now I’m waiting for Darkrai. As for the actual game, the constant circling did make my wrists tired but that’s a small price to pay for the ownership of Darkrai (how many times have I said that?).
Unsolved Crimes (DS) looked promising from the pre-release material and while it disappointed in some areas (like the lifeless characters), it made up with neat features like 3D exploration of the crime scene and evidence (something Apollo Justice didn’t have :P).
Time Hollow (DS) although not exactly as memorable as some other games I’ve played in this genre, was decent too.
I usually avoid horror games as I find them to be all annoying with their jumping-dogs-through-windows and zombies tortured man in lockers but Theresia: Dear Emile (DS) offered something other than cheap boo tricks. The only barrier I had was that it was a point-and-click adventure so I didn’t really want to play a game that had me guessing what to do next. Luckily for me I decided to be open-minded and see what the game had in store for determined gamers.
As you start the game you’re in this room and apparently you’ve lost your memory. Nothing new here but as soon as you explore the surrounding area you find this corpse and a dagger fly right at you. At this point I was quite shocked, I admit to actually turning the DS off and wondering what kind of sick game this was but I continued on and soon enough I got hooked when I discovered the game had a great story to tell through diary entries and some cool cut scenes. In the end I thoroughly enjoyed this game and I’d seriously recommend it to those that have the patience play a game that requires some deep thinking and a strong mind. This game even helped me in taking blood tests more easily (don’t ask why). :)
The World Ends with You (DS) was Square Enix’s alternative to Final Fantasy and the Kingdom Hearts-style battle system was well implemented and the epic story deserves some credit. I don’t think it did too well in terms of sales so maybe a sequel won’t be released. :(
I also play a lot of Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 and it’s totalling over 40 hours of gaming but I can’t really say much about it except it’s great when you have football crazy people around you.
A few other games I’d just to mention are Bomberman Land Touch! 2 and Call of Duty: World at War. Both have a great online mode which I really enjoy playing! Also Soul Bubbles was a pleasing on the eye and it played so nicely too, pity it didn’t too well on the charts. I almost forgot MOTHER 3 as well, thanks to a translation guide I managed to beat the game and I was very relived that I done so before an English translation funnily enough.
So that’s about all the games I’ve had the privilege to play this year. I also played a handful of games not released this year. They include Hotel Dusk: Room 215 and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and I’m glad I actually got around to them.
So there’s my longest post over and done with. Thanks for reading and here’s to an even better 2009!