Top Games of 2011… For me, most likely not for you :P

December 31, 2011

This last year has been excellent for games–a jaw-dropping list of AAA titles (only one of which appears on this list, hahah) padded by plenty of wonderful indie surprises. Unfortunately, I spent this year catching up on other gems I hadn’t played yet, and I haven’t gotten around to even half of the games I’ve wanted to play from this year. But from what I did get to play, I recapped my favorites below.

Leave your comments of agreement or disgruntlement below! Now in no particular order….


More often than not, Atlus will publish a Japanese game that makes me go, “Aw, guys, you shouldn’t have… You made this just for me?” Catherine was no exception, and, personally, I quickly found it to be quintessentially my perfect game: An insane plot that questions free will and choices; crazy characters backed by excellent voice acting and brought to life by nicely animated anime cut scenes; and a dash of dating sim spliced in with a heap of unforgiving puzzles. I’ve long been a fan of Atlus and was so happy to see them have such success with releasing this. “A” to the triple plus, Atlus.


JS Joust
Johann Sebastian Joust, a.k.a., the only reason I want a Move controller.

I love peoples’ reaction to this game. They sheepishly wander over to the Mac that Joust is running on, attracted by the music, multicolored lights of the Move controllers, and well, the large group of players who are trying to smack each other around. After going through the 30-second how-do-I-play rigamarole, they’re in on the game, too, and always come away with glowing things to say about it.

Trying to knock over your opponent’s Move controller while having your very movements limited by the pacing of the music is simple, fun and exhilirating.

Joust also wins my GOTY for best graphics, as they’re the most realistic I’ve ever seen in a game because the graphics are me. Playing videogames without screens is great. I played an alpha build of Joust  (thanks to Venus Patrol and Doug Wilson!) with IGDA DC, and I really hope it makes strides toward commercialization in the new year.

NOTE: Joust has been around for a while, but I just started playing Die Gute Fabrik’s titles this year, and, guys, this is die gute stuff. Big time. Which is why I have two of their games on my list.  :D


Where is My Heart
Just when I thought I was setting my PSP down for the year, @treyher tweeted a glowing mini-review of Where is my Heart. I had enjoyed Joust a lot, so I had plenty of faith that this PSN Mini would be a good experience. Plus, it looked so darned cute!

The mindbendery and forethought required to navigate safely through puzzle-platforming is insane. Which is to say, I often did not navigate safely through most of the levels on my first play-through.

while the three main characters don’t speak, I found them incredibly endearing. I wondered what their unique abilities meant, and why Orange kept crying, both randomly and when the other two characters perish. This  story on Giant Bomb sums it up nicely though.

It’s the pinnacle of interweaving personal experience into gameplay. I’m not even a game designer, but I can’t help but be envious of Die Gute Fabrik’s ability to so cleanly execute this style of storytelling. More, plz!


I really enjoy Cardboard Computer‘s takes on visual novels. Ruins is a sad short story that unfolds in a sparse, foggy dreamscape. At an unhurried pace, it unfurls peculiar prose and presents a couple of dialogue options at the end of each part. Your choices affect which information will be revealed to you, so Ruins will take three or four playthroughs if you want the full plot. Although Ruins primarily confronts themes like loneliness and loss, I find playing it cathartic and comforting.


I love the lunatic rhythms of the loquacious language used in this dark, Zelda-like adventure game. If you missed it, you have to go download it now. Required gaming, people. Get. It.


Skyward Sword
I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s far and away a favorite for this year. After being disenchanted with Twilight Princess and feeling ho-hum about the recent handheld iterations, Skyward Sword has rekindled my fangirl love for this series. The Ancient Cistern, my favorite Zelda dungeon in a long time, alone is reason enough for made to believe in the series again. It’s classic console Zelda gameplay.

The precision waggle controls are great, too (provided you recalibrate when necessary, but that’s very easy to do, even mid-fight). I don’t stand often when playing console games, but when I play Skyward Sword, I spend at least three-quarters of the time on my feet. I bet it’s hilarious to watch me play, too, because I find I end up shuffling left and right in particularly intense fights. If this isn’t Miyamoto’s magnum opus, I don’t know what would be.


So that’s it! I’ve gotten to scratch the surface on Skyrim this month, and Uncharted 3 and the SotC/ICO Collection are first on my list for 2012. Happy New Year, everyone! :D


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