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My Games of 2008, 30-21

January 5, 2009

Released on XBLA early in 2008 then on DS and PSP at the arse end of it (in America at least) this acrobatic action game cum puzzler was a real ball buster to anyone that tried to play it, and if you weren’t feeling the pain enough on your own the brilliant co-operative game would have you and a ‘friend’ bitterly swearing at, and choking each other for weeks. It’s a shame then that the game didn’t let users share their level creations as the editor was robust and exceptionally easy to use, so the only way to share was by getting some one to come to your house to give them a try, and that would be an annoyance because then they would be within range to hit you after attempting your hellish designs for half an hour.

I also defy anyone to finish all the levels without getting the secret achievement

Ryu Hyabusa is hard as nails, Ninja Gaiden 2 is hard as nails, nails so hard that bosses will blow up without warning and kill you, forcing you to do the entire fight again, that’s hard, or maybe just slightly unfair… If Ninja Gaiden was even a little nicer it may have been higher up the list but its relentless difficulty feels like a large concrete fortress that Itagaki erected just to sit on and hurl insults at the player, sharp shuriken like insults that are un-blockable, stick into you and then explode. But you can’t help but enjoy yourself when a fight goes perfectly as you counter attacks left and right lopping off limbs, jaws, antennae and other unnecessary parts of human, demon, and wolf beast anatomy in a bloody ballet that is unparalleled in its style. And then an attack hits you from off screen, d’oh!

It’s Mario Kart, its fun, it has multiplayer, and it still has blue shells. Forget the fact that bikes break the game online because when you get together with some mates this is fantastic stuff, the new items are a little hit and miss but the courses are good, it feels like Mario Kart, and the Wii wheel is genuinely good fun. A game of good points and bad points, it doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of Mario Kart DS greatness but it’s still good for a chuckle.

Nintendo’s answer to Chess, Days of Ruin manages to knock down the unnecessary building blocks that recent games have added, give the graphics a mature edge, and refine the gameplay. Days of ruin is the return to pure Advance Wars, all Strategy and no over powering super moves or co-operative commanders with the only downside is that a little too much meat was cut off the bones as several essential modes went AWOL and while it was nice to have online play, the options were limited and it’s hard to find an online opponent willing to sit through an entire match.

He swings! He runs along walls! He gets saved infinite amounts of times by some bint with magical powers! Prince’s franchise re-boot wasn’t to everyone’s taste but for those that like to sightsee in a game it was heaven, lush cel-shading created a beautiful world that had a disastrous lack of floors. Acrobatics were simplified but still butt clenchingly fun, American Prince was not as annoying as he first seemed, and combat was still shite.

When it was released Braid was on everyone’s lips and its combination of puzzling and platforming was inspired and using time in ingenious ways during its small selection of levels gave everyone a headache. But for me, it was like eating a very tasty dinner that I paid a lot for but only being served a taster of a few dishes, Braid was over before it began and then it left you with inanely pretentious dialogue which resulted in some bizarre revelation that Braid was the creator of the atom bomb… *ahem*

It’s Castlevania on DS! It’s like last years but tweaked, like the one before that, and the one before that! But seriously speaking Ecclesia is a high point after Portrait, the gothic art style makes its return and the glyph system, coupled with a fan pleasing difficulty headbutt makes it the best outing for ‘vania since Aria of Sorrow.

UBI did a remarkable job on their follow up to mutant spoilt jungle based FPS Far Cry, delivering a mahoosive African playground for you to take a couple of weapons into and kill some baddies. completely unexpected cinematic moments make for some breathtaking personal experiences and guarantee a good pub story on Friday night, just a shame that the other guys probably haven’t played Far Cry and would rather recount another story from the battlefields of Call of Duty…

A curious little motorbike physics game on Steam that was developed from a flash game over on miniclip, the aim is to balance your bike over tricky obstacles and get the fastest time with the least number of faults. While the mechanics are entertaining enough it is the way the game syncs with your Steam friends list and lets you compete directly with them, using ghost data and boasting instantly over Steam gives an already fun game that essential edge that makes it something special. It also makes me grind my teeth due to the insane difficulty of later levels.

Capcom had a lot of guts putting out what is essentially an NES game in 2008 but for those of us with a passion for 8-bit graphics, ear piercing midi music, controller chucking difficulty then Mega Man was the best present a company can give us. The NES presentation had a modern gen polish to it however with online leaderboards and a full list of achievements that make sure fans have more than just a single mode to keep them tided over. Just don’t mention the DLC, with its price tag and lack of leaderboards…

Tomorrow I’ll deliver numbers 20-11!

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