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Dala’s favourite games of the Decade! (2000-2009)

Here are the honourable mentions, the games that just missed out on the top ten.

———————

Advance Wars 2

Metroid Prime

Rez

The World Ends With You

Timesplitters: Future Perfect

Conker’s Bad Fur Day

Street Fighter IV

Peggle

Wii Sports

Halo

No More Heroes

Trials HD

Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations

Oddworld: Strangers Wrath

Deus Ex (Happy now Dave?)

The Sims 2

Unreal Tournament 2k4

Rock Band 2

Civilization 4 (Happy Tam?)

House of the Dead: Overkill

Team Fortress 2

Pac Man: Championship Edition

——————————————-

Now, counting down from ten…

Dala’s favourite games of the last Decade!

10. Paper Mario 2: The Thousand Year Door

Mario RPGs are mostly brilliant, Thousand Year Door is sublime. Taking Mario and company away from their natural habitat of The Mushroom Kingdom meant Nintendo could flex their vibrant creativity just that little bit more. Featuring memorable characters and a selection brilliant miniature stories, no one will forget their time at the wrestling ring or the mysterious events on that train, alongside an addictive and ever expanding combat system the game continually surprises until its closing moments, a good twenty odd hours later.

The brilliantly simple visuals meant scenes like this would happen on a whim.

Add to all that a charming visual style that bleeds into its gameplay and a brilliant translation that could make a world weary toad smile and you’ve got one of the best video game’s available.

9. Super Smash Bros Melee/Brawl

I can hear the heckles now, ‘Idiot dunno what he’s talking about’, ‘Smash Bros is diabolical’, ‘A disgrace to fighting games’, well fluff all of you because any Smash Bros plus a room of mates, plus drinks, equals more fun than dealing a game of strip poker with seven super models in a hot tub.

As a serious fighter Melee tops it, but Brawl is still brilliant fun.

Smash Bros, as Russell Howard said to Jonathan Ross, is whatever you want it to be. Fun filled party game – turn all the items to max, super serious brawler – turn items off, RSPCA worrying animal cruelty sim – all play as Pokemon with only pokeballs turned to high frequency, Smash Bros has been a constant source of fun for years. Infinitely playable, incomparably competitive, unbelievably stupid, yet undeniably brilliant.

8. Mario Kart DS

Sure it’s Mario Kart, and sure the Wii version has a superior online mode, however this is a very personal choice for one reason – College.

Of a lunch time me and several great friends (and some smelly strangers) used to hang out in the café enjoying some intense Mario Kart, no snaking (gentleman’s rules). The game bred some serious competition and we regularly had five or six players, but then Mario Kart DS is also arguably the best Mario Kart hands down.

Oh and custom decals were brilliant as well.

Waluigi Pinball, Delfino Plaza, Yoshi Falls, Luigi’s Mansion, Airship Fortress, Peach Gardens, all brilliant tracks and tailor made for the DS, there was more spectacle than Mario Kart 64 and the tight kart handling taught Double Dash a lesson for trying to be different. What’s more, it’s just a plain well made game, it won’t improve your life spiritually, help you pass a degree, or cure cancer, but you will have cemented some friendships from time spent playing and laughing.

7. Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4. Meme generating, franchise reviving, list topping super game extraordinaire. Resident Evil 4 was exquisite, from the first pistol shot you plant in one of the game’s shambling insectey parasitey infected you know this will be special, shooting enemies hadn’t been this satisfying since the groin grabbing guards of Goldeneye.

But what took Resident Evil 4 beyond great to legendary status was the satisfying feel and surprising depth to the experience. Still the only game to get QTEs; right finding context sensitive actions was brilliantly intuitive stuff, ‘I wonder if I can do that’, yes you can says Resi 4 as you hurl yourself from a window, spinning 180 degrees and shotgunning your pursuers in the face, reveling in the squelch and the satisfying chunk, chunk of your weaponry before soiling your drawers anew at the sound of a revving chainsaw.

If you ask me the best version is the Wii version, PS2 improvements with GC performance plus brilliant aiming.

But then there’s the wonderfully camp story with its myriad of absurd characters, never taking itself seriously the player pushed on not simply to enjoy the combat, but to see what silly setpiece the game would invent next.

And then there was the extended game, unlocking more weapons, working out the tantalizingly deep mercenaries mode, Resi 4 was a game that begged to be played time and again, and yet no matter how many times you played it every one felt just as fresh as the first.

6. The Orange Box

Kind of a cheat this but screw the rules, I have… Well I don’t have money, but I have control.

I still stand by Half Life 2 as being incredibly over-rated, shonky controls and rubbish drawn out sections seem to get ignored for a physics toy when people recall it as classic (it is an awesome physics toy mind you), the episodes on the other hand, they are gloriously compact extracts of gaming nirvana, no thirty minute odd boat trip here just an intense set piece rush through some of gaming’s most memorable locations. Episode 2 also hits your were it hurts on multiple occasions, making it the only nomination here to cause a lump in my throat.

Shat box, brilliant games.

Portal is a work of genius; in terms of narrative it’s got one of the best twists and most subtle yet brilliant reveals in gaming, and in terms of gameplay the concept of using two interconnected portals to move things around, sneak up on turrets, or even launch yourself across gaping chasms is exhilarating yet somehow never disorientating. The compact three hour experience crammed more memorable moments in than a Hitchcock film and the writing was top notch as well. Oh and it finished with Jonathan Coulton song, wub.

And then there’s Team Fortress 2, the best looking, best playing online FPS that has evolved into a varied, chaotic experience and will continue to grow into the next decade. This certainly was a triumph.

5. Left 4 Dead 2

As with the Melee and Brawl position in the previous list you could substitute this for Left 4 Dead if you prefer your apocalypse more urban, your survivors more conventional, and your black dude less fat, but for me knocking the brains out a zombie’s nose with a cricket bat makes L4D2 the winner.

The new special infected are all winners as well and make versus ten times better.

‘Game of the Decade though? Really?’ Yes, twat, my list so it’s my favourite games games on it and boy oh boy is L4D2 one that I adore. Great games are made from the experiences created within them and any four player session of L4D2 will create memories, it’s the kind of game you and friends can gush about over several pints down the local, recounting that time you were the last survivor making a dash for the safe room with three zombies on your tail, suddenly the growl of a hunter fills your ears and in a moment of blind panic you spin and melee, batting him away mid leap before finishing the level in the safe house. Or the time you got side swiped by the tank after your team left you, downed and almost out you shoot your last bullets into him, as he reaches up for his final punch your friends lay into him and he collapses at your side and over the mic one says ‘we never leave a good man behind’. Forget ‘cinematic’ setpieces, these kinds of moments only happen in video games.

Left 4 Dead and its sequel bucked the trend of forced co-operation, no ledge is a centimeter too high therefore needing two people to scale it, and no buttons ask you to press them simultaneously like they’re your boss, all the situations that occur in a session are unpredictable and test the players to their wits end, with co-operative events happening organically as players yell for help whilst one friend is being reeled in by a smoker and another is wrestling with the randy jockey humping his face, you’re the man the entire run depends upon and if you manage it you’re a damn celebrity to them.

Melee combat, bloody good fun.

Memorable characters (for the most part) and an interesting ‘story’ helped give the game depth whilst additional game modes add hours of fun for those who enjoy killing some undead, Realism mode is fantastic. The brilliant gore engine added in part two was ace as well.

4. Super Mario Galaxy

Mario Galaxy is brilliant, the variety on display in the star collection whilst all typically cut from the same cloth (get coins or traverse stage to get star) was continuously toying with what it could do meaning in one level you could be trailing some music notes to make the Mario underground theme when in another you’re skating along water, then in another you’re riding a manta ray around a race track like a revenge seeking Steve Irving, then in another you’re fighting a giant mole, then in another you’re rolling a ball down a hill Monkey Ball style, then in another you’re clambering around the nether regions of a humongous bee.

Mario soaring from planet to planet is a brilliant feeling.

The beauty of Galaxy is the subtlety in which it uses the Wii’s innovations, but also in its limitless creativity with which it surprises you every time you think the designers might have run out of juice. Visually the game was a delight as well, the conventional locations were present but interspersed with Saturn-esque ring planets in which the ring was actually water, or a huge mansion in which, you guessed it, poor Luigi was trapped.

The music was brilliant as well; Nintendo tunes are normally the sort you’ll hum whilst writing rubbish blog posts (currently humming Mario Bros Underwater theme) but to do the music in Galaxy justice you’d need a well-rehearsed chamber choir. This is the kind of music that could raise the spirits of an entire cancer ward, go on, go to your local hospital and play it.

The ‘planets’ made all other platformers flat in comparison… Oh wait…

Mario Galaxy is a beautifully created video game, and an unrestrained expression and celebration of the medium’s most jubilant character.

3. Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Screw the haters, I bet you’re one of them, one of the ones that judged this on the fact it replaced the idea of jumping with a car with springs, or because Rare’s output since leaving Ninty has been ‘shite’ (go play Viva Pinata ya numpties), well more fool you because Nuts & Bolts was brilliant.

Brilliantly flawed however, the game had some rubbish design ideas such as carting jiggies to the center and getting chased by the cops, or some of the rubbish ‘LOG’S choice’ challenges, but when it was working well Nuts & Bolts was gaming gold dust.

It also looks drop dead gorgeous.

The vehicle creator was sometimes hard to use but rewarding when you got it, being asked to protect ‘Mr Fit’ as he runs around a course a novice player might try and fight all the enemies, a true genius will make a cage to go over the portly rodent whilst they laugh at enemies banging against it with no luck, or when you’re asked to take part in a dogfight and you create a disco ball death star, firing death in every direction.

Whilst games like Mario Galaxy created the genius in which you played, in Banjo a lot of your fun was created from your own imagination, sure there was always an obvious method to something, but breaking the game was half the fun. Winning a sumo match because my car had an ejector seat, meaning I remained in the ring whilst my opponent and ten tones of now inanimate vehicle plummeted to the ground below was brilliant, my friend however used springs to keep his vehicle intact, probably the more insurance friendly approach.

I made this abortion of a vehicle 😀

The multiplayer was also an under appreciated piece of genius, before the game’s release I feared it would be easily dominated by small children who’d unlocked everything whilst older people like myself were constantly turning the TV back to Question time or porn whenever parents or friends came in so they didn’t catch us spending our lives making brumm sounds whilst the Dalamobile Mk 3 laps the speckled mole and shoots a rocket up the native American woman’s tail pipe, but it was actually good fun thanks to tricky course design that favoured technical vehicles over powerful ones.

Klungo’s games were brilliant as well.

A true gem of a game.

Warning: incoherent personal gushing within.

2- Shadow of the Colossus


It’s rare for a game to show subtlety or tact, body counts normally stack into the hundreds or it’s a cuddly bear world full of jelly beans and menacing kittens. Shadow of the Colossus is subtle, you’re kill count doesn’t need all your appendages to count whilst your skill pool is actually quite small, and yet the game is anything but simple.

Essentially a boss rush the idea is to beat down a selection of hulking beasts in an effort to bring a dead bint back to life, because the ominous voice told you to. In the game this is told with a little more feeling but that’s the idea, the real joy of SotC comes from the battles themselves.

The beauty of the colossi fights is that you need to frequently think outside the box, all you know is that you can grab, shoot arrows, and clang your sword menacingly on their toes, but the environment is as much of a tool as any item in Zelda.

Because your horse behaved for itself, the companionship you form with it is undeniably strong.

But once you attach yourself to a colossi the game reaches new heights, as you’re thrown around helplessly praying you’ll hang on, as the music soars and dives with your performance, as every lumbering move of the colossi throws you off balance, and you grab the beasts beard as you’re thrown off, Shadow of the Colossus is rammed with moments of nail biting tension and sky punching victory as you fell a beast after an intense forty minute fight. David and the goliath is a complete understatement, Verne Troyer vs the Hindenburg would be more accurate.

And if these epic memories weren’t enough, the game hits you in a thoughtful manner as well, every colossi defeated seems more sad than a joy, you start to question your motives leading to the memorable climax, it’s an emotional journey as well as a brilliant game.

1-World of Warcraft


Has it really been five years? Five years since gamers started innocently becoming heroes in Azeroth and setting off on a quest to attain loot and glory in gaming’s best developed fantasy setting. Look at it today and it’s hard to imagine these humble beginnings, look at it today and it’s hard to imagine it not having many of its now staple features, look at any other MMO’s statistics and it’s impossible to logically calculate WoW’s success. But at the end of the day WoW has succeeded because it’s a brilliant game and a great RPG.

Everything about Warcraft says quality, when other MMOs were getting away with lackluster visuals and animations Blizzard were fine tuning their engine and tweaking their art direction to create a timeless experience, whilst other MMOs were grind fests Warcraft eliminated this with constant and intelligently paced quest lines and a constant influx of useful loot, and whenever another MMO had a good idea since, Blizzard added it into WoW to keep it on top. WoW is as relevant today in the face of the Warhammers and Star Treks as it was to Everquest 2 in 2005.

Regular Expansions help keep WoW relevant, whilst patch content stretches them out over a long time.

Ultimately it’s Blizzard’s attention to detail that propels Warcraft into many gamers hearts, every corner of the world has memorable locations that feel correct, as opposed to Lord of the Ring’s field bears, whilst the visual look is still strikingly cohesive and character animations display an artistic joviality often missing from video games. The music too is sublime; with over a day’s worth of some of the best music in the industry, WoW is both a visual and an audible tour de force (except for the constant grunting). The endless pop culture references will keep us laughing as well, and the new appreciation of cinematic design makes the end game events even more exciting.

But then there are the MMO aspects that propel it beyond the realms of normal games, get into a guild and the game becomes an unforgettable experience, you will forge friendships, competition with other players, and sample your own stories that you can share again and again with other people, unforgettable experiences in an unforgettable world.

Some of the boss fights look spectacular.

Sure it has problems but when a game can lure in 11.5 million subscribers, be featured in numerous sitcoms, have a South Park episode dedicated to it, spin off novels, mangas and board games about it, endless cosplay, and almost single handedly spawn gaming rehab clinics then it’s got to be doing something right (ish).

Warcraft’s reach extends beyond its gaming roots and this alone would be enough reason to celebrate it, but the fact it’s also a lovingly crafted piece of virtual entertainment and one that will remain relevant and talked about into the next decade and beyond makes it the only choice as game of the decade.

This is a slap dash description of this brilliant game, it would be possible to write a university thesis on how important and enjoyable an experience it is and still have things to say, all that remains to be said is that it’s a great game, and one that will stay with you for many years to come.

The cataclysm will reshape the world, marking the biggest change to Warcraft since its release.
Thank you for letting me express my opinions, feel free to flame me… Be gentle…
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One comment

  1. […] of a world (of warcraft) February 27, 2010 I love World of Warcraft, as you may have noticed, and I’m currently enjoying the world one last time before it is destroyed forever so […]



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