It’s that time of the year again where I’ve decided to put together a list of my favorite games of 2010 that didn’t come out in 2010. With all these lists focused on stuff that came out this year (and generally populated with over rated bullshit) I like to bring it down a few notches and focus on the things I personally enjoyed while the rest of the universe is out there buying over priced 60 dollar games. I’m not guilty of Day 1 purchases myself, though I’ve gotten MUCH better this year as far as being able to control my urge to buy the latest and (usually not) greatest.
So anyway, here’s the rub as far as this list is concerned. It doesn’t matter which year the game came out, it just has to be something that was new to me. So while I’ve replayed stuff like Metroid Prime on Wii, I can’t add it to this list because I’ve already played it before. Without further ado!
Ristar – Sega Genesis (Originally released 1995)
I’ve always wanted to play Ristar, even when it was originally released during the days when I considered Sega the enemy. I intended to buy it when it was released on the Virtual Console a few years ago but never ended up nabbing it. I happened across it one night while I was looking for some retro games at a local shop and finally bought it. Anyway, it’s really good stuff. As a late gen Genesis game it features a really bright color palette, and nicely detailed sprites with some decent animation. It’s obvious that Sonic Team knew the Genesis inside and out by this point because it looks great even today. It’s an interesting little game because it’s clear that it hails from the same guys that made Sonic The Hedgehog, with it’s big sprawling stages, punchy music, similar title cards for the stages, and lead character with pointy hair (well he IS a star). I’d argue it’s better than a Sonic game though, with a focus on more deliberate platforming and the titular hero’s Bionic Commando-like grappling abilities. One of the few original projects from Sonic Team that they really knocked out of the park, but like most of their games outside of Sonic, this is about all you get as far as Ristar goes.
Interested in Ristar? Purchase it on Steam for $2.99!
Cave Story (Originally released 2004, on WiiWare 2010)
Okay so I’m cheating my list a little bit here. I bought this when it was new on WiiWare which was released this year, so it’s sort of a 2010 game, but the fact of the matter is that it’s been available for free on the internet since 2004. The Wii version has some new little tweaks, but it’s largely the same game, so it’s accepted onto my list. Does that make me a sucker for waiting to pay for it and play it on Wii? Probably, but developer Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya deserves my money for his amazing efforts. Cave Story is a fun throw back to the old days with a game design similar to that of Metroid (though more linear than a standard Metroid game) but with the gun play of something like Metal Slug. It’s kind of amazing that such a well balanced and pitch perfect platform game came from one single man. It even plays by the same rules as a classic game in that it teaches the player how to play without the aid of a tutorial. Just really well designed stuff here, nothing more, nothing less.
Want to try out Cave Story? Play it for free!
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (Originally released in 2009)
I think I hated Phantom Hourglass. I’m willing to say it’s the only Zelda game I’ve ever disliked. I really appreciated the work that went into making a Zelda game work with just the stylus, but the boring over world, tedious sailing, been there done that puzzles, and terrible Ocean King Temple absolutely killed the game for me. Oh and the music sucked too. I never finished it. I like to look at Spirit Tracks as an apology for Hourglass as there is actually a proper game designed around those fantastic controls. It stays pretty true to the Zelda formula, but I found the train parts interesting, and I loved Link’s new weapons and abilities. The dungeons seemed much more clever than Hourglass and on par with you’d expect to find in a Zelda game, especially some of the puzzles that required Phantom Zelda as your helper. Speaking of which, actually hanging around with Zelda herself for the entire adventure made for a fun story too. Minda still might take the crown for best Link sidekick, but Zelda sure was better than the likes of Ezlo.
Curious about this Zelda? It’s currently $18.00 on Amazon!
Resident Evil 5 (Originally released 2009)
Resident Evil 5 is kind of a mess, but it’s a very fun and intense mess. Instead of improving upon what was built with Resident Evil 4 (which Visceral Games sort of did as far as control in Dead Space) Capcom decided to complicate things by building the game as an online co-op experience. The result? A dreadfully complicated real time item system, a steep learning curve, and a sometimes brain dead partner if playing single player (which is how I played it). Despite these glaring faults, I still had a ton of fun playing through RE5. RE5 nails the spectacle of modern day games with loads of cool set pieces but still retains the elements that Japanese game designers are so good at, like amazing boss battles. It’s also a rather lengthy adventure, but Capcom does a great job switching up the locals and always introducing some sort of new hook. In this way, it feels very much like RE4 and it’s what you’d expect out of a sequel to that game. It’s certainly not going to go down in the history books the same way RE4 will, but RE5 is still loads of fun regardless of the fact that it fails in moving the series forward.
And now you want to blow up zombies don’t you? You can buy this for $14.99 (free shipping!) on both Xbox and PS3 at Newegg.
Wario Land 4 (Originally released 2001)
I bought a Gameboy Micro this year. I was in a GAF thread with nothing but love for the device and I decided to pick one up at a local Gamestop since I only own the original ugly GBA and a DS without a slot for GBA games. I’ve had a blast with the thing replaying old titles for the first time in years, and discovering lots of stuff I missed out on during the GBA’s initial run. The highlight of all these games I played is Wario Land 4. It’s basically your classic 2D platforming game, the sort of thing you come to expect out of Nintendo, but with a few twists to make it its own. It has some really well thought out level design, with areas where the game crosses into puzzle platformer territory, but it never breaks up the flow. Each stage also ends with a brilliant escape sequence in which Wario backtracks through a stage before a timer runs out, which while it sounds like an awful idea is fun in its execution. Finding all the treasures and replaying levels by doing perfect runs is where the game finds most of its challenge and re-playability. It’s funny because I played through Wario Land: Shake It for Wii about a week or two before I played this one, and it’s very similar to this. While that game is good in its own way, it totally lacks the charm, charisma, and just general Nintendo touches of quality found in this one.
Playing this one will require you to leave the house and head to Gamestop, but it’ll be yours for $4.99!
So there you have it, a list in no real particular order and all fine titles in their own way. If you were willing, you could get this entire list of games for just over 40 dollars, that’s 20 dollars less than the piece of shit game already collecting dust that you bought less than a month ago!
We currently have a thread going on the Smorg about our own personal Games of the Year. I’m having a hard time actually picking mine, if only for the fact that I’m finding myself to be reluctant about automatically listing Mario Galaxy 2 and Donkey Kong Country by default. I can’t help it though, they’re SO good. I should probably make a list excluding Nintendo games, because it’s just getting redundant by this point.
If you were curious, take a look at my list of favorites in 2009 that weren’t from 2009!