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Best Video Games of '09?

This past year marked a new low in my life's ambition. However, I was able to transform much of this negative energy into hours-long gaming sessions, setting me up as a virtual expert on the year in virtual entertainment. Because I wasn't rolling in the money, much of my time was devoted to games from years past, with Final Fantasy XII (2006) clocking the most hours. Heck, I even wasted a good 150 minutes beating Wrath of the Black Manta for NES (1990). Somebody had to do something: The children were being kidnapped!


Yet somehow, through the generosity of my admittedly over-generous parents, I was able to save enough cash to buy way more new releases than I thought I did before sitting down to write this.

There is a problem, though; that being that I have no idea how to rank my favorites.

Being a game blog/review addict, I pretty much know exactly what type of experience I'm going to get before I sit down. Thus, I'm almost always satisfied with my picks and my time. I can only think of one major disappointment for me this year, which was Scribblenauts for the DS. The game was built around the concept that you could write down any object you could think of and it would appear to help you beat the level. When it worked, it was great, but it didn't work nearly enough. Nevertheless, I scored a sweet sideways rooster hat with my order, so the money was still well spent, from a perverted collector's point of view.

So here's the deal. I'm going to group the games I spent 5 hours or more with into the arbitrary categories of how much I swore while playing them. For those of you who don't know me in real life, I come off as a mild-mannered, well-adjusted adult male. When I'm on my own, however, I transfigure into a raving madman, unable to control either my body or my language. I swear that demon words come out of me, even when I'm not trying to use them to summon beasts onscreen. I am a virtual Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, except not as unplayable as the real virtual Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the NES.

Hopefully the following will entertain the twelve of you who bother reading it, and bother the one of you who twelve months from now will post an anonymous comment about how I shouldn't be using copyrighted pictures on a not-for-profit opinion blog. Bullshit.


Minimal Profanity
(50 swears or less per play session)


Retro Game Challenge

Flower
Left 4 Dead 2
Tales of Monkey Island

Shadow Complex

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Dead Space: Extraction

A Boy and His Blob

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box


Many of the above titles soothed me with their ambiance, with Flower particularly setting a landmark in video game serenity - piano music accompanies your use of the wind to collect flower petals and revitalize the earth. Retro Game Challenge made me feel like a ten-year old, in my friend Mike P's basement, reading through game magazines to find new secrets. I could smell his basement whenever I popped this into my DS, and it was glorious.

Other games fortunate enough to fall into this most pleasant of categories pleased me with their difficulty. I'm not saying they were easy (and remember, I'm no slouch myself), but they were predominantly fair. Left 4 Dead 2, for instance, is pretty f'ing hard, but knowing that it's probably me and my friends that are screwing up makes for a enjoyable ride. Plus, I'm on mic during the whole affair, so the cursing has to be curbed.

If I had to choose one creme de la creme from this group to advance to a final round I'm now deciding to hold... I'm going to pick Retro Game Challenge. I loved pretty much all of these, but Retro Game Challenge felt the most new to me, despite the fact that it succeeds by reveling in the old.



Moderate Profanity (51 to 250 swears per play session)


Resident Evil 5

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor

Ghostbusters: The Video Game

Wii Sports Resort

Uncharted 2


Looking at this list, these games are all pretty solid affairs, most likely ending up in this middle category because of one or two intolerable sections. Resident Evil 5, for instance, suffers greatly when played with one player instead of two, because you can't trust the AI partner not to wander off and get chainsawed to death. In Ghostbusters, the checkpoint system forced me to repeat some annoying battles, and almost all non-ghost enemies were simply a bore to fight.

But I don't swear when I'm bored. I swear because an enemy, here or there, has an unfair advantage over me - the player - given the skill level I believe I should have by that point in the game. In each of their own, unique ways, these games all achieved in pissing me off. Congratulations.

And the winner here - a champion in spite of my emotional issues - is Uncharted 2. This game only infuriated me at a couple of choice parts near the end of the game. Most of the time it enthralled me with its exceptional polish and incredible action sequences. As I've written in so many words, I felt like I was playing a movie; and whereas I might not enjoy seeing such a formulaic movie in real life *cough* Avatar *cough* , I love playing it.


Intense Profanity (More than 250 swears per play session, damaged merchandise, visible bruises)


MLB '09: The Show
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Punch-Out!!

Rhythm Heaven

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Demon's Souls


First of all, let me point out that these are all excellent games. Second, f them.

Each of these games, at one point or another, has driven me to the point of insanity and beyond. I broke my original DS Lite smashing in the screen when I couldn't get a beat right in Rhythm Heaven. I have fresh bite marks on my arm tonight from completing a successful 100% run in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. And my beautiful, high-definition television is no longer in use because... well, that actually broke on its own. It needs a new ballast or color wheel or something that's hardly made anymore. I no longer advocate DLP technology.

Seriously, though. I have very interesting relationships with these games. Call of Duty deserves my legitimate scorn because I can't tell whether or not they're throwing infinite enemies at me during some set pieces. I think they are (the series is known for these so-called "monster closets"), which upsets me because it's a design choice counter-intuitive to making me feel like improved strategy effects improved results. Demon's Souls also has some actual control issues, I feel, especially when it comes to the rolling maneuver and its tendency to throw me off cliffs.

My issues with The Show have been documented (in the same post in which I talked about Flower, interestingly enough. Interested? No? Okay...)

And, as usual, the Nintendo products are entirely fair in their difficulty, which is the most infuriating circumstance of all. I know what I need to do to get that elusive star coin in New Mario Bros. Wii; I simply can't execute. As I use up my 10th, my 15th, my 20th life on the same level, I seem to get farther and farther away from the goal flag, the rage boiling up inside of me. In the revitalized Punch-Out!!, just because I know the exact punch pattern that's coming at me doesn't mean I'm not going to duck right into a jab or weave right into an uppercut. Gods dammit I suck and I swear to f that if I have to play this level one more time I'm going to @$#$#%#(%&#@_$_@#$&%&^#@%!_#@$#%^!$&#%#@!_&@*$^%

And the winner from this category... doesn't matter. Because in the end, even though I sincerely meant it when I said I couldn't choose a favorite, the easy answer when push comes to shove is Uncharted 2. And I'm saying that having hardly touched the multiplayer components, which are supposed to be good in their own right.

I made my dad learn how to switch the input to HDMI 3 and turn on the Playstation so that he could play this game. I forced him through the original Uncharted (a decent enough game, if wildly inferior by comparison), in which he must have died at least 500 times before the final boss sequence... which I ended up having to finish for him anyway. And I smiled the cheekiest of smiles when I first booted up this year's sequel for myself and saw that Naughty Dog (the developers) were wise enough to include a "Very Easy" option, just so people like my dear old dad could enjoy the amazing, breathtaking adventure they created.

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  1. Blogger chris | 9:40 AM |  

    Oh how I wish I could be a fly on the wall when the Doktor goes into a solitary rage of cursing! Mr. Peace, if you could suggest one 2009 Wii game for me, someone who does not enjoy shooter, car, or sports, games, which would it be? Mario?

  2. Blogger DoktorPeace | 2:29 PM |  

    Mario sounds right. Wii Sports Resort is good if you like the mini-game style of (obv) Wii Sports. A Boy and his Blob is a light-hearted puzzle affair, but still hiding some hardcore game elements. Mario is flat-out Mario, and you can play with up to 4 people. If you've ever liked a Mario game, no need to risk a different purchase.

  3. Anonymous Dan | 9:08 AM |  

    Actually, Mr. Harry, Modern Warfare 2 got rid of the infinite enemy generator in a lot of places, unlike previous Call of Duty games. On really hard missions, I actually found that they stopped coming after I showed all those Russians who's the boss. Also, 12 year olds should stop playing this game because they're kicking my ass in multiplayer.

  4. Blogger qualler | 10:56 AM |  

    I think I'm gonna get Uncharted 2 next, on the basis of the Uncharted 1 demo cut scene, where Nathan Drake was flying a plane that was crashing and said something like "This is gonna ruin my day!!!" Utterly eye-rolling if said in a movie starring Brendan Fraser, but charming as eff if done in a video game, for some reason.

    Same goes for Metal Gear Solid 4, which I started playing last night. If that was a movie, it would be one directed by Uwe Boll and released in January, with stupid robots trying to kill an old dude who doesn't talk much in a desert that is also tinted tan because that's how they feel inside or whatever. As a video game, though, it's great.

  5. Blogger Sean | 11:26 AM |  

    !!
    I'm playing MGS4 right now. It's pretty great. Did you play the earlier games, Qualler? It'll make things clearer. Otherwise, the plot is horribly convoluted.
    Also, you should play BioShock. It is old but good. Like Old Snake.

    LAUGH!!, RAGE!! (eye-roll)

  6. Blogger qualler | 11:28 AM |  

    I played MGS3 on PS2 but I don't remember anything about the plot, other than the cut scenes were really, really long. I'm gonna have to do some Wikipedia plot catch-up here soon.

  7. Blogger DoktorPeace | 4:59 AM |  

    That's good to hear about MW2, Dan. Nevertheless, I swear that on at least one of the Brazil levels I had to push forward or die by the infinite horde.

    Then again, my struggles could very well have been based upon the combo of my persecution mentality and my general FPS suckiness.

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