Saturday, December 31, 2011

The SuperPhillip Central Best of 2011 Awards - Aftermath

The curtains have shut, the awards have been handed out, and the tuxedo is going back to the rental shop with the dry cleaning slip. All-in-all, it was a terrific awards ceremony-- possibly my favorite yet. With this the final blog entry of 2011, I would like to recap the awards, showing what won what, count which games won the most awards, and showcase games that were left out of the ceremony because I didn't get the opportunity to play them. Let's begin.

[[Winners]]

Bold = Winner
Italics = Runner-up

[Best Original Soundtrack]

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
Dark Souls (PS3, 360)
Sonic Generations (PS3, 360)
Kirby's Return to Dreamland (Wii)
Go Vacation (Wii)
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP)

[Best Multiplayer]

Gears of War 3 (360)
LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (PS3)
Kirby's Return to Dreamland (Wii)
Mario Kart 7 (3DS)
Go Vacation (Wii)

[Best Presentation]

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PS3, 360, Wii)
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (PS3)
Gears of War 3 (360)
Batman: Arkham City (PS3, 360)
Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii)
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

[Most Overlooked]

Resistance 3 (PS3)
Shadows of the Damned (PS3, 360)
Go Vacation (Wii)
Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii)
Lost in Shadow (Wii)

[Most Unexpected Surprise]

Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition (3DS)
Go Vacation (Wii)
Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii)
Radiant Historia (DS)
Nintendo's step forward in the online arena
Catherine (PS3, 360)

[Most Disappointing]

Duke Nukem Forever (PS3, 360)
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (PS3)
The Nintendo Wii's 2011
The launch of the Nintendo 3DS
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3, 360)

[Best Motion Control Game]

Dance Central 2 (360)
The Gunstringer (360)
Just Dance 3 (PS3, 360, Wii)
GoldenEye: Reloaded (PS3)
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
Kinect Sports: Season Two (360)

[Best Platformer]

Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii)
Kirby's Return to Dreamland (Wii)
Ms. 'Splosion Man (XBLA)
LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)

[Best Puzzler]

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (DS)
Professor Layton and the Last Specter (DS)
Tetris Axis (3DS)
Pushmo (3DSWare)

[Developer of the Year]

Naughty Dog
Media Molecule
Nintendo EAD
Epic Games
Rocksteady Studios

[Multiplatform Game of the Year]

Dark Souls (PS3, 360)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PS3, 360, Wii)
Sonic Generations (PS3, 360)
Ultimate Marvel VS. Capcom 3 (PS3, 360)
Batman: Arkham City (PS3, 360)
Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii)

[Best PSP Game]

Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
Patapon 3

[Best Nintendo DS Game]

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Radiant Historia
Professor Layton and the Last Specter
Kirby Mass Attack
Pokemon Black and White

[Best Nintendo 3DS Game]

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Mario Kart 7
Super Mario 3D Land
Star Fox 64 3D
Dead or Alive: Dimensions

[Best PlayStation 3 Game]

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Killzone 3
Resistance 3
LittleBigPlanet 2
inFamous 2

[Best Wii Game]

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Kirby's Return to Dreamland
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
Mario Sports Mix

[Best Xbox 360 Game]

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
Gears of War 3
Forza Motorsport 4
Dance Central 2
Kinect Sports: Season Two

[System of the Year]

Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo DS
Xbox 360
PlayStation 3

[Game of the Year 2011]

Batman: Arkham City (PS3, 360)
Forza Motorsport 4 (360)
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)
Pokemon Black and White (DS)
Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP)

===

[[Most Points]]

A win = 2 points (pts.)
A runner-up = 1 point (pt.)

1) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii) - 8 pts.
2) Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii) - 6 pts.
3) Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (PS3) - 5 pts.
4) LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3) - 4 pts.
Super Mario 3D Land (3DS) - 4 pts.
5) Batman: Arkham City (PS3, 360) - 2 pts.
Forza Motorsport 4 (360) - 2 pts.
Pokemon Black and White (DS) - 2 pts.
Pushmo (3DSWare) - 2 pts.
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP) - 2 pts.
6) Dance Central 2 (360) - 1 pt.
Dark Souls (PS3, 360) - 1 pt.
Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy (PSP) - 1 pt.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3, 360) - 1 pt.
Kirby Mass Attack (DS) - 1 pt.
Kirby's Return to Dreamland (Wii) - 1 pt.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS) - 1 pt.
Professor Layton and the Last Specter (DS) - 1 pt.
Resistance 3 (PS3) - 1 pt.

[[Games Ineligible]]

Assassin's Creed: Revelations (PS3, 360)
Battlefield 3 (PS3, 360)
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PS3, 360)
Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie (DS)
Portal 2 (PS3, 360)
Rage (PS3, 360)
Saints Row: The Third (PS3, 360)

===

And that officially wraps up the awards show's loose ends and the year 2011 at SuperPhillip Central. Here's to a terrific new year for all and SuperPhillip Central!

The SuperPhillip Central Best of 2011 Awards - Day Five

Ah... can you feel it in the air? The air is positively electrifying. It is indeed the final night of awards here at SuperPhillip Central's Best of 2011 Awards. We've had our fun, our ups and downs, our moments of repose, we've laughed, we've cried, and maybe some of you even learned a thing or two. Before we get with the final two awards, let us take our traditional peek at the sponsors of this last night of awards:


Yes, Best Buy and Burger King are this year's [fake] sponsors. One has more electronics and gadgets than a techie like myself could possibly desire while the other makes their hamburgers and other meals your way. Now that we've had our jokes, let us get serious with System of the Year 2011.

[System of the Year]


It was a banner year for platforms in 2011. We had the arrival of a new one with the Nintendo 3DS in March for North America while its predecessor, the DS, marked its final full year as a gaming platform of choice. There are four nominees for this year, fewer than ever before, but don't be tricked into thinking this wasn't a great year to be a gamer. And the nominees are...

Nintendo 3DS


As stated ad nauseum on SPC, the Nintendo 3DS did not impress out of the starting gate, but its situation greatly improved as did its library. Now it seems stores can't stop selling hardware, and games just keep pouring into the marketplace. Such notable titles include Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Star Fox 64 3D, Pilotwings Resort, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, and Dead or Alive: Dimensions. Don't forget the additions of Swap Note, Ambassador games, and eShop titles like Mighty Switch Force and Pushmo. What started slow has certainly ramped up considerably.

Nintendo DS


While one platform started slow and gained momentum, the opposite happened to the Nintendo DS, one of the systems with the greatest libraries in gaming history. Consumers might be upgrading to the 3DS now, but we will never forget the memories of the software, the revolutionary gameplay brought forth by the touch screen, and Nintendo's first attempts at online. This year we saw a sensational amount of new games such as Pokemon Black and White, Professor Layton and the Last Specter, Kirby Mass Attack, Okamiden, Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie, Radiant Historia, and Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective. Goodbye, old friend. We will miss you dearly.

Xbox 360


The Xbox 360 had tremendous success in 2011, outselling even the Wii. It's amazing and a huge accomplishment that a six year-old system is selling as well as it is and was given new life via Kinect. Sure, consumers don't seem to be buying software for their new peripheral, but if they're content with the prepackaged games, who are we to judge? Apart from Kinect games like Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster, Dance Central 2, and Kinect Sports: Season Two, there were titles released in the year for the gamer such as Gears of War 3, Forza Motorsport 4, and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. Can Microsoft keep its momentum going through 2012?

PlayStation 3


Sony's black box won runner-up last year in this category, so it is aiming to beat that and win System of the Year honors. Even with the PSN hacking fiasco that sullied Sony's good name, the PlayStation 3 hit its stride with a vast catalog of games both first and third-party. There was titles like Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Killzone 3, Resistance 3, inFamous 2, and LittleBigPlanet 2. The Move might not be revolutionary, but it did feature some terrific titles to its library like Medieval Moves: Deadmun's Quest, PlayStation Move Heroes, and The House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut. With more blockbusters than the video store of the same name, it was a successful year for Sony's prime platform.

And the winner is...











PlayStation 3

The PlayStation 3 started strong with January's Game of the Year contender LittleBigPlanet 2, and its momentum continued with Killzone 3 the following month. Add in software for everyone from kids to adults in all genres-- platformers, shooters, action/adventure games, and some fantastic PSN titles, and you have a shoe-in for System of the Year.

Runner-up: Nintendo 3DS

===

We have a reached that point in time where we look at the nominees for Game of the Year 2011. However, as it is a custom every year (at least for the three other years this award show has taken place) we shall take a glance at last year's Game of the Year. Do you recall what that game was?

GOTY 2010: Super Mario Galaxy 2

I was heartbroken that this game was really shunned by the mainstream media in their Game of the Year awards. It earned high marks (it received one of my few perfect scores), so it was questionable that it was beat out by other games. Regardless, Mario's last Wii platformer was purely magical. The level design was impeccable, the orchestral soundtrack had multiple whimsical and wonderful melodies attached to it, the challenge was finally there, and the return of Yoshi made for an astonishing platforming romp. There are no words that can adequately describe my admiration for Nintendo EAD's work on this game. It is truly out of this world.


===

[Game of the Year 2011]

And now with that blast from the past out of the way, we move onto the moment we've all been waiting for... Game of the Year 2011. Remember that every winner yesterday and from the Multiplatform Game of the Year award will be featured in this category, so that makes seven total nominees, the most ever seen on SPC. This is an event for sure. And the nominees are...

Batman: Arkham City (PS3, 360)


Become what villains and lowlifes of Gotham City dread when you don the black cape and cowl of Batman! With an entire city to fly around in, shooting the batclaw to effortlessly pull yourself from building to building, spreading your wings and gently flying down to the dilapidated streets of Arkham City, completing Riddler challenges and other side errands, and facing off against Gotham's most feared villains in the Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, and Mr. Freeze, there's no shortage of tasks to accomplish as the dark knight in Batman: Akrham City, one of the best licensed superhero games period.

Forza Motorsport 4 (360)


Speed and style rarely go hand-in-hand, but take that thought and throw it out of the driver's side window with Forza Motorsport 4. Cruise and jet across some of the world's most extravagant racing courses and tracks in the seat of one of many classy, sporty automobiles. Paint a custom decal on the side, the hood, the top, or the rear of your car, customize it as you see fit, and then take it online and show the world that you're ready to race. It might be the fourth installment of this stellar series, but there's no sign of slowing down for the team behind Forza.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)



Master the Goddess Sword with true 1:1 motion controls. Every battle is a new challenge with enemies that can only be defeated with accurate slashes from your sword. Tackle colossal bosses, explore puzzle and obstacle-filled dungeons, discover health-boosting Heart Containers, catch insects, find and upgrade new items, and roam majestic forests, clear, blue lakes, steamy volcanoes, and dry and dusty deserts in search of Link's long, lost friend Zelda. Never before will you ever feel more like the legendary hero than you will when you hold the Wii remote in your hand and explore the realm of Skyward Sword.

LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)


LittleBigPlanet 2 takes the world and parameters of the game and makes them yours. Team up with up to three other Sackpeople as your traverse the rugged and oftentimes dangerous terrain of the game's pre-made levels, slap each other silly, and wave your arms around like you just don't care. Customize your pod with as the many trinkets and doodads you discover in the game's levels, and then hop in the level creator and craft your own concoctions. The only limitations in the creator is your imagination, so think long and hard and start building! ...And who wouldn't want a game completely narrated by the wry Stephen Fry?

Pokemon Black and White (DS)


A new generation of Pokemon always brings a whole slew of Pokemon to collect, raise, and battle. Pokemon Black and White is no different, but don't fall into a false sense of security that everything in these two games is unchanged! No, no, no! Besides the cool 150+ Pokemon added to these pair of games, there's now triple battles where three Pokemon face off against another trio of pocket monsters as well as an updated online system for battling and trading Pokemon. The new region of Unova is a fascinating place with many mysterious creatures-- both Pokemon and human, and the story takes the series to fresh and never-before-seen areas.

Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)


3D Mario for the masses is the name of this game. There's a reason that 3DS systems are selling at an accelerated rate since the release of Super Mario 3D Land. That's because every new mainline Mario is an event unto itself, and 3D Land continues that tradition. Containing the most exhilarating use of stereoscopic 3D ever seen on a hand-held, sixteen worlds full of Goombas to jump on, platforms to leap to, star medals to collect, power-ups to obtain, and obstacles to avoid, Super Mario 3D Land may just be the best original portable Mario on this planet. That is quite the accomplish when you look at the competition!

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP)


Cling on, my brethren! Cling on! Combine your party's strengths in intense tactical battles where proper planning and strategy is the difference between a glorious victory and an agonizing defeat. This title may be a remake, and the PSP might have its fair share of those, but this tactical RPG is one of the best around. There's no excuse if you are an owner of Sony's powerful portable to not pick up this 100 hour+ tale of war and power. The battles themselves pit 5-12 of your units against up to eighteen enemy combatants for encounters of who puts their units to the best use wins. Not just the best PSP game this year, one of the best games of 2011 full-stop.

And the Game of the Year of 2011 is...











...











[GotY 2011: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)]


The Wii may have went more with quality than quantity in 2011, but it possesses the exclusive that beats out the rest with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Following a touching and charming story of finding Link's lost friend Zelda, this entry to this beloved franchise showcases five years of Nintendo's efforts in motion control. What most of us thought the Wii would be at its launch has finally been realized with Skyward Sword. From the intuitive swordplay to the tightrope walking, the bomb rolling and throwing to the wall climbing, and the fluid swimming to the weapon aiming, Skyward Sword shows an unprecedented amount of love and polish in its controls and gameplay making it my choice for Game of the Year 2011.


Runner-up GotY 2011: LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)

===

For the last time, the curtains of this award show are closing. They will not be opening again until December 27, 2012 when the SPC Best of 2012 Awards will happen. I know you will be waiting feverishly as you mark the days off on your calendar. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this year's celebration of (nearly) all things gaming, and will join me deep into 2012 for new reviews, articles, top tens/fives, and more right here on SuperPhillip Central!

SuperPhillip's End of 2011 Game Collection (And Other Oddities)

It's the last day of 2011, so I thought I would take this time before I announce the System of the Year and Game of the Year for this year to show off my extensive game collection (and other notable goods) made from purchases, gifts, and mostly trades. It's important to note that I am an avid collector, so that's why I have a lot of games. Protip: To view much larger versions of these photos, right click and choose either Open Link in New Window or Open Link in New Tab.

Mario and company guard the Nintendo DS games.

Meanwhile I dual-wield Sonic
who protect my PS2 stash.


My collection of Wii games... who says this system has no games?
Bitter little losers and console warriors, that's who.

More expensive HD games mean less compared to other platforms.

The DS collection is so huge that it requires four photos!

And all collections have to start somewhere!

And the PSP has given me some good times, too.

And bringing in the rear from last gen, the GameCube.

So there you go. I hope this didn't come off as bragging as that was not my intention. I call it my collection, but this is more of my family's. Through many grand deals, smart trades, and quick decisions I have built this compendium of great games. If this doesn't prove that gaming is in my blood and my foremost hobby, nothing will.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Kirby's Return to Dream Land (Wii) Review

It's that time of the year where I post my final review of 2011. The following game won runner-up for Best Wii Game earlier in the day. It's Kirby's Return to Dream Land. Come join me for this last review of 2011!

A Real Dream Team


HAL Laboratory's Kirby has been really busy lately. This year alone he's appeared in the 3D Classics version of Kirby's Adventure on the Nintendo 3DS, marched with nine other versions of himself in Kirby Mass Attack on the O.G. DS, and earlier this year for our PAL friends appeared in Kirby's Epic Yarn. Now he's venturing back to more comfortable and familiar surroundings on Planet Popstar with Kirby's Return to Dreamland, a game six years in the making. Was the wait worth it?

One peaceful and pleasant day on Planet Popstar, Kirby, holding a piece of delicious cake over his head, is running from a very hungry Waddle Dee and King Dedede. Meanwhile, Metaknight sits on a hill reading. Suddenly a bright flash fills the sky and a intergalactic ship crash lands on the planet's grassy surface. Kirby and his three partners enter the smoking ship, coming across a kooky creature named Magalor who beckons Kirby and the gang to retrieve the five missing parts of his ship, lost from the crash landing. Being the fine upstanding citizen he is, Kirby agrees, and thus this adventure begins. While the story is typical Kirby fare, it serves as a foundation for the gameplay that follows. CG cutscenes display most of the action, but there is occasional real-time one, too.

Whenever there's someone in trouble,
you can count on Kirby!

For the uninitiated to traditional Kirby games (Epic Yarn, Mass Attack, Canvas Curse, among others need not apply), the object of the game is to travel through levels, gobbling up enemies with Kirby's inhale ability, and reaching the goal with your wits intact. Kirby is able to float in the air an infinite amount of times as well as spit a cloud of smoke to defeat lesser enemies. Fans of Kirby no doubt know that not only can Kirby inhale enemies, but certain enemies when digested give the pink puffball a new power. Such examples include spark, whip, wing, ice, fire, sword, ninja, needle, and many, many more. For instance, with spark Kirby can create a shield of electricity around him to zap foes while with ice Kirby is able to freeze enemies and send the frozen blocks into other unsavory characters. Each power has a wide variety of different moves, and unlike a fighting game, you really do not have to remember ten button combos to unleash them on your intended target.

Spark is more shocking than walking in
on your mom and dad having pleasantries.

The big shake-up to the series for Kirby himself are Super Abilities. In specific sections of levels larger-than-usual enemies will spawn. When Kirby sucks them up and digests them, Kirby will get a Super Ability. From wielding a giant blade or cleaver that carves up every enemy a specially marked blocks on screen to turning into a large snowball that can roll over enemies like a bowling ball, these new moves are really cool and powerful.

Not just a sword, not just a Super Sword, but an Ultra Sword!

The more important shake-up for the series as a whole is the addition of multiplayer play. At any point during gameplay a second, third, or fourth player can drop in or out and control a bandanna-wearing Waddle Dee, Metaknight, King Dedede, or a different colored Kirby. Beware as if player one dies, every player loses a life and starts at the beginning of the room. Each time a player dies, a life is lost from the main player's total count. When a player is straggling behind, the game will automatically transport them to the main Kirby's location. I didn't have the opportunity to play with a room full of players, but with two players alone, it was a highly entertaining experience, and it made the game easier to trek through.

Work in tandem for maximum efficiency.

There are seven major worlds in Kirby's Return to Dreamland. They range from grassy knolls to tropical oceans to frozen tundras to rustic factories. Most worlds contain anywhere from 4-5 levels inside of them. Some levels will have you swimming against a current, carefully avoiding cannon fire, dodging platforms that can crush you, running along treadmills, and taking out sub-bosses. Generally the sub-boss should be inhaled and digested to take their power as their power will shortly be needed to solve an optional environmental puzzle. The game is diligent about giving you the opportunity to obtain the correct power for the correct situation.

And you will need the right power at the right time for to collect hidden Energy Spheres. These are placed in clever locations throughout the game's many levels, usually 3-5 in a given level. Some require a certain power to access, some are locked away behind doors that can only be opened with a key that needs to carefully be carried over from a distance away, while some are placed in precarious locations. Collecting enough Energy Spheres (there are 120 total to gather) unlocks Challenge Rooms, Copy Ability Rooms where Kirby can nab any power he wants from the hub of the Lor Starcutter, Megalor's spaceship, and two sub-games. One of these has you timing your throw of a ninja star to hit as close to the center of a stationary or moving target as possible while the other has you playing a light gun game where you shoot at the various weak points of a robot.

Challenge Rooms pit your Kirby skills to the test as you race through an environment, grabbing bronze, silver, and gold coins and defeating enemies for points. Not only are you timed, but you get penalized 500 points for each time you are damaged, so be careful. After you reach the goal, your points are totaled up (i.e. how many coins you collected, how many enemies you defeated, and how much time was left on the clock), and you are awarded with a bronze, silver, or gold medal. There are several Challenge Rooms to complete, and each one revolves around a different power of Kirby. They will push you to use every move in your arsenal if you want a decent score.

Going back to Energy Spheres, some are situated within special space portals. In these zones you are constantly being chased by a relentless wall of matter. If you touch it, you lose a life and are kicked out of the zone. You must frantically plow through whatever obstacle gets in your way to reach the end door. Once this is accomplished, a lone sub-boss in the form of a Sphere Doomer challenges you to combat. Win, and two Energy Spheres are yours for the taking. These areas are intense, and they only get harder as you progress through the game.

Kirby better wolf down those blocks if he
intends to beat that wall of matter.

After completing the main story, you unlock a whole slew of new modes including Extra, The Arena, and Sound Test. Extra has fiercer and larger enemies, you are given a lower amount of health to work with, bosses change their attack patterns, and those walls of matter in the space-time zone move much faster. Extra is by far some of the most challenging action seen in a Kirby game to date. Thankfully there is still plenty of food, the health of Kirby games, to digest to restore health. In multiplayer you can hug a friend by just being near them to partially heal an ailing partner. Meanwhile, the Arena pits you against all of the bosses (sub and main) in the game, one after another. In between bouts you can fully restore your health, but you only have a finite amount of Maxim Tomatoes to do so. Perhaps there's even something else for beating the Arena and Extra mode...

Bosses from the main game can be fought in the Arena.

Kirby's latest console title is a vibrant, colorful, and whimsical looking game. The bright color palette paints and presents a happy-go-lucky world. Even in areas that are supposed to feel grim and dark there is nothing really menacing or scary about the game. Technically, everything runs without any hiccups or unplanned pauses to the action which is crucial for a platformer. The music is also pleasant as expected from HAL's wonderful cast of composers with many cheery, head-bopping tunes. Return to Dreamland may not be pushing an impressive amount of polygons, but it definitely gets the job done and does so marvelously.

Overall, Kirby's Return to Dreamland was incredibly worth the six year wait. It originally started as a project for the GameCube but was transferred over to the Wii in the form you see now. The inclusion of Super Abilities and multiplayer play adds an entirely new dimension to the gameplay, and the difficulty is just right, though some might feel that the initial challenge is too soft. Regardless, for a Kirby game it ranks up there with the most arduous ones in later levels and modes. Do yourself the privilege of sucking up a copy of this amazing platformer today. You won't regret it or get heartburn from doing so either.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.75/10]

The SuperPhillip Central Best of 2011 Awards - Day Four

Welcome to day number four at the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2011 Awards. Today is a special occasion, more so than previous days as every winner today (along with yesterday's Multiplatform GotY) will be pitted against one another for the highly coveted Game of the Year 2011 award. There's a lot of work to be done before that, though, so let's crack our knuckles and get busy!

[Best PSP Game]

Sony put up a great fight with their PSP, successfully challenging the hand-held legacy of Nintendo. Unfortunately, piracy prevailed, at least in the West, and software pretty much dried up in all regions save for Japan. Nonetheless, there were some titles that made their way to our side of the world, and these are those. And the nominees are...

Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy



Fight as your favorite Final Fantasy heroes and villains in Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy. Play as Terra (FFVI), Kain (FFIV), Cloud (FFVII), Squall (FFVIII), Zidane (FFIX), Tidus (FFX), Sephiroth (FFVII), Kefka (FFVI), Ultamecia (FFVIII), Golbez (FFIV), and many more. Use support characters, spells, and summons to unleash heck upon your opponent in the fully three-dimensional arenas, listen to a myriad of remixed music, and participate in one of many story campaigns in this popular and nontraditional fighter.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together



A remake of the 1998 cult classic, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together brings forth a story of power, war, and attrition in this excellent tactical RPG. Put your brain through the wringer with dozens upon dozens of unique maps and battles that demand your total and unequivocal concentration. The new Wheel of Fortune option adds even more to consider when entering battle as if the battles weren't already exciting enough! With a story from the great mind of Mr. Matsuno (Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story), there is no shortage of tremendous plot twists and epic moments in this modern take on a classic.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky



The latest in The Legend of Heroes series starts a new trilogy for gamers (although the second and third parts will not be coming to the West). It includes a rich story with many twists and turns, over fifty hours worth of gameplay, a strategic battle system, a wonderful world to traverse and explore, and multiple side quests and bonus content to sift through and enjoy. This may perhaps be one of the richest and grandest role-playing experiences on a hand-held to date.

Patapon 3


Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme. The Patapon series is one quirky niche series, but don't let that drive you away. In Patapon 3 you tap certain button sequences in rhythm with the music and beats to have your Patapon army take on massive monsters, rival brigades, and other baddies. Equip your army with the latest in weaponry and defense, and then tap those buttons until you can't feel anything in your fingers anymore. For an unusual yet entertaining time, Patapon 3 has got the beat.

And the winner is...











Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

The 1998 classic was already a sensational game, so it is a no-brainer that the 2011 remake would be something special. And guess what-- it is! From the makers of Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together offers hundreds of hours of content and player satisfaction as you take down enemy soldiers, fierce monsters, and other unsightly foes.

Runner-up: Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy

===

[Best Nintendo DS Game]

Like saying goodbye to an old friend, we bid adieu to the Nintendo DS on its last year as a contender. This will be its final year at the SuperPhillip Central Best of Awards. Are those tears I'm seeing? Don't be sad. We have the 3DS to take its place! Regardless, here are the best titles released in the DS's last big year. And the nominees are...

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective


SPOILER: You have a main character that dies at the very beginning of the game. His spirit then possesses various objects to save other protagonists from grim fates. This puzzle game is certainly original-- that much is for certain. Considering it comes from the ingenious minds that gave us the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series, there's no wonder that this puzzler is nominated. As the brain twisters get more convoluted and confusing, the game gets even better and more fun!

Radiant Historia


One of the last remarkable RPGs for the Nintendo DS, a system chock full of superb role-playing games, Radiant Historia has players going back and forth through time, Chrono Trigger-style. The battle system has players and enemies on a grid, fighting one another until there's only one team left standing. Historia features plenty of endings, so seeing all of the different conclusions to the game, both good and bad, will have those who pick up a copy playing for dozens upon dozens of hours.

Professor Layton and the Last Specter


This start to a new trilogy in the Professor Layton franchise is actually a prequel to Curious Village. It shows the beginnings of the relationship between Layton and Luke and how the two became teacher and apprentice. There are more puzzles to solve than ever before ranging from block sliding quandaries to arithmetic problems. The story contains some truly touching moments, insane production values with stellar voice acting to boot, and characters that you can't help but love.

Kirby Mass Attack



What's better than one Kirby? How about an army of ten Kirbys? That is exactly what you get in Kirby Mass Attack. The game is controlled solely with the stylus, tapping the screen to command your Kirbys, flicking them at switches and enemies, battling bosses, finding gold medals, and furiously touching the screen to lift huge objects. The bonus content in the form of mini-games like a Whack-a-mole mini-game, a shmup, an RPG, and a pinball game all add to the value of this amazing adventure. Suck up a copy today-- you won't regret it.

Pokemon Black and White


A new generation of Pokemon has been unleashed onto the masses, and it introduces over 150 individual Pokemon, new evolutions, a new region to explore, new towns, new rivals, new triple battles, and so much more. Moreover, trading and battling Pokemon online has never been simpler. There is a lot to like about the newest pair of Pokemon games, and it wouldn't be surprising to me if young and old trainers were still playing these games long after they've caught them all.

And the winner is...












Pokemon Black and White

Gotta catch 'em all is the motto of the Pokemon franchise, and this mantra continues to captivate the game's target audience with its cute and cuddly pocket monsters. Mastering moves, leveling up Pokemon, and evolving them to brand-new, awesome forms creates countless hours of gameplay for anyone who catches a copy of the new hotness in Pokemon Black and White.

Runner-up: Kirby Mass Attack

===

[Best Nintendo 3DS Game]

The Nintendo 3DS had a turbulent start, but with a swift price cut at the exact right moment, Nintendo's portable fortunes turned around in an instant. Now the hand-held is in high demand, the library has vastly improved, and the "Nintendo is doomed" talks have been mostly silenced. We'll be talking about the library piece with five games that outrank the rest of the 3DS's launch year offerings. And the nominees are...

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D



The legend returns with a vengeance with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. More of a remake than a port, Ocarina of Time 3D showcases the brilliance of the 3DS hardware with impressive stereoscopic 3D visuals that have been enhanced from the Nintendo 64 original, a much more difficult Master Quest that unlocks after the main game has been completed, and a Boss Rush mode to pit Link against his toughest foes. Indeed, one of the greatest games of all time just got a little bit better.

Mario Kart 7


Mario Kart roars onto the Nintendo 3DS with sixteen all-new tracks, sixteen retro tracks like Luigi's Mansion, Coconut Mall, Dino Dino Jungle, and Koopa Beach from past Mario Kart games, the usual ragtag team of racers plus new ones such as Metal Mario (in his second spin-off game), Lakitu, Honey Queen, and Wiggler, and a robust online mode that is decidedly quite unlike Nintendo. The addition of Communities means those with the same play styles can race one another without the need to exchange friend codes. This might not be the ultimate Mario Kart experience, but it is certainly pretty close.

Super Mario 3D Land



Mario hops and skips his way onto the Nintendo 3DS with a brand-new platforming adventure. Run and jump through eight worlds with levels that take the portly plumber through grasslands, deserts, frozen fjords, sunset skies, airships, and Bowser's many castles. The 3D effect is the best the 3DS has seen yet with either the choice for pop-out or pop-in 3D. Even after the first eight worlds have been beaten, you aren't finished yet. There's a whole lot more to trek though if you want to get those highly lusted for five golden stars next to your profile!

Star Fox 64 3D


Take flight with Fox McCloud and the gang in Star Fox 64 3D, a remake of the 1997 Nintendo 64 original. The game sports updated graphics that look incredible on the 3DS screen, optional gyro controls, three difficulties (Easy, N64, and Expert), remastered voice acting that sounds better than ever before, and an all-new multiplayer mode that can be played with or without bots across four maps. Gearing for high scores, earning medals, and taking down Andross' many enemy fighters is all in a day's work for Team Star Fox.

Dead or Alive: Dimensions


Celebrating fifteen years, the Dead or Alive franchise appears on a Nintendo system for the first time with this compilation of the greatest in Dead of Alive history. With a huge cast of characters, battle arenas, downloadable costumes (they're free, by the way), and many modes to plow through, Dead or Alive: Dimensions is the ultimate fighting game on the 3DS. The online play showcases the hardware's strengths with trifle amounts of lag or slow-down, the photo mode allows you to take 3D shots of your favorite fighters, and collecting and trading figurines via StreetPass seldom gets old.

And the winner is...











Super Mario 3D Land

You'll notice that I called Ocarina of Time 3D one of the best games of all time, yet Super Mario 3D Land beats it. This is because both games received the same score (9.5), but Super Mario 3D Land is an original game while Ocarina of Time 3D is a remake. Original games trump remakes every time. And who wouldn't find something to love about this pretty platformer? The challenge is there, the new and returning power-ups like the Tanooki Suit and Boomerang Suit are cool, and the level design is some of Mario's best.

Runner-up: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

===

[Best PlayStation 3 Game]


Although trailing in sales to Microsoft's 360 and Nintendo's Wii, Sony's black box has had a tremendous year when it comes to its library. Even though this list is full of sequels and nothing else, the quality of these games is very much apparent. These are not only some of the best games on the system, but these are some of the best games of the year. And the nominees are...

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception


Nathan Drake and friends scour the globe in search of the Atlantis of the Sands, a fabled city buried under a sea of sand. The gun-play started out rough with a patch needing to be made, but even with the gun action being less than satisfactory, Uncharted 3 was still a game to marvel at. Running from a collapsing chateau tower, making a mad dash through a capsized cruise ship, battling enemies in an abandoned desert town, and catching up with a plane that is about to take off were all memorable moments in this big budget blockbuster game. Multiplayer only adds to the value of Naughty Dog's latest epic.

Killzone 3


The Heighgast have returned, and they just don't want to quit it seems. Battle against insurmountable odds as you face legions upon legions of enemies. Commandeer a jet pack (seriously, you to get fight in mid-air!), snipe foes from afar, or come up close and personal and deliver a powerful melee attack. The single player campaign takes you through a variety of interesting set pieces. From zero gravity firefights to an intense battle with a titanic creation of the Heighgast, your pulse will most certainly be pounding through the fast and frantic action Killzone 3 possesses. After you've conquered the Heighgast threat, take the fight online against dozens of online opponents to determine whose guns shoot the hottest.

Resistance 3


Follow the crusade of Joseph Capelli as he makes his way from his hometown in Haven, Oklahoma to a Chimera tower in New York City, fighting both the Chimeran threat and human savages alike. But he won't have to do it alone. There's loads of incredible weaponry at his disposal like the Carbine, Bullseye, electromagnetic Atomizer, the radioactive Mutator, and so much more. Then hop online and compete in one of many modes including a capture the flag type scenario, a king of the hill-styled mode, and pure deathmatch. Resistance 3 is the best in the series yet, and Insomniac Game should be positively proud of their hard work. It has come to fruition.

LittleBigPlanet 2


Join your Sackperson on a journey through many colorful worlds in this 2D platforming adventure. Play alone or with friends either offline or on. Grab pulleys, shoot water from your hat to extinguish flames, swing from hooks, bounce from launchpads, and combat many colossal-sized bosses in this sequel to SuperPhillip Central's Game of the Year 2008. When the single player campaign has all but been completed, enter the creator to design your own levels. Now you aren't limited to purely platformers. Your games are only limited to your imagination now, so build a race, a shooter-- whatever! LittleBigPlanet 2 is your personal playground to do as you see fit.

inFamous 2



Reluctant hero Cole MacGrath returns in Sucker Punch's inFamous 2. Gifted with god-like superpowers ranging from launching lightning bolts from his hands like Zeus to grinding on power lines, Cole has a lot of moves to work with. But will he use them for good or for evil as an all-powerful and deadly enemy from his future looks to take him out? The choice is up to the player and their choices throughout the game's many missions. The open world structure allows players to take on missions at any time they like, and the ability to create your own platforming challenges increases the longevity of inFamous 2 several times over.

And the winner is...











LittleBigPlanet 2

Media Molecule's pet project continues to astound and amaze. Entering levels made up of burlap and stone, playing with four people in a room or online, crafting your own masterpieces in the form of games and levels, and designing your own pod (home) are but some of the many tasks that can be accomplished in this virtual playground. Does LittleBigPlanet 2 have what it takes to win Game of the Year 2011 three years after its predecessor did? You'll have to wait for tomorrow evening to find out that answer for yourself!

Runner-up: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

===

[Best Wii Game]

The Nintendo Wii this year had many dry spells to the chagrin of many owners. Third parties did their best to provide content, but Nintendo seemed pleased to let the console fade away like a memory. Case in point, the Wii won't even be nominated for System of the Year for 2011, and there are only four games to be nominated this year. That's how bad it was. However, it wasn't hard compiling this list of nominees. And the nominees are...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword


Link holds his sword up to the sky in this latest Zelda entry. Taking anywhere from 30-50 hours to complete, featuring some of the most interesting combat the series has ever seen thanks most in part to the 1:1 swordplay, possessing the best bosses in franchise history, containing memorable music as well as many touching moments, and it is no wonder why The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is nominated for Best Wii Game.

Kirby's Return to Dreamland


Kirby returns, but this time he's not alone. Up to four players can traverse the vibrant worlds of Dreamland as Kirby, Waddle Dee, King Dedede, or Metaknight through seven worlds of increasingly challenging levels. Secrets abound throughout the game, and the challenge rooms put your ultimate Kirby skills to the test. Kirby sports new ultra powers which can take out every enemy on the screen with one push of a button. We've waiting six years for this game, and it fully succeeds in satiating even the most hard to please Kirby fan.

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games


At their third Olympic outing, Mario and Sonic team up to tackle over thirty Olympic events ranging from soccer to table tennis, to badminton, to beach volleyball, to Dream Events that take place in the universes of Mario and Sonic. There is nothing like rolling in a ball Monkey Ball-style on BINGO Highway or doing battle with Peewee Piranha in Dream Spacewalk. Going for gold is but part of the fun. The all-new London Party contains plenty of mini-games and a Mario Party-like atmosphere. Collecting stickers, beating Olympic records, obtaining costumes for your Mii, and listening to the magnificent remixed music are all delightful parts of Mario & Sonic's latest game.

Mario Sports Mix



Square Enix develops this four part game. It features basketball, volleyball, hockey, and dodgeball, and a whole slew of Mushroom Kingdom denizens. Play through a tournament, unlock new characters like Final Fantasy's Ninja, Black Mage, White Mage, and Moogle, unlock new colors for characters, unlock new stages, and then hop online to show your opponents no mercy. The controls work surprisingly well with timing meaning everything when it comes to Mario Sports Mix. An excellent collection of sports, Mario Sports Mix is gone but not forgotten.

And the winner is...











The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Could it be anything else? I mean, it's a new Zelda game! The newest Zelda offers the most interesting combat the series has ever seen with every battle being its own puzzle. Speaking of puzzles, there's a plethora of head-scratchers as well, not only the game's seven dungeons but also on the surface. The many motion controlled actions feel responsive, and the need to recalibrate the Wii remote was never a problem for me personally. Your mileage may vary. What we are left with is one of the most challenging, sensational, and touching Zelda titles period.

Runner-up: Kirby's Return to Dreamland

===

[Best Xbox 360 Game]

The Xbox 360 has had a banner year thanks mostly to the success of Kinect. While only two Kinect games appear on the list of nominees, there's really something for everyone this year. Usually it's shooters and racers, and that's it. Not so this year. And the nominees are...

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary



Enter inside the helmet of Master Chief for the first time all over again. The original Halo: Combat Evolved has been remade with greatly enhanced visuals, improved level design, bonus content in the form of hidden terminals, and online multiplayer, perfect for fragging your best friends from far distances away. Many consider the first Halo to still be the series's best offer yet, and I can't help but agree with these people if this game is any indication.

Gears of War 3


Epic Games delivers after the disappointment which was Gears of War 2. Partnering up with female soldiers and offering new weapons to try out as well as new modes, the final part of this action-packed trilogy will take Marcus Fenix and crew into the Locust's backyard and back. Extinction for the human race is fast approaching, but can the survivors band together and stave off the Locust army? That's up to you. Of course, if the stakes are too high, you can always jump in online and team up to tackle the story mode, try horde mode, or fight against human opponents, deathmatch-style.

Forza Motorsport 4


Take your passion for automobiles to the next level with Forza Motorsport 4, the next chapter of this long-running and excellent series. This version has more cars, more tracks, and more options than ever before. Race in multiple lap excursions, customize your car to your liking (you can paint your car with whatever you want), use Kinect for special features, and hop online and take your victory lap. Forza Motorsport 4 is just the game that gives the Gran Turismo series a run... er... drive for its money.

Dance Central 2


Just Dance is an alright series, but Dance Central 2 takes it to a whole 'nother level with full body recognition. Pump it, push it, and pull it to the music. Match your movements to the characters on screen as you strive for the highest score possible. Take the party to the next level by posting your best scores to the always updating leaderboards. There are few Kinect games that can make your cynical buddy SuperPhillip smile, but here we are with Dance Central 2 being one of them.

Kinect Sports: Season Two


The second of two purely Kinect-controlled games on the list of nominees, Kinect Sports: Season Two introduces new sports to the mini-game package including football with voice commands, skiing, and darts. Some may call Kinect Sports a Wii Sports knockoff, but if you're going to copy someone, why not copy from the best? That's exactly what the developer of Season Two did, and the end result is something quite good. Move, manipulate your body, and get the room jumping with this fabulous party game.

And the winner is...












Forza Motorsport 4

Forza Motorsport 4 is the game that earns the wave of that checkered flag with its mighty amount of car customization options, grand scope and amount of cars and tracks, gorgeous graphics, and hot and heated online races. I would be amiss if I tried to claim that this simulator is better than Gran Turismo 5 (I don't want more angry letters from the Sony faithful), so I'll just stop here and congratulate Forza 4 on a spectacular win.

Runner-up: Gears of War 3

===

I always dread writing up Day Four of the SPC Best of Awards as it takes the most work by far to produce. With that said, it wasn't so bad this year even with the extra platform, the 3DS, to feature. Tomorrow is the final day of awards, and I give honors to the System of the Year and then the big kahuna-- the 2011 Game of the Year. I hope to see you in black tie or a dress for this all-important night. Until then, a new review will be posted tonight. It is the last review to be posted for 2011. Look forward to that, too!

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