Monday, December 28, 2009

The SuperPhillip Central Best of 2009 Awards - Day Two

Time to put back on the tuxedo because we're here for day two of the SPC Best of 2009 Awards! We're looking at Best New Franchise, Biggest Unexpected Surprise, and Most Disappointing! Nothing like celebrating 2009 by ending on a downer! Let's get this day started...

[Best New Franchise]

In an industry full of sequels and old reliables, it's great to see developers investing in new franchises instead of sequels all the time. Don't get me wrong-- sequels are nice, but new experiences can be even better! These are my personal picks for top new franchises of 2009. The nominees are...

Rabbids Go Home (Wii)

Casting aside their robust lineup of mini-game collections, the wacky and hilarious rabbids enter their very first comedy adventure. With the goal of collecting as much junk as possible to build a tower to the moon, Rabbids Go Home features charming gameplay, countless levels of funny and frenetic action, and enough laughs to make your friends and family give you dirty looks.

Demon's Souls (PS3)

Not only is this RPG not for the casual player with its high difficulty and niche genre, but it's also Atlus' best-selling game ever. Demon's Souls is your not-so-standard dungeon crawler with monsters to slay, loot to gather, and bosses to take down. It's quite good and quite addicting as well, it's Demon's Souls.


Play as Cole as you vault from rooftop to rooftop, grind on electrical wires, and shock baddies and random citizens alike. This sandbox action game will be the shock of your life with numerous electric powers to learn from exploding shock bombs to hover-bestowing shock thrusters. If you're looking for a sandbox title without all the driving and oscar-worthy dialogue, look into inFAMOUS.

Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure (DS)

Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure is a new IP from EA of all people, and it's very good. There's five worlds in all filled with shooting and smashing gameplay. Part platformer, part puzzler, solving Tetris Attack like puzzles mid-gameplay bestows old Henry with new powers such as the ability to transform into a giant destructive robot. For a challenge platformer with puzzle elements, you can't really go wrong with Henry. Cheers!

Little King's Story (Wii)

Be a king for a day... or a week... or the whole year! The premise of Little King's Story is to spread your kingdom out as far as the eye can see, recruiting new soldiers to visit far off lands, taking down mammoth-sized bosses in your attempt to expand your kingdom. The game features a clever charm, countless classes for your soldiers to become, a superb classical soundtrack, and many hours of gameplay to partake in. Little King's Story is a fantastic new experience for Wii.

The Munchables (Wii)

Part Pac-man, part Katamari Damacy, the goal of The Munchables is to gobble up as many enemies as possible. As your munchable grows, so does the size of what you can chow down on. This allows you to access other parts of the levels previously un-explorable. With colorful visuals, addicting gameplay, a thirty dollar budget price tag, and an abundance of charm, The Munchables is a game worth making a reservation for!

And the winner is...

Little King's Story (Wii)

Created by a cavalcade of veteran video game designers and people in the biz, Little King's Story is close to a masterpiece if not for some control issues (e.g. a lack of motion controls for sending out your troops, Pikmin-style). Other than that minor nitpick, Little King's Story reigns supreme as best new franchise of 2009.

Runner-up: Demon's Souls (PS3)


[Biggest Unexpected Surprise]

They're the games you aren't expecting to be as great as they actually are. They're the games that you wrote down as passable until you played them. Yes, they are the biggest unexpected surprises of the year. Here are the nominees...

Excitebots: Trick Racing (Wii)

I enjoyed Excite Truck, but I didn't expect to love Excitebots: Trick Racing as much as I did. The races are fun, frantic, and just wild and wacky, the bots are all designed after exotic wildlife, and the races are designed with maximum enjoyment in mind. Who doesn't love super sandwiches, red bars, pies in the face, and online play to earn stars for new paint jobs?

Little King's Story (Wii)

What more can be said about this game that hasn't already been uttered by yours truly? Well, let's try! There's something to be said about a game where you think you've played for an hour and three hours have gone by! It's that time-consuming and fun to play. The game seldom takes itself seriously, and I love that about it. For an awesome experience unlike any other you've played before, check out Little King's Story.

The Munchables (Wii)

The Munchables was a thirty dollar game with no advertising whatsoever. It was so under the radar that I-- yes, I-- was the first one to put out a review for the game. That's never a good sign! Playing through the game, I had a big smile on my face as I gobbled up edible enemies and solved simple puzzles to progress through the game. It's an enjoyable experience to the max, it's the Munchables!

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex Edition (Wii)

Whenever a company does its damndest to not reveal screens or footage of a version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, you know there's some wrong with the game. Fortunately, the game came out, and everything was well. The game ran and looked well, the online was a blast to play, and the presentation was all there and very good! What were Activision hiding this game for?

Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3, 360)

Many companies have failed at bringing the dark knight to the world of video games. Many. When it was announced that relative unknown Rocksteady Games would be making a game set in Arkham Asylum, many of us didn't have hope for a good game. Boy, were we foolish to doubt them. You feel like you're the black bat as you play through this awesome game. Using the grappling hook, batarang, and others feels intuitive and great. Be the bat with Arkham Asylum.


New IPs are interesting as you never know what to expect from them. Hearing it was yet another sandbox game, I was very skeptical on the quality. Hearing it was from Sucker Punch who developed the Sly Cooper series, I was more intrigued by the game. Turns out, some parts of Sly Cooper's adventures entered inFAMOUS such as walking on rails and climbing poles in the sewer. An adequate surprise from a developer who quickly is becoming one of my favorites.

And the winner is...

Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3, 360)

Again, an unknown to me studio comes out with one of the best games of the year? Who could possibly expect that besides Rocksteady themselves? Never before has being Batman felt so great and graceful. Pick up a copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum-- you won't regret it.

Runner-up: The Munchables (Wii)


[Most Disappointing]

You hate to see one of your most anticipated games become anything less than extraordinary. Then they come out-- reviewers bash them, they aren't as good as you thought they would be, you play them, they definitely aren't as good as you thought they would be. They're the most disappointing games of the year for you. This is what this less than honorable category is all about. Here are the nominees...

Scribblenauts (DS)

We were promised the ability to write down any word in the English language, and poof! It would appear on the game screen. This promise was fulfilled thankfully. What we didn't know is that the controls for moving the hero of the game around would be near-broken. What came out as a sure-fire hit both financially and gameplay-wise turned into a massive disappointment.

Dead Space: Extraction (Wii)

There was a reason this game was called a guided first-person experience and not a rail gun game. Rail gun games have far more action, less sitting around waiting for something to happen, and less thirty minute missions (at the very least) with no opportunities to save. Add in a fifty dollar price tag for a game that's so short, and you can see while some may be disappointed.

The Conduit (Wii)

I blame IGN for hyping this title to death. The fact that several IGN editors had their names in the credits raises some eye brows, too. Despite this, the game was just generic overall. The art design was poor, the level design in the early parts of the game wasn't very good, and the online multi-player is filled with hackers and cheaters. You con-du-it if you want, but it makes for a mediocre experience if you were expecting something much, much more.

Killzone 2 (PS3)

Combined with a heavy-handed control set-up, an abysmal storyline which feels the need to have its characters curse every five seconds, and a forgettable single-player experience, and you have Killzone 2 for the Playstation 3. Thankfully, the multi-player is quite good and almost saves the game from being a complete and utter disappointment. Almost.

The 360's 2009 library

What can one say about Microsoft this year but that they've been resting on their laurels? With only three first party games that came out this past year, the standing upon the shoulders of third party games, most of which are available on competitor consoles, and you have a year that pretty much stunk for the big white box. Thankfully, 2010 is already looking much better for Microsoft's system, but it's hard to shake how bad 2009 was for the Xbox 360.

And the winner (?) is...

The 360's 2009 library

The problem with relying on third parties for success is that most of the games are also available on other consoles, perhaps even better versions. That notwithstanding, both Halo 3 ODST and Forza Motorsport 3 are fantastic games worth picking up if you're fans of the genres. For everyone else, there's always third-parties and Natal next year.

Runner-up: Killzone 2 (PS3)


That ends this round of awards. Stick around tomorrow for three new awards including Most Overlooked, Developer of the Year, and Multiplatform Game of the Year.

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