Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The SuperPhillip Central Best of 2011 Awards - Day Two

Welcome back to the happy festivities here at SuperPhillip Central's Best of 2011 Awards. Did you know that this is the fourth year for this celebration of video games? It's true. Today's schedule goes like this. We'll take a look at the Most Overlooked, find out the Most Unexpected Surprise of this year, get negative with the Most Disappointing, and waggle and wiggle with the Best Motion Control Game. It is going to be a great day of awards, I no doubt believe.

[Most Overlooked]

For every Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War, Mario, Zelda, and Assassin's Creed there are five games that don't get as much hype if any at all. These are what those who routinely follow SPC know as the Most Overlooked. At the end of every year I list the most underrated and overlooked of the bunch and award them with SuperPhillip's honors, the best gift of all. And the nominees are...

Resistance 3 (PS3)

Insomniac Games went all out with the final chapter in the Resistance trilogy. Taking the player from humble roots in Oklahoma to taking down a Chimeran tower in the frozen New York City, the main character's (Joseph Capelli) journey was a tough and tragic one. Even with a Kevin Butler ad (I hate those by the by) and a Move Sharpshooter bundle, Resistance 3 failed to light the sales charts on fire. It is with a sad expression on my face as this game is one of the better FPS games to come out in 2011.

Shadows of the Damned (PS3, 360)

Doomed, but not necessarily to Hell where the main character of this game goes to find and save his girlfriend from demon hordes, Shadows of the Damned had Suda 51's name attached to it. When that director is a part of your game, it is as if the game had a big sign on it saying "Don't buy me." And consumers didn't-- even with the EA brand resting on the front cover on the lower right hand corner. It's a shame, too, as there was a lot to like about Suda 51's latest offering.

Go Vacation (Wii)

In Japan, Go Vacation did pretty well. It didn't break any sales records or anything like that, but it did okay for itself. In the West, the Wii is admittedly dying out as a console should five years into its life, so buyers probably didn't give this game a second glance. That is a travesty as this is the game that Wii Sports Resort should have aspired to. With multiple resorts, fifty activities, 100 variations, and plenty of places, nooks, and crannies to explore, Go Vacation should be your next tourist destination.

Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii)

Selling the best on the Wii console yet still being overlooked by the majority of video game players, it should be a felony that more people didn't play this Ubisoft gem. There was just over sixty individual levels to traverse and run and jump through, a gorgeous hand-drawn art style, multiplayer for up to four friends or family members, and a lot of challenging jumps to navigate past. Ubisoft has no one to blame for the abysmal sales of Rayman Origins except for themselves as I only saw ads in magazines (y'know, those things that don't sell too well anymore either).

Lost in Shadow (Wii)

Releasing at the start of the year in January (at least in North America), Lost in Shadow was one of Hudson Soft's last games before being eaten and engulfed by Konami, pooped out, and made to create casual software. Thanks a lot, Konami, for ruining the house that Bomberman built. Regardless, Lost in Shadow was a budget priced game that had players manipulating objects to create shadows for your character to jump on and off of. It was ingenious, really, but not ingenious enough for people to buy it apparently.

And the winner is...

Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii)

Could there be anything else? Well, yes, but there isn't. Rayman Origins might have "borrowed" some mechanics from New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but the end result is a fantastic platformer featuring some of the quirky and crazy charm that only the French can give us. It is a crime that more people didn't get a chance to play this game, but considering that the HD systems don't usually bother with platformers, it's unfortunately not surprising.

Runner-up: Resistance 3 (PS3)


[Most Unexpected Surprise]

When speaking of unexpected surprises I'm referring to those games that came out of nowhere and floored me with their quality. Perhaps I didn't see them coming or I wasn't expecting much out of them, but when they did release they delivered in spades. And the nominees are...

Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition (3DS)

Let's take this outside... or we can stay inside since it's winter now and all... When I read that Super Street Fighter IV was coming to a hand-held, I was not particularly pumped for it. Fighters on Nintendo portables did not have the highest marks of quality. Then Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition came and it wowed me considerably. Online play, StreetPass functionality in battling and trading character statues, and beautiful 3D visuals all added up to create one remarkable fighter for the 3DS's launch.

Go Vacation (Wii)

I wasn't expecting much from Namco Bandai's Go Vacation. It seemed like just another mini-game collection that was focusing more on quantity rather than quality. In some regards I was right, but in others I was completely and totally wrong. While some of the sports and activities failed to impress, the majority of them worked quite well. There was kayaking, tennis, skydiving, scuba diving, skateboarding, skiing, ATV races, and so much more to sink one's proverbial teeth into.

Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii)

We just cannot seem to get away from Rayman on this award show, can we? That's okay though as Rayman Origins is more than deserved to be on these lists. Rayman Origins came from left field. After playing around with the Rabbids for several years it seemed that Rayman's time under the sun had long past, and when his game where he starred finally came out, it was to little fanfare but stellar critical reviews. Who knew that Rayman's latest adventure would become one of his greatest? Maybe you did, so congratulations!

Radiant Historia (DS)

Coming out in Spring of this past year, Radiant Historia continues the tradition of incredible Japanese RPGs on the Nintendo DS. This time travel escapade was finely honed and crafted by the developers, making for one unforgettable and long-lasting experience. This story ended with one of several endings depending on which paths you chose, creating a great amount of replay value. I wasn't really expecting much out of this game, but when I finally got my hands on it, I was blown away.

Nintendo's step forward in the online arena

Before Mario Kart 7 and even the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo straggled behind when it came to online play. Every game had its own individual friend code that players must exchange ad infinitum. It really was aggravating and irritating. Then came the Nintendo 3DS which abolished the need for game-specific friend codes. It was one code per system. That was all that was needed. Then Mario Kart 7 released with the Communities feature. Players could join a like-minded group of racers and play with them without the need to exchange friend codes. Nintendo still has got a long way to go, but these small steps were very much unexpected.

Catherine (PS3, 360)

Generally when niche games come out I don't give them a second look. This Mature-rated title starring Vincent's lust and love triangle involving the titular character was a breath of fresh air in a sea of military shooters, bald white guy protagonists, and fantasy worlds filled with mages, archers, and wizards. Combining puzzle-solving with adventure, Catherine was an original distraction that painted Japanese games in a different light if just for one moment.

And the winner is...

Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii)

Another win for the limbless wonder. The addition of being able to slog through the game's fabulous worlds with up to three other players created such an entertaining dynamic. I never saw this one coming. I knew Rayman was a popular and critically acclaimed series, but after the Rabbids, I didn't know if the team at Ubisoft had a strong title in them. They obviously did.

Runner-up: Nintendo's step forward in the online arena


[Most Disappointing]

If you recall last year, Microsoft's Kinect stole this category from the other nominees with its lack of promised potential and horrible software for the most part. This year Kinect isn't nominated as why add insult to injury? This year we have five nominees all vying to not be the winner of this category. Many studios have closed down when they were the "winner" of this award. It's that important, folks, so let's get to it. And the nominees are...

Duke Nukem Forever (PS3, 360)

The Duke is back, but not the one your parents probably like. I'm talking about Duke Nukem in a game that was a decade in the making. Surely a game with a development cycle that long couldn't appease much of anybody. All that time to craft a gaming experience and people expect it to be the ultimate shooter in gaming history. Well, to say Duke Nukem Forever undershot its mark would be an understatement. With a lukewarm reception both critically and commercially, Duke Nukem Forever does not seem like a game that took ten years+ to make.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (PS3)

Ratchet & Clank have a high benchmark to aspire to. Each game in the franchise is gaming gold. Then Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One blasted its way onto the PlayStation 3 this past fall to little applause from anybody. From glitches to awful camera angles to dropped connections, All 4 One was a disappointing game not worthy of the Ratchet & Clank name. Being able to play as Clank, Qwark, and Nefarious is not worth struggling through the game's many imperfections. Bad, Insomniac Games. Bad.

The Nintendo Wii's 2011

What started out relatively well with Mario Sports Mix continued through the spring and summer with small amounts of games to satiate the masses, and what was released wasn't worth paying attention to. Games like Wii Play: Motion and Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident did little to stimulate the narrow white console. This was one of the few years where my Wii was actually dusty from not playing it for extended periods of time. To be fair though, titles like Skyward Sword and Kirby's Return to Dreamland were diamonds in the rough in a pretty poor year for Nintendo's flagship console.

The launch of the Nintendo 3DS

One of the worst launches in recent memory, the Nintendo 3DS had a tough road to hoe ahead of it. Many of the titles launched with the platform were ports or watered-down versions of popular games. When Nintendo's best offerings for the system in its early life are Pilotwings Resort, nintendogs + cats, and Steel Diver, there's something off. The launch went under expectations leading Nintendo to slash the MSRP of the system by nearly eighty dollars. All-in-all the launch was a rocky one to say the least.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3, 360)

Taking the same stale and boring combat from past Elder Scrolls games, shipping out a nigh unplayable mess on one of the main platforms for the game (the PlayStation 3), and not even mentioning at all about potentially patching the game make for a piss poor title that is highly overrated, awful, and unworthy of your money. Just how critics can give this game GotY nominations and wins when it is a buggy mess is beyond me. This shows what a joke the mainstream media really is. Truly despicable.

And the loser is...

The Nintendo Wii's 2011

Few companies can make a mockery of their flagship platform like Nintendo can. Fans of Nintendo are very familiar with the many droughts their platforms receive. The Wii in 2011 was no different. Instead of actually having a game like Xenoblade Chronicles ready for localization and shipment in North America this year, Nintendo opted to release titles no one truly cared about. As if the Wii trolls needed any more ammunition to make themselves look absolutely bitter.

Runner-up: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3, 360)


[Best Motion Control Game]

Protip: If someone uses the term "waggle" to refer to motion control, that person is an idiot. Motion control goes far beyond mere waggle as these following nominees will prove. Since its gaming inception on the Wii, motion control has come a long way from its console infancy. And the nominees are...

Dance Central 2 (360)

Harmonix gets the whole room jumping with Dance Central 2. The goal of the game is to match the movements of the dancer on the screen with your entire body. Unless you work out several hours a day, you will be sweating up a storm a mere half-hour or less in a standard gameplay session. Something that is notable is that this is one Kinect game that actually tracks your movements in an accurate way. Sadly, a lot of Kinect games can't say this, but as usual, Harmonix leads the way and shows that a game that reads your movements accurately can work and work wonderfully.

The Gunstringer (360)

Jump into the world of The Gunstringer created by Twisted Pixel. You operate a gun-toting marionette and use your hands as guns to blast away the enemy opposition. Hide behind crates and rocks, leap over hazardous chasms, and cause as much destruction as you possibly can. While The Gunstringer might be sitting in the seventies on Metacritic, this is one Kinect game that I can fully endorse proudly and indubitably. Put on your cowboy hat, grab your six shooter, and start blasting away!

Just Dance 3 (PS3, 360, Wii)

Most popular on Wii, Just Dance 3 is similar to the Dance Central series in which you match your movements to what the psychedelic dancer on screen does. With the Wii remote and Move, the game only watches what your hand does. With Kinect, you have the ability to utilize your arms at least. Play with up to three other wannabe dancers as you strike poses, go vogue, and rock out to dozens of popular artists' songs. Did I mention that this game was budget priced, too? What are you waiting for? Your hardcore gamer's license won't be revoked by just trying the Just Dance series out!

GoldenEye 007: Reloaded (PS3)

This latest Bond epic is also available on the Xbox 360, but there is no option for motion controls to speak of. With the PlayStation 3 you can opt to use the Move controller or just use the regular Dualshock. It's way more fun and intuitive with Move as you point at the screen to take out evil members of the Janus group as Daniel Craig's James Bond. Hop online and teach people the true meaning of pain or dig deep into the reinvented campaign mode. This title is yet another example of how pointer controls are genuinely more sophisticated and fun than analog. Your mileage may vary though.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

Even though Microsoft is eying the top spot when it comes to motion controls, Nintendo isn't just laying down and dying. Their latest effort is the culmination of their motion control know-how in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Nearly everything has a motion control part to it such as the all-important 1:1 swordplay, swinging from vines, climbing up cliffs, aiming with the Bow, swimming, flying on Link's loftwing, and so much more. Each component works at varying degrees of success, but they all add up to one unforgettable motion controlled experience.

Kinect Sports: Season Two (360)

The original Kinect Sports by Rare did relatively well for itself and Microsoft. It was the benchmark of the Kinect software lineup, and it was an enjoyable experience as well. Kinect Sports: Season Two adds in a slew of new sports such as football (now with voice commands), darts, skiing, and tennis. Put your body through the ringer with these intense gameplay styles that have your simulating each sport as if you were on the tenth green or jetting down a wet and wintry ski slope. This is the perfect party game for those of you with Kinect, so bring out the Chex Mix, Doritos, and Mountain Dew, and get partyin'!

And the winner is...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

Five years of experience with motion control all ending with the Wii's glorious swan song in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. The motion controlled swordplay makes every battle more important than the last. You really need to concentrate and not telegraph your movements so your opponent will read them and plan accordingly. If a foe holds his blade to the right, slash across from the left. This kind of puzzle element to battle along with the myriad of uses for the Wii remote makes Skyward Sword the obvious choice this year for motion control excellence.

Runner-up: Dance Central 2 (360)


The curtains are closing, but just for the night. Tomorrow the awards show continues with day number three. We'll have new categories made for 2011 like Best Platformer and Best Puzzler, to name a couple. I'll see you right back here tomorrow for more from the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2011 Awards!

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