Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The RetroModern Gaming Blog 2005 Awards

Here are the highlights of 2005 for me. The games featured year didn't necessarily come out this year, but I did play them this year. Tomorrow I will be giving out awards for the disappointments of 2005, but for today, it's all good!

GBA Game of the Year - Riviera: The Promised Land
A great little RPG which combined plenty of humour with an interesting battle system and some of the best graphics on Nintendo's diminutive handheld. It didn't get a release in Europe and there were only fairly limited quantities on sale in the US, so it might be quite hard to come by now, but it's worth picking up if you can find it.

Runner up - Racing Gears Advance
Not many people are aware if this little game but way back in January of last year it was constantly in the GBA slot of my DS. Imagine a game like Micro Machines or Mashed on the GBA and you'd be on the mark. This is the ideal sort of game for a handheld.

DS Game of the Year - Mario Kart DS
Without doubt this is absolutely the best game on the DS so far. Every thing you could ever possible want from a Mario Kart title and more (who would've expected the Mission mode?). The Wi-Fi Internet mode is the icing on a particularly scrummy cake and combined with the regular multiplayer mode ensure that this game will be a favourite for a long time to come.

Runner up - Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
Another inventive and witty entry in the Mario RPG series. The DS has been starved of quality RPG's since it was released by now Mario & Luigi are here to keep players entertained for at least 20 hours of quality gameplay.

PSP Game of the Year - Ridge Racer
I'm possibly a little biased here - Ridge Racer has long been a favourite series of mine, but these are my awards so never mind. The classic RR gameplay was given a boost (pun intended) with the addition of a Nitrous gauge, and many of the best tracks from past games were dusted off and given a thorough going for this PSP "best of" update.

Runner up - Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion
It took a while for a decent RPG to appear on the PSP, just like with the DS, but finally Legend of Heroes was released back in November. It has a less than perfect localisation, but that hasn't prevented me from enjoying the story and all it's many twists and turns. It's refreshing to play a game where many different characters drop in and out of the story, rather thing joing with the protagonist and following them all the way around the world.

Gamecube Game of the Year - Resident Evil 4
I've been partial a bit of Resident Evil for a long time now, but even I was starting to tire of the clumsy controls and cliched formula. Capcom took a long hard look at the series and finally gave gamers RE 4. No one could have predicted just how good this game would be. Every chapter is crammed full of inventive and exciting set pieces and the amazing soundtrack makes sure you are constantly on the edge of your seat, all the while holding your breath.

Runner up - Batallion Wars
When it was announced that British developer Kuju games was making a Gamecube version of the Advance Wars series and changing it from a turn based strategy game into a third person action game, fans of the series were horrified. After all, Kuju's track record has been average at best (Reign of Fire, Lotus Challenge and War Hammer: Fire Warrior were all less than amazing). Nonetheless, the managed to deliver a very solid and fun little shooter which even reminds me of Halo at times (the chatter of the troops, and the vehicles). Well worth checking out.

PlayStation 2 Game of the Year - Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.
This game is amazing, spellbinding. I knew Level 5 were adept at getting the most out of the PS2 hardware from past experience with Dark Chronicle, but I never imagined anyone could cram a game that's this long, with such brilliant graphics, a stunning orchestral score and fantastic gameplay, on to one single DVD ROM.

Runner up - Shadow of the Colossus
This also achieves things that I never thought possible on the aging PS2 hardware, but sometimes the cracks show through. The frame rate can get quite unstable when the action hots up which prevented me from ever getting completely immersed in the game. Still one of the most beautiful things I have seen all year though.

Xbox Game of the Year - Jade Empire
Many people weren't overly keen on this game, especially after playing Knights of the Old Republic, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and found the action based battle system to be a refreshing change. The mythical Chinese style setting was wonderful too.

Runner up - Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath
It's sad that this game never sold as many copies as it deserved to, as it was well worth it. A western style game set in the bizarre Oddworld, featuring the same sense of humour from the Abe and Munch games. I saw a pre owned copy for £10 the other day, and if you should comeacrosss a cheap copy you should snap it up.

PC Game of the Year - The Movies
This is the best game Peter Molyneux and his team have delivered since Theme Hospital came out all those years ago from Bullfrog. It can get rather tough after a while as you a juggling stars and directors throwing petty tantrums with trying to make the best films you can and managing not to go bankrupt. The movie making aspect has seen a huge community build up already, where you can upload and download home made films for your own entertainment.

Runner up - Sacred Gold
This is an action RPG in the Diablo mould, with plenty of character classes to choose from, some very nice graphics and a verylengthyy quest to work your way through. This Gold edition also includes the Underworld expansion disk which adds about another 15 hours of gameplay.

Overall Game of the Year - Resident Evil 4 - Gamecube
It was a close call but for me, the best game of 2005 was Resident Evil 4. It's now also available on the PS2 with even more content.

Runner up - Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King - PlayStation 2
I very nearly decided to place these two games the other way around, but in the end RE4 had more innovative touches (DQVIII is verytraditionall at heart, but that has a lot to do with why it's so good).

Come back tomorrow for part 2, where I list my worst games of the year, my mostdisappointingg delay, best hidden gem and best retro game.

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