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Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey - Nintendo DS
Release Date: October 8, 2009 (JP)
I'm a sucker for pretty much anything that comes from the Megaten universe. Strange Journey is near the top of the list of my favorites from the series. Strange Journey successfully plays like Shin Megami Tensei and Shin Megami Tensei II on the Super Famicom, but with some modern-day gameplay elements and design added it to help the classic gameplay "live in the now." The game also supports a password system, allowing you to share your powerful demonic allies with anyone willing to type the password in. Strange Journey is a game that helps fans of the earlier games in the series feel nostalgic while still feeling like they're playing something new. If you've never experienced that feeling, it's nice.
Street Fighter IV - PlayStation 3
Release Date: February 12, 2009 (JP)
Genre: Fighting - 2D (with 3D models)
When I heard that Capcom was bringing back Street Fighter, but in 3D, I immediately thought of the Street Fighter EX games, which weren't terrible, but they weren't anything to get excited about, either. Then I played it and realized that even though the characters were all in 3D, the fighting still played like it was on a 2D plane...Which resulted in fantastic Street Fighter action that us old fogeys remember from the early 90's, but on a platform that allows a brand new generation to fall in love with hurling fireballs across the screen at an opponent.
God of War Collection - PlayStation 3
Release Date: November 17, 2009 (NA)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Bluepoint Games
The first two God of War games were two of the best games put out for the Playstation 2, so it's only natural that when you put them together, you've got one of the must-buy titles on the Playstation 3. These HD remakes look better than their PS2 counterparts, but play just as great as they did a few years ago when they first came out.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor - Nintendo DS
Release Date: January 15, 2009 (JP)
Genre: Strategy - Turn-Based
Devil Survivor is a strategic take on the Shin Megami Tensei formula. Rather than fight random battles, however, in Devil Survivor you move around turn-based strategy style, similar to Final Fantasy Tactics. Like most recent games in the Megaten franchise, Devil Survivor has an option to fuse demons together to create more powerful allies to aid you in battle. It's a refreshing change to the often run-of-the-mill strategy RPGs that tend to pop up these days. There's a reason Atlus ported it over to the 3DS - it's that good.
Batman: Arkham Asylum - PlayStation 3
Release Date: August 25, 2009 (NA)
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Batman: Arkham Asylum is essentially a 3D Zelda game. It's so Zelda-ey that even many of the gadgets that Batman uses are similar to stuff found in the Zelda games...Grappling hooks, boomerangs, explosives...All Zelda. That's not a knock on Arkham Asylum in the slightest, 'cause it doesn't come across as a Zelda rip-off when you play. I don't feel that the game is quite as great as everyone says it is, but it's definitely one of the better games to come out in its console generation, and easily one of the best Batman titles ever released.
ExciteBots: Trick Racing - Nintendo Wii
Release Date: April 20, 2009 (NA)
Developer: Monster Games Inc.
I played ExciteBots with a lot of skepticism. I wasn't expecting much...In fact, I was almost expecting it to be bad. But once I started to play it, I quickly fell in love with the gameplay that involved odd cars designed after animals and the tricks that you're encouraged to perform as you cruise around the tracks. I hadn't had this much fun with a racing title in a while and it's easily in my top 5 racing titles of this console generation.
Borderlands - PlayStation 3
Release Date: October 26, 2009 (NA/AU)
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox Software
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Borderlands is a first-person shooter that dabbles in aspects that you'd find in an RPG, like leveling up, hit points, and finding loot....lots of loot. Add in some charming cel-shaded graphics and you've got yourself a charming little game that can appeal even to folks who aren't big first-person shooter fans. Also nice are the four characters to play as, with each character specializing in a specific play style. Whether you're into melee attacks, stealth, sniping, or plain ol' run and gun action, the game has you covered. The game also has plenty of humor and personality scattered between all the action, making this a very solid overall package that's fun to play co-op with a few friends or even just by your lonesome.
Dance Dance Revolution S - iPhone
Release Date: March 5, 2009 (NA)
Genre: Music - Dance
Dance Dance Revolution S takes the exact same gameplay that set arcades by storm a while back and packs it all in the iPhone....However, since stomping on your iPhone probably isn't a good thing, Konami opted to make it a game where your fingers do the dancing instead of your feet. The result is very fun and very solid...The only problem I have with the game is the same problem I had with the home console versions....Much like the dance pad liked to move in the console versions, my iPod Touch likes to move in this version, which can throw off your button presses...But anyway, if it sounds interesting to you, give it a try. With plenty of hidden songs and characters to unlock, there's enough here to keep you playing for quite a while.
Katamari Forever - PlayStation 3
Release Date: July 23, 2009 (JP)
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai
I'm a sucker for the Katamari games. They could basically put out the exact same game each time, just with different things to roll up and I'd be happy. Granted, they don't do a whole lot more than that (new levels, a few new twists on what to roll up) in Katamari Forever, but that doesn't bother me in the slightest. I'll dock the score a tad for the lack of innovation, but I absolutely adore this game to no end, just like all of the previous games in the series and the games that have come out since. If you have yet to play a Katamari game and own a PS3, do yourself a favor and track this game down. I'm pretty confident that you'll be glad you did.
Demon's Souls - PlayStation 3
Release Date: February 5, 2009 (JP)
Developer: From Software
Tough as nails? Not quite. Demon's Souls harkens back to the days of 8-bit video games, where games didn't baby the player and hold their hand through the course of the game to ensure their success. Demon's Souls appears as being difficult, but much like the games of old, practice makes perfect. This isn't a game you'll be good at right off the bat...But it feels quite rewarding when you begin to realize how much you've improved as you've played. The patient are rewarded in Demon's Souls, but the impatient will likely hate it.
MadWorld - Nintendo Wii
Release Date: March 10, 2009 (NA)
MadWorld is yet another really good game that was largely ignored on the Wii. With its stylized black-and-white graphics, and beat-em-up-style action full of gore (which the red blood looks rather nifty with the black and white everything else) it really stands out visually in comparison to other Wii games. But this game isn't all about the Mature rating, it's actually a well-made game and fun to play. Just a shame that it was largely ignored in stores.
Half-Minute Hero - PlayStation Portable
Release Date: May 28, 2009 (JP)
Publisher: Xseed Games
Half-Minute Hero is a unique RPG that requires to you level-up, buy equipment, fight random battles, and battle the area boss....All within thirty seconds. It works incredibly well. The thirty-second format makes this a great game in short bursts, but it's also fun enough to keep you playing for hours with that "just one more quest" feeling when you know you should stop playing, but you can't bring yourself to end the fun. The game is also extremely charming and full of comedy. If you haven't experienced it yet, Half-Minute Hero is a fun, unique game that definitely deserves any attention that you give it.
Civilization Revolution - iPhone
Release Date: August 6, 2009 (NA)
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Firaxis Games
Genre: Strategy - Turn-Based
Civilization Revolution is a very good little strategy game that starts you out in the early BC's as a small tribe and your goal is to build your tribe into a multi-city dynasty that is the number one force in the world. You can be number one by having the best economy, being the most technically advanced, or simply just being the strongest, and most able to kill off any civilizations that rival you. It's not all about domination, either...You can make peace with nations for trade, or even use your influence to talk other nations into starting wars with your rivals. There are also multiple scenarios to play, with various perks and handicaps depending on what you choose, giving this game plenty of replay value. The only real downside is the touch screen - while it works most of the time, you're bound to accidentally do something that you didn't want to at least once a game due to the screen moving while you try to give a command, resulting in you touching the command that you didn't want to give. But, it's still a very good game, and one that really got me hooked.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii - Nintendo Wii
Release Date: November 11, 2009 (AU)
New Super Mario Bros. Wii kind of feels like a rip-off of LittleBigPlanet with the encouragement of having four players playing the game all at once. However, that aside, it's also a solid, 2D Mario outing. Like New Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS, it fails to capture the greatness of the NES Mario games, but it's still a very solid and enjoyable experience whether you're playing with three other friends or simply going solo.
Puzzle Quest - iPhone
Release Date: February 17, 2009 (NA)
Publisher: TransGaming Inc.
Developer: TransGaming Inc.
Puzzle Quest is a really interesting game that mixes puzzle gameplay with an RPG. As you traverse in an RPG overworld, you'll fight random battles and boss fights, all of which are done via puzzle gameplay. It all works extremely well. The only downside to the iPhone version is that the publisher tries to milk money out of you...You can't beat this game or advance past a certain point without purchasing (after already purchasing this game) the final part of the game. That being said, based purely on gameplay, there's still plenty here to play and enjoy without shelling out more money to beat it...But the greed of the publishers is what prevents this game from being in my top 5.
Deadly Creatures - Nintendo Wii
Release Date: February 9, 2009 (NA)
Developer: Rainbow Studios
Deadly Creatures kind of came out of nowhere and delivered a surprisingly solid experience. Controlling a tarantula and/or a scorpion, Deadly Creatures isn't your typical cartoonization of an animal...Instead, all animals in the game appear realistic and they don't talk....Yet through body movements and the like, the developers managed to almost make these creepy crawlers seem human. It really is a surprisingly good game. Try it out and see for yourself.
Angry Birds - Mobile
Release Date: December 11, 2009 (NA)
Developer: Rovio Mobile
Say what you want; like it or hate it, the United States (and possibly elsewhere...don't live elsewhere, so I'm not sure how the rest of the world reacts to the game) is Angry Birds crazy. Walk into a Wal-Mart and you can find Angry Birds stuffed animals...You can find people playing it that have never played a video game before...It's kind of nuts. But anyway, Angry Birds isn't a perfect game, but it is addicting...And it's pretty easy to see why so many folks have fallen in love with it.
Animal Kingdom: Wildlife Expedition - Nintendo Wii
Release Date: September 30, 2009 (NA)
When I first played Animal Kingdom, I halfway expected a decent game and halfway expected total garbage. To my surprise, it actually had me completely hooked from beginning to end. That's not to say it's one of the greatest games I've ever played, as the game does have its share of flaws, but the game does a very good job of making it fun to be a wildlife photographer. It's a fantastic game for kids, with many facts and tidbits about the various animals, but it's also done well enough that I think most adults will appreciate the game as well. It does move at a slower pace, though, so if you want non-stop action in your video games, this may not be the game for you.
Krazy Kart Racing - iPhone
Release Date: December 11, 2009 (NA)
Genre: Racing - Kart
Krazy Kart Racing, the sequel to Konami Krazy Racers on the Game Boy Advance, is really a well done game. The motion controls work very well, the graphics are bright and good for its time for a 3D iPhone game, and the kart racing is as hectic as you'd expect from a kart racer. It might not be Mario Kart, but Krazy Kart Racing has enough going for it where it's a very worthy replacement for folks itching for a kart racing game on their iPhones.
Release Date: November 26, 2009 (NA)
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Genre: Strategy - RPG
Song Summoner is a decent strategy game from Square Enix where your soldiers are created via the songs that you have on your iPhone and said soldiers level up based on how often you listen to their songs....Which can kind of break the difficulty if, say, you're listening to an audio language-learning file that you created a soldier with and have it on loop in learning through repetition. Anyway, this game isn't great, but it's decent enough where fans of turn-based strategy RPGs will likely enjoy their time here...Going through your audio library to see what audio file will produce what soldier is pretty addicting, too.
TNA Wrestling - iPhone
Release Date: March 30, 2009 (NA)
Publisher: Longtail Studios
Developer: Longtail Studios
Genre: Fighting - Wrestling - Strategy
It's a shame that this game is no longer available on iTunes 'cause TNA Wrestling was an interesting strategy-based wrestling game that worked pretty well in a mobile environment. Its only real flaw: it's too easy. But, that being said, it's still pretty fun to play...Especially if you're a wrestling fan...and there's a surprising level of detail put into the game as a whole, allowing the player to be a face, heel, or tweener depending on dialogue options you choose during the course of the game. TNA is an underrated wrestling promotion, but their iTunes game was the best wrestling game available for the iPhone for years...And some may argue that although it's no longer available on iTunes, it still is the best.
Power Pros Touch - iPhone
Release Date: July 10, 2009 (NA)
Genre: Sports - Baseball
Power Pros Touch was my favorite sports game on the iPhone for quite a while, until Baseball Superstars 2011 stole the title away. There's not much here in the way of modes, aside from playing an exhibition or season, you can create your own team and modify their outfits and the like...But the gameplay itself is kind of neat. You basically use your finger as the bat when you swing, and depending on if and where you drag your finger as your bat hits the ball, you could be dictating where the ball will be going - left, right, a pop-up, or a ground ball. It's a fun game of baseball, but unfortunately, there's not much to keep you sticking around after a while.
Luxor - iPhone
Release Date: August 2009 (NA)
Luxor is quite the addicting puzzle game, and a game that happens to have a unique Egyptian theme. Basically a snake-like formation of colored balls slithers through the stage, and your goal is to shoot similar balls at the snake the match three of the same color in a row. Then, destroy all snakes in the stage to advance to the next level. It's an easy game to pick up and play, but it gets progressively more difficult as you get closer to the end of the game, which makes it a good game for players of all experience levels to enjoy.
Metal Slug XX - PlayStation Portable
Release Date: December 9, 2009 (AS)
Developer: SNK Playmore
Genre: Shooter - 3rd Person
While I enjoyed my time playing Metal Slug XX, this may be the weakest game in the Metal Slug series. I'd have to play through the rest of the games in the franchise again to make sure, but it just didn't seem to quite have the charm of the other games...even when riding an ostrich with big guns attached to it. With unlimited continues, it also loses some of the reason to keep playing...you can beat it in less than an hour. But, as I said, I still enjoyed my time playing this, and it's well worth the purchase for fans of the series.
Tomena Sanner - iPhone
Release Date: November 23, 2009 (NA)
I think Robot Unicorn Attack is more well-known...But Tomena Sanner provides similar gameplay and it about fifty times as weird and bizarre. Tomena Sanner looks like a high-end Atari 5200 game, but good golly is it loaded with personality. I really can't think of any other way to describe it to you....You just have to play it. It's just a wonderfully weird game that I would not hesitate to plop 99 cents down on again if I had to relive the day I purchased it.
Crush the Castle - iPhone
Release Date: July 15, 2009 (NA)
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Armor Games
If you like Angry Birds, you'll probably like Crush the Castle, which is basically the same kind of game except you're using a catapult to launch various ammo at castles in an attempt to knock over all enemies within their walls. I, personally, find it to be about as fun as Angry Birds is. The reason it's so far down the list in comparison to Angry Birds is that the game about upset feathered animals regularly gets new levels added to the game via updates, constantly adding replay value...Crush the Castle has much, much less content in comparison, and thus, in my eyes it's an inferior game.
Metal Gear Solid: Touch - iPhone
Release Date: March 18, 2009 (NA)
Developer: Kojima Productions
Genre: Shooter - Rail
If Metal Gear Solid: Touch was an arcade game, where I could fire a light gun at the screen, I'd like it much, much more...But instead, it's a simple rail shooter that isn't bad by any means...But might be a bit disappointing for folks like me, who would prefer to play a stealth Metal Gear game rather than one where you're shooting everything in sight. That being said, I'm a huge Metal Gear fan and feel bad that a game from that series is placed so low on this list...But what can I say? It's a solid game, just not one I'd pick over any of the other iPhone games placed above it on this list.
Minigore - iPhone
Release Date: July 29, 2009 (NA)
Publisher: Chillingo Ltd.
Developer: Mountain Sheep
Genre: Shooter - Third-Person
Minigore plays like shooters like Geometry Wars, but it's got quite a bit more personality to it. It's also got an Altered Beast-like element to it, as you can power up into a minotaur to mow your way through any hoard of enemies that happens to come after you. Minigore is entertaining, and there's plenty to unlock...But what prevents it from being higher on this list is that at it does have a tendency to get repetitive after a while. But still, if you're looking for a solid action game, Minigore is a decent choice.
Zenonia - iPhone
Release Date: May 24, 2009 (NA)
Zenonia allows players to pick their style of gameplay right off the bat by letting them choose the "class" of the main character, with each one playing a bit differently. From there, Zenonia plays like most other action RPG's, which isn't a bad thing by any means, but it also fails to stand out and leave any sort of memorable impact on the player. Add in some touch screen controls that are frequently unresponsive and you've got a good effort and a game that's still fun, but a game that ultimately feels like it could have been better.
Ghosts 'N Goblins: Gold Knights - iPhone
Release Date: November 11, 2009 (NA)
Ghosts 'N Goblins: Gold Knights is a decent, portable GnG experience...Albeit an easy one. The game is solid and enjoyable while it lasts, but the ending may leave a sour taste in some folks' mouths...It's basically just a lead-in to Gold Knights 2. That being said, it's not a bad game by any means, but it also feels like Ghosts 'N Goblins for kids, as the difficulty really can feel way too easy at times. But, like I said above for Gold Knights 2, if you've always wanted to say that you've beaten a Ghosts 'N Goblins game, this is a great way to be able to make that claim.
Cho Aniki Zero - PlayStation Portable
Release Date: March 19, 2009 (JP)
Developer: extreme Co.,Ltd.
Genre: Shooter - Third-Person
I love the bizarre nature of the Cho Aniki series...But let's face it - they aren't exactly award-winning games in terms of gameplay. The PSP addition to the series is no exception to this rule, with some bizarre scenery and just barely passable gameplay. Unless you're obsessed with side-scrolling shooters, or just like bizarre games, you're probably better off passing on this one. If you do want to play it and want a physical copy, you'll have to import it from Japan. Otherwise, Aksys ported the title over to North America in 2010, in digital form, on the Playstation Network.
Gyrotate - iPhone
Release Date: December 18, 2009 (NA)
Gyrotate is an interesting puzzle game, where you have to rotate the laters of the puzzle to try to line up four shapes of the same color. In addition, you have a count at the top of the screen for each color that you have to get enough matches for, and if you don't within the time limit, it's game over. It's not the best puzzle game I've played, but it's still a very good one. If you enjoy puzzle games, then Gyrotate is more than worthy of your time to try it out.
The Pringles Game (Homebrew Game) - Sega Genesis and Mega Drive
Release Date: 2009 (NA)
I totally expected this to be terrible, but it's surprisingly not that bad. In fact, with some more work, The Pringles Game would have been pretty dang good. As it currently is, with 12 levels across 3 worlds themed after Pringles flavors, it's fun...but it doesn't last. It took me maybe 5 minutes to complete every level. With more content, I can only imagine that this could have been a really good homebrew game. Instead, it's impressive, but merely passable.
Sliding Heroes - iPhone
Release Date: September 16, 2009 (NA)
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: h.a.n.d. Inc.
Sliding Heroes is an action game where your goal is to tilt the iPhone and move your merry band of heroes towards the enemy, where they'll engage in fisticuffs...Or whatever they call it when there's weapons involved. But anyway, it's an interesting game that mixes the tilt control aspects of games like Super Monkey Ball, but it also brings in combat and leveling-up aspects to create a truely innovative game...Unfortunately, while it's passable, there's not a whole lot here to keep you playing until the end....Or even for more than 20 minutes, for that matter.
Mr. Driller - iPhone
Release Date: August 28, 2009 (NA)
Mr. Driller, like Columns Deluxe, should be higher on this list, but poor controls prevent that from happening. In Mr. Driller, speed and accuracy is important to successfully complete levels, and it's hard to be fast and/or accurate when the controls prevent you from doing so. If you want a portable Mr. Driller game on a modern handheld system, I'd get Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits and play it on your 3DS. This one's a tad too broken to recommend, as much as it pains me to say that.
Demigod - PC Games
Release Date: April 14, 2009 (NA)
Developer: Gas Powered Games
Genre: Strategy - Real-Time
Demigod is mildly fun at first, especially if playing against a friend...But after a game or two in single player mode, you'll likely feel like you could let the game play itself and get the same outcome since your computer allies do a majority of the work for you. However, you can buy power-ups during the battles that basically make you an unstoppable wrecking machine...But honestly, by the time I got to that point, I was already bored to the point where nothing short of a demigod in the form of a platypus wearing a neon green tutu, singing like Dean Martin was going to make me feel that this game was entertaining. That said, it's not absolutely terrible...But unless you're a diehard real-time strategy nut that must play everything in the genre, I'd avoid this game. There are plenty of other, higher quality games in the genre to play.
Metal Slug Touch - iPhone
Release Date: December 16, 2009 (NA)
Publisher: SNK Playmore
Developer: SNK Playmore
Genre: Shooter - Third-Person
Metal Slug Touch should be higher on this list...But SNK Playmore tried something new, which I applaud them for trying it, but it results in a game that can sometimes feel like it's unplayable. Metal Slug touch integrates tilt controls for the game...But the problem is in a game like Metal Slug, if you tilt the screen, it's kind of hard to see enemies that you need to shoot at and/or avoid. Like I said, I applaud SNK Playmore for trying something new...But you can't win 'em all, and this entry in the Metal Slug series definitely isn't a winner.
Mad Dog McCree: Gunslinger Pack - Nintendo Wii
Release Date: June 16, 2009 (NA)
Developer: Digital Leisure Inc.
I loved Mad Dog McCree when I was a kid. The corny acting in this live-action video game always made me chuckle. However, the gimmick of using real video back in the early 90's helped hide the poorer aspects of the games in the series as most folks were more focused at the technical achievement of an interactive video than they were at the actual gameplay, which wasn't exactly the best. This compilation really exposes that, as we're now in an age where in-game graphics can sometimes look very close to real-life, so poorly-acted video probably won't impress most folks quite as much as it once did. That being said, if you remember Mad Dog McCree from the days of old, this is a nice way to revisit them...Just don't expect the games to live up to the fond memories you may have for them....Except for the acting - that's still as wonderfully bad as it ever was.
Hannah Montana: The Movie - PlayStation 3
Release Date: April 7, 2009 (NA)
Publisher: Disney Interactive
I've never seen an episode of the show, never watched the movie, none of that, so I played this game without any expectations. That said, Hannah Montana had potential to be good, and I'm sure that if you put this game in front of a five-year-old girl that doesn't know any better, she'll likely love it...But it falls short on so many levels. You can play a boring fetch-quest action game where your pointed to any and all objectives - no need to try to figure anything out, your hand is held the whole way. The other part of the game are the concert scenes, which you can pass with a score of 0. I literally laid the controller down for an entire song and watched the screen tell me "Great job!" There is no challenge here, there's plenty of bugs...it's just bad. It could have been decent with some tweaks to the difficulty to make it at least a little challenging to the youngsters that play it...Unfortunately, it's a turd fest that tells you that you're the best person who ever lived because you put the controller down to take a dump.
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