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Gamasutra's Best Of 2010: The Top 10 Games Of The Year
Gamasutra's Best Of 2010: The Top 10 Games Of The Year Exclusive
December 23, 2010 | By Staff

December 23, 2010 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

[Gamasutra's look back on 2010 culminates in our staff's list of the top 10 games of the year, from a small PC gem to a great big Western and beyond -- plus personal choices from each of our writers.

Previously in our end-of-year round-up: Top 5 Cult Games,
Top 5 Handheld Games, Top 5 PC Games, Top 10 Indie Games, Top 5 Developers, Top 5 Trends, Top 5 Major Industry Events, Top 5 Surprises, Top 5 Disappointments, Top 5 Controversies, and Most Anticipated Games Of 2011.

We've been on a major retrospective trip here at Gamasutra, but ultimately it's the games that define a year, right? Together, the Gamasutra staff discussed the games that made the greatest impressions on us, and decided on a list we feel represents the greatest 2010 has to offer -- the games that will remain in our memories as having defined the year for technical sophistication, storytelling, innovation, and pure intangible experience value.

Of course, each of us have titles we individually love, too, and as a "top 10" only allows us to collectively agree on 10 games, each of us herein individually gives special recognition to games we felt strongly about this year.

In an exciting year for major new releases, the staff of Gamasutra is excited to present to you our top 10 games of 2010.

10. Civilization V (Firaxis/2K Games, PC)

It's somewhat ironic that Take-Two developer Firaxis delivered such a thorough re-freshening of the classic Civilization franchise by employing a decades-old strategy game concept: the hex map.

Civilization V is the first time that the franchise has used a hex map, but the changes and improvements to the series went far beyond that fundamental shift. As a whole, Firaxis managed to accomplish a supremely difficult task, which is streamlining a complex strategy game to make it more accessible without dumbing it down.

It launched with some issues, but like past Civilization games, there will be ongoing updates and improvements to the complex system. Despite any issues, even on release day, Civilization V was still was fun enough to play for hours straight. To call this game a timesink is a disservice; Civilization V solidifies the continuing relevance of the revered series, and is one of the best arguments for the importance of the overall turn-based strategy genre that you can find.

9. Mass Effect 2 (BioWare/EA, Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

For a developer with such deep roots in classic PC-based role-playing games like Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights, BioWare has shown over the past several years increasing understanding of what kind of gameplay works for console players, at the same time bringing over the rich storytelling that classic BioWare PC games were known for.

That said, the PC version of Mass Effect 2 was enjoyable in its own right. A sprawling universe, unexpected, clever story developments and a memorable ending (much more so than the original Mass Effect) means this RPG finds fans on both sides of the PC-console divide.

There are some legitimate complaints about the game: the battle system, while improved, could still do with more interesting inter-character combo attacks, the side roads of a branching storyline ultimately merge back into a largely linear interstate, and, well, there was the planet scanning (which wasn't quite as tedious with a mouse as opposed to a controller).

But even with those issues, Mass Effect 2 is overall an experience infused with memorable characters, planets and events that feel distinctly "Mass Effect," a notable achievement in such a crowded genre.

8. Minecraft (Notch, PC)

The basic human instinct to practice survival through play is woven into the DNA of all video games, but in Minecraft, the indie title that dominated PC gaming in 2010, it's hewn into the very rocks that make up its randomly-generated world. You are deposited into a field, your only task to create shelter for yourself from the beasts that rise at sunset. It's survival horror in its purest form, no need for cinematic shocks to punctuate the creeping sense of dread as you race to fashion tools from gathered wood and set about digging a hole in which to cower.

Survive the first night and the game that dawns on the second day is entirely different to the one you played on the first. Minecraft's brilliance is to be found in the way in which goals, almost all self-made, unfurl in new directions with the passing of time. Want to construct a working computer? Sure. Create a scale replica of the Taj Mahal? No problems. How about turn the world into a giant Monopoly set? Pass go. By giving the player exactly the tools they need to express themselves, Minecraft is perhaps the closest we have to a true God game.

And outside of its confines, it's one of the most interesting commercial stories of the year, turning its one man creator, Notch, into a multi-millionaire before it's even into Beta. As a result, here is a little game that in its purity of vision has irrevocably changed the very landscape of gaming, even as we have irrevocably changed its own landscape in kind.

7. Fallout: New Vegas (Obsidian/Bethesda, Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

Much coverage of the long-awaited Fallout 3 follow-up revolved around the bugs and imperfections present in the title, but players were in for something incredible if they could be patient (or lucky). It seemed hard to top the vision of the U.S. capital nearly melted to ash, but the portrayal of a former hub of American decadence at distance of the zone is in many ways more fascinating in its nuance.

The distinct influence of Rome's tragic story of out-of-control power on the gameworld is well-thought, and appropriate, and the game offers enough freedom that the player can choose to make it either a celebration or a condemnation of all kinds of excess. And as the game starts to draw a story of factions warring for control, the loyalty system in which the player participates provokes lots of thought on the nature of power in a world with laws upended.

So maybe it needed a little more time, but in a year of big blockbusters, a project with a little subtlety, a richly-realized world and a thoughtful, multilayered story came much appreciated.

6. Rock Band 3 (Harmonix/MTV Games, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii)

The latest entry in the Rock Band series may not pack the explosive commercial punch that the franchise did just a few short years ago -- let alone the insane hype of the Beatles edition -- but it does refine and expand the concept in important and compelling ways.

Of course, the most obvious addition is the "pro mode" songs and instruments. Designed to let players transition from mimicry to true performance, they're an interesting and rare example of video games, outside of the serious games sphere, teaching real-world skills.

But just as important in many ways is the complete and total refinement of interface and copious customizability of play modes. Rock Band 3 has evolved into the ultimate party game not just because everyone loves to play, but because Harmonix puts real thought into making it simple and accessible -- and the studio is at the forefront of U.I. design in the industry.

5. StarCraft II (Blizzard Entertainment/Activision Blizzard, PC)

If you want huge innovation in a real-time strategy game, don't look to StarCraft II.

But if you want fast-paced multiplayer gameplay that has over a decade of polish under its belt (plus continuing balancing) and a single-player story that delivers the flawlessly-delivered, borderline sci-fi camp-ness and action that StarCraft fans expect, then here's your game. Innovation was never Blizzard's goal with StarCraft II -- the goal was peerless execution.

Just the fact that the incredibly-polished StarCraft II delivered on such inordinately high expectations is enough for it to make the top of this list. Successfully take on the enormously difficult task of integrating the game with a totally new, sell a million copies on opening day and bring back old StarCraft fans while creating new ones... then you have one of the standout games of 2010.

4. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo, Wii)

It'd be easy to assume Nintendo was just cashing in on the success of the original Super Mario Galaxy with this sequel, the first direct, same-console follow-up to a major Mario game since the original NES (Yoshi's Island is way too different to count, nitpickers). And at first glance, the game does seem like nothing more than an expansion pack containing additional levels for the widely hailed original.

But oh, what levels. Galaxy 2 highlights the franchise penchant for inventive design by spreading the by-now-familiar collectible stars across many more areas than previous 3D Mario adventures, each making inventive use of the game's gravity-warping physics and tight controls. The result is shorter, more distinct levels that feel more focused on a single theme, yet without losing the sprawling sense of open exploration that has been a series hallmark since Super Mario 64. And then, just when you think the game is wrapping up, new star and time trial challenges encourage even more exploration of these dozens of exquisite, self-contained universes.

The clever reintroduction of a rideable Yoshi, new suits and items and some of the toughest challenges this side of Super Mario World's Special World further prove that this title was more than a quick cash-in. Usually we'd be ready for Nintendo to take its time and prepare something truly new for the next Mario adventure, but as it stands we wouldn't be at all unhappy if the company announces Super Mario Galaxy 3 for a quick release.

3. Bayonetta (PlatinumGames/Sega, Xbox 360/PS3)

Platinum's Bayonetta seems as if it's trying hard not to be liked: Hyper-stylized to the point of garishness, it features a disproportionate heroine who uses her hair as a weapon -- and as clothing, meaning she frequently ends up naked. What is this, a deliberate kiss-off to healthy female role models? Plus, the game's garish and implausible, bursting with filigree, butterflies and senseless conglomerations of religious iconography, begging to be deemed poster child for the whole "Japanese games alienate Westerners" thing.

And yet, somehow it all works as absurdist fiction. Bayonetta is like a slick, glorious pulp movie, its excesses as celebratory as a Tarantino film. It wages such a calculated, eloquent war on taste that it creates its own style, riotously pleasing to play. It doesn't hurt that the combat feels brilliantly-executed, fluid and hooky as choreography, and that the action sequences are in large part tautly plotted and exhilarating, with storyline and interface that stay wisely out of the player's way.

The game is a spiritual sibling to the Devil May Cry series in more ways than one, but Devil May Cry took a long time before it hesitantly stopped pretending it wasn't ridiculous. Bayonetta is proud of what it does and it does it all-out, with delightful distinctiveness and aplomb.

2. Super Meat Boy (Team Meat, XBLA, PC, Mac)

Edmund McMillan and Tommy Refenes at Team Meat never expected Super Meat Boy to be quite the XBLA hit that it has, but perhaps they should have. This tough-as-nails platformer is so chock full of content that it'd be a bargain even at boxed retail price, with alternate versions of each level, retro throwback mini-stages accessible through warp zones, and unlockable characters and modes.

The thing SMB (not an accidental acronym, I'm sure) gets most right is the control, which in spite of using the 360 analog stick, manages to feel precise and sticky, even in a 2D environment. This means that no matter how difficult the game may be, you always know it's your fault when you die, which can minimize frustration (well, a bit at least).

The game also features characters from other classic indie games, such as Braid, Alien Hominid, and Spelunky, making for a package that is so precise, so clever, and so robust that it's no wonder folks are raving about it. McMillan's irreverent sense of humor doesn't hurt either, extending even to the point of baiting PETA into making a parody of his game, which he then turned around and parodied himself.

1. Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar San Diego/Rockstar Games, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

You're half-dead, under heavy fire from the Mexican army and running out of ammunition. In desperation you call your horse, who gallops over the ridge with the sun rising at its back through the sage. You swing onto the saddle and ride like hell until you reach the next safe town.

That scenarios like this are so common in Red Dead Redemption speaks volumes to the reverence with which Rockstar treated the Western genre, effectively ending the game developer legend that "cowboy games don't sell." RDR presented a compelling open world that players hadn't really been exposed to in games before (at least not this effectively), and the result was a slew of accolades and massive sales.

The game does a fantastic job of making the player feel like they're making significant choices, forming relationships (especially with horses), and discovering locations on their own, when in fact their options are rather limited - that kind of trickery is to be praised, since the intent is to entertain the player.

And let's not forget the excellent downloadable content, including the popular Undead Nightmare, which adds zombies (overplayed though they may be) and a firefight mode to the game's already excellent multiplayer mode.

In all, Red Dead Redemption makes our list because it inspires imagination and engagement in players, giving the game a sense of agency and purpose, which is what many (if not all) games aspire to.

Staff Picks

Leigh Alexander, News Director, Gamasutra:

Halo: Reach (Bungie, Xbox 360) Thanks to a graceful visual palette and an actually-sincere attention to storytelling, it's the first title in the franchise I didn't roll my eyes at.

BioShock 2 (2K, Xbox 360/PS3, PC) The original was a tough act to follow, but the sequel was wildly underrated -- with smart thematic continuance, gorgeous setpieces and more compelling characters, it did a couple of things better than its predecessor.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (MercurySteam, Xbox 360/PS3) Unfortunate that pacing issues and slow entry turned many away from what, by its resolution, was might be the first real story in the dated Castlevania franchise. And baffling that somewhat-earned gameplay comparisons to God of War, arguably the leading melee combat title, worked as negatives?

Brandon Sheffield, Editor-in-Chief, Game Developer Magazine:

Deadly Premonition (Access Games, Xbox 360/PS3) Great story and dialog, bizarre design choices and 80s pop culture history abound in 2010's top cult game, and my personal game of the year.

Super Street Fighter IV (Capcom, Xbox 360/PS3) Street Fighter IV revitalized the fighting genre, and SSFIV is really just more of the same - but more of the same greatness still makes a list, for me!

Kinectimals (Frontier Developments, Xbox 360 Kinect) This is one of the best-written and best-designed games for kids I've seen in ages, allowing a child to be taken on a personal adventure with a personal pet. Great youth-orientation.

Simon Carless, Global Brand Director, UBM TechWeb Game Network:

Pinball FX 2 (Zen Studios, XBLA) A pinball simulation on a computer may not be the most 'video game'-like experience, but Zen's expertise in designing tables and the well-crafted, modular nature of buying/importing new content shines through. Add to that best-in-class social integration with regard to individual/friend high scores, plus perfect simulation and compelling gameplay, and you get easily one of the most fun games of the year.

Joe Danger (Hello Games, PSN) Joe Danger is a lot of fun, but it's the polished, careful, almost reverent attitude to making 'an arcade game' that really impressed. When the independent games scene is increasingly about deep thoughts and artistic statements, it's great to see a title that's just intended to be a lot of fun -- and, more to the point, delivers.

Chime (Zoe Mode, Xbox Live Arcade/PC) Despite some deliberately warring game mechanics -- which may even spice up the tension in the title -- Chime feels like a serene, wondrous audio-visual feast. It particularly helped that the soundtrack was bang on my tastes, spanning Lemon Jelly and Orbital notables, but the biggest shame was the lack of DLC.

Christian Nutt, Features Director, Gamasutra:

Heavy Rain (Quantic Dream, PS3) It drew a lot of attention for delivering storytelling outside of the norm for games -- and this is good. Heavy Rain was gripping and emotionally affecting, and most importantly tied gameplay and story together instrinsically.

Nier (Square Enix, Xbox 360/PS3) Nier also told a very affecting story and did it while playing with Japanese RPG and action game tropes, coming from left field to be Square Enix's best game of the year (in a year with two mainline Final Fantasy releases.)

Kirby's Epic Yarn (Nintendo, Wii) It may have been Entertainment Weekly's Worst Game of the Year but was also as charming as the series has ever been, and an exemplar of inventively tying aesthetics to gameplay.

Kris Graft, Senior News Editor, Gamasutra

No More Heroes 2 (Grasshopper Manufacture, Wii) More than a streamlined sequel, No More Heroes 2 adds more assassins with more character to the No More Heroes formula. And the anime-loving, murderous protagonist Travis Touchdown shows a slight hint of inner conflict about his profession... but not so much as to spoil the fun.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Frictional Games, PC) One of the scariest games in recent memory, Amnesia immerses players in an eerie, atmospheric castle inhabited by seemingly omnipresent, evil creatures. The tension can bear down so hard that you might need to step back, collect your sanity, and remind yourself that this is only a game.

Call of Duty: Black Ops (Treyarch, Xbox 360/PS3/PC/Wii) You can knock Call of Duty: Black Ops' fist-bumping machismo, but the game knows what it is: an unapologetic, violent shoot-fest. An intriguing mind-bending story that plays with history and over-the-top multiplayer (that adds killer packs of dogs!) means Black Ops will keep players busy till the next Call of Duty entry. Oh, and it generated $1 billion in sales, too.

Simon Parkin, European Editor, Gamasutra:

Just Cause 2 (Avalanche Studios, Xbox 360/PS3/PC) One of the first games to elevate explosions into an in-game currency from mere window dressing, Just Cause 2's National Geographic photo-spread of a world is one of the year's most enjoyable to visit both as a tourist and as a terrorist.

Dragon Quest IX (Square Enix, NDS) Yuji Horii's latest may enjoy contemporary flair by way of its multiplayer component, but the fairytale aesthetic is as traditional as it ever was, and repairing this world, one quest at a time, is one of the year's most engaging and affecting journeys.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (Criterion Games, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) Criterion trimmed away the fat of its previous title, Burnout Paradise and returned to the schizophrenic Need for Speed series' first principle of cops vs. robbers for this startling re-imagination. But it's in the introduction of Autolog, an always-on competitive social network overlay, that this release becomes a game-changer, evolving the humble leaderboard to an obsessive, prodding competitive pursuit.

Kyle Orland, Contributing News Editor, Gamasutra:

Monday Night Combat (Uber Entertainment, XBLA, PC) The best of squad-based combat meets the best of tower-defense in an eminently approachable yet surprisingly deep multiplayer experience.

Dance Central (Harmonix, Xbox 360 Kinect) The best game for showing off the potential of the Kinect is the one that doesn't use your real-world movements to control an on-screen avatar. Instead, it takes the heart-pumping action of Dance Dance Revolution into the real world without such a maddening focus on rhythmic precision to create the world's most accessible rhythm game.

Limbo (Playdead, XBLA) Short, yes, but the combination of foreboding, minimalist aesthetics, clever, outside-the-box puzzles and amusingly gruesome death animations made sure I couldn't put down the controller until the very end.

Tom Curtis, Editorial and Production Intern, Gamasutra and Game Developer Magazine:

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game (Ubisoft Montreal, XBLA/PSN) As a modern throwback to traditional arcade brawlers, Scott Pilgrim shines through its unwavering celebration of both its source material and classic gaming culture.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (Ubisoft Montreal, Xbox 360/PS3) While best known for introducing multiplayer to the franchise, Brotherhood also offers the series' most robust single player campaign yet, with a slew of optional objectives, missions, and subsystems that make the game's historical setting a joy to inhabit.

Puzzle Agent (Telltale, Wii Ware/iOS, PC) Telltale's Puzzle Agent stands apart from other brain-teasing titles like Professor Layton by offering puzzles that blend seamlessly into the game's overall narrative, and its charming art, writing, and voice work add levity to the game's spooky plot.

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[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Jonathan Gilmore
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@Dan, I agree with you and after playing GTAIV for a while I'm probably going to wait till the next generation of consoles before playing my next Rockstar game, but you can't argue with success.

Prash Nelson-Smythe
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Super Meat Boy is apparently only not going to WiiWare anymore, just retail. In europe, I expect to be able to play it in about a year's time if at all... *sigh*

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the game is out on steam for almost a month. yes, i created an account just to point this out. and yes, it´s about europe.

Prash Nelson-Smythe
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Oh yeh, I know that, but I'm not interested in using a keyboard or booting into my least favourite operating system to play it. It's quite annoying considering that it was supposed to be a wiiware game for so long and then it suddenly wasn't without anyone noticing. I want to play with a d-pad, dammit!

gus one
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GOY: Red Dead Redemption

Runners up (in no paricular order):

Kinect Sports

Dance Central

Medal of Honor

NFS Hot Pursuit

Black Ops

Starcraft 2


Lead and Gold

Cataclysm (turned a tired old lady into a hot 20 year old stripper again that you keep having just one more dance with!)

Fiore Iantosca
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Mass Effect 2 IMO was NOT a game of the year quality game. The planet scanning alone ruined that game for me. I agree also with a previous poster, I found RDR a generic RockStar game

Evan Bell
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Now I want to see a best of DLC list.

Ujn Hunter
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Bayonetta is my #1 GOTY for 2010. Pinball FX2 is my #1 Digital GOTY for 2010.

Fiore Iantosca
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Bayonetta was on sale for $9.99 yesterday. I did not know it was this good of a game. At that price it will easily be worth it. May have to pick it up

Aaron Truehitt
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I'd have to give it to Mass Effect myself. It's GOY to me. Such an amazing experience for me. Red Dead was a wonderful game, but it never grabbed me and good as ME2 did. But Red Dead is a close second!

Chuan Lim
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< Hmm .. >

I finished "Mass Effect 2" and perversely enjoyed the mining game, but most of the experience is just one long "auto-pilot" adventure. Minimal choice, predictable conseqence, and worse still a lack of feeling like you're actually exploring the vast universe. Media went all gaga over it at the start of the year, as with the first "Mass Effect" and then in hindsight saw that it was really not a good game, reliant on nice visual floss + word of mouth. Try going back and playing ME1 nowadays without the hype around it. I'd hazard [ as with "Final Fantasy 13" ] its a pretty dire way to spend 30 hours of your life ..

-- Chuan

Aaron Truehitt
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I played ME1 way after the hype was gone, way after it was released on PC and finally played it on Steam one day. I really felt like I was exploring a vast universe, reading about other planets and such. I was sucked into ME1 and ME2 and I really enjoyed it. I hold Mass Effect is high regard just as I do The Witcher for this generation of great RPGs. I thouroughly hated Dragon Age though. Now that's one game I didn't understand the hype for. I'd rather play Final Fantasy 13 than Dragon Age sadly. Final Fantasy 13 was at least bareable.

Aaron Truehitt
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If you know of a better game I should be trying out, you are more than welcome to tell me, haha. Chances are I already tried it though :)

Adam Bishop
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I'm kind of disappointed that I didn't discover any great smaller/indie games this year. Other recent years have had fantastic titles like World of Goo and Torchlight, but not so much for this year. The one downloadable title that everyone else seemed to get behind - Limbo - I found to be absolutely dreadful. I'd list my top 5 as:

1. Heavy Rain.

2. Gran Turismo 5.

3. Mass Effect 2.

4. Red Dead Redemption.

5. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.

Tomi Hanzek
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Have you played Amnesia: The Dark Descent? There's an indie game that came out of no where and blew me away.

My number one is Super Mario Galaxy 2. Pure gaming bliss.

Adam Bishop
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I have the demo for Amensia installed on my PC, but my video card died and I haven't yet replaced it. It's definitely on my radar, though.

Matt Cratty
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I find the trend of rewarding banality distressing.

I find the staff picks appalling.

I'm clearly no longer the target market.

Brandon Sheffield
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care to share the gems we missed?

DanielThomas MacInnes
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My 2010 Video Game of the Year is Minecraft. That's the easy pick. All my favorite games this year hail from the old school, but that's just my sensibilities. After Minecraft, I'll choose Just Dance 2, which is the best Nintendo Wii game of the year. It's a great improvement over last year's original, the graphics are dynamic and brilliant (they just shine on my 36" Sony Trinitron), it's an excellent workout, and it's perfect for friends and parties. Get off the couch, ya blobs!

Anyway, here's my Top 6....I'm adding Cave Story because, unlike my old TV, I can actually see the bottom of the screen on the new one. Yay!

1 - Minecraft - PC

2 - Just Dance 2 - Wii

3 - Donkey Kong Country Returns - Wii

4 - Michael Jackson: The Experience - Wii

5 - Pac-Man Collection (with POKEY sound) - Atari 7800 homebrew

6 - Cave Story - Wiiware, PC

Craig Jensen
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My top five this past year:

(1) Guild Wars: Rediscovering it since playing it through in '05 and finding that all of my characters were not deleted and in fact got a bunch of birthday gifts was pretty nice. I am amazed that I still have my character names without logging in for 5 years. Arena Net definitely gets a gold star in customer service for this one.

(2) BlazBlue: Continuum Shift: A fun fighting game with fun characters.

(3) Nothing else really, despite buying several games per month for a grand total of probably 50+ purchased games this year. A lot of shitty stuff to be honest.

Justin LeGrande
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I'm just a student, and I subscribe to Game Developer magazine. It really is shocking, with the depth and breadth of topics covered in the publication, that such a typical list could be published here on Gamasutra.

Sorry if my comment is offensive, but...this "Best Of" list (excluding the Staff Picks) is nothing more than a business publicity stunt for already-popular games. It's reasonable to give credit where it's due, of course. However, year after year in the video game industry, a vast array of titles worth looking into hardly get mentioned in the annual "Best Of" lists around the internet. Even if they are not blockbusters, certain games deserve mention for their own reasons.

Games like Tatsunoko vs. Capcom or Sakura Wars: So Long My Love have proven that Japanese-culture titles, many of which are highly unlikely to survive the voyage across the ocean, can survive when the publisher and developer teams struggle enough. These two titles, despite their quality, barely got approval for foreign release.

Games like Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker have proven that even great titles in a popular high quality game series with plenty of fan-base support and advertising can STILL sell relatively poorly compared to their brethren, perhaps partly due to being on the PSP. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep was even rated by Gamasutra as a "Most Anticipated" title of 2010. So much for that enthusiasm...

Games like No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle and Monster Hunter Tri have proven the fears allayed by third party publishers on Nintendo's home consoles, such as the Wii. No matter how much blood, sweat, and tears is poured into a project, no matter the amount of quality and support, even mere first party cash-in titles such as Wii Party or Flingsmash will still manage to generate a higher profit. Many people who do not play video games call them "Nintendo games" or "computer games", completely unaware of those who created the software within the physical product. In this case, the Nintendo logo alone sells products.

Games like And Yet It Moves, BIT.TRIP FATE and BIT.TRIP RUNNER, Blaster Master Overdrive, Deathspank, and Shantae: Risky's Revenge have proven that the console DLC-exclusive space is not doomed to the likes of Bejeweled (which to me, looks like a visual ripoff of Columns) and Sudoku. Triple A titles POTENTIALLY have a future in DLC-exclusive, but most customers in the DLC realm either don't know about them, or don't care enough to investigate further. Focus should be given to true gems, not the gems of Bejeweled.

The game Ivy the Kiwi? and it's progenitor, Yuji Naka, have proven the video game industry's capability to contribute towards charitable organizations as an alternative method of generating sales. For example, if every sale of the most recent Medal of Honor game generated nonprofit benefits to a trust fund for families of American soldiers fighting in the Middle East, as well as the veterans, how much would sales have been affected?

Many more titles, and their creators' own respective situations, abound. Rather than rate games on some arbitrary scale of "must-have", why not highlight games based on their creators' hardships or unique accomplishments?

Chuan Lim
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Trying to get the gist of what you're saying. I'd prefer that the DLC space be for smaller, more experimental games coming from new developers. We are already beginning to see what happens when the big publishers get the slots on XBLA and it ain't pretty. Sega [ oh Sega.! ] and the shoddy ports of the likes of "Crazy Taxi" or Squaresoft / Ubisoft releasing some completely crap Sudoku title = do not want ..!

-- Chuan

Aaron Truehitt
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Sounds like you are just wanting a list that root's for the underdogs. This list is more so a list that everyone can agree upon. I get what your saying, but I think they regularly have a segment like what you are stating every year as well. Matter of fact, they mention things like this year 'round that you are asking for.

Justin LeGrande
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These sorts of lists, like the ones featured on Gamasutra right now, are definitely useful for gauging items of the highest relevance to the total consumer populace. I just enjoy the themes of articles like the postmortems. Who, outside of the industry, would know that blockbusters like Bioshock could have such tumultuous development cycles?

It is a passive aggressive way of thinking, but I am disappointed that ratings in general posted on major video game websites around the internet have been molded into the "magazine model" of the 90's. Definitive "must-have" lists and ratings were a ubiquitous aid for video game magazine sales before widespread use of the internet, but today those publications must offer more complex features to survive.

However, like Mr. Sheffield said: "If we were to control the editorial voice completely it would be a much different site." Harsh scrutiny of topics can potentially pinpoint unseen issues, but can simultaneously be an unattractive or cumbersome motto for prospective partnerships.

Simon Carless
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Justin - this list is - quite literally - the games that the Gamasutra staff played and enjoyed this year. We do mention a number of the titles you reference in some of our other charts, though!

Justin LeGrande
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You're right!

If the titles I listed weren't any indication, I don't have an Xbox 360 nor a PS3. Thus, my opinion is, as Mr. Truehitt said, heavily skewed into a minority focus. I've read, almost exclusively, good things about all 10 of these chosen games, though!

I haven't gotten around to playing most of these titles yet, and I enjoy playing Starcraft 2.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Chuan Lim
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Ho hum ho,

This wasn't a great year for originality in games that's for sure. Firstly, a shame that alot of smaller developers such as CING closed down this year; or are struggling. They made some great stuff.! Otherwise most of the big dogs seemed to be ever more focused on pushing sequels with tired gameplay such as "Red Dead Redemption", "Mass Effect 2" or "Assassin's Creed Brotherhood" [ re: shallow core experience -> supplanted w/ lots of meaningless crap ] and very little in terms of creativity or new fun ways to interact; especially given bigger trends in terms of online connectivity, socialisation and even expectations from DLC. I suppose this churning happens all the time but it seems much more dire without solid original middle-tier titles like "Demon's Souls" last year. It's 2010 and most of our games are still based on hard gating the player and metering out rewards. Masterful game pacing in my eyes, will always be a poor substitute for genuinely engaging, interesting content and play.

Even Sony's hugely hyped core titles such as Heavy Rain / God of War 3 / Gran Turismo 5 felt mired in the past and failed to carry through on their initial pre-release excitement. Sorry Polyphony but Eero Piitulainen's physics in "Richard Burns Rally" are still better than 6 years of half-hearted tweaks. I'm still hopeful for Ueada's "Last Guardian" and "Journey" but apart from those I hear the PS3 is a really good Blu-ray player right? The emphasis with Xbox Live Arcade games as well seems to be going the shitter this year, with MSFT courting publishers for their poorly made licensed shovelware [ "KrissX" anyone? ] and bedroom developers relegated back to XBLIG or WP7. At least "Limbo" was great and was one of the few games this year that I could really immerse myself into thanks to the beguiling atmosphere. Made me realise how developers rarely think about matching game mood -> player mood and the opportunities for emotional interactions beyond Pavlovian rewards.

"Minecraft" is easily a big deal as well, though I have my own reservations about Notch taking Zach's "Infiniminer" source code and generally not giving him any credit. At least the popularity of the game this year showed that players do want more creativity and that these shared user stories can be more fun than something a professional writer / game designer might impose on a game. Viva la revolution.! Here's hoping for more open-ended and innovative approaches to game design next year.



[1.] Natal / Kinect finally coming out -> open source drivers hacked in 3 hours.

Will be even better when MSFT make functionality available to XNA & XBLIG

developers. Keen to see some 'out of the box' applications for Kinect but for

now playing with the depth camera + NUI gestural controls is fun.

[2.] Most played game for me was "Battlefield Bad Company 2" in rush mode

online, though have some gripes with linear nature of the maps and lack of

new ones from DICE. Map design and art direction for BC1 is still superior

methinks and offers more unpredictable flanking manoeuvres. The new

"Vietnam" DLC is ok but not a patch on the original PC version sans scale,

log traps and 24 player cap on console.

[3.] "Limbo" as mentioned above. Not the most original gameplay but confidently

puts all the elements together to get something more than the sum of it's parts.

I also appreciate the fact that Playdead had a particular vision for "Limbo" and

were quite uncompromising about it over a long 4-year development cycle.

As some fat dead guy said "Let a thousand flowers blossom".!

[4.] Also played alot of "Super Street Fighter 4" though to be fair "SF4" from the

previous year was already a flawless game in terms of play and presentation.

Hakan quickly became my new main, and love his unorthodox and sometimes

confusing moves. Love, love love beating up on Ken / Ryu online with Hakan.

Saving and viewing global replays is a great addition though Capcom's online

match-making still needs work. Japanese box art for the win.

[5.] Watching more-so than playing "Starcraft 2". Especially GOM's GSL2

which was pretty amazing [ re: FoXeR, SlayersBoxer & NaDa comebacks ]

and enjoying high-end play strategies such as timing attacks, faking builds,

marine micro and just overall pro 'poker' playing mindset. Enjoyed the

nuanced commentary from Artosis + Tasteless though oddly don't feel so

compelled to actually go back and finish Blizzard's campaign.

Bring on next year,

-- Chuan

Luis Guimaraes
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Not a so good year for gaming was this one.

Bobby A
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So many malcontents popping up in these comments. If you can't find enjoyment in any of these games then it might be time to put downthe controller and find something else to do...outside maybe.

Aaron Truehitt
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Kind of comes off as "I'm cool because I dislike the popular" stuff mentality. However, I can agree that this year hasn't been that great. As a matter of fact, this generation hasn't been that great at all. The FPS genre is dominating right now and makes for a very draining year when you are tired of them.

Justin LeGrande
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As long as a second "crash of 1983" doesn't occur, hopefully this industry will continue to grow!

I still remember my amazement while transferring into Generation 5, as a child. Watching a sneak peek of the N64 on VHS, from a Nintendo Power magazine subscription, it was an astronomical leap from the NES, SNES, and Genesis I was so used to. Watching such progress made me ecstatic.

So long as this industry continues to create interesting and unusual products, new generations of people will aspire to the roles of video game creation.

[User Banned]
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John Ingrams
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Why has everyone forgotten STALKER Call of Pripyat - that was released in February 2010?! It was about the only pc ONLY game that came out in 2010 and should have been mentioned on that basis alone! It is probably the biggest selling pc ONLY title of 2010 as well! Certainly doing better than Metro 2033, etc!

Kris Graft
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I mentioned it on my top 5 PC games of 2010! I totally agree, it's a great game.

Alan Rimkeit
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They need to bring Super Meat Boy to the PSN damn it.... >:(