Here it is: Gamasutra wraps up 2007 in a compilation of all of the lists we've been doing over the course of the past two weeks. Visiting such important topics as the Top Developer, Most Poignant Moment, and Top Trends, this offers the editorial staff's (hopefully) educated and personal take on the year as it draws to a close.
In addition, after publishing #10 to #2 of our Top 10 Game list recently, we finish things off by revealing our pick for top video game of the year. We also take a look at what you thought on our various countdowns, by including comments made upon the first publishing of many of these stories.
First up, we take a look at the top 5 downloadable console games released this year, from Everyday Shooter through Pac-Man CE. The games picked are the editor's choice, and are chosen from the titles released in North America during 2007's calendar year to date.
5. PixelJunk Racers (Q-Games, PlayStation 3)
The folks at the Kyoto-based
Q-Games (Star Fox Command), led by former Argonaut coder Dylan
Cuthbert, have been trying to take things back to the '80s with simple,
iterative self-funded downloadable titles for the PlayStation 3.
Racers is the first
of these, and it's intentionally incredibly simple - just acceleration
and lane changing needed, slot car style. Perhaps because of this, it's
relaxing and addictive all at once, and bodes well for further titles
in the PixelJunk series for PSN coming soon.
4. Jetpac Refueled (Rare, Xbox 360)
For those who grew up in Europe in the 1980s and remember the original Jetpac, this enhanced remake is even more enticing - but even for those who don't, the gameplay is beguiling.
It's particularly notable that the gravitational physics behind the Joust-style thrusting, transplanted wholesale from the Stampers' 1983 Ultimate Play The Game original -- the first ever title from the now-departed Rare founders -- work just as well almost 25 years later.
3. Everyday Shooter (Queasy Games, PlayStation 3)
A gloriously abstract shooter that originally won multiple prizes at the Independent Games Festival this year (Disclaimer: original writer Simon Carless is IGF Chairman), Jon Mak's title is particularly enjoyable because of its careful blend of strategy, stylish visuals, and action-generated music.
In addition, the concept of radically changing gameplay and look on a level by level basis -- something that Mak has compared to a music album -- is particularly progressive as a concept. It's also nice to see high scores as a success arbiter returning in such a prominent manner.
2. flOw (ThatGameCompany, PlayStation 3)
One of the games released this year that is least like a... game, the depth-based eating/growing experience that is flOw had already been well-tested in Flash by creator Jenova Chen and his associates.
The reason that flOw works so well is because of its serene experience, carefully basic motion controls, and simply understandable game mechanics. Even the state of navigating the game is relaxing. The fact that such an organic-feeling experience had an explicit end is sad, though -- algorithmically generated levels next time?
1. Pac-Man Championship Edition (Namco Bandai, Xbox 360)
The original Pac-Man is simply one of the best games ever created. And, in this world of enhanced remakes, the Japanese developers at Namco Bandai worked with Pac-Man's father Toru Iwatani and created something incredibly special - a remake that improves on the original.
With all the flavor and excitement of the original, the multiple new modes - many of them with explicit time limits and related high scores - layered even smarter strategic gameplay upon the peerless original. And with smart art direction, the title looks amazing in HD. Tremendous.
Jim McGinley: "What
an odd list. I'll agree with Everyday Shooter, but the rest?"
Anonymous: "I think Space Giraffe (XBLA) is at least worth a mention. It is an absolutely gorgeous new IP with such a rich/deep gameplay for anyone who is willing to learn by playing."
Oliver Snyders: "Space Giraffe is exactly the kind of game indies shouldn't make -- it's caught in the 'complexity VS simplicity' conundrum of the days of yore with the visual confusion that is enough to alarm even hardcore players, let alone casuals."