I'm glad to see 2009 come to an end, after all that has happened. As if having to deal with the recession (read: total financial meltdown) was bad enough, I also had to endure a triple whammy of malfunctions. Thankfully, they have been taken care of, as Kelly was able to hook me up with a new Rock Band guitar. I installed a new hard drive for my laptop, and most importantly, I received a replacement Xbox 360 that makes up for the Red Ring of Death. (At least for another three years until it happens again.)
Still, it was a hard year for the industry, with developers downsizing or closing up shop, and a majority of games pushing back to the first quarter of 2010 (some going even further,) all to avoid the monolith that was Modern Warfare 2.
Thankfully there were a lot of good games out there, and the first GamerGeeks of the year will honor them, (as well as lampoon the worst) but in the meantime I have my usual set of accolades and condemnations to give out.
In any event, why don't we get started with something new. I never thought the iPhone and iPod touch would be well known for recreating the old laserdisc games of the arcades and eventually on CD and DVD. Not only do they looks as good (or better) than the disc medium they were based on, but a lack of access time due to flash memory causes them to play BETTER than before. While the Digital Leisure ports of both Dragon's Lair and Space Ace are worthy of mention, it was what one Australian-based developer did to my favorite laserdisc game to give them the first ever "Above and Beyond Laserdisc" award. By taking the original Cobra Command arcade game footage, remastering it in widescreen format, adding touch aiming and tilt-sensitive steering, with just the right touch of leaderboards and achievements, and you got the equation for an amazing arcade port.
We heard a lot about the OnLive service this year, even going as far as talking about it in on a recent GiN Lounge. Though the idea of playing a high end PC game on a low end system sounds tempting, the concept of streaming it over a broadband network does not sound promising to me. Having to deal with latency is too much of a risk, and until the OnLive team figures that out, it will never be released. In fact I might give it the "Phantom Award for Newest Vaporware," named after the infamous console that eventually became a lapboard.
And speaking of vaporware, that's where the "Dumbass of the Year" award is heading. After all, who better to receive this time honored tradition than a development staff who spent twelve years hyping a game to the point of ridicule, earning multiple Vaporware awards, and having their parent company, 2K Games, close down their studio. Of course, I'm talking about you, 3D Realms, but more specifically, I am pointing the finger to that lazy S.O.B. George Brussard. Maybe if you weren't too busy posting on Twitter about when your pizza will be arriving or when your satellite will be fixed, and instead worked on your so-called magnum ops, then maybe you wouldn't be receiving this dishonor.
But on the other side, we have the "Badass of the Year" award returning, and you will never see this one coming at all. As I mentioned before, I am a huge DJ Hero fan. The fact that this game came from nowhere, and made the rhythm genre fresh again is one thing, but what really tears this game from the rest is the controller. However the controller has one part of it that will make the toughest gamer fall to his knees"the dreaded crossfader! Mastering that dreaded slider takes a lot of practice and dedication, and even today I haven't even dared try to beat the game on Expert. I never thought I'd give this award to a controller part, but in the end, its tenacity deserves it.
The "Holy *@%! Moment" took on a whole new meaning this year, as so I am changing its name to the "Mind*** of the Year." And what better way to give the first ever mind*** than to a game that deserves it? When I played Batman: Arkham Asylum, and witnessed what appeared to be my system crashing, I literally thought my 360 was suffering the Red Ring of Death again. But in the end, it was just me finding out that it was the Joker once again messing with my head, even going as far as having me re-experience the opening scene again, but with Batman and the Joker roles reversed! I never even saw this coming at all, but it left a strong memory that I'd love to experience again. Just hope it doesn't end up with me getting the Red Ring for real.
Lastly, while I swore I wouldn't give the results to our best/worst list, I will mention a special award that I am going to give for the "Biggest Waste of Money" I have ever dealt with. Spending $120 for a skateboard controller is bad enough, but when it is doesn't work for a shallow game like Tony Hawk: Ride, it makes a bad investment even worse. As I said in my review, it's much better to use the development money for a new controller on a good game like DJ Hero.
Hopefully these awards will hold you all off until our latest podcast goes online at the start of the New Year. In the meantime, I got my first ever MAGFest to attend!
Currently Playing: MAGFest
Waiting For: Bayonetta (now that I got my 360 back!)