Tapering Off…

I should be winding down at the moment; tapering off my gaming a little, in preparation for my regular assault on the Adelaide Fringe (and, since this is an even year, the Adelaide Festival of the Arts). I set myself the task of writing a little something about every show I see and, since I tend to be a little… ummm… greedy with what I choose to see, that equates to a lot of blogging. Which means I often get bogged down and tend to put things off a little. For example, I only finished writing about the last show of 2009 – from 22 March – last weekend.

But that’s something for my other blog – this one’s reserved for gaming. And, as I opened, I should be winding down.

Should be.

Instead, this week a little Achievement-hunting gremlin crawled inside my skull and started wreaking havoc. Not content with wrapping up the remaining goals from Portal, I started hunting for other easy points; Shadow Complex obliged with a couple of easy Achievements, leaving a little bit of grinding for the one remaining cheevo (and an awful lot of practise for the Master Challenges). One of my old gaming chums helped out with a bit of Texas Hold’em whoring (and he still owes me a million dollars or so – right, Spencer? ;)

Another friend was keen to wrap up a few games, so I returned to Burnout Paradise for a quick run around Big Surf Island, and a little bit of cops & robbers. We followed that with a blast through Jetpac Refuelled, followed by some Brütal Legend multiplayer hijinks. All up, he snaffled 270 points – not bad for a couple of hours’ work.

A return to ODST‘s Firefight mode with the old crew yielded a ton of fun… well, fun and panic and swearing, anyway. And no Achievements. But it was a timely reminder that there is much fun left in that title, which seems to have fallen off the radar markedly, what with all the Mass Effects and Modern Warfare 2s and Bayonettas of the world. A bit of a shame, that.

So, as demonstrated above, my “winding down” has proved to be one of the most varied and frenetic weeks in a year or two… and I’ve just got an e-mail from Play-Asia to say that my copy of No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle is on its way. Oh, and I managed to find a copy of the out-of-print Bayonetta Witch of Vigrid coffee-table book (lovely, but overpriced) and the Climax Bible (which, despite the fact that I can’t read a single glyph of anything Japanese, is wonderful – lovely glossy presentation & chock-full of information). And I also pre-ordered Bayonetta and Jeanne figures. Because hey, my mortgage payments are going to be dented by the Fringe anyway, right?

And so I bid you (all four regular readers, anyway) adieu for a month or so. The Festivals wrap on March 14, so expect some sleep-deprived ramblings about the joys of Shinobu and Travis’ return sometime thereafter. Game on!

2009: The Year in Review

2009 was quite a weird one for me; even as I acknowledge my dearth of console gaming knowledge, I’ve never felt more distant from the gaming mainstream. I managed to ignore the miniscule lure of the PS3 for another twelve months, I still don’t do Rock Band, I’ve avoided Borderlands and the Fallout series like they were OCD quicksand, and semi-realist games like Forza 3 and Modern Warfare 2 tick none of my boxes. In fact, the only mainstream toe-dipping I reckon I’ve done this year are with Halo 3: ODST, New Super Mario Brothers Wii and, maybe, Brütal Legend.

Despite that, The List has largely been treading water; throughout the year, I bought sixteen new games, and I completed a total of sixteen games. It didn’t help that a cleanup led me to discover previous purchases, conveniently forgotten, plumpifying The List somewhat; just a lazy 71 games outstanding now, helped along by cheap end-of-year deals on Xbox Live.

But hey! This is supposed to be a flippant, if not light-hearted, awards ceremony blog entry written by an uneducated guy you don’t know, recycling ideas that were never that flash in the first place. On with the show!

Proudest Achievement of the Year: Wrapping up Burnout Paradise. Every collectible, every Achievement, and – most chuffingly – every Challenge :)

Disappointment of the Year: Wii Fit still hasn’t had any impact on my weight (though that could possibly be due to the fact that it hasn’t been played… nor has it’s younger brother, Wii Fit Plus), and the much-anticipated GridRunner Revolution sadly failed to light my fire. But the biggest disappointment of the year was provided by MadWorld – so much potential pissed away in immature monotones.

Surprise Discovery of the Year: We Ski, bought nervously at the same time as MadWorld (with the nervousness instantly replaced by regret as soon as the “Checkout” button was clicked) proved to be stupidly good fun. Sure, it didn’t last long, but that flame burned unexpectedly bright enough to be memorable.

Under-Appreciated Game of the Year: A game that had a release window of about a fortnight over here, that local distributors didn’t want to know about, and wound up being sourced for less than five quid (new!) from Amazon in the UK… Soul Bubbles is a gorgeous little game, completely at home on the DS. Please try to buy a copy! :}

Multiplayer Moment of the Year: Halo 3: ODST takes this one easily. Firefight, all my team-mates dead, being chased around by half-a-dozen Brutes… and I had no ammo. Black Eye skull was on, meaning no health regeneration. And I managed to get the Team through. Fucking magic feeling :)

The “I Love You… Honest” Missive of the Year: A toss-up between all the games I’ve bought, but not played, this year. Shadow Complex, Space Giraffe on the PC, The Maw… but Chrono Trigger takes the gong here.

The “I am the King of the World” Throw-Your-Arms-In-The-Air Trophy: Finally – finally – conquering Level 64 of Tempest 2000. It’s just a pity I’m now stuck on another level only a little farther along.

What Was All The Fuss About? Award: This is going to look like link-bait, but… The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. I’ve been chewing through a bunch of Zelda games this year (hey, I 100%-ed Ocarina thrice in 2009!), but I’m utterly perplexed by the adulation this game receives. Takes all types, I guess – and I definitely seem to be in the minority. “It was good, but not great…”

The “Go Fuck Yourself” Dismissal: The Grand Theft Auto series, on the basis of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. I swore I’d never speak of it again.

The Everything Old Is New Again Award: Sure, PAC-MAN Championship Edition is a wonderful extension of the original game, but Bionic Commando: Rearmed takes the cake for a superb re-imagining of the original, with just a tiny taste of the original Commando rolled in as well. Gorgeous.

Blast From The Past Award: After a straight month and two 100% playthroughs, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker provided some of the year’s gaming highlights, with gloriously solid gameplay.

That’s What Gaming’s All About Award: Easy one, really – New Super Mario Brothers Wii eschews modern gameplay “essentials” and delivers a stunningly fun, taut, and challenging single-player experience.

The “Friendly Tumour” Award: An award for the game that initially hides its charms, but grows on you, Brütal Legend snaffles this with ease. The first playthrough had it odds-on for the Almost-But-Not-Quite Award, but repeat visits opened up the glory that Schafer built.

The “Flow Like A River” Natural Gameplay Award: Well… I had to give something to the most recent Prince of Persia game, because it was a real revelation early in the year. Fast, fluid, and rewarding gameplay, backed up with charm and gorgeous stylised graphics.

AAA-HypeTitle I Missed Award: Again, pretty much all of them… though it was pleasing to see that the gaming public may be becoming a little sceptical of the hype machine (after the rapid deflation of Modern Warfare 2‘s bubble, and a retrospective post-coital “meh” being applied to memories of GTA4).

And BOOM! There goes 2009. Big props to Prince of Persia, most of the Zelda series, New Super Mario Brothers Wii, Bionic Commando: Rearmed, Soul Bubbles, and We Ski… oddly enough, only one of that lot was released in 2009. But let’s start looking forward to 2010, and Bayonetta, lots more No More Heroes, and a return-to-form for Llamasoft on the iPhone.

But now, I’m leaving 2009 pretty much as I started it: banging my head against a brick-wall of an OCD Zelda requirement. Phantom Hourglass is demanding that I find four more ship parts, and I dare not keep her waiting.

Happy New Year!

HaloParadise: Rearmed

So – it’s been a fortnight since I last wrote (due in no small part with a little distraction called “four years of tax returns”), and in that time it’s been bedlam in the gaming world… or, as it’s more popularly known, E3. And whilst a large number of the “big” announcements had been leaked beforehand (the PSP Go, Team Ico’s The Last Guardian footage), there were still a couple of surprises: New Super Mario Brothers Wii looks fantastic, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 arrived without any prior fanfare to offer more of the same – which is most definitely a good thing. Just Cause 2 got a lot of positive press, Brütal Legend earned some new fans (and an idiotic lawsuit from Activision), and Halo: Reach was announced.

And then there was this girl:

Excuse me, Miss. Have you seen my ferret?

I don’t want to appear as if I get sucked in by any game featuring curvy vixens, wrapped in a thin veneer of “she’s just a strong female character, honest” justification for ludicrous over-the-top overt sexuality. No, it takes a bit more to have me drooling… and Bayonetta‘s batshit-insane antics have me sold. The gameplay looks to be the type of Japanese insanity that will leave it on The List forever, but I can’t not buy it; visuals are amazing, the character designs wonderfully bizarre, and the whole aesthetic just makes me well up with gamelust.

The arse, tits, and specs sure help, too.

Thankyou SEGA person :)


Seeing Halo 3: ODST in various presentations encouraged me to round up a group of friends to go Achievement hunting in Halo 3. Ten “players” (four of them, strangely enough, on my 360) in a little social group yielded us the perfect opportunity to grab a wad of the Mythic Achievements… and a two week EXP-ban from Bungie. Oh well.

But the big (bigbigbig) news was the release of Burnout Paradise‘s Big Surf Island. Now, I don’t mind admitting I was like a little schoolgirl just prior to its release: giggling to myself in anticipation, hitting F5 to reload the Marketplace page online every couple of seconds and, whilst it was loading, refreshing the 360 Marketplace tab. It finally appeared, and my release vigilance rewarded me with a speedy download… and then I was there. On The Island.

And it was wonderful.

Big Surf Island reminded me of everything that was glorious about Paradise: the big jumps, the endless distractions, the beautiful handling. Some UK friends eventually came online, joined in, and we must have burned that Island for six or seven hours that night… and the next night, I went back for more, even with all the Achievements, events, smash gates, and billboards wrapped up. I’ve belted through the Island Challenges at least seven times now; I find myself driving to the next location before the current Challenge is finished.

Casting my eyes over the Island Stats, I noticed that I’d pretty much OCDed the add-on… except for one thing. “Vehicles: 8/9”. A bit of research revealed that final car is unlocked when the game is Complete… which, in Criterion’s thankfully symbiotic manner of speech, matched my definition. Everything done, 500/500 Challenges.

And there I was, sitting on 478/500 Challenges like a schmuck.

They were all Bike Challenges, too; four- to seven-players. Figuring there may be four-to-seven other people out there thinking like I do, I ducked into Bike mode and created an Open Freeburn session in Paradise. And waited.

For the first hour or so, not much happened; people would appear, and I’d have enough time to mouth their words for them – “this isn’t the Island! and what’s this motorbike?” – before they disappeared. By the end of the second hour, though, I seemed to have a party of four who were actually desperate for Challenges. Shy as we all were, there were no headsets in use, which made for some pretty cool bits of silent co-operation and camaraderie. Hours three and four saw numbers drift around a core group of six, until suddenly I realised that I had one Challenge left…

One. Challenge. Left.

A six player Challenge. And I had a party of eight.

I figured that this was my time to be an Xbox LIVE prick. I selected the two mouthy newcomers (one of which seemed to have a vocabulary that consisted solely of “fuck”, “bitch”, and “nigger”) and kicked them out of the game, then quickly started that Final Challenge. It was a doddle, and there was a palpable sense of relief when I saw “500/500” pop onto the screen. I opened the party back up, and started taking requests off other players until I could take the mouthy randoms no more. I killed the session, scooted back into Island Car mode, and looked at my new – and final – acquisition: the Diamond P12. I painted it a soothing pink.

And then I realised: Burnout Paradise is off The List.

And I felt very, very pleased with myself :)

Later, I fired up Bionic Commando: Rearmed for the first time. I’d tried the demo after its appearance during last year’s Summer of Arcade, and had put it on the To Buy list; the recent price-drop (to 400 MS Points) made it a steal, regardless of the apparent difficulty of the Achievements. And, two levels in on Easy, I was getting increasingly frustrated; the controls felt alien and obstructive.

But suddenly, something in my head clicked – and the bionic arm became second nature. I breezed through the rest of the game… but I was very aware (by the presence of awkward white blocks) that Easy was… well, deliberately easy. The final level looks nigh-on impossible without the safety of the white blocks; I’m not looking forward to Super Hard difficulty at all.

It’s a lovely game, though: it exudes polish, and it a visual delight. The vector cannon upgrade is positively delicious, and there’s a neat aural and visual surprise in the last level that had me grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Next week? More of Bionic Commando: Rearmed‘s Challenge Rooms. More Geometry Wars practise. And a return to game du jour, N2O.

And some lustful thoughts involving Bayonetta.

DashDefenceBurnout: MajoRuga

A return visit by my UK friends led to a rather drunken flurry of gaming on Monday night – the Resident Evil 5 demo, the R-Type Dimensions demo, Ikaruga, Dash of Destruction, and EDF 2017 all got a look in.

My gaming pal, Andy – prior to his backpacking odyssey, he was quite the prolific GS accumulator – was keen to check out Resi 5. I’ve never played any of the series, even the “second best game ever” (according to Edge) Resident Evil 4… “survival horror”, as a genre, doesn’t appeal to me in the least. Mostly because I know I’d have trouble actually watching the screen, such is my scaredy-cat nature (I couldn’t play through the demo of Bioshock, remember?) So it was quite a treat to have a Resi fan accompany me as we co-opped the demo levels.

Our opinions couldn’t have been further apart, either – he loved the graphics, I thought it looked depressingly dry and dusty. He loved the action, I felt hamstrung and helpless. He felt immediately at home, I didn’t have the slightest fucking clue what I was doing – though once I figured out how to knife zombies, I was good. For about ten seconds. Before they ate my brains.

Erm… no. Not buying that one.

R-Type Dimensions will also remain unpurchased; I was never really a fan of it in the arcade (though I recall applying plenty of blood, sweat, and tears to get through the bastard on freeplay during a lock-in at the TimeZone around the corner from my old Uni digs). And whilst the XBLA version certainly looks pretty, and plays faithfully, I can’t deal with the psychological weight of it. Christ, Ikaruga‘s bad enough.

Apart from the abovementioned – and a Valentine’s Day bash through Paradise City with my online chums – nothing else really got played this week… except Majora’s Mask. Which, it must be said, has turned into a mechanical sufferance. The Water Temple (or whatever it’s called) has been conquered, all the fairies therein have been captured, and I step-by-stepped a walkthrough to do it. I’m not proud of that, but the sad truth is that I no longer care; I just want that game off my List soon and forever.



Tonight, I could take the easy way out: refer to my last post, and simply substitute Burnout Paradise for Ridge Racer 6. After all, it’s been another work-affected week, I met up with pretty much the same group of people for Paradise burning a-plenty (and my 400th Challenge), and played Majora’s Mask… pretty much the same as last week.

But I won’t take the easy way out. Instead, I’m going to write a few more paragraphs about That Which Tortures Me So – Majora’s Mask.

Now, I’ve only just finished the second Temple, after more stumble-heavy to-ing and fro-ing that feels more like a point-and-click adventure than a 3D action RPG-lite. I’ve abandoned my quest for Purity and now have an accessible GameFAQs walkthrough by my side; I’ve been driven to bloody-minded anger by some of the “puzzles” that are being presented, and that second Temple was just fucking infuriating. And that’s the thing that’s most annoying, in a way: the first Temple was a delight, reminding me of the delight that can be found in the Zelda canon. It’s just that, after the second Temple kicks you in the balls, drops you four stories, then says “walk back up here the long way, loser”… well, I get a little discouraged.

And let’s be quite clear here – I’m really not trying to be a difficult contrarian in taking an active dislike to this game. I fully appreciate that some people love and cherish this game (such as oft-commenting Steven O’Dell – thanks for the comments mate, I really appreciate them :)

But I just am not clicking with this Zelda outing. And it could be partly due to the fact that this game simply does not feel polished, does not feel tuned. A simple example would be watching the Goron form of Link play his drums in place of the ocarina; there’s no animation sync to the notes played, so it just looks… well, lame. As for the Songs themselves, they also display a lack of polish – in Ocarina, all the Songs you input were small fragments of larger tunes, giving a feeling of interaction – your initial inputs trigger off a beautiful tune. Majora’s, on the other hand, has principal Songs lasting just your input notes, leading to an unrequited cliffhang. The Song of Soaring is really shitting me off in that regard.

Is Majora’s Mask an ugly duckling? I bloody hope so, I really do – I still hold some belief that the last half is going to bring forth some amazingly heartfelt emotion and deliciously grinducing (that’s grin-inducing, folks) gameplay. But at the moment I’m considering practicing Astropop instead, because this is simply not enjoyable.


After my flurry of posts over the New Year, I would’ve given myself a break if I’d not managed to get something out this evening; but it’s been a good couple of days off work, I’ve got plenty of gaming in, and I’m feeling like a boast ;)

After snaffling the Biggest Quiver in Ocarina of Time last week, I proudly mentioned this on one of my friendly gaming forums – to which a pal slyly replied “But have you caught the Hylian loach?”

Shit. I’d completely forgotten about the Ocarina fishing component. I knew the Loach was supposed to be a prick to catch, but I figured that I’d get away with just seeing it – something I managed quite quickly. But then I cast my eyes across an Ocarina Guide that mentioned…

Are you THE MASTER? If you are, you can get the following:

100 Golden Skulltulas
36 Heart Pieces
Have four Bottles (fair and square)
Tons of Secret Grottos/Areas
Lots of Golden Rupees
Own a cow
Get 1500+ points on the Horse Archery Game
Caught a 20 pounder
Caught the Hylian Loach
Have all the weapon upgrades
All Masks
Big Goron’s Sword
…and like to torture chickens.

Bastard. It’s almost like he was goading me.

So a-fishing for the Hylian Loach I went. And, I must say, everything you’ve heard about the Loach is true. Four hours of gentle teasing, waiting, quiet chasing, and lip biting before I got the bugger to bite – but then, when he bit, he was landed without too much fuss…

...and all he gave me was 50 fucking rupees.

Another couple of items collected, a slight mis-step (taking Fairies, rather than Blue Potions, into the Ganondorf fight), and Ocarina of Time was struck off The List. And it goes without saying that it’s still a magnificent game – utterly deserving of all the plaudits afforded it over the years and, I’ll posit, better than any other game I’ve played in the last year.

With Ocarina complete, I gently eased myself into Majora’s Mask – and after a handful of hours, I have to say that I’m not overly impressed. I don’t like the repetition (especially that fucking Deku animation when I stray too close to the Deku flower), I don’t like the dark tone, I don’t like the implied time restriction – and right now I’m just feeling a bit out of my depth. There almost seems to be too much information on offer, too much to do – and I don’t feel able to even chip away at it. Here’s hoping there’s a breakthrough soon, lest I reluctantly resort to GameFAQs – something which I’m trying to do less and less these days – but I’m buoyed by the fact that Ocarina also started slowly, and I’ve grumbled about the opening of Twilight Princess before, and they both ended up being corkers.

Whilst the second day of the New Year saw a Zelda game Completed, the third day saw the Completion of a Suda51 game – Flower, Sun and Rain. Whilst the story was great, the gameplay – being little more than an interactive story, requiring you to move from one location to another & click through pages of dialogue, and never presenting the opportunity to fail – left a lot to be desired. Very hard to recommend, unfortunately; thankfully, it didn’t trouble The List for long.

Finally, there was another visit to Burnout Paradise this week, pootling around with friends and snaffling a few more Challenges (385 of 490 complete, now). Fabulous stuff, and a handy reminder of this game’s online strengths.

Next week: more Majora’s. A scheduled return to Ridge Racer 6 with my old racing chums. Given that it’s a return-to-work week, that’ll be plenty :}

2008: The Year in Review

Another year older, another year wiser, right? If I look back to the 2007 Year in Review, this little snippet catches my eye:

There’s far more games than time, and my records show that I’ve still got 63 games incomplete. Maybe I should consider making a New Year’s Resolution regarding the “incomplete” list? Something along the lines of reducing it to around 50? Hah – I’m nowhere near that naïve… a more realistic resolution would be to not let it blow out much further.

I think I used up all my wisdom right where I said “a more realistic resolution would be to not let it blow out much further” – because, at the time of writing, The List only shows 65 games incomplete – hardly a blowout at all! (Of course, this is largely due to a ridiculously productive December, which saw no less than five games get knocked off).

But let’s not focus on the numbers too much (however much they rule my life); let’s have a look at a number of pithy categories in which I can toss the names of the games that have touched me (oo-er) this year. Forgive me for recycling several topics from earlier compilations…

Disappointment of the Year: That Wii Fit hasn’t magically halved my weight. Bastard!

Proudest Achievement of the Year: Easy – Mutant Storm Empire‘s Black Belt Grandmaster. There’s a little bit of ninja in all of us, and World 4 Level 2 made me dig deep and harness that little bugger up good. An honourable mention should be made of No More Heroes and its deliciously difficult Bitter Mode.

Under-Appreciated Game of the Year: Everyone slated Microsoft’s choice of Undertow as compensation for a spotty Xbox LIVE service last Christmas, which is a shame – it was a thoroughly enjoyable shooter that really came into its own when played with online co-op on the hardest difficulty level. But, hands down, No More Heroes takes this award for being the game that everyone seems to be sneakily sliding into their Top Ten lists to appear edgy and cool, but which no-one bought. You bastards.

I’m-Still-Waiting Award: The PS3. Come on, tempt me with a game that I actually want to play! The closest it’s come so far is with PomPom’s Astro Tripper (which, given I’ve played Space Tripper to death, isn’t even that compelling).

Pulling Teeth Award: Bullet Witch‘s Hell Mode. All that effort for One. Fucking. Point? I guess that’s why I call myself O/C. Or maybe I’m just a beggar for punishment.

2008 Blast From The Past Award: Let’s give an award a game prior to this generation, purely because I have been – and will always be – catching up on my gaming history. Psychonauts? Killer7? Let’s go with the former; barely a single criticism can be levelled at Tim Schafer’s previous game, and my appetite is well-and-truly whetted for Brütal Legend.

Where Have You Been All My Life Award: Killer7. Because I can’t bear to let it go unrewarded (see above), and because it’s absolutely, completely, stonkingly brilliant.

Funnest Gaming Moment of the Year: Seven cars sitting at the bottom of the quarry in Burnout Paradise, side by side as at a drive-in movie, waiting for our online compadre to finally nail his barrel-rolls. A cheer goes up – he’s done it! – followed by a yell of “Car Cuddles!” as everyone proceeds to smash into each other, laughs and merriment a-plenty. Ten minutes later, the next Challenge starts :)

Multiplayer of the Year Award: Burnout Paradise – see above. Challenges, or simply smashing the shit out of each other, there was nothing that came close to the online experience of cruising Paradise with seven friends.

Bringing Indy To The Party Award: Braid, or World of Goo? Both displayed impossibly impeccable production values; tiny teams easily upstaged the bigger names. Goo gets this award, since it’s a shining example of what two people can do with a gorgeous demo; having said that, Jonathon Blow‘s contribution to the indy gaming community is far from overlooked.

Gaming Payback of the Year: No More Heroes, Bitter skill level, the third boss encountered – Shinobu. I’ve written about this previously, but this fight turned my gaming world on its head – previously, boss battles had been automatically deemed abhorrent in my little mind. Shinobu changed all that.

Earnest Navel-Gazing Award: Braid, for slipping a story of weight and depth into a brilliant game… even if most of it is hidden from those who brand Braid a “Mario rip-off”.

Best Game Writing of the Year: No More Heroes, hands down. It’s got no plot, and yet the paper-thin characters still manage to feel convincing, and the fast-forward exposition prior to the final boss fight is deliriously good. Proof that a good page trumps bad volumes.

Worst Game Writing of the Year: Mercenaries 2. Because, playing as the hot chick merc, you can pimp yourself as follows:

Chinese Contact: “Ah, welcome back mercenary. I have need of you.”
HCM: “Well you can afford me, let’s not waste time.”

And, as cool as that may seem on paper, it actually leaves you feeling a little icky. So you dress up in a chicken suit, drop a MOAB on a building, then sky-dive out a helicopter. It’s all good, right?

The Gasping Grin Award: World of Goo, end of World 3. I’ve no idea why, but the laughter and evolution of that level left me wrung out, in much the same way that Braid conjured emotion.

The Gasping Gasp Award: Braid, the final level. I’ve never felt a greater cognitive click.

Still Kickin’ Award: Rez HD. Into its eighth year and Rez is still as glorious as ever.

AAA-Title I Missed Award: Ummm, that goes to pretty much all the triple-A and mega-hyped titles released in 2008; pretty much the closest game I got to AAA was Burnout Paradise.

So there you have it, kids. My 2008 in a nutshell. Big props to Braid, Burnout Paradise, No More Heroes, Rez HD, and World of Goo, with belated kisses and cuddles to last-gen’s Killer7 and Psychonauts. These are the games that made the biggest mark on me this year, though honourable mentions should go to a couple of older current-gen games, Excite Truck and Mutant Storm Empire, for continuing to bring the fun.

“That’s a nice capsule summary up there, Pete,” I hear you say. “But I need something more concise. Come on then, you crapulent wordsmith: what was your Game Of The Year?”

I think you know ;)

Quick Notes…

Lordy! Posting to my own blog two days in a row! Who’d have thunk it.

But events warrant such outlandish action! For one thing, fire up your 360 and pop on over to Live Marketplace and download the latest Marble Blast Ultra map pack; it’s a mere 200 MS Points to buy, contains a bunch of new multiplayer maps (three of which are great, one is a shocker, and another scared me just to look at it). There’s another new Achievement wodged in there too, which is pretty easy to snaffle with a bit of online play. I really like this approach to MBU‘s DLC, and firing it up again today just demonstrated how lovely the gameplay is. Can’t wait for the next map pack.

After goading a mate at work into trying to pick my next Target Game from The List (go on, readers – what game do you think my focus should be on next?), I realised that I hadn’t updated it to contain World of Goo, purchased from the US Wii Shop via a bit of Homebrew Channel hackery. So I’ve rectified that omission and, inspired by typing the word “goo”, decided to fire it up again. And it’s still as brilliant as when I first laid eyes on it (then promptly ignored for a month).

The end of Level 3 is a real treat, right up there with the emotional brainfuckery of Braid – but without the headachey bits. And tonight I managed to finish the game – but I’ve still got 38 (fittingly-named) OCD ranks to snaffled before Completion. I’ll say it again – an absolutely fantastic game, well in contention for Game of the Year.

Speaking of which, at the moment my yearly highlights are Rez HD, Braid, No More Heroes, and World of Goo – with a bit of Burnout Paradise thrown in for good measure. What about you?