- Scribbled on January 4th, 2009 by Jonah Falcon
- Filed in Game Genres, GameStooge Game of the Year Awards, Platforms
The third installment of the GameStooge Awards features Part II of the Technical Awards, which is the fun part. These Awards feature the stuff that don’t easily fit under any category, such as Best Expansion or Best Editor. This round also features our favorite section – the Worst Of categories in which we take revenge on the lame, the putrid, and the moneywasters.
The winners (or losers, as the case may be) are:
BEST ONLINE GAMEPLAY OF 2008
Left 4 Dead
(Runners Up: LittleBigPlanet, NHL 09, Rock Band 2, Saints Row 2)
You’ll notice all of these titles share something in common: they all excel at co-op gameplay. Left 4 Dead is the best of the group, and while it does have versus gameplay, it’s the teamwork with four people against a city full of zombies that makes this game sing. Speaking of singing, Rock Band 2 continues to be the party music game, and its improved online play just made it better.
Jonathon Howard’s Choice: Left 4 Dead.This game is just fun! Regardless of how you’re playing it – through Steam or on Xbox Live – creating and jumping into games is seamless and simple, and I’ve never had to worry about lag or timing out with it. Combine this with the excellent zombie-killing gameplay, and you have a winner, hands down!
BEST EXPANSION OF 2008
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
(Runners Up: Command & Conquer 3: Kane’s Wrath, Galactic Civilizations II: Twilight of the Arnor, The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria, Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir)
The 800 pound gorilla that is Wrath of the Lich King sold about a gazillion (well 3.2M) copies on its first day. Whether you’re a World of Warcraft fanatic, or if you’re someone whose sworn off the addiction, you have to be amazed at how much Blizzard can add to an already full game.
Jonathon Howard’s Choice: World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. Despite hating the fact that everyone is a Death Knight now, this expansion really raised the game. A graphical overhaul, achievements, a new world to explore, an increased level cap, new job classes, the list of improvements go on and on. Despite strong showings from other MMORPGs WOW remains king of the MMOs, and WotLK insures it’ll stay King for a few more years, at least.
BEST GAME EDITOR OF 2008
Far Cry 2
(Runners Up: LittleBigPlanet, N+)
While LittleBigPlanet has garnered all the attention for its user created maps, Far Cry 2 featured a truly revolutionary editor. Never before has a 3D game, shooter or otherwise, had such a user friendly editor that could create powerfully complex maps. Check the video above and see why this map editor is a landmark in video gaming.
BEST GAME YOU DIDN’T PLAY IN 2008
(Runners Up: Boom Blox, King’s Bounty: The Legend, Kung Fu Panda, TrackMania United Forever)
All of these games deserve a second look, though Roogoo was the winner of the quintet. Roogoo‘s gameplay sounds simple – get shapes through appropriately shaped holes – but by level 4, it becomes frantic and challenging. Boom Blox was Stephen Spielberg’s entry into videogames, which for some reason failed on the Wii. King’s Bounty was an homage to the original Heroes of Might & Magic game of the same name. TrackMania continued to be a tribute to the old Electronic Arts album game Racing Destruction Set, while Kung Fu Panda was one of the few licensed games to not only elevate the source material but also be a fun game as well.
Jonathon Howard’s Choice: I’m guilty of not picking up any of these games. This was a huge year for games, with console gamers spread across 4 consoles (6 if you included the DS and PSP) and the PC market. Numerous great games came out on all of them. I know there were dozens of games I never played and dozens more I never heard of. All of these I never played and I’m hoping that I’ll have time this new year to get some play time with a few of them!
BEST SURPRISE OF 2008
(Runners Up: Dead Space, Patapon, Pure, World of Goo)
Every year, there are games that come out of nowhere to surprise gamers – and this year, it was Braid. Despite everyone’s complaints that it was too expensive ($15 USD, 1200 Microsoft Points) and too short, it captivated everyone’s attention. All of the mentioned games, however, were successes that no one thought they’d be.
Jonathon Howard’s Choice: Patapon. I never expected myself to be into a rhythm based game, especially not one on the PSP, but this little gem kept me entertained for a long time. The iconic graphics and the simple 4 measure beats are simple to learn but difficult to master, using them to command a musically inclined army, was brilliant and kept me hunched over my PSP while my 360 and PC sat around gathering dust!
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF 2008
(Runners Up: Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, Mirror’s Edge, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty)
Spore had some of the biggest expectations of any extended development game this side of Half-Life 2. It had Will Wright behind it, and a great premise – ferrying a one cell life form to galactic conquering species. What went wrong? Well, the final game bore little resemblance to the 2005 demo shown at GDC. The stages were unexciting beyond a few playthroughs; the Cell and Creature phases ended just as your creature had developed, the Tribal and Civilization phases were too complicated for casual gamers and too idiotic for experienced gamers, and the Space phase was a repetitive juggling act. All in all, the game was a schizophrenic mess – reports that there were two factions (Science Vs. Cute) during development isn’t surprising.
MOST DEAD ON ARRIVAL GAME OF 2008
(Runners Up: Castlevania Judgment, Dynasty Warriors 6, Golden Axe: Beast Rider, Rock Revolution)
On the other side of the spectrum, these games weren’t disappointing. They had low expectations when announced, and they truly lived down to expectations. Wii Music epitomized the Nintendo core audiences’ complaints that Nintendo wasn’t interested in making anything but ultra-casual party games for non-gamers. A MIDI-based music game with mostly public domain and Nintendo game theme songs which required no skills from the player to actually succeed, only requiring them to waggle the Wii remote around.
Jonathon Howard’s Choice: Wii Music. You can read more of my thoughts on Wii Music around the site. If you need a clearer statement from Nintendo that it is out of the game business and into the entertainment one, look no further than this piece of trash. Wiggling your Wii control is not playing an instrument, even less so than tinkering around on the Fisher Price toys that Guitar Hero and Rock Band use. This is a piece of software made for Moms and Grandparents, Nintendo’s new market. Nintendo though doesn’t even respect this new market enough to think they could possibly push buttons in any sort of coherent fashion, or use simple hand-eye coordination, so they removed all the challange creating a game that you could “win” while in the midst of an epileptic fit! Yah!
WORST DIGITAL GAME OF 2008
Pong Toss: Frat Party Games
(Runners Up: Crazy Mouse, Double D Dodgeball, My Aquarium, SPOGS Racing)
Once promoted as the Wii’s answer to Xbox Live Arcade, WiiWare has become a repository of mobile phone ports and half-baked party games. The worst of the lot included Pong Toss: Frat Party Games, which answered the question “What would a single minigame be like as an entire game?”, and My Aquarium – a screensaver claiming it was a game! At least Tetris Splash had an actual game to go with its aquarium screensaver. The worst part about WiiWare, though, is unlike Xbox Live Arcade and most PlayStation Network games, you can’t play a demo or trial before you commit to a purchase. We pity the poor suckers who shelled out actual money to play Pong Toss: Frat Party Games.
Jonathon Howard’s Choice: Look at that all WiiWare titles – I never saw that coming. One almost wished for the old days when Nintendo strictly controlled what and who released games on their consoles. I don’t know what the projected purpose of WiiWare is. The one it currently serves is to allow small and big developers to squeeze ever more out of their terrible crapware by foisting them on an ignorant consumer base (all those Moms and Retirement Homes with Wiis). We had to pick a “winner” in this category, but believe me these are all “winners”, “winners” of the worst possible sort. I often wonder if Nintendo wants us to hate them?
WORST GAME OF 2008
(Runners Up: Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon, Iron Man, Jumper: Griffin’s Story, Vampire Rain: Altered Species)
We don’t include games that are not worthy of caring about, like the Cabala fishing games; it’s analogous to movie reviewers not including bad grade-B karate films or pornos in their Worst Films lists. These games were marketed and released, and if you’d never heard of some of them, it wasn’t because they were garbage niche games – they just were stillborn on the store shelves. Homie Rollerz was a Nintendo DS game based on a comic strip/video series by David Gonzales “Homies”. This game might have doomed his burgeoning enterprise though. If you want a sampling of his characters, here is the actual official trailer for Homie Rollerz.
The final installment will be the Platform Awards, including Best Game of the Year.