With the new year on the horizon, it’s time for us at Blast to take a look back and see what the very best that 2009 had to offer was. It was a very strong year for gaming from a critical standpoint, with a few instant classics, a few very strong titles, and then a near endless supply of very good to great games across all three home consoles and both handheld systems. Looking back through the archives of our reviews, it struck me just how much depth there was to 2009–it was the year of the "above-average" game in many ways.
That’s not what we’ve come to celebrate at the end of 2009 though, as those games that qualify for Game of the Year are the very best of what released. While there were many candidates that fit the bill, we have selected our top 10 from consoles and another top 10 from handhelds, the first of which will run today. Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think we got right or missed on in the comments. This was a group effort–for example, I have not necessarily played every single game on this list–so you will also see some commentary from Jason D’Aprile and Chase Gharrity, both of whom reviewed titles that made our final cut.
10. MadWorld (Wii): MadWorld was the first project by PlatinumGames (formerly Clover, the team responsible for Viewtiful Joe and Okami) to be released by Sega. It was feared that the game would suffer from style over substance–the black and white (and red, so much red) gave the game an original (for video games) look that made you think of Sin City, and shock value was a key ingredient to the game’s appeal. Those fears were assuaged once the title released. Sure, MadWorld was short, clocking in somewhere between 3-5 hours despite its $50 retail value, but the pacing was excellent, the visuals, as stated, looked lovely, and PlatinumGames showed that they knew how to build themselves a brawler. MadWorld used a combat system that relied on two things: your imagination and your sense of humor. The world was your deadly playground, and the enemies were your playthings. Sure, it may seem unsettling that you received higher scores for more imaginative (read: gross, overly violent) kills, but the game wasn’t going for realism–it was like playing a comic book, and it wanted you to strive to be as over the top as you could. Let’s be serious, Jack had a chainsaw attached to his arm, and kills with it were considered boring by the game. That’s how you know you’ve got a winner. –Marc Normandin
9. BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger (Xbox 360, Playstation 3): While the rest of the industry has focused on 3D fighting action for years now, a few hold-overs still appreciate the joys of 90’s-era cartoonish sprites. While SNK’s move to HD with their last King of Fighters was lackluster at best, Aksys Games gave old-school fighting fans a genuine love note with BlazBlue. The spiritual successor to their brilliantly bizarre Guilty Gear series, this is without a doubt the most impressive 2D fighter in years. The high-def hand-drawn characters are gorgeous, the backdrops creative and alive, and the controls are amazingly refined. The online play is smooth and reliable as well, and while Soul Caliber, Street Fighter and Tekken games have a lot more flash and marketing power behind them, BlazBlue reigns supreme for a fantastic presentation and wonderfully quirky gameplay. –Jason D’Aprile