Wave Foam – “Best Videogames of 2009… wait… is 2009 over already?”
I get the whole top 5/10/100 thing: it feels great to massage your ego by telling the whole world what you feel are the best games/movies/albums/whatever. And as a periodic exercise it can even be healthy, as a way of promoting the good, penalizing the bad, and do some reflections on how mediums stand in that time period. It is never a question of “what will be remembered” for the future, but a question of “what should be remembered”. I believe it’s a great opportunity for media to further cultivate taste and elevate the medium. Apparently, this year, there must be a shortage on news and games, because instead of the typical yearly analysis, we’re already getting a sneak preview half way across the gap. Both Kotaku and Destructoid already have a selection of the best of the year, and Gamespot has a “Dads and Grads Wishlist”, which is basically a silly and sneaky way of doing just the same (and perhaps there are more sites, go ahead and find out). I mean… the best games of the first semester of 2009? Is this for real? What will it come to next? The best games of the second trimester of 2010? Talk about silly season. Guess the heat will do that to game journalists.
But, let’s forget that all the (supposedly) good games only come out by year’s end, and pretend this exercise even makes sense. What is the media telling us? First, and thank god they finally get it (they have to get something right, don’t you think?) – small, low budget, almost indie-like games, are being rewarded. The most notable of these examples is “Plants Vs. Zombies”, which all websites mention with top honors. “Rhythm Heaven”, “flower“, “bit trip beat”, “Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure” are some of the mentioned. From all three websites, “Destructoid” is the one that most embraced non triple-AAA gaming, with the number of honorable mentions regarding small/medium sized productions being greater than that of blockbuster titles. I have to say this is a good sign, and despite some glaring omissions (Takahashi’s “Noby Noby Boy” which, strangely, is absent all around), this could mean journalists are moving away from the triple AAA industry paradigm that was the standard not so long ago. Then again, it might just be a sign that Christmas is still to come… we’ll see then how many low-budget games get on these lists by year’s end.
Not all is well though. The number of mentions to “Resident Evil 5“, “Killzone 2”, “Street Fighter IV” and “Punch Out” are still enough to leave me utterly disappointed, might I even say, a tad nauseous, given the generic, highly derivative game-play styles of all these games. But what hurt me the most was how little praise “flower” got… a game that should have received the highest accolades, but that in the end is a secondary reference to all these nit wits that wouldn’t know what art is even if it slapped them in the face. For some obscure reason, Gamespot doesn’t even mention it (perhaps their category system is so good that it doesn’t encompass the best game of the year); of the entire Destructoid staff, only three editors selected the game; and lastly, Kotaku’s editor (who wrote the top) does mention it as one of the best 10 of the year, but still makes me gag by placing it alongside *things* like “Red Faction Guerrilla”, “infamous” and “House of the Dead Overkill”… talk about an eclectic taste, hey?
And no, I won”t do a half year top… only “flower” and perhaps “Noby Noby Boy” could make it there, so why bother?