In a time where Dutch is rating the top releases of 2011, I've decided to reminisce about my favorite gaming experiences of the year. Thanks to a new addition to a young family (which thankfully provides entertainment for a very time-poor me) I dont often get to play the newest releases; instead I play what I can, when I can.
Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)
Although its giving me the shits at the moment, Donkey Kong Country spurred hope for the Wii. It's a true platformer, the style that Nintendo is famous for, and while the format is familiar (little has changed from the 90's SNES smash hit) it still provides a solid challenge.
New Super Mario Bros (Wii)
This one hasn't had a great deal of play yet but the chapters I've smashed out have been a world of fun. What the Wii lacks in pixel power, it definitely makes up for in unique controls that make rehashed and re-imagined childhood favorites such as Mario and DK interesting again. Incorporating hand gestures and new moves with twists and shakes of the controller as well as staying true to the franchise has made for some great gaming.
Bejeweled and Hexic (Xbox 360)
I don't know why I liked these but for some reason I was drawn to them for weeks on end. Despite being similar, they are far from new in terms of design or concept (in fact I think Hexic came with the 360 but I never played it). Anyway they've both been addictive and frustrating like any good puzzle game should be.
Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)
This was my most anticipated game of 2011. Released around the time my son was born, I struggled through sleeplessness to battle the Horde and Remember the Fallen - once I woke at 3am sitting upright on the couch with the controller in my hand and very little happening on screen. In the end I claimed victory, not only with Marcus Fenix and co, but I managed to figure out what the hell was going on with what small amount if information I could retain in my sleep deprived state. The little wins are the best.
Street Fighter IV (iOS)
Picked up for a steal at $1.99, I was dubious at SFIV's translation to the mobile touch screen platform but it proved to be a winner. Far from a talented brawler, I could still manage a number of wins without great difficulty and, even for a button masher, I found the controls to be fluid and responsive with Blanka being my main source of frustration. Get a haircut. Hippy.
Other notable games played this year include COD: Black Ops (x360), Fruit Ninja (iOS), Tap Tap Muppets (iOS), Bulletstorm (x360) and Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (x360).
I'm bummed to have missed out on a few such as MW3, Batman Arkham City, Alice: Madness Returns and Saints Row 3 but let's face it - I'll get to it next year.