The 2009 GameCola Videogame Awards

The 2009 GameCola Videogame Awards

2009 is a year that many different gamers will remember for many different things. We’ll remember it as the year we got to play as Ringo and Paul, Egon and Ray, and…flowers. We’ll also remember it as the year we got to melt faces with the power of rock and roll, swap boyfriends with our BFFs, and…’splode. We played as a boy, and we had a wonderful pet blob; we played as another boy, and we…stretched. A lot. We also—this is true!—once, and for all, stopped stress.

The games that we’ll remember the most, however, are the cream of this year’s crop: The games that won awards in the 2009 GameCola Videogame Awards. They are as follows:


Best Use of a License

Batman: Arkham Asylum
(PS3, X360, PC)

batman

Christian Porter: Normally declaring something to be the best licensed game is just damning with faint praise, since, when it comes right down to it, you don’t have to be a gaming masterpiece to dethrone 3 Ninjas: Kick Back or Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool.  However, where the developers of Batman: Arkham Asylum could have shoveled out a phoned-in piece of pure mediocrity, they instead delivered a great storyline, solid voice acting, immersive graphics, and a game that absolutely perfects the stealth combat genre.  Not just the Best Use of a License for 2009, but it is very easily the best use of a license ever.

Runners Up: 1 vs 100, The Beatles: Rock Band
Last Year’s Winner: Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness – Episode 2


Best Remake/Re-release

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
(X360-XBLA, PC)

monkeyisland

Paul Franzen: One could say that, in re-releasing the original Monkey Island for a current-gen audience, the developers really didn’t need to monkey around with it all that much. But I’m reasonably certain that one would only ever say that just to make that awesome pun. In reality, LucasArts took what was already the Best Game Ever and made it even better, mostly via the insertion of voice acting by Dominic Armato and a bunch of other people you don’t care about. Dominic is Guybrush, and his voice alone makes this version at least three times better than it was before. The developers also added shiny new graphics, which is kind of cool, I guess.

Runners Up: Marvel vs. Capcom II, Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
Last Year’s Winner: Final Fantasy IV DS


Best New Character

Morgan LeFlay
(Tales of Monkey Island, PC, Wii-WW)

morgan

Michael Ridgaway: The Monkey Island games are known for their colorful cast of characters, but never before has Guybrush Threepwood had such a consistent frenemy (it’s a word now, look it up!) as he does in Morgan LeFlay. She’s like Elaine Marley and LeChuck all wrapped up into one sassy and swashbuckling package, and despite all the misadventures that she and Guybrush survive together, you can never be exactly sure what she’ll do next. The tension that comes from having another woman in Guybrush’s life adds a lot to the story in Tales of Monkey Island, and she’s easy on the eyes, to boot (grrrrrrrrroooowwww).

Runners Up: Eddie Riggs (Brutal Legend), Matt Hazard (Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard)
Least Year’s Winner: Sackboy (LittleBigPlanet)


Most Innovative

Scribblenauts
(DS)

Scribblenauts

Christian Porter: When Scribblenauts was first announced, promising users the ability to generate any item they could dream up, I was more than a little skeptical, as I expected the whole system to gum up and break when anyone attempted to create any but the most basic items.  The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.  Scribblenauts’ item generation system is incredibly deep, with items ranging from hovercrafts, lemonade, philosoraptors, and everything in between.  The developers took an outlandish concept and delivered on it better than anybody thought they could.

Runners Up: Flower, 1 vs 100
Last Year’s Winner: LittleBigPlanet


Best Story

Tales of Monkey Island
(PC, Wii-WW)

Tales of Monkey Island

Paul Franzen: The Monkey Island games have never been known for their great stories, by which I mean that their stories have generally just been a cobbled together means to achieve the end of giving Guybrush Threepwood, mighty pirate, wacky puzzles to solve. That all changed when Telltale Games took over the license in 2009 to create Tales of Monkey Island—their own episodic take on the classic point-and-click adventure series. They give you actual reasons for all this clicking, and all this pointing; they make you care about What’s Going to Happen Next, and—this is true—they make you invested in both the characters themselves, as well as the relationships between the characters, setting up a sort of love quadrilateral that gives the series depth that it never had before. Totally unexpected for this type of game, and totally awesome.

Runners Up: Dragon Age: Origins, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Last Year’s Winner:
N/A



Most Disappointing

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled
(PS3-PSN, X360-XBLA)

Turtles in Time - Re-shelled

Paul Franzen: On the flip side from what Telltale did with Monkey Island are the truly horrifying things that Ubisoft did to Turtles in Time, arguably one of the best side-scrolling beat ‘em ups of all time. (To be fair, Ubisoft has sort of made it their mission statement to try to run the Ninja Turtles franchise into the ground, apparently because their CEO is Shredder.) They took the already-bad visuals of a game released over 15 years ago, and somehow made them worse. They erased the game’s decent, but not great, soundtrack, and replaced it with elevator music. They fussed with the control scheme, and they didn’t even remake the good version of this game, instead settling for the inferior arcade version, which has fewer levels than the SNES one. On top of this, they don’t give you the option to play this game in any sort of “classic” mode, so if you want to play Turtles in Time on a current-gen console…you’re pretty much out of luck, because this game bears only a passing resemblance to it.

Runners Up: Prototype, Brutal Legend
Last Year’s Winner: Silent Hill: Homecoming


Funniest Game

Tales of Monkey Island
(PC, Wii-WW)

Tales of Monkey Island

Michael Ridgaway: At this point in gaming history, Guybrush Threepwood and his pirate antics are comedy legend. In 2009, Tales of Monkey Island continued this tradition with a hilarious script (featuring new jokes and some old favorites), an excellent voice cast (at this point, Dominic Amato IS Guybrush Threepwood), and enough goofs and gags to choke a gargantuan manatee.  In addition, TMI introduced new characters and story elements that added a lot of freshness to the series, providing more opportunities for both comedy and engaging storytelling.

Runners Up: Brutal Legend, MadWorld
Last Year’s Winner:
N/A


Best New Peripheral/Accessory

A cardboard box
(Let’s Tap, Wii)

“Captain” Eric Regan: In our highly technological world, how we play videogames is constantly becoming more in-depth and sophisticated.  We can stare into a camera, swing a remote at our televisions, and flip our controllers around to make our on-screen avatars do wacky things. Yet, this award winner, the cardboard box, hearkens back to a much simpler time in our lives: a time when a mere cardboard box could bring us joy. Millions of dollars are spent creating and purchasing advanced technologies every year! But, in the end, what is it that everyone really wants? A simple, cheap, ordinary cardboard box.  We may have to suffer through 42 iterations of the DS this coming year; however, all we really want is more boxes. Cardboard, please.

Runners Up: Darth Vader Wii Sensor Holder, Wii MotionPlus
Last Year’s Winner: Rock Band Stage Kit


Best Multiplayer

Borderlands
(PS3, X360, PC)

Borderlands

“Captain” Eric Regan: When you find Borderlands and multiplayer in the same sentence, the word FUN can not be far behind. The game may not be the most difficult or require the most skill, but anyone would be hard-pressed to find a better good-time experience for you and your friends!  Borderlands blends the RPG and FPS genres together in a way that other games have just not been able to. Its focus on co-op FUNNESS over competitiveness makes it much more appealing to a wider range of gamers. THUMBS UP! …err, I mean, it is well deserving of this honor.

Runners Up: Trine, New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Last Year’s Winner: LittleBigPlanet


Best PC Game

Tales of Monkey Island

tmi3

Paul Franzen: It’s a new Monkey Island game. I don’t mean that in the same sense that Mario Kart Wii was a new Mario Kart game; I mean that this is a new Monkey Island game, and it’s just as good as the old Monkey Island games, even though it was made by a different company, and over 10 years after the last great MI game was released. If you’ve played the original games, you see what high praise that is; if you haven’t, you are missing out. It is roffle-copter funny, it has a surprisingly engaging (and surprisingly existing) story, and it’s one of the best co-op games I’ve played in a long time, despite the fact that it’s, technically speaking, actually only a single-player game. Seriously—play through this game with your BFF or your snuggle-umpkins, putting your heads together to work out the answers to tricky puzzles, or staring at each other agape when each of the game’s many plot twists hits, and tell me you aren’t having a total blast.

Runners Up: Dragon Age: Origins, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
Last Year’s Winner: Fallout 3


Best Console Game

Batman: Arkham Asylum
(PS3, X360)

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Michael Ridgaway: 2009 was not a banner year for console gaming, but, nevertheless, there were a lot of excellent contenders for this category. Batman: Arkham Asylum beat them all, and for good reason. Not only does the game look stunning, employ an innovative battle system, and give the player an entire gothic island to explore, but for many of us who grew up in the ’90s, it is also a lovely bit of nostalgia. Batman: The Animated Series was and still is a great show, and many of the voices and writers who worked on it contributed to this game. There are places that could be improved, certainly, but overall the game is an excellent blend of well-tuned mechanics, impressive atmosphere, and dedication to the Batman franchise that makes it the best console game of 2009.

Runners Up: Borderlands, New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Last Year’s Winner: LittleBigPlanet


Best Portable Game

Scribblenauts
(DS)

scrib2

Christian Porter: Though up against stiff competition this year, Scribblenauts really came out ahead, thanks to its delivering on its goal of giving center stage to your own creativity.  How would you solve the simple task of getting a star out of a tree? Saw down the tree?  Use a grappling hook?  Have a tornado knock it down?  Fly to the star on the back of a pterodactyl? Drop a bowl of gumbo on it until it falls?  In Scribblenauts, all of these, along with countless others, are valid solutions, making the game infinitely replayable.

Runners Up: Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
Last Year’s Winner: Chrono Trigger



Best Downloadable Console Game

Trine
(PS3-PSN)

Trine

Matt Gardner: Why Trine for Best Downloadable Console Game? As opposed to many downloadable games, which only give you several hours of entertainment, Trine is a full game with literally MORE hours of entertainment. A full game meaning, of course, a full set of Trophies, complete with a Plat! With games of this generation being more about Trophies than anything else, a Platinum Trophy is a must-have.

In the land of things not retarded, though, Trine has three unique and fun characters to switch between to solve various puzzles and defeat foes. It also lets you play the game with up to three people, allowing the wizard to create a box and the knight to destroy said box simultaneously. While they somehow forgot to include online multiplayer, the offline multiplayer is fun enough to warrant socializing with actual human people. That’s not hyperbole, my friends; this game will genuinely make you want to maintain a relationship with a real-life human person. Engaging and entertaining single player + the hilarious hijinks that inevitably ensue in multiplayer = Trine wins.

Also, PLATINUM.

Runners Up: Shadow Complex, Flower
Last Year’s Winner: Braid


Staff Member of the Year

Michael Gray

Michael Gray

Paul Franzen: In 2008, when the GameCola staff voted Michael Gray as our Staff Member of the Year, we all thought it was a pretty big deal that he managed to write two whole columns every month for the entire year. Michael, apparently, did not see things this way. He about doubled his column-writing efforts throughout 2009, and, in this second half of the year, Michael helped keep the main site alive during its hibernation with frequent posts to our blog, which was mostly ignored by our other writers. Writing was only a part of what Michael did for GameCola this year, though, as he also hosted, participated in, and edited podcasts; recorded video playthroughs for our YouTube page; and edited articles for GameCola. He may not have had his DNA launched into space this year, but he produced an awful lot of content for us, and to say he went above and beyond would be an understatement.

Michael won our internal Staff Member of the Month award in 7 of this year’s 12 months, and when the new site launched, roughly half of its articles were written by or otherwise involving him; I think that perfectly encapsulates what his participation meant to GameCola in 2009.

Runners Up: Kevin Leacock, Nathaniel Hoover
Last Year’s Winner: Michael Gray


Guest Star of the Year

Marianne Fenwick

marianne

Michael Gray: Marianne Fenwick would make an excellent addition to the GameCola staff (hint, hint), except for the fact that she can only be found with the help of professional bounty-hunters.  This year, she found the time to participate in three GameCola podcasts, co-write an issue of The Grass Is Always…, and play with puppies.  This is the second time she has won Guest Star of the Year from GameCola, and next year, she hopes to win it again by playing her way through Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask…but she’ll settle for just being able to beat Chip’s Challenge for the first time.

Runners Up: Christian Porter, Adam Ryland
Last Year’s Winner: Marianne Fenwick


Game of the Year

Batman: Arkham Asylum
(PS3, X360, PC)

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Michael Ridgaway: Back when Vangie was in high school, her class had a trigonometry problem that involved Batman, a grappling hook of length y, and a chasm of length x. Their task was to determine if Batman could cross the chasm with his grappling hook, and their calculations led them to believe that he could not. However, the answer in the back of the book said that he could, so they went back and re-checked their work. After many frustrating recalculations, they went to the teacher to see what they were doing wrong, and their teacher came up with the same result that they did. Exhausted, they consulted the teacher’s manual for the book, and to their surprise found that the reason Batman was able to cross the chasm despite the mathematical impossibility was “because he’s Batman.”

This is why Batman: Arkham Asylum is Game of the Year: because he’s Batman.

Runners Up: Tales of Monkey Island, Flower
Last Year’s Winner: LittleBigPlanet


Article rating: 8.00 BEARDS out of 10

About the Author


Email: author@gamecola.net

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