The 2010 GameCola Videogame Awards

The 2010 GameCola Videogame Awards

A note from Paul Franzen, Editor-in-Chief of GameCola.net:

It’s not often that the GameCola staff gets together to do anything. We all hail from different parts of these here United States, as well as America’s hat, Canada, and America’s…thing that’s very far away from America, England. It really only happens once per year, if you don’t count all the podcasts and “Versus Modes” we do. And at that time of year, the GameCola staff unites with one single purpose in mind: to ignore my e-mails asking them to vote in the year-end awards. Jerks.

But eventually the votes come in, and the points are tallied. The awards are set in stone. Then more votes come in, and we quickly chisel away to re-stone the awards. And so it goes, until the dust (from the stones) settles and is wiped away to reveal…the article that you’re reading, right now, wrapped up warm in your Harry Potter snuggie, watching the snow fall outside your window, and wondering if you remembered to let the cat back inside.

What follows are the games that the GameCola staff, as a whole, posit to be the best games of the year of our lord, 2010. My apologies to Black Ops, Starcraft II, and Red Dead Redemption, and my much more sincere apologies to Excruciating Guitar Voyage, which I’ve previously described in GameCola as the greatest game of all time, and which didn’t receive so much as an “honorable mention” from our staff. Jerks.

But before we get to the awards themselves, I’d like to take a quick moment to thank all the people who contributed to writing this article, without whom none of this would be possible, mostly because I haven’t played Mass Effect 2 yet:

Now, on with the flame-bait!


Best Licensed Game

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game

Matt Jonas: How can this be the same Ubisoft that slaughtered Turtles in Time?

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is based on the motion picture directed by Edgar Wright, and the comic book series by Bryan Lee O’ Malley. It is a series heavily influenced by videogames. To coincide with the theatrical release, Ubisoft produced this fantastic Xbox Live and PlayStation Network title, which combines the gameplay of Final Fight and River City Ransom in a way that many others should learn from. Filled to the brim with references to classic videogames, Scott Pilgrim may be forgiven for its freezing issues, because it stays true to both the movie adaptation and the comic, sharing the greatest elements of both.

Honorable Mention: Epic Mickey
Last Year’s Winner: Batman: Arkham Asylum


Best Remake/Re-release

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Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge

Christian Porter: Step One in making a good remake is to give a rat’s ass about the source material. If you don’t care about it, then you’re just going to pump out utter garbage. Thankfully, LucasArts still cares at least a little about its adventure games of yesteryear. Monkey Island 2: Special Edition pays every bit as much attention to detail as the last Monkey Island remake they put out, and it’s still every bit as fun and entertaining.

Honorable Mention: Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals
Last Year’s Winner: The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition


Best New Character

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Sheep Man
(Mega Man 10)

Jeff Day: Amidst all the incredible, emotional, and downright heartwarming characters that graced our screens this past year…one has to wonder why the HELL we turned them all away in favor of an ovine robot.

Aside from the obvious obsession that GameCola has with Mega Man games, there’s just no possible way we could turn our backs on the cuddliest character of 2010. Look at him! He’s soft! He’s adorable! And he packs some serious killer Thunder Wool. He could definitely use some of that wool to crochet his enemies…to their graves! Beyond warming our hearts with his soft exterior, Sheep Man is one bad motherfleecer that you should keep both eyes on at all times.

Bonus Factoid: Even in this terrible economic crisis, he was able to maintain some level of steady employment this past year, first as a sheepherder, and then in a circuit board manufacturing plant, before settling on Dr. Wily’s minion. Sheep Man must have one dynamite resumé!

Honorable Mention: John Marston (Red Dead Redemption)
Last Year’s Winner: Morgan LeFlay (Tales of Monkey Island)


Most Innovative

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Heavy Rain

Vangie Ridgaway: This year’s Heavy Rain offers a bevy of innovations that make it well worth playing. The most significant innovation, of course, is the extent to which player actions influence the plot of the story. Bear in mind, this is no Fallout, where player freedom is so important that plot is almost secondary to exploration in the game. Story is everything in Heavy Rain, and every choice you make carries consequences, some of which are immediate, while some are so far down the road that you could have no way of knowing in advance what is “right.”

Heavy Rain is also innovative in its de-emphasis of combat and its deliberate focus on real motions and movements that people make every day. Buttons and joystick motions aren’t just used to move forward and attack; they allow your character to swing a golf club, rub balm onto a burn, and even rock a baby to sleep. In the same way that the story adaptation mechanism serves to make you think like the characters, this mechanic allows you to feel and move as them, thereby further increasing the immersion factor of the game.

Honorable Mention: Minecraft
Last Year’s Winner: Scribblenauts


Best Story

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Alan Wake

Kate Jay: Do not go gently into that good night. At least, not unless you’re packing a flashlight. In Alan Wake, light is the key to overcoming the people and objects that have been consumed by an evil dark energy. The theme of darkness is often played out in horror games and cheap paperback novels; however, Alan Wake stands out from your typical “fight the shadows” game. It has a compelling (if short) storyline that one can easily imagine as a horror novella, or as an episode from “The Twilight Zone.” This very literary feel is appropriate, given the fact that the story revolves around the famed horror writer, Alan Wake. The game is riddled with narrative aspects: Alan narrates certain cutscenes as though writing a novel. You can also read pages from a mysterious manuscript that sometimes dictate events yet to occur in your gameplay. The game is infused with background factoids about the local people and places, further enriching the game’s story.

Characters play an equally important role in moving the story along: Alan’s brooding and mysterious writer persona is often counterbalanced by a welcome infusion of humor in the people he meets. Along the way, you meet a local stalker, a floating man in a diving suit, and two aged rockers who think they’re Nordic gods, just to name a few. It’s these quirky interactions that help keep the plot from getting too dark or convoluted.

As with a good book, you’ll find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat, ready to turn the next page—if you’re not afraid of going out in the dark to find it, that is.

Honorable Mentions: Red Dead Redemption, Nier, Heavy Rain
Last Year’s Winner: Tales of Monkey Island


Most Disappointing

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Metroid: Other M

Michael Ridgaway: Metroid: Other M is not a bad game, and compared to many other games it’s pretty fantastic. If it were in an original setting with original characters and was developed by some smaller studio, we’d be lauding it as the sleeper hit of the year. But it’s not. It’s a Metroid game developed by Nintendo and Team Ninja, and as such expectations were extremely high. When the story, characters, and gameplay were found lacking, people were upset. As a fan of the series it was hard for me to be less than blown away by a Metroid, and this sentiment was echoed throughout reviews and discussions, both on GameCola and other sites, regarding the game.

(Dis)Honorable Mention: Final Fantasy XIII
Last Year’s Winner: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time Re-Shelled


Funniest Game

Jeanne-Exercise

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

Matt Jonas: No More Heroes 2 knows that it’s funny. It constantly acknowledges the fourth wall and uses excessive amounts of bad language, just for the sake of it. Sex and drug references aside, the obscure anime-styled sequences will either have you rumbling on the floor in hysterics, or laughing through complete confusion. The violence is disgusting, but it’s so disgusting that it’s actually bloody amusing. This makes No More Heroes 2 a game that you’d be a fool to miss. It’s extremely witty and thoroughly off-its-head. Although this marks the endzone for Travis Touchdown, we will always appreciate how his humor can overshoot the gap.

Honorable Mention: Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse
Last Year’s Winner: Tales of Monkey Island


Best New Peripheral

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Pokéwalker

Michael Ridgaway: The Pokéwalker is a little pedometer that comes packaged with every copy of Pokémon Heart Gold/Soul Silver and allows you to train your Pokémon, capture new Pokémon, and obtain items that you can then transfer to your game. These functions are enabled by collecting “watts,” which are generated by real-life user movement (although some cheaters, myself included, occasionally resort to just shaking the device). It actually expands the experience of the game quite a bit by giving players something to do in-between game sessions, and it incentivizes exercise. Most importantly, though, it’s FREE, and once you have it you might as well use it…

Honorable Mentions: Game Boat, Wii Inflatable Racing Kart
Last Year’s Winner: A cardboard box (Let’s Tap)


Best Multiplayer

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game

“Captain” Eric Regan: Usually when you’re thinking about the best multiplayer game of the year, you’re thinking about a big-budget, big-name title. Not here at GameCola, though! Boy oh boy, do we love our downloadable titles at GC.

There were many worthy titles out there, but Scott Pilgrim took home this year’s faaaaabulous prize. Now, I really hate using the phrase “old-school” in any way, but it’s a term that probably best explains what makes this title just so much fun. Much like the comic and the movie it’s based on, the game takes many pages from the days when videogames were just finding their feet. It’s very reminiscent of classic games like the Ninja Turtle arcade games, Double Dragon, and River City Ransom, but with modern touches, like the ability to revive your fallen companions, and more in-depth combos. It’s a really easy game to get engrossed in, and the experience increases by leaps and bounds the more people you have playing! While you can’t play Scott Pilgrim online (yet?), it does allow for one fantastic couch co-op experience!

Honorable Mentions: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Last Year’s Winner: Borderlands


Best Indie Game

meat

Super Meat Boy

Paul Franzen: Anyone who’s listened to The GameCola Podcast, or been a fan of the site for a while, or…read anything I have ever written for GameCola, knows that I’m God-awful at videogames. It’s kind of embarassing. So why, then, would I ever like this game? Why would I enjoy Super Meat Boy—a game whose major selling point is pain?

Simple: Because the game makes losing super, super fun.

With one simple mechanic—an instant replay that showcases every single one of your failures simultaneously after you beat a level—the game goes from “depressingly challenging” to “YES! I died again! I can’t wait to see what that looks like!” It also helps that the core gameplay mechanics are fun—I’ve always been a fan of running very fast, and jumping, and meat. But what really makes this game great to me is that it takes the frustration out of losing, and that’s worth so much more than a game about playing with dirt.

Runner Up: Minecraft
Last Year’s Winner:
N/A


Best PC Game

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Mass Effect 2

Christian Porter: BioWare has truly raised the pick-three-people-from-a-group-of-a-dozen-or-so-and-embark-on-a-story-heavy-action-RPG-adventure genre they like so much to an art form with Mass Effect 2. The gameplay is similar to but tuned up from the already great original Mass Effect, building up the story nicely for the third and final chapter. There’s tons of gameplay, and the game has excellent graphics—or, you could say it’s a game with a lot of mass, and excellent effects!

Get it?! It only took me four years to come up with that one.

Honorable Mentions: Fallout: New Vegas, Minecraft
Last Year’s Winner: Tales of Monkey Island


Best Console Game

mariogalaxy

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Michael Gray: Super Mario Galaxy 2 is absolutely amazing. Having two Super Mario games for the same console is amazing enough, but Super Mario Galaxy 2 delivers a great gameplay experience by building upon the solid formula that Super Mario Galaxy created. The sequel is twice as long as the original, and it has loads of new material that gamers will enjoy, such as Yoshi, Cloud Mario, and 40% more screentime for Luigi. It’s an undeniably fun experience for fans of the Mario series (i.e. everyone), and everyone agrees that it is the best console game this year. If you don’t count the console game that won Game of the Year, of course.

Honorable Mention: Red Dead Redemption
Last Year’s Winner: Batman: Arkham Asylum


Best Portable Game

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Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

Elizabeth “Lizo” Medina-Gray: The Phoenix Wright series introduced us to a cast of wonderful characters and intriguing story-driven cases to solve, and Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth continues the spirit of the series in a big way. There are new friends to meet, villains to bring to justice, and old characters from the original trilogy to randomly run into. Plus, you get to play as Edgeworth, who is—and I’m being conservative here—completely and utterly awesome. Especially enjoyable for those who have played the first three Phoenix Wright games, Ace Attorney Investigations is a solid adventure-style portable game, and one of the best games of 2010.

Honorable Mention: Valkyria Chronicles 2
Last Year’s Winner: Scribblenauts


Best Downloadable Game

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game

Michael Ridgaway: I enjoyed the Scott Pilgrim books and movie, but I swear the game is actually the best version of the series. (A movie and book based on a videogame-ish world work best as a videogame—go figure). Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game is pretty much a straight-up homage to River City Ransom, one of the greatest NES games ever, and it duplicates all the best mechanics from that game while introducing a few new ones. Additionally, the graphics by Paul Robertson and the music by Anamanaguchi are fantastic (I listen to the soundtrack at least once a week), and the multiplayer mode is top-notch, as well.

Honorable Mention: Mega Man 10
Last Year’s Winner: Trine


GameCola Staff Member of the Year

kevin

Kevin Leacock

Paul Franzen: If you aren’t a long-time GameCola reader, you might not even know who Kevin Leacock is; after all, in 2010, he only wrote like two actual articles. But be that as it may, you’re definitely familiar with his work. Intimiately.

Do you remember GameCola’s dark ages? Think back. Here’s a hint: We used to look like this. Kevin’s the reason we don’t anymore. Kevin ripped us from the evil clutches of an early 90s Geocities-inspired web design—clutches that we weren’t necessarily willing to be uncluctched from. Kevin, with the help of a few other staff members who will remain anonymous because they didn’t win any awards this year, built the all-new GameCola.net from the ground-up. It’s because of Kevin that we’re all here today—if it weren’t for him, we’d probably have all been here a few days ago, because GameCola’s old-school issues usually published around the first of the month. But that’s besides the point. Kevin took the rotting husk of a website designed by an incompetent me, and he turned it into something we can actually be proud to look at and access, instead of just thinking “well, the content’s great, but the ugliness of the site has this bad tendency to melt my eyeballs.” Kevin brought dignity, sleekness, and modernity to GameCola.net, and for that we’re all unrelentlessly thankful.

Technically, of course, he did all this in 2009, but since the site launched in early ’10, it still counts. Thanks Kev!

Honorable Mentions: Matt Jonas, Michael Gray
Last Year’s Winner: Michael Gray


Game of the Year

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Heavy Rain

Vangie Ridgaway: It’s not often that a game comes along that is so completely immersive, so shockingly brutal, and so terrifyingly life-like that you stay up all night, not just trying to escape the nightmares, but agonizing with yourself over whether or not you made the right decisions. Enter Heavy Rain, a mystery/psychological thriller game with a story that is more compelling than many movies of the same genre. But Heavy Rain offers more than just suspense. Its gameplay format forces you to become the characters, to live in their skin, to make their choices for them…and to accept the consequences. As you move forward in the game, the story adapts to your actions, and insists on holding you responsible for them. With so much on the line, players are forced to examine their own values and ethics, and to make decisions that range from the “morally gray” to the downright agonizing. Even so, the game moves ruthlessly forward, ever demanding an answer to the question that lies at the very heart of the game: How far would you go to save someone you love? The answer, be it terrifying or uncomfortable, lies only in you.

Honorable Mentions: Red Dead Redemption, Fallout: New Vegas
Last Year’s Winner: Batman: Arkham Asylum


Article rating: 7.83 BEARDS out of 10

About the Author


Email: author@gamecola.net

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