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Eric’s Picks for PSN Game of the Year

Posted by on January 1st, 2011 | 0 Comments | Tags:

2010 was an awesome year for me. I graduated from Rutgers with a degree in English and Film Studies, had a girlfriend (if only for a short while), and spent my summer in a shore house with a bunch of good friends. Until I landed the sweetest job in the world (this one), my employment options were slim. I wound up cleaning dishes in a restaurant for minimum wage then working as a busboy at a different restaurant for practically no wage (the owners douched everyone out of their paychecks by surprise-closing the restaurant and fleeing the area). At about the beginning of June, I saw through Twitter that PSNStores.com was looking for some help because things were going to be crazy during E3. As a shot in the dark, I e-mailed Chris my resume and a sample review for Critter Crunch, a game I played extensively and enjoyed immensely.
Sure enough, I began writing for the site and was kept on even after E3. It was a bit overwhelming at first, learning how to interpret press releases, figuring out WordPress code, and navigating FTPs. Oh, and the games. Did I forget about the games? I had a good amount of PSN games before I started writing for the site, but my download queue blew up shortly after. I was in video game heaven for a while, reveling in a pile of downloadable titles. Then I wrote my first review. After that, I found that a bunch of games on my download queue were also on my review queue. It may sound silly, and I risk getting flamed for writing it, but playing and reviewing a ton of games is hard. It’s actually work, and it takes a lot of time to do. But enough about my history with PSNStores. I know why you came here. You came here for a list; one that will tell you what my favorite games of 2010 are. Well, behold:

1) Spelunker HD

Spelunker HD is a masterpiece. It takes the challenging aspects of an old-school platforming game and wraps it up in a shiny new package. It evokes the feeling I used to get when playing video games; the excitement and sense of accomplishment that is all but lost in many of todays triple A titles. There’s a reason why it was the number one game in Japan for 2009. All the game asks of you is to find a few keys, open a few doors, and rope climb your way down to 10,000 meters. When you reach the end of the game, it loops back to the first stage, except this time all of the keys are invisible. Sounds crazy, right? Well, if you’re good enough to make it through all of the bat poo, kraken lashing, and waist-deep crevasses, then you’ll probably be able to find the keys without visual aid. I like this game so much that I’m currently on my third play-through with 99 lives, attempting to top the US leaderboard (46 million points). All I ask of you is to download this game and play with me so that we may both obtain its platinum tropher. At $10, you can’t lose. (Well, you probably will die, but that’s a LARGE part of the game.)

2) Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

Holy acid-tripping speed rush, Batman, it’s Pac-Man! This game is unbelievably fun and addictive. I’ve been in a heated highscore battle with Brad and Chris since this game released. It’s been so much fun that I haven’t even unlocked half of the boards. What’s the difference between this and every other Pac-Man game? Sleeping ghosts. Pellets are laid out in a manner that gets you to pass sleeping ghosts and gobble up fruit. When you pass a sleeping ghost, it begins following you. Soon enough, you’ll have upwards of 100 ghosts trailing you, all of which taste delightful after a popping a power pellet. The game’s speed steadily increases to a point that would make Sonic blush. To push your highscore bar up, you’ll need to have insanely fast reaction times and knowledge of the pellet patterns on any given board. It’s a great downloadable title that I hope is only the harbinger of what’s to come from the Namco Generations series.

3) Coconut Dodge

What looks like a simple flash game is actually an extremely deep title. This is a highscore driven game that requires you to dodge coconuts and grab gold. You play as a crab who can only move left and right. If you hold the X button, you’ll move a bit faster, and double tapping the X button moves you faster still. Enter flying coconut mazes. Each level of Coconut Dodge has a maze of coconuts that steadily drop down the screen. Navigating these mazes correctly is the key to getting a highscore. It’s incredibly addictive, and once you try it, you’ll understand what John’s feeling in the “One More Go!” video. Oh, and it’s portable, :D.

4) HOARD

I love the PSN and its varied offerings, but one problem I have with it is its lack of solid multiplayer titles. That’s changed in the last year with the release of great games such as Lara Croft and HOARD. When I played HOARD at PAX back in September, I thought it was pretty cool. A twin-stick shooter with dragons and princesses; that’s novel. It wasn’t until it released and I played it countless times with friends online and offline that I realized how brilliant the game really is. There are tons of balancing acts going on all at once. Should you let a town grow so it produces more valuable carts? Or a castle get bigger to yield better princesses? How about them mage towers? Destroy ’em now or wait for it to become more powerful and drops a bigger rock? If you’re playing cooperatively or competitively, the balancing act is compounded by the fact that there are up to three more dragons thinking about the same things. They’re thinking about stealing your gold and princesses, too, so you’d better keep an eye out if you want to retain that 3X multiplier. There are so many modes and so many maps and so many badges to achieve that the game is utterly dripping with content. To boot, the game supports any combination of local and online play, a feature that makes me smile in my heart. When I’m not screaming at thieves for stealing my gold, that is.

5) Cladun: This is an RPG!

Its name is a combination of ‘classic’ and ‘dungeon’, and that’s what it is. Cladun gave my PSP the workout it so desperately needed. After playing through a whole lot of minis, it was nice to be able to sit down with a full-fledged game on my PSP. I was delighted with the game’s retro aesthetic and self-aware sense of humor. The game can be completed in ten minutes or twenty hours; how long you wish to play it is basically up to you. I spent over twenty hours dungeon crawling my way through its main plot and enjoying every minute of it. The game is actually endless, as you’re able to crawl through RanGeons and NewGeons to literally endless depths. It’s an awesome game with a ton of customizable features, and I can’t wait to see what crazy leveling system is employed in its sequel, set to release sometime in 2011.

Honorable mentions: It’s tough to choose only 5 of my favorite games. I picked the games which I spent the most time with and enjoyed the most. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t love a handful of other games. These are thems:
Flight Control HD – Fantastic port; tons of fun.
Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess – Their latest, Who’s That Flying?!, is great, but Mediatonic’s flagship minis title is (definitely) one of my favorite PSN games.
Dead Nation – Incredibly atmospheric; extremely challenging.
Young Thor – Great GoW-like minis game. I spent a lot of time with this one and am looking forward to the sequel.

We can deliberate on the forums about this and I’ll talk about some of my favorite disc-based games, too. Happy New Year, y’all, thanks for reading what I’m writing.