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Your personal games of the year 2006

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In lieu of a real look-back article on Thumb, let's post our personal Games of the Year (and your runners-up). It's not about which game is objectively the best, since no one can claim to have played them all anyway. It's about which game gave you the best experience this year, and maybe to remind eachb other of some of the great titles that came out in 2006.

One special rule: you have to post a cool screenshot of your #1 pick. Because I like threads with pictures.

My Personal Game of the Year:

Half-Life 2: Episode 1

I blasted through it in a single weekend, which was awesome. I like long and epic games, but you can only play so many of them. Half-Life 2: Episode 1 proves that an expansion isn't about how many new assets you put in it, but how you can use existing ingredients in different and fun ways.

Episode 1 is just as good as the original game, and in some ways, due to the way that it's more rounded and contained, it's actually even better. It's interesting that Valve, which puts gameplay above all else in their development process, and not really focuses on jamming in plot elements or character development, has actually created a universe with characters that I've grown incredibly attached to. One good line of Alyx doing a zombine impression can completely destroy pages of bullshit video game dialog about destinies, wisdom, willpower or good versus evil.



World of Warcraft

Not a 2006 game, but this was the year I jumped in. Played it for 2 months, then quit around level 25. I can't say I got quite as addicted to it as most people have, but I really enjoyed the experience. I had it on my laptop, often grinding and watching TV at the same time. I played part of it together with a friend, taking turns on controlling the character. One time we kept playing through the night. It was just us and the occasional other night owl adventuring around Ironforge. As night falls the snow gets that cool blueish hue with highly contrasting shadows from trees and hills, and I really remember the constant sound of footsteps in the snow. The next morning we woke up and played some more, and it felt like we'd actually been on a hike or something.

Kingdom of Loathing

A crappy web game. I still spent way too much time adventuring, mixing drinks and writing haiku's. At work, of course, under the guise of "research". :shifty:

Brain Training

Playing it actually became part of my lifestyle for a while. I used to wake up, play some Brain Training to get my brains into second gear (usually Reading Aloud... it works really well) and then go to work. I'm not a morning person, so it's rare for me to add anything to my morning ritual. Then I'd play another few rounds during lunch break.

Also, chicks really dig it, and you can bust their balls for being old.

Guitar Hero

I've not owned Guitar Hero, but between a dozen developer events and a collegue taking it to work for research (actual research this time) I got to play it a lot. Guitar Hero actually isn't ideal as a party game, because eventually you get bored of watching, but it still really brings people together. Great game.

Invasion of the DS

New Super Mario Bros, Trauma Center, Phoenix Wright, Ouendan, Animal Crossing, Nintendogs, Age of Empires, Electroplankton, Good Lord.

Too early to say

Zelda: Twilight Princess, Gears of War, Viva Pinata

Games I wish I'd played more...

Metroid Prime: Hunters - Played it for half an hour, then never returned to it.

Resident Evil: Deadly Silence - Not having played the original RE I thought this would be a great opportunity. Played it for 10 minutes, still haven't touched it.

Sam & Max - This was mostly due to issues with my PC, but I'm only halfway through Episode 1 (and I have the review copy of Episode 2 waiting). There is basically no excuse for me not to finish these games.

Dreamfall - Only played the first few hours. Sorry, Ragnar. I'll get to it.

Games I wish I'd played at all...

Hitman: Blood Money, Oblivion, Okami, Bully, and a hundred others.

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As a preface I'm just going to say that I'm limiting myself to games released in 2006 in PAL territories, mostly.

Half-Life 2: Episode 1

This is dumb as hell, getting the first reply and then stating that my favorite game this year is the same as that in the original post, but I can't help it. I'm terribly addicted to Valve at this point and Episode 1 is essentially a summary as of why.

The whole experience is so smooth and rewarding throughout that it just blows everything else I've played this year out of the water. The ending, just as that of the main game, left me gawking. And when you're done, when you've managed to get your jaw back in place, it's time to go at it again, with commentaries. I can't wait to play the next episode, which is something no other game left me saying in 2006.


Shadow of the Colossus

Big as hell. That's the summary for SotC. Everything the game is about is big. Big emotion, big score, big fights. However, it doesn't sweep you of your feet, even with all that grandeur. Instead it sneaks up on you and mesmerizes you in a completely different way than you were expecting. The controls are a bit so-so and the running animation is stupid as fuck and the game stutters a lot, but none of that matters. It left me a big memory, that's all I can say.

I'm including a screenshot here too because I feel bad about having picked the same game as Marek earlier. Sorry.


Gears of War

Very good gameplay and so much effort in every other aspect that you just have to overlook the meatheaded design they stuck on top of it. Actually, the style they went with sort of works. You never feel any empathy at all for any of the characters but that sort of thing might actually be out of place here. Anyway, I liked it a lot.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice For All

Adventure games on the DS you say? Very good adventure games on the DS? Why, thank you very much. I love every little piece of word play, every stupid cross examination that they've put in there. So many hours of fun and frustration on such a small cartridge.

Crap I wish I hadn't payed money for

Can't be all positive here. Remember, it's still Idle Thumbs and we have to bitch at something.

Dreamfall: So flat. So drawn out. So much terrible "gameplay" shoved in.

Children of Mana: The sprites are pretty decent. That's it. Everything else is terrible.

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Personal Game of 2006:

Rhythm Tengoku


For me, what we have here is the GBA's swan song. In a year full of my long standing obsession with rhythm games, this crazy little Japanese import became the most obsessed over and played title, besides a very obvious choice which rhymes with Bitter Nero. However, plastic frets and a general feeling of intense rock-itude could not compete with the quirkiness and portability of this game. Also, being simpler to grasp than Ouendan, I had many people around me asking to play it. While Ouendan was a fantastic game, this accessibility puts RT into the lead. If you've got a gameboy advance or DS, have the ability to import, and enjoy music games even a little bit, you need to check this one out.

Runners Up

Guitar Hero 2

Yeah, yeah. I know. You all saw it coming. I've played this at least an hour a day since it came out, and played the first the same amount leading up to it. I'm an addict, but I'm ok with it. At least it's less dangerous than heroin. Right? RIGHT?

Dead Rising

This, combined with Lego Star Wars 2, convinced me to buy a 360, making it one of the biggest influences on my gaming over the latter half of this year. It's great fun and the many, many ways to kill zombies still delight all these months later.

Osu! Tatake! Ouendan!

Again with the rhythm love. This was not only the first title I've been compelled to import, but also the first thing I put on my first credit card. Go me. Addictive. Crazy. The perfect amount of challenge. There really aren't enough superlatives to describe how fun this game is.

Chibi Robo

I'll end the list with what will probably go down as the last thing I ever played on my GCN. As such, this is more of a sentimental pick than anything else. The game was fantastic, don't get me wrong, but it would not hold its current position were it not for the significance of this achievement. Farewell, little purple box of joy. My Wii now runs your games in progressive scan, leaving you unplugged and on display on my bookshelf next to your cousin Virtual Boy. You had a good run, GCN. Don't let any of those other mean consoles tell you otherwise. They're just bullies, all insecure about their own games and such.

Honourable Mention: The Bitgenerations series

Things I Wish I'd Played: Okami, Elite Beat Agents, Bully, Splinter Cell DA

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Dead Rising

Yeah, it had some flaws, but the major ones that it always got criticized for never bothered me. I didn't have trouble with the text size even on my standard 27 incher. A vocal group of people said that it was completely unplayable on standard tvs. I think they need to go to an optometrist.

Also, the save system was perfectly reasonable for what it was trying to do. I LIKED the fact that you had to be in certain places at certain times to progress the story because it provided extra tension. You have an hour left to go across the mall, but there's four survivors elsewhere? Do you play it safe or do you try going for the rescue and risk missing the story end?

And, really, when the story ends you do NOT need to end the game and redo that. I just kept playing trying to get as many survivors as I could. That's how the game was meant to be -- everyone else seemed to approach the game thinking they could save all the survivors and do all the story in one play through. It might be possible, but it's REALLY hard. And you know what? I liked it for that. I liked it enough to play through the game four times. And that is what makes it game of the year.


Gears of War

I played the entire game through co-op and pretty much the whole time me and my friend were talking about and laughing at the obvious (and at times, really bad) scripting, the bad dialogue, the cliched devices, the poor AI, the game design and all that. Which doesn't sound like it makes a good game, but the key here is that I played the entire game on co-op over live. The multiplayer is pretty fun too.


I'll admit that I haven't played too much of it, but the atmosphere and the simple board-game like design is top notch.

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Most noteworthy game of the year:

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney


(Oh god, if only there were a real life Japanese series of the game, I'd gobble it up!)

Phoenix Wright, when it finally came out here in the Netherlands, was left gathering dust on my shelf for a good three months before I finally took it out of its plastic wrapper after acquisition. Not because I didn't know I had a jewel lying there, or wasn't acutely aware that I'd love it the moment I'd play it, but simply because I couldn't find the right moment for it. When I did, obviously I was hooked. Phoenix captured me with its strong characterisation, weird plots, funny dialogues and scarce-but-effective animation. Never mind that it was technically a GBA-game and that the linearity and even somewhat lack of actual game were easily perceived; it was just a damn enjoyable game and one of the biggest surprises of 2006, even if everyone and their grandmother had already extolled it with highest praise.

Disappointment of the year:

The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion

After the genius of the supremely lovable and supremely imperfect Morrowind the stakes for the sequel were high and it was disappointing to see such a lacklustre, uneventful game arise in the end. Oblivion is just at no point very interesting. The fighting system has been improved, but seemingly at the cost of everything else. What seems a fluke is actually a flaw running deeply through all parts of the game: every new thing Bethesda added to the game struck another tiny mortal blow to the game. Full voice acting? Sure, but it begot marginalised dialogue and the irritation of only a handful of voices. Instant teleportation throughout the lands? It destroyed the careful increase of difficulty and the sense of exploration that lay at the very heart of the series. More fool-proof and console-centric menu and inventory? Say goodbye to having a clear view on things and the immediacy of drag-and-drop RPG-ing. I could go on and on, but the end-result is a little sentence I've written down before: I played Morrowind for over 150 hours and I still want more. Oblivion should consider itself lucky with 15 hours.

Gaming show of the year:

VideoGaiden (season 2)

Hooray for Scottish gaming TV! And thank you BBC Scotland for taking the bold move of broadcasting something you knew would be obscure, weird and alienating to all but the hardcore.

Gaming platform of the year:

Nintendo DS

I elected this earlier this year as my favourite console ever, and I stick to it. No other platform has given me so much gaming goodness as the DS. And it truly is more than simply a handheld; it is a valid console, a platform to be considered just as valid as its 'big brothers' (which is confirmed in the official sequel to Dragon Quest being released on this system). But forget all the politics: the DS has simply proven itself the most fun this year; with great titles like New Super Mario Bros, Brain Training, Animal Crossing, Phoenix Wright and all the excellent ones from last year, and 2007 will be another fantastic year. All hail the DS!

Most anticipated yet-to-be-announced title for 2007:

Diablo 3

C'mon Blizzard! Give it to me! Forget all that World of Warcraft business and give us another fantastic, addictive, narrative singleplayer experience!

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If I limit myself to games that were released in my territory (the U.S.) in 2006 that I have played,'s like four games. So I'm going to select games from "the set of all semi-recent games that I played in 2006."

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney


I thought this would be a throwaway title. One of those "Oh, it's amusing in that quirky Japanese way that quirky Japanese titles are" type of games. You know, a short little adventure that mocks lawyers.

SO WRONG. Phoenix Wright is what most adventure games wish they were, but aren't. Phoenix Wright is mysterious, funny, sad, and moving in ways that few games ever achieve. Phoenix Wright succeeds with static images and on-screen text where others fail with full voice acting and pre-rendered cutscenes.

When someone asked me earlier this year what my favorite adventure games were, I was surprised to hear myself give a tie between Grim Fandango and Phoenix Wright. I hadn't realized that this little Japanese GBA-to-DS port had embedded itself in my heart so strongly, but upon further reflection, it made sense. Phoenix Wright is a fantastically written game that integrates traditional adventure game puzzles into its plot so well that you barely even notice them. The whole game sort of sneaks up on you like that. You start playing one case, and before you know it, it's 3 in the morning and you're finally putting the game down.

A 2005 release, yes, but it still gets my vote for "Game of the Year - 2006."

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey


This game gets a bad rap on these boards, and deservedly so. It does far more wrong than it does right, and I could probably write a dissertation on all the problems in game design, implementation, story, dialogue, and the "Why the hell didn't they just make it an RPG?" question. (Seriously, I think it would have been received much better if it had stats, leveling-up and side-quests.)

But for all its faults, Dreamfall is still among the most memorable games I've played this year. I was aware of all of its problems when I played it, and that didn't make the game any less engrossing for me. The fact that I kept playing this game non-stop into the wee hours of the morning, despite its uncountable problems, says something strongly in its favor.

Thinking back on the game, what I remember most about it is its ambition and promise. There are so many moments when I was blown away about the part I was "about to get to." Exploring the town of Marcuria, re-discovering Newport, breaking into the WATI Corp headquarters - all these moments that were almost brilliant, but always lacking in some crucial way. The game never ceased to get your hopes up.

I suppose that what I'm saying is that the vision of the product, not the product itself, would be a contender for "Game of the Year." It's not a particularly finished or even good game, but the heart and soul of its creators just oozes out of every pore, which makes the experience itself seem worth it. Someone really wanted to make a masterpiece, and instead it ended up as this...thing. But it's still a thing.

Chibi Robo


I finally finished this game last night (after a long hiatus), and I was reminded yet again of what a delight this is to play. The gameplay is essentially that of Zelda, wherein you trot around an overworld looking for items which you can then use to gain access to more areas somewhere else. The difference is that in Chibi Robo's case, the overworld is a small house and you are a tiny robot that performs menial chores, rather than slaying deku scrubs.

The game's seemingly goofy story involves a domestic dispute and bunch of toys that come alive at night. Despite this, Chibi Robo balances humor and drama quite well, letting you laugh at the characters even as you grow to care for them in their own weird way. The situations you'll find are decidedly weird (Where else would you go back in time to plant a flower so that it can grow for ten years, thus curing a nectar-addicted teddy bear of his life-destroying woe?), but this works strongly in the game's favor. Imagine Toy Story, but weirder and a lot more creative.

On top of the high-quality stories and writing, the game has an excellent sense of pacing. Just as soon as you think you've run out of things to do, another pops up. You're always free to move between sub-quests or just goof around, without ever really feeling stuck. At the same time, the game does a good job of providing a "main quest," and does a decent job of making sure you always know where to go. Nothing ever gets boring or stale, and you can even finish certain chores after you've completed the game.

Chibi Robo (the character) is adorable, lovable and friendly. Chibi Robo (the game) is filled to the brim with hilarious dialogue and touching moments, and manages to hit all the right gameplay notes at the same time. It's a joy to play, and my third pick for "Game of the Year."

Other Games I Played A Lot Of in 2006

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

New Super Mario Bros.

Tomb Raider Legend (I know, I know, it's Tomb Raider - but still kinda fun!)

The Rub Rabbits

Games I Wish I Played in 2006


Zelda: Twilight Princess

Neverwinter Nights 2


Dead Rising

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!

Sam & Max (the new ones)

Half-Life, Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One (based on what everyone's saying...)

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My personal game of the year:

New Super Mario Bros.


I simply love this game, it's Mario's comeback to his roots. Pure 2d awesome gaming experience. I remember when I came back from UK in the start of June, I had lost much hope in games in general, but when Mario was released soon after I had come home, Mario restored my faith in good games.

I spent the whole summer just playing New Super Mario Bros.


Yoshi's Island DS - I just actually got it last week, it's superb. It has the same great pure gameplay fun elements as New Super Mario Bros.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attourney - Hey, adventure games can still be fun in 2006! When you think about the game, it must have been weird to even think that a lawyer themed adventure game could be good at all. Then when it's actually experienced what kind of game it is, it just pulls you in.

Metroid Prime: Hunters - FPS on a handheld console. Hard to think that would be successful, but Nintendo made it happen. Metroid is a good game, but I have a hard time trying to play it with a stylus, it just seems so much to be made for the thumb strap.

Half-Life 2: Episode 1 - I have no special love for Half-Life games, but Episode 1 was simply an unique experience. It was wonderful to see how they had made Alyx so real, with all the expressions and the zombine stuff in the dark etc. Only few hours of gaming, but that is how it should sometimes be. An extremely tight gaming package that has so much.

Games I wish I'd played this year:

Sam & Max episodes - Oh, I will buy these after the Christmas holidays is over, I just haven't had the time to give time to these games.

Dreamfall - Many hate it, many love it. I have two friends who played it, one loved and one hated it. I tend to lean towards the opinion of the one who loved it because he shares the many same values as I do about good games.

Guitar Hero 1&2 - I don't have Playstation, but these games sure kick ass. I've seen people play GH and it's simply pure fun.

Shadow of the Colossus - Yeah, no PS2...

Zelda: Twilight Princess - No Wii either...

Rayman: Raving Rabbids - The same as above.

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My game of the year:

Shadow of the Colossus


Also, because we love it so much, here are two pretty massive art prints that Alex and myself have framed in our apartment:


This game is simply magnificent. Without wanting to sound like a crap NGJ, I recall my excitement over this game when it was first released in North America - at the time I was in Montreal visiting my girlfriend, who I had ordered to secure me a copy of the game before I flew over. Upon arriving the second thing i did was open up the game and begin playing (only stopping to say "Oh my god, look look, check this out!" to my gf). The atmosphere, the scale of it, the animation, and the character design were all designed in perfect fusion with the over-arching story, which in turn, acted as the fulcrum upon which the entire game balance rested... and it was breathtaking.

In games that have a distinct and pure vision (as SotC does), it's sometimes possible to see the cracks in the game play as the focus on the mechanics and the drive to create something so good can overwhelm teams and blind them to the most obvious; it can cause them to lose sight of the main point of a Video game - to entertain. But 'Team Ico' almost entirely avoid this pitfall - creating a game that could be described as deep, meaningful and artistic if one chooses to view it that way; whilst also providing a very immediate and involving gaming experience. This final point was one of the reasons that SotCs predecessor Ico was often criticised - for being a beautiful but boring game (from a gaming perspective). While I personally found Ico very involving, I can also see how the appreciation of and immersion in the atmosphere was required in order to truly 'get' the game. Without 'getting' this, few would genuinely be able to enjoy the actual game play based on the core mechanics. This is not the case in SotC - where one can enjoy both the unique atmosphere and the more traditional game play mechanics in equal measure. In a way, in Ico the story drove the action; but in SotC it's the action that drives the story.

Anyway, I reckon I failed in not sounding like a crap NGJ writer but I don't care, and thankfully no amount of shit writing can un-make the brilliance of Shadow of the Colossus... the second best game of the last generation.

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#1 Shadow of the Colossus


#2 ICO (it was reissued in 2006, right?)


#3 Animal Crossing: Wild World


#4 Tomb Raider Legend


Best older games that I re/played this year:

Gabriel knight 3

Gabriel Knight 2

The Last Express

Prince of Persia: The sands of time

Broken Sword 3

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Number One:

Hitman: Blood Money


Love it to death. All the cranks have been worked out, mission quality is consistent. It's a thing of beauty.

Number Two:

Sam and Max Episode One: Culture Shock


It didn't buckle under the expectations, which is one of the most impressive achievements in gaming history.

Number Three:

The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion


Rodi can suck it.

Number Four:

The Blackwell Legacy


From the guy who had you play a rabbi in his last game, a great little adventure. Nice voice acting for an indie game!

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Sadly I can't contribute to this thread in any substantial way, because none of the games I played this year were especially good. I suppose I can still list these mediocrities in order...:shifty:



I never liked this game's predecessors, the game would barely run on my computer, and I'm not such a big fan of very open ended RPGS. And the story was awful: truly derivative in a way only Fantasy story lines can be. Even aside from these personal issues, the game is considered a neutered or watered down experience for long time morrowind players (wierdos like Rodi :grin:). Despite all of the gripes though, it's the only game on this list I spent a long time with-- finishing the thieves guild's quests and progressing quite far into the main quest, despite the stertorous state it put me in. The first wide-open RPG since Fallout 2 I took an interest in.

HL: Episode 2


All in all its gameplay was more refined than HL1, as Marek and Oath said. I beat it in just a few sittings, but it made no large impression on fact, I can't even recall anything about the game, plot line or otherwise, at this time. Alyx was your buddy, the story went no where and every asset was recycled. That's all I remember. I enjoyed it like a candy bar.

Chibi Robo


Lovely music when you scrubbed stains with your toothbrush. Ultimately the game's design was a turn off, it would have been much more successful as a leisurely Will Wright affair than what it turned out to be. And the game was just plain ugly. Aside from Chibi himself.

Sam and Max


I consider the original game amongst the lower echelon of Lucasarts adventures, only the Dig was worse. Culture Shock was surprisingly not shit, and in fact, pretty alright. I loved the "You're a credit to dementia" line. The dream sequences were great too. What wasn't great: the peripheral characters and their shite voice acting. The soda poppers in particular had tremendously poor voices. And the compression Telltale put's on voices is quite annoying. Still I look forward to the next installment.

Games I wish I had played, and someday will play:

Phoenix Wright

Osu! Tatake! Ouendan!

New Super Mario Bros.

(I don't have a DS)

Twilight Princess and Okami I have not played enough to pass judgment on, and if SotC was a 2006 game in the USA it would've been my #1.

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guitar_hero2.jpgMy Favorite Game of the Year has to be Guitar Hero 2. I picked it up just a few days ago and already it owns my soul. news_20060306_16.gifFor PC, Rainbow Six Vegas was good if you get over the fact that you can't plan strategies pre-combat like you did in Ravenshield. Gridwars II too. For me it was a year of playing older games, which I find are often better made than the shiny, shallow new ones they're churning out:

Final Fantasy 8

Half-Life (can you believe I'm just playing this through for the first time now? of course I love it. arghhh "Surface Tension")

Oh, and The Ship was awesome too. A fun break from the mayhem of Half Life 2 multiplayer. It's a more sophisticated action game.


Slightly off topic, I'm thinking of buying Trauma Center: Second Oppinion, and it looks like a fun puzzle game, but I was wonderring what the replay value was like. I don't want to buy the game and be done after I beat it. Do they offer like an instant-challange mode where you're given some random combination of malidies to cure?

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I'll do my GOTY post tomorrow perhaps, I just wanted to answer LOPcagney's questions about TC.

First off Trauma Centre is not really a puzzle game, more of an arcade actioner in a way really. Very fast paced and you are generally told what to do.

As to your actual question, there is a challenge mode where you can repeat any of the previous surgeries trying to earn a higher rank, plus in this mode there are a handful of tough bonus surgeries.

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It's one of these two.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Never Say Nerevarine Again


I am not wild about wide open fantasy role-playing universes. Maybe that's why I liked this one. I'm fairly confident you can't like Oblivion if you are a certain type of person. If you really liked Morrowind. If you are a fantasy or a stat nerd. And the backlash has been well underway for a couple of months now and it isn't really cool to like it anymore.

I am none of those people and I loved this. But I can't do much except reiterate the review I wrote.

There are funny quests, disturbing quests, draining quests, exciting quests, epic quests and none of them in isolation, all contributers to the game as a whole. An overheard conversation leads you to a character who leads you re-uniting him and his brother, which leads to a struggle to retake their family home in the middle of the woods which leads to someone finding you because he wants to find them. You pressure townspeople into testifying against a corrupt guard, he goes to jail, then, weeks later, he jumps you in the forest. Looking out from pretty much any point in the world and seeing the tower of the Imperial city. Getting gangbanged by two ogres, deciding to retreat, then, an hour later, you're still running, chased by the same ogres, two wolves, bandits, bears and a demon.

"Thank you for visiting our demonic cult, notice we have taken your weapons and equipment. Also please notice that we greatly outnumber you. Now, about ten of us will be waiting here while you prove your loyalty by sacrificing this prisoner. Here, you'll need this dagger. Go ahead, whenever you're ready."

All of it. It is the best game like this that I've ever played. I don't need to get tattoos or start my own library or get married or learn about a fictional agricultural system that will never be relevant or spend hours walking from the east coast to the west or play it with turn-based combat or learn Elvish or any of that noise. All there has to be compelling, exciting, meaningful game experience that doesn't make me feel like I wasted my time at the end of it, and, hey, look, there it is.

Half-Life 2: Episode One


Here's another favourite, despite a review which I think came out more negative than I actually meant. It's distilled Half-Life 2, so really, you already know whether you're going to like it. But for those who do, hey, that's great. It's better than Half-Life 2. It's faster-paced, there are no stop-start vehicle bits. The single-player-co-op works completely and Alyx is a great character. It's already got so much love in this thread I don't really know what to add.

Even though I'm ostensibly "unsure" about which is my GOTY, the fact that I wrote six times as much about one game than the other is a clue. Also I bolded one title and not the other. Episode One is of a more consistently higher quality than Oblivion (NOT hard to do when the game is five hours long and not 80,) but while Episode One got me psyched for Half-Life again, Oblivion totally fucking floored me. I thought it was going to be Morrowind but with better graphics and nominally better AI and that's not at all what it was. Maybe it's unfair that I'm giving it to the game which only caught me by surprise because I had no expectations for it. But, in the end, who actually cares.

Disappointment Total:

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey

Clearly this is not the worst game of 2006. It is, though, the one that frustrated me and disappointed me the most. And I am not even a fan of the original Longest Journey. I might have been able to take it if the story issues were enough to compensate for the gameplay issues (the gameplay issues being "the lack of any".) But both halves of the game are deeply flawed in such weird ways: writing which only ever alternates between needlessly blatant and needlessly cryptic, and gameplay which only ever alternates between badly implemented stealth/combat and walking from one cutscene to the next. I think for the next "spiritual successor" there should be some rethinking on why exactly this is a game. Oh, and then it would still need better writing.

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Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth


Justifiably, Dark Corners of the Earth had plenty of skeptics lining up to give its flimsy-sounding twists on the FPS staple a good kicking -- Thumbs amongst them. However, once people actually got to grips with how the HUD-less interface worked, and how the fear/trauma system affected gameplay in a very real and meaningful way, it had praise heaped upon it. The underlying story driving the game forwards - and dragging the player down further into madness - is written with expert attention to detail, and paced in such a neatly progressive and engaging way as to completely absorb you. Dark Corners of the Earth is a brilliant game, especially for those usually left cold by first-person shooters.

Animal Crossing: Wild World


Just how compulsive and diverse can living day-to-day in a village that doesn't exist be?! If you hadn't been convinced by the huge torrent of blog coverage about the game this year, make sure you read UK:Resistance's justification of ACWW as their only game of the year. Fantastic.



Retro gaming. It's a term that's been flogged to death this year, then dragged out and skull-f*cked until the corpse was frothing at the mouth. Amidst the dozens and dozens of mindless remakes and shallow beautifications of games from years back, Pixel Jam have produced a shining gem. Whilst not original in concept, it's flawless execution and attention to detail is the best example of retro cool I've seen all year. Oh and the fact it's a brilliant, frenetic, blue-blooded arcade blaster, too.

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"Before we move on, any old news?"

"I wish to discuss the most anticipated game of 2007."

"Quiet, that's new news. No, old news? Very well, we'll take up new news."

"The most anticpates game of 2007?"

"That's old news already."

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I'd have to go with Marek and Oath on this one. HL2: Episode One takes the cake for me.

My others would be Twilight Princess, Okami, Elite Beat Agents, God Hand, New Super Mario Bros., and probably some other crap.

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Well, this was the year I finished DROD: Journey to rooted hold, which was a very proud and happy moment for me.


Apart from that, I did play a bit of Zelda: TP in 2006 but then I didn't think it was as good as I now do.

The Snowpeak house is great.

I heartily agree with everyone about HalfLife2: Ep1, Shadow of the Collossus (unbelievablly excellent), New Super Mario Bros, Sam and Max, and Chibi Robo.

The Minish Cap was an excellent one too. 2005, though, but shag it.

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#1 - Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime


One of very few games I've played to 100& completion on the Nintendo DS , you probably couldn't find a game out there that I've spent more time playing this year. Though very short, there are tons of things to collect and find if you feel like exploring, and the game is infinitely charming with its bouncy music and goofy atmosphere.

That, and the tank battles are just awesome.



A huge favorite among my friends, it's a deep strategy game that is deceptively simple on the outset. Personally, I get really tired of strategy games after a couple games, but Defcon keeps me playing. Maybe it's just the way the tide of battle can totally shift in another player's favor in the last few minutes of combat or the thrill of seeing about 4,000 missiles about to crash down on your main antagonist. Whatever the reason, I haven't stopped playing it since Introversion sent me a review copy, which is more than I can say for any other RTS game I've played this year.

Hitman: Blood Money


It's everything I loved about the first Hitman game, but without the bastardized aspects of the two sequels. 47 finally feels like he isn't a total wuss without his gun and the interface is far improved. Add in some truly awesome level design, upgradeable weapons and arguably the best story in the series and you have a title that reminded me again and again why I've stuck with this series for so long.

Honorable mentions

FlatOut 2 - An improvement over the original in basically every way, FlatOut 2 is perfect for those of us that loved to spin around in most racers, drive the opposite direction and hope to nail oncoming cars. Nothing gets your adrenaline pumping more than slamming an enemy car into the side of a tree at 150 MPH and watching their driver fly out the windshield into a heap on the side of the road.

Half-Life 2: Episode One - It's everything that made Half-Life 2 great, just more refined and brief.

Deplorable mention

F.E.A.R.: Extraction Point - When you walk into a church in the first Interval and find Paxton Fettel standing there, shaking his head sadly and saying, "I know it doesn't make any sense," he sums up the experience quite well.

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Okay, there are many games that came out this year tha I loved, but I'm not going to mention ones that others already have - I figure it's better to go for stuff that hasn't been mentioned and/or has been forgotten. They're not in any particular order, it's just my random babble. So, here we go...

Games What I Liked Much

Mega Man Powered Up


Wow, I haven't seen a classic remake done so well since Super Mario Bros. Deluxe! What a fantastic game this is. I never really got into the original Mega Man (only six bosses, and no password? What?!), but this new nifty version is wonderful. Adorable midget versions of all the characters, two new bosses added, a retro mode which has the old level layouts and NES resolution, but the spruced up graphics, a level editor, and...a first for Capcom, perhaps? Voice acting that isn't awful! Dr. Wily is JUST AS I IMAGINED HIM.

The depressing thing about this game is that it apparently sold like crap, so the opportunities of seeing remakes of the rest of the classic series are in serious jepoardy. Which is a shame, I would have loved to see them at least make it up to Mega Man 3. Oh, did I mention that this game lets you play as the bosses too?

Cloning Clyde


Like most games on Live Arcade, this one just popped up out of nowhere. And what do you know, it was an awesome puzzle/platformer! Hooray! Playing like a combination of Lemmings and something that wasn't Lemmings, you got to control Clyde (and Clyde, and Clyde, and Clyde, and...) after an accident with a cloning machine. Rescue all the Clydes through whatever means necessary! Create freaks of nature like Frog-Clyde, Chicken-Clyde, er, Exploding-Barrel Clyde? Yes indeed. Juggling the various Clyde to keep 'em safe was the main goal, but you could also collect duplicates of action figures, which had also been cloned. More games like this please Microsoft, stop shovelling out the arcade ports!



A Jak and Daxter game without angst? And without Jak? HAVE YOU GOT THE BRAIN WORMS? No! Daxter is a nifty little 3D platformer (for PSP!!! No, seriously!) where you control the better character of the series, give him his own game, give him a flamethrower, and let him kill bugs and blast around with the flamethrower like a jetpack. It's fun - everything controls quite nicely (even with that dreadful PSP analog nub thing), it looks nice, it has some pretty cool gameplay mechanics, bosses, and the obligatory "collect animals to make them fight" tacked on multiplayer game. But yeah, definitely worth a look, especially as it's now going for platinum price in the states.

Densetsu no Stafi 4


A cute platformer (fourth in the series that will never see the light of day outside Japan, which is sad) where you play as a prince starfish called Stafi, and his pink sister, Stapi. Made by Tose (the secret development ninjas who brought you Super Princess Peach and Rocket Slime), the game is wholly in Japanese, but really, really simple to pick up. It's designed to be really easy (it's aimed for ten year old Japanese girls), but it's a nice platforming romp that anyone who likes the genre will enjoy. The pair can swim in water (swimming control is really smooth and easy), or can jump out of the water and navigate on land in a more standard platform style. Each character gets their own specific moves, like a wall jump and so on, meaning that you'll need both characters to access all areas.

You'll also get various animal pals to ride, like a pig that squeals and can throw sausages at foes, an angler fish to see through the dark, and bonus levels where you ride on a rose as instructed by a flamboyant lobster. The boss battles will actually give you some grief - they're pretty damn tough in comparison to the rest of the game, but quite satisfying. And after you're done, there's secret treasure rooms that can be unlocked for some more replayability.

Tomb Raider Legend


Tomb Raider Legend was my first game with Lara Croft, and man is it cool. Accompany Lara through ancient ruins, abandoned Russian research facilities, more ruins, a ghost town, more ruins, and Croft Manor, which is ONE GIGANTIC PUZZLE LEVEL AND IS THE BEST. :tup: The game looks really nice, the interface is simple to pick up and slick, and there's some clever gameplay bits and pieces - for example, for any action that Lara performs, if you repeatedly press the action button in time with Lara, she'll perform it more quickly. Shimmying along ledges, climbing ropes, and so on. Inversely, perform it too late, and she'll fumble, and stuff it up, so Lara will be desperately trying to grab onto a ledge with one hand.

It seems to be over pretty quickly, but it's a beautiful game, fun to play, with some excellent art direction. Can't wait for the sequel!

Pokemon Ranger


The latest Pokemon spinoff came out pretty close to the end of the year, but it's actually one of the better ones (kinda like how Pokemon Snap was). Ignore the annoying story about something like "connecting feelings with Pokemon" or some drivel, and focus on the nifty gameplay. Bascially, you have to loop around a Pokemon with the stylus to catch it. Tougher monsters require more loops, and some Pokemon are larger, requiring larger loops again. The Pokemon you capture can be used to remove obstacles in the game world, like bushes, fallen logs, and stuff like that. No screenshot will make you understand, but if you can have a go of the demo or a friend's copy, check it out to see if it's your thing. Oh, and if you're going to get Pokemon Diamond or Pearl in April, you'll probably need this game, as there's one Pokemon that can only be gotten through transfer from Pokemon Ranger. Hooray for cross promotion!

Games What I Also Liked Much, But Came Out Too Late In the Year To Be Counted

Viva Pinata


Do you like horrible puns?

Would you like to see cannibalism and inbreeding encouraged in a family friendly game?

Are you a graphics whore?

Did you like Theme Park or Harvest Moon?

If you said yes to any of these questions, then you don't need to read the rest of this, just go buy Viva Pinata.

For the rest of you - Viva Pinata is a beautiful looking game from the (now infamous, instead of just famous) Rare. Luckily, it's not just eye candy - there's a sweet game here too, with plenty of stuff for you to discover and encounter as you progress through the game by building your own garden. Depending on how you make your garden, different animals are attracted by it - so, plant a load of buttercups for bees to arrive, dig a pond and you'll attract frogs, and place some chickens to see the fox turn up shortly after and gobble them up.

There's over sixty different pinatas to find and tame, including horrible sours, which will ransack your garden unless you get them under control first. Occasionally, nasty characters appear, like Dastardos (a floating terror who beats the crap out of sick pinatas until they're dead), Ruffians (angry masked people who love to hurl poisonous sweets in your garden, fight your pinatas, break your constructions and plants, and will vomit up dirt in your ponds if they can't get home), and Professor Pester, a right bastard who homes in on your most valuable pinata and proceeds to beat it to death.

But aside from these occasional pests, Pinata is a really soothing, pleasing game to play, which boils down to some nice casual management, garden tending, and sending a horse to a friend with a moustache and calling it "Moustachio".

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Because I made it. (warning: I might be a tiny bit biased)

Shadow of the Colossus, Gears of War, and Sam & Max Episode 1 were pretty awesome too. I don't think I played any other games from 2006.

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