(Also, new Wallpaper)

I might do a couple of these, ’cause I came across a LOT of seriously good content last year. I didn’t do as much game design myself as I would have liked, but going over my game folder, It’s basically quadrupled over the course of the year… Which might be kinda sad. Anyway, the following are the ones I played the most, enjoyed the most, or got the most out of:

VVVVVV – Games that focus on a single mechanic are sort of my favourite. Portal, Braid, and the old school Mario games did this, and VVVVV follows suit splendidly. Rather than jumping, your stick-figure hero can reverse gravity, turning the floor into the ceiling, and vice versa. The puzzles that this mechanic allows are unique and varied; Even a forced-scrolling tower level seems fresh from this perspective. The graphics are minimalistic and iconic, but have a brilliant design sense to them; The soundtrack fits the look of the game perfectly and the bleepy chiptunes are reminiscent of the music from an old Nintendo game, but longer and more complex. The OST, PPPPPP, is also my favourite album of the year.

Digital: A Love Story – To call this a game is a bit of a stretch. It is very linear, and there are few actual challenges to overcome. What it is though is the combined experience of an early generation of internet users distilled into a game-like piece of fiction. The story is one of two lovers who meet on a bulletin board system in the mid eighties. The server goes down which separates  them. You then begin searching for your missing girlfriend, dialling different servers, phone phreaking for free long distance, generally doing cool 1980s hacker stuff. The whole experience – the interface, the conversations between users, the act of typing in phone numbers, or compiling code – give the feeling of being a hacker at the start of a Technological Singularity. This game is best played wearing a leather jacket and mirror shades…

Minecraft – Minecraft should need almost no introduction. At the start of 2010, it was a game where you were a blockman who could build things with different coloured blocks. Over the year it has become an epic sandbox survival game, where your focus constantly switches between creating the coolest fortress, nay, the coolest kingdom ever, and trying not to get eaten when night falls. It’s like a first-person Dwarf Fortress made out of LEGO. This game has wasted the most of my time this year.

Recettear: an Item Shop’s Tale – This game does a good job of feeling really familiar, while still being a unique gaming experience. The visuals, characters and story all reek of classic JRPG. While there are RPG elements, the game is very much a business sim. You play as Racette, a young girl with a lot of debt. Tear, a sympathetic Fey loanshark, offers to help you start a business so you can pay her back. And so, together you set up shop, buying items wholesale and selling them to the villagers and adventurers. There’s a lot of depth to the game. Everything you do has some sort of effect, even how you arange the items in your shop, to your choice of wallpaper and flooring, but new layers of interactivity are added slowly in manageable chunks, so it’s nothing too daunting. If you want a really special item, you can send an adventurer off treasure hunting, which plays as a nice Zelda Style dungeon crawl. All in all, a cute little game with a lot of style.

Flotilla – If you never thought space battles could be chill… Well, I dunno, but in Flotilla there are lots of space battles, and my friends, they are chill. With seven months to live, you set off in your spaceship to have one last grand adventure. Along the way you may meet any number of strange desidens of the universe, from slave-trading goldfish, to hitchhiking Rastafarian cats, to foul (pun intended) space pirates. Sometimes they’re friendly, sometimes they’re mean, and then it comes down to a diplomatic exchange of missiles. Battles are turned based, and between setting your ships direction and target, you get to sit back, and just enjoy the dreamlike technicolour battle unfolding. You start with two ships, but if you are a good diplomat and businessman, more will join you until your flotilla is quite impressive. You always die in the end, either from your enemies’ cannons, or your rapidly deteriorating health, but it doesn’t matter where you end up. This game is all about the journey.

Some other games that are awesome, but I didn’t really play enough to have a formed opinion of: Super Meat Boy, Hero Core Super Mario Brothers X, Zero Gear, Hydorah, Super Crate Box