Critics' top 10: 2007 vs. kittens

2007 is almost over, and the end of the year brings joyous tidings of List Season. It's the time for taking stock of the last 12 months of gaming, and trying to make sense of it by putting things in numerical order. Join DS Fanboy for our best-ofs, worst-ofs, and other categories-ofs.

When determining the best games of the year, it's a good idea to go at it from different angles: by referencing our own history of reviews, obviously, but we must also look to the wider journalism community. Our reviews, while insightful and entertaining, were not comprehensive. We just didn't play everything. In addition, one reviewer's opinion is simply not sufficient data to make definitive conclusions, even if that one reviewer is me.

So we turned to everyone else in aggregate to see what they thought of this year's releases. We've gathered the top 10 DS games of 2007 according to their Metacritic ranking. Keep in mind that many of these games tied in Metascore, meaning that if we were to rank the games, there would be fewer than ten positions. It's still sequential, but with a lot of tie scores.

We then carefully applied science to these games in order to convert the Metacritic numbers into a rubric we feel more accurately conveys the quality of these games. Head past the post break for Metacritic's top ten DS games of 2007, graded on a scale from adorable kitten video to unbelievably adorable kitten video.

Lunar Knights
Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords
(Metascore: 82)
Kitten rating: "Kitten and his box"

Three unconventional RPGs came out this year to great acclaim. Of the three, Puzzle Quest was the surprise hit, proving once and for all that pretty much any arbitrary action can substitute for combat in RPGs, not just picking things out of menus. Lunar Knights was a great followup to the Boktai series even without the annoying solar sensor, and Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings was a surprising step away from the already-innovative Final Fantasy XII. For defying expectations, these three games have earned the rating of "Kitten and his box." These games toy with RPG conventions, much as these three kittens play with a tissue box.

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Picross DS (Metascore: 83)
Kitaen video rating: "Here I Go Again"

This Whitesnake video is really confusing, and doesn't seem to fit the narrative of the song at all. Why does David Coverdale intend to walk alone like a drifter? He's clearly got two cars (thus eliminating the need to walk) and Tawny Kitaen (who is apparently very drunk and could use a ride home). Why walk alone when you could drive in a nice car with your girlfriend (at the time -- they got married later)? I just don't get it.

Similarly, I can't get my mind around picross, no matter how much I want to. That doesn't mean it's not an awesome game.

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Bleach: The Blade of Fate
Contra 4
(Metascore: 84)
Kitten rating: "Scottish Fold Kitten vs. Robot Dog"

Bleach: The Blade of Fate is a fighting game developed by the legendary action game developer Treasure. Contra 4 is an even harder sequel to the classic, brutally difficult Contra series. Both games are beautiful 2D side-view games, deserving of anyone's time. But both are also daunting. 2D fighting games are notoriously hardcore, of course, and Contra 4 really is as hard as everyone says it is, in easy mode. These games could potentially scare people away who may turn out to really enjoy the experience of perfecting their mechanics and learning to triumph against an overpracticed online community or an endless spray of flashing bullets. Chances are, this lovable kitten (named Katamari) would also be having a better time if she would just put aside her fear of the yippy mechanical dog.

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Pokémon Diamond and Pearl (Metascore: 85)
Kitten video rating: "Maine coon cat using treat machine"

I don't really have any way of tying this video to the game, and I don't think I really need to talk much about Pokémon to a group of huge Nintendo fans. You guys have all played it before. It's a good game, and it's endlessly, insidiously addictive. It sold a bunch and got reviewed well. Yay Pokemans.

I just wanted to post this video of my in-laws' cat Socks getting food out of his treat machine.

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Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! 2
Planet Puzzle League
(Metascore: 86)
Kitten video rating: "Dancing Kitten"

"Dancing" in Ouendan games is less about rhythmic expression and more about frantically tapping at your screen in your best approximation of rhythm. And let's not kid ourselves -- this adorable kitten is pretty scared of whatever the hell his human pal is doing, leading him to react with his own frantic "dancing."

Planet Puzzle League is a good game, also.

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The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (Metascore: 90)
Kitten video rating: "Standing on 2 Feet"


The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
was unexpectedly excellent, even for a series that is unwaveringly excellent. By taking the (too-) familiar 3D Zelda formula, changing the perspective to one more like older Zeldas, and mixing it up with an incredibly wacky new control scheme, Nintendo created one of the freshest, most engaging entries in the series since A Link to the Past. And, according to aggregate reviews, it's the DS Game of the Year.

Accordingly, we've paired it with our 2007 Cat Video of the Year, mumucoma's "Standing on 2 Feet." Like Phantom Hourglass, "Standing on 2 Feet" starts with something we love deeply, kittens, but makes one fundamental change that transforms it into something unique and beautiful. In Zelda's case, it's stylus control. In "Standing on 2 Feet"'s case, the kitten stands up. It's a short video, but it is guaranteed to impart a perfect sense of happiness in the viewer -- like the very best portable gaming. Also, that kitten is heartbreakingly cute.

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I just wanted to post another video here at the end (Metascore: N/A)
Kitten video rating: "Winston vs. the protein shake"

NOM NOM NOM

This article was originally published on Joystiq.