Pac-Man Championship Edition (XBLA)
If not worthy of a Top 10 spot, then certainly Pac-Man deserves Joystiq's 'Comeback Player of the Year' award. I covered Pac-Man CE's overblown launch in early June, but it wasn't until I became a devoted player at home that I realized the sheer genius of the first true Pac-Man sequel since 'the Ms.' hit the maze in '82. Designer Toru Iwatani managed to scrape off a quarter-century of rust and fashion a remarkably relevant game that held me down during an otherwise punishing summer drought. Geometry Wars might be the most celebrated, but Pac-Man CE is Xbox Live Arcade's true star.
Everyday Shooter (PSN)
A sublime work of art that bleeds indie blood and stirs the soul. A very personal experience. Kudos to creator Mr. Mak.
Crackdown (Xbox 360)
Admittedly, Crackdown has become a fading memory, but a good one. Realtime World's sandbox will be remembered as the most satisfying online co-op game of the year, and not as my golden ticket to the Halo 3 Beta.
MLB 07: The Show (PSP)
Baseball? Yes'ir. As my Fightin' Phils battled to their first playoff appearance in 14 years (fourteen!), MLB 07 rarely left my PSP all season. (Okay, I confess, the game hasn't come anywhere near my handheld since the 'Filthies' agonizing first-round exit.)
Corny subject matter doesn't diminish Picross' addictive gameplay. "Just one more" should be the motto for this year's best puzzler to feature blocks.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (XBLA)
Does a decade-old game belong on a list of noteworthy 2007 titles? Definitely. Revisiting this classic in late March, I realized how ineptly I had judged SotN in my youth. After I feverishly destroyed the XBLA super-port – 200.6% completion, plus a Richter run-through – I was left with one lingering question: Is this the greatest game of all time...?
Shoutouts to Super Stardust HD (PSN), Puzzle Quest (PSP) and Jeanne d'Arc (PSP).
- Heavenly Sword (PS3): Absolute mediocrity. I jonesed so hard for this one, but once in my PS3, I didn't experience a single high.
- Phantom Hourglass (DS): I'm still searching for that 'Zelda' I fell in love with in '88, reaffirmed in '92 and pledged my soul to in '98.
- Lost Planet (Xbox 360): Mostly 'meh,' but shoddy controls ruined occasional pockets of fun.
- Mass Effect (Xbox 360): Moronic AI and generally broken combat has me baffled. Am I playing this wrong?
- Assassin's Creed (Xbox 360): The essential gameplay elements (climbing and combat) are superb, but the supporting tasks are too few and flawed.
New Year's Resolutions
I promise to finally play Metroid Prime 3 (Wii) and Uncharted (PS3).