Odin Sphere (PS2)
Vanillaware's side-scrolling action RPG caught me completely off guard when it came out, but I fell instantly in love with the game's style. Practically everything about Odin Sphere is unique: the circular levels; the gigantic, beautifully-drawn sprites; the bizarre food-crafting mechanics. Toss in a healthy amount of Norse mythology, and you've got one damn fine, under-appreciated game. Here's hoping Vanillaware's upcoming Wii title is up to snuff.
Planet Puzzle League (Nintendo DS)
Even though it's the umpteen-millionth remake of classic puzzler Panel de Pon, Nintendo went for a little extra with the Nintendo DS title. Aside from being an incredibly addictive puzzle game, Planet Puzzle League takes remarkable advantage of the DS's local wireless and WiFi features. It's easily one of the most competitive titles on the DS, with no shortage of online opponents eager to hand you your ass on a plate.
Persona 3 (PS2)
Nevermind the two titles preceding this breakout RPG; Nevermind the legacy of Shin Megami Tensei; Judge Persona 3 solely on its own, with its original blend of randomly-generated dungeon crawling, fast-paced RPG action, and high school dating simulation. To top it all off, Persona 3 features one of the most twisted premises of the past year: high school students who must shoot themselves in the head to release their inner powers. How this title escaped controversy I have no idea.
Pokémon Diamond & Pearl (Nintendo DS)
Okay, first off, shut up. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl certainly weren't perfect, but they did introduce those adorable pocket monsters to the wide world of internet battling and trading. I bought the original Pokémon game way back in '96, and DP brought back all the excitement of collecting and training that started this damn phenomenon in the first place, while adding way more critters and the Craigslist-esque Global Trading Station. Room for improvement? Of course. Fingers crossed that the next title doesn't move at a snail's pace.
Jam Sessions (Nintendo DS)
So maybe it's not technically a game, but Jam Sessions is still a fun little toy for musicians and wannabe musicians alike (I'm sadly in the latter category). It might lack the mainstream appeal of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and it might not be the most robust guitar simulator out there, but I still love being able to flip open my DS and play "Sweet Jane" at a moment's notice.
New Year's Resolutions:
There are lots of games that I'm definitely guilty of having not played. The list includes Rock Band (PS3, Xbox 360), Portal (PS3, Xbox 360, PC), Halo 3 (Xbox 360), Pac-Man: CE (Xbox Live Arcade), Catan Live (Xbox Live Arcade), and many many more. Maybe 2008 will bring me a much-coveted 360, so I can finally be one of the "cool kids."