I am mad at everyone I've ever known for not telling me to play Cave Story before I grabbed it late last year. Within two months, I had beaten it four times across two different platforms. It's arguably the most charming game I've ever played, with deep layers of Metroidvania-esque exploration and a level of difficulty which expertly straddles the line between challenging and frustrating. It's one of the most polished games I played during the year, and if you find yourself with an overabundance of virtual Nintendo currency, you absolutely need to own it. Twice, if you have the means.
If you noticed a sudden dip in the number of posts on our site for around a month last year, it's because the Joystiq staff was temporarily wracked with Minecraft fever. I watched entire days of my adult life vanish into the ether as I completed whatever project I was working on at the time. Yes, it was a time-sink, but the level of satisfaction I received when looking upon my magnificent creations made the investment well worth it.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
I've been playing World of Warcraft off and on since launch, but it's never really grabbed me as much as it has since Cataclysm went live. Not only is the new content in the expansion some of the coolest stuff I've seen in the game, the changes Blizzard implemented in the 4.0 updates has made the MMO the most accessible and enjoyable entry in the genre. Also: Top Hat Werewolves.
Sleep is Death
Jason Rohrer's co-operative storytelling engine is one of the coolest things to happen to video games in a long, long time. It requires a lot from its players -- there's not much tutorial included in the game, leaving the Controller to learn the ropes on his or her own, and most stories take quite a while to unfold -- but for those willing to make the investment, Sleep is Death is a game unlike any other.
It came out this year, meaning I'm contractually obligated to put it in my Best of the Rest list.
... Fine, it's also one of the longest, most satisfying RPGs to come out in 2010, which put a fresh spin on my favorite entry into the franchise. It still didn't bring the grand innovation that the series desperately requires, but it's still really, really addictive. Also, it comes with a device that literally lets you put the monsters in your pocket, which is one of the best things to ever happen to me in my life.
God of War III
It speaks volumes to the quality of God of War III that I'm so, completely done with the third-person, super-violent action genre, yet the final chapter in the Kratos trilogy stuck in my mind as one of the best games of 2010. It's not a particularly original concept, but the sheer amount of resources Sony Santa Monica poured into this game is just staggering. If you're building your game upon Shock and Awe, you better bring the heat -- and God of War III brought it in spades.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Much like God of War III -- and, wow, I never thought I'd be comparing those two games -- Super Mario Galaxy 2 received an incredible amount of TLC from its creators. It's the most beautiful Wii game ever, its soundtrack is one of the best in the series, and its gameplay innovations, though scarce, are simply delightful. It's an unparalleled feel-good game, except for when you're trying to get those last few frustrating stars, at which point, it is an unparalleled feel-bad game.
Joystiq is revealing its 10 favorite games of 2010 throughout the week! Stay tuned for more must-play picks, and take heed as each staffer stands atop a soapbox to defend those games that didn't quite make the cut in Joystiq's Best of the Rest series.