Best of the Rest: Griffin's Picks of 2009

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Best of the Rest: Griffin's Picks of 2009
DJ Hero
What started out as tepid fascination in DJ Hero quickly turned into a deep, passionate love. I initially thought it was just another rhythm game knock-off with an obtuse peripheral and a too-high price point. However, as my turntabling improved, my fondness for the game multiplied. Based on the game's lackluster sales, I'm guessing most people shared my outright hesitance -- but once you invest a bit of time and patience into DJ Hero, I guarantee you'll get hooked. (And that soundtrack! Oh, man, that soundtrack.)

This is an absolutely true story. My usual Monday night Rock Band-slash-dude's night out had come to a halt due to a broken drum pedal. While searching for a back-up title to divert my guests with, I jokingly suggested Flower. The evening took an unexpected turn, as my cadre of manly faux-rockers became mesmerized by the game's soothing, gorgeous visuals. We played through the entire game (and the credits), proving that Flower is more than just a totally radical screensaver. It's also one of the most original, most beautiful games I've ever played.

Red Faction: Guerrilla
On the other end of the cathartic gaming spectrum is Guerrilla, which offered a channel through which to soothe my soul by destroying martian bridges with sledgehammers. I didn't mess with the multiplayer mode or DLC, and I can't remember any of the particulars of the story -- but the game won me over with its immeasurable capacity for destruction. It was love at first decimated I-beam.

House of the Dead: Overkill
This fu**ing game is fu**ing awesome, mo********er.

Pokémon Platinum
Look, get used to it, alright? Every year, I'm going to put a Pokémon game in here. Next year? Heart Gold and Soul Silver. It's going to happen, just prepare yourself for that, okay? For reals though, I probably put 50 hours into Platinum, most of which on flights to various conventions.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition
Whoa, it's a table-based RPG that ... I think was released in 2008. Nevermind that -- 2009 was the year in which I crossed the threshold from video game nerddom to table gaming nerddom; a transition made much easier by the excellent Penny Arcade D&D podcasts, and the fourth edition's easily understood rules. Don't be scared of giving it a try -- if you can find a good group of people to play with, it'll be one of the best social gaming experiences you'll ever be a part of.

I Am T-Pain
Well, this list really went off the rails, didn't it? I mean, the iPhone is technically a gaming platform, and this is on it ... no, I'm not going to justify my inclusion of this App in my Best of the Rest list. I just ... I wanted to give it some form of accolade, you know? But I don't write for an auto-tune technology blog, do I? No, I write for a video game blog. And while I Am T-Pain might be a little far from our usual subject matter, it's the best three dollars I've ever spent ever in my whole life, and I wanted you to know that.


Resident Evil 5 - A major, inexcusable step down from the last installment in the franchise. Resident Evil 4 on the Wii remains one of my favorite games of all time -- as I played through Five with my brother, all of the joy had been sucked out of the experience. Particularly during the last three boss fights, which are more painful and tedious than looking for a needle in a pile of rustier needles.

Scribblenauts - I was ready to call Scribblenauts my unquestioned G.O.T.Y. when I first played it at E3 -- however, my excitement over the game's word-spawning mechanism disguised the game's abysmal control scheme. With a few small changes to Maxwell's movement controls, 5th Cell would've had an instant hit on their hands. Instead, they produced a fascinating, but somewhat aggravating tech demo.

Dissidia: Final Fantasy - I'd been hoping for a Final Fantasy mash-up like this since Ehrgeiz -- unfortunately, the game's combat mechanics never clicked in my mind, nor did the crafting system, the Chocobo-based EXP system, the loot system, the calendar system, the ... you get the point. It was way too confusing to deliver any of that Final Fantasy satisfaction I'd hoped for.

Fat Princess - Again, I really thought I was going to be spending a great deal of time with Fat Princess, as it looked like a cartoony ... er, cartoonier action-RPG version of Team Fortress 2. However, the game never really enraptured me, and the PS3 install base's general lack of headsets made strategizing a near impossibility.

The fact that all the games got delayed - We all complain when we get crushed by a giant wave of big releases at the end of the year ... but, c'mon, admit it. You love it. Knowing that, for the next few months, you'll always have some big title you've got to catch up on? Knowing that your conversations with fellow gaming enthusiasts will be scattershot sales pitches on your favorite game from the horde? I always look forward to the end of the year for these reasons -- but publishers who delayed their game to avoid competition (only to land in more heated competition) took that away from me. Now I'm sad all the time.
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