There are more than a few complaints floating around that Castlevania: Lords of Shadow isn't a real Castlevania title. I would argue that Lords of Shadow is more Castlevania than many recent entries in the series. I think fans tend to forget (or overlook) that Castlevania began as a linear action title. For me, the series has never been about completing the map. It's about exploring wonderful and sinister places, which Lords of Shadow packs in spades. When I played the 8-bit Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest as a child, I saw lots of blocky pixels, but what I imagined is perfectly represented by Lords of Shadow. From stinking bogs to dark forests and forgotten castles, all is so meticulously and lovingly crafted that my seven-year-old self was enthralled with every moment.
I'll take that over the same 13-year-old sprites any day.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
I played through the entirety of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light in a single, epic session with a friend of mine. We blasted through every level, solved every puzzle and murdered every mythical beast. It was a night spent downing some potent potables and fighting ancient evil and it was glorious. You may not be able to recreate the magical night that I had with Lara Croft (get your mind out of the gutter), but you should definitely try. If you've got a buddy close by -- or one on your friends list -- you absolutely cannot go wrong with Lara Croft.
Bayonetta is not a well-written game. The dialogue is silly and the cutscenes occasionally border on the pornographic. The main character, by virtue of her hair-driven magic powers, is nearly always nude. That's not a joke, Bayonetta uses her long, luxurious hair to fuel her witch powers, meaning that nearly every major combo leads to nakedness. The fact that I was able to look past such silliness -- even revel in it, once in a while -- is a testament to how spot-on the actual gameplay is. The combat is as finely tuned as it gets, and with a hefty repertoire of weapons -- and enemies to slay -- it never gets boring. As a huge fan of action games in the vein of Ninja Gaiden and Devil May Cry, it's hard not to love Bayonetta. You might want to skip the cutscenes, though.
When the Kinect was first revealed in 2009, I never would have believed that a dancing game would be its outstanding launch title. And yet here we are, one year later, and Dance Central is the best-selling game for Kinect and, in my opinion, its best offering. While I certainly appreciate Dance Central's control mechanics -- one of the best uses of the Kinect thus far -- its greatest feature has to be the freestyle sections in each song. Watching instant replays of my friends and family (and myself) looking like complete idiots is one of my greatest gaming highlights of 2010. A fun project: Grab your most masculine friends and see how long they can play before they become insecure.
Okay, so Minecraft isn't technically a finished product, but even its alpha version packed in more fun than many retail titles. Initially, I thought it seemed mundane, even boring ... until construction began on my Dark Spire. Built with a glass floor, featuring multiple balconies and seated upon a frozen lake, the Spire towers over all. Ascending the interior spiral staircase, stepping onto the roof and gazing out at the land through my torchlit ramparts, I became the master of all I saw. Except those damned exploding Creepers.
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.