Thursday, January 14, 2010

Yearly Gaming Analysis: 2009

Time goes by so fast. I can still remember writing the first Yearly Gaming Analysis in January last year. I started this website in early 2008 and I am happy to say that it has become a natural extension of my video gaming life - well, actually my life in general. The amount of writing has increased tremendously last year and the content overhaul has resulted in a much more varied writing alongside the much needed proficiencies. When it comes to the actual gaming, 2009 was a bit of a slow year that only picked up somewhat towards the year's end. As with what I did for 2008, the analysis will include all games that were purchased in 2009, even if the games were released prior to that year. The brackets shown in the number counts signify the difference between 2008 and 2009. Since I was able to get a full year's worth of Daily Game Log and Monthly Gaming Analysis data, I am able to present to you a new category: "The Most Played Games of the Year" - how fun!

Total Year Purchases: 10 (-6)
Favorite Game of the Year:
Rhythm Heaven
Developer: Nintendo/TNX
Purchase Date: 07/06/2009

Lizards in love.

This compilation of rhythm action extravaganzas is one of the best music video game ever made. What makes it so addicting is that it's expansive in that Warioware kind of way where each of the title's mini games presents interesting and new rhythm mechanics as well as unique visual style. Though seemingly random at first, it's surprising to see how the different rhythms can be united to create both musical and gameplay harmony. Since the game is so good, it's saddens me to know that the series has been available in Japan for quite some time now.

Disappointment of the Year:

The DSi is not related to the two older DS systems.

Last year, I criticized the eventual release of the Nintendo DSi, stating that it would make the old DS obsolete. Though that bleak prediction hasn't turn into a reality (yet) with the DSi's arrival in North America since newer DS retail games do not require specific DSi firmware for both play nor performance improvement, the DSi is still casting a dark shadow over the previous handheld iterations. This is because of its direct download ability that has featured a small number of innovative software. This has created an unnecessary gap between users of the DSi and the DS. Nintendo could have released some sort of a memory card plus camera add-on for the old DS to rectify the situation. That would be much better than paying full price for the DSi.

Total Year Purchases: 17 (-12)

Favorite Game of the Year:

Muramasa: The Demon Blade
Developer: Vanillaware Ltd.
Purchase Date: 09/10/2009

Polygons are still second to sprites.

There is nothing remotely vanilla about Vanillaware. With Muramasa, they have proven to the world once again that 2D art belongs in modern games. The game looks like a moving, breathing Japanese painting. The action gets somewhat repetitive because of its random battle design but it always feels like it's worth the grind because of the game's outstanding boss fights. Vanillaware needs to make a game in HD soon - get ready thought because when that happens, your eyeballs may explode.

Disappointment of the Year:
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Developer: Nintendo
Purchase Date: 11/21/2009

Why play online when you can invite a bunch of hobos to your place for some local co-op?

Whenever I heard about the rumor of a Wii-HD, I cringe. I certainly think that Nintendo should embrace the new era of game graphics but before they tackle that, they should really work on their utter disregard of the Wii's online community - or its lack of one. Let's see - Releasing a Wii-HD will result in more cash for Nintendo while creating a comprehensive online social network for pre-existing Wii customers means they have to spend money: I wonder which one will take precedence over the other? New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a strong representation of Nintendo's online gaming philosophy: "Keep waiting, suckers!"

Total Year Purchases: 32 (+15)

Favorite Game of the Year:

Dragon Age: Origins
Developer: BioWare Corp.
Purchase Date: 11/07/2009

You may want to sit down. It's a long tale.

With the upcoming Mass Effect 2 being more of BioWare's media-darling, it is nice to see that they were still able to ensure that Origins would turn out to be a tremendous success. Origins is a deep role playing game that borrows heavily from massively multi-player online role playing games to make it such an addictive experience. So far, there seems to be a constant supply of official add-ons to the game alongside a comprehensive toolkit that would produce high-caliber user-generated contents - further strengthening the attractiveness of the game.

Disappointment of the Year:

Say no to bad PC ports.

Origins for the PC is great but on the consoles, it is not. Besides the typical performance and graphical downgrade, there is no friendly fire to worry about and there is no tactical zoom out camera on the console versions. Worse still are the controls: I cannot imagine using the left and right triggers to switch between abilities to use when you can easily just click an icon on the quickbar on the PC. The console versions are denied the user-generated contents as well! I love BioWare for making great games but whether they have been infected by Electronic Art's cash-crazed disease or not, they should have known better than releasing a game on multiple platforms when the other platforms would be severely dumbed down. No console owners deserve to pay a more expensive, terrible version of a PC game - the same goes vise versa.

Total Year Purchases: 5 (-8)

Favorite Game of the Year:

Ar Tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica
Developer: Gust Co., Ltd.
Purchase Date: 12/14/2009

The intro will make even the less astute blush.

Hectic turn-based battles, beautiful 2D graphics, overabundance of sexual overtones - what's not to like? Ar Tonelico II is a game that I was not able to buy for quite a while because of its limited availability - which probably has something to do with a potentially game-breaking bug that I am looking forward to defeating - so when I finally was able to get it, it brought me so much joy. The PS2 is almost dead. It's nice to see that a quality game could still be released for the system.

Disappointment of the Year:

I want more goodness please.

We know that the Ps2 can do a lot graphically. Have we already forgotten about Shadow of the Colossus, God of War I & II, the first 3 Jak & Daxter games, and Final Fantasy XII? I sure hope not. It's disappointing that the system's hardware potential was not celebrated upon last year. The console still has a large user-base so if a big release were to land on the system, positive sales number would be almost guaranteed. Perhaps I'm just being a bit too sentimental here - I love the PS2 and it's difficult to see how it's been reduced to nothing more than a second-class Wii during its senior years.

Total Year Purchases: 19 (0)

Favorite Game of the Year:

Developer: Sidhe Interactive
Purchase Date: 07/25/2009

Freedom of mind is astonishing.

Yes, yes, the hyped-up Demon's Souls is great - it truly is - but its release didn't grab me by the balls like the release of Shatter literally did. Shatter is a Breakout/Arkanoid clone that pretty much shatters the original games that inspired it. Sidhe Interactive was able to turn a genre that is so devoid of life and has been milked completely dry into something revolutionary and miraculously new. The sparkling HD graphics, the thumping techno-beats, as well as the creative stage design and boss fights resulted in an instant classic that will remain playable for a very long time to come.

Disappointment of the Year:
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2
Developer: Tecmo, Inc.
Puchase Date: 10/07/2009

More slashing, less splashing.

After the slight disappointment with the PS3's first Sigma, I didn't plan on buying Sigma 2 until I heard about the co-op mode. I love playing co-op more so than competitive games so suddenly, a game that didn't interest me so much became a must have. Then, I heard about the game's violence being toned down. Though I love my blood and guts, it didn't seem to matter at that point. When I finally got the game home and played it, I was sick to my stomach. The horrible screen tearing was nasty but more nauseating was the shock of seeing limbs being cut off and hardly any drop of blood was visible from the violence. The co-op is still fun but playing Sigma 2 feels like watching a badly censored film. Not that fun.

Total Year Purchases: 4 (-1)

Favorite Game of the Year:

Phantasy Star Portable
Developer: Alfa System
Purchase Date: 04/09/2009

The proper way to grind on the PSP.

After the disappointing Phantasy Star Universe on the X-Box 360, it's nice to finally see the game returning to its former glory. To be honest, Phantasy Star Portable (its acronym is PSP!) is for me the most exciting release for Sony's wayward handheld thus far. This dungeon crawler is still playable even when you don't have people to play it with - the computer controlled teammates are not the smartest but they are competent enough to keep you leveling up your characters, searching for the next rare drop for your character.

Disappointment of the Year:

UMDs... So out of style.

I like the idea behind the PSP Go. Even though the second analogue stick is still missing from the new PSP system, the overall design is slick and the progression towards download only game distribution is something that I truly believe in. Everything was good until I found out that Sony doesn't have the slightest intentions to provide us with any solution to copy our UMD-based games into the PSP Go, making it the most useless piece of hardware upgrade in the history of video gaming.

--- X-BOX 360 ---
Total Year Purchases: 8 (-51)

Favorite Game of the Year:

Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5
Developer: Cave Co., Ltd.
Purchase Date: 12/07/2009

More bullets, more fun!

This game is the most surprising release of 2009 because it's the first region-free Japanese shoot-'em-up for the console. A must have for shooter fans, the game also serves as a gateway for future releases of Japanese shmups for the North American market. Though the impact of its "international release" is still unclear - Cave still hasn't revealed to us if ESPGaluda II that is coming out in Japan this February for the 360 will be region free or not - at least we are able to enjoy this highly entertaining foray into hardcore "bullet-heaven", especially with MushiFutari's multiple revisions on a single disc. It may not be the greatest of all shooters and Cave's Black Label release on the Live Marketplace is highly questionable, but this game carries a historical significance that just cannot be ignored.

Disappointment of the Year:

Just like Major Nelson, rather old and definitely desperate.

In 2007, we got a graphical bump from a maximum of 720p resolution to 1080p resolution. In 2008, we got the "New X-Box Experience". Last year, we got... Facebook & Twitter? Though riddled with hardware issues, all of us 360 owners have been spoiled by big improvements to the console's features every single year. I can definitely see why people like to post automatic game updates - like unlocking achievements - to their social network pages but browsing on both Facebook and Twitter via the 360 is just a complete waste of time when you can do the same thing more efficiently using a PC.



Games that have been played for 10 days or more within the year:

24.6% of the entire collection as of 01/05/2010

4.7 % of the entire collection as of 01/05/2010



Blake said...

whooooo, those are some hardcore numbers.

Must have taken some time to put all that together.

Also, you have a log book when you play games? You should post some picks of that, it be interesting to see how you log your hrs.

Loner Gamer said...

For quite some time, I used post it notes for the Daily Game Log. Since July 2009, I started using a small notebook to write down the games I play.

The real magic here is having the information stored electronically on a constant basis to properly archive them. The valuable data takes a year to collect - the actual data analysis is not that difficult to produce afterwards.