We kick off our 2011 awards by looking at the three portable systems: the fading DS, the new 3DS and the Japan-centric PSP.
Shawn Vermette: Shadow Wars is the outstanding title of the 3DS launch, and might be the best non-Assassin’s Creed game that Ubisoft has released in recent years. That, and the fact that it is a Fire Emblem/Advance Wars-style game, makes it worth checking out.
Graham Russell: Even with a weak launch, the 3DS started running on all cylinders late with the release of Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7. Still, though, if you’re looking for an experience that isn’t tired and is interesting over a long period, Julian Gollop’s strategy title is the go-to title.
Honorable mentions: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Super Mario 3D Land
Chris Ingersoll: There have been a staggering number of amazing RPGs on the DS, but Radiant Historia sized up the competition and then smacked them around its crazy-fun grid-based battle system before knocking them into an alternate timeline. Making turn-based RPG combat fun is no mean feat, and Radiant Historia combines that with an ambitious storyline that explores two entwined realities and a memorable cast of characters to create an experience that will be long remembered.
Graham Russell: I concur with Chris on every aspect of this game. To add to all that, though, the game had an art style that looks nice on the aging system, decisions that aren’t good-and-evil and the instincts to know when to be profound and when to be whimsical.
Honorable mentions: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, Pokemon Black & White
Gerry Pagan: It’s been a long time since I last played an RPG that thoroughly hit every one of my sweet spots. It has a deep lore and history for those who look for it, a diverse roster of characters without belonging into most of the awful tropes they usually fall prey to, a simple yet really customizable combat system, and one of the better narratives I’ve seen in a video game. It’s almost a shame that its two sequels are under uncertainty as to their fate in the US, but I can only hope we can continue Estelle and Joshua’s adventures in the near future.
Shawn Vermette: Trails in the Sky is a perfect example of the type of game we usually don’t get in the West. At least, not on the PSP. Thanks to XSEED though, we finally got our hands on a great localization of a great RPG. The battle system is a mixture of turn-based RPG and board based strategy, the characters are easy to identify with and the music is pretty nice too.
Honorable mentions: Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, Dissidia  Duodecim Final Fantasy