Snackbar’s 2011 Staff Picks: Eric Albuen

December 28, 2011

10. Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken
The last surprise on my list. From the title alone, the game sounded absolutely ridiculous. What I ended up getting was an action platformer with a pretty interesting story, a stoic, but likable character, and music that fit the mood well. The puzzle elements thrown made it interesting as well. The answer wasn’t always obvious, but you sure as hell had to work to complete stages. Even now, I still can’t find all those hidden signs.

9. Jukebeat
If you haven’t noticed, I love my music games. The Jubeat arcade game never saw light after several tests here in the U.S., and it eventually got a release a Jubeat Plus in the Japanese iTunes Store. I was ecstatic when the series was coming to the U.S. iTunes Store in the form of Jukebeat. This version has several exclusives that the Japanese version doesn’t have, as well as songs by popular artists over here. One to note is the Lady Gaga pack that got dropped recently. I’m still trying my hardest to get an S on Born This Way on Extreme now.

8. Tap Sonic
Sure, I’ll give an iOS game a top spot on my list. This game always kept me busy from time to time when I got bored and I was out of my house. While the game itself is free and plagued with micro-transactions to play certain songs, the song selection itself is pretty good. With DJMAX songs, K-Pop and some American chart-toppers, the selection is varied and plentiful. The game play is simplistic enough that anyone could pick it up, but challenging for those who are well experienced in the genre.

7. NBA Jam: On Fire Edition
Nostalgia hit me really hard with this game. I’ve had this odd thing with the NBA Jam series that I always miss the first one, but I always seem to pick up the better of the two releases at the time. I missed the first NBA Jam, but I picked up Tournament Edition and loved it. I missed the new NBA Jam, but I picked up On Fire Edition. I was impressed with how this game really brought everything I loved about the series back. Ridiculous jams, the best announcer ever and more Boomshakalaka than I could handle. After the disappointment of the 2003 game, it’s great to see that the game has returned better than ever.

6. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land
Kirby’s back and he’s exactly as I remember him. A variety of powers at your disposal and a rather pretty looking world to boot. Oddly enough, I wasn’t that into Kirby’s Epic Yarn; while it looked nice, it didn’t feel like the Kirby I was familiar with. This game brought the Kirby I love back to me, as well as the added incentive that I could now plow through stages with more than just one helped this time.

5. Solatorobo: Red the Hunter
This one surprised me a lot too. The production values of the game were pretty good for this. Great music, great atmosphere, as well as likable characters. CyberConnect2 put in a substantial amount of effort to make this game look great and it impresses all around. Major kudos to XSEED for bringing this gem stateside.

4. Dance Central 2
I’m a music game junkie so playing this a guilty pleasure of mine. The fact that I could transfer all my songs over from the first game into this one was a plus, but the fact they added even more to add some replayability helped as well. It’s nice that I don’t have to dance like an idiot alone either.

3. Pokemon Black/White
It was pretty much this Pokemon game that made me love the series all over again. The fact that this story did have some semblance of a plot helped a lot. From simple graphical changes to revamping an experience system that’s been around for years, the game brought changes that I would easily welcome into the next Pokemon generation (should Nintendo decide to release another one).

2. Catherine
One of the surprises for me this year. An interesting story about commitment and a puzzle game that makes you think on your feet really quickly. Atlus has always released interesting games that draw gamers in with and interesting story and great gameplay. Catherine didn’t fail to deliver and colored me surprised all over.

1. Super Mario 3D Land
Easily one of the better 3DS games I’ve played this year. While it’s more of the same Mario we’ve seen before, it really helped reconnect us with Mario’s lavish past and show off the amazing power of the 3DS. If all games were like this, then I’d be excited for pretty much every release for here on out.