SB Staff Picks ’10: Chris Ingersoll

December 20, 2010

One of Snackbar Games’ traditions is to have staffers pick their top ten games of the year. We’re so all over the map in our tastes that our lists are never similar. Today, we have Unplugged guru Chris Ingersoll. As usual, he slips a few December titles from last year into his list, but we can’t blame him.

For me, 2010 was heavily front-loaded. Most of the titles I really enjoyed came out in the first quarter, including what was technically December 2009, but thanks to some time-sink DS titles I was never really without a “current” game. My Wii definitely didn’t see as much action as my DS — or the DSi XL I picked up in July — but that’s mostly due to my dislike of platformers; Super Mario Galaxy 2, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and Epic Mickey are sure to show up on the lists of the other Wii owners on staff, but not here. Having both Monster Hunter Tri and Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon fall flat for me didn’t help my Wii’s suffering either.

Here’s what really caught — and held — my attention these last twelve months:

Honorable Mentions: Metroid: Other M, Glory of Heracles, Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, and Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver are all worth owning but couldn’t make the final cut.

Victim of Circumstance: Mega Man 10 (WiiWare). When I wrote my first list, I had Mega Man 10 in my top 10. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn shipped on November 29th and pushed most of my picks down a space, knocking MM10 out of my official list. While MM10 wasn’t the polished awesome throwback that MM9 was, it still contained plenty of 8-bit difficulty in the classic Mega Man style. Whatever failings the robot master stages might have suffered, the first stage of Skull Castle made up for it by being one of the most epic ever.

10. Infinite Space (DS): This turn-based tactical sim was perhaps the most ambitious title I played this year. There are a ton of ships and modules and a galaxy-sprawling story line. It’s a little dry and wordy, and the actual action is a modified version of Rock/Paper/Scissors, but if you’re in to crazy levels of customization then Infinite Space should steal some time from you. 

9. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (Wii): The Wii-specific version of this year’s Prince of Persia installment may have been released (along with its HD brethren) to ride the coattails of this summer’s big-screen release but the story is all its own. Careful manipulation of unique sand-controlling abilities is required to navigate the deadly traps, especially when the developers give you free reign — and then force you to exercise it. 

8. Super Scribblenauts (DS): Adjectives might have been the headline attraction for the follow-up to last year’s crazy-ambitious dictionary romp, but the real selling point was the complete and total correction of all of the shortcomings from the previous edition. Pick up this one, and ignore last year’s model.

7. 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (999) (DS): This visual novel with “escape the room” interludes pits nine individuals in a Saw-style game as they explore a strange ship filled with locked  doors and puzzles. Multiple playthroughs are required to achieve the best ending (of six), but the game lets you fast-forward through anything you’ve read before so your third or fourth time around will blast past in a few hours. There is a lot of reading here, but the story is well-written and the characters interesting.

6. Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love (Wii): Stapling giant mecha turn-based combat onto a dating sim shouldn’t work, but it does. There are times when the BGM steps over the voice acting in awkward ways (the levels of neither are adjustable other than “voice off”), but everything else about the first Sakura Wars title to arrive in the western world is beyond solid. I don’t think I’ve stopped listening to the end credits theme (“Kiss Me Sweet”) since I first heard it.

5. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (Wii): Released just after our deadline here last December, The Crystal Bearers took the usual FF:CC focus on multiplayer RPG action and reduced it down to a single participant. Telekinetic swashbuckling interepersed with varied minigames makes The Crystal Bearers a unique experience and one of the best the Wii has seen in a while.

4. No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (Wii): Not as punk-groundbreaking as the original, NMH2 streamlines the (intentionally) awkward overworld into a menu system with 8-bit styled jobs and even more over-the-top otaku assassin action. Two other (briefly) playable characters mix things up a bit, which makes up for the fact that the ranked enemies aren’t quite as memorable as the first batch.

3. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS): Seven years of dormancy (and thirty years of story progression) haven’t dulled the shine on Camelot’s handheld RPG series. The unique djinn mechanics and the use of Psynergy to solve puzzles are just as fun as they were on the GBA the first two times, and it’s neat to see how the world has changed since the exploits of the original heroes, in a rare display of sequel continuity.

2. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (Wii): This snowbound remake of the original Silent Hill game takes the survival-horror recipe and gives is a psycho-analytical tilt. The game says it plays you while you play it, watching your moves and occasionally even outright giving you tests, tailoring your experience in unsettling ways. Reducing combat to a desperate run for your life is an interesting choice that wasn’t quite perfectly executed but still worth a future revisit.

1. Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS): Three hundred thirty hours — and still counting. That’s how much play time I’ve put into DQ9 since picking it up in mid-July. Additional quests are still being released via Wi-Fi on a weekly basis, and the sheer amount of post-game content available to those willing to seek it out is truly epic. The Dragon Quest series returned to Nintendo hardware in a big way, and it dominated my 2010 like no other title.