We’re human. We don’t always get to every game before the end of its year of release. This is our way of making amends: the best games we missed out on until 2009. Because we can’t go back in time and honor it in a more timely fashion.
Chris Ingersoll: This one’s a no-brainer for me: The World Ends With You. I didn’t pick this up at launch due to my dislike of the “Square-Enix Tax” that somehow lets their new DS titles sell for $40 — I’ve picked up Wii titles that were as or less expensive. (Although apparently $35 is now the new price point for DS RPGs in general…) This game got a ton of hype and praise last year, and every ounce of it was well-deserved. Had I played it “on time” it would have easily cracked my Top 10, possibly as #2 or even #1. I already gushed about it in my review, but to summarize: this is the most original product S-E has put out in forever, and is one of the best examples of how to maximize all of the DS’s various unique capabilities without anything feeling tacked on or awkward.
Justin Last: Burnout Paradise. I tried the demo on 360 before release, but it wasn’t until I picked it via PSN for PS3 early this year that I really played Burnout Paradise. Paradise City is a blast to drive around in, there are tons of things to do, and Criterion whipped up enough DLC that I’ll still be playing it for a good, long while.
Andrew Passafiume: The best game I have played this year that was not released this year definitely has to be Opoona. It’s a quirky little RPG that was released for the Wii in early 2008 and was published by Koei (more famously known for the Dynasty Warriors series). This was a lengthy adventure with a charming title character, plenty of interesting side characters, and some of the best music I have heard in any game. It reminds of Earthbound in many ways, with a sense of humor that a lot of people might not expect from an RPG like this. The game has quite the fun battle system as well, and it definitely helped that the game has a unique art style that separated it from most RPGs. Wii owners need to check this title out, as I’m positive it is already becoming quite the cult classic among RPG lovers.
Graham Russell: Two PS3 gems battled it out for me, but I had to pick Valkyria Chronicles over LittleBigPlanet. VC has all the strategic depth of a Fire Emblem game with incredible graphics and a compelling combat system. The characters are interesting, and the game conveniently lets you leave behind any personalities you find grating. This game was so good, I re-bought a PSP in anticipation of next summer’s sequel.
Shawn Vermette: I never played the Ratchet & Clank games on the PS2 because I’m not a big fan of action/platforming games, but I’ve heard lots of great things about this game ever since it came out. I also saw some trailers for it that featured some hilarious dialogue. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to play this game before now because I just got a PS3. I can definitely say though that Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction is one of the more enjoyable games I’ve played this year. The writing is great, the voice acting is spot on, the graphics are amazingly vibrant and detailed. I’d heard it felt like playing a Pixar movie, but I didnt really believe that until I played it. This is the funniest game I’ve played since Portal; and this is the first action/platforming game I’ve played in years that I’ve truly enjoyed.
What’s yours? Let us know!