The Platinum Chalice Awards 2011, Part 1 The Special Awards

We begin our sixth annual awards with a nod to some of the year’s most unique accomplishments

This article is part one of a three-part series of awards. Click here for Part 2 and Part 3.

It’s time once again for our yearly celebration of all things great in gaming – and for our sixth Platinum Chalices this year, we’re doing things a little differently. Our awards for 2011 will be posted in three parts, and while you can still expect to see our “normal” Chalices later in the day, as well as our Game of the Year, we’re starting today off with our special and console-exclusive awards. If a game deserved a nod for doing something unique, or stood out as the best game available for a single platform, you’ll find it here.

Be sure to check back later today, as our Platinum Chalices continue!

SPECIAL AWARDS

The Storm Before the Calm: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Nintendo has gently denied that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the Wii's swan song, but with Wii U already on the horizon, what else is left? Aside from February's Rhythm Heaven Fever and the recently announced localization of Xenoblade, Skyward Sword is the last major first-party Nintendo game for Wii.

It's not a bad way to go – some have even declared Skyward Sword "the best Zelda of all time." While we wouldn't go that far, it's certainly right up there among the best of the series, which already makes it superior to most other games. Skyward Sword is absolutely massive, too – you're looking at a minimum of 60 hours on your first playthrough, and that's if you rush. And because it marks Zelda's 25th anniversary, Skyward Sword indulges in more delightfully self-referential in-jokes than we've ever seen in the series. So take the time to really enjoy it – after all, it might be the last time your Wii sees any use at all.

Coming to America Award: Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation

For close to two decades, two of the best entries in the Dragon Quest series weren't available to English-speaking players. That changed when the highly influential Dragon Quest V and VI finally got DS ports that sold huge in Japan, and were eventually brought to the US and UK. DQV hit in in 2010, and despite being fantastic, had such poor sales that Square Enix went quiet on whether Dragon Quest VI’s emigration was still planned. Thankfully, after months of silence, Nintendo finally stepped up and announced it was the publisher for DQVI in the US and Europe.

For old-school RPG fans, Dragon Quest VI perfectly replicated the feel of a lost SNES classic. The gameplay was just as perfect as it had been in 1995, when DQ still defined RPGs. The more open story, which mixed dreams with reality, was beautifully told (thanks in part to a fantastic localization), especially when you consider how primitive in-game storytelling was when it first appeared. It took 16 years, but for Dragon Quest's dedicated non-Japanese fans, it was easily worth the wait.

Single-Handedly Justifying Motion Control (Again): Dance Central 2

We sang with Elmo in Once Upon a Monster, perfected our puppeteering in Gunstringer and made pretty explosions in Child of Eden, but the real reason we still own Kinect without shame is because of the second iteration of the game that won this award last year.

Dance Central 2 is the single title that makes the effort of rearranging our furniture to play a game worthwhile and, with the improvements DC2 made over its predecessor, it’s now the motion-controlled title that we use to judge all the rest.

Gmail Award for Finally Coming Out of Beta: Minecraft

Minecraft sure took its sweet time getting through its alpha and beta stages, but it most definitely paid off. Before the game was even released officially this November, Minecraft had sold a staggering 4 million copies.

An open-world sandbox game with a focus on crafting, building and battling monsters, Minecraft has spawned multiple knockoffs while inspiring educators, architects and Star Trek fans with too much time on their hands. It’s certainly made its mark on videogame history – in fact, you’ll even find it at the Smithsonian next year! And to think, it all started with some old-fashioned tree-punching.

Next page: Our first-ever Fanboy Awards for Best System Exclusives!

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