You got us – we’re biased as hell. Anamanaguchi’s face-breakingly awesome “Helix Nebula” has been the official theme of TalkRadar for two and a half years now, so of course we’re going to honor them with a “best soundtrack” award. The hyperactive NES-rock tunes perfectly gel with the game’s old-school beat ‘em up structure, but more importantly, the entire album (BUY IT NOW) is so good you’ll want to listen to it even if you’ve never heard of or care about Scott Pilgrim.
But what about the “we didn’t expect” part of the award? Well, when you hear there’s a download-only movie-tie in on the way, “hope” is not the first reaction that rises up. Then came the news that Anamanaguchi was behind the OST, and would be playing the songs live at PAX and on their world tour, and suddenly this became the best collection of VGM we may hear this entire console generation.
Everyone knows Daft Punk created the entire soundtrack to the Tron Legacy film, and then contributed two songs (Derezzed and The Grid) to the game tie-in. But did you know the filler, composed by Sascha Dikiciyan, seamlessly blends with Daft Punk’s exceptional tracks? Some are so good they actually sound like they could’ve been official Daft Punk B-sides.
WINNER: No More Heroes 2
Released way back in January for the Wii, under the twin shadows of Darksiders and Bayonetta, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle already has three big strikes against it for inclusion in end-of-year lists like these. Hell, given how it sold, it’s likely that a lot of you forgot it existed within a day of its launch – which makes it an incredibly obvious choice for this award. It’s a shame that so many passed it up, though, because while NMH2 was fading quietly into bargain bins, gamers everywhere were missing out on one of the best, bloodiest, most punk-rock goofabouts the Wii has to offer.
Sporting a version of the first game’s action that was simultaneously streamlined and more varied, NMH2 delivered wildly fun hack-and-slash lightsaber-brawling, broken up by unique boss fights and 8-bit minigames masquerading as menial jobs. Its use of motion-waggle was minimal (and optional), its visual style was distinct and striking, and its plot was jam-packed with geek-culture parodies, winking references and events so absurdly over-the-top that not even the characters involved could take them seriously. But even if it’s doomed to languish in obscurity, it’ll at least have this award to show for it.
Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands
An interquel to the fantastic Sands of Time trilogy, the very appropriately named Forgotten Sands deserved better than to be released during the same week as Red Dead Redemption, Mario Galaxy 2 and a crummy Prince of Persia movie that was unconnected in any way. Most players assumed the game was a tepid tie-in and looked the other way, which is a shame, as it added cool new time-stopping tricks to the series' already refined platforming.
WINNER: Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
As we’ve said before, the fact that this game even made it to the Western hemisphere is a minor miracle, given that half the cast is comprised of completely unknown vintage anime and Tokusatsu characters Americans have never heard of. The true death knell, though, was news that it would be released exclusively on the Nintendo Wii.
Like its predecessor, Muramasa, Tatsunoko vs Capcom was too pretty, too Japanese and aimed at exactly the wrong audience. The choice of console may have seemed like a good idea given the Wii’s huge user base, but a system with an unconventional controller and mediocre online connectivity has about as much appeal to fighting game fans as these obscure properties do to casual Wii owners. Which is to say, none.
Despite the game’s niche status, Capcom clearly put a lot of effort into Tatsunoko vs Capcom – the graphics are gorgeous. So really, why was it on the Wii? Apparently, the arcade version was built on Wii technology, and it would have cost too much to port it to PS3 and Xbox 360. How bothering to release a game on a platform it’s guaranteed to fail on isn’t just as costly, we’ll never know. RIP TvC!
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
A crumbling New York City overgrown with colorful flowers, a rebel outpost situated amidst sparkling waterfalls and a wasteland survivor who resembles a supermodel – the apocalypse has never looked so good. Too bad Namco Bandai released Enslaved the same month as Fallout: New Vegas. And forgot to market the game. Now we'll never know find out what that crazy twist ending was all about.
WINNER: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario Galaxy 2 did just about everything right. It took the already awesome formula of the first Galaxy, slimmed down the interface, added approximately 7,000 extra gameplay concepts and featured a soundtrack and graphics that put every other Wii title to shame. Some foolishly dismissed it as Galaxy 1.5 or a glorified level pack, but those cynics didn’t understand the sheer joy of exploring each new level and discovering each new idea.
If this sequel is so great, then why are we only honoring it as a guilty afterthought? Perhaps we take Nintendo for granted – by now, we expect the publisher to deliver with the Mario franchise every time, and when they do, we forget to be appropriately amazed. Well, we are. Galaxy 2 focused purely on fantastic gameplay, proud and happy to keep throwing more crazy fun at us, planet after planet after planet.
Yes, we gave Halo: Reach an "8" – scientifically proven as the absolute worst review score a game can receive. But even though we weren't impressed by the campaign, we were amazed by the perfectly polished (and just new enough) multiplayer, as well as Bungie's continued dedication to player creation with Forge World. Now if only we'd thought of an appropriate award…
WINNER: Nintendo 3DS
It was nice knowing you, 2010. After all, you gave us Red Dead, Mass Effect 2 and the shitting vuvuzela (yeah, cheers for that). If you don’t mind, though; just bugger off. We don’t need you anymore, thanks to Nintendo’s megaton handheld piece of voodoo magic and technical trickery. From the moment we saw the little wonder during Nintendo’s ace (surprisingly hardcore-focused) E3 conference, we were wishing away the days until we could own it in our bone-dry gamz jarnlist hands.
When we actually got a proper hands-on with the machine in late summer, it only made things worse. Incredible graphics, a beautifully-designed analogue stick and the most impressive 3D we’ve ever seen. Honestly, we’re having mild heart palpitations just thinking about it. If that’s not enough to get you excited for 2011, just ponder the potentially incredible launch line-up the 3DS could debut with. Mario Kart! A new Metal Gear! Bloody Kid Icarus! Quick, pass the defibrillators. Our tickers are going into overdrive again.
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