The Top 7... prettiest games of 2008

Pick your jaw up off the floor and bask in their rainbow-colored glow

Critical darling and sales sloth LBP is a known quantity to anyone reading this article. You’ve heard about its comprehensive level editor and seen Sack Boy leaping and bounding around commercials for months now, but what the ads and screens can’t capture is how face-slappingly gorgeous this world really is. Forget the “if fun didn’t matter” campaign for a second and truly appreciate what Media Molecule did with the power of the PS3:

Above: A customizable set of heroes that span the spectrum

Above: A vast array of environments that push soft, comforting colors most games don’t seem to know exist

Problem is that LBP’s aesthetic appeal isn’t immediately apparent. You need to spend some time with it, either by running through Molecule’s own genius levels or drowning in the sea of user-generated content before it sinks in. The colors don’t pop like Mirror’s Edge or other games on this list, they’re more subdued. When everything is pretty, it’s hard for anything to stand out, and that under-the-radar beauty is why LBP has to be recognized for its visual achievements even when every review out there already says “damn this game’s a looker.” We all know it’s pretty, but we should know it’s pretty.

… the hell? A Wii game? On a prettiest games feature? Believe it fanboys cuz World of Goo is just about the only third party Wii title to make us say “pretty” and “Wii game” in the same sentence without a conditional statement like “for a.” Its unique style (kinda mixing Tim Burton with Stewart Moskowitz) does a lot with very little, and for that we tip our hat to developer 2D Boy.

See that lime-green beauty up there? That’s a wholly redrawn sprite of Blanka from (deep breath) Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. If you ever doubted how breathtaking 2D games could be, one round of super-high-res spinning pile drivers and bone-scarring electrocutions will change your mind in a hurry. Everything from the original game, from the backgrounds to the music to the characters themselves, has been utterly redone to absolute perfection. This game… this is what all 2D games should look like from here on out. You listening, Castlevania?


Above: So crisp it’s almost burnt

Capcom released this direct comparison earlier in ‘08. T.Hawk from the old game on the left, all jagged and spritey, and on the left is the actual model from the game, totally recreated by Udon Comics. If you weren’t around for SF’s heyday, maybe the profoundness of this update is lost on you, but for those who slapped quarters on cabinets and nearly got in their own street fights over cheap combos and throw spamming, this game is art in motion.

More comparisons:

We’re comparing HD Remix to the last home version most of us are probably most familiar with, the SNES Super Street Fighter II (sorry 3DO fans). The difference is staggering and, as with LBP, has to be seen in person to be believed. Unlike LBP though, the effect is instantaneous – it takes all of two seconds to squeeze out a breathy “holy shit” when the first round begins. Those colors, the animations, everything is effing magic.

Throw in a custom soundtrack from OverClocked ReMixand you’ve got a game that delivers visually and aurally, a package so powerful we awarded it a10/10.

Developer The Behemoth undoubtedly appreciates the hard work Capcom and Udon put into HD Remix, as they’re purveyors of cutting edge 2D gaming as well. Castle Crashers throws colors around like a tickertape parade (sometimes literally) and if you need further proof of how far sprites with thick black lines can go, give it a look.

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