In order to celebrate this year in gaming, playWISE will be featuring several articles in the next few weeks detailing the most memorable games of the year. So far we’ve talked about our biggest disappointments of 2010.
With hundreds of videogames being released year after year, it’s difficult to find out about all of them, let alone get a chance to play them. Below are some of our favorite games of the year that were either overlooked by many gamers or were quite literally hidden.
Read onward to learn about the best games of the year that you never heard of.
benwade – Sin and Punishment: Star Successor
“Sin and Punishment: Star Successor,” sequel to a cult-classic Japanese-only Nintendo 64 game developed by Treasure, is the most fast-paced, intense and frenzied shoot em’ up I have ever played. The nonsensical, yet charming, storyline is set in a sci-fi realm where everything has a turret attached to it, and every single one of them is aimed straight at you.
At the end of each hectic level, a complicated and panic-inducing boss battle awaits, each one more colossal than the last. Expect to see hundreds of projectiles on the screen at once during these twitch gameplay skirmishes.
“Sin and Punishment: Star Successor” is easily one of the hardest shooters the Wii has to offer, which is abundantly clear from the frequency with which you’ll view the “Game Over” screen. However, this won’t hinder your love for the beautifully quirky characters and impossibly surreal environments.
With plenty of unlockables, several hours of pure unadulterated gameplay and six final boss battles in a row, it’s a sin worthy of punishment to not play this treasure of a game.
Rebecca – ilomilo
Only one game can be the definitive hidden gem, and “Ilomilo” is it. The full version of this adorable co-op puzzle game is quite literally hidden, available on Xbox Live only by first downloading a code on the game’s website that gives you access to the demo, which you can then use to purchase the full game.
“Ilomilo” stars two plushy friends, Ilo and Milo, who quest not for treasure or fame but for each other. Ilo and Milo start on opposite sides of an obstacle course of fabric blocks, and the level ends when Ilo and Milo are united. But there’s much more to each level than meets the eye. From collecting cute little dolls called “safkas” to relocating blocks in order to open new paths, there is plenty to explore and cooperatively navigate.
Hidden inside this already hidden game is an arcade-style 2-D game called “Ilomilo Shuffle” in which one player controls both Ilo and Milo. The object of the game is to collect as many items as possible before one of the characters falls of the edge of the ever-moving block world. “Ilomilo Shuffle” also features its own leaderboard and achievement, both of which add to the addictiveness the game already presents.
So if you’re looking for a great game to play with a friend who may or may not like games, “Ilomilo” is a wonderful choice. With its precious story and cuddly characters, “Ilomilo” puts the “awww” in “awesome.”
Jeremy – Aphelion
Lunatic Studios’ “Aphelion” is a sci-fi RPG that soars ahead of its peers and succeeds at being an XBLA indie title worth playing. This traditional JRPG has a nostalgic presentation that’s reminiscent of older “Star Ocean” titles.
It features rich characters, combo attacks and even a new game plus option. “Aphelion” is full of items and weapons to collect, making it a full game with retail qualities. For 240 MS points, you can experience this over five-hour game that’s more than just another mediocre attempt at using Microsoft’s XNA studio.
If you’re a fan of the old days when RPGs were about turn-based combat and item management, then “Aphelion” is worth a shot. Lunatic Studios also just released the second part of this brand new series in Dec. 2010 on XBLA titled “Wings of Omega.”
Jake – Planck
Currently being developed by Shadegrown Games, “Planck” is a sublimely relaxing experience. In its current playtest build, there are no real objectives or ways to fail. The player simply guides their ship left and right while it shoots small particles, or “motes,” of music, creating a song.
There are three colors of motes and several species within each color. After destroying so many motes, the ship can pick up the instrument the mote plays, adding it to one of four slots. By combining different instruments and shooting whatever motes the player desires, they create their own version of the overall song playing throughout the level.
There are some achievements to work towards, such as gathering a certain number of motes, or looping the part of the song, though they have no real bearing on the game currently.
For those who would like to check “Planck” out, Shadegrown Games has put up a great tutorial of the first level. This game is a true hidden gem though, as there is currently no link up for a direct download. However, you can contact them, and they should be able to hook you up.
Ahmar – The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
“The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom” began as the thesis of graduate student Matt Korba at the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media Department. It’s hard to imagine that from these humble origins one of the most original and charming game experiences ever conceived would emerge.
From game mechanics to setting to musical score, every second of “P.B. Winterbottom” drips with evidence of great love for the craft by the developers. Love of the black and white classics of old permeates every Gorey-esque character and constructed backdrop of “Winterbottom’s” world. The pie-pilfering protagonist’s quest for the elusive Chronoberry Pie is made all the more charming through a superb soundtrack and genuinely witty writing.
Various developers have embraced the challenge of incorporating time mechanics in recent years, but “Winterbottom” offers one of the most playful and robust versions yet. The ability to create and manipulate ghost versions of yourself, via good old fashioned parasol whacks, is put to excellent use in the increasingly complex puzzles.
“Winterbottom” strikes a great balance between teaching the player the rules of the world while letting them solve the puzzles with their own ingenuity. The result is an immense feeling of satisfaction which is supremely gratifying. “Winterbottom” is a near-perfect marriage of concept, execution and style and an inspirational example of the pinnacle of excellence that a first-time developer can achieve.