If you enjoyed (or argued furiously with) our four-part list, here are some of the titles that our writers put forward, but that didn’t garner enough support. Is YOUR favourite amongst these gems?
All list features are flawed; the act of curation inevitably means that there will be glaring omissions. And as our Guardian Top 20 games of the year were voted on by eight writers, there was also compromise to contend with.
Many of you felt that Bayonetta and Bad Company 2 were the most heinous non-appearances, but they weren’t the only titles to be left off the final list because not enough of us could agree on them. Our in-house music game fanatics were left completely unsatisfied. Jack Arnott stepped up for Def Jam Rapstar, while Sarah Ditum wanted SingStar on there. “I know this didn’t have a big release or update this year,” she says, “but I have played it LOADS so if we can accept it as a DLC thing, I think it deserves a slot on my list”. I too would have liked to have seen more DLC in the list, most notably, the cruchingly tough platformer, Super Meat Boy, and Twister Pixel‘s amusing 2D platformer, Comic Jumper, which captured some of the irreverent wit of the Monkey island titles. Jack also had Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light on his list, while Greg Howson namechecked the frenzied Deathspank. In the end, only LIMBO made it.
Elsewhere, Mike Anderiesz showed rather catholic tastes, putting in a good word for both Starcraft 2 (another title many readers were amazed to see ignored) and Your Shape, Ubisoft’s holistic health game. Greg Howson attempted a passionate argument for Divinity 2: Dragon Knight Saga. “It lacked the marketing budget of Fallout Vegas and Fable 3 but Divinity 2: Dragon Knight Saga was my RPG of 2010 and easily one of the games of the year,” he insists. “Old fashioned exploration – no quest markers here – mixed with a surprisingly engrossing story made for a very enjoyable ride. It was pretty too despite the generally familiar fantasy styling. The combat was a little lifeless at times but veering off the beaten track to find a dungeon full of goodies never got tiring. Dragon Age 2 will have to go a long way to beat this one.”
Neil Davey wanted to see PES 11 included in the Top 20 rather than FIFA: “I’m really enjoying this version,” he complains, “particularly the tactical set-up and tweaking. It’s so obvious it makes you wonder what too them so long.” Greg wasn’t interested in football at all, instead putting in a vote for International Cricket 2010, possibly inspired by a certain series taking place in Australia at the moment. And while we’re on the subject of contentious genre inclusions, I would have put Criterion’s exuberant Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit in there, rather than the haughty Gran Turismo 5. Neil, though, wanted Sony’s Modnation Racers up there, explaining, “the solo game is pretty standard but the multiplayer is multiplayering at its accessible best.” Multiplayering? He also put in a good word for RUSE and Lego Harry Potter. We nodded politely.
Handheld titles weren’t amazingly well represented on the list – no Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver, no Wario DIY (for shame – what an amazing concept), no Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Neil put in a realistic case for Super Scribblenauts (“Flawed but so much fun and variety”), while Greg proclaimed Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, ‘The game that spent the most time in my DS this year’. “It was the first game since Puzzle Quest to really nail the puzzle/RPG genre,” he explains. “It managed to successfully mix accessibility and depth, even if the end battles were a chore. Puzzle Quest 2 had its moments but Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes won this particular battle in 2010.”
Then there was smartphone gaming. Angry Birds was catapulted onto our list, but I also wanted to see Cut The Rope in there. ZeptoLab‘s cunning puzzler brilliantly requires both forward-planning and pixel-perfect timing, setting it apart from other great mobile physics-’em-ups. Nicky Woolf referred to Flight Control HD on the iPad as ‘gaming crack’. Is that a recommendation or a warning? Possibly both.
Greg, meanwhile, opted for Plants vs Zombies HD. “It had been out for a while but the iPad version was where Plants vs Zombies really came alive in 2010,” he says. “The controls worked perfectly on the large touchscreen allowing players to easily set out their garden defence. As with most Popcap games, the learning curve was pitched just right with rewards coming at a nice pace. The friendly art style and humorous touches made this one of the best family games this year too.” Zombies are friendly?
Finally, indie games were under-represented in my view. I’d like to have seen Terry Kavanagh’s VVVVVV in among the big names, and maybe the phenomenal Minecraft should have been recognised, despite still being in alpha for most of the year. Also, having written about the disappointing state of horror games, several readers suggested I should play Amnesia: The Dark Descent from Frictional Games. I did. And yes, it’s an astounding survival horror adventure with a genuine sense of darkness.
As for everything else, well, it was always a subjective enterprise. Here’s to the colourful arguments that 2011 will doubtless bring…