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My infatuations of the moment...
XBLA: SSF2THDR, Zuma, Pac-Man CE
DS: Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
Music: Bon Iver, Zazen Boys, Love Is All

My modestly-sized SNES game collection is as follows: F-Zero, Super Metroid, Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City, Mega Man X, Mega Man 7, Chrono Trigger, NHL 97, NHLPA Hockey '93, Stunt Race FX, Adventures of Dr. Franken, Super Game Boy, Gunforce, Secret of Mana, Super Mario All-Stars, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, UN Squadron. I like it.

I've also got an Atari 2600, a PS1, a PS2, an Xbox 360, and a gaming-quality PC (finally).

I want you to read my blog. My real blog, not my Cblog., great URL, innit?
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Listen, I’ll be honest with you here: I didn’t start a blog because I care that you hear my opinion. I care more about your opinion. I know what you’re thinking: “Brilliam, you sure picked a weird format to use if you wanna hear other people’s opinions.” You’re right. but blogs do have comments, so there’s that.

I’ll cut straight to the chase, because you’re a busy person who might have ADD. I am running a poll to define, completely arbitrarily, the best video game ever released on the PS2. It’s with a website I frequent called ILX, but that’s beside the point. The point is GAMES, and LISTS, and POLLS. And GAMES. Did I say GAMES?

Firstly, I implore you: [url=""]visit this website[/url]. There’s a list of nominated games there: this is part of the first step. Only games nominated can be voted for, to avoid vote splitting and confusion and such; however, nominating a game is as easy as commenting on this blog, or commenting on that blog, or emailing me (that’s magacid, by the way, at gmail). Nominations are due by March 14th.

After that, the fun part: BALLOTS. You would send to my email (not by comment, we wanna keep the results SECRET until the end) your list of favourite PS2 games: as few as 1, as many as 15, in order (ties are allowed!). Ideally (but optionally) one would also include small blurbs, frmo one sentence to one paragraph, explaining why it is an awesome game to you. The results would slowly leak out on the previously-mentioned blog, complete with delicious youtube links and pictures and blurbs from other voters (AND YOU!).

If you think your list will suck, FRET NOT. It’s easy and you should send one anyway. A lot of the people contributing are not “gamerzzzz” in the hardcore sense; in fact, our year-end lists often end up with free flash games and iPhone puzzle apps near the top of the list because, well, that’s how we roll.


PS. If you think I am a spammer: fuk u I been here longer than u. Although I am maybe a bit spamming this time, natch. Maybe a bit.

I might have mentioned Every Game Ever on here before, but in case I am retarded and didn't, or you, dear reader, didn't read any of my crap before this, Every Game Ever is a place where I and several friends are making blog entries, (supposedly) one a day, about every game. Starting with the North American games for the SNES. You gotta start somewhere, right?

So Every Game Ever has been taking a lot of my time, what with having to write one entry a week (or more, since a bunch of people dropped off and I ahve to make up for their shit). It has been a bumpy road, but there has been a real fucking renaissance recently, so I thought I'd share some of my faves by some of my fave authors for the place.

Scott is a phenom, but perhaps nothing is quite as laugh-out-loud as his review of FIFA International Soccer.

Everyone seems to know that Brazil is the best country at soccer, even though the majority of its citizens do not play (unlike Cleatselburg, where soccer—or football, if you will—is a mandatory activity that takes up 70% of the day and is responsible for an epidemic of knee injuries), so I relied on the only Brazilian I know: Thiago Silva. No, not Thiago Emiliano da Silva the Brazilian footballer; he plays at AC Milan. No, not Thiago Jotta da Silva; he was murdered to death and is no longer good at soccer as a result. No, not even Thiago Silva the MMA fighter; I don’t know him. I’m talking about Thiago Silva the miniature steam engine repair technician who works at TRAIN WORLD, THE TRAINIEST PLACE IN THE WORLD. He repairs little trains.

Since I don’t speak Brazilian, and Thiago doesn’t really speak Canadian*, I had him write down his impressions while playing FIFA International Soccer and then used Google’s translation tools to transcribe it here:

Look at these little men running! Why they do not run with the ball? This is the game of football, is running with the ball and take the ball and put it on the network, but they do not want it seems.

I press the buttons and I am not sure if it is working. Is this working? The crowd is screaming and I am ashamed the ball was not placed on the network for my team. They need to have try much harder.

This is making me sad in my heart that my team does not pass each other, but only for the other team. They have to stop. They need more contrast to the practice of his pieces are never implemented in time for the tiniest of trains. Choo Choo. Ha! Ha! I love doing this, the little steam engine. They carry children in tunnels and are sometimes never seen again. That is why I can never go back to Săo Paulo.

Angus wrote about Fatal Fury Special and I'll be goddamned if it isn't one of the most surreal things I have ever read.

Jem JEM goddamnit get your father another beer I’m like to dry up and expire right here in my chair you wouldn’t want that whose pension is gonna put your goddamn cocoapuffs on the table when I’m dead and gone and paramedics are haulin my ass out this lazyboy and you’re sittin there crying over my body like some kind of pansy there’s too much of your mother in ya I always said ah thanks my son that’ll really PSSSSSSHHHTT hit the spot.

Was a time son when your dear old dad was somone t’ tussle with a real fighter Uncle Sam had me takin a slope name and going in fighting all manner of freaks and weirdos russkies boxers the whole nine. Said we’d end this goddamn cold war if we could just show em who’s boss power percieved is power archieved my son don’t matter if we ever put a goddamn American on the moon only matters that the reds think we did.

Will (that's me) wrote about Final Fight. I didn't know what part to clip because, really, it's one of the few things I've ever written where I actually like the whole thing... but it's a conversation between Cody and Haggar as they progress through the game:

CODY: Here we go! The Bay Area! Classic! This is why you made that San Francisco reference at the beginning! I was starting to get confused!


CODY: Whoa this dude is neon red! And named Abigail!


CODY: Good punch!

Travis wrote about Dennis the Menace and is convinced that Kafka basically invented shitty platformers. If you know anything about Kafka you must read this.

I have mentioned before that SNES platformers are, largely, a homogeneous group of faceless experiences that melt together into obscurity. The cartoony protagonist leaping from horizontal surface to horizontal surface, over pattern-locked enemies, onto floating powerups that are doubtless coins, food or trinkets – this archetypical game bursts from every orifice the SNES figuratively possesses, rivaled only by sports games.

I believe that the moist burrow from which the genre’s placenta originally sloughed is Mario, at least in this specific form. Every trope, practically every moment within each of these games, can be traced back to the original Super Mario Brothers, or at least its sequels.

But everyone knows that. I am here today, then, to produce a new thesis on the origins of this genre. You might think it a conspiracy theory, but the overwhelming evidence I present will be so far above your whelm that you won’t even remember what it looks like. Your whelm will be like a footprint in the desert, viewed from the moon, by a myopic, wizened space traveler on his last legs who wanted to see the great, free darkness of space one last time.

My thesis is that all of these games were created, either directly or through vivid inspiration, by Franz Kafka.

I hope you check it out. Travis, Angus and Scott are personal friends of mine who NEVER write but when they do it's INCREDIBLE-- which is why I forced them to work on this. Because they're writing again. And seriously, you need to read what they're writing.

7:29 PM on 02.03.2009

Hey, Destructoid. Sorry it's been a while since I've written anything; I got laid off, and was unemployed, and went home to Ottawa for a week, where I had precious little web time, then started a new job back in Montreal. In spite of this I spent a lot of time thinking about a few things that'll hopefully become articles in the near future. This post is also on mah real blag if you like looking at it with bigger text and more... green.

I, and many others, hate the state of review scores. 1UP was probably the best because it was completely arbitrary and subjective, and it wore that on its sleeve. They write their gut reactions, which I really appreciate. It's not about graphics and sound and gameplay as completely stupid separate categories coming into a terribly useless aggregate. Many other sites and publications have taken this sort of review to heart, but I still think there's something to the idea of breaking down the score and building your ultimate reaction from the sum of its parts.

To do this, I've invented a crackpot four-point review rubric. I can't say I thought about it that much; actually, while on the brink of sleep it came to mind and I texted the idea to my friend Angus and promptly fell asleep. And forgot about it. I may have already been unconscious. Hey, don't let that discount the idea though: at least one person thinks the lucid space between regular consciousness and batshit insanity is where the best ideas come from. I just use sleep because LSD is kinda illegal. I've given these four categories adorable disorder-based names that poke fun at things gamers are accused of having. Feel free to change them to less potentially offensive names if you're interested.


ADD x/5

The ADD measure is indicative of how immediately engaging the game is at all (or at least many) times. There are a lot of games I can think of that I simply didn't like as much as others due to this. A great example would be Fable II; there were far too many times where I found myself bored just because it would take so long for something interesting to happen. What counts as interesting can vary, as can what takes too long; getting from point a to point b might take twice as long in one game, but if the journey is intriguing enough, it doesn't matter. Now, don't get me wrong: a game can definitely have parts that are tedious and still get a five. The question is, how often is the tedium broken up? How much of the game's time does it dominate? Is the tedium rewarding? When it comes to Fable II, the answers to these questions were simply unsatisfactory.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I'll use a game like N+ to illustrate my point. You go into your Xbox 360's Game Library. You select N+. Once the game goes through its two (very quick, as these things go) company logo interstitials. A bad-ass BZHOOOOO sound happens and the menu drops in. You pick the menu, you pick a level, and you're in the middle of the action. It takes less time to get into the action than it takes most disc titles to spin up. The difficulty ranges from enjoyably casual-yet-challenging to downright diabolical, but it stays fun as hell.

OCD x/5

If you are poring over GameFAQs looking for more information you already have the ability to beat, you're probably playing a game with a 5/5 OCD score. This is a meter of a game's technical immersion. Droves of games come to mind as high scorers: Street Fighter II and III, Super Mario Kart games, Final Fantasy Tactics, Tetris, earlier Armored Core games... I could go on. The ability to get lost in the intricacies of a game's play and the urge to do so mean an easy high score, but it doesn't need to be complex-- sometimes it just simply has to be incredibly satisfying. There are certainly amazing games out there that wouldn't score well in this respect; for example, while playing Ico, I found it technically somewhat tedious and unfulfilling but I continued because I liked everything else so much. But, as such, I could hardly call it a "perfect" game, and it'd be punished in this category.

Escapism x/5

If OCD relays the game's technical immersion, escapism relays its emotional immersion. How much are you affected by the story, the characters, the world? If it's something you want to get lost in, and every time you play you forget about your bills and your shitty job and you just want to marry the main squeeze and you wonder what happens in the world once the game ends, it's a high scorer. Final Fantasy Tactics somehow achieved this. For me, Vice City did not achieve this at all; once I was done playing it, I didn't think about it again-- let alone feel any urge to visit it again. If it made you cry, it's probably a 5/5. If you tried to skip as many cutscenes as were possible, it was probably closer to a one. There's not much more to say about this.

Histrionics x/5

This is almost certainly the most controversial of the four categories, but I'll try to justify it. Basically, this is a marker of how relevant the game is or should be. Many games will get 5/5 before I even play them: Grand Theft Auto 4 and Braid would start with a minimum of five in this category simply because they're something anyone who talks about games needs to play. They could have both been humongous pieces of garbage (which, thankfully, they weren't), but they deserve to be played and talked about due to that hype. However, this is also a category where games that deserve that kind of conversation are highly rated; the "overlooked" gems like Team Ico's releases that innovate and create fantastic new worlds are pretty important in their own way. Games that are far from perfect but invent a new mechanic that future games will exploit to become amazing are also high scorers in this category. I'm looking at you, Assassin's Creed.

Some people would argue that a game's hype should have no bearing on its score, but here are three reasons I believe this is a valid category:
It means that you can easily justify not attaching it to the other categories, and get a more pure review score.
It's honest. I mean, if GTA4 has an all-time Metacritic rating of 98, how can you say that it doesn't factor into the score already? It's not like it's the best game of the decade like that MC rating would imply.
If you disagree with the hype, you can easily change this score in your head to something else and get what you consider a more "realistic" review score.


Each is marked on a scale of one to five. One is deplorable, three is honorable, and five is spectacular. The final percentile score is (a-1) * 6.25+ (b-1) * 6.25+ (c-1) * 6.25 + (d-1) * 6.25. Or, more simply, each score adds either 0%, 6.25%, 12.50%, 18.75% or 25% to the final score. The worst score is 0%, the best is 100%, and the exact middle is 50%. However, I would very occasionally consider giving a game a rating higher than 5/5 in a category; if it sets an utterly mind-blowing new standard in any of these departments (at least, for me), I'd give it a six. I would've given Football Manager 2008 an OCD 6/5, for example, because it dominated my life for months last year with its intricacies. I'd also give World of Warcraft a 6/5 in histrionics or escapism, because it was such an utterly new experience for me: for a year, I had dozens of best friends all over the US and Canada. Needless to say, a 6/5 would be incredibly rare. Like, possibly less-than-once-a-year rare.

However, on top of all of this, I'd still give a game an entirely separate score: it's a three-point scale. One is "don't bother," two is "play it if you have the time and the money to do so and nothing better is available," and three is "make this a priority." A scale like that is just as important, if you ask me. Even if Ico scored low in one category and not perfect in others, it's still a solid 3 in this entirely other system. You just need to give it a spin.

Anyway, that's the system. I'm toying with the idea of using this rubric for all future reviews of games I write. What do you think?

Sup, 'toiders? Been a while, hasn't it? I have been neglecting the crap outta this blog because I've been working on so much other stuff recently.

My main blog is still busy but I'll probably be cross-posting the really relevant stuff over here because I actually LIKE comments (yeah, I'm a whore). I'm making a post about how Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle could work as a game for Corvus Elrod's Round Table discussion. Those who dig brainy discussion on games should check out his blog, he's a clever guy. In fact, you should do like I do and try to catch up on all of these blogs if you dig that kind of discussion, because there are A LOT of people doing very smart stuff on the topic of games out there.

On a less intelligent note, maybe you remember the reviews of SNES games I was doing a few months ago. Well, GOOD NEWS! I am doing them again. In fact, I have a whole crew of people writing now... the target to write a review of every USA-released SNES game is GO! I'm also always looknig for more writers and guest writers, so if you're interested, show me some of your Dtoid stuff that you're most interested in and I'll see if I cna hook you up with some sweet writin' times. Full blog located here.

I'm also working on a podcast, which is a panel-type show on games (think Whose Line Is It Anyway, where it's like a gme show but with the same "players," but there's no improv involved). I'll keep you updated, I've edited the first episode, just figuring out where to host it, and how. Any tips on this, let me know.

My crew at Cikro is worknig on our first game. I'll announce here first (oooooooOOOOhhhhh) that it's called Malmo. That's all I can say for now but it will be great and the subject of a future Indie Nation, I'm sure.

I can't think of anything else. Also, cocks.

11:45 AM on 01.02.2009

Yeah, yeah, I know, nobody cares... just figured i'd give the ol' dtoid blog some love since more people read this than read where this was originally posted. To see it on my blog, click here (not that you need to now!)

Here they are: the ten games of 2008 that really tickled my fancy. It's hard to say they're a cut above, considering how deep this year's releases were, but, if anything, this year proved for me that it's the year of the downloadable title (I bought two of these games on Steam, and three on Xbox Live Arcade). It's a scary future, because I find the lending and borrowing of games really important to me as someone who likes sharing and discussing the medium (more on that another day, I suppose), but it's hard to complain when the games are of such high quality (and, in the case of four, are so cheap. The other was expensive, but so many of my friends had already bought it that the lending thing was irrelevant).

10. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (PS2)

I haven't played very far into it so far, but everything I've seen, I've loved. It's not the pacing, because it's slow; it's not the combat, because it's pretty basic so far; it's not the voice acting, because it's deplorable. Honestly, I think the reason I love this game (and, incidentally, 3) is the graphic design and the ease of use. I think one of the greatest secrets of a good RPG is a menu system that continues to be a joy to use, and P4 nailed it. Furthermore, the high school sim is intriguing, the whodunit is intriguing, and the art is stunning. Now, can this be the last great PS2 game, so I can stop having to plug it back in every few months for the next unbelievably good release?

9. Burnout Paradise (360)

I don't really buy car games. Unless you count GTA IV, this is the only car game I've bought this generation (I got Forza with my 360, so that doesn't count). In fact, it took me a really, really long time to pick it up; it wasn't until I went into a Future Shop and saw it for $20 or $30 (I bought it at the same time that I bought the hilariously excellent Earth Defense Force 2017). What I didn't expect was to get one of those games that you can just throw in when you just want to mess around. It's like the Skate of cars. I don't care about the driving around to start missions, despite the fact that it's just the kind of thing I usually hate, because driving feels good in this game. More games need to steal this idea: make an engine that is SO GOOD, that nothing can feel like a chore. Go figure, right? Add to that the most progressive, laudable DLC releases in the history of DLC (free stuff, so you don't resell your copy) and you've got a game that nobody should be without.

8. Braid (XBLA)

In spite of there being a lot about this game I didn't like, I still loved a lot about it. I hate laundry-listing games, but the mechanics and the pacing and the art are all utterly top-notch. I LOVE Hellman's art style. What I didn't like was everything else about the presentation; the story, the text dumps, and even the setting left me a little flat. Still, no platforming game has been this incredibly well put-together. Blow might be a bit of a dick, but he knows how to think up insane puzzles, and that's awesome. I hope his next game doesn't leave a bad taste in my mouth like this one did, because he's clearly an incredibly talented director.

7. Rez HD (XBLA)

Yeah, it's a re-release, but two points: firstly, I never got to play the DC/PS2 releases due to scarcity, and secondly, HD is (probably) how the game was meant to be played. Bad demo alert, though, the first level is very simplistic and not so exciting. It's not until you get into the later levels that you realize how thrilling this game is. By the fifth level, Fear, I am so enrapt that I forget I'm a sack of meat on a chair staring at a glowing picture frame. I forget everything, really. I just listen to some dorky rave song and react to pictures and grin like an idiot. If you doubted this game's quality, check it out anyway. It costs little and doesn't take long. But turn the lights off and sit close to the screen. You won't find better immersion for a while.

6. Audiosurf (PC)

Yep, two music games, and nary a Guitar or Rock in their names. I can't remember where I read it (apologies if you said it), but someone said of Audiosurf "If you hate this game, you probably don't like good music." Pretentious, and probably a bit inaccurate, but there's a seed of truth there: if you don't like Audiosurf, you're playing it wrong. I've listened to new records using this, and it makes it even easier for me to absorb them on first listen because I am so intently focussed on little idiosyncrasies. Of course, it doesn't really work for, like, a Bon Iver record as much as it does a Zazen Boys release, but I digress. This game is simple, but as endlessly playable as your music library. I reckon I'll be messing around with this title until they make a new one.

5. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (DS)

This only came out in December (in English), and only in Europe (North America is, inexplicably, still waiting on it) so I was hesitant to include it. But, I wanted to, because it's great. It is a Fire Emblem game, to be sure, but unlike some of the most recent entries, it's really thoughtfully laid out and interesting. It forces you to lose a member early, meaning you are less likely to freak out about the inevitable casualties you face. Class changes are more flexible than in previous iterations, meaning that no character is as irreplaceable as before. The battles, while difficult, are not hair-pullingly maddening meat grinders. Each is a well-thought out set piece, unlike the decidedly mediocre Gamecube and (especially) Wii installments. While it might not stand quite up to the GBA games (I haven't gotten far enough yet to judge) it is a great handheld turn-based strategy. And, since that genre is like catnip to me, I can't help but adore this game.

4. Left 4 Dead (PC)

As I mentioned before, this game was instrumental to my friends' ability to keep in touch once everyone moved across this giant, freezing country. Now, I'll be honest: this is a game best experienced in groups of four or eight. Once you throw strangers into the mix, it's less fun. But, when you play with a crew that you've been gaming with ages, and you know each other's weird gaming idiosyncracies, and you're forced to take care of each other while a sadistic AI attempts to bleed you out over the course of a dozen incredibly thoughtful set pieces, you end up realizing how awesome those gaming relationships can really be. My favourite gaming moment of the year was probably when Andy was charging ahead, and Angus was trying to be super-careful and thoughtful, and Travis was accidentally shooting everyone in the back, and I wasn't paying any attention and a smoker choked me to death. Even though we hadn't really displayed those tendenceies in this game yet, it was so us. And it was great. Add to that some of the most thoughtful social satire in zombie-related media since Dawn of the Dead ("I miss the Internet," the how-many-zombies-I-killed pissing contests, Zoey calling zombie bullshit) and you've got a game that was really worth the long wait.

3. Space Invaders Extreme (PSP)

Space Invaders Extreme, like Pac-Man Championship Edition last year, took an old game, flipped it on its ass, and made a new, more modern, incredibly exciting game. Aside from speeding the game up and turning it into a veritable laser light show of a game, they do a lot of little nice things that remind you that you're not playing as game designed to eat your quarters. If you fail a level (there are five, with branching levels of difficulty), you can start it over. If you turn the game off, you can come back to that level later. Or, you can start over from level 1, but it never forces you to-- it makes it your own choice. But, the point is, it's thrilling. It's nimble and colorful and, while there are only five "bosses" (yes, there are bosses) in the game, each feels like an inventive use of the game's mechanics. The inclusion of little, commercial-break-sized bits (where it breaks away from the main game and sticks you in a mini-game) gives it a pacing where you never get so used to the speed that it becomes boring. Every time it drops you in, you're thrilled.

2. The World Ends With You (DS)

This title is, for lack of a better term, transcendental. It transcends its publisher, Square Enix, by existing as a bold counterpoint to their inaccessible, tradition-laden, committee-made lineup of sure-sale RPGs. It transcends any sort of "action" or "RPG" or "action RPG" genre definition by doing both things better than ny of their permutations. It even transcends what could have been a disasterously stupid setting ("extreme"-looking teens trapped in an "extreme" version of a metropolis's shopping district) by handling it, with as much grace as can be expected from a handheld videogame, maturely. I found myself playing it all of the time, for a while. I was enthralled, in spite of the developer and the setting and the genre and whatever else stood in the way of fun. And, if that's not proof of something awesome, then I need to take a class on what's fun because YOU GOT ME.

1. N+ (XBLA)

There's a lot to be said for a game that just feels right. N+, more than any game I can remember in the recent past, feels right. Its physics are neither floaty, nor overly frictional and oppressive; the game is as airy and precise as a monofilament whip. And, as such, is as difficult to master. There's also a lot to be said of a game that comes in bite-sized but satisfying chunks; the freedom to play for as much or as little as I want has always been a major sticking point for me (RPGs with "save points" instead of allowing saving anywhere, a prime example of the OPPOSITE effect). Minimalist but clean graphics are, in my opinion, both a lovely use of HD technology and a striking contrast to it. I can't think of a single thing this game does wrong, with the possible exception of too few leaderboards. I'd love to see the current "score" leaderboards complemented by pure time-trial leaderboards, but that's a nitpicky detail for a game that feels so right.

The honorable mentions: (click here for the longer write-up)
These are the games that didn't make the top 10, but only just.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
Lost Odyssey
NHL 09
Professor Layton & The Curious Village
Rainbow Six Vegas 2
World of Goo

The dishonorable mentions: (click here for the longer write-up)
These are the games that disappointed me.

Fable II
Fallout 3
Football Manager 2009
Grand Theft Auto IV
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix

The questionable mentions: (click here for the longer write-up)
These are the games that, for one reason or another, I missed.

Prince of Persia
FIFA Soccer 09
Time Hollow
Lock’s Quest
Star Ocean: First Departure
Persona 3 FES
Zoids Assault, Operation Darkness, Spectral Force 3
Wipeout HD
Peggle Nights
The Last Guy
Soul Bubbles
PixelJunk Eden
Mirror’s Edge
Valkyria Chonicles
Mother 3
Boom Blox

I started writing a response to Dtoid's GOTY when it came out, but then I had to leave the city for Xmas and forgot to finish it. Well, here it is, to those who'd still read something based on an almost-week-old story.

Left 4 Dead is a no-brainer this year. Anthony said it best when he said it invented a genre. Dtoid picked the right games to nominate, but it DEFINITELY picked the right game to win it. That's all there is to it.

Braid was the absolute zenith of independent games this year. It made people talk in ways they never thought they'd talk about games again. At the same time, it was plagued by questionable themes and wore its non-budget a bit too proudly on its sleeve. While it'd be a gutsy pick for "game of the year," and might have been the most IMPORTANT game of the year (the years to come will prove this if gaming can move into an age of auteurs like Blow envisions), it simply isn't GOTY material. It's a stepping stone for GOTYs for years to come, though.

Castle Crashers exists as Braid's counterpoint; instead of a beard-stroking, rather pretentious showgazer of a single-plaer experience, you have the slickest indie fart joke ever created. Don't get me wrong, I love Castle Crashers. It's smoother than a vaseline-covered Crocodile Mile mat and it's incredibly cathartic and satisfying. But, it's also so intensely riding the nostalgia-wave that it forgot to come from 2008. It made a wheel rounder than any other while other games put seats, a chassis, and air conditioning on wheels that were already good enough. CC is amazing, but to call it GOTY would be to kick innovation in the nuts.

Those who consider Fallout 3 to be the GOTY must have played a different game from the one I played. Slowly-paced, buggy, soulless and downright crashy, this game was probably one of my biggest disappointments of the year. While I never intended to hold it against its predecessors, it does so itself by giving you so much of the SAME as those games, but without even a modicum of charm or heart or soul or whatever you call that spark that makes a great game amazing. Fallout 3 is sexy, but offers the user NOTHING worth writing a Memory Card article about in ten years. Then again, maybe I just didn't give it a fair shake after the third time I got stuck in a hole, two hours after saving, and couldn't jump or run out.

Lost Odyssey is an utter blockbuster, and the closest thing to an FF/DQ killer that we've seen in ages. Beautifully scripted and executed, it truly propelled the JRPG to the "next gen." But there lies its weakness: it's a JRPG. I loved it for many reasons, but I was also bored for many reasons. While I believe this genre could once again be relevant, I don't think anyone on Earth is moving it in that direction. JRPGs, despite big budgets, big scenes, and fantastic writing, are hurtling further and further from importance by staring at their own feet too hard.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was a hell of a lot of fun. But, as a fan of MGS1, 2, and 3, I also personally feel it was a giant embarrassment to the series. For all of the spending and lateness and promise and such, what we got was a series of cutscenes strung together by the most excrucatingly tenuous grasp on the concept of "narrative" that it goes well past "experimental" or "edgy" and about eight kilometers into "batshit insane" territory. Seriously, when MGS was weird, it was charming. Now it's just exhausting. MAKE A NEW GAME, HIDEO, AND DON'T MAKE IT METAL-GEAR RELATED.

Left 4 Dead perfected the shooter, redefined the shooter, and gave us some damn good co-op in a generation where we're starved for a multiplayer non-competitive experience that doesn't feel tacked on. And I'm not a Valve fanboy, either. I liked Portal and HL2 but I didn't get al evangelical about it. I think I like L4D more than either of them.