Another hour, another award announcement! It's time now to reveal the best console exclusive of the year and it's certainly an interesting category for us. While big-budget home console games generally get the most attention, it seems that most of our nominations wound up going to smaller titles which brought innovative designs and fresh ideas to the landscape.
And the winner is...
Proof once again that great things can come in tiny packages, Spelunky is nothing short of amazing. Instantly accessible to anyone who has played a platform game before, its simple and precise controls combined with colorful, cartoon characters disguises its unforgiving and often cruel depths. A Rogue-like in sheep's clothing, the game's dynamic stage design ensures that no two rounds will ever play out the same way (though they'll still probably end in death) and the number of secrets, hidden areas and special events add a tremendous amount of replay value.
While deeply satisfying to conquer, failure brings with it a certain amount of enjoyment as the sheer range of ways in which a player can inadvertently cause their own death can continue to surprise even after dozens of hours. Meanwhile, the short length of time required to complete a round encourages bouts of "one more game" fever rather than creating an urge to rage quit.
Even Spelunky's multiplayer modes put their own brilliant twists to the formula. Local cooperative play requires constant and effective communication as the addition of more explorers often brings with it more risks. The competitive battle mode is more fun than it has any right to be, resembling an unholy spawn of Mario Bros. and Bomberman that results in friends screaming at each other across the room in riotous glee.
Spelunky will beat you, stab you, crush you and detonate you and, still, you will return for more. Once you have been gripped by its deadly allure, there's nowhere to go but down.
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