#7 Ms. Splosion Man (360)
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios — Developer: Twisted Pixel
For a premise as simple as the one the first Splosion Man had, Twisted Pixel could have just rested on its laurels and made a copy of the first game with the sequel, but the studio went the extra mile, taking every element from the first one and either refining it or making it better with Ms. Splosion Man. In this way, the sequel feels somewhat similar on a basic level, but better in just about every way imaginable. The platformer’s gradual difficulty and gameplay curve reminds of the Portal games, in the sense that every element is smartly introduced in a way that gives the player a solid foundation before throwing him into the thick of it. Be it the zip lines, canons reminiscent of the barrels from Donkey Kong Country, trampolines or the very cool teleporters that transport the Splody one between the backgrounds and foregrounds, everything has its place and makes it one of the greatest platformers of this console generation, if not all time.
The Duke Nukem Award (Delayed Game Release)
Duke Nukem Forever (360, PS3, PC)
Publishers: 2K Games, Aspyr Media — Developers: 3D Realms, Triptych Games, Gearbox Software, Piranha Games
Well, Duke Nukem Forever is finally out. The game that’s been in development since 1996 — the premiere vaporware title — was finally released in June this year. Was it worth the wait? Is it what gamers expected? Did it live up to the hype? That depends on who you ask, but mostly no. But this post is not to judge the game by its merits (or lack thereof), merely to recognize the fact that it has finally emerged from the shadows and mysterious void that it has been stuck in for some 15 years. Its release left disappointed gamers, angry reviewers and other such haters in its wake. Drink it in. This is what pure, unadulterated Duke tastes like. He’s got balls of steel, or was it balls of fail? It’s hard to remember after being taken by the overwhelming sense of apathy that creeps up after finishing the game. After all, without Duke, we wouldn’t even have this award to give out to other like-minded titles. Always bet on Duke…or something.