I love a good top ten, they’re geeky but fun. My first top ten concerns the ten games I’m most looking forward to in the coming year and will be a regular feature year by year. The following ten games hold huge appeal with me one way or another. I’ve had to cut out quite a few to keep it down to ten including Kid Icarus Uprising, Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle and Pilotwings Resort but that just means the list itself is made up of nothing but gold.
10. Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii)
Though this title has been out in other territories for a while we’re having to wait until Spring for it in Europe. Kirby has always been a bit of an odd-one-out for Nintendo. His cute looks belie deep gameplay and often a great deal of challenge in his games but he’s never really starred in anything that has set the gaming world alight. That said there’s been quite a buzz about this latest offering which was unveiled at last year’s E3. The big draw here is the visuals which follow Paper Mario’s lead and describe a world made entirely out of fabric with all the characters including Kirby existing as nothing more than string outlines. This 2D side-scroller, while apparently very easy looks very charming and inventive and just makes the top ten.
9. Super Street Fighter IV – 3D Edition (3DS)
The exciting prospect on the hardware front for 2011 is, of course, the 3DS, which launches on March the 25th. I’ve got mine preordered along with a copy of this port of the latest title in the world’s foremost fighting series. This 3D release will feature all the characters and modes present in its console forbears and the unique visual style has been brilliantly recreated for the smaller screen and the steroescopic 3D. With a host of new content including support for the console’s street pass feature it’s apparent that this is no cheap cash-in and Capcom have really given the project attention. It’s quite likely that this will be the first new game I play this year so you can expect my review probably in April.
8. Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D (3DS)
The first of no fewer than four remakes to make the list Konami’s big name entry for the 3DS in 2011 is this retread of the third in their massively succesful Metal Gear series, one I’ve wanted to be able to play for years but been unable to due to not having the right hardware. With the rpomise of plenty of new content to flesh out the original experience including gameplay ideas implemented in Metal Gear Solid 4 this promises to be one of the highlights of the 3DS’s inaugural year. If not for the fact that the game is still a bit of an unknown quantity for me it might have been higher on the list.
7. Mario Kart 3DS (3DS)
The announcement of this game was no surprise to anyone. Nintendo’s evergreen kart racing series has made an appearence on every one of their consoles since the SNES (and the GBA where handhelds are concerned) and this latest version is likely to become one of the best-selling games for the compaany this year. Obviously improvements in graphical power and the inclusion of 3D will be the attraction for this latest offering but I’m hopeful that Nintendo will put more effort into it than that and give the game decent one-player depth, perhaps something to emulate the adventure mode of my favourite kart racer the N64′s Diddy Kong Racing. Whatever happens though it’s bound to be immense fun and feature some of the best multiplayer around.
6. Paper Mario 3DS (3DS)
There’s nothing Nintendo’s mascot can’t turn his hand to. The plumber’s many RPGs have been popular since they began with the Square-developed Super Mario RPG on the SNES. Since then he’s moved onto two further RPG series, Paper Mario on home consoles and Mario and Luigi on handhelds. That balance is being upset now as Paper Mario crosses over to the 3DS with an all-new title that promises to return to the robust role-playing roots of the series after the platform-oriantated Wii installment Super Paper Mario. The 3D visuals will no doubt prove particularly effective here with the paper-thin characters and with some new gameplay ideas being implemented this looks set to be another addictive and amusing entry in a stellar series.
5. Fire Emblem (DS)
The 3DS may be dominating this list somewhat but there’s life in its predecessor yet. This latest entry in the uber-addictive Fire Emblem series has been out in Japan for months and there is some doubt as to whether or not it will be localised for Europe but if it is I’ll be jumping right on it. The follow-up to the Fire Emblem – Shadow Dragon, the subject of my first ever game review, this game is another remake of another early title and features similar graphics and presentation as well as an all-new feature that allows you to create your own character for your army. I’m very hopeful this will make it over here some time this year, it will probably have to be this year because the arrival of the 3DS is likely to spend the end of the DS. Here’s hoping the game makes it.
4. Starfox 64 3D (3DS)
Although it’s a little disappointing that we’re not getting an all new Starfox game, a remake of this classic is the best consolation prize you could ask for. Starfox 64, known as Lylat Wars in the UK was one of the best games for the N64 featuring action-packed, well-balanced gameplay and the most quotable script in viseo game history. Obviously we’re getting a graphical enhancement here but it’s accompanied by a completely re-recorded voice soundtrack which we can only hope lives up to the huge entertainment value of the wonderfully cheesy original. What new content there is has yet to be detailed but even if Nintendo just repackage the same old title it will be worth a play.
3. Okamiden (DS)
This could well be the DS’s swansong. Okamiden is the sequal to the critically-acclaimed, woefully overlooked PS2 and Wii classic Okami, an action adventure title featuring gorgeously stylised cel-shaded visuals and Zelda-esque gameplay and structure. Of all the Zelda clones down the years it was by far the best and this follow-up will push the DS hardware to its limits to recreate the vibrant world first seen in the original. With the DS touchscreen perfectly suited to the Celestial Brush and the best 3D graphics I’ve seen on the system I’m hopeful that this may prove to be the DS’s best game when it’s released.
2. The Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS)
When I first learned of the existence of this game I started hyperventilating. The Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of time remains my absolute favourite game, thirteen years after it was released for the N64. Never before had a game managed to make me really feel like I was going on a real adventure and never since has any title brought me as much joy. I’ve given up hope of ever playing another game that could better it so I’m delirious that the game is finding its way onto the 3DS. Again we’re getting updated visuals but in addition to that the game will feature a more streamlined menu interface. Hopefully there will be substancial new content to get stuck into as well such as the two dungeons planned for the original that were scrapped. Hope springs eternal but as with Starfox I’ll be more than happy with nothing more than a staright port.
1. The Legend of Zelda – Skyward Sword (Wii)
The Ocarina remake may be a massively big deal but there’s nothing that excites me more than the prospect of an all new Zelda home console title. Yes Skyward Sword’s unveiling at last year’s E3 was marred by technical problems but as far as I’m concerned only idiots cite that as reason why the final game will disappoint. It’s not like it was designed to be played on a big stage in front of scores of media people packing interfering hardware and Nintendo has always done right by the franchise. That’s not to say there aren’t concerns, as much as I love the Renoir-inspired impressionistic art style the graphical quality needs a tune-up and some of the enemy design could be better but the fact is we’ve seen next to nothing of the game. Nintendo will get the Motion Plus swordplay right, I know they will and with Eiji Aounuma promising that this game will see the biggest shake-up of the structure there’s a lot to look forward to here. This is without any doubt the most likely contender to land the title of 2011 Game of the Year.