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Now that 2011 is in the books, it's time to look back at what the year offered and acknowledge what I think were the standout titles of the year.
The only criteria I have in place for a game to be eligible for one of my awards is that I had to have played and finished it in 2011. So if you notice any glaring omissions anywhere it is probably because I didn't get around to playing it yet (My backlog grew tremendously within the last few months of the year).
That being said, as the title of the blog notes, this is all about 2011's handheld offerings. As soon as I am settled on my picks for consoles (That list usually takes the longest for me to finalize), I will post that as soon as possible.
The only other thing worth mentioning before I get started is that if you read My Best Of 2010 Blogs from last year, I'm not following the exact same format for my awards this time, because after rereading those, I felt I could do better this time.
Okay, enough talk. Time to get down to business...
2011 PSP Game Of The Year - The 3rd Birthday
Runner Up - None
I literally only played one PSP game this entire past year, and The 3rd Birthday was it, hence the reason for no runner up. It is worth noting that this is the first game I played in this series. I'm a big fan of Yvonne Strahovski, which was pretty much my reasoning for getting this game. The story was a little out there, and I barely remember any of it now, but I enjoyed the game nonetheless. The bosses and enemies were pretty freaky and unique. My only complaint was that it was pretty short and it only took me two play sessions of a few hours each over the summer to play the game start to finish.
2011 DS Game Of The Year - Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Runner Up - Pokemon Black & White
It will probably shock you to see that Pokemon didn't win this, but I'll get to that. Ghost Trick was one of Capcom's few efforts to do something different nowadays, and to me, it paid off in a huge way. The premise of the game (possess objects and create chain reactions to save peoples' lives while you solve your own murder) was a welcome fresh idea in a sea of "been there, done that." Sissel, the main character, was extremely memorable as well. (Minor Spoiler: He is not who you think he is). I really hope that Capcom takes more gambles in the future like they did with Ghost Trick. It wasn't exactly perfect (having to restart puzzles constantly after failure got annoying), but it was a fun game nonetheless.
Now onto Pokemon. I love it whenever Nintendo gets a new traditional Pokemon out to the gaming community, especially whenever it brings entire new batches of Pokemon to the table. However, call me crazy, but the main focus of this game was presentation, and for me it showed. I felt Black and White were too about pushing the graphical limits of the DS right before the 3DS hit the market, and a lot of the magic of the Pokemon games was lost in that. I will admit, as far as DS Pokemons are concerned, I easily rank Diamond & Pearl over Black & White. I enjoyed exploring every nook and cranny of the Unova region, as well as strategically building teams with the new Pokemon, but for me it didn't even come close to the magic and originality of Ghost Trick.
2011 3DS Game Of The Year (TIE) - Super Mario 3D Land & Mario Kart 7
Mario may have been a little late getting to the 3DS line up, but when he did, he delivered in not one, but two big ways. And while both games are of two different genres, they are both equally good, and I simply can't pick between the two. First up was Super Mario 3D Land, a 3D take on traditional Mario platforming, which took some of the best elements for Mario's platforming outings and put them all into one amazing game. I enjoyed majority of the levels and even went as far as hunting down every star coin in the main portion of the game. There was a little too much tanooki though in this outing, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this game start to finish.
Mario Kart 7, had a similar set up, in which it brought 3D to the Mario racing we all know and love. As with any other Mario Kart, it also mixes in some of the best characters, items, and tracks from previous games alongside some new additions. The hang-gliding and underwater karts didn't exactly wow me, but it was cool to see that new concept integrated into old tracks. I also missed R.O.B. who was in Mario Kart's last handheld outing, and a little puzzled as to why say Honey Queen from Super Mario Galaxy made the cut over Waluigi (especially when a track of his reappeared in this game). As with any other Mario Kart I have played, I braved the hardest difficulties, so I could score all of the good unlockables.
Kudos to Nintendo. The 3DS didn't have the best start out of the gate, but Mario managed to let the system end its first year on the market on a very high note.