Shane and Cole offered up their picks for the best films of 2009. I was going to follow suit and do my own list, but I realized that too much of it coincided with what they'd already mentioned, so for something fresh I thought about what films I was looking forward to in 2010.
Then I figured you guys might be "movied out", as it were. So, I decided to give you a list of video games that I'm looking forward to in 2010. I went with games that either had what I would call "firm" release dates for 2010 or I felt actually had a chance of making it out this year.
As a result, you won't see games like Final Fantasy XIV Online – Square Enix is famous for being off schedule – or the upcoming Legend of Zelda Wii. I know Miyamoto-san has announced it’ll be released by Christmas 2010, but we have seen nothing, but a picture. I need something more substantial, Nintendo!
But enough talk, have at you!
5. Heavy Rain
This one may have slipped past your radar over the last few years. A soon-to-be PS3 exclusive (we’ll see, they said that about Resident Evil 5 and Final Fantasy XIII as well), the game is being developed by French studio Quantic Dream.
Why am I so excited? From everything that I’ve read Heavy Rain appears to be a completely new concept. The idea is an emotionally-driven game of morals. You play as four different characters, each of which is involved in an investigation for a serial killer named The Origami Killer. It smacks of survival horror elements, but David Cage, lead developer behind the game, says that it really delves into the idea of “what would you do for the one you love?” One of the main characters is a father of two boys, and we can only assume that somehow this serial killer comes into their lives.
I’ve been playing video games since the late-80s. I’ve played lots of different types of games, but I find over time you see a lot of stuff recycled. That’s not a bad thing. I like seeing a new 2-D Mario game as much as the next guy. What I’m saying is that anything that comes up with a fresh idea is something I’ll be interested in.
Couple all of these aspects with some of the most impressive graphics I’ve seen on the PS3 and I think that Heavy Rain is going to be a huge hit in 2010.
4. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
I mentioned this game way back in the summer in my list Best Announcement from E3 2009.
I could sum up this one with two words: Kojima Productions… but I won’t. Instead I’ll pique your interest even more.
The idea behind this title is one that I’m not too keen about. In the film industry it can be the death toll of a beloved series. It is a reboot. Fortunately for us, in the video game industry, when a reboot of a series is introduced you can still expect games from the classic series, so it’s not so bad.
This Castlevania was originally titled Lords of Shadow, its current sub-title. It was to throw people off the scent. Why? The intention of this game is to completely revamp (teehee) the Castlevania mythos.
In the game you do play as a Belmont, by the name of Gabriel. Most people believed the title was a prequel; a story of a Belmont before that of Trevor (he was the oldest, right? I’m not so sure anymore). That is not that case, however. In this tale, Gabriel Belmont is a knight in the Brotherhood of Light: a group of knights dedicated to protecting people from the supernatural. When Gabriel’s wife is killed by a demon, he travels to home of the Lords of Shadow, to defeat their three factions and release his wife’s soul from a sort of limbo.
Heavily embedded in this plot are two masks; the god and devil masks, although not much has been revealed on this subject. I guess this could end up a prequel, but it’s being touted as a reboot of the franchise, so we’ll just have to wait and see. A whip is used, but it isn’t being called Vampire Killer, and the fact that vampires are even in the game hasn’t been revealed yet.
So, in short, no Dracula! Or a castle? Hrmmm. I’m assuming that one of these Lords of Shadow is the Drac man himself, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. The game is a full 3-D title with flecks of God of War and Shadow of the Colossus clearly present. Konami has been looking for a way to break into the 3-D realm with the Castlevania series for years. Their latest efforts, Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness (both for the PS2) were alright, but nothing special. I think this will be the one to break out of the handheld market, where they’ve held their classic side-scrolling series, and into the mega-selling home console market.
3. Super Mario Galaxy 2
2007’s Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii was a fantastic entry into the series. With a lot of the same gameplay elements of Super Mario 64, and a whole new 3-D, planetary-based world, it offered a fresh entry to the series.
In 2010 we’ll see the sequel to Super Mario Galaxy, which when you think of it, is unheard of. Since the original Mario Bros. each and every sequential game in the series offered a completely new gameplay dynamic. Super Mario Bros. brought us platforming, stage-based gameplay. Super Mario Bros. 2 (in Japan) was basically a harder version of the first game, a true sequel – a rare thing for Miyamoto and Nintendo. The American release, however, a rip-off of Doki Doki Panic (Japan), was a complete revamp of the series, offering up multiple characters and a whole new landscape. Super Mario Bros. 3 introduced the overworld map, as well as new characters and suits and Super Mario World took the gameplay elements of SMB 3 and added all new suits, gameplay elements and best of all, Yoshi!
Since then all of the games of the series have been drastically different from the last, introducing new gameplay each and every time. As of late, however, Nintendo has been creating true sequels to their Mario titles (which they haven’t really done since Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan – our “Lost Levels” – or the Super Mario Land games on the Gameboy). New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a sequel to New Super Mario Bros. on the DS, and a spiritual sequel to the Mario games of old, like Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World.
I could continue on, but we all saw how revolutionary Super Mario 64 was (I’m sure you’ve played it) and the completely off-the-wall Super Mario Sunshine for the Gamecube.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 pretty much takes SMG and pumps it up. The same graphics and engine are to be used, but there will be all new suits, gaming elements (the ability to dig at least) and, once again, Yoshi! That’s right, our beloved buddy, who recently returned to NSMB Wii, is back, and in full 3-D. No need to follow crazy rumours and find him hidden on a roof, like in Super Mario 64. This guy is for real.
I for one am pumped about this update to SMG and think this will be a huge title for Nintendo in 2010. It’s not often that Nintendo creates simple sequels in its Mario series, the few that exist I’ve listed above, so it just goes to show how well Super Mario Galaxy was received.
2. Mega Man 10
That’s right, with all of the games coming out in 2010, the second-most one I’m excited for is an 8-bit, NES-based game, Mega Man 10.
A sequel to the series as a whole, and most importantly to the wildly popular Mega Man 9, which was released in 2009 for WiiWare, PSN and Xbox Live, Mega Man 10 will continue in the 8-bit world the series started in with all new gameplay elements.
Introduced in DLC (downloadable content) for Mega Man 9 was the ability to play as Proto Man. In Mega Man 10 players will have the ability to choose to play as Mega Man, Proto Man, and a mysterious new character via DLC (as if it won’t be Bass).
The game will continue to have 8 robot masters whose weapons can be used to destroy other masters, but in this iteration, Wily is not the enemy! Well, at least he might not be. This time around Mega Man and company are fighting off a robot virus that is turning all sort of good robots bad (sounds kind of like Mavericks from Mega Man X, doesn’t it?).
Classic gameplay, some new elements, a new host of robot masters – including the incredible Sheep Man (no, I’m not kidding). Any fan of classic gaming, or fan of platforming masterpieces like the rest of the Mega Man series, should be salivating for this game. I, for one, can’t wait!
1. Final Fantasy XIII
Since this game was first teased in 2006 at E3 (that’s right, it took 3 years to release in Japan, and it will take 4 years to release in North America!) I’ve been waiting patiently. 2001’s Final Fantasy X, although often panned by critics for voice acting and dialogue, was the last real Final Fantasy title I’ve truly enjoyed and played through. Final Fantasy XI was an online MMORPG, which I didn’t care for. The game forces you to group up and that’s just not my style. It’s insanely popular, and seems like a great game, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. Final Fantasy XII actually surprised me with how much I enjoyed it, but it made some pretty significant changes to the battle system and I never finished the game. I’m going to give it another go someday, but regardless, it’s been 8-9 years since a Final Fantasy game really lived up to its name in my eyes.
FF XIII has some of the most beautiful cut scene graphics and some fantastic in-game visuals as well. I can’t say much about the storyline, characters or fighting mechanics, because I’ve been keeping this information at a distance. I want this game to be a fresh experience. I do know that the fighting-style has been modeled after Final Fantasy Advent Children, the CG film released in 2006 as a sequel to FF 7, the most popular Final Fantasy title to date. The developers have attempted to integrate the classic system of Fight, Magic, all that stuff into a fast-paced action environment, which sounds cool by me.
The leveling system is left up the players again with this title, much like the Sphere Grid in FF X. In FF XIII we have the Crystarium System, which allows players to use CP (Crystarium points – duh) to unlock new abilities.
The Final Fantasy franchise is known for creating beautiful and very fun games, and with all the hype surrounding this game, it will probably either be put up in the ranks for FF 7 or will be considered a flop. As I said it’s already been released in Japan, and has sold nearly 2 million units to date. Famitsu Magazine gave it a high-praising score of 39/40 – nearly perfect, and not often seen by the magazine.
I think this will be a new kudo for the FF series as a whole, and for Square-Enix, who are already developing “semi-sequels” for the title (simultaneously with FF XIII, I might add – the games altogether known as the Fabula Nova Crystalis Collection) Final Fantasy Agito XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and will at the very least be the best game of the year for 2010.