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My GOTY 2008

2008 has been great year for gaming. Last year, I talked about how every games enthusiast, reviewer, and/or blogger should have a game of the year. The point isn't to play all the games and try to figure out which one is the "best." Everyone should have a personal GOTY because of what it says about them. Each game represents something different about the development process, game design, and/or marketing. Picking a GOTY is a way of saying, "I uphold these values/qualities in a game and wish to see them reflected in the games of the next year."

So I compiled a list of games that make up my GOTY for 2008. What's interesting to note is that I've written a blog post on each of these games except for one. Here they are and what they represent.


Advance Wars: Days of Ruin

  • Sequels that focus on multiplayer balance.
  • Internet/web 2.0 community features (posting and voting on user made levels).
  • Converting abstract mechanics into concrete mechanics with lots of interplay (CO design).
  • Clean new art style.
  • Out with the old. New world. New characters. New story. New music.
  • Single player difficulty design. (Instead of a hard mode, players can replay missions to achieve higher scores/ranks)

Super Smash Brothers Brawl

  • Still very solid, very next-gen core fighter design.
  • Delay until the game is ready. If it's not ready for release, then don't release it.
  • Iterating by reducing complexity and clutter. Brawl is now easier for everyone to play, yet still very deep.
  • Bad adventure mode. Wonky internet features.
  • Unfortunately, included too many modes/features/options that may have distracted developement resources from the core experience.

Wii Fit

  • The Balance Board provides a new way to play games.
  • Body/physical awareness.
  • Games that are beneficial to one's health. 
  • Focused, bite sized games.
  • Surprisingly deep and difficult

Mega Man 9

  • Clean, stylized, retro graphics.
  • Excellent design (controls, powerups, bosses, levels)
  • Next-gen game modes/features (time attack, leader boards, endless)
  • Well planned, priced, and substantive DLC.
  • Cross platform. Anyone with a console can play Mega Man 9.

Bangai-O Spirits

  • Solid core design well tuned for the DS (the good kind of slowdown)
  • Bite sized levels.
  • Amazing puzzle mode.
  • Competent level editing tools. 
  • Clever level sharing features using the DS mic & speakers.


  • Single player only puzzle games are still viable.
  • Clever mechanics, story, and level design.
  • Elegant solutions. The better you understand the mechanics, the more beautiful the challenges/solutions become.
  • The product of one designer's vision who wasn't afraid to do a little experimenting with the video game medium.

I wish I were the Moon

  • Simple.
  • Short.
  • Clean.
  • A poignant poetry like puzzle game. 


  • Gameplay over graphics.
  • Unique level design.
  • Tension using timers. 
  • Short experience with variable difficulty.


If I could only give one game my personal game of the year title, it would be...


  • The most robust level editor on consoles. Power to the player.
  • Web 2.0 style integrated community features.
  • DLC at reasonable prices from costumes to gameplay enhancing upgrades.
  • The potential for user generated levels is through the roof. Even a team based, folded, pure-organic, (p)playered level is possible. 
  • The "made by hand" art/graphical style is very unique complementing the create part of the game.
  • Shipped with a somewhat wonky core design with the promise of future refinement.


Now that LBP exists, I see and think in LBP. Ceiling fans are powered by motor bolts. Construction workers on the side of the road mending stone walls are using popit tools. And every now and then, when I drop something I get the feeling that I should hit the rewind button. Like I said before, if no new games come out this year, I'd have more than enough to play and do mostly thanks to Brawl, Wii Fit, and LBP.

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Reader Comments (3)

Interesting GOTY picks. I haven't heard some of those that you've mentioned, but then again, there are just so many games now its hard to keep up. But I do agree with your last pick of Little Big Planet. Such a engaging and entertaining game that is great for playing with others. I've lost track of time when i've played with my friends. I feel like it is so rare to find a game that allows users to express themselves and do freely what they want without affecting the game play at all. Great pick for GOTY.

January 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJRhee

I believe that game of the years are always heavily influenced by the games we play towards the end of the year. I was a big fan of Fallout 3 because it dominated my game time for about 60 hours. If it were not for the 20 level cap I would have easily continued playing though all the content I had yet to get too.

That said I have picked Geometry Wars 2. This is a smaller nod to the XBLA that has enthralled me this past year. Scoring higher than my friends feels too fun. I can plop down and play for a few minutes or a few hours. I have nearly all the achievements and yet the world leader boards tell me Im still very far away. The fast reaction and skill the game takes rewards the player with out punishing them too much for failure. If I suck at the waves mode I only suck for about 2 seconds before I can start again. It takes a great game mechanic and enhances it. I only wish there were a level editor so I could set up my own custom levels for sequence.

January 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSevens


LBP FTW! Thanks for your comment.

@ Sevens

GeoWars2. Nice choice. That game makes me crazy.

I think my GOTY choices are well spread out over the year.

MGS4, GTA4, and Soul Calibur 4 were most disappointing games of the year for me. If any of those were one of my GOTY, the scales would balance out pretty evenly.

I did omit Professor Layton from my GOTY. It was really close, but I ultimately let it go because the gameplay (each individual brain teaser) is so disjointed from each other and the game/story as a whole. It's basically a fancy package for a series of brain teasers. Though very well made, the type of game design is nothing I want to see more of.

January 14, 2009 | Registered CommenterRichard Terrell (KirbyKid)

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