XBLA 2012: The 3rd Annual Spletchie Awards
Yes, I know that most year-end round-ups have come and gone already, but cut me some slack - these once-a-year blogs can really sneak up on a guy, y'know?
Anyway, here's my rundown of personal awards for all things XBLA in 2012:
The Golden Spletchie (overall best XBLA game)
The Silver Spletchies (runner-ups)
The Walking Dead
Alan Wake's American Nightmare
And now, the "Random Awards"
Joe Danger 2
Both games followed the core model of successful sequels - keep what was good about the original and add engaging new stuff to it - and by keeping their smooth gameplay features and adding multiple new modes a-plenty, both Zuma and Joe D. did just that.
Keepin' It Fresh
Rock Band Blitz
The Rock Band and Fable franchises have been around for quite awhile, but they both got a reinvigorating jolt by way of their first XBLA iterations. Rock Band ditched the instruments and produced it's first strategic arcader and Fable introduced itself to the world of cutesy, hacky-slashy/platformers. Good fun all around.
World Gone Sour
Most people moaned about the fact that this was a branded (Sour Patch Kids) game, and therefore they weren't going to pay to "play a commercial". Those who did take the chance, found a surprisingly engaging and challenging platformer that had virtually no in-game advertising and the only product-placement being that you play as an actual Sour Patch Kid candy. And the 400msp price was the (not-so-sour) cherry on top.
Biggest Downhill Slide
Started off great - grabbing you from the get-go with arresting visuals and a jump right into the action. Unfortunately, the game wore out it's welcome pretty quickly as it moved on and the problems started to appear: clunky dialogue, cheesy voice-acting, sluggish controls, inconsistent platforming and pacing issues and - one of my biggest pet peeves - forced trial-and-error.*
*(where it's not a true trial-and-error, like trying different solutions to a puzzle or figuring out a successful plan of attack , but rather it's something unforeseen happening - like a wall or floor collapsing on you or suddenly running into a soldier who shoots you dead - which you then "solve" just by being ready for it to happen to you on your next attempt through. Personally, I just find it to be a cheap way for developers to pad the playing time of a game).
Old Dog...Old Tricks
Jet Set Radio HD
Many people were thrilled with the long-awaited XBLA arrival of Jet Set Radio. But with all the polishing up they did and extra features that were added, couldn't they have at least updated the clunky controls? Probably the most counter-intuitive controls of any game I played this year.
and lastly, the Happy Wallet Spletchie award
Microsoft's first free-to-play XBLA game had it's share of problems (matchmaking/server issues seemed to be as much a part of the game as anything else). But at a 0msp price point, I was "happy" nonetheless (when I actually got into MP matches, that is).
Well, that's it for this year, see you in 365 days!
Posted by spletchie
on 10 January 13 at 23:02
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