Inside Pulse Games 2005 Year End Awards

Inside Pulse Games 2005 Year End Awards
Tagline: Come see what was the Best of the Best.

2005. I have to admit this was not the best year for gaming. There were a lot of sequels, rehashes, and a lot of poorly done games ruining the legacies of many of the most popular franchises of all time: from Shining Force to Wrestlemania. Even though the majority of games were considered less than stellar by the IP staff, there were some games that just shined through the muck and made everyone sit up and take noticed. Resident Evil finally became enjoyable instead of a mass marketed action adventure series using the Alone In The Dark control scheme, THQ put out it’s first good wrestling game in years in Smackdown vs Raw 2006, and, the DS was a bastion of unique and enjoyable games.

There’s no point focusing on the negatives (save for the backhanded awards we will be giving out), as in time, those games will only be remembered with a shudder and possibly projectile vomit. Oh yes Jak X and Romancing SaGa; welcome to your new roommates: Heroes of the Lance and Superman 64.

This year we have 35 awards to give out, and surprisingly, you the readers agreed with us on 20 of them. 57% cohesion is pretty remarkable considering the “unique” mindsets of our staffers.

So let’s get on with it and see what you need to rush out and buy if you haven’t already.

BEST SONY PLAYSTATION 2 GAME

The Nominees:

Digital Devil Saga 1
God of War
Guitar Hero
The Warriors

The Winner: DIGITAL DEVIL SAGA 1

In a year when there were actually games I’d be happy to nominate for Game of the year, DDS far and away stood out as the best game on the PS2 this year. Why? Artistically beautiful graphics; solid, strategic gameplay; actual storyline depth and substance; and a cast of characters that I could actually rally behind. It certainly didn’t hurt that it’s a Megaten game that, surprisingly, NORMAL PEOPLE CAN PLAY. I swear. It’s not even all that hard to learn or anything. Add of this together, and you have a game that shined above every other piece of PS2 exclusive content available. -Mark B

Fan Vote: God of War

BEST MICROSOFT X-BOX GAME

The Nominees:

Indigo Prophecy
Psychonauts
Stubbs the Zombie In: Rebel Without a Pulse
The Warriors

The Winner: PSYCHONAUTS

When it was first announced, it was a shining example of Microsoft’s devotion to fostering the creation of unique, new properties that would test the conventional wisdom of gaming and give hardcore fans (and former Sega fans) a home. Unfortunately something changed along the way, and games like Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath and Malice were the victims. Enter Psychonauts, the freshest and most original take on platforming since Mario 64. It’s not anything in particular – it’s the whole package, from amazingly colorful and vibrant graphics, to a compelling and well-acted storyline, and solid varied gameplay. This is the type of game the industry needs – taking an established game type and adding so much originality and character that it breathes new life into the genre. There are moments in Psychonauts that will visually amaze you, and gameplay moments that will challenge you and make you marvel at the same time. Psychonauts defines what gaming can be as an art form – a fulfilling, beuatiful, original game without the need for photo realism or real life corollary. -Widro

Fan Vote: Psychonauts

BEST NINTENDO GAME CUBE GAME

The Nominees:
Donkey Konga: Jungle Beat
Mario Superstar Baseball
Pokemon XD
Resident Evil 4

The Winner: RESIDENT EVIL 4
I don’t even need to write anything here. If you don’t like Resident Evil 4, and I don’t mean you have to love it or anything, but if you don’t like it, even a little, stop playing video games. Put down the controller, walk away, you have no gaming spirit, and you need to go find yourself a new hobby, because video games just ain’t it.

Seriously.

RE4 is, and I’m not even exaggerating, the best video game I’ve played in at least five years. Fun, frantic, and a heavy duty pulse pounding action experience is in store for you here. Beautiful graphics, a well-detailed world, interesting characters (with decent voice-acting, hey, how about that), and lots of fun weapons to play with all make RE4 well-deserving of the title Gamecube Game of the Year. If you haven’t played RE4 by now, do so. You won’t regret it. – Mark B.

Kliq Note: Pokemon XD actually won the award but we were forced by the higher ups to give it to RE4. ALL HAIL POKEMON XD!

Fan Vote: Resident Evil 4

BEST NINTENDO GAME BOY ADVANCE GAME

The Nominees:
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
Gunstar Super Heroes
Pokemon Emerald
Sigma Star Saga

The Winner: SIGMA STAR SAGA
Sigma Star Saga certainly didn’t receive the highest score from us all year, but it’s still one of the best games to come out on the GBA in the past twelve months. Combining a traditional RPG with a side-scrolling shooter, SSS became one of the most unique and entertaining games to hit the system. It also sported an excellent storyline, plenty of replayability, and solid graphics and sound. Hopefully if they ever decide to make a sequel, they’ll fix some of the balance issues. -N

Fan Vote: Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

BEST NINTENDO DS GAME

The Nominess:
Mario Kart DS
Meteos
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Trauma Center

The Winner: TRAUMA CENTER
Make no mistake about it. The Nintendo DS had a great year. Err… great half a year. Despite not having any big releases until the one-two punch of Meteos and Kirby Canvis Curse, the DS pulled it together. So what made the incredibly original Trauma Center: Under the Knife stand out above the other stellar titles on the DS? Well besides being an incredibly good game, Trauma Center offered that rare combination of challenge while being extremely addicting. Coupled with a fun anime-ish story, Trauma Center: Under the Knife is one of the most satisfying game experiences of 2005 even if it is a little short. -P.

Fan Vote: Mario Kart DS

BEST SONY PLAYSTATION PORTABLE GAME

The Nominees:
Lumines
Popcropolis
Romance of the Three Kingdoms V
Tokobot

The Winner: LUMINES

Although we were all in agreement that the PSP selection of titles this year rivaled the quality of the N-Gage, there was one big title that stood out as an actual reason to buy this system: Lumines. A wonderfully addictive puzzle game that offers a wide range of catchy tunes, and a simple but engaging control system, Lumines has managed to make an addict out of almost anyone who has played it. Tetsuya Mizuguchi should be commended for making a game that is actually worth shelling out the dough for the overpriced and lackluster PSP.

Amusing note: The runner-up by both staff and fans was Rot3KV, a game that was never released in North America. This should tell you something right there people. -Lucard

Fan Vote: Lumines

BEST MICROSOFT XBOX 360 GAME

The Nominees:
Call of Duty 2
Kameo: Elements of Power
Perfect Dark Zero
Project Gotham Racing 3

The Winner: CALL OF DUTY 2

Few 360 titles REALLY stood out from the pack, which made this decision rather hard. It doesn’t help that only a scant few of us wanted to spend the money on the 360 so soon. And few of the launch titles will really stick out in a year. Call of Duty 2 is one of those titles. Not only is it the best selling 360 title thus far, it is probably the best as well. Infinity Ward has made their business telling deep, engrossing, cinematic shooters. That’s what they did with Call of Duty, and that’s what they did with Call of Duty 2. It is a great gaming experience, both single-player and multi-player. And it’s probably one of the few PC ports that can surpass the original in performance and popularity. -Lee

Fan Vote: Perfect Dark Zero

BEST SPORTS GAME

The Nominees:
Amped 3
Mario Superstar Baseball
Smackdown vs Raw 2006
SSX On Tour

The Winner: WWE SMACKDOWN VS. RAW 2006

After a lackluster Day of Reckoning 2 and the mess that should not have been allowed to be released to the general public that was WMXXI, we were all shocked to see that not only was SvR2k6 was good, but it was VERY good. THQ and Yukes put out one of the most enjoyable wrestling games we’ve had since the golden duo of the Dreamcast’s Fire Pro Wrestling D and Touken Retsuden IV. With an amazing story mode that branches off in several directions and mentions the late federations of ECW and WCW and also gives you a create a wrestler system that allows you to make perfect simulations of everyone from Ultimo Dragon to the Natural Disasters (Yes I made them. Shut up.), SvR2k6 managed to make even the most disgruntled wrestling game fan (namely me) enthused about the genre again and remember why they used to love Sports Entertainment. Thank you for finally getting it right. -Lucard

Fan Vote: WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2006

BEST FIGHTING GAME

The Nominees:
Fight Night Round 2
Samurai Shodown V
Soul Calibur III
Tekken V

The Winner: SOUL CALIBUR III
What a bleak year it was for fighting games. The highly controversial Soul Calibur 3 managed to snag a big two votes from all the staff. So what makes SC 3 (scoring a big 6 from Mark B) our far from unanimous choice? It has a few things going for it. The create a character mode added a lot to the game. The create a character mode added several new possibilities to the Soul Calibur realm including creating an almost completely accurate Cloud! And honestly, who wouldn’t want to beat the bishie out of Cloud? Besides that SC 3 offered quite a bit of replay value and a bit more story then we’re used to seeing in the average fighting game. So in a year filled with Neo Geo ports and rehashes, we give a Soul Calibur game, one of the three franchises we receive the most flames about, our fighting game of the year award. Here’s hoping 06 gives us a better selection of games. – Tom P

Fan Vote: Soul Calibur III

BEST DRIVING GAME

The Nominees:
Burnout Revenge
Forza Motorsport
Mario Kart DS
Project Gotham Racing 3

The Winner: MARIO KART DS

It’s-a him: Mario! So what makes this Mario Kart the best Mario Kart ever? Well it takes a bit of every Mario Kart before it and mixes on high. The great racing of the original, the fun battle modes of MK 64, and the ability to link systems (and play online) from Double Dash all blend together to make a great package. With 16 original courses and 16 “classic” courses, plus two battle modes over six courses, online and wireless link play, and a new mission mode all go into making Mario Kart DS the best racing game of the year. Now if only they’d take the Battle Mode online… -P

Fan Vote: Mario Kart DS

BEST FIRST PERSON SHOOTER

The Nominees:
Battlefield 2
Call of Duty 2
Half Life 2
Perfect Dark Zero

The Winner: HALF-LIFE 2

One of the best First Person Shooters ever to be released was Half Life 2 on the PC. This year, it was released on the Xbox, and guess what, it’s STILL one of the best First Person Shooters ever, and is certainly the best of the crop this year. The gameplay is very unique, in that once you get your gravity gun, ANYTHING is a weapon. You can fling barrels or boards or huge saw blades at enemies. Or if you want to be boring, I guess you can shoot them or something. Continuing the fantastic story from Half Life, you control Gordon Freeman, a simple worker in a lab whose destiny takes him places he never thought possible. Now instead of simply escaping, he must try and save the world from the evil oppressors. The game is a great experience, and is personally my favorite First Person Shooter ever. -Lee

Fan Vote: Half-Life 2

BEST TRADITIONAL SHOOTER

The Nominees:
Gunstar Super Heroes
Heroes of the Pacific
Metal Slug 4/5
Sigma Star Saga

The Winner: SIGMA STAR SAGA

2005 has been a slim year for traditional shooters. Hell, the past few years have been slim for traditional shooters. Fortunately Sigma Star Saga not only provided some much needed old school side scrolling goodness, but it completely turned the genre on its head with RPG elements by adding in almost twenty hours of gameplay and an excellent storyline. It’s not as excellent overall as previous winners Gradius V or Ikaruga, but it’s still a great game and a breath of fresh air on an otherwise stagnant genre. -N

Fan Vote: Metal Slug 4/5

Go to Part 2!