The Top Ten Releases of First Quarter 2011 That I’ve Had the Most Fun With

One of the things we do here at Diehard GameFAN is allow each staffer to do a “Top Ten Games of the Year” list in December so that readers can see our own individual tastes and choices. This allows us to put a spotlight on games that perhaps only one or two of us have played and give gamers a chance to see why they are worth picking up. Well, on a flight to Minneapolis, I was making a list of all the games I’ve played that were released in the first three months of 2011 and was surprised that it totalled up to twenty-five titles. If things progressed at that same rate, I’d be up to 100 games this year. Because of that I’ve decided to do a quarterly top ten this year as well. Part of this is because I tend to play a lot of obscure and/or niche games in comparison to the rest of the staff so this gives our readers a second chance to see what they might have missed, while the other part is that readers seem to like me in blatherskite mode.

As always, I need to add some caveats. The first is that this is my list, so don’t feel that this is a “be all and end all” list. I realize that often times “top ten” lists can come off like “MY OPINION IS FACT” to readers and so I always like to point out, that it’s fine to disagree with these and I always welcome alternate lists from readers. After all, there are many games I haven’t played that you might have and so something might just not have made this list on that issue alone. The downside to mainly playing obscure or niche games for review purposes means that I miss out on a lot big name titles on their first run. The second is that this is based on what I had fun with, not necessarily the overall quality of the games in question. Unlike my reviews that are pretty objective, games being ranked based solely on fun alone is pretty subjective. As such, games that were well made that I found rather dull like Dragon Quest VI will not be on here, while my honourable mention is a game that was well made and a lot of fun, but was way too short for the very large price tag it carried, and thus I couldn’t recommend it.

So with that out of the way (and a nice segue-way into the countdown itself), let’s see what my ten favorite games of Q1 2011 have been.

Honourable Mention: Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House

This was my first review of 2011. Frogwares has been making Sherlock Holmes titles for nearly a decade now. Most of those titles have been for the PC, but their Mystery of the Mummy game for the DS is an often overlooked gem, especially with its $9.99 price point. Joel, Mark and I love all of their games, whether they pit Holmes and Watson Vs. Jack the Ripper or a cult of Cthulhu worshippers. So their latest game, which happened to be a DS exclusive, was one I wasn’t going to pass up.

Unfortunately, the game suffered from two big flaws. The first was that it was only two and a half hours long – a fraction of how long their games usually run. The second was that the game was $29.99 in an era where you can pick up point and click adventure games for your PC between $6.99 and $19.99. The game looked great, was a lot of fun, and is definitely something Professor Layton fans would fall in love with. However the length and price point made it hard to recommend compared to the Mystery of the Mummy alternative, especially since most adventure game fans are primarily PC gamers in the first place. Still, I really enjoyed this title for the afternoon I played it and it gets an honourable mention here because once it hits budget pricing, it’ll be worth picking up.

# 10: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars

This particular game is far too new to be any higher on the list, but not only is it my favorite launch title for the 3DS, but it’s one of the best tactical games I’ve played in a long time. 2011 will be remembered as the year that Jane Jansen and Julian Gollop returned to game development and both proved they were still amongst the best in their respective genres. We’ll see Jane’s entry a little bit later on, but Julian Gollop’s return to form is right here. For those that don’t recognize the name, Gollop is the creator and main designer for the X-Com series, amongst others. X-Com is almost universally cited as one of, if not THE, best PC game ever made and so Julian’s return to SRPGs, along with the fact he was making a launch RPG for the 3DS should have been major headlines everywhere. Instead most gamers were completely clueless to the fact Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars was a RPG or that Gollop was involved – both of which can be directly at Ubisoft’s marketing team dropping the ball in spectacular fashion.

Shadow Wars is basically X-Com mixed with G.I. Joe, right down to the game making some pretty big homages (some might say plagiarism) to Larry Hama’s creations. The game has a fun story with more political intrigue than you usually find in video games, and some very impressive tactical gameplay. SRPG fans will find the game feels familiar, but because it is set in the near future, melee takes a big back seat to copious amounts of gunplay.

Again, this would probably rank even higher if the game had come out earlier in the year. Because Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars is so new, I can’t really rank it higher as it’s too fresh on my mind and I’m still actively clearing out the unlockable content I earned in story mode. Still, if you have a 3DS, it should be a crime not to have this.

#9: Dragon Age II

So – a funny story for you. I still haven’t played Dragon Age: Origins. That’s because in 2009 and 2010 I was busy reviewing a ton of other games and left that title for Mark, Ashe, and others to review. My thought was that everyone wanted to play the game and that we’d end up with multiple reviews of it. By letting others focus on it, I could review more under the radar titles like Afrika, Last Hope: Pink Bullets, Adventures to Go!, Chaotic: Shadow Warriors, and Food Network: Cook or Be Cooked. The collector’s edition of DA:O is still sitting on my “to be played” shelf along with Fallout: New Vegas and Nostalgia. My original plan was to play the games in order, but then when the reviews for Dragon Age II were so hate filled that it made Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood look appreciated by comparison, I knew I had to play Dragon Age II FIRST. Why? Because all the reviews were comparing the two games to each other and the biggest complaint was that DAII wasn’t a carbon copy of DAI. Now that happens to a lot of well made games. People were pissed that Phantasy Star III didn’t fit with the two previous games, although it was a fine game when looked at on its own merits. People in Japan are STILL pissed that Persona III is an utterly different game from Be Your True Mind, Innocent Sin, and Eternal Punishment to the point where Atlus has remade the game twice no in hopes of winning people over (Meanwhile Western gamers adore it – go figure). Hell, people hated Mortal Kombat Vs. DCU simply because the gore was turned down even though the engine was the best the MK franchise had seen in roughly a decade. The bottom line is that too many people were being influenced by their feelings on DA:O to give the game a fair review, be it positive or negative, and I was in the perfect position to play the game while being totally ignorant of the original title.

Well, the fact it’s #9 on this countdown pretty much says I had fun with it. The game’s not perfect by any means and it’s mostly hack and slash or fetch quests, but it’s fun and I know I’ll be playing the game more than once to see how having a fighter or mage for a main character plays out differently for me. The odd thing is that I keep seeing gamers refer to DA:O as a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate, but from what I’ve seen of other people playing it, it’s more Icewind Dale. That being said, no, Dragon Age II doesn’t play like either Icewind Dale OR Baldur’s Gate. It’s more Neverwinter Nights from a third person perspective and romance thrown in. I realize that we ALL are guilty at some point of disliking a game simply because it’s a sequel in name only, but I find Dragon Age II to be buggy, but also a lot of fun, and that’s what matters. Again, I never saw people bitching that Neverwinter Nights wasn’t Planescape: Torment or that Secret of the Silver Blades wasn’t Pool of Radiance. I don’t know. Maybe it’s PC gamers are just a more accepting lot when it comes to drastic changes being made to their sequels, or maybe it’s just AD&D fans, but I just don’t get the sheer HATE Dragon Age II is getting. Maybe it would be different if I had played DA:O first, but then I really liked Final Fantasy XII as it was so different from the gameplay in the previous eleven titles, so maybe I just like change.

#8: Hyperdimension Neptunia

So this is an odd one. I LOVED SegaGaGa. It’s one of my favorite Dreamcast titles and storywise, it’s a lot of fun. So the fact Hyperdimension Neptunia was basically the spiritual successor (Wow, two games back to back where I’ve had to use that clichéd phrase) to that game, meant I wanted this big time. The good news was that the story was as hilarious as it was deep. This game could be read on many different levels, making it the Gulliver’s Travels of video games. I loved the characters, the story, and I’m still ranked as #1 on a good portion of the dungeons in the game, even though I haven’t picked it up in a month and a half.

There were three big downsides that kept this game from being any higher and it will probably fall further as the months go on. The first is that the gameplay had some severe issues, most of which revolved around healing. Healing was randomly triggered instead of an active choice. This meant that sheer luck decided if you would live or die in a few battles. The key ends up being min/maxing your latent skills and once you figure out how to do that, the game becomes a cakewalk. The second issue was that the review copies that were sent out had a bug in them that prevented one from getting the Platinum trophy. Meanwhile retail copies didn’t have that bug. So even though I had done everything possible in the game and was listed as the best player in the North American version of the game, my fifth platinum trophy was forever denied me unless I started over or bought all of the DLC content. That pissed me off to no end and it still burns me up just thinking about it. Again, this list is based on the fun I had with a game, and this little issue took a lot of the wind out of my sails when discovered it. The third and final issue was the sheer cost for the DLC around this title. $2.49 for a swimsuit skin for a character that’s moe to begin with? Having to buy dungeons that were originally offered in Japan for free as a “whoops” for the bug that still plagued my review copy? This just didn’t sit well with me, and I happily purchased all the DLC for Trinity Universe and Cross Edge. Basically Hyperdimension Neptunia was a game I utterly loved at first but due to the issues with gameplay coupled with the issues that specifically irritate me with this game means that it only claims the #8 spot and that I’m pretty sure Dragon Age II and Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars will eventually pass it by as we get closer to the year-end countdown. Like I said, this countdown is subjective while my reviews are objective.

#7: Pokemon Black and White

The fifth generation of Pokémon is probably my least favorite, which is a shame as it’s the one I worked the closest with. Many of the new Pokémon are unaesthetically pleasing, the game is insanely easy compared to previous generations, and too much of the game uses an online component, meaning that when the servers shut down, some content will be forever unobtainable, meaning you will never be able to pick this game up as a retro gamer and be able to “catch ’em all.” Is it a better game than Ruby/Sapphire?. Yeah, but when the online bits are no longer accessible, the two will be reversed. Basically Pokémon Black and White is a game that is good for the short term, but like many games that have a heavy online component, it will not age well, nor will it be accessible in the long term.

So after all that, what allows Black and White to be obtain the number seven position on this countdown when games like Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition or any of the Back to the Future episodes don’t even place? Three big reasons. The first is that the gameplay is amazing. I love customization in my RPGs and since what you battle and when controls your stats just as much as the Pokémon you choose or random chance, there’s a great deal of strategy to the game. As well, the Pokémon series is by far the best RPG series for multiplayer and/or Versus battles so for people that like to game socially, Black and White gives you access to literally millions of opponents, each with their own unique team. The possibilities of what you can fight when you take on another Trainer are nearly limitless and any team can beat any other on a given day…unless it’s a team of all legends Vs. a team of all Magikarp.

Pokémon Black and White is still a fun game to play through, and the fact they have somewhat changed up the story, given each game their own unique area and even changed how, when, and why you fight the Pokémon Champion gives the game a slight breath of fresh air. It’s hard to describe how addicting it is to find a new Pokémon and raise it up to the levels of your other active combatants and then compare stats. Usually I loathe grinding, but the sheer number of playable creatures and combinations thereof have always kept me glued to Pokémon in the same way I used to roll up dozens of characters for Wizardry. Yes, Pokémon Black and White is the least of the five generations of cock fighting seizure monsters, but it’s still a good game and one I’ll be playing for months to come. Now, will it be in my top ten at the end of the year? Probably not.

#6: Bust-A-Move Universe

So remember how I said Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars is my favorite DS launch title so far? Because of that, you’re probably wondering why Bust-A-Move Universe is ranked higher than that on this countdown. Well, it’s partly because while Ghost Recon is a better game from a technical standpoint and best overall title of the 3DS launch games, it’s very slow moving and not something you can really play on the go. Meanwhile, Bust-A-Move Universe is a remixed version of one of my favorite games of all time and a title I have the damndest time putting down. I’ve had one endless game last for over THREE HOURS. My hands were cramped and I knew I should take a break, but I just love Puzzle Bobble that bleeding much. The other part is that again, objectively Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars is a game that will age better and be a better overall purchase but subjectively, I’ve played Bust-A-Move Universe more than Shadow Wars, Super Monkey Ball 3D, and Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition COMBINED.

So what’s to love here? Well, there’s Bub and Bob for one thing. There’s a great soundtrack. There are dozens of new puzzles to get through in the campaign mode. The Boss Mode option and the “Save a Friend” minigame scattered throughout multiple levels in a zone really mix things up. There are several subtle changes to the gameplay that actually drastically change how diehard Bust-A-Move fans will play the game while being almost undetectable to a more casual fan of the series. It also helps that the game was ten dollars cheaper than the other launch titles and that I’ve been able to put more hours into the game than I have a full length SRPG. In truth though, my current adoration for Bust-A-Move Universe is a subjective one and that if I put my critic game face on, I can say that BAMU is a drastically inferior game when compared to Space Bust A Move for the regular DS and then point out you can get SBAM for ten to twenty dollars these days and it’s a smarter and savvier choice. However, then I use a level three ultra move to wipe out the entire screen of bubbles in Bust-A-Move Universe and get an adorable 3D picture of Bub and Bob having a tea party as my reward and I squeal like a little girl who just watched a marathon of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Sure it sucks BAMU is light on modes and that there isn’t any multiplayer, but in terms of amount of time you can spend with this game for the price paid, Bust-A-Move Universe is arguably the best 3DS launch title for a gamer on a budget. Yes, as time goes by, I have no doubt that Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars will climb up the rankings as Bust-A-Move Universe goes down, but right now BAMU is the game I’m playing the most of, and as such, it gets reflected in the rankings.

#5: Venetica

Venetica is an odd duck in many ways. In non-English speaking countries, the game received a ton of critical praise while it was lambasted in the US and the UK. It’s a game that received a ton of love from the average gamer who played it, yet Western critics decried it in such a way that Venetica would be the anti-Beyond Good and Evil. It’s a game that was originally a PC title, yet the PS3 version is nearly bug free while the Xbox 360 version has a ton of bugs. How often does THAT happen with a PC port? With this last point, it’s unfortunate that most North American and British gaming sites review only a single version of the game but then just absent-mindedly assign the score to all versions of the title even though they haven’t actually played those. This is most apparently seen with the Gamespot, IGN, and Cheat Code Central reviews of the game that only actually touch on the horrible 360 version. Yet, if one was to look on forums about the game, or (if they could) non English reviews of the game, you’d see a great deal of discussion about how the PC and PS3 versions of the game are pretty bug free while the 360 version should be avoided at all costs. Of course if I couldn’t read French or translate German, I might have easily ended up with the 360 version of the game and then Venetica would have more than likely been in my top ten worst games of Q1 2011 instead of in my top ten favorites. This is why you don’t do across the board reviews, BTW. It’s a disservice to readers as well as the titles themselves.

Venetica is basically your standard PC action RPG ported over to the PS3. My experience with the game was almost bug free save for a bit of slowdown and one time where a NPC was levitating in a fountain. The game plays very much like a budget version of Morrowind or Oblivion right down to the controls and sheer size of the world. There are a ton of quests, a myriad of ways to customize the main character, and three distinct endings that are determined by the choices you make throughout the game. With different endings, guilds to join, and dozens of optional side quests, you have to play Venetica at least three times to see everything there is to experience. To be honest, Venetica has far less bugs in it than Fallout 3, Dragon Age 2, or Oblivion but because those games are made by big name developers with a lot of money to throw around, those bugs are ignored and the games are given high scores. Meanwhile when a little budget game comes out that has less bugs, similar gameplay and almost no advertising budget, reviewers seem to be willing to kick the game to the curb far more than a title with a lot of hype. I wonder why that is, hmmm?

Basically, if you have a PS3 or a PC and you want a fun RPG for budget pricing and you like Bethesda style RPGS, you can’t go wrong with Venetica. Just, you know, stay away from the 360 version. That’s not an anti-Microsoft bias, just research that says the 360 version has far more issues than the other two options. Kind of like of Bayonetta is better experience on the 360 than on the PS3.

#4: Gray Matter

I’ll admit the fact that my spelling and grammar is quite British always makes me want to say GREY instead of Gray, but this since the North American release uses the version with an a, we’re going with that. I will say that writing the original review of this game was a spell checking nightmare due to instinct over American spelling.

The fact Gray Matter is this high on the chart might confuse my more regular reading audience as the several games that are lower on the countdown actually scored higher than it. However, that’s because Gray Matter is a point and click adventure game and those games are decidedly “one and done” titles with little replay value. Still, it was one of my most anticipated titles of the year and it didn’t disappoint. It was also the only game on this list besides our honourable mention that I basically played straight through. Once I started this up on my PC, I had to force myself to take brief breaks. It was a great return for Jane Jensen, who is best known for her Gabriel Knight and Police Quest titles and although the seventh and final act of the game was a massive letdown, the rest of the game blew everything else I’ve played away in terms of story and characterization. Honestly, it’s a shame we aren’t getting the 360 version of the game stateside, but as adventure games tend to tank on that system, it was a smart business move by Viva Media, even if it means Gray Matter is limited to PC gamers in the North America.

Gray Matter features a cast of memorable characters, a gripping set of stories that converge into one intriguing plot, some fun puzzles, and it even teaches you basic sleight of hand tricks to boot. Now the cut scenes are very much about the art over high end graphics, so that will be a matter of taste, but it was a lot of fun from beginning to (nearly the) end and if the seventh act hadn’t sucked so badly, you might have seen Gray Matter in the #1 or #2 position. It’s THAT fun. However, I also realize that adventure games have steadily fallen in popularity with the decline of PC gaming, so even though I’ve been running through this genre since I tried to get a tentacle signed to a recording contract, I also realize that unless you’re a fan of point and click titles, this probably isn’t the game for you.

#3: Dragon Age Legends

I’ll readily admit I don’t like most Facebook games. Farmville, Mafia Wars, and the like are all awful to me. Don’t even get me started on the Oregon Trail remake for social networking. However, on very rare occasions there is a Facebook game I enjoy. Castle Age was mindless entertainment for a few months. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego is very similar to the PC classic and thus worth trying. Treasure Abyss by Namco Bandai is a nice little RPG. However, there has never been a Facebook title that I could say I was addicted to like a lot of casual gamers seem to. Then came Dragon Age Legends. I scored a Beta code and quickly maxed out my character. The combat was straight out of a turn based JRPG and it was something I could play for ten minutes and then come back to a few hours later. I could completely customize my character’s stats and skills like a Western RPG and there was a degree of tactical prowess one needed to advance. Then they reset the beta server and I started over. Then they reset it again and I started over. The fact I started over after the third reset should tell you how much I enjoyed the game. At one point I discovered an infinite gold trick and also the secret to min/maxing a character in the game so that I could take out a boss in a single round (or less)! Then when DAL was opened to the general public, the floodgates opened. Somehow people discovered my rogue or found out I was playing (along with his insane stat build) and I was hit by dozens of requests a day from people that somehow found my Facebook account hoping I’d “friend” complete strangers. Hell, I’m still getting some and I don’t play anymore. Most importantly, this was a game I played with my friends that are either not as into video games as myself, or they don’t have the budget to buy a lot of titles. Dragon Age Legends allowed me to play with them and most importantly, give them a helping hand from time to time.

I haven’t played the game in a fortnight, but for most of the first quarter of 2011, I was playing that game on a daily basis. I ended up stopping because I got to a point where I had exceeded the actual content for the game. I’m sure they’ve added some new content by now, but it got to the point where I was like, “There’s nothing left to do.” Still, while I was playing it, I was playing it EVERY DAY and I got really into this simple but insanely addicting RPG. Now was it buggy? Yeah. It’s a Bioware game. That comes with the territory. Does spending money make your character even more insanely powerful? Yeah, but that’s optional and you never need to. For a free social networking game, Dragon Age Legends is by far the best I’ve ever encountered, and it’s also the only game on this list I played nearly every single day of this quarter. Now the playtime might have been five minutes a day, but it was still something I kept coming back to because there was something about Dragon Age Legends that was undeniably fun. Free + character customization + an RPG with more depth than some console titles = a game that’s hard not to enjoy on some level.

#2: Stacking

I’ve always been a big fan of Double Fine Games. Psychonauts, Costume Quest, and even the games Tim Schafer worked on back in the LucasArts era like Grim Fandango or The Secret of Monkey Island, so when Stacking was announced, it was obvious that I’d be all over that. I mean, this was the first adventure game by Schafer since leaving LucasArts. This was a big deal to me. Then the fact I would be getting this game for free via Playstation Plus on the first day of its release made it all the sweeter. Between that and Sam and Max: Season Three, Playstation Plus has been rather friendly to the point and click clique.

The great thing was that Stacking was amazing. It was hip, stylish, hilarious, and a lot of fun. The humour ranged from lowbrow potty jokes to obscure references about the Industrial Revolution which is the setting for the adventures of Charlie Blackmore. It was one of the most original and amusing titles I’ve played on a console in a very long time. It’s hard to think of anything Stacking did that was anything less than high quality. You had memorable (and insane) characters, one of the most original and innovative games I’ve ever played, and gameplay that was easy to master, yet unlike anything we’d ever seen before. All for fifteen dollars (or for free with Playstation Plus)! What isn’t to like here?

Stacking was proof that adventure games can still go toe to toe with any other genre and still be appreciated by a mainstream audience as much as they were in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The only thing that kept Stacking from being my favorite game of Q1 2011 was the lack of Replayability. However as I write this, the first piece of DLC is about to go live for the game. Will it show up on the second quarter countdown? Only time will tell.

#1: Marvel Vs. Capcom 3

I would have liked to have reviewed this game myself, but unfortunately, I was out of town for several days when it came out and by the time I got back, I had other games I had to review. Still, Mark has a great write-up on what makes Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 so bloody awesome, so by all means, check it out if you haven’t experienced the game firsthand.

Now people may assume that because I review a lot of RPGs and adventure games for Diehard GameFAN that those are my preferred genres, but that would be incorrect. The main game that got me started on the road to being a diehard gamer was the original Street Fighter II and I’ve been a fighting game fan ever since. I’ve been a frame counter since I learned the importance of it with SNK games. I’ve won several tournaments based around Capcom Vs. SNK, the Darkstalkers titles, and the like and I’m still undefeated on Castlevania: Judgment. This was the genre of choice for me for the longest time and I’ve devoured everything from Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom down to the deplorable Battle Monsters for the Sega Genesis. Seriously, another that has played the latter has just had horrible flashbacks just from hearing its name.

That being said, I was a bit nervous about MvC3. After all it used the MT Framework which was previous in Resident Evil 5 and Lost Planet 2. No one seemed to like the latter and Mark was the only long time RE fan I’ve heard say they liked RE5 (Yet oddly enough I liked it and I usually the non light gun games in the series). As well, I was less than impressed with either version of Street Fighter IV, as were most of the fighting games guys on staff. BlazBlue of all things was voted a better fighting game by the staff in that year’s gaming awards, which is kind of telling. Still, I’ve always been a fan of Capcom’s Vs. games like X-Men Vs. Street Fighter or Capcom Vs. SNK and of fighting games where you have to master multiple characters like King of Fighters so it’s no surprise that I not only ordered the collector’s edition, but that I did so directly from Capcom’s website in order to snag the Shuma-Gorath t-shirt they were giving away as a bonus.

Although games like SFIV and Capcom Fighting Evolution were less than impressive compared to older Capcom fighters, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 reminded me exactly why I fell in love with fighting games in the first place. Sure, online play had (and still has) issues. Sure the price for DLC characters was insane. Sure, the roster wasn’t as deep as the original, but I loved every moment of MvC3, whether I was coming up with the best combination to perfect Galactus (Hint: Akuma and Hsien-Ko are two thirds of that team) or just trying to unlock everything as quickly as I could (about six and a half hours), I was hooked from the second the game first booted up. Hell, in the first few days of the game, I managed to go through my fighting game thumb callus and had to wait for it to come back. That’s how much I played the game. I figured out how to do an infinite combo (that has since been squelched) and generally played with most of the characters until there was nothing left for me to do in the game save for the occasional online play. Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 wasn’t the best fighting game I’ve ever played, but it was something I absolutely loved playing every second it was in my PS3 and only Stacking came close to the sheer amount of joy I felt watching Morrigan beat the crap of out Dr. Robert Bruce Banner or getting a Lord Raptor cameo in one of the endings (Have I mentioned I’m a big Darkstalkers fan?)

Now I really liked the Mortal Kombat demo, so I’m really hoping the end result is just as good so that we can have a return to the Super Street Fighter Vs. Mortal Kombat II debates of yore. All we need now is a high quality SNK fighter and 2011 would have the potential to be the best year for fighting games since the mid to late 90s. Alas, that probably isn’t going to happen.

So there we are – the ten games I had the most fun with in the first quarter of 2011. Were there titles with better graphics? Of course? Were there games I played that weren’t as buggy as some of these? Sure. But we’ve already seen me give my opinion of a lot of these games from the point of view of a critic. Now it was time to give one simply as a fan. After all, that’s all any of us are at the end of the day; it’s just reviewers have a platformer to state their opinions from. Again, feel free to leave me your own top ten for games released in Q1 2011. Maybe I’ll hear about something that intrigues me the way I hope some of these titles have interested you. We’ll close out by giving you the full Top 25 from best to worst.

#1. Marvel Vs Capcom 3
#2. Stacking
#3. Dragon Age Legends
#4. Grey Matter
#5. Venetica
#6. Bust a Move Universe
#7. Pokémon Black and White
#8. Hyperdimension Neptunia
#9. Dragon Age 2
#10. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars
#11. Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House
#12. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
#13. Face Raiders
#14. Free Realms (PS3 version)
#15. Back to the Future Episode 2: Get Tannen
#16. Back to the Future Episode 1: It’s About Time
#17. Super Monkey Ball 3D
#18. Dragon Quest VI
#19. Super Street Fighter IV 3D
#20. Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle
#21. Ar tonelico Qoga
#22. Moon Diver
#23. Prinny 2
#24. Gemini Rue
#25. Chime



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16 responses to “The Top Ten Releases of First Quarter 2011 That I’ve Had the Most Fun With”

  1. blatherbeard Avatar

    I can attest to Alex’s Dragon Age Legends addiction. I thought i was doing good at lvl 9, then i look at alex’s level 16+ and am shamed, but i thank god hes on my team as he takes out most every enemy for me ;)

    As for DA 2, it misses the mark because its far from epic, where DAO was epic from the start. Instead of saving the world from doom and gloom, you run around town, doing practically nothing, BUT its told in an ok way so the story keeps you interested to a point. Using the same maps over and over again is where i get bored with it, and the FACT that any choice you make(which you will realize after a second play) makes NO DIFFERENCE in the outcome at the end of the day.

    1. Alex Lucard Avatar

      Blather – Rogue with a 50 attack and a 27 agility = UNSTOPPABLE DEATH MACHINE.

      I do hate that DA2 uses the same maps over and over again. The fact that the endings will be similar doesn’t bother me because that’s true of a lot of RPGs. I look at DA2 as the best job Bioware has done so far of making a tabletop game into a video game as it feels just like one in both the good and bad aspects of the game.

  2. Ashe Collins Avatar
    Ashe Collins

    Have to agree with you on Dragon Age II. The story resonates with me more, I’m having a bit more fun with it, and I’m finding keeping friendships going to be a challenge instead of just showering my party members with gifts. I like both DAO and DA II for very different reasons, but I think they’re both pretty good. Then again, I started out as a PC gamer. :P

  3. Ashe Collins Avatar
    Ashe Collins

    Also, I hate to say it, but I’m enjoying Pokemon Black a helluva lot more than the last few Pokemon titles I’ve played. I know it’s a bit more simple, but I’m loving that I don’t have access to my knowns, and I don’t already know right away what to use against what type. In some ways it’s a bit more challenging.

    1. Alex Lucard Avatar

      Ashe – It’s a very cute game. It’s just unfortunate that A) The Pokemon are so ugly, B) the game is a lot easier in terms of gyms and bosses and c) so much will be unaccesible in a few years when the servers shut down. But yeah, if you haven’t played Pokemon for a while than this will be a lot of fun for you.

      Also – you just add to my theory that PC gamer + D&D fan = far more likely to enjoy DA2.

  4. Mohamed Al-Saadoon Avatar
    Mohamed Al-Saadoon

    As a big fan of DA:O, I actually enjoyed DAII more.

    One of the reasons was because it was NOT as epic as other Bioware titles and they tried to break their mold of ” Elite hero from a group of secret protectors (Spectres, Jedis, Grey Wardens) must stop a powerful evil from destroying the world (Sith, Reapers, Darkspawn).

    You were just a refugee trying to scrape your way up the social ladder before getting stuck in a religious war.

    1. Alex Lucard Avatar

      Mohammad – That’s part of what I like about DAII as well. I am so sick of the “random guy = saviour of everything and stops something that can destroy the world/galaxy/universe.” This felt a little more Dungeons and Dragony, where it’s a single dude and he has a couple of adventures which culminates in a big adventure for him – but it doesn’t change all of life as he knows it.

  5. Mark B. Avatar
    Mark B.

    … so what would possess you to need to perfect Galactus? Like, why is that a thing?

    Anyway, fine list, though I can say I haven’t played half the games in the top ten, sadly… or overall, come to that. But DA2 and MVC3 would definitely be in my top ten list for sure, so that, I can agree with.

  6. Alex Lucard Avatar

    Mark – I probably haven’t played half of anyone else’s list since I’ve mainly played weird or obscure games this quarter.

    As for perfecting Galactus…because it is there! Same reason I spent so long trying to perfect Nightmare Geese back in the day. I can get it down to being hit about two to three times in the whole battle. I use Akuma to teleport from damage and Hsien-Ko to outright avoid it while activelly attacking as well. I think if I get a little better at counting frames with Wolverine, he’d be a good third simply for the berserker barrage speed and power levels.

  7. Blatherbeard Avatar

    “The fact that the endings will be similar doesn’t bother me because that’s true of a lot of RPGs.”

    The reason i had a problem with this was they tout you can make decisions that matter, when basically they don’t. You get the same outcome no matter what feedback you pick. I think there was only 1 situation that you can directly affect, which doesn’t even come til the very end of act 2.

    If just getting by felt dungeon and dragony to you, you really need to sit in on one of my campaigns over the years, my DM was absolutely ridiculous with his storylines, which may be the reason im such a sucker for an epic storyline. ;)

    Just for the record also i mis-represented myself in the first part of my first post. I meant to say, not that it missed the mark”, i meant to say it missed the mark of a great game, and was a very good game instead. I re read the paragraph and realized it looked like i may have been one of the haters, which im not, but i thought it could have been supremely more well done in those certain areas i cited, to make it much more than it turned out to be.

  8. Mark B. Avatar
    Mark B.

    Well, honestly, I don’t even know what I could do with a Top Ten list. Off the top of my head, with no numbers attached, I can rattle off

    Dead Space 2
    Dragon Age 2
    Marvel Vs. Capcom 3
    Radiant Historia
    You Don’t Know Jack
    Gods Eater Burst
    Yakuza 4

    and then I’m at a loss because I’m kind of ambivalent or disagreeable about everything else I’ve played this year so far. So you’re doing better than I am, I guess.

    And if you want to perfect him, sure, okay, I guess. That’s your right and such. I’m happier trying to get all the Achievements, but to each their own.

  9. Alex Lucard Avatar

    Yeah, I never really understood the point of achievements or trophies. They’re just kind of there for me. I tend to just do what seems interesting with a game for as long as the title holds my attention. In this case, the perfecting of Galactus would be just to see if it is possible and to say, “Fuck yeah, look what I did” to a smattering few people that would be interested in the accomplishment like you and Bill.

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