Enjoyed Recommended

Gaming 2009: DS/PSP/Xbox 360/Wii

When it comes to my attention span, these consoles lost out in 2009.

The PSP software market, already a bit dry, turned desert-like this year. It was hard to find titles that weren’t reviewed poorly (Gran Turismo Portable) or overpriced to hell (LittleBigPlanet PSP, GTA:Chinatown Wars).

The Wii and DS repeated their performance from last year, with the Wii managing 2 retail purchases but no downloaded titles, and the DS managing one retail purchase.

The 360, which last year managed a whopping 1 retail game purchase, managed to sink to an abysmal 0 retail games and about 4 XBLA purchases. (The 360 continues to get a bit of a free pass since every game on the Multiplatform list is available for it.)

With this poor performance in mind, let’s find some silver lining in an otherwise dreary year.

## High Points & Surprises

It was a good year for patient rhythm gamers. Nine months after the Japanese version was released, but Nintendo did the world right and finally released Rhythm Heaven in the US. Essential for any DS owner, even if you have no rhythm. Pentavision’s wonderful DJ Max series also finally saw a US release as DJ Max Fever. As of press time, it’s available on the PSN store, so PSP owners have little excuse for not picking up the best portable music title on the market.

The PSP most held my interest when it came to tweaking heroes. Half Minute Hero took the 8-bit RPG formula and gave it a short fuse and a sense of humor. Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero?! went for platforming with crushing difficulty and even more humor. Both are great in short doses.

Some folks will want you to think that Shadow Complex was the best Xbox 360 game of the year. I won’t deny the game it’s due – it’s worth a single playthrough – but Trials HD destroyed it in fun, online integration, and “just one more try” gameplay. Trials HD causes thumb-numbing levels of addiction, the likes of which you probably haven’t felt since years.

It’s a little closer to the line between surprise and disappointment than I’d like, but New Super Mario Bros Wii did get me closer to 1991-style Mario than any game since, and that’s worth recognition. I dare not play it multiplayer in order to avoid ending friendships.

## Low Points & Disappointments

As someone who has rocked his way through Super Punch Out end-to-end around 16 times, and has logged plenty of hours on the NES original *and* the arcade game, the announcement of a Wii version of Punch Out was a ray of light, in the hopes that the series would be given the love it deserved. But, no – Nintendo did what Nintendo does best, reviving ten of the eleven boxers from the NES game and two from the SNES game. Only three opponents are new – no, wait: one of them is Donkey Kong, one of them is a Hulk-like version of the main character, and the other one is actually a boxer. One new character, after 15 years. This is not the Punch Out we had been patiently awaiting; this was a nostalgia cash-in. So it goes when it comes to Nintendo.

Scribblenauts came out the gates with promises across the board – write anything! It’s in the game! – and the previews said it wasn’t hype, it was true. The problem: the controls were ass, and you felt less like writing “anything” than “jetpack” and “rope” every level. Imagination frequently loses out to actually getting through the game.

House Of The Dead: Overkill was advertised to be ADULT and CRAZY and GRINDHOUSE-Y. It turned out to be GENERIC and POORLY CONSTRUCTED and WORTH LITTLE MORE THAN A RENTAL. That is, unless bad words in a game on a Nintendo platform is supposed to still be shocking in 2009.