Only an idiot would say that it has been a bad year for gaming. L.A Noire, Bulletstorm, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Batman: Arkham City, Xenoblade Chronicles, Uncharted 3, Zelda: Skyward Sword, Gears of War 3… we could go on for a long time yet. But for every AAA title released this year it would seem that there has been another very good game that was shunned to one side.
What games? These games:
Williams Pinball Classics
Not just a mere pinball game, but the pinball game â€“ the best virtual rendition of pinball that weâ€™ve ever seen with impeccable physics and visuals good enough to make you think youâ€™re standing in front of the real deal. It was apparently meant to be a GAME/GameStation-exclusive but our copy came from Zavvi. Not sure how that happened. Same distributor, perhaps?
This city building sim would have done a lot better if it had been released in the summer â€“ not only would it have gained more press coverage due to very few other games being released, but the fact that itâ€™s set on a series of tropical islands would have matched the summer vibe. The release date kept being pushed back, which probably didnâ€™t help things.
Solatorobo: Red the Hunter
This DS game was published by Nintendo in Europe but they didnâ€™t spend a great deal on promotion. They should have taken a leaf out of the Japanese publisherâ€™s book – Namco Bandai aired 100 commercials on 21st October on the TV channel Tokyo MX in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record. It may have sold better if its predecessor â€“ Tail Concerto on PSone – was released in Europe.
The Green Lantern
Rather than follow the narrow constraints of the film, the developers were allowed to give this movie tie-in its own storyline set after the movie. Never did the game treat the player like an idiot â€“ puzzles were a cut above most found in games of this ilk and the difficulty level was perfect. Visuals were nice and sharp too, and Ryan Reynoldâ€™s vocal talent added charm. If youâ€™re an Xbox 360 owner after something similar to God of War, you could do a lot worse.
Captain America: Super Solider
After publishing half a dozen rubbish Marvel games Sega finally gave us a good one. And then what happened? Everybody expected it to be rubbish; the press only gave it minimal coverage and the public ignored it. So much so that it didnâ€™t even make the top 40.
Usually when a system starts entering its final hours we see nothing but kidâ€™s titles and budget games for it. It was a little surprising, then, to see Sega announce an Aliens game for the DS. But weâ€™re glad they still had faith in the format â€“ this 2D run and gunner was engrossing stuff and an ideal way to get geared up for 2012â€™s Aliens console game.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Capcom at their finest. This anime-styled romp sees you controlling a floating spirit trying to find out who murdered his former self. Everything about the game screams quality, from the animation to the mind-bending puzzles which involved turning back time. To play this game is to love it.
Segaâ€™s Renegade Ops came out of nowhere and went precisely nowhere. Playing like a mixture of Cannon Fodder and Assault Heroes, it features some lovely visuals and plenty of pretty explosions. 360 Gamer magazine were so impressed with it that it was given a two page review and an 8/10 review score.
Dodonpachi Resurrection Deluxe
A 2D shoot â€™em up is always going to be of limited appeal, but Rising Star didnâ€™t really do themselves any favours by releasing it on the same day as Batman: Arkham City. They should have released in during the summer; with fewer games to compete with it would have no doubt gained more press coverage. The price also disgruntled us – Â£24.99, compared to Deathsmilesâ€™ Â£14.99.
The original deBlob sold almost a million copies on the Wii and DS alone. A multi-format sequel would surely do well, THQ clearly thought. Although reviews were good, within a month it had dropped to Â£15. Last month, in fact, we found a pre-owned copy for a barely believable Â£3.
Alice Madness Returns
EAâ€™s charming platformer did the opposite to the above â€“ held its price remarkably well. Even months after release it was hard to find a copy for under Â£30. This is likely to be because EA didnâ€™t produce a great amount of copies. Reviews were mixed, but more people loved it than hated it.
El Shaddai – Ascension of the Metatron
Not only a feast for the eyes but it also offers a few nice twists in the hacking and slashing department. Weapons have to be grabbed off enemies and purified before using them, thus leaving yourself open to attack for a few seconds. You have to wonder if the quirky name is responsible for it not selling brilliantly – if it had a name like â€˜Blade Warriorâ€™ or similar it might have gained a few extra sales.