I should probably apologize for the slight delay in our GOTY 2008 awards. It’s been a crazy last few weeks, what with last minute programming on the site, organizing and participating in the first annual Negative World Chicago Gamer’s Day, and subsequently being sick the entire week after. But it is better late than never. Special thanks to everyone who voted and made it all possible.
It’s been an interesting year for Nintendo fans. On the plus side, we got a few stellar games on the Wii, a lot of awesome games on the DS, and some interesting new announcements in the DSi and WiiMotion Plus. And Wiiware finally made its debut, bringing bite-sized gaming goodness to the millions of Wii owners. On the minus side the games weren’t always there on the Wii, Nintendo mostly ignored the DS (though the 3rd party support was excellent) and WiiWare took awhile to pick up steam. A mixed bag of a year to many, but hell, I’m not here to complain. It’s time to praise the games that deserve it!
If you’re not a part of the site, perhaps I should explain the process. Though anyone can become a member, it takes a bit before one can become a higher level, voting member. These members are also what can be considered editors on our site, though it is a fairly automatic process that every member can get to eventually. So it is best to look at our GOTY as something in between an editor voted GOTY and a member voted GOTY, which gives it a unique perspective. And it should be said that in our “most wanted” section we stick to games that have been officially announced; so no Pikmin 3, Super Mario Galaxy 2, or The Legend of Zelda Next in the nominations.DS GOTY
It was truly a difficult decision narrowing down the nominations for DS game of the year. There were one or two obvious choices… and about 10 or 15 others that deserved a good look. Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, Lock’s Quest, Space Invaders Extreme, a host of Squarenix remakes and many others all impressed, but in the end cuts had to be made, and we came to these nominations.Bangai-O Spirits
- Who would have thought the cult Dreamcast classic would get a DS sequel after all of these years? 100+ stages, a whole lot of power-ups, a difficulty level that is just short of devious, and an excellent stage creation tool make this action/puzzle/shooter stand out from the rest of the pack.Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
- Dubbed Castlevania II meets Symphony of the Night even before it launched, this game had a lot of hype leading up to it. A new glyph system and an overworld map selection screen combine with some stellar gameplay and some excruciating (and frequent) boss fights for one heck of an experience.Chrono Trigger DS
- Make no bones about it, Chrono Trigger is simply one of the best RPGs ever made. Scratch that, one of the best video games ever made, period. An excellent cast, a soundtrack that will bring you to tears, an interesting time travel story and a battle system that still feels ahead of its time years later all make the transition to the handheld nicely. Professor Layton and the Curious Village
- It’s not very often that a point and click adventure/puzzle game kicks off such a high profile franchise nowadays. Sporting some of the most impressive anime cutscenes seen in a game on any
platform and puzzles that range from simple to head-scratchingly tough, this is a game that truly bridges the gap between the casual and the hardcore.The World Ends With You
- See, Squarenix can do something besides ports and spinoffs on the DS after all! TWEWY mixes a unique dual screen battle system and touch screen controls with an anime meets hip-hop flair, throws in a totally bizarre story, and the result is an action RPG like none other you have ever played.And the winner is… Professor Layton and the Curious Village (19 votes)
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (14 votes
Chrono Trigger DS (12 votes
The World Ends With You (9 votes
Bangai-O Spirits (6 votes
It was a close race, but Layton pulls ahead as the clear winner in the end. Maybe it’s the full blown story and animation reminiscent of Studio Ghibli’s works. Maybe it’s the accessibility and the fact that anyone can play it (even my non-gaming aunt was addicted for hours one night.) It may just be that deep down we all like to feel intelligent (or the lack thereof when stuck on a particularly unforgiving puzzle.) Whatever the case, it is our top pick for DS games in 2008.
Castlevania finishes a respectable 2nd, nudging out the Chrono Trigger port. The World Ends With You, thought to be an early front-runner, doesn’t fare as well. Was it that Neg Worlders didn’t like it, or didn’t play it? As for Bangai-O well, it might be a bit too hardcore even for us (don’t blame me, I voted for it!)
And a word from our members on the winner:“The perfect game for lovers of puzzles and brainteasers, Professor Layton manages to provide a challenge for even the most seasoned gamer. The quirky story and free downloadable content just add to the fun.”
-Shadowlink“Professor Layton brings a unique experience to the Nintendo DS with great puzzles and a simple but effective design. Plus the intro movie is amazing."
-Akisaka"Many innovative games have graced the DS since its launch, and Level-5 managed to keep that going with this 2008 release. In spite of a seemingly over-saturated market on the DS, Professor Layton reminded us why the DS as a system is so unique. The game tapped into a genre that isn't too prominent in the video game industry, and brought a great art style and story along for the ride. This is easily one of the year's highlights, being one of the best puzzle games in years, and arguably the best riddle game ever."
It took awhile for WiiWare to really gain some momentum, but within the last few months the quality games have been streaming out. From Nintendo’s simple yet brilliant Art Style label to classics reborn to a five part series based on the popular Homestar Runner site, Wii owners have had plenty of downloadable goodness to look into. We narrowed it down, and here are our picks.Art Style: Orbient
- Orbient takes a simple concept (gravity versus anti-gravity) and builds a totally engrossing game around it, proving that developers can do a lot with a little when they put their minds to it. A kicking 2001-ish soundtrack doesn’t hurt either.LostWinds
- A debut 3rd party WiiWare title with graphics and controls that managed to put most full disk 3rd party games to shame. Maybe a bit short, but it left us wanting more, and eagerly awaiting the (probable) sequel.Mega Man 9
- By all means this should never have worked. Yet Capcom managed to create an 8-bit Mega Man that is not only true to the classic series, but stands up with the best of them in every way. And yes, that means it has an excellent old school soundtrack.Tetris Party
- Tetris is a classic, so 10 player online Tetris with a host of modes and options should be an obvious bet, right? Right.World of Goo
- Spawning from the PC physics/tech demo Tower of Goo, World of Goo pulled together a unique graphical style, an emotional soundtrack, and the most interesting take on the puzzle genre in a long while. And apparently it was created by two guys in a coffee shop, imagine that.And the winner is… World of Goo (27 votes)
Mega Man 9 (25 votes
Art Style: Orbient (6 votes
LostWinds (4 votes
Tetris Party (1 vote
Besting Mega Man 9 in a battle to the finish, World of Goo hangs on by on a thread. We loved the colorful style, we loved the tear-jerking soundtrack, we loved the depth and variety of its physics based challenges, but mostly we loved that we got what could easily, with a tad bit more content, have been sold as a full disk game… and we only paid $15 for it. I’m sure we will all be looking forward to 2D Boy’s next project with anticipation.
But we also loved Mega Man 9’s kickback to the glory days of the NES almost as much. Mega Man 10 anyone? I say yes. Orbient and LostWinds pull a very distant 3rd and 4th, and well… I guess Neg Worlders just aren’t that interested in yet another game of Tetris.
And a word from our members on the winner:“World of Goo is awesome because not only are the puzzles fun and challenging, but then you can go ahead and step it up a notch and try to master any level... which is quite a trick in some cases. Finding out that the whole game, as polished and playable as it is, was made by 2-3 guys is just mind blowing.”
–Red Shell“World of Goo brings to WiiWare a unique puzzle adventure that's fun, deep, and leaves us wanting more.”
-Akisaka"This game single-handedly made me believe in indie gaming. Whereas prior to playing this I wasn't very much into the indie scene, World of Goo is proof that even only two guys (with a little help from a few others) can create an instant-classic without having the budget or resource of a big company. The visuals, the sound, the physics and the addictng gameplay creates for one of the more complete (small) games I've played in a long time. As an aspiring game developer, World of Goo is a game I look to for inspiration."
-Griptor Wii GOTY
It might be indicative of the state of the second half of ’08 on the Wii that all five of our GOTY nominations came in the first half. Not that the second half didn’t have some great games; excluding both de Blob and Wario Land Shake It! from our nominations was a painful thing to do. Yet in the end, it is the early part of ’08 that we look at most fondly, and what a great first half of a year it was!Mario Kart Wii
- Coming off the heels of the super successful DS version, Mario Kart Wii once again offers 16 new and 16 classic tracks, as well as battle maps and online (this time with up to 12 racers!) Sure there were some complaints about team battle only, but the minor flaws don’t outweigh the sheer joy of the game, which is even better with friends. No More Heroes
- It’s totally niche, it’s totally bizarre… and it’s totally awesome. Fusing punk aesthetics with an otaku storyline and a style that Tarantino would love, No More Heroes slid in under the radar and made a lasting impression. Superb light-sword battle mechanics and some amazing boss fights are the main draw, but there are other surprises in store as well. Okami
- A port of the late PS2 game, Okami is basically Capcom’s answer to Zelda. It borrows heavily, but adds enough unique elements to stand on its own (four) feet, including stunning Japanese watercolor style graphics, a gameplay focus on rejuvenation, and brush-painting mechanics that translate to the Wii remote nicely.Super Smash Bros. Brawl
- Sure, the online is a bit gimped. But everything else builds on the already amazing gameplay established in Melee, throwing in more new characters, items and battlefields than you would think possible, as well as a full single player adventure mode that is seriously long! Get together three other gamers, and there is nothing better to play.Wii Fit
- Is it a game? Is it a piece of exercise equipment? Is it the downfall of the video game industry through the trojan horse of soccer moms? Do any of these questions matter? Game or equipment, Wii Fit has undoubtedly changed the face of the industry. There are other games we may have chosen for the last spot on our nominations, but none seem as important for the industry as Wii Fit.And the winner is… Super Smash Bros. Brawl (30 votes)
Mario Kart Wii (18 votes
No More Heroes (12 votes
Okami (10 votes
Wii Fit (1 vote
We chose Brawl as our clear winner, with the same amount of votes as the second and third spots combined. It wasn’t exactly a banner year for the Wii, but Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a banner title that every Wii owner should have. Nearly a year after its release it still finds its way into my
Wii at every gamer get-together. The game is so completely polished and chock full of content that outside of cleaning up the online a bit, I have no idea how this franchise could even go much further. And who doesn’t want to play as Snake?
Mario Kart Wii took a pretty solid second place, and the edgy No More Heroes nudged Okami out of the winner’s circle. As for Wii Fit well, one of us liked it, apparently. It’s a phenomena with the masses for sure, but not so much with the Neg Worlders.
And a word from our members on the winner:“Sakurai and his team deliver another brilliant installment to the cult fighting series. Boasting more Nintendo nostalgia than you can shake your Master Sword at, and the long awaited addition of Internet play to the classic multiplayer mode, this game is must have for all Wii owners.”
-Shadowlink“Super Smash Bros. Brawl continues in the great tradition of the Smash Bros series bringing in a true single player experience and online multiplayer. A vast cast of characters and plenty of new and classic levels brings playability to a whole new level."
-Akisaka"While Brawl was not as big a jump as Melee was to the original Smash Bros. game, it still clearly elevated the series to new heights, adding more content and solidifying itself as one of the most played multiplayer games ever released and, arguably, the most fun. Brawl is a fighting game for which I can say I enjoy playing as any of the many playable characters. This alone is enough to make it my favourite fighting game of all time. Forget the amazingly balanced new levels, the extra adventure mode, the mountains of unlockables and the exhilarating soundtrack. Well, okay, those sort of help its case as well. This game is also a must-have for any Nintendo fan, as it doubles as a museum chockfilled with Nintendo trivia. Offering much bang for your buck, Brawl defines "value."
As an added bonus, we decided to take a look into the most wanted games of the upcoming year and beyond. It should be interesting to pit these results against next year’s GOTY awards and see what games lived up to the hype, and what games didn’t…DS Most Wanted
Though some expected the DS to fizzle out over the course of the last year and beyond, it has kept on kicking hard. And with the announcement of the DSi, the future still looks very bright. In particular, the RPG scene has exploded on the DS, and while making the nominations list what hurt most was cutting out some epic looking RPGs like Infinite Space and ASH (if it ever makes it here.) Nonetheless, cuts must be made.Dragon Quest IX: Protectors of the Sky
- Dragon Quest is a huge
franchise in japan, but still relatively small in the West. Primarily a Sony affair in recent years, Squarenix shocked the world by announcing IX would be on the little handheld that could.Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
- Though the series has been around forever, Fire Emblem may be known more for its Smash Bros. fighters Roy and Marth than the actual games themselves. Going back to the original game for this remake, the West will finally get a chance to see these characters in the game that started it all.Mario & Luigi 3
- The original GBA game was a huge hit, but many were a bit disappointed by the DS sequel. Though not many details are known on this version, it looks to go back to playing as just the brothers themselves (with no time travel + younger selves paradoxes,) though you may be able to take control of a certain lifelong nemesis as well.Miles Edgeworth: Perfect Prosecutor
- Though I would have never seen this one coming, it makes perfect sense. Phoenix Wright’s antithesis (and friend of sorts,) Miles Edgeworth is easily one of the most beloved characters in the series, and fans are dying for a chance to play things out from the other side.Rhythm Heaven
- A rhythm game taking the insane style of Wario Ware microgames and adding a musical beat to them? Instabuy! Already a huge hit in Japan, the US is finally getting its chance to experience the Nintendo magic.And the winner is… Mario & Luigi 3 (19 votes)
Miles Edgeworth: Perfect Prosecutor (16 votes
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (12 votes
Rhythm Heaven (9 votes
Dragon Quest IX: Protectors of the Sky (3 votes
It was a pretty tight race all around, but in the end Neg Worlders seem to want another chance to take control of the brothers on their epic quest. If the game can capture the magic of the first while pushing ahead into new territory, it should be a huge hit.
Miles Edgeworth comes in a close second, showing that the Phoenix Wright hype is still running strong (perhaps we should have included Apollo Justice as a GOTY nomination after all?) Fire Emblem rounds out the top three, with Rhythm Heaven right behind. Dragon Quest doesn’t fare so well… has it been too long since the series has been on a Nintendo console? I’m sure it will be big when it hits though.
And a word from our members on the winner:“Mario and Luigi 3 hopes to continue in the great tradition of its two predecessors and create a real bond between the DS and the Wii.”
-Akisaka”The first Mario & Luigi is still one of my favorite RPGs ever. The second may have been a tad bit disappointing, but I still liked it. I’m very psyched for the third! Just leave out the babies, please!”
-VileWiiWare Most Wanted
Due to the short dev cycles of many WiiWare games, it is difficult to look too far into the future. Truth be told, there will be many, many WiiWare games out in 2009 that we have not even an inkling of knowledge of their existence; in many cases the developers themselves haven’t even thought of them yet. Still, we do know about a fair amount of WiiWare games on the way, and the best thing is that these games should all be arriving within the next few months!Animales de la Muerte
- High Voltage Software has made a bit of a name for themselves with their impressive looking upcoming FPS on the Wii, and their WiiWare titles are riding that wave of hype. Animales looks to have a sort of Zombies At My Neighbors vibe, which is never a bad thing.Bubble Bobble Wii
- Classic revivals are all the rage, so why not Bubble Bobble? Not too much is known yet, but it will likely stick to the basic formula already established in the NES game.Cave Story
- This Metroid-ish indie classic is already available on PC for free, but will be well worth the money to play on a big screen with a comfy controller once it hits with some minor updates. And the impressive thing is it was completely designed and programmed by a single guy!Gradius Rebirth
- It’s still a bit unclear on whether this is a brand new game or a combinations of new and old, but either way a cheap version of what is considered one of the best SHMUP series should be pretty sweet.Lit
- Coming from the team who made the stellar Contra IV, Lit is a sort of more light-hearted, teenage survival horror game. How will such a typically deep genre fare in a short WiiWare burst? We shall see.And the winner is… Cave Story (17 votes)
Animales de la Muerte (13 votes
Bubble Bobble Wii (11 votes
Gradius Rebirth (8 votes
Lit (6 votes
It looks like the appeal of a Metroid style game on WiiWare overrules all others. Having played a bit of the PC version myself personally, I can honestly say I believe we have made the right choice here. Hopefully Pixel’s updated game will still find a market when the PC version is already out there for free.
Animales takes a pretty close second, proving that building a name for yourself in the industry helps out all of your projects, edging out Bubble Bobble. Gradius and Lit both hold up the rear with respectable showings.
And a word from our members on the winner:It’s really hard to believe this game was made by a single guy. I’ve played a bit of the PC version and it’s very well worth checking out.
-VileWii Most Wanted
Though the last half of 2008 was a bit painful for Wii owners, 2009 is already looking a lot nicer. Within the first few months of the year we are seeing big games like Tenchu 4, Little King Story, House of the Dead Overkill and Madworld hit, with a lot more coming down the pipeline. And Nintendo themselves still haven’t announced much of their 1st party lineup, so we can expect many more surprises to come!Dragon Quest X
- After the announcement of IX on the DS, X on the Wii wasn’t quite as big of a surprise, but it is still very welcome nonetheless. Will DQ X open the floodgate and lead to a massive Japanese RPG revival on the Wii? Or will developers stand on the sidelines waiting to see how it performs? Either way, many Wii owners are highly anticipating this game.MadWorld
- This game has so many things standing out for it, from its Sin City-ish black and white (and plenty of red) style to its tongue-in-cheek take on violence (man darts!) to the fact that it comes from the AAA developer behind both Viewtiful Joe and Okami. Some are saying it could be the next No More Heroes but…No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
- Why not let MadWorld be MadWorld and the next No More Heroes be the next No More Heroes? The sequel to one of our runner-ups for Wii GOTY 2008 may not hit in 2009, but we will be holding our breath until it does. The first was simply like nothing else, and Desperate Struggle looks to continue down that path.Punch-Out!!
- In the minds of almost every Wii owner back when Wii Sports boxing hit, Punch-Out!! on the Wii is finally becoming a reality. It’s still unclear whether this is a remake or a brand new game, but either way Wii controls change up so much that it is an experience no Punch-Out!! fan will want to miss!The Conduit
- High Voltage managed to make almost every other Wii developer look silly by showing up at E3 with a polished and impressive FPS for the Wii, and walking away with many awards. Though it is still unclear how the final game will fare, we have to appreciate that a small developer is doing more than most of the bigger ones. Let’s all hope for the best.And the winner is…MadWorld (27 votes)
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (15 votes
The Conduit (15 votes
Dragon Quest X (7 votes
Punch-Out!! (4 votes
In the biggest blowout yet, we chose MadWorld as the Negative World’s most wanted Wii game, almost doubling the votes of its closest competitor. MadWorld seems to have it all; style, story, presentation, variety, developer history and oodles upon oodles of ways to kill your enemies. And it only makes us happier to know it will be here in a few short months.
Speaking of that closest competitor, it was actually two; in our only tie both No More Heroes 2 and The Conduit take 15 votes each to stand together and round out the top three. Much like the DS version, the Wii version of Dragon Quest still has yet to build up much hype here. And I’m honestly not sure what happened with Punch-Out!!, I thought this would be a bigger game, but it barely took any votes.
And a word from our members on the winner:”Anything from the developers of Okami has me at day one. Definitely a very unique looking title and I’m interested to see how much depth it has.”
-Vile“MadWorld is the killer app the wii needs to prove that it's not just for kids and soccer moms. MadWorld is gonna deliver the unique controls that only the Wii can offer with the mature gameplay that the "hardcore" audience is looking for.”
-Akisaka"After a disappointing fall for Wii gamers, 2009 looks to start off with a major bang in March. It is, disappointingly enough, rare for a third party developer to put any effort in their Wii titles. But when a developer pours its heart into a game, Wii players tend to take notice. MadWorld looks to be a game developed by a group that genuinely cares for uniqueness, and it shows. The black-and-white style visuals are but one of many reasons to look forward to this, a game by some of the beloved workers of the now-disbanded Clover Studio. It's a sight for sore eyes, MadWorld is."
So there you have it! Our first GOTY awards draw to an end. Some predictable results, some surprises, some very close calls and a couple of upsets, but in the end I can’t really argue with a single result. I’m looking forward to continuing with the GOTY awards every year, expanding the categories and maybe throwing in a few surprises in the future. See you next time around!