Best and Worst Video Games of 2009

2009 has come and gone, and with it we are left with the memories of all of the wonderful video games we have played throughout the year. Which game deserves Game of the Year? What games don't?

Here we take a look at what went right in 2009, and what went wrong. Although there were numerous quality console video game releases this year, remember, only one can claim the top spot.

Most Unnecessary Peripheral(s)
Beatles: Rockband Instruments
Runner Up: Tony Hawk: Ride Skateboard

What makes this generation of video game consoles stand out to others is the plethora of  plastic crap that accompany our systems. The Beatles: Rockband, despite selling like hotcakes, include a box of plastic replicas of the band's instruments for $250 (including the game, of course). Do we really our living rooms to be filled with any more plastic?

Biggest Surprise Hit of the Year

Borderlands (XBOX360, PS3, PC)


With well-established and big budget video game franchises such as Modern Warfare and Uncharted hogging all of the limelight this year, it isn't unreasonable to think that Gearbox's Borderlands would not receive the attention that it deserves. However, the stylish loot-grinding game has been picking up momentum, mostly by word of mouth since its October 20th release date. Jeff Gerstmann from Giant Bomb called it a successful loot-driven first person shooter "where plenty of other Diablo-inspired games have failed miserably". As of December 2009, the game has sold over two million copies according to publisher Take-Two's financial report.

Most Watered-Down Franchise

"-Hero" Series (XBOX 360, PS3. Wii)

There were a total of six "-Hero" titles released in 2009. Six! The following "-Hero" games have been released since the beginning of 2009:

  1. Guitar Hero: Metallica (March 29)
  2. Guitar Hero: Smash Hits (June 16)
  3. Guitar Hero 5 (September 1)
  4. DJ Hero (October 27)
  5. Band Hero (November 3)
  6. Guitar Hero: Van Halen (December 22)
Publisher Activision knows that the "-Hero" games have selling power. The Guitar Hero franchise has sold more than 25 million units worldwide, earning $2 billion USD worldwide. That's a lot of plastic guitars! The series is claimed by Activision to be the third largest video game franchise, after the Mario and Madden franchises.

Unfortunately, the publisher continued to butcher the brand name, releasing game after game that were too similar to one another. The series is significantly watered down at this point, and no one really gives a crap about the series anymore. In fact, Activision handed out free copies of Guitar Hero: Van Halen to early purchasers of Guitar Hero 5.

Best Series Revival

Tales of Monkey Island (Wii)
Runner Up: Street Fighter IV (XBOX360, PS3)


2009 has been a great year for the revival of many long-forgotten video game series. The series reboot of Street Fighter IV, for example, brought back memories of the 1990s arcade and reminded everyone why fighting games were fun again.

Most notably, however, 2009 marked the series revival of the Monkey Island games. It has been almost 10 years since LucasArts released a Monkey Island game, the last one being Escape from Monkey Island in 2000. Critics and long-time fans of the series praised the new direction of the series under the new developer, Telltale Games. They retain the witty dialogue and pop culture references while introducing new characters and bringing back old favorites. Tales of MI marked the most successful Telltale franchise to date.

(Author's Note: Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge is my favorite game of all time.)

Best Console Downloadable Game
Shadow Complex (XBOX360)
Runner up: Tales of Monkey Island (Wii)

"I think right now - in the future, when people look back, I think it's the renaissance of video games." These are the words of Jenova Chen, creator of games Flower and flOw, about the role of digital distribution in the video game industry. While high production costs of big budget video games forced many video game companies out of business, the low-cost and affordable downloadable games on XBOX Live, Wiiware and PSN allow game designers to be more diverse and creative without much loss.

The best console downloadable game goes to Shadow Complex for the XBOX 360. Ever since the dawn of 3D gaming, metroidvania-style games such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Super Metroid have lost their place in the video game industry. Epic Games' Shadow Complex resurrects the long forgotten genre, along with what made them so addicting in the first place. The game's still about exploring and collecting powerups, but they've now thrown in modern day gameplay mechanics like twin stick shooting and leaderboards.

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