5 Years of Us!

You'll be able to find all our 5-year celebrations up here. There's going to be some great stuff.

Five years of Games of the Year...

Five years of the forums...

Five years caught in our documentry...

Five years of KNTV...

Five years of Doctor Who...

Games of The Year: Revisited!

It’s a Christmas tradition: Every year, whilst we’re busy wrapping our presents and buying a tree, the KN Top 20 Games of the Year list is being readied, so that we can get up to 11, then give up on the concept for three weeks and just unveil the top 5 come next January, while we wait until July for the User Awards Results.

Often, our choices for Game of the Year are controversial- Even within our own offices. (Blood still boils when our final choice for 2008 comes up) Only one game has ever walked away with a unanimous verdict from our staff, while many choices have faced stern resistance at the time.

So, now, four and a half years on from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess being crowned our first-ever Game of the Year, we’ve decided, as part of our fifth-birthday celebrations, we’d look back on our 4 past award seasons and see whther our choices still stand…

2006

Were we right?

Yes. Yes, we think we were. Playing Twilight Princess again reminded us all of what a lovely, self-contained adventure it is as well as the epic, open-world tale we remember it as. A very fine game and up there with the very best Zeldas, thanks to brilliant dungeons and the ever-lovable Epona.

2007

An overwhelmingly Nintendo year, especially when you factor in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, which 50/50 with Halo 3 for inclusion, although the stunning visuals and fantastic set-pieces helped Master Chiefs’ final bow over the finish line. Phantom Hourglass was a class above all DS games when released, and still remains one of the top titles in the systems’ amazing back catalogue, just above a certain game featuring some sort of small, collectable creatures. Yes, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl also blew us away, then regathered us and made us play them for litteraly hundreds of hours. Rounding off a top-notch list is the best Call of Duty title we’ve ever seen and the one that started all the hype surrounding the franchise of today. A modern classic, so to speak, just like Bioshock, a game that beat Metroid at its own game. A brilliantly atmospheric shooter, it may have won in a different year.

Microsoft

Were we right?

Again, there was little discussion on this one. Super Mario Galaxy shall be riding high on our list of the top 5 games released since KN’s inception next week, we can assure you that. A brilliant year for games, (As we said on Bioshock, any of the nominated games may have won it a year or two later) but none better than the plumbers’ intergalactic quest.

2008

TWEWY is the very definition of ‘Sleeper Hit’. Absolutely nobody saw it coming, yet from the moment it was released, we were hooked. It earned itself the highest score we’ve ever given to a handheld game, a whopping 96%, and our affections with it. A year of wooping and blogging over it on the newly-relaunched site followed. Meanwhile, there was the small matter of Grand Theft Auto IV, the biggest-grossing media launch in history at the time. Rockstar had made such a huge world that we felt somewhat overawed by the whole experience, while *cough* another member of our team just didn’t like it. (None of us found the driving controls very satisfying, if we’re honest.) Fallout 3 blew everything away come the fall, if you’ll pardon the two puns. A sprawling western RPG that still couldn’t quite cope with the smaller JRPG of TWEWY. Uncharted arrived right at the end, however, launching Sony’s grand climb back onto its horse that it seemed to slip off shortly after the PS3’s launch. A fine game.

TWEWY1

Were we right?

We really have no idea. Perhaps not. Perhaps we were. We’re still as indecisive as we were back in 2008. Brawl has had the greatest staying power, TWEWY had the biggest impact on much of the team, while Uncharted and Fallout 3 remain excellent games. The real competition, however, comes from Mario Kart Wii, a game scarcely mentioned above, yet it’s still our multi-player game of choice, regardless of console. Brawl may just hold it down to the sheer ferocity of Grancko’s defence of the Subspace Emissary, though. Seriously, he seemed to love it. Bizarre. Readers: Just give the award to your favourite game and be happy with it.

2009

RUNNERS UP: Uncharted 2: Amongst Thieves, Assassins’ Creed 2, Little Kings’ Story, Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

An impossibly tight year. We would have flipped a coin as to whether Batman, Uncharted or Assassins’ Creed got the accolade, but they don’t make three-sided coins, so we had to fight it out to the death in the end. While Arkham Asylum edged it, Assassins’ and Uncharted both remain brilliant adventure games that retain their class today, despite the sequels. Little Kings’ Story is a brilliant RTS that avoids the usual stereotypes and provided generally brilliant entertainment for all. Spirit Tracks, however, was the weakest Zelda in a while, but that means it was merely ‘one of the best games of the year’ rather than ‘the best game of the year’.

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Were we right?

Maybe. Batman arguably stands up slightly better today than Assassins’ Creed 2, which has had another fantastic follow-up already, although Uncharted 2 is increasingly looking like it’s the top game from 2009. A very tough call, but we’re going to give Nathan Drake the benefit of the doubt. We’ll admit it: We were wrong! For once. And even then, not by much.

2010

Some crackers, there. No Mario Galaxys, but some crackers nonetheless. Mass Effect 2 must be the eight gazillionth RPG on our list, offering big-budget thrills and epic space fights, however the way it squeezed the Xbox 360 and PS3 was nothing compared to how Dragon Quest IX’s way with the DS. The game looked and played beautifully and had literally hundreds of hours worth of stuff to do. Red Dead was an obvious choice, Rockstars’ western sandbox title was a huge game with plenty of character, again, done on an epic scale. Something slightly more self-contained, however, rounds off the list in the shape of Donkey Kong Country Returns, a game so difficult it can take hours on end to finish one fairly linear level, yet so fair you won’t smash any Wii Remotes during those hours. Just further proof of why Retro Studios are one of the finest developers in the modern world.

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