Back to the intense Olympic-level competition of the annual Nintendo Power Awards.
Best Platformer: Drill Dozer, Kirby Squeak Squad, New Super Mario Bros., Super Princess Peach, Super Monkey Ball, Yoshi's Island
Mario will win this one, and I have to admit I had to carefully consider my vote here.
Because I voted for Drill Dozer again. Yeah, part of it that I just like seeing the underdogs win, but also I think that Drill Dozer comes to the table with more newness than New Super Mario Bros.
I really like both of those games, so I wouldn't mind a Mario win here.
Best Shooter/Action Game: Mega Man ZX, Metal Slug, Metroid Prime Hunters, Rayman, Red Steel, Starfox Command
First of all, what's Raving Rabbids doing in this one? There was nothing else to nominate that might actually fit the category? You might as well throw Chibi-Robo in there.
I went with Starfox Command largely because it's the only game on the list that I own. Ironically, the best part of the game for me was the 2D strategy portions, rather than the shooter parts. Somebody needs to flesh out a full game of that.
Best Sports/Racing Game: Excite Truck, Madden Wii, Madden GameCube, Sonic Riders, Tony Hawk Who Cares, Wii Sports
Oh come on. There is no doubt what's going to win this award. All of last fall's good press, all the YouTube videos, all the positive word-of-mouth that Sony or Microsoft would kill to have... it all centers around one game: Wii Effin' Sports. Everything else on that list is a joke in comparison. Wii Sports all the way.
Best Alternative Game: Brain Age, Cooking Mama, Elebits, EBA, Odama, Trauma Center
Now here's a toughie, because I own every single game up for this award. Nintendo should give ME an award just for being awesome. Maybe I'll make one. Hold on a tick.
There. Feel free to take that for your forum sig.
Anyway, this was obviously a difficult choice. Let's follow my thought process.
- Odama is right out. Neat idea, but poorly implemented and ugly as hell.
- Brain Age. Ok, Ok, it's of the proof-of-concept "New Game" model, along the lines of Wii Sports... but not exactly the kind of thing that I would like to see drive a new world of video gaming. It's flash cards, dude.
- Cooking Mama: super-cute, a small diversion, but lacking any real meat (see what I did there.)
- Trauma Center, the Wii version... the remote controls are cool, but I miss the tactile aspect found in the DS original. I did appreciate that it was easier, however. But the low-end presentation has to count against it (no voice work! still graphic cutscenes!) So it's a No, dog.
- Elebits. It's silly, it's intriguing, it's a good use of FPS controls without an FPS game. But not as fun as I'd hoped. Could have had a better showing with some mini-games in backup.
So what's that leave us with? That's right.
Best Multiplayer: Children of Mana, Madden, Metroid Hunters, Super Monkey Whosis, Tetris DS, Wii Sports
I initially wanted to support Tetris in this one, because it would be great to see the grand old babooshka return to prominence. Then I remembered how the online play was sorta crappy and featureless. So chalk this one up to Wii Sports again.
Best New Character: Agents from EBA, Chibi-Robo, Dr. Weaver from Trauma Center, Jill from Drill Dozer, Midna from Twilight Princess, Rocket from Rocket Slime
At first I thought how cool it was that Nintendo offered up a category to honor new IPs, and then I saw freaking Twilight Princess on the list. So right away you know dopey Midna is going to win. Seriously? People think that little plot device is interesting?
I, however, cast my ballot for Cheebo. He's instantly cool to look at, exceptionally marketable, and at the center of a very intriguing universe.
Best Story/Writing: Chibi-Robo, Contact, FFV, Twilight Princess, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, Trauma Center
Hey, I wonder if Twilight Princess will win, despite having the same spare story as every other recent Zelda game. Zelda's strength is in gameplay and epic scale, not in any kind of deep, meaningful plot. When TP wins, we'll have to endure Nintendo Power's inappropriately gushing hype-ograph.
Count my vote for Chibi-Robo. I would have chosen Trauma Center, except that the read-only format saps all the life out of the globe-spanning medical outbreak melodrama.
Best WiFi Functionality: Castlevania, Clubhouse Games, Mario vs Donkey Kong 2, Metroid Hunters, Tetris DS, Tony Hawk DS
Metroid will win this one, although Castlevania may sweep in for the upset simply due to it being a newer game.
I voted for Clubhouse Games because it's the one game on the list that comes closest to delivering the online experience that we've been begging Nintendo to implement.
Best Overall Wii Control: Elebits, Madden, Super Monkey Again, Super Swing Golf, Trauma Center, Wii Sports
Can you believe NP didn't self-nominate Twilight Princess for this one? I'll predict that Wii Sports walks away with this one.
Ever the iconoclast, I voted for Trauma Center. Most of the Wii stuff out now revolve around big sweeping motions. Trauma Center requires precision control with short, sure movements. So it's quite a change from the current perception of Wii games.
While we're talking about Trauma Center (no doubt for the last time), I want to point out that I was really disappointed with the game's lack of realism. I think this series needs to leap into photorealistic graphics. You should see organs packed into the human body, not just glassy 3D models floating in the ether. I want skin being cut away to reveal the layers of fat underneath, not just a thin slice and DVE dissolve presto-chango. (And you should definitely be allowed to screw up and cut open the wrong section, with malpractice-causing results.) I'm not saying it should go gross and gory, just that it could greatly improve itself if the look matched the content. It's surgery, not a damn puzzle game. On the DS, you had the excuse of N64-level capabilities. The Wii should have turned this into a realistic doctor sim. This could have been a breakout launch title, but it instead was a DS-port also-ran.
The other month when EGM did their predictible PS3 vs. Wii shootout article, one of the idiot reviewers claimed that Trauma Center made him queasy. Are you fucking kidding me?
Best DS Functionality: Brain Age, Contact, Cooking Mama, Electroplankton, EBA, Lost Magic
The problem with nominating a game like Electroplankton is that absolutely no one played it. So if it wins, you know the fix is in. I'm going to guess that Brain Age will win, even though it doesn't deserve it since it can't understand the spoken word "blue." I voted for EBA, again.
Overall Game of the Year
This is the one where they list 30 games and you pick your favorite three. Odama did not make the list. My first two choices were really easy and highly telegraphed if your short term memory has been following my voting choices. EBA and Chibi-Robo.
My third pick was a toss-up. I probably would have picked Elebits... if it was on the list, WTF. New SMB, Wii Sports, Trauma Center, Brain Age, Drill Dozer and Starfox Command would have all been solid choices. And of course, Twilight Princess. But I went with Tetris DS, because, gimpy multiplayer aside, it brought a full-featured finish to a very dusty classic, with plenty of extras and retro fan service.
So there you are. Get ready for the Twilight Princess blowout issue in two months.