Error! Not Found’s Top 10 Games of 2011 (And More!)

Here, editors explain why they chose a game for their personal list that no other editor did.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (Nihon Falcom, 1st on Dominic’s list)

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m the one who championed for The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky to make our Top 10 list. I was enthralled by its massive, detailed world (well, as good as you can get with a handheld) and how well it blended Western and Eastern RPG styles with a typically Japanese story without getting tired. Even though not many ended up playing it, I still feel comfortable pitting up against Skyrim as being one of the best RPGs of the year. It doesn’t reinvent the JRPG wheel, but it does a damn good job polishing it up to its former glory again. I just hope we get the sequel… – Dominic Cichocki

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (Quest, 9th on Matthew’s list)

It comes as little surprise to me that Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together did not make anyone else’s top 10 lists; after all, turn-based strategy RPG’s are hardly among the forefront of most anticipated games in this generation. This, however, does not mean that Tactics Ogre isn’t worth your time; on the contrary, this is likely one of the most deep gameplay experiences you’ll find this year! Despite technically being a remake of a decade-old game, the story is extremely compelling and features a choice system where none of the choices are completely black and white. It also helps that the strategy gameplay is finely tuned and accommodating to new players; including the ability to set members of your party to an AI, and being able to rewind up to fifty moves. If you’re a big strategy RPG fan, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice by not playing this game. – Matthew Milewski

The Binding of Isaac (Edmund McMillen/Florian Himsl, 9th on Evan’s list)

The Binding of Isaac has it all. Your weirdly fetus-like character explores the depths of his basement, wading through feces and blood whilst using his tears as a projectile weapon. If you view the game as perverted or sick then more power to you; I tend to view it as more of a therapy session for Super Meat Boy co-creator Edmund McMillen. Content aside, the reason The Binding of Isaac is on my list is because of its unrelentingly difficult, and eternally satisfying gameplay. It’s a functional roguelike, and death is permanent. But the dungeons are reminiscent of the very first Legend of Zelda, minus any sort of puzzle-solving. You get upgrades like range, health and speed as you go, and they’re all represented by a suitably unsettling cosmetic change to Isaac: be it a crown of thorns or his mother’s lipstick. The Binding of Isaac’s view of the way religion can warp the mind of a seemingly normal person feels like pandering, especially to an atheist like me. But, hey, it’s on my list, so I guess the pandering worked! – Evan Tognotti

Catherine (Atlus Persona Team, 10th on Dominic’s list)

One certainly does not look to video games to comment on current social topics. But, maybe, with the release of Atlus’ Catherine that could change. There were several good reasons that it never made our Top 10 list, but the potential impact that Catherine could have is undeniable. No longer just stuck to having teenagers play around in demon filled worlds as they try to find out about their identity and friendship and all of that other cliche crap, here we have a game attempting to address a real world problem that adults face. Since the usual gamer is actually in their twenties or thirties, you’d think that this would be commonplace, but Catherine is surprisingly the first of its kind in the way it talks about faithfulness and relationships. The plot may be light even still, but what it tried cannot be ignored. Here’s to another step towards the general public taking gaming seriously once and for all. – Dominic Cichocki

T.E.C. 3001 (9th on Kyle’s list)

T.E.C. 3001 is an interesting title as it almost sneaked past my radar entirely. As a fan of indie video games, I am always looking to see what new titles are coming to Xbox Live Indies as well as what kind of indie titles are coming out on PC. As an editor for I get a chance to see what kinds of titles are on their way and it was because of a trailer for the Xbox Live Indie Summer Uprising trailer that I originally saw T.E.C. 3001. I was initially blown away by the visuals of the game. Seeing the fast, blazing speeds of the game caught my eye and, as I continued to watch the trailer, it was the only title I could think about despite seeing others. When the game released, I was excited beyond belief to finally get a chance to try it out. As a long time Sonic fan, I had hopes that this game would be what Sonic had not been for several years. The game delivered a fast paced, crazy experience that requires some trial and error, but an uncanny ability for fast reflexes. Many people claim it to be too fast to react to, but I didn’t have many troubles with the reaction time of the title until near the end (When the game is supposed to get harder). The detail in the graphics, the speed and the controls are above and beyond what I’d expect from an indie title and it surprised me that it wasn’t considered to be put into the Xbox Live Arcade lineup instead. If you’re looking for a fast paced challenge or have been wanting something to remind you of Sonic without the same frustration, you can’t go wrong with T.E.C. 3001. – Kyle Lock

Next up, some dissenting opinions on games that democratically made it onto our top ten.

L.A. Noire (5th on our list)

L.A. Noire’s biggest draw was a new form of facial recognition technology, which you could use to read people’s faces during interrogations and interviews, but somewhere along the way, the feeling of it being a full game was lost in translation. Rockstar is known for their huge open world games with plenty of activities, and all the work of recreating L.A. went to waste because of a lack of those extra activities that made you want to go off the beaten path. Between boring driving segments, lackluster shootouts, and slow moving crime scene investigations; the game felt more like a glorified tech demo for showing off the facial technology than it did anything else. – Ryan McGinley

Ryan would give L.A. Noire…

Saints Row: The Third (9th on our list)

The problem with Saints Row is that it never knows when to stop. It’s the video game equivalent of a movie’s middle, or a song’s chorus. It’s just that Saints Row only has that middle, and only has that chorus. There are no peaks and valleys. No sense of pace. The game starts crazy and ends at a similar level of crazy. That may be enough for some people, but it left me unfulfilled. Not once did I feel thrilled to be tearing around the cartoonish city of Steelport, because I was eternally doing just that. To quote a wise man, “too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing at all.” And, yeah, most of the activities suck. – Evan Tognotti

Evan would give Saints Row: The Third…

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (4th on our list)

Skyward Sword has a lot to offer; it’s got a new focus on motion controls, new additions to the classic Zelda formula such as upgrading items, and a decidedly more focused narrative. And yet, despite this, I’ve barely made it three hours into Skyward Sword, and thinking about this more, I believe it has mostly to do with the presentation. Skyward Sword was extremely slow to get going due to an hour-long tutorial that immediately assaults the player, and simply isn’t intuitive or exciting. Other issues crop up around the mountains of dialogue delivered in text, which wasn’t particularly interesting to read. And while the motion controls are largely a strong point of the game, I’ve had repeated issues with the “dowsing” and flying sequences. Oh, and the decision for the graphics to blend into a “watercolor” look backfires spectacularly; objects fifteen feet away from Link always look blurry and aren’t pleasing to the eye. While I’m sure Skyward Sword will improve, I believe it fails at interesting the player from the get-go. – Matthew Milewski

Matthew would give The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword…

N/A, because Matthew has not completed the game yet.

(On the next and final page, you can read everyone’s list in their full, unedited glory!)