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Features: Nintendo Life's Game of the Year 2010 Awards

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Find out what buttered our biscuits and floated our boats last year

Fantastic. Packed. Hardcore.

Whatever the word, it must be said that Nintendo gamers had an incredibly superfluous amount of quality software to choose from in 2010. Numerous long-neglected franchises returned to roaring glory, modern classics were born and “core” gamers could no longer complain about any perceived lack of interesting titles.

Today, we look at the games the Nintendo Life staff found to be the cream of the crop last year. Tomorrow, we reveal the Reader's Choice Games of the Year as voted by you.

WiiWare Game of the Year

Winner: BIT.TRIP RUNNER

After three entries in the BIT.TRIP series, Gaijin Games had well proven themselves, and CommanderVideo, to be adept craftsmen of retro-inspired insanity. We all suspected that the fourth entry, a platformer named RUNNER, would be something a little special, but what hit the Wii Shop shelf completely blew us away. So much so, in fact, that it became only the second WiiWare game to receive a 10/10 from us. Now that’s special.

Runners-up: Cave Story, Tomena Sanner

DSiWare Game of the Year

Winner: Cave Story

This category had some cut-throat competition, but in the end it became clear that the one DSiWare game you had to have downloaded in 2010 was Cave Story. With immense charm, diabolical difficulty at times and an amazing soundtrack, Cave Story on the go is too much goodness to pass up.

Runners-up: Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, X-Scape

Wii Game of the Year

Winner: Super Mario Galaxy 2

Nintendo did the seemingly impossible with the sequel to Super Mario Galaxy: taking a stone-cold classic and improving on it in nearly every way, crafting a stunning video game achievement. This is one tubby plumber with no fat and no filler.

Runners-up: Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby’s Epic Yarn

DS Game of the Year

Winner: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Sky

DS has more RPGs than it knows what to do with them, but that didn't stop Level-5, Square-Enix and Nintendo from producing one of the best ones yet for the portable. If you've yet to jump on the DQ wagon, IX is the perfect place to do so.

Runners-up: WarioWare: D.I.Y., Picross 3D

Best Sound

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Few franchises are as inexorably tied to their soundtrack as Mario, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 proved that Nintendo still has some of the best composers in the business. It's epic, adventurous and playful all at the same time, a perfect match for a nigh-perfect game.

Runner-up: BIT.TRIP RUNNER

Best Visuals

Super Mario Galaxy 2

The Wii may not have the most horses pulling its carriage, but in the right hands can still compete with the powerhouses in its own way. Super Mario Galaxy 2's visuals pulled no punches, pummeling all comers on the same console.

Runners-up: Monster Hunter 3, Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Best Online

Winner: Monster Hunter 3

Wii is not exactly known for providing smooth online experiences, but hats off to Capcom for somehow convincing Nintendo that online gaming on the little white box doesn't have to suck so bad. Totally addictive, ridiculously packed with content and just plain exciting, made all the better by taking off the console's kid gloves.

Runner-up: GoldenEye 007

Most Improved Sequel

Winner: Red Steel 2

Ubisoft's Wii FPS series has come a long way from it's barely functional launch origins. The two couldn't be more different really. Not only did the sequel finally deliver on the original promise of accurate sword- and gunplay thanks to Wii MotionPlus, but it ditched the hokey realism of the first go around and embraced a cartoonish, over-the-top Western/samurai look that is much more pleasing on the eyes.

Runner-up: No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

Surprise of the Year

3DS announcement

Nobody could really say they saw this one coming, and especially in such an un-Nintendo-like fashion as a short, cryptic press release in the middle of March. But once E3 rolled around and we all finally found out what Nintendo has up their sleeve for the successor to their most successful handheld, well, our eyes melted from staring into a sun of joy.

Disappointment of the Year

Winner: Disney Epic Mickey

Heart-breaking, really. With all the talk of a brand-new, Wii-exclusive, darker Mickey Mouse adventure that was supposed to take advantage of a unique morality system and helmed by acclaimed game designer Warren Specter, hopes were high that Disney's latest would be a fantastic adventure. Instead, we got an outdated 3D platformer for a console that already has some of the best in the genre with a clunky camera and pedestrian morality system. Ouch.

Runners-up: Metroid: Other M, Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition

Fanboy Moment of the Year

Philip "Chicken Brutus" Reed: The return of Celda

For me, my fanboy moment of the year was seeing cel-shading return for the visual aesthetic of Skyward Sword. The graphic design and animation in Wind Waker was perhaps the best I'd ever seen in a video game, and even now, eight years later, I don't believe it has been surpassed. My fear was that Nintendo intended to discard this approach (barring the handheld sequels) in an effort to separate themselves--and the series--from the criticism often leveled at Wind Waker. And whether you enjoyed the game or not, there's no arguing against the fact that the cel-shaded animation allowed it to hold up visually through the advances in hardware in a way that no other console game had really managed before. The muddy, dreary, mirthless world of Twilight Princess may have been ostensibly more realistic in its design, but it also looked out of date before it even hit shelves, and its environments never even approached the robust creativity of Wind Waker. Seeing the cel-shaded approach return to the console Zelda series is something to be excited about; the vivid blues and greens and yellows of Wind Waker spoke to creativity and adventure in a way that the muted browns and greys of Twilight Princess could not. Score one for artistic merit over realism.

Damien "Damo" McFerran: It's on like [redacted]

Seeing Donkey Kong back to his best was like cheering on the latest accomplishments of an old friend. Donkey Kong Returns entertained me like no other game in 2010, offering up addictive gameplay infused with old-school charm and sensibilities. Retro Studios did a wonderful job on updating the classic platforming concept, and I'm sure many of the original programmers that were at Rare during the production of the original games will be happy - and possibly a bit jealous - with what has been achieved with this Wii sequel.

Nintendo Life Game of the Year 2010

Winner: Super Mario Galaxy 2

Sure, Nintendo is an exceptionally talented developer, but with Super Mario Galaxy 2 they proved just how big a bunch of jerks they really are. For no reason whatsoever other than to see if they could do it, they trot out a sequel to one of the best 3D platformers of all time and make it even crazier, even more chock-full of new ideas and clever scenarios, putting all other developers in every department to shame. Just because they felt like it. Meanies.

Runner-up: Donkey Kong Country Returns

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User Comments (86)

citizenerased

#2

citizenerased said:

Could/should have had some more categories so more games could've gotten awards. Best character, best new IP, etc?

I do agree with most of the choices though.

Aviator

#3

Aviator said:

OMG I LOVE CELDA!

Don't know why Galaxy 2 beat MH3 in the visuals department.

WaveBoy

#5

WaveBoy said:

I still don't know if I should even bother with Epic Mickey....To Buy or not buy? I guess a rental is in ze' order...But to hell with that, i don't even rent games anymore. :p

Sadsack_Awesome

#7

Sadsack_Awesome said:

..Which remind's me, Epic Mickey is so Epic that on the EU box cover it says that it was chosen as IGN's best Wii Game of 2010, and IGN are hard to please when it comes to games

J-Forest-Esq

#9

J-Forest-Esq said:

Goldensun wasn't even a runner up? And neither was Goldeneye? For the people in Europe KEY hasn't even come out yet so I think Goldeneye should have at least got a mention.

WolfRamHeart

#10

WolfRamHeart said:

My thanks to Nintendo Life for adding more catagories to the awards and for listing the runners-up. It definitely made for an interesting read. However, I do have to disagree with the choices for best WiiWare and DSiWare games. Fireplacing and Flashlight were both robbed.:P

taffy

#11

taffy said:

Just my two cents but I think Black Ops is a far better multiplayer then Goldenye. With more players, voice chat, no friend codes, back end patching and the promise of DLC I would go as far to say that it's better the MH3... and I have all three. But again that's by opinion, apart from that good list Nintendo Life and thank you for the awesome work you did in 2010

citizenerased

#12

citizenerased said:

@ Sadman: Best Wii Game of E3, actually. Not of the full year. I don't think E3 nominations/awards should even be allowed to be put on the box because they've only played a demo of a beta, but that's just me.

Gamesake

#15

Gamesake said:

I'm just glad DKCR didn't win. Take that you damn dirty apes!

@WaveBoy Epic Mickey has enough content to justify buying, but there are better (more fun) platformers on the Wii. Sonic Colors comes to mind.

Wesker

#16

Wesker said:

SMG2 best game of the year? Probably. Best sound and visuals? Nah. Same as the old one. I would have gone with DKCR or Kirby. I also don't understand how Metroid can be a disappoinment if you gave it a 9/10. Are you backtracking on that? I think you should stick to your own assessments and not play to the gallery so much.

Gamesake

#17

Gamesake said:

Hey a 9/10 game can still be a disappointment--maybe they were expecting it to be a 10?

FonistofCruxis

#18

FonistofCruxis said:

Some good choices apart from the DS awards. Professor Layton and the lost future should've won with Golden sun: dark dawn and infinite space as runners up, imo.

Kevin

#19

Kevin said:

No best VC game of the year award? Shame on you for that and calling Other M a disappointment. It's a fun game. I don't care what anybody says!

theblackdragonAdmin

#20

theblackdragon said:

@billy-beauts: remember that these awards were decided by tallying up personal votes cast by the entire staff. just because a given game may have been given a certain score by its reviewer doesn't mean we're all required to feel the same way about it ourselves... for example, my head would probably explode if i were forced to think that Art Style: Aquia was worth anything more than a 4 or 5, lol. :3

Nintenzo

#21

Nintenzo said:

Epic Mickey is not a disappointment! Do yourself a favor and go out and buy it. I you like Twilight Princess and Super Mario Galaxy, you'll like this.

Fuzzy

#24

Fuzzy said:

Pretty good awards there NL (though I thought MH3 visuals are easily best, but you can't please anyone). No matter what though, there were some pretty darn good games released last year. :)

DestinyMan

#25

DestinyMan said:

Disagree with the Best DSiware Game and Biggest Disappointment categories. I can't believe at all that Epic Mickey was placed over Metroid: Other M as a disappointment when far more people hated Other M. Shantae should've won the DSiware category.
But I do agree with Super Mario Galaxy 2 winning Game of the Year and all its categories. I believe it's the best 3D Mario game yet.

SuperPeach

#26

SuperPeach said:

I disagree with most of the choices but meh, whatever, people have their own opinions.

SuperMarioFan96

#28

SuperMarioFan96 said:

Pretty much agree entirely. Runner for WiiWare and Galaxy 2 for, well, everything that it won, are no question in my mind. I didn't buy the DSiWare version of Cave Story but based on the WiiWare version I agree with the pick. Most of the other categories I can't fairly comment on. By the way, I just realized that I forgot to send in my picks, thanks to me (I guess failed) attempt to figure out my DS game of the year. Oh well, Galaxy 2 will likely still win anyway.

citizenerased

#30

citizenerased said:

It would be a bit weird if God Of War won a lot, yeah

Or possibly it has something to do with the fact that, oh I dunno, it's the 3RD HIGHEST RATED VIDEO GAME OF ALL TIME. In caps.

TKOWL

#32

TKOWL said:

I think Pokemon HG/SS should've won DS goty, and the same with Kirby's Epic Yarn in the visuals category. But whatever, I respect your guy's opinions (most of the time...)

thanos316

#34

thanos316 said:

Good choices for year end rewards. I really have to start playing MH3, everyone is saying thats an excellent game. Ive been here playing metroid prime 2 don't laugh cause not everyone played the metroid prime series as yet and also playing pes 2011. So many damn good games to play on the wii and so much little time. I don't care what no ones says the wii is the sh!!t...

Spoony_Tech

#35

Spoony_Tech said:

Monster hunter should have definitely won best visuals hands down its the best looking game on the Wii. As for the rest I have no problems with those choices. I do love goldeneye but don't really think is should be runner up as well for online game. To many broken elements to it. Also loved what Chicken Brutus said about wind waker. It was in my opinion one of the best Zelda games period.

Kyloctopus

#36

Kyloctopus said:

I don't understand
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a great game but it's a bid redundant. I what about Metroid other M, and Donkeykong Country.
Although it is sad that Epic Mickey was not as I expected and I was mostly anticipated for that after E3

Mr-Mobius

#38

Mr-Mobius said:

People often ask why choose Nintendo over Microsoft or Sony, but since I'm not a massive fan of FPS (Metroid Prime is more an FPS adventure though, and amazing) but some of the best gaming moments I've had are from platformers. Nintendo really lead the way in both 2D and 3D platformers, and this year has been exceptional, where even the less great platformers like Epic Mickey are still great platformers.

pixelman

#39

pixelman said:

Pretty predictable, but that's to be expected, haha.

I am surprised (and disappointed) at the choice for DQ9. That was a meh RPG if ever I played one. I would've picked 4HOL myself, but s'whatever. At least Monster Hunter Tri got some love, which was definitely my GOTY. :3

Also, I agree with Chicken Brutus x100. Wind Waker is probably the best looking game I've ever played.

Odnetnin

#40

Odnetnin said:

Obvious choices but good ones nonetheless. 2010 was just that kind of year, I guess (where the was one blatant best game on each platform/in each category that most of us can agree upon, even if for me personally it gets a little messy when it comes to Nintendo Game of the Year).

EDIT: Darn you must of beat me by like five seconds, pix. :D

Wesker

#42

Wesker said:

@TBD It's actually a strange category because disappointment is a pretty subjective, if not emotive, judgement on a game. Case in point - SMG2. Objectively, I agree it is the best game of the year, but tbh it was probably my disappointment of the year, because it's basically a bumper add-on pack to SMG. Also I missed the hub world and story of the first one. Hence disapointment, even though its a fantastic game.

theblackdragonAdmin

#43

theblackdragon said:

@billy-beauts: lol, what part of a vote like this isn't subjective? as I understood it, we were all voting for our favorite picks, not what we thought should be a favorite pick as pertained to the general vibe of the internet at large. it's just that there can be only one winner in each category, y'know? i know i didn't pick half of these games/moments/etc. as my personal number one, but that's the way it goes :3

daznsaz

#44

daznsaz said:

goldeneye is a lot better than black ops ops looks proper rough full of stupid moments a button prompt for the big jumps you sometimes have to do would of been great its like all call of dutys hyped you cant really explore your just pushed along from battle to battle goldeneye is a proper fps played through loads like original

Kid_A

#48

Kid_A said:

I'm disappointed that so many people were disappointed in Epic Mickey, as it's one of my favorite titles of the year. But I think we got all the other categories right :)
Great year for Nintendo fans

Unca_LzStaff

#51

Unca_Lz said:

It is a good game to me. I just think it wasn't as good as Warren Specter was making it out to be

Noire

#52

Noire said:

What the cheese Golden Sun: Dark Dawn didn't win everything.

Your awards are clearly subjective and opinionated, why.

Woots

#53

Woots said:

I really didn't like SMG2. It just felt like more of the same. Or, maybe I just spoiled it by watching a ton of footage before I got it.

LunarJade

#54

LunarJade said:

Interesting read. I'm curious to see the Reader's Choice awards just to see how they compare.

WolfRamHeart

#55

WolfRamHeart said:

Being serious now, I am pleased with these choices for the most part. I am really surprised that Dragon Quest IX won best DS game. I was sure that Pokemon Heart Gold/Soul Silver would have easily taken that catagory. I ended up voting for Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey as my choice even though I knew it had no chance of winning. Anyway, Dragon Quest IX was an excellent game and I'm glad to see Dragon Quest finally get some love outside of Japan.:)

MasterGraveheart

#56

MasterGraveheart said:

I got two I personally disagree on.

First, obviously, DSiWare game of the year. I think the year-long wait has been perfectly worth it and, speaking of, it recieved a 10/10 from you guys. While not necessarily as long or as hard as Cave Story, I think the presentation, controls, and writing more then make up for it... unless the year-long wait really was that painful for you guys too. :)

Second, Dissappointment of the Year. In spite of the camera system, I realy enjoyed Epic Mickey so far. While I'm not so worried about the morality system (even though I DO use paint more often then I use thinner), I think the adventure in itself was something cool and, harkening back to some trips to Disney World I took with my parents, this put a smile of days long past on my face that I hadn't had in a looong time. I dunno... seems to me like the Metroid: Other M backlash was the biggest dissapointment.

Then there were some head-scratching nomination snubs, once again, in my opinion only. Not saying these should have won, but I'd like to have seen just a LITTLE bit of credit given for some fun game experiences. inhales
DSiWare: Dark Void Zero
WiiWare: And Yet It Moves
DS Game: Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
Wii Game: Sonic Colors
Best Sound: Sonic Colors, Shantae: Risky's Revenge
Best Visual: Shantae: Risky's Revenge, Sonic Colors
Best Online: Okay, you guys covered the big ones
Most Improved Sequel: Ditto
Surprise of the Year: Okay, got me three in a row :)
Disappointment of the Year: Metroid: Other M Fan Backlash
Fanboy Moment of the Year: MEEEE!!! For my weekly "Where's My Shantae?!" ramblings! XD
Nintendo Life Game of the Year: Shantae: Risky's Revenge and Dragon Quest IX... hey, DS deserves some love.

Exhales, collapses

All in all, solid picks in any case.

Objection

#57

Objection said:

lol at me not picking up any of these "best" games. The only one I have is Runner, which was gifted/traded to me. To be honest, Nintendo had a really solid year but I still think it lost ground to the other systems. PS3 had a great year, especially, in quality software (including exclusives.) Add to that the inexplicable success of Kinect and Move and I think Wii has a lot to prove in 2011. And with only Skyward Sword from Nintendo (which just looks like a rehash of Ocarina+Windwaker so far to me) I'm really hoping they prove me wrong.

O_B's Small List of Lazy Awards:
BEST DS Game of the year: Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (there you go, Feenie)
Biggest Disappointment: Ace Attorney Investigations (lol)
Game that improved and also didn't: NMH2

ZarroTsu

#58

ZarroTsu said:

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm fairly certain the ownership of Cave Story on the PC is fine as-is. I own it several times over, including mods and hacks of the game, those inclusive that I had made, and I can safely say I know more about how the game ticks than some of the people who actually worked on development for the WiiWare/DSiWare titles. And I'm not tone deaf to boot.

GammaGames

#60

GammaGames said:

yay tri won an award! But, if you didnt know Black Ops had pretty good online. Especially compared to PS3, Wii takes like 1-2 min to find a match, PS3 takes lik 10-15.

aaronluis26

#61

aaronluis26 said:

Sad to see Metroid: Other M is considered a disappointment. Despite all the criticism, I still felt like it was a really good game.

LuWiiGi

#63

LuWiiGi said:

I haven't played any of these. :( And I like to think I'm a Nintendo gamer. BTW I agree with all of MasterGraveheart's choices.

Golgo

#66

Golgo said:

bit.trip.runner over cave story for wiiware? oh, really?! there's the right to freedom of opinion, and then there's blatant error. this is the latter.

@61 - what planet do you hail from?

WolfRamHeart

#67

WolfRamHeart said:

@66: If you think that is fail then you should have seen Joystiq's Top Ten Games of 2010; there wasn't even a single Nintendo game on that list.

Marvelousmoo

#70

Marvelousmoo said:

Good year. Heres hoping for an even better 2011. With Xenoblade, Last Story, and Skyward Sword, we may just have that better year. Come on, translators, do your stuff!

Bassman_Q

#71

Bassman_Q said:

Man, turns out I have NONE of these games that won in a certain category. :( Man, I need to get SMG2 and Runner if they're that good.

I DO have several of the runner-ups, though. :)

OverlordMao

#73

OverlordMao said:

Would've loved to get SMG2 but, I already have DKCR and Epic Yarn, so I'm pretty darn happy.

DKCR should've won SOMETHING though. (Nominations are fine, I guess.)

Zsxdflip

#74

Zsxdflip said:

NO. Shantae should've won DSiWare game of the the year. I honestly think Cave Story is overrated. I played the WiiWare demo and I got bored after 5 minutes. And DKCR should have won Wii Game of the year, or at least something.

Kirk

#76

Kirk said:

GoldenEye should have been on there somewhere, even as a runner up at least.

Edit: Oh wait, it got runner up for best online at least...

FantasiaWHT

#77

FantasiaWHT said:

I loved SMG 1. I haven't put more than 5 hours into SMG 2, while I absolutely ate up Kirby's Epic Yarn, getting 100% (something I have never really done in any other game!). Dunno exactly what it was about SMG 2, but I don't find it very compelling at all.

Popyman

#78

Popyman said:

More Epic Mickey bashing...I can't wait for it to be a cult classic once everyone who hates it moves on and forgets about it.

Kid_A

#80

Kid_A said:

@Popyman
Same. I really loved this game, and I'm quite sure it'll be a cult classic. I think there was just too much hype. I don't think any other game released in 2010 had as many expectations to live up to as Epic Mickey.

Unca_LzStaff

#81

Unca_Lz said:

I dunno. As much as I liked Mickey, there were some things in it that could have been done a lot better, like being able to backtrack for one thing

mazz

#83

mazz said:

I don't know why you guys choose to bash Epic Mickey every chance you get. In my opinion the camera is well suited to the game and even if it does feel a little bit like Super Mario Sunshine it is certainly a much better game in my opinion. Other M was definitely the biggest disappointment of the year, whats the fun of having a first person mode if you cant walk around and shoot?

CaPPa

#84

CaPPa said:

Neither Epic Mickey or Metroid Other M dissapointed me, they may not have been perfect but I enjoyed the experiences.

The only Wii game that I bought last year that did actually disappoint me was Ivy the Kiwi? as it was nowhere near as good as the 9/10 that Corbie gave it and I'd rather just have just picked it up on DSiWare for a fraction of the price.

There were plenty of other games throughout the year that were simply fantastic though. From Tatsunoko vs Capcom, NMH2 and Red Steel 2 at the start of the year, through to MH3, S&P2, SMG2 and culminating in Kirby's Epic Yarn, Goldeneye and DKCR. It was an incredible line up and it is a shame that every year isn't like that; with 2011 already looking rather barren in comparisson (although maybe Nintendo will suprise us again towards the end like they did last year).

Boyoshi

#85

Boyoshi said:

All Of These choices were very good And I'm Definitely not surprised that Super Mario Galaxy 2 Got most of the awards, Incredible Game :)

rayword45

#86

rayword45 said:

Over 2 years later, I've come to say "You guys all suck X-Scape is the clear DSiWare winner"

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