2010 Honorable Mentions: Spencer’s List
I gave this list considerable thought previously, but for myriad reasons, it was pushed back until now.
Regardless, here it is, albeit a couple weeks into the new year. In honesty, most of what I wanted to see in the top ten made it there, so this is very much a "best of the rest" situation.
While many were less than impressed with 2009's Brütal Legend, I saw fit to put it on my Honorable Mentions for the year. While the gameplay itself was enjoyable (though admittedly flawed), the story, setting, and flavor more than made up for it for my tastes. Costume Quest is, in many respects, the precise opposite of Brütal Legend (a simple downloadable RPG title vs. an A-list, star-voiced action/strategy game), but it oozes Double Fine's signature charm. Gameplay is reminiscent of the (tragically) short-lived Penny Arcade Adventures series, but with writing and art so entirely charming that one can forgive the limited length or out-of-season theme. You may wish to delay playing it until Halloween, but it remains recommended.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World / X-Men (360/PS3)
The former is a new, somewhat-flawed but enjoyable downloadable game, the latter is a port of an old arcade / SNES title. Both, however, are enjoyable brawlers best played with friends on a couch. Scott Pilgrim - a surprisingly well-executed film tie-in - is the easy superior of the two, with a fantastic soundtrack by Anamanaguci and amusing, graphic novel-saluting art and boss fights. For sheer nostalgia's sake, however, anyone raised in the 90s will revel in the nostalgic goodness of X-Men (cheesy dialog such as "WELCOME, TO DIE!" et al). It might be the case that I buy any brawler that becomes available on 360 - regardless of this personal flaw, you will likely have fun with either title in the aforementioned context. Sure, there's online multiplayer in X-Men, but to hell with that.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (PC)
Yes, it's Stockholm syndrome with a monthly fee. If you're feeling the urge to relapse, however, Cataclysm adds enough entertaining new content, fun tweaks to classes and mechanics, and honestly challenging dungeons to hold the interest of the still-not-recovered MMO player in you. Add on top of this the greatest playable race of all time (here's a hint: it's not the one that yiffs) and you have a game I've been playing just to stop thinking about Star Trek Online at night. It's grim, don't judge me.
Flotilla: Orbital Battleship Maneuvers (PC/360 Indie)
I like to call this one "Hipsters in Space." Part Homeworld, part turn-based, with an arcade-adventure feel and quirky, unique art that oozes style, Flotilla is eminently enjoyable. It's more than a little silly, and might not be your cup of tea, but give the demo a try. It's wonderfully unique, and undeniably delightful. Where else can you get schooled at space combat by an eyepatch-wearing penguin chick? Yeah, that's what I thought.