5) Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor (DS) - For Atlusí first attempt in the S-RPG genre, it was a good first attempt, even though the strategy aspect feels lacking at times. Still, what makes Devil Survivor so good is the story it tells. It has the familiar apocalyptic feel from other SMT games, but the writers did such a good job on telling a story of people being trapped in a city, and how they all descended into madness as the days pass buy. Replay value is added by providing branching story points and several endings for the players to keep coming back for more. It's another welcome addition to the SMT-verse.
4) Little Kingís Story (Wii) - This game took me by a major surprise when I first played it. You might think that this is just an innocent, lighthearted, cute lite-RTS game that would appeal only to kids. Well youíre wrong! Underneath its cute exterior is a merciless game that can make even seasoned adult gamers fall to their knees. To top it off, there is also slight adult undertones, tons of sidequests, great usage of classical music, and some of the most creative boss fights around. It proved itself to be an addicting, enjoyable experience, and a prime example of not to judge a game by its cover.
3) Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (Wiiware) - This is by far, a fans only game to the point where it relies heavily on reusing tons of characters, locations, music, and bosses to cater to nostalgic fans. To some, this may be a blatant cop-out, but for others such as I, it captivated me, and I have no shame at admitting that. It recaptured the old FFIV magic without degrading the original while maintaining a good, old-school challenge. Add in a mixture of new content to the mix, and you get another grand adventure that many modern RPGs canít seem to capture.
2) Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii) - Itís another Wii game that may not have a lot of appeal. It can be quite repetitive, and the story segment is nearly non-existent, but the fast-paced action kept me hooked throughout the experience. The combat never drags, and the creative boss fights were a blast to play through. Last, but not least, the 2D visuals are just gorgeous with a great art style, complemented by powerful soundtrack from Sakimoto and crew.
1) Ys Seven (PSP- Import) - Surprise, my favorite game of the year is not even out in the US. A lack of understanding Japanese did not stop me from enjoying this fast-paced action RPG with a killer soundtrack to complement it. It also gone under major innovations by adding a party and skill system, and including many sidequests to keep players occupied. Theyíre changes that ultimately worked out well, and winds up being one of the most unique and lengthiest Ys game around. Please let this get localized!
Favorite Non-RPG of 2009: BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger (360 & PS3)
2009 was a great year for fighting fans with Juggernaut releases like Street Fighter IV, and Tekken 6, yet Arc Systemís BlazBlue is the finest of the bunch. Itís 2D fighting at its finest that contains a robust fighting system thatís easy to pick up and play, but deep enough for seasoned fighters to spend hours delving into its mechanics. The roster may only contain 12 fighters, but it's greatly balanced and no two characters are the same. It will take ages to master one fighter, let alone all twelve. It's a good start for the makers of Guilty Gear on their new franchise.
Favorite RPG soundtrack of 2009: Ys Chronicles I & II (PSP)
This year, we get loads of great Ys music, and it was hard narrowing down my favorite. I do love all the new songs in the Ys Seven album, but the Chronicles OST is simply better in quality and style. The classics songs sound better than ever before, and we have to thank JDK Band for delivering a good musical year.
Favorite Non-RPG soundtrack of 2009: BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger (Xbox 360 & PS3)
Not only is BlazBlue a great fighting game; it also has an energetic soundtrack to complement the slick action. Itís rock and roll goodness with bits of other genres into the mix to create such unique songs. Each song stands out in their own way, and no other non-rpg soundtrack came even close to delivering such sheer enjoyment.