5) Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (PSP) – I'll admit, if I had played either the PS3 or the Xbox 360 version of MUA 2, it probably would have been on this list instead of the PSP version. Also, I know that my review is far more positive than the other two out there, but I still stand by it. Come into it looking for a fun PSP game, rather than thinking you're buying the PS3 version on a tiny screen, and you won't be disappointed.
4) Dungeon Hunter (iPod/iPhone) – It's not perfect, but this game truly raised the bar for what I expect from iPhone/iPod Touch games. Configurable controls, tons of loot, and achievements that keep you coming back for more... if only it had a mini-map! I bought this game for $5, and wouldn't have felt cheated if I'd paid twice that much.
3) Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days (PSP) – Over the past few years, I've spent literally hundreds of hours playing Disgaea games on the PSP and DS, and I've loved it every time. And still, I would eliminate Disgaea 2 from this list as a port, except that the PSP version added an entirely new story. OK, perhaps it is a weak excuse, but I don't care. I enjoyed Disgaea 2 enough to accept any excuse I can find. The number of different things you can do, as well as the fact that you never have to continue the main quest until you choose to, make Disgaea 2 just about the closest thing I've played to an open-world SRPG, and I still love it.
4) Dragon Age: Origins – My wife calls them "the boring company" (apparently, their games are much more fun to play than they are to watch), but I'm a huge BioWare fan, and Dragon Age: Origins has only added to my love for them. It may not do much that's new - I even recognized a lot of names they used as variations from other fantasy works - but it does just about everything right, and the few new touches (like being able to flag items as "junk" to get them out of your way in your inventory) may be small, but they're great. I loved just about every minute of this game, and I'm sure I'll be playing it more than once.
1) Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (DS) – A series with a proud tradition gets another outstanding entry. This game lets you play as Mario and Luigi some of the time, as Bowser the rest of the time, and nearly every moment of the experience is worth playing at least once. It takes advantage of everything the DS has to offer, but does it without getting gimmicky.
Disappointment of the Year
Song Summoners: The Unsung Heroes Encore – This game is an iPhone/iPod Touch port of an iPod game, which puts it in a somewhat unique position to begin with. The original game was in a difficult position: try to make a turn-based strategy RPG work with a scroll wheel for the controls. However, it did a great job with that scroll wheel, and although it didn't bring very many new things to the table, and had some annoying little flaws, it was a fun game that I was glad I bought. In contrast, the iPhone version's control possibilities are nearly infinite, and the developers still found ways to make those controls worse than they were on the iPod. The static art appears to have been upgraded, but the actual gameplay graphics are the same pixellated sprites used in the original game, when the new platform is capable of so much more.
That's frustrating, but the really huge disappointment here is the loading times. The heart of Song Summoners is making characters from the songs in your library, but it is also the worst part of the game this time around. I have about 8000 songs on my 64 Gb iPod Touch, and it takes literally minutes to load my library before I can create one character. After choosing the song I want to use, it takes a few more minutes to close the library, and if I decide to put myself through the agony of creating another character right after finishing with the first, I have to go through the whole process over again! And just in case there needed to be one more bad thing about this game, you can almost literally watch the battery meter drop while all of this is going on, despite the fact that very little is happening graphically or, presumably, behind the scenes. Song Summoners may not be a big-name title, but it's very definitely the game I was most disappointed in this year.