Game of the Year 2011

Mike Salbato's Awards
5) Mage Gauntlet (iOS - Universal)
Ever since iOS gaming really started to take off, many an RPG has aimed to bring back the feeling of classic 8- and 16-bit RPGs. FDG's Across Age was the one to look for in 2010, and this year it was Rocketcat's Mage Gauntlet. Great pixelly visuals, satisfying combat, and an entertaining story that doesn't mind poking fun at its own genre all combine to create a memorable experience. Oh, and there's a boatload of hats too.

4) Back to the Future: The Game (PSN/XBLA/PC/iPad)
Those of us who grew up in the 80s are filled with either love or dread (or both) when we hear of a new version or remake of some beloved part of our childhood. Michael Bay's Transformers are a prime example of how polarizing this can be. I was incredibly hesitant when I heard of the Back to the Future game, and was equally thrilled when I discovered my worry was for naught. If all remakes and revivals were this well-executed, we wouldn't have to dread them so much.

(However, to the people who are remaking Short Circuit: Please don't. Go home and have a drink, and think about your life choices.)

3) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS)
Few games get labeled "the best game of all time" as much as Ocarina of Time. This leads cynical folks to accuse the game of being overrated, but that's not a sentiment that was prominent in 1998. Ocarina of Time did for 3D adventures what Mario 64 did for 3D platforming: It changed the game. The 3DS version is a remake of course, but it features just enough improvements and spruced-up visuals to warrant a second look. It's still a game you can't go wrong with, and now it's portable.

2) Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (iOS - Universal)
About the only iOS title with nearly as much pre-release hype as S&S was Infinity Blade. It was the kind of hype that is nearly impossible to live up to. I can't exactly put into words what kind of experience S&S is, but it's one that I could not put down. For a game with so little dialogue, the atmosphere in this game (thanks in no small part to its soundtrack) is staggering. If you own a capable device – especially an iPad – you absolutely need to play Sword & Sworcery.

1) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
I bet none of you saw this coming! Skyward Sword breaks away from the structure and routine that's been a series mainstay since, well, the beginning. There's no mistaking that this is a 3D Zelda with roots in Ocarina of Time, but everything new and different is at all times refreshing, interesting, and most of all, fun. For my money, Skyward Sword is the best yet in the series and was absolutely worth the wait.

Biggest Disappointment of 2011
Nintendo narrowly kept themselves out of this spot with their sudden announcement that they're bringing Xenoblade to North America. I do hope it sells enough that we'll also get The Last Story and Pandora's Tower – I have my pre-order in.

However, with Nintendo out of the heat, let's talk Capcom and Mega Man Legends 3. It's one thing to never produce a sequel to a game series that fans have been wanting for ages. We weren't happy, but if the others didn't make enough money, we understand it when we calm down and think rationally. But to finally announce the game, get fan input and even character designs and concepts, and then shut down the project? Shameful. And to go on to suggest that it was mainly shut down because the fans weren't doing enough to get the game made? I don't think there's a word for it. Mega Man hasn't been given a fair shake in years, but the supporters of a game and company shouldn't be treated like that. Not ever.

Overall Awards
Traditional RPG Action RPG Graphic Adventure Strategy RPG Indie RPG Downloadable RPG Mobile Downloadable Content (DLC)
And the winner is...
Best RPG of 2011
Editors' Picks
Abraham Ashton Liu Andrew Barker Dave Yeager Derek Heemsbergen Dennis Rubinshteyn Eric Farand John McCarroll Kimberley Wallace Kyle E. Miller Liz Maas Mike Salbato Neal Chandran Robert Steinman Stephen Meyerink

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