It was a good year for the traditional RPG, but none stood out quite like the latest entry in the Shin Megami Tensei saga. With brutal but cleverly intricate combat and a massive world filled with sidequests and non-linear adventuring, SMT IV rose above the rest while infusing common gameplay traits with fresh new ideas. It's like playing a PSOne era RPG but with a uniquely modern save system and incredibly fast combat. Even demon fusion received a welcome facelift, with useful guides and the ability to pass down spells and attacks from one progeny to another, thus helping to keep the game inviting to new and old players alike. Don't be surprised if you end up dead during the enemy's first attack round, but show them no mercy when the addictive nature of SMT IV brings you back for more!
Pokémon is a series that has been anchored by tradition ever since its inception. It remains steadfastly popular because it maintains the classic recipe that multiple generations of gamers love and doesn't try to fix what isn't broken. The core of any Pokémon game is the traditional battles, and this installment's battles play like Pokémon battles should, while visually capturing the intensity and excitement of Ash Ketchum's battles from the anime. Outside of battles, each installment of the series has offered enhancements to the recipe that have evolved into accepted and even required aspects of the tradition. Anyone who's played a Pokémon game will easily feel right at home and newer fans will enjoy the laundry list of seamlessly integrated tweaks that add up to the smoothest and most immersive and fluid Pokémon experience to date.