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RPGs of 2010 Awards

By Heath | February 13, 2011 at 7:11 am

Here at RPG Land, every single staff member plays every single minute of every game that comes out for every system. That’s what qualifies us to tell you which ones are the best. Don’t doubt it or challenge our claims with “math” and other new-age philosophies, just read the awards.

As an RPG-centric website, we often say “Game” and “RPG” of the year interchangeably here, obviously.
We only award one winner, and sometimes one runner-up, and one “honorable mention” in the multiplat category, since that category was pretty much the biggest this year.
Awards given below are, not necessarily in this order: The Socially Awkward Award, Best PSP Game, Best DS Game, Best Multiplatform Game, Moment That Most Made Us Be All Like “Whoa,” StateSide Publisher of the Year, Dreamcast Nostalgia Award, Great Game We Thought Was an RPG But Wasn’t So Then We Were Like “Aw Dammit I’m Glad I Played That But I Can’t Really Review It” of 2010, Kickass RPG System of the Year, The We’ve never given a “Best Story” Award or “Best Music” Award but now we totally did just because of This Game Award, Best Remake of 2010, Best Port of 2010, Best Free-to-Play MMORPG of 2010, and the Balls of Steel Award.
Here we go…

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3D Dot Game Heroes

Great Game We Thought Was an RPG But Wasn’t So Then We Were Like “Aw Dammit I’m Glad I Played That But I Can’t Really Review It” of 2010
Winner: 3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)
Man, with an imitation Dragon Quest guy on the cover, and lots of fan-made Cloud Strifes running around on the internet, and lots of references to Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, we thought for sure this was gonna be an RPG. Turns out it’s more like Zelda. Aw well. Still a great game!

-Guitar solo interlude here-

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Ys Seven

Best PSP Game of 2010
Winner:  Ys Seven

“The speed, boss fights, and music are exemplary among both action RPGs and games in general.” –Russ Ritchey’s review
Runner up: ZHP: Unlosing Ranger Vs. Darkdeath Evilman
In 2003, Nippon Ichi gave tactical RPGs a swift kick in the ass with Disgaea. In 2010, it gave Roguelikes the same treatment with Zettai Hero Project.” –Heath Hindman’s review.

All this talk of PSP leads us into…

Kickass RPG System of the Year: PSP
In a balance of both quantity of RPGs and quality-per-game, the PSP kicked some ass 2010.  In addition to the above games you see taking home official honors, there were a lot of other solid titles like Valkyria Chronicles II, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Cladun, and Phantasy Star Portable 2, plus enhanced ports of Persona 3, Knights in the Knightmare, Ys III,  and Lunar.
-Game Awards: Serious Business-

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Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

Best Nintendo DS Game of 2010
Winner: Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
“Everything works the way it should, the text is nearly error-free, the game is highly playable, and I can make very few complaints about it. […] It’s relaxing to play through the story and work through the puzzles. It’s just a good game — one that’s certainly worth playing if you remotely enjoyed the first two in the series.” –Cortney Stone’s review
Runner up: Infinite Space
“This game will definitely be polarizing. After the four hour mark, there will be those that absolutely desire to put this game down in frustration as its ridiculous learning curve overwhelms them. There will also be those who find this game to be exactly what they’re looking for as they navigate the stars. … Infinite Space has a well executed story with a science fiction feel that has yet to be matched on the Nintendo DS.”
Tim Olsen’s review

-Most non-portable systems lacked really killer exclusives this year, so we put ’em all together. 2010’s PC, Wii, PS3, PS2, and Xbox 360 RPGs were included in the following award-

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Mass Effect 2

Best Multiplatform RPG of 2010
Winner: Mass Effect 2 (PC, 360)
The second Mass Effect game improved upon the first and simply blew gamers away, and will likely be held up as one of the best Western-style RPGs of all time, for years to come. Michael Wayland’s review called it “…a compelling game, an improvement upon its elder, and an exciting setup for the franchise’s next act.” Released for PC and XBox 360 in 2010, it received some downloadable additions that have been bundled into the PS3 version, which just recently hit shelves. An early nominee for best port of 2011? Probably.

Runner up: Resonance of Fate (360, PS3)
Janelle’s review praised the game for its “…immensely strategic battle system, satisfying gameplay, interesting main characters, and stunning soundtrack.”
The tri-Ace title is a bit polarizing, as most Sega-published RPGs tended to be in 2010. Those who didn’t mind some difficulty and could get through the tutorials were rewarded with one heck of an overall experience, though.

Honorable Mention: Fallout: New Vegas (PC, PS3, 360)
Andrew Foltz said in his review, “It’s a worthy sequel for existing fans and a good place to start for people looking to give it a try. New Vegas is highly recommended, and even more so once a few patches make it more stable.”
-Rice is nice, but it’s only a grain-

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Still love ya, baby

The Dreamcast Nostalgia Award
Winner: Yakuza 3 (PS3)
Wanna play a game that feels a hell of a lot like the long-absent Shenmue series, except more RPGish? Get started on the Yakuza series. Yeah we were gonna put the Yakuza 3 cover art, but it is really the most nastiest thing I’ve ever seen, and I say this as someone who once had part of his eye sliced off.
-I hope we didn’t lose too many people with that last blurb.-

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The We’ve never given a “Best Story” Award or “Best Music” Award, but now we totally did just because of This Game Award
Winner: Nier (360, PS3)

Nier tells a story more serious and more grown-up than most even attempt, and we’re not just saying that because of profanity. (No, profanity doesn’t automatically make something “mature,” it can in fact do the opposite in many cases.) Nier’s story tugs at the heartstrings and sticks with the player in ways few RPG stories have in recent memory. We don’t even do stuff like “Best (Insert aspect)” stuff but here we are, breaking the rules for a game that did well.  Its soundtrack is also one for the ages.

-While contructing features like this one, consider straying from your normal playlist to something made of live versions you find on YouTube.-

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Atelier Rorona

Socially Awkward Award
Winner: Atelier Rorona (PS3)
Rorolina is a 14-year-old girl constantly being hit on by seemingly everyone in town, of any age, social status or gender. Tell me it isn’t socially awkward when your friend walks into the room and your TV screen has a grown woman telling her teenage apprentice all the “things I did to you last night.” A~w~k~w~a~r~d.

Winner: The Lord of the Rings Online
Like D&D last year, this former subscription title went free-to-play this year and now rocks all the harder because of it. Turbine has just plain done an awesome job with turning its subscription games into some of the best F2P MMOs on the market. Everyone wins.

Winner: Sega of America
OK, Sega caught some deserved heat for cutting big chunks of content out of Yakuza 3 and making its cover art the most visually horrifying thing ever — and I say this as someone who has had surgery without an anesthetic — but on the bright side, hey, at least they brought over that awesome game, even though the series wasn’t hugely popular in the West. The company also showed some guts in bringing Resonance of Fate, tri-Ace’s unique and often difficult PS3/360 title. The company’s lineup also included Valkyria Chronicles II, the polarizing Alpha Protocol, and underplayed Infinite Space. Sega published various types of RPGs on all platforms. Many readers will likely bring up the perhaps-questionable advertising of a few of these, but again, that’s not what this award is for. Sega earned this by delivering a good number of quality RPGs this year, and game-by-game, its titles were solid. Congratulations, Sega, and thanks for the good times.

Balls of Steel Award:
Winner: Cladun (PSP) and 3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)
The “Balls of Steel” Award is given to a game whose creators took a risky or unorthodox decision. In this case, Cladun went way old school with the visuals and having no shame about it at all. 3D Dot took the old visuals and gave them a facelift for a modern console, with fantastic results. Gotta admit though, cool as it is, you never know what will and won’t catch on in a world populated by the horrible people that most of you are.

Before we continue, we should be clear: we’re defining a “port” as a game that, for the hugely huge most part, was taken directly from one system to another. (Think those PlayStation versions of Final Fantasy IV, V, VI, and Chrono Trigger. They had some bonus videos, but the graphics, dialogue, systems, and everything in between was untouched.) A “remake” represents a much bigger overhaul: think Final Fantasy IV for DS, since that’s already been brought up. Some new systems, addition of voice acting, completely new visuals, and so on. An “enhanced port” is somewhere in the middle and not quite enough new stuff is present to call it a “remake.” We’re calling Persona 3 Portable more of a port than a remake. Not that either one is better than the other, just letting you know that’s what how we define each. It feels right.

Best Remake of 2010: Ys: The Oath in Felghana (PSP)
Two Ys titles came our way via developer Falcom and publisher XSeed this year — one new and one remade, but both for PSP. Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a remake of a 20-year-old PSP game, but you’d never know it by how smooth the game turned out.

Runner up: Pokemon Heart Gold / Soul Silver (DS)
Let me show you them. Again. And walk around with that step counter thing I forget the word for.

Best Port of 2010: Persona 3 Portable (PSP, ported from PS2 and enhanced)
Persona 3 for PS2 was a stunning game. Trimmed down a little, tweaked and optimized for a portable, the game turned out arguably better than its original version. People wanting to control every character — like in Persona 4 — finally got what they wanted, most notably.

Runner up: Sakura Wars: So Long My Love (Wii, ported from PS2)
Talk about coming out of nowhere. Sakura Wars V was out five years for Japanese PS2s, then NIS America comes out of nowhere to bring it to North American PS2s and Wiis. Nice.

Winner: Putting the Nier disc in.
When first popping Nier into the console, it autoplays an angry, loud, profane speech by Kaine, seemingly out of nowhere. You’re given no context, no warning; it doesn’t even wait for you to press start, it just gets the yellfest rolling. It really catches you off guard, and the first couple times I fired up this game, I was all like “Whoa.”

Readers said stuff like
(5 comments each, picked at total random from Facebook and Twitter)
From our Facelooker:
Azez Sama: “Resonance Of Fate”
Cyril Murasakitsuyukusa: “Valkyria Chronicles 2 and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.”
Timothy Olsen: “My favorite RPG was Final Fantasy 14, because I was smart and didn’t pre-order it.”
Boniman Watdapak: “dragon quest ix”
Sam Kitwood: “resonance of fate or fallout n.v”
From our Twitthing:
WilderJT @RPGLand Folk knock it, but when it comes to having your choices matter, #AlphaProtocol is one of the best #RPGS made, period.
frozenbabylon @RPGLand There were other RPGs that came out besides Mass Effect 2 and Fallout: New Vegas? How quaint.
haseo @RPGLand Valkyria Chronicles 2! Dragon Quest IX and Mass Effect 2 stood out too.
GunslingerXIX @RPGLand Valkyria Chronicles 2 was my #RPG of the year! I loved what it brought to the class structure from VC1. More customization = <3
cortneystone @RPGLand Mass Effect 2! 😀

Cheers till next year!
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Topics: 3D Dot Game Heroes, Awards, Sega