Cultural Impact: The Angry Birds. Seriously, in its first six years of existence, games from the Angry Birds series were been downloaded more than 3 billion with a B times, which I think made it just about the most widely-played game franchise ever to exist. The Angry Birds era felt like the pinnacle of casual gaming vogue. Even my mom got into it and she wasn't much of a gamer outside of Tetris. Rekindled a bit of a gaming interest in her during her latter years. (Shh, I played it too. Though I did not exactly become obsessed.)
Probably League of Legends deserves a second-place mention in this category for its massive role in popularizing esports.
Favorite Games: My favorite from this year was Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. It had style. It had flow. It was legit cinematic. Though honestly, for similar reasons, I actually also liked Final Fantasy XIII (although it didn't come out until 2010 here in the U.S.). But Uncharted 2's set pieces were in a league of their own in terms of heart-pounding intensity and sheer awesome. Plus Among Thieves has Chloe and FF13 has, ugh, Vanille. So that's the difference. Though Lightning is one of the best female characters in the whole FF franchise in my opinion and that does make up some of the difference. But really it's between those two games here for me.
I think it may be worth adding here that, speaking of FF13 a bit more, briefly, that this was really the last entry in the franchise that I much enjoyed. It's amazing how differently it was received by region. Over here, it averaged an 82/83% score on Metacritic, but over in Japan, Famitsu gave it a 39 out of 40 score, equivalent to a 97.5%. Cultural differences right there! Over here, you saw lots of people complain about it being too linear, which felt like a new sort of gripe influenced by the recent re-popularization of free-roaming Western RPGs over the course of recently-preceding years. That complaint didn't seem to exist in Japanese media. And you know, its world did feel inorganically linear, to be sure, like many older games did, but the streamlined nature of the whole experience lent to it a more exciting feel; a near-constant sense of forward momentum both narratively and in terms of battle progression that sustained ones attention and interest throughout...except maybe chapter 11, the 'open world' chapter, where that crashes to a halt for no especially good reason and you do a bunch of mostly forgettable chores and level-grinding to compensate for an arbitrary difficulty spike. Chapter 11 was the fan-favorite in the Western world. I never did get that. It was my least favorite part of the game. In 2023, most of our games feel a lot like Chapter 11 of FF13 to me and I miss other sorts of adventures commonly existing in the AAA landscape.
(I actually never played the original Demon's Souls. Thought that may be worth mentioning. I do own the PlayStation 5 remake though.)
Other favorites of mine from '09 included Muramasa: The Demon Blade, mostly for its gorgeous painterly backgrounds and boss animations, Flower (a favorite and super-relaxing casual game of mine), and the highly amusing Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.
The ranking of favorites:
1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
2. Final Fantasy XIII
4. Muramasa: The Demon Blade
5. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
Smaller list than usual for me because '09 was a suckier year in gaming than usual for my taste.
Last edited by Jaicee - on 16 November 2023