Looks like alot of people online... at least in the dungeons where I travel... thought 2010 was a crappy year for games. I didn't find that to be the case personally. I'm not super-big on playing new games *just* as they come out, frequently splitting my time with games for older consoles or trying to play catch-up on my backlog.
Still and all, there were a lot of new first-run games that I bought and I enjoyed nearly all of them a great deal. Of particular note: Ketsui, Vanquish, Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu, Super Street Fighter IV, Limbo. All top tier games I've spent a lot of time with. Other notables that aren't really my thing, but that I've dorked around with and feel are really damn decent: Epic Mickey, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Halo: Reach, Super Meat Boy.
I spent a lot of time in older games like Okami, Brutal Legend, Wolfenstein, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, Battle Garegga... easily as much or more than I did new games, so I might not be the best judge of the best game in a year of its release. There's so much I didn't get to. I probably should rename this (dubiously distinctive) award 'Game I Had The Most Fun Playing 2010' so that I could cast a wider net for titles that were more representative of my time. But that doesn't roll of the tongue or type quite as easily as Game Of The Year. So I'll stick with GOTY and do the traditional thing everyone else does and stick to just the year's releases.
This was a really good year for Cave fans (and a lot of general STG fans) with all the releases from that publisher. And I gotta say Ketsui and Daifukkatsu really impressed me. I still play both games frequently. Daifukkatsu isn't actually that old, but that I still need to give Ketsui 'one more go' months and months after its release is saying something. My love for Vanquish is the subject of a lot pedantry on this 'blog. It is the Xbox 360 game I am closest to getting all achievements for... and I have no real interest in achievements as a whole.
However, Game Of The Year for 2010 was undoubtedly Sin and Punishment: Star Successor for the Nintendo Wii. While I spend more time on my Xbox 360 (and probably my Sega Saturn) than I do the Wii, the little white box once again (second year in a row) comes up with that one game that leaps to the top. And once again it is a game with firm roots in a venerable arcade style of gaming. Where Muramasa last year was a platformer and loosely, a beat 'em up, S&P is a rail shooter. Muramasa added elements to the basic formuals of old games and coupled that with a stunning art style. S&P does more or less the same thing, adding dodging and melee elements to a game that could've been just like House of the Dead or Time Crisis.
I don't need to rehash what I've already said in another post about this game's details. It is simply awesome. And it just goes to show that you don't need super PS3 visuals, or a completely modern set of mechanics to make the best game. If there's anything particularly forward-thinking about this game, it is that it's probably the best use of a motion controller I've seen yet. The wiimote/nunchuk combo is perfect for it. The mechanics themselves aren't even new... they were clearly defined in the first S&P game that came out for the Nintendo64 years ago (now on the Virtual Console, go buy it). But those original controls took some serious getting used to, but on the Wii they're a breeze.
Given the legendary setpieces of the original S&P game, and the sheer scale of its onscreen action (pretty much developer Treasure's standard) it would've taken one hell of a game for the sequel to top the original. And that's exactly what was delivered.
Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is a must-own title for the Wii. And an swift shot to the balls of anyone who trots out the usual bullshit about the Wii being a suckass console. It has incredible visuals, blazing action, is difficult, hardcore, and a high point for the machine's standard controller.
Score that ten out of ten.