2008 Game of the Year Awards

Game of the Year Awards logo
Mother 3/mother 3 Cover

Game of the Year

Mother 3

It's debatable if Mother 3 should even qualify for this award, having only ever been released officially in 2006. What's not debatable though is that this is the single best game I played all year. The unofficial English translation was released in October so I'm allowing it to qualify for 2008. I played a lot of really great games this year, but the decision wasn't as easy as last year. Mother 3 reigns as its plot was unbelievable and emotional, and the RPG's core gameplay is tried and true. If you like Earthbound or RPGs or simply games that are fun to play, then give Mother 3 a try.

Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword/ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword Cover

Portable Game of the Year

Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

A short but oh so very sweet game to play, Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword is the epitome of portable gaming. The game's gameplay is simply astounding: everything is performed with the stylus, from moving to sword fighting. I honestly didn't expect this to work, but it does, and it works brilliantly. It's also fun, has some great graphics, and even a not-so-bad story in terms of Ninja Gaiden. Why haven't you played this game yet? Dive in some evening and emerge early morning the next day a little bloodied and bruised, but smiling.

Persona 3 Fes/persona 3 Fes Cover

Game I'm in the middle of that could have been a contender

Persona 3: FES

Persona 3: FES is an insanely long game but I'm loving it, just wish I had more time to play it! The game is probably most well known for the teenagers that shoot themselves in the head mid-battle to summon their personas, and while that is definitely strange (they're not technically guns, they're evokers), the game still has a ton of charm. I definitely plan to finish this game unless the daily routine becomes way too repetitive, but I think I'll stick it out.

Pre-2008 Games that I did not finish until 2008

These are the games that did not specifically come out this year but I played/finished for the first time in 2008. Since I am only one mortal and can not possibly play every good game every year, many slip through the cracks. These are the games that did slip through but I had the awesome opportunity to play them this year.

Mass Effect/mass Effect Cover

Older Game of the Year

Mass Effect

This was an incredible no-brainer. Mass Effect is simply amazing, I beat it in early January and I am still blown away by its LAST hour. I love this game and if I owned an Xbox 360 I would have probably played through this game three times at least already. The story is engrossing and while the gameplay is definitely flawed, it is so fun when it gets rolling. And let's not forget, a beautiful implementation of the Unreal Engine 3 and simply top notch voice talent. But come on Bioware, where's our Mass Effect 2? Bring it on!

Ico/ico Cover

Older Console Game of the Year


I only beat three console games this year: Mass Effect, Pikmin, and Ico. Since none of them came out this year, there simply wasn't a 2008 Console Game of the Year. So with Game of the Year going to Mass Effect, that leaves Ico and Pikmin to battle it out for this award. I gave them both 8's, which they rightly deserve, but Ico edges out the console RTS classic. Kind of a theme this year, but the story is really memorable and had me thinking for a few days afterward. I had a great time playing Ico and it makes me want to replay Shadow of the Colossus.

Yoshis Island Ds/yoshis Island Ds Cover

Older Portable Game of the Year

Yoshi's Island DS

The sequel to my favorite platformer of all time, Yoshi's Island DS is a great conversion to the small screen. This series is honestly platforming at its best: tough, long levels; easy to learn, difficult to master gameplay; and vibrant colors and sprites. If you ever played the original Yoshi's Island, then picking this up for the DS is simply a must. It's really hard though later on, and if you're a completionist, well, good luck and buy a box of aspirin along with it.

... and the Worst Games of the Year

I played some real crap this year, they didn't all come out in 2008, but that doesn't stop them from being mentioned. In no particular order:

Spore/spore Cover

What a gigantic disappointment. Spore had me hyped up beyond belief and let me fall from 20,000 feet back down to earth. The trust I had in Maxis and Will Wright is gone, better to group them with Peter Molyneux now if you ask me. Well, at least the games he delivers are still relatively fun.

Hotel Dusk/hotel Dusk Cover
Hotel Dusk: Room 215

Maybe the slowest game I ever played, Hotel Dusk goes on for hours and hours and hours and never really accomplishes anything. I had really high hopes for this game too. Another disappointment and the worst all around game I played this year.

Drawn To Life/drawn To Life Cover
Drawn to Life

Kind of an interesting concept in the platformer Drawn to Life: you draw your main character and tons of other stuff along the way, and play the game with your sprites. That's all well and fine (except I can't draw, especially on the DS), but everything else is just nasty. A crappy story slows this game's pace to a crawl but it is actually a welcome relief from the game's absolutely horrendous gameplay. How do you mess a platformer up so bad in this day and age?


I beat 16 games this year, not a bad number for having a baby and buying a house. 2008 passes with some great games under my belt and an even tastier 2009 looms. The First Hour will continue to roll on reviewing the first hour of games every week, and I will of course keep writing Beyond the First Hour reviews when I beat games. The last two years have brought surprise Game of the Year winners in Portal and Mother 3. Will I be surprised again in 2009? I can only hope.

See you in 2009, Greg Noe out.