We're counting down the days until the end of 2011! It's been a great year packed with some absolutely stellar titles, and each week on Link Dump Friday we'll feature three games from this year that are the personal favourites of one of your humble word monkeys. But of course, mine will be the best! (What's "humble" mean?) In addition to my picks this week for my personal favourite titles of 2011, we've also got a heads up on the sequel to an extremely popular zombie shooter, yet more pony love, some pigeon love, and more.
Dora's 2011 Picks (of DESTINY)
- Humbug - This puzzle platformer about a thief who can defy the laws of reality, Loony Tunes style, won my heart almost instantly. It's one of those games that's hard to describe without spoiling anything, since the whole point of it is that wonderful a-ha moment when your brain twists into place and you see whatever bizarro logic you're supposed to be using to get past the scene. It should be confusing and frustrating, and yet it isn't; Ziggy's escape from prison, aided by amusing MS Paint style visuals and a sneaky soundtrack, is immensely entertaining and exhibits precisely the sort of sense of humour and creativity I always look forward to seeing.
- Starwish - Ready to feel like you haven't accomplished anything? This massive visual novel/RPG/arcade horizontal shooter was made by one guy. Anonymous D Studios brings us an incredibly ambitious (and mostly successful) mishmash of genres about Deuce, the leader of a group of space pirates, who one day winds up stumbling across something that will change or destroy the galaxy, and doesn't really get a whole lot of say in his involvement. While the shooter sections were somewhat repetitive, the game's story and writing absolutely shines, with a huge memorable cast (DEADEYE) and a whole lot of endings to discover depending on what you do in the complex story. Definitely check this one out, but make sure you have the better part of a day to lose in the process.
- Don't Take It Personally, Babe, It Just Ain't Your Story - If I could give an award for the game that best played with my emotions in really complex ways, Christine Love's free indie downloadable visual novel about a teacher and his teenage English class would take top prize easily. In it, you play John Rook, who's having something of a midlife crisis, and is tasked with using the school's new social networking systems to keep tabs on the kids in his class... without them knowing. It's supposed to be so you can watch out for bullying and cheating, naturally, but everyone knows life is rarely so cut and dry. You'll gain an eyeful of the very private lives and relationships of your students as they struggle with things like sex and sexuality, personal identity, and more. Christine Love has an amazing talent for creating characters you care about, and the teenagers here (and even John himself) are both immensely likable and identifiable. Readers were split on the message at the end of the game and over one particular plot twist, but if you only play one download title this year, I would personally lobby really hard for you to make it this one.
Friendship is Farm Simulation: Fan games for Lauren Faust's pony dynamo cartoon have been popping up everywhere and in every genre, and the latest should make the brony who's also a Harvest Moon fan very happy. My Little Pony: Budding Friendships is an adventure simulation where you take on the role of a new pony in Ponyville and set about fitting in and running your own farm. (Just don't try to edge in on the apple market.) You'll be able to take part in plots from your favourite episodes, and also befriend your favourite ponies in ways that will influence the game and the story. Whatever your feelings about the show, you can't deny the amazing amount of creativity and effort its inspired in its massive community, and if you're a part of it you'll definitely want to check this one out.
Zombotron: It's What's For Dinner Earlier this year, Ant Karlov's physics platform zombie shooter Zombotron captivated hearts and minds with its beautiful style, fun gameplay, and name that is really fun to say aloud in your best boxing ring announcer voice. Well... it's baaaaaaaaaaack!... almost! In February 2012 the dead will once again walk and shamble off of pits in comical fashion when the sequel arrives, and don't go expecting just more of the same. While you can look forward to typical sequel-sy stuff like new weapons and trophies that help you, Anton also promises the game is going to be "completely reworked", and will provide a deeper storyline on top of more of those explosive, dynamic environments we so loved. Hit the link to find out more, and then start counting down the days.
Dat Coccidosis Love Chances are you've probably already heard of visual novel dating simulation that's sweeping the 'net, but in case you haven't, allow us to open your eyes to the wonder that is Hatoful Boyfriend, a game where you play a human girl poorly disguised as a pigeon, attending an academy for actual pigeons. There, you may find love in the form of pictures of handsome birds, danger at the hands of a murderer, or poor grades. Not even kidding, folks. This game is 100% serious, and also strange and glorious. Once you get past the absurdity, there's a surprisingly engrossing story to be found, and even a reason for the big "WHY" you're undoubtably asking yourself. Currently, the demo is only available in Japanese, but you can download a free English patch over here, and a patch for the full version is coming eventually. Will there be a review? If I have anything to say about it, yes, absolutely, and I've already threatened to shank anyone who tries to write it up other than myself.
Back to the 64KB: Remember the Commodore 64? I mean, as something other than what your grandpappy used to talk about while you were trying to play World of Warcraft on your $2000 custom made gaming beast. Well, Newcomer is an RPG that's trying to bring it back. You play Neil, who regains consciousness right after he's dropped on an island that's meant to serve as his prison; he vaguely recalls killing his wife and the man she cheated on him with before passing out... but what happens now? Amoung other things, Newcomer promises "thousands of puzzles", over 180 characters to interact with, and "complex, non-linear gameplay with multiple endings". Our very own John Bardinelli and I have been circling around this project like nerdy sharks for some time now, and it's high time the rest of you got excited about it too. Hit the official site to learn more!
Psssst! Confused? This is our new Link Dump Friday format! For an explanation, read this if you missed it!