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Preying for More

So Linkin Park’s latest album, The Hunting Party was released this week, and several people have requested I share my thoughts on it. I didn’t realize I was known as a guy with Linkin Park opinions, but fair enough! Let’s do it!

Let’s start with a BIG GIANT DISCLAIMER though – I am not writing this post because I think I am right. I am not implying I have refined taste in music. I do not think Linkin Park is the greatest band of all time (the Beatles, however, are), but I do like them. So if you disagree with my opinion below, great! (If you paid money for the album, I actually hope you do disagree with me).  I would love to hear YOUR thoughts.  We’re allowed to disagree, so be polite about it.

Additionally, if you want to let me know that you think Linkin Park TOTALLY SUCKS and is a HACK BAND for WANNABES – save your breath.  I sincerely do not care. I’m not embarrassed about my likes and dislikes, and this isn’t middle school.  This goes for friends of mine who I know are reading this right now and really really want to write a stupid comment ESPECIALLY because I wrote this paragraph.  I won’t think it’s cute. I am really sick of the internet snark machine.

So, The Hunting Party… I had high hopes for this record. Like several of you have mentioned, I thought Living Things–while decent–was just kind of a bland watered down version of what I go to Linkin Park for. HP actually snuck up on me, as I only found out about it three weeks ago! And when I did some research, LP was calling it their heaviest album in a long time, and returning to the roots of their sound, and the bands that inspired them. Awesome. Sign me up.

So let’s jump back in time so everyone can follow along with my expectations. Hybrid Theory. We all remember when “One Step Closer” came on the radio, with its screaming and it’s very repetitive lyrics. In fact, I remember complaining to multiple friends that “Shut up!” is not compelling lyrics. But it was stuck in my head all the same. “Crawling” on the other hand, was great. (Writing all this in 2014 sounds incredibly trite and terrible… these songs have been so overplayed at this point it’s practically meaningless). The first time I heard “In the End”, it was over. I went immediately to purchase the album.

I was not disappointed. It opened immediately with “Papercut” and blew my mind. Hybrid Theory was exceptional in that despite the weak radio start with “One Step”… nearly every song on the album was single-worthy (appropriately enough, nearly every song became a hit single). Incredibly tight stuff. I loved it. Every so often you hear a song or band or group or singer that just vibrates your mind bones. It isn’t necessarily the BEST thing, or your FAVORITE thing… but it resonates on an internal level. It speaks to you.

I’m not much more than a guy who is passionate about stuff and loves video games… so it’s not surprising that Chester screaming over electronic noises struck a chord.

I listened to Hybrid Theory a lot. I started every session of Phantasy Star Online with it (200 hours played), had it on loop in my car, and of course the near constant play on KROQ.  There wasn’t a single track I ever wanted to skip, the album is so perfectly cohesive.

The band took their sweet time creating Meteora (3 years!!!) and of course I was looking forward to it. I remember the night before release, KROQ debuted the first four songs off the record and I was late to work, sitting in my car listening to every one of them.  On the documentary disc that came with the album, LP spoke a lot about their insane OCD-dedication to making everything sound perfect. Well it paid off and they did the impossible… Meteora was just as tight as Hybrid Theory.  I walked around my college campus with headphones on, gazing around and feeling moody and brooding and such.

There were a lot of complaints from critics about it sounding exactly like Hybrid Theory. To an extent that’s true. If you ignore “Foreword” they’re the same length, with the exact same structure and a second-to-last track that’s just scratch bragging.  But that was Linkin Park and it’s exactly what I (and millions of others) wanted. My best friend pointed out how brief both records are as their main flaw… so we crammed them both on a single disc and that became my new go-to disc. (He still refers to their first album as “Hybrid Meteora”). I wore them the heck out. I listened to that music so much it lost all meaning.

So naturally I was excited for Minutes to Midnight and their promised “different sound”. I was sure it would be amazing.  even if it was a drop in quality… it would still be incredible. LP hadn’t done anything less than amazing in my eyes, so it felt pretty safe.  I had to wait FOUR YEARS, but the day finally arrived, and I bought it before work so I could hear most of it before my day started.

And it was Minutes to Midnight. It seemed to alternate between “classic LP but with a keyring instead of a keyboard” and then… songs I would never want to hear again. I think there’s 2 songs KROQ occassionally plays from this record, and that’s all of it I need to hear. I haven’t listened to this album in some time.

Roughly 3 years later, I was at a lunch meeting with some people including someone from a record company, and they said “Do you want to hear the upcoming Linkin Park single?”  Well yes, yes I did.  What they played for us was ”The Catalyst”, probably the best song LP’s ever done in my opinion. All the weirdness of MtM vanished, and I was excited out of my mind for A Thousand Suns. It was like old LP but edgier, more electronic, sharper. I was in for a ride!

Thousand Suns was NOT that. Not remotely. It was a concept album through and through, with a lot of deep meandering tracks that weren’t really what anyone expected from LP… so that vanished even faster than Minutes

…until about a year later, when I was doing some writing for fun on a novel that doesn’t exist, and I popped the disc in just because. I discovered Thousand Suns is PERFECT for background music. It’s just as cohesive as Hybrid Theory… it’s just an entirely different album so rather than charge me up, it give sme the nice Linkin Park jab I like when writing or creating, without the distraction of lyrics jumps in tone (except for the abysmal “When They Come for Me”).

So Thousand Suns is not what I normally want from LP, but I can appreciate it.  A scant two years later, they released Living Things–again, with a very promising single. To its credit, my brain parses the cover image as a bandaged Evangelion so… props. But as I related above, it’s just not what I was hoping for. It’s back to their roots ENOUGH. It’s cohesive ENOUGH. But the songs just aren’t standout (but for a few…standouts). It feels like Linkin Park not trying. It’s what people accused Meteora of being–watered down Hybrid Theory.  Except where Meteora was still hard hitting and passionate, Living Things feels just kind of there.

It’s just as effective as background noise for when I’m working as Hybrid or Meteora–but that’s only because I wore out those first two discs.  it’s like I was tired of Living Things before I’d ever listened to it.

Which brings us again–another scant two years later–to The Hunting Party. A harder, more experimental record than Living Things.  I tracked down the first single apparently, “Guilty all the Same”.  It’s very solid, but unremarkable.  But that’s not terrible, I wasn’t all that fond of “One Step Closer” after all.

So on release day, after getting several requests to write this very blog, I fired up Spotify and went about my day, with Linkin Park in my headphones.

About 35 minutes later I had to remind myelf I was listening to Linkin Park, unfortunately.  (Just in time for an excellent instrumental featuring Tom Morello, to its credit).  Now there were a few eyebrow perks.  They channel Offspring a little bit in “War” (as if to bribe me), and there are some Yamaoka-esque touches here and there, but overall I’m not into it.  I keep trying–I’ve listened to it probably 20 times through at this point, and it all just mushes together into a pile of angst and yelling (which is what the critics have always accused LP of).  If Living Things was LP just not trying… Hunting Party is a different band trying really hard to be LP.

I do like several tracks. “Keys to the Kingdom” is good, but not as strong as their usual “come out swinging” opening tracks. As mentioned, “Guilty” is solid and catchy. I absolutely adore “Until It’s Gone”. Best song on the record. Half the time I enjoy “Rebellion”.  But the other tracks vanish at best and just grate on me at their worst.  Every LP record since Minutes has at least one track that is just “off”.  It’s technically Linkin Park but they’re trying something different that maybe should have been a B-side or something away from an official studio album. Your “Valentine’s Day”s, your “When They Come for Me”s, and “Lies Greed Misery”.  Hunting Party feels like an entire album of those songs.

Which is maybe great. Maybe I’m the only one who dislikes those tracks and most people see them as promises of what LP COULD be – those people will probably enjoy Hunting Party.  For me, “Until it’s Gone” is extremely prophetic, following the lyric “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” with some trailing electronic beats.


Best of 2012

Happy New Year everyone.  I know my blog hasn’t been exactly “hopping” lately, but I’d be a horrible person not to summarize my picks for the year.  Once again – please keep in mind, I have in no way experienced all of the things that came out in 2012 so if your favorite thing isn’t on my list, deal with it.  And this has been a weird year for my media consumption patterns, so we go to some weird places.

Book of the Year - The Cross in the Closet (Timothy Kurek) (by default)

I apparently didn’t read many books of import this year – certainly not anything that actually came out in 2012. That’s a little weird. I’m currently working through Ghostwritten, but that’s not new.  Of the 2012 books I DID read, though, this nonfiction one was pretty important. The basic idea being the author (a Christian) was brought up to believe homosexuals were the enemy. So to test this belief he decides to “come out of the closet” to understand what homosexuals actually must face, from family abandonment to being ostracized from certain facets of society.  He does this for a year, and learns a lot about love and how Christianity is supposed to work. Recommended for anybody with a stake in the Chick-fil-a debate.


Album of the Year - Days Go By (The Offspring)

So this one wins primarily because it’s finally another good Offspring album. By which I mean, not just “cool if you like the band” but interesting and relevant and also cool if you like the band.  Soooo many old groups have dropped the ball lately (Linkin Park, Blink182) and it’s disappointing because I lack the ability to stop buying a series of something that I’ve ever at any point liked.  So it’s nice to be rewarded once in a while. Better than Offspring’s been since Americana–you know, the last time you remember hearing about them, and track 1 is exactly what I thought Offspring would sound like in 2012 when I first got into them.

Runner up: V/A (Handheld Heroes)


Movie of the Year - Wreck it Ralph

So, I saw a lot of movies I enjoyed this year, but a lot of them on video and stuff seeing as we couldn’t leave the house for half the year, and then didn’t go to movies much during the final months when all the nerdy important emotional films are in theaters.  But that’s okay, because this would have been my movie of the year anyway – Wreck it Ralph.  It was great!  It is too perfect to exist, so I have no idea why it’s here, but it is.  It goes beyond just a dozen or so funny game references in that its made by people who “get” games, so all the other non-referency decisions are basically references, because they are how games WORK, not just “remember Pac Man? Ha ha!” type moments.  It’s funny, has hearts, and is a very well constructed movie.

Runners up: Cloud Atlas, The Hobbit


New Show of the Year - Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23 (ABC) (by default)

Another “by default” win – we just haven’t started watching any new shows really.  So while I’m not saying you should start watching “B” right away because it’s totally awesome (it’s not)… for a lame show, it’s not bad. The best part which you should be aware of is that James Van Der Beek (Dawson) plays himself on the show, and by “himself” I mean an egotistical, oblivious jerkwad. It’s hilarious self-satire and it’s what keeps me coming back.  Keep in mind I have never once seen Dawson’s Creek – but the skewering is so entertaining it works regardless.


Returning Show of the Year – How I Met Your Mother (CBS) (caveat)

So this is a bit of a lie and a misdirection, as it really should be going to Doctor Who, which I discovered this year AND had a good season.  The current season HIMYM isn’t actually its strongest. So why did I choose it?  Well, because I think a lot of people may have dismissed it as just some stupid sitcom, or like me, some stupid sitcom with a terribly stretched premise after 8 seasons.  Well, the thing about HIMYM besides the crazy and appealing acronym for its name, is that it does really interesting things with plotting and the flow of time that no other show has done.  While this is far more appealing in seasons 2-4 than the recent ones, those seasons are definitely worth experiencing and if you haven’t, then get to Netflix and invest some time.  These writers know, or at least knew, what they were doing and crafted some great fun for continuous viewers.  Also it has Neil Patrick Harris who is just delightful(ly a terrible person in this show).

But also go watch the “Don’t Blink” episode of Doctor Who and if you dig that, dive in.

Runners up: Doctor Who (BBC), Supernatural (CW), Walking Dead (AMC)


Portable Game of the Year - Kid Icarus: Uprising (Nintendo, 3DS)

I love Kid Icarus. When Nintendo announced this game, I don’t know, 4 E3′s ago at this point? it was like they announced it just for me. It came out this year, and it was pretty sweet. Every level was basically an anime episode that played out in the background as you flew over Nintendo’s finest pre-WiiU graphical showpieces fighting crazy monsters at increasingly high speeds. It also had oodles of 8-bit fanservice and a great villain swap a few levels in. Also, Troy Baker speaking computer binary faster than you’d think possible. So it’s got everything. Unfortunately I didn’t really have time to devote just to KI when it came out, and ended up beating it months later on the (far superior) 3DS XL. It’s a shame, too, because there is TONS of content locked away that I never scratched the surface of, from an innovative difficulty system feeding into loot crafting and online multiplayer…  If you’re the type of person, or the same age as, I was when I first fell in love with the Kid Icarus franchise–and one game has to last you a month or more, Kid Icarus: Uprising really WAS made just for you.

Runners up: Final Fantasy Theatrhythm (SquareEnix, 3DS), New Super Mario Bros. 2 (Nintendo, 3DS)


Digital-Only Game of the Year - Tokyo Jungle (Sony Computer Entertainment, PSN)

As much as I want to give the nod to my buddy Sean Velasco at WayForward–and you should definitely all go download Double Dragon right now–Tokyo Jungle is exactly the type of game I always used to imagine playing as a kid, but had to accept would never get made. And yet it lives. This is a game where you play as an animal in post-apocalypse Tokyo and are forced to survive. There are a bazillion animals to unlock, a story mode, and the main survival mode. It plays like a light roguelike on a nightmare version of the Nature Channel. Nothing beats sneaking around as a house cat and engineering a battle between Shibuya’s Tiger and Hippo populations.

Runners up: Super Hexagon (the VVVVVV guy, iOS), Double Dragon Neon (WayForward, PSN), Fez (Polytron, XBLA)


PC Game of the Year - Walking Dead (TellTale)

Another year, another instance of me cheating this category by lauding a game I played on console by virtue of me not actually playing PC games… Walking Dead is pretty great. You know that, because you’ve already played it, but if you haven’t for some reason give it a shot. It’s a LOT like Shattered Memories in that the experience is meant to tailor AROUND you and the point is really MAKING the decisions, not having an actual different game play out than people who chose differently… and that’s fine, because making a game that ACTUALLY supported independent results for 12 hours of choices would be out of the scope and budget of the industry as it stands (but at least SH:SM had multiple endings, just sayin’).

Point is, like the show and comic, Walking Dead puts you in the very grim reality of a zombie apocalypse and the difficulty of banding together to survive when everyone in your group is just as frazzled, damaged, and close to death as you are. No punches are pulled, and the game does an admirable job of endearing you to Clementine, the nine-year-old who’s been put in your care. I haven’t heard of anybody NOT affected by seeing Clementine’s disappointed pout after they made a tough but necessarily horrible decision at some point in the game.  This is good stuff, and if you’re a fan of storytelling in digital media it’s pretty much a must-purchase.


Console Game of the Year - Journey (That Game Company, PS3)

Speaking of storytelling in digital media, there are great ways to do that without crafting rails around a linear narrative. Not sure how? Play Journey. Journey isn’t just the most beautiful looking thing on four wheels, but it integrates multiplayer in a brilliant way that not only keeps you safe from the perils of the other people on the internet, but also tells a self-created narrative. You’re on a journey with others–and you will interact with them (or not) as you go along. Most will help you, some will ignore you, and in the end you’ll be better having struggled alongside someone else than going it alone. The great thing about this is, the metaphor doesn’t just apply to one type of person. My experience was trying to keep up with (or guide) the same person through as much of the journey as possible… but any other approach is equally valid, and supported by the game and its narrative. Did you break off from your friend when he wasn’t as concerned with treasure hunting for trophies?  Did you find a white robe and follow his every move hoping to get one of your own?  Did you decide the multiplayer was stupid and ignore it, or worse yet, disconnect from PSN so you didn’t have to be bothered?  These all say something about YOU, the player, and don’t help or hinder your ability to reach the end of the journey… powerful stuff, and all without a single line of dialogue.


Runner Up - Spec Ops: The Line (2K, XBox 360)

So this deserves more than just a funny caption, because it’s pretty heavy and depressing. You need to play Spec Ops. If you hate modern military shooters (or like me, never play them) you need to play Spec Ops.  If you LOVE modern military shooters, you especially need to play Spec Ops.  It has a message, and that message is not a trite “War is bad guys.”  Just play through it. It’s kind of a miracle this game exists in its final form.


But Seriously You Owe it to Yourself to Play - Super Meat Boy (Team Meat, XBLA) (disqualified – came out years ago)

If Pyramid Head is so sacred, why is all your fanart the Homecoming version?

Hey, sorry guys. I know I haven’t updated in a while. I got pretty disenchanted after my WordPress App won’t let me log in. If any of you have Word Press and iOS and know what I need to do to make the app work, let me know.

For those of you who didn’t already know, the soundtrack to Book of Memories is available now! It’s pretty great.

It includes a remix of “Love Psalm” – the best song from Silent Hill 2. At some point during Shattered Memories, I went back and listened to Love Psalm and realized that it sounded almost exactly like the pre-vocal vocal tracks that Yamaoka-san would turn in. I wondered if his original intention was to have vocals for this song–since then I’ve been obsessed with making that happen.

During the recording sessions for SH HD Collection, Mary, Akira, and Troy did some SH concerts and I remarked how I wanted to bring that live energy to our credit track. Since BoM was all about rewriting the past, I thought it would be cool to take Love Psalm and remix it, finally putting lyrics to the melody, and bring in Akira to do something as if he’d never left. Then during our BoM recordings, Troy wrote up the lyrics and worked on hammering out the song. Mary also brought in Eyeshine (band frontman: Johnny “the Stampede”  Yong Bosch) to perform the track.

The results are incredible. Troy’s lyrics perfectly capture the themes of Book of Memories, which are obviously close to my heart because I wrote the story. But there are a lot of layers beyond that too. One forumgoer correctly pointed out the  song could apply back to James and Mary, in the game it came from originally. And, of course, the two people singing on the song happened to provide James and Mary’s voices. Coincidence…?

This song encapsulates my thoughts and feelings about Silent Hill, so check it out.  Oh–Akira plays that entire guitar solo, not just “the silent hill part” be tee dubs.

(Of course, all of Dan Licht’s songs are amazing as well. This soundtrack is much more “video game-y” than Downpour’s cinematic approach, so I think a lot of fans who were let down by the earlier game’s music will find a lot to love here. Plenty of callbacks to the creepy SH tracks of old, including sound effects I call “evil washing machine” and “devil’s straw”.)


Best of 2011

Happy New Year everyone.  Since I have a blog now, I figured it’d be fun to do a fancy “Best of the Year” list.  So we’ll take a break from Skyward Sword (which I beat two nights ago) to rundown the year’s best… things.  Keep in mind, I have in no way experienced all of the things that came out in 2011 so if your favorite thing isn’t on my list, deal with it.

Book of the Year – 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)

With all my international travel, I’ve had a lot of time to read this year.  Of course, most of the books I’ve been reading aren’t actually from 2011, so this is a difficult list to make.  You end up with the two books I read that DID come out this year.  And my BotY here isn’t even a book I’ve finished – I’m about halfway through.  However, I’m enjoying it immensely.  I’m a big Murakami fan, having read all of his novels released in English, and this is on track to being in my top 3.  I’m not sure anything could top Norwegian Wood (certainly not something 900 pages long), but this is incredibly enjoyable.  It features two stories running in parallel, and I’m enjoying them both.  I’d say it’s definitely among Murakami’s most accessible books.  So unless it takes a weird bizarre turn (which it easily could–it wouldn’t be his first time), it’s far and away the best book I’ve read this year.

Runner up by default: Bossypants (Tina Fey)


Album of the Year – Wasting Light (Foo Fighters)

This one wasn’t even a contest.  Again, I’ve been traveling a lot, and that entails a lot of music-listening.  On top of that, I wrote Book of Memories – and writing requires even more music listening.  I kept coming back to this album.  They recorded it in Dave Grohl’s garage, to return to a rough “rock band” sound.  It certainly comes through.  The tracks are nice and raw, and just great songs.  “Rope” has some really nice lyrics, and there are a few songs that would sound at home in Silent Hill.

Runners up: 21 (Adele), Camp (Childish Gambino – explicit lyrics)
Biggest Pleasant Surprise: Sea of Memories (Bush) – their best album since their first album


Movie of the Year – Rise of the Planet of the Apes

So if you haven’t seen this film, you’re probably like me a month before it came out – not at all interested in this archaic franchise and completely burned by that embarrassing Tim Burton version. However, for some reason in the weeks prior to its release, I got the fool idea in my head that the movie would be amazing.  Turns out I was right!  It’s well-written, and it goes beyond merely referencing the original films to instead reference them in very intelligent ways.  If you think the reference you’re thinking of is cheesy… you need to think about it harder, because it’s brilliant.  If you happened to pass on this film because “Ugh, dude, seriously?” = give it a shot.  You might just like it.  I’m sure there’d be more recent films on my “Runners up” list but I haven’t been to the theater all winter.

Runners up: Limitless, Puss in Boots, Crazy Stupid Love, XMen: First Class, Source Code


New Show of the Year – Once Upon a Time (ABC)

I’m at that age where the new shows I watch are primarily dictated by the shows my wife wants to watch.  However, I’m glad that we started watching this one.  Long story short, fairy tales were real and the evil queen used a spell to transport them to “a realm where she rules” or some such black magic, and they ended up here in our world with no memory of their old identities.  Cameron from House shows up and starts to piece things together at the behest of her biological son.  It might sound weird and kind of lame, but the way they weave the fairy tale stories in with the plot of each episode is pretty neat, and it’s a fun game trying to figure out who’s who based on your own knowledge of these things.  It’s certainly better than Grimm–likely the more watched of the two.  Plus, Gabriel Belmont is in it.  (I hear American Horror Story is right up my alley, but I’ll wait for Netflix to prove it)

Runner up: New Girl


(Worst New Show of the Year – Whitney (NBC) )

It has to be said.  If you watch and enjoy this show, you can be legally categorized as insane.  How this didn’t get immediately cancelled is beyond me.


Returning Show of the Year – Community (NBC)

I got into Community this summer, via DVD’s I brought to the Czech Republic.  I’m so glad I did, as this series is incredible.  The best sitcom of the last however many years you need me to state to make this credible.  While there are some flat episodes, the heights Community reaches at its best are far beyond what most sitcoms can achieve.  I wish I’d listened to my friends back in the day that told me this got better than the pilot, because then I could’ve been here on the ground floor.  As soon as I found out Chevy Chase played that annoying old guy at the community college who thinks he knows better than all the kids, I just had to jump on board.  Peerless writing, likeable characters, it has it all.  It’s my second favorite show on TV, but I had to give it the win because more people need to watch it.

Runners up: Parenthood (NBC), Walking Dead (AMC)


Portable Game of the Year – Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo, 3DS)

Portable gaming has kind of had a lull this year, with the launch of the 3DS and the quiet leading up to Vita’s launch in February.  It was well-publicized that the 3DS (like every single console and portable ever released in the history of ever but I digress) stumbled with its library out the gate, things have finally started to turn around.  Super Mario 3D Land is a great game, and another solid entry in the Mario series.  There’s also plenty of game to keep players busy, with a second quest of sorts as well as Luigi mode for people who want to get the “true ending” (but plenty of time to stop before then for people who want to feel accomplished without doing EVERYTHING).  It really channels the spirit of Mario 3 with its varied challenges that change from level to level, though it would have been nice if some of the cooler ideas had been revisited.

Runner up: Aliens: Infestation (WayForward, DS)


PC Game of the Year – Portal 2 (Valve)

I don’t actually play PC games, and I certainly didn’t play Portal 2 on one (I played it on 360), but this lets me mention it and that’s good enough for me.  The first game was a special little gem of wonderment, and many were understandably skeptical that the same lightning could be rebottled in a fully-featured sequel.  Thankfully the end product put any such fears to rest immediately, with innovative new puzzles and a long and hilarious script, with new and returning characters I probably shouldn’t spoil here.  Needless to say, it’s an amazing ride if you played the original (myself), and even if you hadn’t (my wife, watching me play). The cake is a pie.


Console Game of the Year - The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo, Wii)

Now here’s a tough one.  I was all set to give this to Batman and then Skyward Sword had to go and be all amazing and junk.  Maybe if Batman had a timer on it I could compare completion times and give you some kind of “time to fun ratio”.  Here’s the thing, Batman was amazing and great.  It improved on its predecessor in every conceivable way.  Zelda, however, improved on 25 years of predecessors and nearly a decade and a half of adherence to a very specific formula.  But more importantly: it raised the game on motion controls.  This has been a big deal for me for the last five years because when I first saw the Wii I saw all kinds of potential.  I immediately designed the control scheme for Trauma Center: Second Opinion, and started dreaming of all the amazing point-and-click-adventure style games that would crop up, revived from their PC death years earlier.  Yet now, 5 years later, the only one coming to mind is Silent Hill: Shattered Memories which I’m not really allowed to unabashedly praise because, well, you know.  So while the mainstream game media sees a good Wii game and says “the graphics, while good for Wii, still pale in comparison to real consoles” I see a Wii game that uses motion control intelligently and shout “brilliant! genius! A++ would waggle again!”

The thing is, after Batman I was not hopeful for Zelda.  I expected it to be formulaic and tired and lame.  But it isn’t, it’s amazing–so it overcome my misguided pessimism and everything.  Also, Batman has “better bosses than the first game” but Zelda has “legitimately cool boss fights”.  Both games have aspects that beat out the other, and ten years from now I might say Batman is the better game, but I have to decide my GotY 2011 right here and now, so for the moment, that game is Zelda.

Runner Up – Batman: Arkham City (Warner Bros., X360/PS3)