City 16's Top 10 Games of 2009: #5

2008 had Braid and World of Goo. 2009, however, didn’t seem to have the big indie hits championed by all. Maybe this means that indie gaming has finally been accepted by the mainstream gaming sites; that we’ve moved beyond needing to pick one sublime sample of the form and instead sites can say, ‘you know these are good, that they’re just as valid as that £40 Activision game being advertised on telly. What about this one, is it any good?’

Of course, as far as I can tell, some sites are regressing back to the attitude of, ‘sure those indie games are still out there, but covering them won’t give us as much page views as covering Hobo Carnage 3, so they’re on their own.’

I don’t know, it’s early and I’ve not had any coffee yet… It probably doesn’t matter. Does anyone even read IGN or Gamespot these days? Probably the type of person who visits N4G.com. Seriously, I can’t even visit that site without wanting to kill myself. I wonder what drives these people to spend more time arguing about how shit/amazing Final Fantasy XIII is going to be than actually finding some new and interesting little game hidden somewhere on the web… Or just going outside for a bit to calm down.

Wait, what? This whole introduction’s been terribly tangential and pointless. Frankly, I’m just looking for some words that’ll lead into this sentence,

The 5th best game of 2009 is:

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity

Of course, now I remember the point I wanted to make. Even with indie games seemingly getting more attention than ever AaaaaA! seemed to get the shitty end of the stick. Some initial pre-release press soon disappeared as everyone forgot about it. I can only actually think of one website that really recognised how good it was post-release.

That’s a shame because AaaaaA! is one of the most exciting releases for a long time. For once I don’t mean exciting in the sense of important or in any way meaningful to the industry as a whole. What I mean is a tense, heart-racing, thrill of an arcade game that bombards you with visual information and asks you to translate its cues to navigate a path through each level, all while hurtling downwards at a ridiculous speed. It’s rare that a game is quite so aptly named.

The number of things you need to process as you BASE jump through the world of floating buildings is astonishing. You get points for going near buildings, points for staying close to buildings, points for smashing score plates, points for graffitiing government buildings, points for giving the thumps up to fans, points for flipping off protesters and even points for hitting birds. Assuming you can land safely at the bottom the game then gives you a rating out of 5, which you look at in disgust and think, ‘I can do better than that’ and promptly restart and try a different route through a slightly more densely packed area of buildings. At which point you probably break both your legs.

Not that you have to. Just a meagre rating gives enough in game currency (teeth, for some reason) to unlock more of the surprisingly large number of levels. It’s just that, while AaaaaA! is very much a game of pursuing perfection, it does it better than, say, Trials 2: The Trialening or Trackmania United because finding the perfect line through the level is just as important as perfecting it. The game is all about judging your speed (and the sensation of speed is an area it excels at) and weighing up the risk/reward of trying to thread through a tricky section of buildings.

Dejobaan Games‘ previous game, The Wonderful End of The World, while full of character was, essentially, a Katamari Damacy clone. This wasn’t a problem in itself, as the Katamari games have never made it to the PC, but meant that any character the studio put into the game was constantly seen in comparison to the charm of Keita Takahashi’s masterpiece. Tackling a more original concept here, the developers are free to run with the concept and insert as much of themselves as possible. Take the videos: sprinkled through the level menu are various skits, from meditation methods, to grandma’s cooking recipe, to how to survive time travel. At various points an in-game news presenter will deliver an absurd newscast in his monotone, stoner voice. Pictures of the developers even pop up in various levels, complete with bizarre descriptions. This ramshackle, anarchic charm persists throughout and lends great character to the game.

I tried to capture a couple of videos for this post to show the game in motion. It’s something of a testament to just how busy the levels are that the video encoder could only process them at a couple of frames per-second. Instead I’ll throw up the games trailer, as it also includes the wonderfully bizarre ‘story’.


Yikes, we’re over half-way through. Only four games to be revealed. You’ve probably worked out for yourself that tomorrow’s post will concentrate on number 4.


4 Responses to “City 16's Top 10 Games of 2009: #5”

  1. 1 Leo
    21/12/2009 at 19:48

    Wow, this is really wonderful, thank you for making my day.

    Leo (Dejobaan)

  2. 21/12/2009 at 19:48

    Man, this made my day. Thank you! :D

  3. 21/12/2009 at 19:49

    Hey! Leo said the same thing, and our timestamps are the same. He’s just a microsecond quicker than I am.

  4. 4 octaeder
    21/12/2009 at 22:40

    Holy crap! Now you guys have just made my day. This is multiple degrees of awesome. Thanks guys! :)

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