Having not played every game on every platform, I opted to choose one of the aspects of games that I don't think gets enough attention or serious accolades, costume and character design.
For my "editor's choice" picks, I went not for the best graphics, instead focusing on some of my favourite design from the past year. I picked what I considered some of the best of the best of 2009, from games released in any territory in the past year. That includes two-year-old arcade games and Japanese-only releases (for now).
Read on for my favourite characters and costume choices for the year. Let me know yours in the comments.
Vanillaware's Wii game might not have had the substance to match up with its excellent style, but the developer deserves kudos for delivering one of the best looking games of the year. It has done similarly spectacular visual work on games like Odin Sphere and GrimGrimoire for the PlayStation 2, but Muramasa The Demon Blade gave the Wii some rock solid character designs.
Sure, Vanillaware might be pandering a bit, what with the big bottoms and other anatomical liberties, and they almost veer into cat-girl territory, but few games had such a homogeneous, well crafted set of characters, costumes and environments last year.
I'm not a huge fan of the Tekken aesthetic, but Tekken 6's Zafina was the best of the new additions to the Tekken 6 line up. And while I'm a fan of her standard outfit with its serpentine design cues and un-Tekken-like subtlety, it was her butterfly costume designed by Mutsumi Inomata that stood out as my favourite fighting game get up from 2009.
It may be the addition of the horrendous Lars Alexandersson and Alisa Bosconovitch that helps elevate Zafina's style, but I'm not complaining.
Hikari no 4 Senshi: Final Fantasy Gaiden
No, Final Fantasy XIII isn't on the list, but Nintendo DS series spin-off Hikari no 4 Senshi: Final Fantasy Gaiden is, despite only seeing a release in Japan in 2009. I love the colour palette and cute, but not obscenely cute, character designs, which mesh well with the DS's low-fidelity graphics.
I mean, look at all those jobs!
I know, I know. Drake and Chloe? Aren't they just wearing shirts, jeans and cargo pants? Yes, they are, but Uncharted 2's character designs are brilliantly appropriate across the board. They may not be as ornate or flashy as some of the other choices on this list—or your own—but the realism of the character and costume design in Naughty Dog's PlayStation 3 exclusive help to sell the believability of its cast. That they're all modeled so beautifully from head to toe doesn't hurt.
That Chloe and Elena look so attractive and that Lazarevic looks so evil doesn't hurt either. The cast is sexy and strong when appropriate, not to mention believably human. And they all look good in black.
She may be anatomically impossible, and I never thought I'd be into hirsute women, but PlatinumGames' Bayonetta was my favourite character of 2009. I can't say the same for the rest of the Bayonetta cast, but one look at PlatinumGames' Flickr account shows that Bayonetta's outfit and accessories were layered with loving detail.