All the big guns have come and gone. The best games are all now on shelves and we’ve just decided on our game of the year. Now we’re taking a look at our 10 favourite gaming moments of 2010. Be aware that these are just my subjective choices – feel free to let us know some of your favourites in the comments below.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
It’s been said elsewhere, and multiple times over, but it’s probably worth stating one more time for the record: Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a perfect video game. And trying to find a single favourite defining moment in a game which is essentially a series of defining moments is almost impossible.
In fact, the only criticism I have of Super Mario Galaxy is that it really is an endless series of experiences; moments that don't always hang together in the same way the original did. It exists more as a laundry list of genius, discrete ideas and in that sense is perfect as a pick up and play game, yet its power to continually surprise also allows it to also work as a game to be played for hours on end.
So while there are almost too many incredible experiences to count, one stands out for me - a moment that plastered an almost involuntary smile on my dial for five minutes straight. That moment was the first level of the Yoshi Star Galaxy, in world one.
Maybe it was the simple fact that it happened so early in the game, when I was still giddy with the fresh feeling of playing a Mario game again, or maybe it was just the spirit blasting opening chords of the soundtrack, but it felt like the second I landed in this level I was being primed to have the time of my life. It was so weird - as if I had just woken up. I was nine years old. And it was my birthday.
Mario Galaxy 2's secret is discovery. It bombards you with a set of game rules that are constantly shifting - it screws you up with off-beat rhythms that are as schizophrenic as mental jazz, and stuffed to the gunnels with genius ideas used once then tossed away on a whim.
It sounds overwhelming, but it never is. Playing Mario Galaxy 2 is what I imagine toddlers must feel like when they learn to crawl. Every experience is fresh - a set of jingling keys is enough to make your mind melt. Hopping on Yoshi for the first time - listening to the music switch up the beat in response, figuring out the mechanics - it felt like a sparkling, jingling set of brand new keys. Something shiny, something irresistable.
Before I knew it, I was goo-gooing and drooling like a six month old baby. Everything was so responsive, so tactile. It felt polished, as if I was on the cusp of some mad new idea that I could just about grasp.
But above all, I was having fun. I had a beaming smile stretched from ear to ear and nothing could remove it.