I'm jumping on the year-end "best of" bandwagon in hopes of drawing attention to five games released in 2007 that went undeservedly unnoticed. If you're unfamiliar with these titles, I encourage you to give them a try and support the development of unconventional games that deviate from the everyday fare.
Here they are in no particular order:
Zack and Wiki - A puzzle adventure game that proved Nintendo isn't the only developer that understands how to integrate the Wii-mote into clever gesture-based gameplay. Bonus points to Capcom for creating a new IP with an art style that unifies the game in whimsical (the fun kind, not the annoying kind) cartoon style. Extra bonus points for having the courage to release a game that is actually HARD...just like they used to be. I go on and on about Zack and Wiki in Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 5.
Persona 3 - The most daring game released in 2007. Manhunt 2 got all the panicky press, but Persona 3 was the real undetected "danger." How is it possible that a game which depicts teenagers shooting themselves in the head for special powers went unnoticed by the Jack Thompson crowd? Fantastic Japanese pop-art style, an incredible soundtrack, and a sturdy RPG experience make Persona 3 stand way, way out from the crowd. I rave about Persona 3 in detail in Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 3.
Lunar Knights - Developed by Kojima Productions, Lunar Knights is the fourth title in the underrated Boktai series. An inspired blend of Castlevania and Legend of Zelda design elements, coupled with a gothic sci-fi setting and a bit of Metal Gear stealth, Lunar Knights is a terrific adventure that makes excellent use of the DS touch screen controls. If you like games that blend genres into something unique but recognizable, this could be the game for you.
Aquaria - If you've thought about giving indie games a whirl, Aquaria will make you wonder why you've waited so long. It's a beautiful and lyrical gaming experience set in a massive underwater fantasy world. Fully handcrafted by its creators, Aquaria took the grand prize at the Independent Games Festival this year. Some games have that undefinable quality of magic in them that make you want to wander and explore with no particular goal in mind at all. Aquaria is like that. It encourages a certain meditative mindset that just feels right. A stunning and original game.
Odin Sphere - a love letter to fans of 2D side-scrollers, Odin Sphere has the best graphics of any game released this year. That's right. No, it's not hyper-detailed photo-realism. No, it's not pushing 40 gazillion pixels around in 1080p...but I still say Odin Sphere's hand-drawn graphical design merits more praise than any number of so-called breakthrough games released this year. Atlus has released some stinkers over the years, but they deserve a lot of credit for putting out Persona 3 and Odin Sphere within months of each other, both to deafening silence from the gaming press. I wax philosophic about Odin Sphere in Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 1
Have I missed one of your favorite underdogs? If so, be sure to let me know.