Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best Video Game of 2009

At least one experienced critic will be stepping off the movie-game bandwagon and take a stand for good ol' arcade games. Hands down, this is the most fun video game you will play this year. You will have a fantastic time playing, laughing, and exercising with friends and family, boys and girls, young and old.

At some point, I suppose I'll have to go into detail on my favorite sporting events in Wii Sports Resort. It doesn't matter, really. All 12 events, with their many variations, are masterful, enchanting, and endlessly fun. Ask any number of Wii owners for their favorites, and you'll hear different answers from every one. Someone might like Swordplay the most. Another may choose Table Tennis. Still another will champion Frisbee Golf. Grampa and Grandma will swear by Bowling, and dream of a Heaven where 100-pin bowling is a reality. And the exercise buffs will stand by Canoeing and Biking.

That old saw, "Something for everybody," had never been more true. All I can say is, Thank God for Nintendo.

Somewhere along the way, the games business decided they didn't want to be bothered with making videogames anymore. They wanted Hollywood glamour, fame, and the validation of "high art." Nintendo has remained the last defenders of games as games. Games as social enhancement. Fun for the sake of fun.

There's almost nothing on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 that interests me. It's just a wasteland. No doubt such words are blasphemy to the "hardcore gamer" clique, but that's what I honestly feel and it has to be said. I'm not looking for a game to enrich my life with "art." For that, I have my music, my painting, my creativity. I have my beloved stereo system and large collection of LPs. I have my books and my movies. I have my friends and family. And, my brightest joy of 2009, I have the friendship and love of my future wife.

I think Sony and Microsoft want to consume your life entirely. I don't want that. As a member of the Atari Generation, I still enjoy playing video games. The key word is "play." I enjoy video games because they help to unleash our imagination. They help keep us in tune with our inner child. They bring us together. If you take away that social aspect, if you take away the laughing and cheering and playing together, the young and old, side by side, then it just isn't worth it.

This is the great debate that is now taking place in the video game world. It's a consequence of the great disruptors of this decade - the Internet, Facebook, Apple, Nintendo.

All of which brings us back to Wii Sports Resort, the best video game of 2009. It's fun, it's happy, it's clever and rich with subtlety. It will add color to your lives and bring smiles to your faces. And it may inspire you to take up these sports in real life. Nintendo had the right message all along: We Play.

Have I said that before? Whatever. It's a good line and it bears repeating. Life is far too short and we need to play.

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