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About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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'WorthPlaying's Top Games of 2011' - Handhelds and Downloadables

by Rainier on Dec. 30, 2011 @ 12:09 a.m. PST

Yesterday we revealed the honorable mentions, and today we're announcing the top handheld and downloadable titles. Check us out later for the top console/PC offerings. Once that's out of the way, we'll start the countdown of the top 20 titles, including what WP considers to be the best game of 2011. Read more for the results!
3DS/NDS

5. Pokémon Black/Pokémon White (NDS)

Pokémon Black is what a sequel should be. While the underlying formula of the game remains enticing and addictive, the improvements to both the gameplay and the multiplayer components make this a strong entry in the series. The title does a great job of introducing new players to the gameplay mechanics. Pokémon Black is highly recommended to both newcomers and veterans, and it is certainly up for consideration as a classic game on the system.

4. Mario Kart 7 (3DS)

From top to bottom, Mario Kart 7 stands as the best entry in the series. The new mechanics are enjoyable rather than distracting, and the inclusion of competent, buttery-smooth online multiplayer gives the game a nearly unlimited amount of replayability. If you've been playing Mario Kart DS and wondering when the next great kart racer will arrive, then search no longer. This is it.

3. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS)

Without a doubt, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is worth picking up for 3DS owners. While I've enjoyed a couple of other 3DS titles since the system's release, Ocarina of Time is the first game that makes it feel like a must-have device. It does a great job of incorporating the system's unique features and provides enough of an upgrade to graphics and gameplay to make it worth checking out even if you've played this game in the past. Though the original was released 13 years ago, this excellent port is certainly one of highlights of 2011 and does great justice to a beloved game.

2. Radiant Historia (NDS)

Radiant Historia is an old-fashioned RPG, and it's a good one. The story is simple and enjoyable, and there's a likeable cast. The unusual time travel mechanic is engrossing despite being occasionally inconsistent. The high point of the game is certainly the combat system, which turns the backtracking into an enjoyable experience. Any fan of Japanese-style RPGs should find this to be a great experience. It's inevitable for Radiant Historia to be compared to fellow time-travel RPG Chrono Trigger, but if you can judge Radiant Historia on its own merits, you'll find one of the most exciting and enjoyable RPGs on the DS.

1. Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)

Super Mario 3D Land is easy to recommend as a must-have game for any 3DS owner's library. The graphics are impressive for a handheld, especially when you use the system's built-in 3-D. The sound and gameplay mechanics are great. With the multitude of secrets in the game, along with the big twist near the end, Super Mario 3D Land can be rightfully called "deep," even if seems easy when you start out. There's hardly a bad thing to say about the title, so Super Mario 3D Land should be in your collection.

PSP

5. Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection

With an epic story and soundtrack, Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection is probably one of the best Final Fantasy compilations out there. The traditional gameplay can be really challenging, but there's so much to see and do that you won't mind it one bit.

4. Corpse Party

Corpse Party is not for those with a weak stomach, but survival/horror fans should be thrilled with how the developers have managed to shock and disgust with limited graphical resources.

3. Patapon 3

Patapon 3 builds upon the Patapon franchise by adding multiplayer and some other gameplay improvements. It's so charming and addictive that you'll find yourself drawn to it time and time again.

2. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is the first of a trilogy, and it makes a strong case to bring the rest of the story arc to North America. Though some of the core design feels left behind compared to modern standards, the story line is very impressive and the title manages to be quite fun even as it sticks closely to traditional JRPG mechanics. If you're looking for a lengthy, meaty RPG you can take with you wherever you go, this title will make a fine option.

1. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together may be a remake, but it's one of the best remakes out there. Every element of the game has been reexamined, polished and revitalized. Since the original game was a masterpiece in its own right, the new version goes above and beyond. Almost every change is for the best, and the result is one of the best strategy-RPGs on the market. It's not perfect, but most of the complaints are minor. The visuals could have used more updating, and the refined level mechanics are a step up from those in the original but could've used some further polishing. None of the problems detract from the fact that Tactics Ogre is a true classic and a must-have for any PSP owner with a fondness for strategy RPGs.

WiiWare/PSN/XBLA

5. Outland (PSN/XBLA)

Regardless of whether you're an old-school platform fanatic or someone who has never picked up a platformer in your life, Outland is a game worth checking out. An impulse buy with retail production values, it's hard to go wrong with this one.

4. Renegade Ops (PSN/XBLA/PC)

It may have a single-minded focus, but Renegade Ops does what it does incredibly well. An extremely polished twin-stick shooter, Renegade Ops offers up expansive levels, lush visuals and just the right amount of challenge.

3. Sonic CD (PSN/XBLA)

Sonic CD may be 18 years old, but this is an impressively polished port that showcases classic Sonic gameplay. Everyone should fork over $5 and download it right now.

2. Stacking (XBLA)

Deceptively cute, strikingly subversive and creatively inspired, Stacking appeals to both the casual and hardcore audiences in a single shot. The game is short enough to play through in a single day, but all of the optional content means there is plenty to do after the credits roll. If Double Fine keeps putting out downloadable titles of this caliber, it may never have to release another disc-based game.

1. Bastion (XBLA/PC)

Bastion is a solid action-RPG that is put over the edge by its unique and entrancing concept. It's a fun game, but it would've had trouble standing apart from the crowd, even with its unique features. When you add in the awesome use of narration, the game becomes much more than the sum of its parts. Bastion manages to be engrossing from beginning to end. It's well paced, well executed and fun to play, and it's hard not to get more curious about what comes next. The lack of replay value, even with a NewGame+ and multiple endings, may hurt it a little, but if you're a fan of atmospheric and unique action-RPGs, then Bastion is well worth the 1,200 Microsoft points ($15).

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