Who were the best dressed, the most memorable and the most visually striking video game characters of 2010? I've made my picks for the best video game costume and character design from the past year, let's see if you agree.
Just like our picks from 2009, which included Bayonetta, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Muramasa: The Demon Blade, these aren't the games with the best graphics or the boldest moves forward in fashion. They're games with great characters, complex and simple, pretty and ugly, evil and adorable. I considered games released in any territory in the past calendar year, not just North American releases.
Read on for my favorite characters and costume choices for the year, with plenty of pictures to illustrate my point. Let me know your picks in the comments.
Without a doubt, my favorite costumes and character designs came from BioWare's Mass Effect 2. Beautifully designed, gorgeously rendered, they fit perfectly into brightly lit but grim Mass Effect universe. Some Mass Effect 2 characters are better remembered for their personalities, not their looks, but BioWare's talent at creating unique-looking alien species and very attractive humans deserves extra commendation.
This Wii game may be more deserving of a "best art style" award, but Kirby's Epic Yarn deserves credit for managing to make Kirby, King Dedede and Metaknight feel fresh. Kirby's transformations into alternate forms like a rocket, a tank and a submarine showcase this art style's flexibility and inventiveness.
Even more whacked out rock 'n roll designs from Grasshopper Manufacture. The characters and costumes of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle may not be as surprising or as dazzling as those of the original, but Travis Touchdown and crew still stand out as some of 2010's most original creations.
Really, Dr. Fetus locked this one in.
Even so, Super Meat Boy is packed with character for what is essentially a cube of bloody meat with a few more cubes of meat attached. Team Meat's character animation and a series of hilarious cut scenes helped to make Meat Boy memorable in 2010. Even in tofu form.
Few will accuse Castlevania: Lords of Shadow of being inventive with its gameplay mechanics, but developer Mercury Steam made the bestiary of the decades old Castlevania series its own with a re-imaging of the franchise's most famous monsters. Key characters like Cornell, Carmilla, Pan and Baba Yaga stood out among the year's non-player characters. Gabriel Belmont and his brethren sport some smart looking armor.
Maybe I'll catch hell for giving John Marston his dues as I did with the dressed-down cast of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Maybe it's Marston's personality and voiceover work that really won me over. But the visual style of Red Dead Redemption's cast of characters was solid, consistent and believable, with Marston's alternate outfits always looking fresh.
Russia will be the first country to score a retail release for the PC version of super Meat Boy, and creator Edmund McMillen sends out this moving call for Russian-inspired cover art. Good thing he's okay with the Cold War.
Hopefully the Russians can look beyond Edmund's lack of knowledge about their lovely country and produce the sort of stellar Super Meat Boy box art the game deserves. I'm not sure they'll get over being mistaken for Canada though. There are some insults that can't be waved off.
Oh Canada, you know I love you guys, and I say that without mentioning the constant struggle with the giant ice spiders.
There's not much meat to this clip showing off the Brawl hack, via Destructoid, but it goes to show you that Kirby is definitely the most flexible of Super Smash Bros. fighters. Grab said hack here, if you want more Meat Boy in your life.
The creators of PC and Xbox 360 hit Super Meat Boy have aborted the game's WiiWare release, saying they're unable to fit a quality version of the game under the size limit Nintendo imposes on titles for the download service.
Team Meat's struggles to pare down Super Meat Boy delayed its originally planned November release. The indie developer said it was able to get the file to 50 megabytes then, but 40 megabytes is the WiiWare cap, and the sacrifices made to get the game there left creators Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes unhappy with the game's quality.
"It's mostly music," McMillen told Kotaku this evening. "We got it close to 40 (MB), but we only have five music tracks, one retro and one boss, and no cutscene music. ... The cut scenes might as well not be there, and if you beat the game, I'm sure you know the final cutscene needs a musical score, to have any impact at all."
McMillen said Team Meat "blindly assumed we could submit a bit higher. ... We assumed we might get a 5 to 10 megabyte addition." He noted that the discussions with Nintendo were not adversarial. "We loved working with them," he said. So they're pursuing leads on publishing a retail disc, but the prospects are not good.
"So far, the three biggest [publishers contacted by Team Meat] say there's no money in third-party retail (on the Wii)," McMillen told Kotaku, "but we are still asking."
Despite the difficulty, McMillen said he and Refenes remain committed to the platform. "I will tell you, we will do a game on a Nintendo platform," McMillen told Kotaku. "That's for sure." Whether that game will be Super Meat Boy, however, remains to be seen.
MTV Multiplayer's Russ Frushtick has studied the two game's Xbox Live Arcade statistics for both side-scrolling, curse-inducing games and declared Super Meat Boy as the more rigorous experience.
He has four metrics of comparison. Such as:
N+: Percent of Total Registered Users Who Have Completed The Final Level (Episode 49) - 2.20%
Super Meat By: Percent of Total Registered Users Who Have Completed The Final Level (7-20X) - 1.04%
Do the laws of mathematics allow me to hereby declare Super Meat Boy as twice as tough as N+?
Which Is Statistically Harder: 'N+' or 'Super Meat Boy'? [MTV Multiplayer blog]
Super Meat Boy is a savagely difficult platformer, and those old-school bonafides gave artist TheInfamousTheft the inspiration for this rad Nintendo Power-style beat guide to The Guy's three levels, which unlock The Kid. Spoilers? Maybe. Big size on the jump.
Super Meat Boy: The Guy Guide [TheInfamousTheft on DeviantArt, thanks Bryce F.]
Gloating that he goaded People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals into making a flash-game free advertisement for indie hit Super Meat Boy, the game's co-creator followed up with an unlockable Super Tofu Boy character for the game's PC version.
The game hit Steam just yesterday, so, that's fast turnaround by Team Meat. A tweet this afternoon says the character is unlocked by typing in petaphile at the character select screen.
Edmund McMillan, the game's co-creator, says he "repeatedly made fake user names in Peta's forum pushing the game at them in hopes something like this would happen."
"Peta is 1,000 times more well known than Super Meat Boy and the fact that they went out of their way to make a parody like this is beyond flattering and amazingly helpful," McMillan writes.
McMillan notes that he himself was once a vegetarian and has worked as an animal control officer. He disagrees with Peta's absolutist stance against laboratory testing of animals, saying that has led to medical discoveries and treatments that save lives - like that of his mother, who is diabetic.
Super Meat Boy vs Peta! [Team Meat Blog]
Do you prefer your meat pristine and untouched or vigorously beaten? Symbiote Studios has you covered either way with a pair of limited edition Super Meat Boy vinyl figures, just in time to preorder for the holidays.
Symbiote Studios, the creators behind the silly anime-styled Jessica Chobot figures, has teamed up with Team Meat to forever immortalize Super Meat Boy in vinyl. Meat Boy's charm shines through, whether you prefer the normal figure or the one painted to look like it's been mugged.
Both figures stand eight inches tall and will set you back $39.95. I hope you like your meat rare; both versions are limited to 250 pieces.
Hit up the link to preorder one for yourself or someone you love. The figures aren't shipping until April, but the promise of a big slab of fake meat is almost as sweet as the real thing.