Ballots: Jon Irwin


1. Super Mario 3D Land (20)
2. Portal 2 (20)
3. Blocks That Matter (10)
4. Freakyforms: Your Creations, Alive! (10)
5. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (10)
6. Shadows of the Damned (10)
7. Find Mii (5)
8. Army of Darkness Defense (5)


Mario 3D Land offers a perfect toybox of ideas and nostalgia and unbridled fun. (Walk up to a dandelion and blow into your 3DS.)

Portal 2 is as fiendishly clever and consistenly funny as advertised.

BtM, winner of Microsoft’s Dream.Build.Play contest, succeeds where most hybrids fail: creating a unique experience wholly its own.

Freakyforms is bizarre and hilarious—To a patient and open-minded player, this tiny sandbox contains multitudes. Weird, adorable, freakish multitudes.

If Ghost Trick‘s trial-and-error puzzles are a turnoff, you’ll stay for the fluid, otherworldly animation and a cast of outlandish characters from Ace Attorney creator Shu Takumi. (Also: the most balls-out insane ending of the year.)

Speaking of balls, any game with the cajones to stop you mid-level and read you a gruesome fairy tale, as Shadows of the Damned does, gets my vote.

The mechanics and style of Find Mii, a barer-than-bones RPG included in every 3DS, have less to do with why this game succeeds than what happens when you’re not playing it. (I still feel a tiny pang of euphoria every time that green light, signifying a StreetPass, shines anew.)

AoDD was not the most awe-inspiring iOS game of 2011; it’s a well-worn idea executed fairly. But it’s the game I played most on my iPod Touch this year. Ping me if you want to hear the story why.

Certain big-name titles are conspicuously absent from my list; this is because I either haven’t yet played them, or have no great desire to. Arkham City looks cool, but I want to go through the Asylum first. Zelda‘s on my Christmas list. Skyrim would swallow me whole. My lifestyle permits a certain amount of time playing games and no more. I most enjoy digestible experiences that surprise me. These are the ones that stayed in my gut the longest.

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