Ballots: Lana Polansky


1. Bastion (15)
2. The Stanley Parable (10)
3. PoleRiders (10)
4. Catherine (10)
5. Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition (10)
6. Hero Adventure (5)
7. Portal 2 (10)
8. The Binding of Isaac (10)
9. To the Moon (10)
10. Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony (10)


If I had to find one umbrella concept for all of my picks, it would be this: they made me feel feelings (even Street Fighter). I don’t mean they all made me cry (except for you, To the Moon. Damn), or trip into an existential crisis, but they did make me reflect, either on an emotional response they triggered, and/or an intriguing storytelling or design concept that set them apart from the tropes and redundancies of their genres. Humor, for instance, can prove an illusive beast in videogame writing. And yet, Bennett Foddy’s PoleRiders is one of the funniest games I’ve ever played. This isn’t accomplished through text, but through physics: there’s an endlessly giddy joy in watching your avatar ragdoll around like a wet noodle. Its 2-player competitive aspect means you should have someone next to you to laugh with.

And then there are games like Portal 2 and Jamestown, which, while being funny in their own right, really shine in their co-op play. Both of these games, while being vastly different, make things like teamwork and companionship in the face of adversity feel like not just a passive motif, but something tangible communicated through co-op gameplay. Others challenged what issues or themes can be explored with storytelling, or how narrative itself can be presented in games, like Catherine, The Binding of Isaac, The Stanley Parable, and, probably most importantly (as far as I’m concerned), Bastion. I hate using terms like “ludonarrative dissonance,” but these games valiantly engage the problem, and with relatively uplifting levels of success. Or at least, they raised or exposed new questions that will be fun and interesting for games to tackle moving forward.

And Street Fighter? In my heart, it has always been the king of fighting games, (pun intended), for its profoundly strategic and dynamic gameplay. But, Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition improves on an already brilliant core gameplay design with added characters, and various buffs as well as character balancing.

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