Crispy Gamer

2009: It's Over. We Hardly Knew You, Old Friend.

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You still have plenty of time to create several poignant drafts of your Christmas list and plan your New Year's Eve DJ Hero-centric blowout.

But the year in gaming, as we know it, is over.

It is.

With the last of the year's AAA behemoths in stores today--Assassin's Creed II, Left 4 Dead 2, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, among others--that pretty much puts a bow on 2009. Aside from a few last-minute stragglers like The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks and EA's The Saboteur, this year in gaming is, as the French say, fin.

Seems a bit premature, no? I mean, weren't we just kind of getting warmed up here? Might December be in danger of becoming the new June in this industry?

2008's December releases included Ubisoft's reboot of The Prince of Persia, Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories, Banjo Kazooie, Sonic Unleashed, Rise of the Argonauts, and the Wii version of Rock Band 2.

OK, so maybe last December wasn't exactly gangbusters, either. Still, it was better than 2009's totally anemic display.

But you know what? I'm actually kind of glad it's over. Seriously. Whenever I visit my colleague Victor Lucas, I notice the stack of games next to his television. That stack, he explained, is all the games that Vic intends to get around to finally finishing. It's his to-play pile. Each time I visit lately, the to-play stack has practically become a kind of miniature fortress around him.

Games have been flooding into game stores--and cash has been flooding out of my wallet--at a record pace this year. In the near-constant avalanche of new games, it's easier than ever for smaller, unheralded titles to get buried, never to be heard from again. Which makes me wonder: Is there such a thing as too much to play?

When  I was living in Chicago in the early '90s, I'd take the bus downtown to Michigan Avenue and go to the city's only game store. I'd ask: "Do you have Super Metroid in yet?" The clerk, as usual, would answer: "No."

I would go home again and play more Super R-Type, Super Mario World, or Super Street Fighter II: Turbo (those were super times), until I could practically beat M. Bison while wearing several blindfolds. I squeezed every bit of juice from those cartridges that they had in them. And then I squeezed them some more.

These days? I'm lucky if I get the chance to graze less than a third of all the titles that come across my desk.

Good games are getting lost because of this. Look at our recent Games That Time Forgot feature. There's a long, rich history in this medium of good games falling through the cracks. And it's getting longer and more rich all the time.

So tell me: What great game of 2009 do you think didn't get the credit it deserved? What game do you think will wind up on a future installment of GTTF? Beyond that, what can we do, as an editorial staff, to combat the disposable nature of videogames?