To: The Game Industry
From: Gen Katz, Editor
Topic: It's a Wrap
Date: Dec 2009

Counting and summarizing are part of our year's end wrap-up. We publish a list of non-violent games for 2009 - 127 of them. It might surprise those who just follow the usual publicity given to games.

We do have favorites, and the list of these is now on the front page of our site. We have commented on them below to highlight why they caught our attention.

Unusual in how they maximize the potential of the DS/DSi:
Hands On! Tangrams/Storm City - the game solves the problem of the pieces staying in place and getting lost
Treasure World/Aspyr - had me walking around the city with my DS to pick up Wi-Fi and treasures
System Flaw/Storm City - has you seeing aliens in your house

Particularly good stories:
Scooby-Doo: First Frights/Warner Bros   -   tells how the Clue Finders began their mystery careers
Flower Sun and Rain/Marvelous   -   a sort of captivating groundhog-day experience
A Vampyre Story/TAC   -   witty - awaiting the next chapter
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince/EA   -   of course you expected this
Tales of Monkey Island/TellTale Games   -   outrageous stories and impossible turn of events in the serialized adventure
The Hardy Boys: Treasure on the Tracks/Her Interactive   -   unexpected, but a wonderful story following the Romanoff's history to find the treasure
Nancy Drew Dossier: Resorting to Danger/Her Interactive   -   it's the setting that makes the plot - an elegant spa

Distractingly beautiful graphics - we are suckers for gorgeous environments:
Muramasa - The Demon Blade/Ignition   -   pays good attention to the Japanese blade mythos
Trine/SouthPeak   -   has three interesting characters

Roll-up your sleeves and get into it:
Scribblenauts/Warner Bros   -   spell objects to solve problems
A Boy and his Blob/Majesco   -   a handful of jellybeans and an accommodating blob
Cooking Mama: Shop and Chop/Majesco   -   unusually sophisticated dishes
World of Zoo/THQ   -   realistic environment with fanciful coloring on animals

Good for kids:
Coyote's Tale: Fire and Water/Merscom   -   uses Mexican myths and locations for a colorful seek and find
Help Wanted: 50 Wacky Jobs/Hudson   -   gives kids an amusing glimpse on job opportunities
Herod's Lost Tomb/Merscom   -   an unusual seek and find with archeological sites and input from Natural Geographic
Magician's Quest: MysteriousTimes/Konami   -   feels like a real school that takes magic seriously
My Baby Girl/SouthPeak   -   a baby raising sim - the tempo is measured and the activities realistic
Real Heroes: Firefighter/Crave   -   a realistic firefighting experience - shows how seriously difficult fighting fires can be
Virtual Families/LastDayofWork   -   fun families that sort-of take care of themselves living on your computer
We Wish You a Merry Christmas/Destineer   -   has some nice touches and a dedicated Christmas theme on all the mini-games
Professor Layton and the Curious Village/Nintendo   -   winsome characters and puzzles at every turn
Sims 3: World Adventures/EA   -   kids grow from childhood to adulthood with this game - this time they go adventuring

Funny - a rare group:
A Vampyre Story/TAC   -   a complete reversal of the Phantom of the Opera
Plants vs. Zombies/PopCap   -   the seasons download hit - as funny as the title implies
Tales of Monkey Island/TellTale Games   -   everything these guys do is funny verbally and graphically
Rabbids Go Home/Ubisoft   -   ranges between sophisticated and slapstick humor.

Finally - ballet: - 99% of girls take ballet - a sure-fire hit
Imagine Ballet Star/Ubisoft and My Ballet Studio/505 Games   -   both have actual ballet steps that are done by moving the stylus, and eventually graduate to a performance. Different ballerinas make for different stories and there is a school structure in both. Good animation of classic ballet steps to classical music. Imagine Ballet Star was actually last year's game but I only found it this year - and it's sweet.