12 Days of Sketchies: Day 7: Outstanding Achievement in Gaming

Let's get right to it. As always, I base my awards off of what I experienced. Therefore, games like Left 4 Dead 2 and the like have not been played and are unaccounted for.

Our honorees:

Batman: Arkham Asylum(PS3 and XBOX360): Do I need to say anything else other than it's a Batman game without crippling control issues or massive bugs? How about a focus on the darker aspects of the universe by exploring the mental asylum all the bad guys are in? It's too much fun to play, is what it is.

Shields of Gemland(online):How do you make the old Bubble Bubble game mechanic and make it engaging again? Add a sprawling map and quest for gems to fill mystical shileds, obviously. Shields of Gemland is one of the best free online puzzle games you'll find released this year.

The Beatles: Rock Band(XBOX360, PS3, Wii): I'm a sucker for a good rhythm game. The Beatles: Rock Band takes the intimidation factor away from the expert button mashing factor in other guitar peripheral games and replaces it with beautiful animation and excellent music. The addition of 3 part vocal harmony is more than welcome. I can only hope future Rock Band releases will follow that feature.

Speaking of awesome Rock Band games...

Rock Band Unplugged(PSP): One of my favorite PS2 games has to be a rhythm game called Frequency. This is basically a remake of that excellent build-up-the-music-track-by-track game with a more expansive song catalog and no JPop. That's the only downside. It's still a fun game mechanic and the new graphics are slick and not seizure-inducing like the original. It's a winning situation for all involved.

Scribblenauts (DS): Scribblenauts is a nerd's dream. Imagine a video game where practically any solution you can think of for a puzzle is available for you? That's Scribblenauts. You write out what you want to use - bike, plane, dragon - and it comes to life on the screen. The possibilities are seemingly endless for solving the levels, and the mistakes you can make are hilarious.

And now the winner. It was an easy decision for me, though some will find it an insane choice.

Plants Vs. Zombies (PC):Popcap consistently make fun games with a steady learning curve that does not intimidate. When the difficulty amps up about halfway through your first play of Plants Vs. Zombies, you're ready. Then, when you beat the game, there are tons of modes to play. This will be the best $9.95 you spend before 27 Decemberwhen all PopCap games are 50% off. What are you waiting for? Start killing zombies with plants on Christmas Eve. It's totally worth it. I'm not getting any money for tossing this link out there. I just want more people to enjoy this game.