The End of the Year is Upon Us

There is much to look back on in the last year. We entered the next generation of gaming with the Wii U, and the Vita entered the portable gaming field. Lots of great games were released, even if there were very few new IPs. With 2013 looming before us, let’s celebrate the gaming year that has passed… and what better way to do so than to make Game of the Year lists?

This last year… I didn’t play too many newer games. I was focusing on my older backlog, futilely trying to cut down on it while the newer games piled up. Because of that, I don’t actually have a lot of games to choose for my GOTY… I’ve only beaten a whopping eight games that were released this year, with only a few others I’ve played enough to consider for the running. With such slim pickings… well, you might be surprised in what’s on this list.

That said, let’s begin!

Portable Game of the Year

Kid Icarus: Uprising

Out of all of the games I played this year, most of them were portable. Therefore, this was the hardest of all of my choice. While a lot of the portable games I played were great, my GOTY pick has to go to Kid Icarus: Uprising.

Uprising is indeed an ambitious project, and one that is handled fantastically on the 3DS. The lighthearted story and characters really make the game a joy to play through, and the graphics and soundtrack (and even the 3D effects) bring the world together. On top of that, the varied gameplay, customizable weapons, and the checklists make it so that the game has tons of replayability. The game does have a few quirks, such as the awkward controls, but overall it’s a great experience, portable or otherwise.

Console Game of the Year

New Super Mario Bros. U

I’ve always been wary of the ‘New’ moniker of the Mario series. I never enjoyed the DS original, and very new entry seemed a rehash of the same old paths. Couple that with the fact that I felt pretty neutral towards Super Mario 3D Land, and I almost never gave New U a shot.

I’m really glad I did, though. New U might start a little average, but it soon opens up to a great platforming experience. The level design is fun and solid. Most importantly, it’s challenging when you want it to be, mainly in trying to get the Star Coins in every level. It’s also fun to play either alone or with friends, so you’re not left in the dust if you only want to play one way or the other. Finally, Miiverse’s integration is flawless and useful–you can get a lot of tips (or notes of frustration, or awesome artwork) easily. New Super Mario Bros. U is the perfect type of launch title; fun, shows off the hardware, and gives people a reason to buy the new system.

Downloadable Game of the Year

The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave

Quite a few great downloadable games came out this year, especially from indie developers… it’s really a shame I didn’t get to most of them. The very little I’ve played of The Walking Dead almost made me put it up as my downloadable GOTY alone–however, only playing a part of the first Episode makes it really hard to put it on the list. Instead, I turn to a completely different type of game for my pick.

The Denpa Men is a traditional RPG at heart; it’s turn-based, and relies on having the right Denpa Men, the right items, and the right level to get through the game’s multiple dungeons. However, how you acquire various Denpa Men is how the game really shines. Using AR and nearby radio waves, the game randomly spawns Denpa Men of different elements and abilities, and if you’re lucky, you might even get a sparkling Denpa Man with a powerful attack spell. It’s simple, yet very addictive concept, and makes it so you want to go everywhere and try to find new Denpa Men. The gameplay is very much like Dragon Quest, so if you like old-school RPGs with an interesting twist, this game is right up your alley… it’s certainly up mine!

Honorable Mentions

Even if I didn’t play too many games, I still had to make some tough choices for my Games of the Year. Other games I’ve played are pretty great too, and at least deserve a mention!

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a fun third-person shooter, and was a great game for someone who doesn’t typically enjoy the genre. Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy is a great mix of nostalgia, fanfare, and unique gameplay. Dear Esther was an engaging and emotional experience, even if it’s a bit difficult to label it as a ‘game’. Pokemon Black 2 is a good sequel that reminds me of what Gold/Silver/Crystal did for the original games. The Walking Dead may very well be the best adventure game I’ve ever played.

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So, looking back, I wish I could have had more time with the games that came out in 2012. Many hits came out this year, and with the lineup for 2013 so far, it’s only looking to get better. It looks as though the backlog is only going to grow larger!

Marathons – Costume Quest

Box art, whoo~

Costume Quest is a game that I played for two of my marathons:  It’s letter C for the A-Z Marathon, and also the first game that came up for my Steam Recommendations, recommended to me back Backloggery users Parkingtigers and Slayn_Bacon.

Costume Quest is a game best played during Halloween.  It’s not a scary game in the least… but obviously, the game is simply just the spirit of Halloween, at least from the mind of a possibly deranged child.  The main character’s twin brother/sister (you pick which one you play as at the beginning of the game) was kidnapped by an odd troll… ogre… thing for looking like a piece of oversized candy, and it’s up to you and the friends you make on the hallowed night to save them.  It’s simple, it’s cute, and it gets the job as a motivator done.

Yeah, this is the same game.  Stuff gets real in battles.

Double Fine’s costume filled game is an RPG; you run into the various monsters, and fight them in turn based combat.  The combat is over the top (have you seen the transformations?) and is command based in the sense of trying to preform an action for increased damage, or tapping the button at the right time to lessen a hit.  To be honest, it feels unbalanced, if only because of how you get your party members.  You start with just yourself, and when you’re fighting more than one enemy, you can feel yourself getting overwhelmed quickly.  When you get your second party member, things feel more balanced, but some enemy formations can easily wreck you.  However, when you get the final member, all normal battles become far too easy, with only the boss battle at the end of the game able to provide a challenge.  This imbalance makes battles either a chore or a bore after a while.

However, what the game lacks in refinement with the battle system it makes up for with its presentation and atmosphere.  You never doubt that this is a Halloween game, and going around trick-or-treating and collecting candy to trade in for battle badges is pretty neat.  The few sidequests on offer fit the mood of either Halloween or the general playfulness of being a kid, too.  The game itself doesn’t last too long, either:  I finished everything but the DLC in seven hours, and the experience stayed just long enough without getting stale.

Safety is for wimps.

So, like I said, Costume Quest is best played when you’re in the Halloween spirit; it’s simply a perfect non-horror game for the time.  Even without playing it during the end of October, though, it’s still a solid game, even if some things can grate the nerves.  It’s not the next Psychonauts, mind you, but still a good game from Double Fine.

Gaming Overview: November 2012

Oh man, is THIS late!  I didn’t expect my work to pile up like this… guess that’s what happens when everything comes to a head at once!  Regardless, it’s time for the monthly overview, complete with new consoles and Black Friday madness.  I always take my stats from here.  Let’s go!

Any new games?

Tons!  Black Friday and Steam’s surprise autumn sale gave me plenty to buy.  First off, earlier in the month I apparently bought an IndieRoyale bundle I forgot about, which got me Pineapple Smash Crew, Averium 4-6, Mutant Mudds, Spirits, and BasketBelle.  Then there’s the craziness: During the Black Friday sales, I picked up Lollipop Chainsaw (uh!), New Super Mario Bros. U (thanks, Old Navy!), and King of Fighters XIII (complete with 4 disc soundtrack!).  The Steam sales netted me Half Minute Hero (complete with long subtitle I’m not gonna type!), Hack, Slash, Loot (as advertised!), Awesomenauts (awesome?!), Hotline Miami (I have no clue what this game is!), and Orcs Must Die! 2 (two!).  Other games I got throughout the month are Mark of the Ninja (there’s a mark!), Shoot 1up (so many ships!), Dust: An Elysian Tale (or rather, tail?…!), Pokemon Black 2 (now with more Psyduck!), and Mega Man Star Force Pegasus (Battle Network in 3D!).

So yeah, that’s a lot there.

Did you beat anything?

…Well, yeah, I guess…

  • Metal Gear Solid 2 (11-17) – I’ve talked enough about the game in my Game Club post to please anyone.

That’s it.  It’s pretty bad… I’m close to beating a few games, but that means nothing if I don’t actually finish them!

Anything else of note?

I made progress randomly in a bunch of games, but nothing beat, as you can see.  I also got to play around with my shiny new Wii U, which is a blast.  Miiverse is awesome, and the games I have are fun… and let’s not forget that it can play all those Wii games I haven’t touched yet!  As for marathons, I got close to beating something for the A-Z Marathon, but it’s probably going to wait now, and I’ve started playing my Steam recommendations.  Nothing too exciting.

Over in the Dusty Corner, I wrote a bit about Megabyte Punch, a shorter review for Metal Gear Solid 2, and my first impressions of the Wii U.

And… that about does it for this month.  Next month’s Christmas, and being poor as a result of buying gifts.  We’ll see what the holidays bring~