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.

~~~~~~

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!

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