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GAF Games of the Year 2013 - Voting Thread - VOTING CLOSED

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Aug 10, 2006
1. Fire Emblem Awakening; I've absolutely loved Fire Emblem ever since I was blown away by PoR on the Gamecube back in the day. It's also a franchise that doesn't receive new entries too often, so each new game is an event. Awakening is arguably the best game of the series and while it's difficult for it to top PoR as my favorite (I didn't know what to expect with PoR when I first played it), it's also difficult for it to not be my GOTY.
2. Super Mario 3D World; Although some people complain about Mario fatigue, I was already thirsty for a new console 3D Mario. 3D world is the epitome of pure gameplay and has an astonishing amount of ever changing scenarios, challenges and ideas. It's immediately fun, and it never stops being fun.
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds; As a Zelda game, ALBW is a return to roots in many ways, and a departure to new in some others, creating a mix of the familiar and the exciting. Like Mario, there is hardly any filler here, and the game is extremely fun and satisfying to play. My top 3 is a close call, so it could almost be my GOTY. Maybe the fact that ALBW borrows so much from LTTP makes me put it on the 3rd place.
4. Civilization V: Brave New World; This was a good year for strategy games! I really like Civ, and although I played quite a bit vanilla Civ V when it came out, ultimately the game was flawed and I returned to Civ IV. BNW improves a lot of things with Civ V, and although I might still prefer Civ IV, this expansion makes Civ V a worthy contender.
5. Europa Universalis IV; Where Civ is grand, EU is meticulous and varied. I love the alternate history aspect of these games and EU is actually reasonably realistic in that regard. It's a deep game that I don't grasp yet fully, but it is an experience just living the history as written by the game.
6. Pikmin 3; EU is deep, but Pikmin is accessible and charming. Instead of global ambitions, I'm collecting fruit and it's so much fun. While I'm happy to slaughter hundreds of men on the battlefield, I'm always wary of sacrificing the little plant people, and this makes it markedly different from most other strategy games (except FE, actually).
7. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies; AA5 streamlines some of the tedious gameplay in the series, introduces great visuals, and packs interesting new characters and cases. Turning a case upside down for the 6th time during the same court session never gets old.
8. New Super Luigi U; 2D Mario is always good, and being an expansion allows Luigi to be even tougher and more imaginative than Mario U.
9. Rayman Legends; I'd argue most of the new content in Legends is better than Origins, making it a top tier 2D platformer. It would have been nice if there was more of it though, as the recycled Origins bits I had already played before.
10. The Wonderful 101; I'm not that big of a fan of action games, but W101is fun, varied, and so over-the-top that it's just a joy to play.


Feb 19, 2011
1. The Last of Us ; On a narrative level, I’ve never been more invested in the outcome of two characters as much as Joel and Elle. A beginning as indelible as its punch in the gut end. And as a dad, I would have burned the world to save her too.

2. Resogun ; A marriage of my gaming roots with the cutting edge fluidity of today. Makes me feel like I’m waxing nostalgistic of the past and white-knuckling the bar of the future...at the same time.

3. Need for Speed: Rivals ; Just a rock solid arcade racer, I think they nailed the controls this time, and with those social tie ins, I can’t help but try to shave milliseconds off my time to take the top of the speed wall over and over and over again.

4. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (PS4) ; The setting as a sea faring pirate, combined with an open world make for likely one of the best Assassin Creeds. Plus the SHANTYS have been born into my soul now.

5. BioShock Infinite ; INCREDIBLE set up, mind bending ending, it was the book ends in this game that won a spot on my list, the middle not so much.

6. XCOM: Enemy Within ; Because a really good turn based strategy is my gaming crack and this extension of last years game is simply more of something I can’t get enough of.

7. Dragon's Crown ; Local co op is a lost experience now, sadly and this brought it back, and it was a good time all the way through.

8. Tomb Raider ; Great new traversal mechanics, made it a blast navigating Laura around the environment, something I’ve always enjoyed with Tomb Raider games, and this brought that enjoyment back.

9. Blood Dragon ; Because I’m a complete sucker for cheesy 80’s nostalgia anything and this fun little ad on nailed it.

10 Killzone: Shadowfall ; I honestly didn't enjoy the gameplay as much as I'd hoped, but this made the list, barely, simply as a graphics showpiece. I was constantly in awe as the fidelity on display, and it made me excited for new immersive experiences as devs learn to master the new consoles.

LTTP, 2012 Dishonored ; First time I’ve ever been able to truly feel like I was a bad ass assassin and using stealth mechanics to do it. Teleportation is the key to stealth games I’ve learned. Loved the story too.

Pile of shame/Wish I had time enough to play in 2013:

Fire Emblem Awakening
Ni No Kuni
Gone Home
Rayman Legends
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons


Feb 29, 2008
1. Super Mario 3D World ; After feeling disappointed with SMG2 and underwhelmed with SM3DL, I was hesitant at first. What I got instead was the-most engrossing title of the year, and front runner for game of the decade.

2. New Super Luigi U ; At first, I thought it would be a rehash. It ended up being one of the best and most challenging co-op games I have ever played! I even double dipped.

3. The Legend Of Zelda The Windwaker HD ; It truly made the game accessible for me. Having the map on a separate screen made me more engrossed, and made this one the best Zelda experience I have ever had.

4. The Wonderful 101; I thought it would be a Pikmin clone and I was wrong. Truly it is 3/4 view action with Bayonetta soul, sos what's not to love?

5. Game & Wario ; From Pyoro to Islands, this game made the gamepad great. Sadly, there aren't too many games that rely on the gamepad as much or use it so well.

6. Dr. Luigi ; It's a harder, better, and more high0stakes Dr. Mario. The Online is fierce and it is well worth the money.

7. NES Remix ; It's where the soul of Wario Ware went. Some of the games look excellent, and the new takes are very fresh feeling.


Jul 16, 2009
1. Super Mario 3D World ; not as good as galaxy 2, but still an amazing 3d Mario game
2. Zelda: A Link Between Worlds;
3. Bioshock Infinite;
4. Grand Theft Auto 5;
5. Pokemon X/Y;
6. Spelunky;
7. Fire Emblem Awakening;
8. Tearaway;
9. The Last of Us;
10, Pikmin 3;


Dec 26, 2008

1. The Last of Us ; Games can succeed in many ways, but one that is important to me is how well they can sell their characters and their world to me. TLoU excels on both fronts, and along with TWD Season 1, made me interested in a genre (zombies/infected) I thought I was about done with. And perhaps with both of these, it's less about the setting, and more about what it does to the people forced to live in a world so isolated and so different from ours. I enjoyed the combat as well, and felt it was a good mix of stealth and provisions to fight out your way out when need be (and when you couldn't, checkpoints were smartly placed to avoid any excessive tedium). There was some ambiguity to the ending, but I couldn't imagine a more perfect way to leave things off. While I would look forward to playing a sequel if it were announced, I would not mind in the slightest if this is it the franchise. The story ends at a very satisfying point, which is a tough thing to say for most games.

2. Grand Theft Auto V ; To me, the main star of GTAV is not it's 3 protagonists, but Los Santos and it's surrounding areas. As others may have gotten tired of constantly driving to missions, I was always amazed at how much detail R* packed into this world and I just loved taking it all in. This may be because I have a bit of a personal connection to the world as well. I lived in the SoCal area till I was 12 before moving to the East Coast, so LS and the big freeways through the deserts and mountains brought an odd sense of nostalgia and vague familiarity. I also had a good time with the missions (mid-mission checkpoints made them infinitely more enjoyable than GTAIV) and I enjoyed the threads of the story, even if it wasn't my absolute favorite of the year.

3. Saints Row IV ; On some level it's hard me to give a specific pitch for this game and not just tell you why I love Saints Row as a series (from 2 onwards). I feel SRIV continues the tradition from SRTT of going all in on the over the top craziness which permeates all aspects of the game from the writing/story to the actual gameplay and just takes it to another level. For me, it works because the writing is funny and the gameplay is fun. The loyalty missions are probably some of the best of the series. This was probably my most played game of 2013 just because the game felt like a pure sandbox to me, with the superpowers, weapons, and so many possibilities to just goof off outside the main missions. The game does not restrict you much at all. You want to make your Saint a busty female with a deep male voice? Go ahead. Want to change your character into a green colored alien at any point of the game? Volition sure as hell isn't going to stop you.

4. Bioshock Infinite ; Perhaps more than anything, I love the premise to a Bioshock game. What if someone made an underwater city? One in the air? And what if it all went to hell? I suppose what made Columbia appealing to me was entering this cheerful colorful world in it's heyday, but you know from the get go something is off, even before you get there (Don't disappoint me). Another game where character development is done so well, and Elizabeth is certainly one of my favorite new characters from the year. I know the ending didn't fly with everyone, but I was satisfied with the payoff of the story at the end.

5. Tomb Raider ; Beyond solid 3rd person combat mechanics, I'll probably remember this as the first time I really enjoyed using a bow in a game. Something about the mechanics about it were immensely satisfying and provided a great change of pace from typical gun combat. While the entire cast of characters as a whole are not particularly memorable, I did enjoy Lara's progression during the game. A lot is made of games with female protagonists and what means for the gaming industry, but to me, Lara was simply a very relateable character regardless of whether you were a man or woman playing this game. It's a story of someone dealing with a challenging situation and trying to find the confidence in oneself to overcome it. The moment where Lara transitions from a scared girl stuck on a strange island to a confident badass ready to handle the situation at hand (however crazy it might be) had to be among my favorite scenes from a game in 2013.

6. Pokemon X/Y ; I can't claim to be the most hardcore Pokemon fan, but as someone who has played every generation since Pokemon Blue, the series certainly holds a special value to me. It's been well over a decade since I played the card game or watched the TV show, but it's the games I keep coming back to. And Pokemon X/Y finally introduced some great improvements to modernize the series. The experience share system was fantastic and allowed me to build out a full evenly leveled team without any tedious grinding. O-Powers were a nice way to change up the game with added buffs. And I'm perhaps a bit embarrassed to admit just how much I've enjoyed going to stores to customize my character's clothing, but that was another feature that was a long time coming. Yeah, the story isn't anything amazing, and it's a shame post-game content doesn't include things like the pretty epic Pokemon World Tournament from B/W 2, but all the same, this was still my favorite Pokemon game in a long time.

7. Gone Home ; I feel this game was an interesting experiment in how to make a short story into a video game. Gone Home isn't an interactive story where you make choices to guide the narrative, but rather, the story is what it is, and it's up to the player to discover it. I think the challenge with making this work is it's easy to question why it's even a video game. Couldn't they have written a short story and be done with it? In other words, what does being a game add to it? And to me, the basic answer to this is immersion. Having the game set in a 1st person perspective is absolutely essential to this and getting into character. For the 2 hours+ it took me to play the game, I felt like I really was Kaitlin Greenbriar, finding out about my family and the events that happened when I was away. In the final moments of the game,
I was concerned about Sam just as any big sister would be. I remember rushing up the stairs, partially in fear of what I might see, and just being relieved to see how it actually played out. And it's interesting how the game pulls you into this role. Kaitlin isn't the most developed character in the story, but then again, it's also not Kaitlin's story
The game gives enough for you to see how you fit into this family as the older sister and your relation with everyone. I don't know if people struggle calling this a video game, but all the same, I'd absolutely love to see more stories told in this format from Fullbright and others.


May 19, 2013

1. DotA2 ; I think The Last of Us is the best self-contained experience I’ve played this year, but since the release of StarCraft 2, for me a new type of experience in games has grown to become something I value as much as, if not more than the self-contained, traditional style of campaign experience. And that is the rise of truly competitive games. There are obviously many titles you can point to that showed hints at what I am talking about; Quake 3 Arena, Counter-Strike, the original StarCraft, WarCraft 3, 2D fighters, and on and on. But its only since SC2, and now even moreso with League of Legends and DotA2, where what happens *around* the game has finally matched up with the competitive possibilities and ambition of those earlier titles (at least for most people, and especially in the west).

The experience around a game like DotA2, from Twitch streaming of pro play, to frequent major tournaments, to all of the community-driven self-help and knowledge bases, I feel it’s only now that these kinds of games truly live up the spirit of being competitive in the way we think of any other competitive endeavor, where the more you practice and put into the game, and the more you learn and the better your instincts become, the better you get and the more enjoyable the game becomes as well. It is just about the only type of game I can see offering a singular, all-encompassing experience that can allow you to play just it exclusively, and still feel like you’re getting a rich, endlessly deep and varied gaming experience that is dynamic every time.

2. The Last of Us ; What can I say? For the type of experience it’s going for, it’s a nearly flawless game. The level of production, from the technical, to the artistic, to the narrative, the character development, dialog, acting, and nearly all other measure we use to judge games, it is quite simply without peer in the medium. It is a sight (and sound) to behold, in nearly every aspect, and despite being incredibly linear and safe in its game design, the things the characters go through and the human elements that the game tackles and puts on display are anything but. The ending might be the boldest I've seen in a video game as well.

3. Tomb Raider ; I actually enjoyed the combat and general kineticism Tomb Raider offered over The Last of Us. The open, yet relatively contained scope of the environments were a joy to explore, with a lot of fun ancillary things to do, while not being daunting like a lot of games can be now days. That’s a feeling that seems to pervade the game design and mechanics in general; high-impact, high-production, but with a manageable scope, not overwhelming. And that tends to be the kind of game I enjoy most now when it comes to big budget titles.

4. Rogue Legacy ; The rogue-like-lite take on the Metroidvania formula was one of the most fun, purely mechanical, game-y game experiences I had all year. The control was meticulous, the soundtrack so good I didn’t throw on podcasts for probably the first 10+ hours, and it was challenging, but with the perfect compromise in giving you a persistent upgrade and reward structure.

5. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ; One of the sweetest, most heart-felt games I’ve played. I don’t usually find typical fairy tale tropes and hokiness to be very easily appealing in most media, but somehow the Swedes at Starbreeze managed to make that tone and style palatable to me; a little darker, a little more somber, but every bit as magical and fantastical. A wonderful tale.

6. Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag ; Shit’s fun as fuck being a pirate.

7. Resogun ; I actually didn’t expect to like this as much as I did, despite Housemarque’s pedigree. Turns out, I actually like it a lot more than Super Stardust HD, and I liked that a lot. Co-op is insanely fun as well.

8. Guacamelee! ; Really glad I stuck with this after the initial bombardment of cheesy, fairly-lame Internet meme parody they throw at you early on, because the game turns into a really fun, well-designed Metroidvania title. The game constantly just feels up-beat, thanks in large part to the high-tempo soundtrack, and the visual style looks and animates beautifully.

9. Steamworld Dig ; GiantBomb’s Quick Look of the title when it was originally released on the 3DS way back when piqued my interest, but I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed the game when it went HD on Steam. What a fun, relaxing little game.

10. Tearaway ; Quite possibly the most charming game I’ve played not made by Amanita Design or Keita Takehashi. The platforming is decent, and it’s definitely the best-playing game Media Molecule has made in my eyes, but the game play is for the most part kind of tangential to the core of the “experience.” That’s kind of MM’s MO, though.

x. Spelunky ; Rogue Legacy and Spelunky are kind of two flips of the same coin; Rogue-like-lites that take spins on slightly different realms --Legacy going for the Castlevania-style game, Spelunky a more traditional, Pitfall-style platformer. I had more fun with Legacy, but I still highly appreciate what Spelunky does, and respect how good it is at it.

x. Gone Home ; It deserves a mention, I feel. It wasn’t the most fun I’ve had, nor the most touching or compelling or interesting or poignant story. In fact, it was very mundane, and in another story-telling medium it probably wouldn’t be considered important other than perhaps in its penchant for capturing the atmosphere of the era or the sense of place it captures. But in the game space, it’s still a very young industry, and this was a very important stepping stone in the growth of it.

2012. Diablo III ; Would probably be in my top 5 of this year if it were released this year. Just pure fun.


Junior Member
Jun 9, 2004
1. The Last of Us ; Can't say much that hasn't already been said. Instant classic!
2. Grand Theft Auto V ; Best GTA I have played and had me hooked from beginning to end. Quite a few jaw dropping graphical moments in there too - found it absolutely fascinating how Rockstar could create such a huge, beautiful and detailed world on such old hardware.
3. Bravely Default ; Perfect old-school JRPG goodness with a refreshing fast-paced battle system and lovely hand-drawn backgrounds. Haven't actually finished the main story yet but spent loads of time with the rebuilding of Norende.
4. Tomb Raider
5. DmC
6. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
7. Rayman Legends
8. Bioshock Infinite
9. Beyond: Two Souls
10. Ni No Kuni

1st Course

Aug 10, 2012
1. The Last of Us ; Simply the game I enjoyed the most last year.
2. Grand Theft Auto V.
3. Tomb Raider ; Good TPS.
4. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.
5. Battlefield 4.
6. FIFA 14.

2012. Dragon's Dogma ; My favorite RPG of 2012.


Feb 4, 2006
1. Super Mario 3D World ; EAD Tokyo delivered again: Fantastic platforming with up to three friends, tons of gameplay ideas – and everything looks and sounds beautiful!
2. DOTA 2 ; My most played game in 2013 with a couple of hundred hours. The MOBA is a blast with friends. Lots of great, different heroes, good balancing overall. But the servers… they could be more stable.
3. Luigi's Mansion 2 ; A Luigi’s Mansion game developed by Next Level Games – a studio which is not known for great action-adventures? I did expect a solid game but not a great one. And then I had an absolute blast playing the game. Great mansions, great gameplay ideas, some great bosses and beautiful graphics (that lightning!). Each and every 3DS owner should get this one
4. Pikmin 3 ; I waited so long for this sequel and the waiting was worth it. Pikmin looks beautiful in HD and the controls are superb. The gameplay itself? As awesome as back then in 2002. There is also a surprisingly good multiplayer mode for two people.
5. Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons ; I love everything about this game: The story, the two analog stick gameplay, the landscapes, the graphics and the sound. Best indie game in 2013 I have played.
6. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; I’m a huge fan of the series and the latest iteration did not disappoint. Lots of awesome SRPG battles.
7. Tomb Raider ; My surprise hit this year: The game is extremely linear and there is too much shooting – but it is still tons of fun to live as Lara through different environments. I really enjoyed the climbing and the tombs. And the bow is an awesome weapon.
8. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger ; What a great budget Western FPS. The storytelling is brilliant and the gameplay is so badass.
9. Lego City Undercover ; I never liked the Lego games but this one is awesome: great humor, great gameplay, tons of things to discover. Every Wii U owner should get this one.
10. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD ; Great game which looks absolutely stunning with its unique art style. The search for the Triforce pieces was improved but still sucks. Could have ranked higher without that part.

x. StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm ; I played Wings of Liberty for hundreds of hours over the last couple of years. I enjoy playing Heart of the Swarm but I do not like it as much as I liked WoL. The ranking system killed ladder gaming for me, lots of friends moved on to DOTA2. It is still a blast when playing it from time to time or when watching online tournaments – but playing it every day? Not really.
x. New Super Luigi U ; Great and challenging platformer for Wii U.
x. Rayman Legends ; I have not had the chance to play it a lot so far. But what I saw was totally awesome: especially playing the game in coop with one controlling Murphy on the Wii U GamePad.
x. The Wonderful 101 ; Not exactly my genre but still super awesome. Unfortunately a bit difficult to get into.

2012. ZombiU ; I played the vast majority of the game this year and I had an incredible experience. This game is pure survival horror and I absolutely love it. The atmosphere of this game is totally awesome. I really need to play it again!


Neo Member
Nov 11, 2013
The Netherlands
1. Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons ; Games never make me cry! This one didn't either, but it was a close call. Played it together with my non-gamer girlfriend, sharing the controller. A rare, unforgettable gaming experience.
2. Grand Theft Auto V ; The most fun I had in a game this year, and graphically it is stunning. Seemingly dumbed down, but the low difficulty actually heightened my enjoyment.
3. The Last Of Us ; This game makes other 'serious' games look childish. A classic, and it will be hard to take a step back to Uncharted 4...
4. Hotline Miami ; The best game I played on the Vita last year. The soundtrack, the fast gameplay, the ridiculous plot, it all worked and it was highly addictive.
5. Guacamelee! ; In at number 5 even though I have yet to complete it, I think that says enough. I will probably restart the game and finish it.
6. Assassin's Creed IV ; A lot of fun here and I like the modern setting a lot. Second only to AC2 in my book. It restored my faith after AC3, even though that game was the last time I paid full price for an AC game.
7. Killzone: Mercenary ; Stunning graphics, proper FPS gameplay. I enjoyed this very, very much.
8. Tearaway ; A cute game that was fun to share with my 5-year-old son.
9. Killzone: Shadow Fall ; The graphics... At times it felt like I was in a movie. Very easy (on Hard) except for some difficulty spikes. Also the plotholes are disappointing, as is the poor AI. But I love the Killzone universe so that helps. Also, having played BF3 SP a few weeks before, which was an atrocity, KZ:SF was a fresh breath of air. Underestimated.
10. Muramasa Rebirth ; I started playing this on the Vita in December and I haven't finished it yet. But I'm loving it (on Normal). The graphics, the Japanese culture, the insane story, the cooking...


Jun 23, 2010
Wish the OP could give some quick notes on whether some posts that list their 10 games have some errors that would affect the their votes being tallied.
I for one have listed like half a dozen honorary games which i HOPE doesn't affect my votes >_>;

Endo Punk

Sep 4, 2011
1. Metal Gear Rising; What a rollercoaster of a development. The fact the game was at all salvaged is proof of how great the talent is at Platinum. I'm gonna be honest, Bayo and Vanquish for one reason or another did not appeal to me but as soon as I played the demo of MGR it just clicked. The type of refreshing experience I've been waiting for in the frantic action genre. Your DMC's, NG's and GOW's etc have been played out and get worse with each entry, finally we get a game that may not be the peak and may even feel limited but it delivers a gameplay experience that feels like its own beast. Seriously I have ZanDatsu'd all year and still not tired of how it feels when Raiden crushes the spine with his hand.

And as far as the genre goes for me it lives and dies by its boss fights. You can have the most amazing set of skills but it's all worthless if you don't have equally as impressive opponents to test them against. Whether it's Blade Wolf or Sam or -Not going to name the others for those playing the game in the PC version thread- the rest the game has some of the best boss fights I have played in all my years of gaming. The last one in particular had me so exhilarated I needed a cold shower.

If Platinum is allowed to make a follow up with more time and budget I see a game that will go down as a bonafide classic in all gaming, it will annihilate every other gameplay experience in its path.

2. Guacamlee!; This game was hard to put down, it's colorful with a fantastic score and a world that just begs to be explored from every nook and cranny. Simply a marvelous Mexican themed experience that does justice to the metroidvania style.

3. Dragon's Crown; Once the story or tutorial should I say is over the game really begins. Sexual or not the character designs are appropriately over the top for everyone and it has so many amazing references to games and movies I grew up with it feels tailor made for what I want from a beat-em-up experience. The variety in its gameplay and foes is superb and the random nature of the labyrinth makes this game infinitely entertaining.

4. Super Mario 3D World; Now I never grew up with Mario(I was a Sonic guy) but I was lucky enough to play the game over the holidays and all I gotta say is WOW. Leave it to Nintento to keep a fat plumber relevant again and again. Delightful gameplay and co-op that has the best use of team work I have seen in a long while.

5. The Last of Us; The opening is amazing but loses appeal on your second/third playthrough and it just begins to drag until you get to Bill's. This game makes me feel like shit but can't deny how well crafted it is. The winter and ending is what makes this game worthy to be listed as amongst the best games of 2013.

6. Hotline Miami; Alright as someone who is obsessed with 80's entertainment this game hits the right feels with it's soundtrack and visuals. The gameplay may not be exactly to my liking but it was fun and as a whole the game was a treat to experience.

7. Resogun; If the game wasn't lacking content it would be higher but it's addictive and the on-screen mayhem and visuals just blow your mind. Feels like you're on acid and you just can't get enough of it.


Mar 11, 2010
1. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; The first fire emblem game I played. I actually bought the game with the intention of pawning it off on ebay back when the retail version of the game was so rare. I ended up playing it instead and i immediately fell in love. the option for casual mode really helped me ease into the systems, but its the characters and ways to level them up and unlock more characters really sold the game to me. kudos for some fun dlc as well
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link between worlds ; A Link to the Past was one of my favorite snes games, but I went into this game with low expectations after being disappointed with the DS Zeldas. They really nailed what made Zelda so fun in its exploration aspects and the satisfying puzzle design to me. I love the milk shop band as well. great renditions of past songs
3. Bioshock Infinite ; This was originally my GOTY before the onslaught of 3ds games came in, but I couldn't help but keep this high on my list due to the dramatic and amazing immersion the game had, the satisfying combat/vigor system when used in conjunction with the rails, and my favorite of the two big companion characters this year in Elizabeth.
4. Marvel Heroes ; Easily my most played game on the list, I've clocked nearly 200 hours in and I'm still playing more. I've been playing since the closed beta back in january and despite its really terrible start, the game has sinced stayed agile and continued to improve in a timely fashion to a hell of a game thats fun to play with. Everyone should give the game a fair shake.
5. Ace Attorney: Dual Destines ; Though I haven't completed this game, the story and characters cannot be denied their due. The 3d in the game works great and retains the same expressive charisma the sprites had. The story thus far has also been tons of fun.
6. The Stanley Parable ; The meta-narrative and various endings you can find made this short but very satisfying romp through the game. It's been a while since i played a game that made my laugh out loud, but this game nails it.
7. Gone Home ; Similarly to Stanley Parable, this game was also a short but very satisfying game. Sleuthing through the house and piecing together the different narratives made me appreciate Fullbright was trying to go for in their style of interactive narrative.
8. DmC: Devil May Cry ; After a lot of negativity surrounding this release, I decided to pick it up on a whim being an old DMC fan and I was glad I did. Playing this on PC, I recognize that it doesn't share the complexities of the earlier DMCs, but I like the new Dante and the combat system still was very satisfying. It helped that the lesser complexities actually led to me replaying the game in higher difficulty modes and gave me a renewed interest in character action games. Vergil's Downfall was one of my favorite DLCs as well.
9. Tearaway ; Whereas last year i felt was the year of the vita, this year was definitely the year of the 3DS. That said, Tearaway was a very refreshing experience due to its artstyle and undeniable charm. A great pallete cleanser game, it was worth the price of admission to mess around with the origami and just loose myself in the world Media Molecule crafted. Kudos for making a game that uses ALL the vita functionality in clever ways.
10. Soul Sacrifice ; Another fun Vita game, this was my first true foray into the monster hunting sub-genre. I really liked this game due to its fast paced nature compared to monster hunter imo as well as its amazing world building. My only regret is that I didn't put enough effort to keeping my hero relevant as the multiplayer component online favored more end game stuff I wasn't ready for.

Honorable Mentions
x. Metal Gear Rising: Revengence ; As I'll be considering it a 2014 game due to getting it just a few days ago.
x. Shin Megami Tensei 4 ; Great game, but the competition was stacked this year already
x. The Last of Us ; One of my favorite stories of the year, but I just did not like the gameplay whatsoever.
x. Rogue Legacy ; Another fun game that just didn't make my top 10
x. Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition ; It didn't feel right putting a port of a very old game on the list, but it's probably my favorite game of the year. Playing 1 and 2 back to back during a rough point in my life was one of the best experiences I had with a game in quite some time.

2012. Persona 4: Golden ; It's still one of my favorite RPGS of all time. Enough have already been said about this game.
Jul 21, 2004

1. Ni No Kuni ; The spiritual successor to Dragon Quest VIII. Such charm and character. Beautiful worlds and fantastic voice acting (let down by so few of it overall). Stunning music. Takes you back to the classic heyday of jPRGs once again. A true gem, not just this year but for the whole generation.

2. The Last of Us ; PS3 going out with a bang. It's slow to start with, but the game's story and characters grip you. Great atmosphere and story. Also a nice multiplayer mode.

3. Tearaway ; One of the most unique and colourful games ever. It's a charming little game that plays so nice and looks so great. It's all wonderfully created from a creative paper world. Uses the Vita's unique controls all in a good way.

4. Puppeteer ; Another unique and lovingly made game. A brilliant platformer with a very unique world set against a stage show complete with narrator. Brilliant voice acting and character bring the world to life. Levels are big and meaty with some nice hidden stuff to find. The heads are all fun and charming to collect and use.

5. Assassin's Creed: Black Flag ; This was the surprise game of the year for me. I disliked all the others but pirates and high sea battles turned me into a fan. The game is on the whole a little too repetitive but the sea battles make it all the worthwhile. Controlling Edward is a times a nightmare but when it works it's works well enough. Little to no Animus parts make it very enjoyable.

6. GTAV ; A huge game world to explore with characters that are likeable and fun to play as. Graphically also it really impresses being such an openworld game on last gen consoles. It was much improved over IV and it didn't ever take itself too seriously. The city was varied with lots to do and see.

7. Bioshock: Infinite ; Very much enjoyed my time with it, though it's probably my most forgotten about game this year. It didn't stand out enough even though it was all well put together and had some cool moments. Gunplay was a little repetitive but the world and characters all were interesting.

8. Killzone: Mercenary ; The best Killzone game of the year. Who knew?! Really impresses graphically on the Vita and shows what it's capable of. It's a short enough enough sadly, but the missions are fun and the levels are action packed.

9. God of War: Ascension ; Disappointment of the year. By any other GoW game it would be more GotY. But Ascension didn't live up to the standard of the predecessors. Even graphically it wasn't quite as spectacular as GoWIII. The messed too much with the formula and ended up being quite frustrating and no way as fluid as previous games. Still there was some spectacular fights and it's still mostly the GoW I love.

10. Kingdom Rush: Frontiers ; Following up Kingdom Rush would be tough but Ironhide succeeded and made another top tower defense game. Highly addictive and have the genre down to a fine art. Continually supporting it with free levels too.

2012. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; Thanks to PS+ I played and absolutely loved this one. It would be no.3 on my list overall. I love a god SRPG and don't get many like this. Lengthy and very addictive. Graphically a little generic and worse for wear but the gameplay really shines.


Jun 11, 2012
1. Bioshock Infinite; The overall experience wins over some flaws (story doesn't come together 100% at the end) in the gameplay and I loved the big, dynamic fights while utilizing all options like sky-rails, vigors and rifts.
2. The Last of Us; I'm a sucker for games that tell a longer running story over months/years and this game does it without ever losing it's focus on the main protagonists. Combat becomes somewhat repetitive but nothing is perfect.
3. Deadly Premonition: Directors Cut; Thank you, Durante.
4. Electronic Super Joy; A fantastic little j'n'r with tight controls, an almost perfectly balanaced difficulty and one of the best soundtracks of the year.
5. Gone Home; I didn't cry but appreciated that it told several personal stories in a very low-key way. Tip: Listen to the audio commentary.
6. Stanley Parable; Funny jokes in a video game? Instantly top 10.
7. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed; Much variety, much colorful graphics, much fun in multi- and singleplayer.
8. Retro/Grade; Groovy rhythm game that nobody noticed no matter where it was released.
9. Gunpoint; I felt that it had another hour or two of gameplay in it but what was there was a delight.
10. Kentucky Route Zero; Unfinished is the only reason it's not higher on the list.
2012. Orcs Must Die! 2; Best coop experience I had last year (as a big fan of Payday 1 I surprisingly couldn't get into Payday 2).

Honorable mentions that could've been but aren't on the list because I didn't play them long enough yet: Swapper, Shadow Warrior (I hope it gets more attention here when eventually released on PS4/X1), SR4, Tearaway, Resogun, Zelda, Teleglitch, Rogue Legacy, Papers, Please!, Steamworld Dig, Volgarr, Risk of Rain….
Feb 23, 2009
Deep Blue Sea
1. The Last of Us ; One of the most engaging and mature stories to come out of a major studio since... well, EVER really... The first game in years I had to play through a second time within a few days of completing it for the first time...
2. Tomb Raider ; Solid A-List effort and a decent reboot for the series, I thought... Most fun I've had with Lara since Guardian of Light...
3. Tearaway
4. Ys Memories of Celceta
5. Muramasa Rebirth
6. Fire Emblem Awakening
7. Dragon's Crown
8. Shin Megami Tensei IV
9. Castlevania: Mirror of Fate
10. Killzone Mercenary
x. Batman Arkham Origins (Vita) ; Screw the haters - I really enjoyed every minute of playing this...
2012. Persona IV Golden ; still the game that above all others makes owning a Vita worthwhile...


Jun 10, 2004
1. The Last of Us ; Simply one of the best games of all time. I’ve never cared for the “are games art?” debate because, like any creative media effort, they clearly are. They’ve just always been pretty shitty pop art. While I’m not about to say that The Last of Us is the Citizen Kane of video games (the industry has a long ways to go before that) it is one of the first big steps onto the same playing field as movies and graphic novels, which is pretty huge for the medium.

It just does so much right. It is significantly longer than most of it’s AAA contemporaries but never overstays it’s welcome. The pacing is ideal by hitting the gamer with a tense overload early, then pulling back for a bit as it paints the picture of what this world is supposed to be. After it’s done it’s work there it focuses back on these two incredible characters, hitting one of the greatest climaxes in gaming with Winter, and is clearly ok with how it’s ending gradually comes in for a relatively surprise landing instead of trying to end on the climax like so many other games do. All while eschewing an overload of cutscenes throughout in favor of an open and close cutscene for each segment but telling most in-chapter story during game play.

And the gameplay is even damn good in it’s own right. a legitimate survival horror/stealth game at a time when Ubisoft has all but killed Splinter Cell as a stealth title, SE/Eidos have done the same with Hitman, and Resident Evil doesn’t even feel like survival horror anymore. The gameplay, to me, feels like Metal Gear Solid 2 mixed with Resident Evil 2 that scales up in difficulty in a very fair and interesting way.

In short, The Last of Us isn’t just my Game of the Year, it’s also my Game of the Generation and one of my top five favorite titles. And I went in to it quite skeptical as I’m not a big Uncharted fan.

2. Spelunky ; Pure old school platforming crack with a perfect pick up and play format. The design of this game is on par with the platforming classics and had this been a SNES release we’d all remember it with the same fondness as Super Mario World and Sonic. I’ll be playing this game for years to come.

3. Grand Theft Auto V ; Way to rally back Rockstar. GTA IV was a step back from San Andreas in my opinion. Less compelling story, less fleshed out world, weaker gameplay, and just in general felt like a chore to play. GTA V rights the ship and I love the split character usage. Keeps a game this long feeling fresh and makes this massive world they created feel deeper and richer than any GTA before it. Now translate all of this into Read Dead 2, I want to play a Rockstar’s Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.

4. Resogun ; Housemarque delivers again, of course, but that’s not why it’s on this list. After my first few hours with Resogun it dawned on me. This game is a totally new reinvention of the shmup genre. A cylindrical map doesn’t sound on the surface like it would be a game changer as compared to the already in existence vertical scrollers and twin stick spherical world/square box, but it really is. Stardust and Geometry Wars are chaotic and in a lot of ways prevent really effective line cleaning strategies. To get that you’ve always needed to play vertical scrollers, until Resogun. The cylindrical map allows for the precision you get in a high end bullet hell while still giving the player full control of forward progress/movement. The fact that Housemarque clearly designed with this in mind, using fixed enemy spawns to let players build strategies off of, is a credit to their insight into the shooter genre. Much like Stardust I’m sure their innovation will live and die with their own developments, but it doesn’t make it any less exceptional. This is a new wrinkle in it’s genre on par with Ikaruga’s bullet polarity.

5. MLB 13: The Show ; I’m probably stretching my word count for a single post already so I’ll keep it short and sweet: the only other baseball game to have as comprehensive a franchise mode as The Show is Out of the Park, a PC strat game with a huge learning curve. To offer that level of depth on a console up to this point has been unheard of, but to now also offer it on a handheld? You with SSD, you win.

6. Shadowrun Returns ; About the first major kickstarter project to make it out the door and it completely delivers. The included campaign is short but tightly designed, gameplay is fun and strategic but it doesn’t get in the way. The campaign’s dialogue and art design is fantastic. Top it off with a very promising expansion on the way and some awesome fan made content and this is exactly what kickstarter should be bringing to the table.

7. Velocity Ultra ; Another shmup with a new wrinkle. I don’t thinkg Velocity’s teleporting is quite as big a genre reinvention as what Resogun did, but it’s damned fun. The level designs are super tight and really makes you chase down the route that will get that last second off your time to get gold.

8. Guacamelee! ; Great art design, really fun gameplay, enjoyably tongue in cheek writing. A very fun take on the Metroidvania genre which is a personal favorite of mine.

9. Starseed Pilgrim ; I’m not really sure what Starseed Pilgrim is supposed to be, but it intrigues me and makes me keep playing through a complete lack of understanding. It also gets me to come back every few weeks for another day of exploring what it’s supposed to be about. I can’t put my finger on what exact it does that’s so special, but there is something unique here.

10. Rogue Legacy ; A very fun take on how to make the rogue-like genre less punishing.

x. Papers, Please ; I put this as an honorable mention because while I think it’s one of the most innovative games of the year I can’t put in in my top 10. It simply isn’t enjoyable to play at all. The concept, world depth, etc. are all fantastic, but it is so hostile to the player in such short order that I don’t feel I get adequate time to explore those concepts and that world before the inability to make ends meet is crushing my soul. A slightly more forgiving pay scale, a bit more spread in the ramp up of additional paperwork, and a larger deskspace/better notebook design would go a long ways in my opinion.

x. Bioshock Infinite ; A real conundrum of a game to me. The storyline is, in my opinion, exactly what’s wrong with video games. It is your quintessential overwrought “AAA” title taken to the Nth degree. The gunplay is good but the variety of weapons is far too repetitive and feels like a trap if you upgrade earlier guns only to never see them for the second half of the game. That said, the characters are still interesting even as the storyline runs off the rails and the artistic design is simply fantastic.

I’d much rather have seen an expansion on the RPG elements of Bioshock instead of an expansion on the shooter elements at the expense of any exploration or freedom of choice. Bioshock is a hell of a ride while it lasts, but it’s a one time trip with no real motivation given to repeat it. A bipolar game if ever there was one.

2012. Civilization V: Gods and Kings ; I’ll fess up, I’ve hated on Civ V A LOT over the last few years, but after getting a free copy of the base game from GMG’s GOTY contest at the beginning of the year I kept my eyes peeled for a deal on the expansions. Got Gods and Kings over Steam’s Thanksgiving sale and I’ve got to say, I’m thoroughly impressed. I still think it lacks the refined complexity of Civ IV, but in some ways that’s not a bad thing. I also still think it’s busted on marathon length (while I felt Civ IV played best on Marathon), but it’s a damn fun game now. I picked up Brave New World over the Christmas sale and have been equally pleased with the steps up there as well. Really a complete 180 on my opinion of the game.


Sep 5, 2011
1. The Last of Us ; A game unlike any other and one that will remain at the forefront of my mind as 2013's defining game for years to come. A perfect blend of shooting, stealth, and survival based gameplay mechanics, combined with a memorable story and Naughty Dog's incredible technical feats make this a fitting swan song for the PS3. Every aspect that The Last of Us sets its mind on, it goes on to masterfully achieve from tense encounters to a chaotic multiplayer mode. Just like facing off with the infected, around every corner this game manages to jump out and shock its players.

2. Super Mario 3D World ; EAD Tokyo has done it again by blending together some of the best level design I've ever seen in a video game with satisfying gameplay mechanics. Throw in some couch co-op and multiple unique characters and this game quickly proves to be the defining game of the Wii U so far.

3. Grand Theft Auto V ; A massive open world and the freedom to interact with it how you want is one of the most desirable aspects a video game can strive for, and Grand Theft Auto V hits that mark with perfect precision. I was driving cars, motorcycles, and planes while skydiving, playing tennis, and shooting out military bases all the while wondering what I would get to do next. GTA V certainly doesn't disappoint and fully lives up to the pedigree of its series.

4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; This game surprised me and sent me back in time without even an ocarina in hand. A Link Between Worlds returns to the quintessential Zelda experience beautifully by delivering a sense of exploration and freedom that has been toned down in the series for far too long.

5. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; The triumphant return the series needed, this latest iteration of the Fire Emblem series manages to introduce a loveable new cast of characters and a variety of mechanics while still keeping the difficulty and tension that this strategic series is known for.

6. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; Certainly one of the most fitting titles of the year, the crazy over the top title is entirely reflective of the mayhem the game throws at the player. The masterful combat of Platinum's action games is combined with the frantic "Zandatsu" mechanic as Raiden cuts his ways through a plethora of mechs and cyborgs. Couple that with an incredible soundtrack and some of the best bosses in the action genre, and it is easy to see that this questionable marriage of Metal Gear and action games have managed to blossom into something incredible.

7. Bioshock Infinite ; The picturesque city in the sky is anything but as Booker and Elizabeth traveled through the perils that Columbia provided. From an incredibly detailed world to the brain melting twists, Bioshock Infinite managed to create one of the best stories in gaming of this year. At the same time it managed to weave its story into the setting meticulously by letting the player face off against a large variety of enemies while zipping around on the city's skylines to provide one of the most unique shooters I have played in a long time.

8. The Wonderful 101 ; Out of all the games on this list, this game has easily the most creative gameplay of anything I've touched this year. Controlling 100 superheroes as they combine into numerous weapons never gets old as you punch, slice, shoot, and hammer your way through hordes of alien invaders. The game's presentation also deserves special notice with a very fun storyline, characters, and artstyle. The fight of the Wonderful 100 lives on as the game draws you back in each and every time to play on harder difficulties, find more collectibles, and master the challenges that are within.

9. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon ; Next Level Games has outdone themselves as the sequel to the Gamecube original fully lives up to it and even goes as far to surpass it. Luigi traverses multiple mansions while fighting a colorful cast of ghosts, solving beautifully crafted puzzles, and finding hidden secrets along the way. This game will creep up on its players as a surprisingly deep adventure game, and it doesn't end there as players are further pulled in to challenge the numerous multiplayer offerings put into the game.

10. Pikmin 3 ; It has been a long time coming, but finally we find ourselves stranded back on the odd and beautiful world of Pikmin. Introducing both new types of Pikmin and the ability to control multiple captains has added to a greater variety and strategic element than ever before. The implementation of the Wii U gamepad further allows greater challenge as player's plan out their day by quickly managing their armies through collection of precious fruit and combating with the game's monstrous foes.


I must do better.
May 31, 2009
1. Europa Univeralis IV ; Paradox took everything I’ve ever heard was great about EU3 and made it into a game that I could actually stand to play. Having a more sensible UI and dumping sliders in favour of monarch points did a tremendous job of making this a much more approachable game. I got into Paradox titles through the character focused Crusader Kings, but EU4 was the game that really allowed me to see the fantastic strategy game design the studio is capable off. Balancing long-term and short-term goals with the varied rate of monarch points while also considering systems like aggressive expansion has led to some legitimately challenging situations. I still mainly come to these grand strategy games looking to interesting experiences come out of the simulation, but I now also see the appeal of painting the world your colour.

2. Dota 2 ; Despite putting close to 100 hours into this game I still feel like I am just barely beginning to understand its true depth, but I stayed with it enough to finally get why these types of game are so popular. I love that the 5v5 framework allows me to share some of the burden of a match with others. And although I’m still learning a great deal about how to play, the feeling of having my team cheer me on when I successfully manage to carry the late game in a close match is incredible.

3. The Stanley Parable ; Making people laugh while showcasing the absurdity of many game design conventions is a hard thing to do while also not coming off as some kind of holier than thou asshole, but the Stanley parable succeeds in doing just that. It can feel a little scattershot with the sheer number of tangents it goes off on, but I enjoyed every one of them.

4. Spelunky ; A truly fantastic piece of game design. The way everything little thing in the game reacts to each other in multiple ways, the surprise and challenge created by the randomly created levels, the excellent execution of platforming controls, and the depths of the secrets. This is just an amazing well-made game that got its hooks deep in me, particularly thanks to the daily challenge.

5. Gun Point ; I love that this game gives you just enough options that you can carefully think your way through a situation in a number of ways, but always allows you to fall-back on pure panic mode instincts when things go to shit. It had moments of feeling like a 2D Deus Ex.

6. Papers Please ; A simple but fun puzzle game that marries its game mechanics to its theme and story perfectly. Being a cog in a horrible machine, but actively working to keep that machine going for my own self-interests was incredibly powerful.

7. Civilization V: Brave New World ; Surprising effective in how well it brought together some of the weaker aspects of Civ V. The trade system, ideologies, and UN voting did a fantastic job of connecting some of the more isolated feeling systems already in the game and presenting interesting decisions that played off of many factors.

8. Gone Home ; A unique narrative for videogames told through a simple but well executed game. Exploring a smaller-scale but detailed environment to uncover a story about believable people just feels like something that should be more common in videogames.

9. XCOM: Enemy Within ; I would have been happy with more maps, but this expansion also changed enough to make the game feel fresh again. The meld resource made me more aggressive, putting me in more risky situations, and the MEC/gene mods allowed for some interesting new tactical decisions.

10. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger ; An incredibly focused shooter that offers tightly tuned run-and-gun action with a creative narrative twist.

Adam Prime

hates soccer, is Mexican
Sep 1, 2008
Austin, TX
1. Ace Attorney 5 Dual Destinies; The reason why I purchased a 3DS. Love the series, and this did not disappoint!

2. Animal Cross New Leaf; Most title played this year, for good reason. My first AC game.

3. Fire Emblem Awakening; Excellent title, look forward to playing through it again someday.

4. The Last of Us; Only retail PS3 game that I played this year, and it was a good one.

5. Duck Tales ReMastered; My favorite PSN title of the year, a great throwback with beautiful visuals!

6. Link Between Worlds; Haven't finished it yet but I have loved what I've played so far, and I am not a Zelda fan. I'm sure if I had played this more, I would've rated it higher.

7. SteamWorld Dig; Haven't finished this one either, but I love what I have played so far. And I really hate Minecraft/Terria digging style games. This is much more fun in comparison to those! I really wish it is a longer game than I hear people saying that it is.

8. Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon; Beautiful game with lots of charm and character.

9. Etrian Odyssey 4; Didn't finish this one either, but I have loved what I've played of it this year. My first dungeon crawler game, and first one in this series.

10. Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2; Awesome follow up to one of my favorite games.

2012: Kid Icarus Uprising; Best game on the 3DS. I can't believe I missed this game last year.
Honorable 2012: Virtue's Last Reward; My new favorite series, I hope there's a new one this year!


Dec 3, 2012
1. Dota 2; The game I've spent the most time with this year. A game that has brought me absolute satisfaction and absolute misery. Dota 2 isn't just a game, it's a huge commitment to play as it requires all of your attention. I only played Dota 2 this year thanks to Brad Shoemaker so thank you and fuck you for making me spend over 700 hours on one game this year. You're probably why I'm not doing so well in school, but it was still worth it to dedicate my whole being to a near perfect game. Dota 2 is the most fun I've had with any multiplayer game in my entire life. It's deep balance and polish stand out from other MOBAs. This comes from someone who doesn't play a lot of multiplayer games. Nevertheless, Dota 2 is an incredible game that can only truly be appreciated if you submit yourself to it. Dota 2 is my game of the year.

2. The Last of Us ; The Last of Us is an incredible breakthrough in both triple A games and older games that weren't as easy as games are these days. The Last of Us is challenging by letting you take our enemies in whatever way you wish to. Using stealth and smart tactics are the way to go in most cases but you can try to shoot everything despite your limited amount of ammo. The story and characters of the last of us are dark, intense, and very real. The Last of Us isn't trying to be a huge epic story like the Uncharted series that Naughty Dog has made this generation. It's a personal story about two people in a post apocalyptic world that has been taken over by nature. It's a truly great game.

3. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; Fire Emblem Awakening was the start of the year of the 3DS and it's a hell of a game. It was extremely polish game that was challenging and fun to play. The story is surprisingly competent for a strategy RPG. It has a lot of great mechanics but the ability to marry your party members in order to make strong future children is brilliant. Music's kickass too.

4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds; A late but great edition to my list. It's more than just nostalgia but it certainly benefits it. It's a great playing game with a new renting items mechanic that makes each fighting encounter with tough enemies far more important than they have ever been in a Zelda game.

5. Saints Row IV ; Saints Row 4 is a game that just wants you to have fun with overpowered super powers while listening to Riff Raff on the radio. It has the greatest soundtrack of any game with the addition of The Touch cementing it into the heavens of video gaming. It's an audacious game that is too similar to Saints Row: The Third most of the times. Who wants to drive cars around an open world when you can simply fly anywhere you want to?

6. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; Who doesn't love killing Metal Gears with an electric sword?

7. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies ; I adore the Phoenix Wright games so much that I had to put on Dual Destinies to my list. Ace Attorney 5 looks great on the 3DS and the story is excellent. The music continues to be fantastic as is tradition for the Ace Attorney games. I don't have any objections with putting this on my list.

8. Gunpoint ; Gunpoint is a fantastic stealth game with a well written story. The hook line mechanic is simply ingenious and led to a lot of great situations to solve.

9. Guacamelee! ; Guacamelee! plays like a classic Metroidvania game and does with style. The combat is a great mix of brawler and old school beat'em ups. It's a lot of fun and as a ton of collectables to get in order to power up your luchador.

10. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ; A rare game that combines both story and mechanics to create a memorable ending that you won't soon forget.
Jun 9, 2011
Been too busy with work to finish much, but I've been listening to OSTs a lot lately.

It's really fucking hard for me to decide my favorite soundtracks this year. Off the top of my head, I'm inclined towards two two way ties between Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and SMTIV for #1, and TLoU and Tearaway for #2... Mindful again of the fact that I didn't have the time to commit to MGR:R or EOIV this year :p


Feb 10, 2010
Just went back and dad to edit my top 10 because I just played through Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and the game was amazing. Definitely top 10 material.


Feb 21, 2012
Been too busy with work to finish much, but I've been listening to OSTs a lot lately.

It's really fucking hard for me to decide my favorite soundtracks this year. Off the top of my head, I'm inclined towards two two way ties between Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and SMTIV for #1, and TLoU and Tearaway for #2... Mindful again of the fact that I didn't have the time to commit to MGR:R or EOIV this year :p
I wouldn't recommend listening to MGR's soundtrack prior to actually playing the game, it's built into the encounters and creates a very strong association with the gameplay.
Jun 9, 2011
I wouldn't recommend listening to MGR's soundtrack prior to actually playing the game, it's built into the encounters and creates a very strong association with the gameplay.
Yeah, I honestly don't listen to soundtracks before playing games. For whatever reason, hearing music without context bothers me more than having endings spoiled.


Dec 31, 2012
1. Fire Emblem Awakening; just loved pretty much everything about this game. The gameplay was addicting and solid. The characters were very entertaining and the story was pretty good despite being sort of generic. The soundtrack was also great
2. Pokemon X/Y;
3. Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies; I played the first 3 earlier this year and they were really enjoyable. This seems to be more of the same
4. Etrian Odyssey 4;
5. Animal Crossing New Leaf;
6. Project X Zone;
7. Shin Megami Tensei 4;
8. Bit.Trip presents Runner 2;
9. XCOM: Enemy Within;
10. Long Live the Queen; I'm surprised that I liked this game so much, its a really addicting eperience trying to get the best results.
X. Game Dev Tycoon
2012: Thomas was Alone


Unconfirmed Member
Jun 4, 2013
some place
1. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; My number 1 game is a tough choice, but I've got to give it to SMT IV. That amazing transition early on in the game between spoilers
the method to explore the maps Mikado and Tokyo, as well as the differing thematic atmospheres of fantasy and post apocalyptic is masterfully accomplished, in my opinion
. The OST is my OST of the year (still waiting on that full OST release Atlus promised). The battle system and fusion mechanics are engaging and streamlined, and keep you involved with both processes. It's just an all around amazing game. Yeah, it has problems, but it's still my GOTY.

2 .Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan ; Another game I had no idea what I was really getting into. But wow was I impressed. I've never really played many dungeon crawlers outside of the SMT franchise, but EO IV really exposed me to more possibles regarding the genre. Like practically any Atlus game, the music is absolutely fantastic. Creating my own party really gives fuel to the imagination, and I can totally understand how someone came up with the idea for EO Untold. Having gone back and played all of the older EO games now, I can really appreciate how streamlined the series became by IV. Even small things like being able to use the L and R buttons to side step really help make the franchise feel more modernized as the series progresses. Going from III to I was a little challenging because of how bare bones I felt compared to III. Plus there's the franchise's defining feature of making your own maps. It really adds to the sense that you're actually adventuring in the dungeon. And that's not even mentioning those great character designs.

3. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; The characters are what make this game so entertaining. I never really played any FE other than Sacred Stones for about an hour on my friend's GBA so I really had no idea what I was in for. The incorporation of causal mode really helped me get familiar with the game before restarting on classic mode. For me, Awakening managed to make me genuinely care for the characters and forced me to strategically plan my next move so none of them would die. The content and sheer amount of maps and characters really added to the game's replay value, especially the free DLC that came out months after Awakening's release. I ended up replaying the game just to do all of those maps during one playthrough
Also, Lucina is best girl

4. Pokémon X and Y ; Maybe the idea of 3D Pokémon battles is old to me, but X and Y manage to do a better job of it than both Stadium games along with Colosseum and XD. X and Y fix a lot of the things I really didn't like about Black and White, including giving you the ability to have old Pokémon on your team before the Elite Four (even if the older gens are shoehorned in with the availability of the 1st gen starters), a consistently decent design level of the new Pokémon instead of having designs that are all over the spectrum (and being closer to the end of the spectrum at that), and making the game feel like it had a considerable amount of content. X/Y also help some of the older designs look better even. I really didn't like the designs of Elelektross and Druddigon, for example, but X/Y make them look rad. The animations also add to the design factor, with Stunfisk looking way better than in B/W because of the new movements. The addition of Mega forms is a welcome change that mixes up the old formula a bit. Even if some of the designs (Mega Heracross) look terrible, some look really great (Mega Charizard X). X/Y rekindled my interest in the series, and I'm definitely looking forward to the inevitable Z
and R/S/E remakes

5. Civilization V: Brave New World ; Civ games always devour a lot of my time. I was originally cautious of getting V and put off buying it until earlier this year when I got the gold edition. BNW improves upon that and makes Civ V feel like a complete game. Nothing really feels missing any more like it did even with the Gods & Kings expansion. The introduction of new civs into the game is always welcome and adds more play styles to the game. Plus you can finally play as civs that are new to the franchise, including Venice, Brazil, Poland, and Assyria, as well as reintroducing older civs left out of V, including the Zulus and Portugal. The improved Cultural Victory, with the addition of Great Writers and Musicians along with the introduction of the Great Works system adds a new layer to the game,
like an onion
. BNW is just a really good expansion pack.

6. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers ; Soul Hackers feels like a 90's game. It is a 90's JRPG and I'm very happy that not many changes were made to it. I really had a blast with the game and it was an excellent lead in to SMT IV. The music in the game is fantastic, from the opening to the Battle Theme to the Boss Themes, and the Arranged CD that came with the game is also amazing. The game also introduced me to its awesome Hyper Arrange album as well.

7. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag ; Ok, I was really expecting the AC IV to be garbage. I was completely wrong. IV fixes a lot of the problems I had with III. Like the Connor being dull and lacking the charm that really made Ezio interesting; Connor in a way felt like Altair 2.0 but almost worse somehow. Edward kinda feels more like an extension of Ezio rather than Connor, which is a very good thing. The pacing problem of AC III's bloated introduction is fixed. The naval combat feels even more solid than in III, and the exploration of the sea is a good substitute for the Frontier. IV doesn't feel nearly as buggy as III was at launch. The OSTis easily way better than III's. It just feels more fun overall than III. IV still has a lot of problems. One of my biggest personal gripes with the game is the lack of creepy/eerie sections. One of the few things III did right was include a few of these sections, the best example being the Edinburgh Castle, Jamaica section during one of the side missions. II did the same with a few of the Assassin Tombs and other areas, Brotherhood had the Lairs of Romulus, etc. AC IV really didn't have any of that save for a swamp. There's also a ton of pointless collectibles that literally award you with nothing, something that frustrates me since I tend to complete as much as possible in games. The actual towns didn't really feel that interesting. In short, IV is better than III, but not nearly as good as II.

8. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; While not as good as ALTTP, ALBW is one of the best handheld Zelda games since Link’s Awakening. Returning to ALTTP’s world is a great nostalgia trip and honestly is a huge reason why I really liked the game. The music is absolutely fantastic and catchy as well. I found the renting system was actually refreshing, though I hope that it doesn't return any time soon to the franchise.

9. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon ; Dark Moon is a fantastic sequel to the original Luigi's Mansion and was a great game. Though it did feel like it overstayed its welcome and I'm not a big fan of the mission structure of the game. Having played to 100% completion, some of the gems are in completely obtuse locations, which gets quite frustrating when you miss one and get locked out of the mission, having to play it again. The soundtrack is pretty good but nothing spectacular.

10. Deadly Premonition: Director's Cut ; I can't really justify putting this higher in my top ten simply because there's not a whole lot of new content. There is some new content, especially in regards to the narrative, it's just there could have been so much more. That being said, Deadly Premonition is one of the most interesting and perplexing video games in terms of design choices and narrative of 7th gen. It's that B-movie-esque charm mixed with Twin Peaks that just makes it so alluring to experience.
FK... in the coffee!
It's all thanks to this video that I even know what this game is. So good

2012. Xenoblade ; This game is the game I started my year off with and it's amazing. It has one of the best title screens ever in the history of gaming. It also has one of the best battle themes in all of gaming. Melia also may be one of my favorite characters in a JRPG.


Jun 14, 2011
1. DOTA 2; One of the best multiplayer games ever made. It has a ton of depth and the actual value you get out of it for absolutely no cost is insane. I've already put over 1200 hours and I have no plan on stopping.

2. Wonderful 101; Best action game this year. The combat is extremely satisfying once you master it, and the game has a ton of content. The game gets so crazy that you wonder how anything can top that level, and it does the very next one.

3. Super Mario 3D World; EAD Tokyo has hit it out of the park once again. The level design is great and the gameplay is very solid. Just when you think it's over the game throws even more content at you.

4. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance; The fact that this game turned out so good to begin with is amazing considering the short amount of time it was worked on, but then again it is platinum. If it wasn't for Wonderful 101, this would have been my favorite action game of the year.

5. The Last of Us; This game has a very good story. The story, characters and the world is what carries this game for me. Actually playing it wasn't very enjoyable a lot of the time. The wonky controls made a lot of the encounters very annoying. Still, I enjoyed it for the very great storytelling.


Oct 27, 2004
Nowhere, PA
1. Antichamber ; Games impress me for a wide variety of reasons, and lately several games have put my perspective on what makes a videogame truly great on its head. Antichamber, to me, represents a masterclass in game design that every aspiring developer should look at and learn from. Made by a single individual named Alexander Bruce, its use of Escher-like worlds and Non-Euclidean geometry consistently causes you to flex your brain in ways that seem counter-intuitive, but make instant sense within the confines of this brilliant game. It is all about the gameplay: from nearly the second you load up the game, you are thrust into play, with even the title screen acting as your hub room for which to continue your gameplay. Skills are acquired via visual cues and failed attempts at puzzles, proving once again that hand holding is unnecessary for incredible game design. A constant clicking clock eventually will have the most determined racing for speed runs. From start to finish, it's a title in love with being a game, and I was completely captivated.

2. Super Mario 3D World ; Given how impacted I was by Tearaway, this was probably the most difficult choice I had to make on the list. I was consistently going back and forth in my head about the pros and cons of one over the other. Ultimately, the decision rested purely in some of the 'pure game design' features Mario 3D World has. 3D World is about being the best platformer you could be: way too easy at first, it isn't long before the game is firing on all cylinders, consistently showing that there is STILL gas in this franchise, that Nintendo still knows how to outclass most other developers when it comes to platformers. Tearaway was just more disjointed overall, with less of a pristine focus. It made up for that with its captivating originality, but ultimately I put more weight into the art of pure game design and refinement. It's not setting the world on fire technically, but it's a hypnotically vibrant art direction that succeeds almost always and surely gives one cavities just from looking at all that sugar. But it's always those mechanics that separates it from the rest. Like an aging fighter who focuses on "technique, technique, technique", Mario 3D World (spoilers, late game) is like Peyton Manning at the line, outclassing its competitors by sheer force of will and that mind of a genius. The act of any movement in 3D World is like joy captured in a bottle, a sublime love letter to simple interaction that never once lets up... except when you mercilessly die in one of its end-game obstacle courses. Then it lets up. And laughs at you.

3. Tearaway ; This one broke my heart. If I had to point to a game which most shattered my cynicism this year, it'd have to be this game... and still, it went on and sold only 14k at retail, and probably a number not much better in digital. In short, it was a bomb. And yet, as I extensively detailed in this topic, even though it contains many things that I usually have problems with, the package together was one of the most effective and moving game experiences I've had in a long, long time. From its beautiful and completely original papercraft art direction to its wondrous photography system, from its inspired Vita functionality usages and its surprisingly tight platforming by the end, this is a game that demands a lasting impression from you and most of the time, if you participate, it will get that. It reminds me of what is possible in this little medium of ours.

4. Papers, Please ; I'm always joking that the reason I hate Animal Crossing is that it amounts to little more than a chore simulator: run around town doing tedious nonsense, 'press A' at one animal, 'press A' at another, and boom that's your game. Why do I want that in a game? And yet, Papers, Please is almost by definition a CHORE... and somehow, it's more engaging and entertaining that the vast majority of games I've played this year. Papers, Please takes a simple concept - you're a border agent in an oppressive dystopian state, and you must check to make sure people passing through have the proper documentation - and yet piles on and on the requirements, eventually turning your desk into a mass of conflicting papers and confusing labyrinthine red tape. Yet while you're balancing the need to make more money with your need to be accurate (or so help you God), you have to consider what it means for your family (less food, no heat, don't pay rent) or what it means for the people you're denying entry. I never expected to have these feelings when playing a game, but that's what makes it so effective for me. I enjoyed actually playing it as well, of course.

5. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; Since the first time I've played Fire Emblem (it was on the GBA), I've been in love with the series: from the tension of permanent death to the brilliantly tough yet fair battles which force you to genuinely strategize if you intend to make it through with everyone out alive. I also adored the little sprite animations back in the day, they were quite impressive. Fire Emblem: Awakening continues the series tradition, and in my estimation it's one of the best out of the series. I've never found the story remarkable in the games, but the back-and-forth is consistently engaging, and once again the flexibility in the games approach to strategy and the tension that is always present in the back of your mind allows this to remain one of my favorite games of the year.

6. The Last of Us ; My relationship with Naughty Dog is constantly in an up-or-down stance. I liked Jak, but some of the other games had issues. The cart game was also atrocious (or car combat game, whatever). I liked Crash II and Warped, but Crash 1 was seriously early days and doesn't hold up imo and yet its kart racing game remains one of the best ever made. I didn't love Uncharted 1 or 3, but I felt Uncharted 2 was the ultimate expression of what they intended to do with the series... basically, it put its best foot forward, and I'm not sure I can get more of the franchise. So with Last of Us, I was once again in a wait-and-see stance. Would this one click with me? Enthusiastically, the answer is 'yes.' Although I still ultimately ended up having problems with some of the details of its storytelling, it was an experience so tightly honed by Naughty Dog's experience over the years it is impossible to not walk away impressed. Its music was composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, which immediately made me ears perks. Its visual direction was so consistently astounding that one can only cross fingers that we can cross that next step and not have the game held back by PS3 hardware, ala framerate and AA. And best of all, it integrated its gameplay appropriately into the narrative: Joel's hands sway when holding weapons, there is great recoil when you shoot, when you get hit you're often put off your balance and unable to immediately respond. The physicality of the melee is often hard to watch, and yet absolutely appropriately given the scenario. Playing on its hardest difficulty, scrounging for supplies so you can barely make it through the next combat scenario, is highly tense and strikes just the right note of balance... not too difficult it feels cheap, but just right so that it feels like an accomplishment. A worthy effort.

7. Bioshock Infinite ; The thing that separates me from the backlash seems to simply be how tired or not I was of the combat system. I enjoyed the combat. It wasn't tier-A stuff, but if you appropriately mixed your vigors with your weapons, the system was surprisingly engaging and flexible. Sure, there were a few combinations that were overpowered, but at the same time if you play at hardest difficulty, it sort of begins to balance itself out. The enemy variety could stand to be increased, and there are all sorts of problems with the narrative... which is typical of games that involve some level of time manipulation. But the game succeeded for me on many levels. First, the level of effort that went into building the world of Infinite is astonishing, leaving an incredible impression from the second you enter. Reading all the little scraps of paper and overhearing the various conversations creates a vivid picture. Second, it has one of the most impressive art directions I've ever seen in a game. I spent like fifty hours in the game, almost all of that spent marveling at every nook and cranny the game had to offer. For me, this is incredibly important... I love feeling a world is lived-in or that someone lovingly crafted every aspect of the game. In a world like Infinite's, that also helps you learn about the philosophy of its denizens. But the benefit is spectacle; I marveled at it all. The bobbing and weaving buildings and creepily manned museums, it was a fascinating effect that - when combined with its gorgeous soundtrack - really was unforgettable. It's also the rare game which has a great ending to top the sundae with.

8. Pikmin 3 ; I do not need to explain exactly how much I anticipated this game. Pikmin 1 was like an early primer, but I never really fell in love with the concept. Pikmin 2, however, blew me away... and it quickly became one of my all-time favorite videogames. From its laugh-out-loud writing featuring Olimar's hilarious 'interpretations' of what items were, to its tight and refined level design and gameplay, controlling your characters were easy to learn and yet mastering it took time. To try to beat the game with none of your Pikmin dying, you had to also consider braving the randomized underworld which added layers to the unpredictability of the proceedings. The soundtrack was so gentle and relaxing, that it always lulled you into a sense of security you had no right to feel given that everything wants to kill your precious sweet Pikmin. What did Pikmin 3 do? Well, it was less hilarious, but it did not hurt for quality gameplay... the new Pikmin were almost all better additions to the cast than the ones in Pikmin 2, and the consistently novel level challenges and scenarios made it one of the most engaging experiences of the year. STILL, even though it's a third iteration, it feels as fresh as the first time I played the concept. Although I was disappointed that it still did not have the online presence I wanted since the day I finished Pikmin 2, it could not take away ultimately from how many ways the game succeeded for me.

9. Resogun ; Probably the purest game of the year. 1080p, 60fps. Nothing but you and a circular arena with endless waves of psychopath ships out to kill you, while you do nothing but desperately attempt to save all the locked up people. The level pops with insane lighting effects and their decision to build the universe out of voxels led to some of the most eye-popping level destruction yet put in a game, which each individual cube reflecting off the light sources and phasing out making you feel like the world's biggest badass. All about chasing that high score. Nothing between you and your goal but your skills acquired along the way. No use bitching about your loss except as a means to an end: I will fucking get better!

10. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ; This is yet another game that subverted my expectations and demanded I re-evaluate what it is that makes me enjoy a game. As I concluded in my Tearaway review, "Before, my idea was that games needed to be "fun", and to accomplish that the focus was always on the most efficient, tight and deep game design. I still believe many genres require that to work, I do. But I realized at some point very recently that to me "fun" was limiting what I could expect out of games, as were my requirements. I don't need games to be fun [as the only point]. What I need is a game to provide compelling escapism, an outlet to experience themes and people and ideas that I don't necessarily come across in my daily grind. Sometimes that may be at the behest of the sort of tight game design I've always endorsed. But other times, perhaps more rarely, that escapsim can succeed by just being about the sheer joy of playing, that nearly incommunicable spark that you get when you load up a truly memorable game title for which there are no peers and no way to properly ground the experience." This is the best way to understand why it click: the understated thematic approach to utilizing the videogame controller that synced with the narrative, the beautiful vistas and audio and sense of grand adventure... and most of all, when you play it with someone you love, it takes on a new feeling entirely. I played the game by using one side of the controller, my loved one the other side. If you know how the game concludes, you understand why this experience immediately took on a new perspective after playing that way. Simplistic puzzles and excessively linear design hold the game back somewhat, but I definitely felt like it stayed enough with me to just earn a spot. It's worth a check. Play with someone!


Oct 26, 2011
1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; Unlike perhaps a lot of fans, I don't really think this series has ever lost its step. Every Zelda has something to offer, and the formula is far more flexible than it has been given credit for. That being said, this is the freshest Zelda in years. It's snappy and well-paced, without any aspect feeling like a chore to slog through. The music is brilliant and even the story achieves a lot with very little.

2. The Last of Us ; Were it possible to have two games share the top spot, TLOU would deserve the honor alongside ALBW. TLOU feels like the culmination of Naughty Dog's attempts at creating the ultimate "narrative" or "cinematic" game. Where Uncharted left me cold with its uneasy fusion of mediocre wave-based gameplay, setpieces, and story, this feels so much better realized. The narrative and gameplay objectives complement each other perfectly.

3. Grant Theft Auto V ; Similar to ND and TLOU, I was never much of a fan of Rockstar. They made the same type of open-world game this gen, with boring mission design and obnoxious, unlikeable characters (and yet I continued to buy them). For some reason, despite all its similarities with previous Rockstar titles, they nailed it here. They figured out how to make missions and exploration "fun," impeccably replicated an incredible setting, and pretty much squeezed everything out of the PS3/360 that they could.

4. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; This game is completely different from anything else on this list. It isn't polished, for one. It has the usual Platinum jank, for another. And you can feel the weight of its rushed development behind almost every asset. Yet... it's just a damn good game. It has a great combat system, a marvelous usage of its soundtrack, and memorable boss fights. And the story, while ridiculous and sometimes veering dangerously close to flying off the abyss, maintains the series' tone while having some fun with it.

5. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies ; A great return to form after the somewhat troubled Apollo Justice (and arguably AAI). This game manages to mend the wounds of some of the more ill-conceived mechanics and plot direction of its predecessors, while refining the aspects that has always made this series great. The gameplay logic and conceits have been clarified and streamline things in a smart way, and the courtroom drama is the best it has been since Trials and Tribulations.

6. Batman: Arkham Origins ; Yes, it is more of the same from the previous game. Yes, it has some problems. But damn does it nail the feeling of being Batman and clobbering people. The improved boss fights and story made up for whatever retread there was.

7. Super Mario 3D World ; I wasn't as blown-away with this as much as I wanted to be, but I cannot deny how solid it is. Every level is brimming with original ideas and new ways to tackle them.

8. Battlefield 4 ; Time will tell where this ranks among the series' best, but I've enjoyed my time with this game so far.

9. Pikmin 3 ; While this game is already weirdly forgotten, I thought it was a great sequel to the original Pikmin, avoiding all the fluff and annoyance of the second. It retained the spirit of adventure and puzzlement, with new Pikmin types that were better thought-out than those introduced in Pikmin 2.


Jun 6, 2011
Great Brothers write up, Amirox. Reminds me when I was super young and my brother and I would individually play the left and right hand of a few computer games, or games like Jazz Jackrabbit 2 that had 2 players on one keyboard.


Oct 27, 2004
Nowhere, PA
Great Brothers write up, Amirox. Reminds me when I was super young and my brother and I would individually play the left and right hand of a few computer games, or games like Jazz Jackrabbit 2 that had 2 players on one keyboard.
Yeah, I was really surprised by how well it worked out. This year for me can best be defined as one where I had to really reevaluate what it is that draws me to videogames, and I think I've come to a more balanced place than I was before. I feel like the industry has grown a bit, and so have I.

I'm loving this requirement for people to describe why they chose games, fascinating read in this topic so far.


May contain jokes =>
Aug 21, 2006
1. Dota 2 ; What can I say? Take the kill/death focused, competitive nature of a Halo or Call of Duty. Mix it in with the character depth and breadth of matchups of a fighting game. Sprinkle in the leveling, skilling, and item-buying of an RPG. Top it all off with the steep learning curve and maximum skill-cap of a game like chess. What you're left with is Dota 2. Let me be clear: I never, ever thought I'd be playing a game like this. I never played Warcraft, or Starcraft. I laughed at people who devoted hundreds of hours to this game, and I laughed even harder at those who admitted they hadn't mastered it after such an investment of time. I could not have been more wrong. Yeah, the community can be abrasive, or downright nasty. Individual games can be so frustrating you want to scream. But when this game works... when you've got a good team of friends (or even strangers) fighting out a close game, or you're watching a genuinely thrilling professional match (trust me)... when Dota 2 works, it is damn near perfect. I've been playing for just over a year now, no end is in sight, and I cannot wait to see where the game goes from here.

2. The Last of Us ; I struggled with my top two. It's not really fair to The Last of Us that it had to be considered alongside Dota 2, something which feels like less of a video game and more of a separate hobby entirely. In any other year, this game would have easily taken first place. If this tediously drawn-out console generation got us only one thing, Naughty Dog being allowed to make a (likely) one-off new IP, then this game justified the whole affair. The Last of Us is one of the few true examples of great writing in video games, something I would be proud to hold up for examination alongside the more traditional media. Its characters were consistent and well-performed. Its world was interesting despite its "zombie apocalypse" premise. Its emotional arc was executed perfectly and the ending was bold, controversial, yet in my opinion flawless. The gameplay merely existed, was tedious on a couple occasions, but never got in the way of my enjoyment of this excellent tale.

3. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ; There are a lot of great games on this list, and a lot which didn't make it, but Brothers is probably the one I've thought about the most since completing it. Using a unique control scheme, you simultaneously control two brothers on their journey to save their father. You travel through a fantastical fairy tale land, filled with other people, giants, trolls, and other monsters. Brothers is a game of moments. Whether it's tossing a little girl's ball down a well, saving a man from hanging himself, traversing the bloody aftermath of a battle among giants, the older brother rescuing and then falling for a damsel in distress, or just sitting on a bench and enjoying the scenery, the game is packed with memorable scenes. It's truly a fairy tale at its heart, but a dark one, and it ends in devastating fashion. This game made me sad in ways I haven't felt since last year's The Walking Dead. In retrospect, this is a truly special game that I think everyone should experience.

4. Gone Home ; I didn't know what to expect from Gone Home. I knew it wasn't a ghost story, and I knew a lot of people really liked it. So I gave it a try, and finished it in that same sitting. In Gone Home, you play as a girl returning home from a long trip, but everyone is gone. Through a series of conveniently-placed diary entries from your sister Sam, you're told a story. The gameplay is nearly nonexistent, but the house, with its dark rooms, astonishing detail, and eerie atmosphere, had no trouble keeping my interest on its own. The story arc could not have been executed much better. As you explore, getting a clearer and clearer picture of this average yet seemingly profoundly broken family, you begin to realize this story is a love story, and a lesbian love story at that. It builds to a wonderful emotional climax, one that genuinely brought me to tears. Being a straight white male, I can't quite explain why this lesbian romance affected me so deeply, but I know it's something I won't soon forget.

5. Bioshock Infinite ; Zero expectations will be a bit of a theme in this year's list. I loved the original Bioshock, but then found the sequel to be fairly uninspired. What I'd heard and seen of this before release had left me utterly disinterested. To my pleasant surprise, Ken Levine and the team at Irrational came through again. The introduction to Columbia is every bit as amazing as the introduction to Rapture (maybe more), and absolutely gorgeous to boot. I thought the main plot arc, that of Booker and Elizabeth, Comstock, the Lutesces and their origins, was fantastic. Some of the surrounding stuff, such as the class warfare, was a bit undercooked and sloppy. The gameplay was better than the original game but still a bit of a chore at times. While not a perfect game by any means, there are enough incredible moments in this game to warrant this spot.

6. Papers, Please ; I followed the evolution of this game when it was a little barely-a-game thing on a website somewhere. It developed extremely slowly, but then suddenly after a period of no updates for a few months, the full game came out. Papers, Please is a game in which you man the border of an authoritarian country. You decide who gets to enter and who doesn't. You can toe the government line, or you could bend the rules for a particularly desperate entrant. The main story arc involves a resistance group's attempt to overthrow the government, and you can participate in this to any degree you wish. The various stories you make for yourself are interesting, the game offers genuinely difficult decisions, and I found the actual gameplay plenty enjoyable, though many didn't. In all, a really great, unique experience.

7. The Stanley Parable ; An indie game which came out of nowhere for me, The Stanley Parable is a great satirical take on games and game design. Though the number of possible outcomes is quite finite, it gives the impression of endless possibilities. The narration, both in writing and delivery, is nearly perfect. It also managed to appeal to my non-gamer girlfriend. For a game which could easily have turned out to be a disaster of inside jokes, that's about as big a compliment as there can be.

8. DmC: Devil May Cry ; I should say up front that I have absolutely no attachment to the DMC franchise. Lots of its fans hate this game. That very well may be justified. Having never played one before, I absolutely loved this game. The story is wacky in all the right ways, with some of the most unique and clever writing I've ever seen in a game. The combat was fun, mechanically solid, and deep without being intimidating. DmC was one of those games that I enjoyed every second of, and knew all along it'd make an appearance on this list.

9. Fire Emblem Awakening ; This was my first Fire Emblem game, and it couldn't have made a much better impression. A lot of comparisons have been made to XCOM, and while I could see that being annoying to long-term fans of the series it isn't too far off. This game did an even better job than XCOM of fostering an attachment to my troops, to the point where losing any of my main fighters was an unthinkable proposition. I also really enjoyed playing matchmaker among them. The game is challenging at times, lengthy without feeling bloated, with a great art style and solid mechanics. One of the best titles currently available on its platform.

10. Cook, Serve, Delicious ; I don't think there's a ton to say about this game, but I will say this: According to Steam I put 25 hours into this cooking simulator this year, and I definitely played a handful of hours before the Steam release. The art is fantastic, the process of assembling food could not be more satisfying, and it offers an honest challenge without being impossibly hard or janky (excluding maybe one or two food items). Simply a fun game.

x. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag ; Assassin's Creed IV is a true surprise if ever I've seen one. I always liked the series, but by Revelations the formula had become more than tired. I quit that game halfway through, and barely made a dent in AC3, which I found boring and extremely poorly-paced. So I didn't give this game a thought until after release, when I heard they had actually mixed the formula up this time. In ways, they certainly have. The pirate gameplay is almost universally great, and the game looks great (especially the water and more tropical locales) on PC. Even the story, what I've played of it, has been enjoyable. The series's less enjoyable aspects peek through at times with some missions, but overall I haven't had this much fun with an AC game since Brotherhood.

x. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; Nintendo's recent track record hasn't exactly shown a ton of creativity. So the announcement of this game, to me, seemed to represent another level of ridiculousness from a company that couldn't seem to stop going back to the well. It's ironic then that this latest Zelda game is one of the most inventive in a long time. I'm still not absolutely crazy about every mechanic, but there's no denying it's a wonderfully well-made game. Considering I still haven't been able to finish it, I may look back and wish I'd rated it more highly. For now it's a great game, especially considering my expectations for it.

x. Grand Theft Auto V ; There's a ton of praise you can bestow on Rockstar's last entry into this generation. It does an awful lot with the hardware it has available. It offers an insane amount of content in a dense, mostly-interesting world. Yet I'm not convinced that this game actually belonged in this generation. Yes, the graphical and technical achievements Rockstar managed are astounding, but only in the context of the limited power available to them. From an objective perspective the game runs pretty sluggishly, and pop-in was a particularly bad problem. Add on a disappointing online mode, a story which never lived up to its potential and fizzled out at the end, and you're left with a great game, but not one I'm willing to discuss among the true legends of the generation.

x. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ; I'm a fairly big Animal Crossing fan. I played the original game daily for over two years, but found the Wild World sequel boring by comparison. Having skipped City Folk, this game was a welcome return to the series for me. With the return of some sorely missing features from the original, along with new buildings, town customization and more, it's the best the series has ever been and I spent quite a lot of time playing it early this year. The game did fall off for me over time (though I hope to get back to it). Maybe it's true that you'll never have as much fun with an Animal Crossing game as you did with your first (whichever that is). Regardless, a fantastic game still with a few bothersome quirks, but well worth playing.

x. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger ; The Call of Juarez series has never been anything special, so it's not surprising, though still a shame, that this game was largely overlooked. The shootbang mechanics are solid and satisfying, but those hardly make this game what it is. Its unique appeal lies in the frame-story narration, in which an elderly gunslinger brags of his exploits at a bar, guiding the events as you experience them. On occasion, a younger listener in the bar might begin narrating the events as he's heard them fantastically told while you play through them, before having the main character interrupt and rewind so you go through events as they actually happened. Just one example of the kind of really clever writing that makes this game well worth playing.


Nov 8, 2008
1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; After Skyward Sword, I seriously doubted whether Aonuma and Nintendo could ever make a great Zelda game again. I'm extremely happy to say that ALBW delivered by cutting all the crap that made SS such a slog. After a very brief intro, you're off into a world that's at once familiar, but different enough to scratch an exploration itch. The rental system and un-ordered dungeons made both my playthroughs different and fresh. The music is godlike of course, and the graphics look great (not just good, or fine, but great) in the 60 fps 3D. It's just an incredibly tight, fluid gameplay experience. Not only my GOTY this year, but one of my favorite Zelda titles ever.

2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ; How could such a deeply-flawed game place #2 on my goty list? Well, despite the plethora of minor fixes that need to be made to make the game better, it's very good at providing a slow IV drip of new public works projects, events, items, and other collectibles that reward visiting your town each day. It's a slow burn, but seeing your town or house come together the way you want it after weeks or months of planning is especially rewarding. However, part of what made this game so rewarding for me to play was the AC community here on GAF who have been active and helpful ever since I got the game. Playing with the community really helps the game shine and I encourage everyone interested to post over in that thread.

3. Pikmin 3 ; For a supposedly up-res'd Wii game, this game incredibly beautiful. I'm not really into resource management/RTS games, but the beautiful visuals, relaxing music, and garden-esque nature of the levels just clicked for me. Watching some videos of the DLC levels and speed runs has given me some greater appreciation for the underlying RTS elements as well, though I don't think I'll even try to be that good at the game.

4. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D ; Having lost my Wii save about halfway through the game before, this was my first time all the way through Donkey Kong Country Returns. I knew it was good when I played it for Wii, but it's easily an all-time heavy weight great as far as platformers go. Although the game only runs at 30 fps, it never impacted my play, and overall I think this is an incredibly admirable port of a fantastic game that looks great in 3D.

5. New Super Luigi U ; More of the best 2D Mario game is good. 80+ levels of the best 2D Mario game is awesome. Luigi takes some getting used to, but once you do, I actually think this is a little easier than NSMB U, also factoring in the shorter levels. Were it not for the fact I gave NSMB U my goty last year and the fact no additional challenge levels were included, I could easily have put this at my #1 this year. Who knows? I might still edit it up to #1.

6. Hotline Miami (Vita) ; "Do you enjoy hurting people?" When faced with this question on my second playthrough of Hotline Miami, I had to admit: Yes, I enjoy hurting the little digital mobsters in this game. And for good reason. Boiled down to its gameplay essentials, HM is a very fun twin stick shooter with combos and score attack gameplay. With its 80s drenched aesthetic trappings, it's also a beautiful game to look at and listen to, even if what's represented on screen is supposed to be dozens of grisly serial murders. The dissonance between my enjoyment and the brutality depicted on-screen made me think about my motives and behavior as a player in a way I hadn't since MGS2. Do people become savage, murderous animals when they don the mask, or is that who they really are? I think I enjoyed the ambiguity of the "That's it?" ending more than puzzle ending because it promoted more thought about what players had been doing the whole time. Anyways, add a daily challenge and some randomly-generated level modes for the sequel and you've got another goty contender.

7. Luigi's Mansion 2: Dark Moon ; Gorgeous game that is an admirable sequel to the original. I miss the portraits ghosts from the original and think the multiplayer is ho-hum, but otherwise I think the dev did a great job adapting the Luigi's Mansion formula for a portable experience. Luigi's charming little animations are also some of the best I saw all year.

8. Pokemon X/Y ; Coming off B2/W2, it's a disappointment. However, although the game is a mess technically and is lacking in post-game content, the new Pokemon models look great and the battling and collecting are still as addictive as ever.

9. Super Mario 3D World ; I think the 3D Land/World games are fundamentally flawed from a design perspective. The isometric view just doesn't allow for great platforming, and I spent most of the game battling the camera rather than Koopas. That said, it's a charming game with great music and visuals that's still quite fun to play.

10. Spelunky (Vita) ; Just a great platformer that demands skill and is well-suited to quick pick-up-and-play sessions.

2012. Pokemon Black 2/White 2 ; My re-introduction to Pokemon having not played one since Diamond. Fantastically snappy menus and battles, tons of Pokemon, tons of content. The best Pokemon to date, imo.

x. Lumines: Electronic Symphony ; Great soundtrack, same great puzzling.

x. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 ; I voted for it last year. Still very fun.

Still Shit. Skyrim PS3 ; Never forget.


Jan 1, 2011

1. Pikmin 3 ; To me Pikmin 3 is the true realization of the Pikmin concept, the first two games showed plenty of potential but didn’t quite take the idea to the top, third times the charm though as Pikmin 3 ties all the strengths of the first two games together with its own additions to the formula to deliver the definitive Pikmin game.
The world of Pikmin 3 is stunningly realized, using the hardware boost it has over the previous duo to deliver an environment that is a much more convincing close up encounter of a world like ours where puddles become ponds, flowers tower over the ground like trees and sandcastles make gate fortifications. A manner of strange creatures populate this altered version of our gardens mirroring the creepy crawlies of reality with a typically Nintendo like twist that makes even the beasts devouring your pikmin almost endearing themselves with the care put into each movement they make whether idle or on the attack. Pikmin 3 isn’t a case of conquest but of survival, the cutesy style hides an almost fascinating look at nature, a journey out into the wilderness is one primarily focused on exploration where all manner of beasts roam just living their daily lives as opposed to being outright enemies but Pikmin make for some tasty grub and it’s kill or be killed. Each map area gradually expands and connects as the daily expeditions make further progress scratching that explorative itch in a structured manner almost reminiscent of a Metroidvania.

The gameplay benefits greatly from the Wii Remote pointers precision and while the Gamepad may be relegated to a map and information holder under this control scheme it’s a handy tool for surveying the environment and route planning. Three captain characters on hand to command the Pikmin open up greater multi tasking and basic puzzle opportunities yet what they add the most for me is a stronger helping of character that the former leading man Olimar lacked a little, There’s more of an enjoyable group dynamic and Brittany’s analysis on fruit is more amusing than it has any right to be. All five types of pikmin have an instrumental role to play making the new Winged and Rock Pikmin more integral to the formula than the previous Pikmin 2 additions of White and Purple, they feel that much more well integrated into the game by comparison.

Even when the main game is done the missions provide a greater opportunity to really push your skills and then there’s the hidden gem of the entire game, the camera function, “Pikmin Snap” is fantastically compelling and became a separate mode for me in its own right. It’s not a 10 out of 10 masterpiece but it is incredibly engaging and excellently executes its twist on the RTS formula with a ton of polish.

2. The Wonderful 101 ; Escalation is always a fun theme to see tackled in games and W101 is a nonstop ascension of crazy where the action constantly ramps up and up into the aether continually topping itself as it goes leading to one of the strongest game finales I’ve ever had the pleasure of partaking in, it’s the kind of game that has you put down the controller when it’s over and think “that was bloody amazing”, then you pick the controller straight back up and dive in on the next difficulty level armed with greater knowledge. W101 is tough nut to crack at first, you get out what you put in and there is a pretty brutal learning process where even your victories tend to get punctuated by a low rank that can be deflating. Give it time though and you’ll be well rewarded as the games various combat options gradually open up, the understanding of the varied enemies attack patterns and weaknesses come to light and then when it all clicks into place you’ll become won-stoppable as they say and worthy of your role as member 101, an esteemed warrior of Dearth.

Wonderful 101 handles the more towering of bosses with a level of mastery I don’t witness too often, part spectacle and part intense battle making use of all the tools at your disposal they complement the games unique combat focus of keeping control of your unit and applying the numerical strength of them accordingly, W101 is like entering the alternative universe of action games where the throw downs against giant behemoths are preferable to similarly matched rival encounters, where controlling a versatile group unit through more simple fighting commands has taken precedence over a lone warrior packing a tome of more complex combos. It’s this angle that sets W101 out from the crowd as well as it’s unite morph concept, there’s a joy to be had rolling into a giant spiked ball, bursting forth as a rocket and then dropping down from the sky as a killer tombstone. The plot and characters are delightfully realized (except Luka, the annoying brat) resembling a fun fuelled cartoonish battle between heroes and villains under the simple guise of an alien invasion that’s more engaging than I’d expect from such a standard premise. The bottom line here is that the game is indeed Wonderful.

3. Rayman Legends ; Intertwining the locales of various folklore with the comical absurdities of Rayman’s anything goes world provides an interesting set of backdrops for Rayman’s latest adventure, only in this twisted land can you clamber up beanstalks to the remnants of a cloud covered castle in the sky only to find it overrun by spy themed laser touting henchman toads, oh so that’s why it’s called an invasion stage.
Rayman wears his trademark wackiness on his sleeve, well if he actually had any sleeves that is, Legends takes you from food filled fiestas in the land of the dead to stealthy underwater spy spoofing which in turn makes me wonder just what kind of fables the team at Ubisoft grew up with.

There’s an ever present air of playfulness and ecstasy in every facet of Legends, the way the expressive cast of characters animate in such a gloriously goofy manner, the stage concepts that include being pursued by a manic laughing luchador through an obstacle course of deadly cake and a madcap soundtrack bringing kazoos and medieval fanfares together at last, it positively revels in the absurdity.
Multiplayer multiplies the madness further where players help each other towards the common goal until you slap one of them into a pit and the Murfy user decides to use their unique level shifting powers for personal amusement at the expense of others, well if anything else you’ll remain united in laughter while secretly plotting your revenge scheme. Speaking of Murfy his stages are Legend’s double edged sword, often a bit tedious in single player yet wonderful and inventive in multiplayer taking full advantage of asymmetric play.

Legends has a strong sense of flow to its platforming gameplay, tweaks to its predecessor in both character control and level design help reinforce this leading to a smoother playing experience. Though the main game may feel a tad short lived it uses the time it has to burn ever so brightly where each stage has something of its own to trumpet, beyond this main attraction lies a host of side content for those craving more and when a game plays this well you will crave more, those invasion stages mentioned earlier? They’re what truly put the game over offering some excellent bite sized platforming challenges to round out the overall package.

4. Super Mario 3D World ; It’s a him, once again, the plumber sure gets around these days and continues to be bouncing around the upper ranks of my GotY lists like he’s chaining one ups off each potential list entrant since 2010 to maintain altitude. It’s a testament to the strength of 3D World that even with some franchise fatigue nipping at his heels Mario is still more than capable of captivating me with another round of finely tuned platforming challenges that still have plenty of new ideas in play.

3D World operates as a masterclass of platforming design that manages to bridge elements of both 2D and 3D Mario games together alongside accommodation for multiplayer and have it all function as a perfect whole, one half Mario’s greatest hits bringing back various familiar design elements and mechanics, the other half being a parade of fresh features executed with aplomb that slot seamlessly into the formula. Something seemingly simple like the Cat Suit presents plenty of options as to how you can approach a stage with its wall clambering and dive bombing tricks opening up new paths for those that are adventurous, or maybe you just want to use the crouch button to prowl around revelling in this new form and witnessing the changes to the standard animations to authenticate the transformation complete with an Italian man meowing, well I never said Mario wasn’t an odd fellow, plus he’s brought some other oddballs who like dressing up with him this time as well to divert attention away from himself. The important thing about this is that Toad is finally back in all his speedy shroom incarnation and that’s what counts, you can leave your princesses in another castle and lanky bros to vacuum their mansion because the most fun comes as the fast fungus, actually on second thoughts bring the others along as well because the more the merrier, just keep your hands off my shroom so to speak. There’s one stage midway through the game called searchlight sneak which in single player is a stealthy sprint past searchlights to avoid a bullet bill barrage but in multiplayer they might as well call it searchlight scramble as everyone inevitably unleashes the bill bombardment and creates a whole new hectic dynamic to the stage, the single and multiplayer offerings deliver two different experiences but each is a side of the same coin and either way there’s plenty of fun times to be had. Each stage offers something different from the last, mystery houses on the map present quickfire platforming challenges like someone spilled some Wario Ware in my Mario and there’s perfect execution of the genre every step of the way.
In a way the name Super Mario 3D World is fitting, in the world of 3D platformers in particular dare I say Mario’s reign is undisputed, the 3D World is his world and games such as this one present why.

5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; The worlds of Hyrule and Lorule aren’t the only pair linked in this Zelda outing, a classic entry from the past is linked to the modern day and as a result design elements from top down Zelda games meet with their present 3D counterparts creating a hybrid world that feels both refreshing yet familiar. ALBW looks back to the basics as for how it can reinvigorate the series formula while remaining true to the core of Zelda, to regain the sense of open exploration and pacing lost over entries in recent years. The land of Hyrule from A Link to the Past serves as a safe overworld in which to initiate this experiment and while a truly new overwold map would have elevated the game further in my eyes A Link Between Worlds does very well to reinvigorate the well-trodden map with just the right blend of new details alongside nostalgic throwbacks, some of which subverting expectations based upon the original adventure in this particular Hyrule.

A Link Between Worlds is quite possibly the smoothest playing and most moreish Zelda experience of them all making it perfectly suited to handheld play, elements of the series polished to a fine sheen right down to snappy character control and fast flowing dungeons. The item rental system presents you with greater choice of how you want to tackle things in both the overworld and for dungeons, even the seemingly overwhelming collectathon side quest is handled in a rewarding and enjoyable way. My first thought upon this games reveal was that this entry didn’t really have a strong angle to go for and looked to cash in on its past for a quick fix yet as it stands this game surpasses A Link to the Past for me and shows there’s still plenty that top down Zelda can bring to the table, Link’s wall traversing antics slot in perfectly with puzzle design taking advantage of existing Zelda puzzle tropes and multi-tiered area layouts to add a new dynamic to dungeons. ALBW is simply a masterfully crafted helping of the Zelda formula that trims the fat in the right places, streamlined and sublime and I hope future entries will follow in its footsteps, sometimes going back to review the fundamentals is one of the strongest moves you can make.

6. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies ; While it hasn’t been too long since I was last able to thrust Wright’s attorney badge into the face of anyone related to a case it’s been long enough that Wright’s return to the courtroom feels like a homecoming, greeted with the comforting embrace of dramatic desk slamming and finger pointing theatrics, welcome back old friend. Said courtroom theatrics are now more expressive and dynamic than ever before as the series makes the jump to 3D models with such finesse you’d wonder why anyone feared the shift with an array of animations bringing greater life to the characters within than the sprites of yesteryear. On the whole Dual Destinies serves as more of the same with a few tweaks here and there such as the streamlining of investigation sequences, another lawyer specific gimmick with the mood matrix to add more variety to courtroom proceedings and a more overarching plot element in line with the Ace Attorney Investigations spinoffs.

Of course all I really need to pull me back in is another round of mysterious cases supported by a quirky cast to match and Dual Destinies delivers more than enough of that, in a sense it’s kind of tricky to explain the appeal of the series and this game in particular to those who don’t already know. I’d like to think the appeal of shattering someone’s filthy lies through the sublime art of presenting damning evidence causing them to breakdown on the spot while empowering music blares triumphantly into your ears would be universal, and then suddenly swerves are afoot and in but a single moment you find yourself back on the defensive with all you worked towards crumbling away but they can’t escape from the truth and when it manifests no matter how absurd the following objection will always be the sweetest.

7. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate ; Nothing brings around true camaraderie in the multiplayer gaming space quite like a group of likeminded fellows bludgeoning beasts into oblivion and wearing their craniums as a helmet. Usually in a GotY list I’d leave expansion games like this one aside in favour of something truly new but they don’t call it Ultimate for nothing, MH3 has returned with such an array of extra content on display that 2010’s Monster Hunter Tri looks like a mere demo for this. My platform of choice was the 3DS because while online is nice nothing can match up to the local multiplayer experience and as such my journey through MH3U is a shared one for the most part.
At its core I think of MH as the boss rush to end all boss rushes, a gauntlet of monstrous opponents each with their own fighting styles leading to many a knock down drag out slobberknocker where victory is achieved through having both an understanding of your opponent and in the preparation before you even set foot into their domain. As the intensity ramps up and the monsters become more aggressive true teamwork is required to rise to the challenge where success comes from working as a well-oiled unit. The monsters themselves are worthy of praise, roaming around with convincing mannerisms and each host to an array of attacks that sell their ferocity and design concepts. Perhaps the most fearsome creature of all is the one that devours your time with such ease which is to say MH3U is truly a beast itself and you know what? I still haven’t entirely conquered it so the hunts must go on.

8. Tearaway ; To hold a world in your hands and glance down upon it as an omnipotent being grinning stupidly through the sun, at last I have ascended to Godhood and this is how I’m going to live out the dream. The handcrafted world of Tearaway is truly a sight to behold as the environment unravels itself before your eyes in convincing papery fashion aided further through a distinct stop motion style, it lives and breathes its art direction and applies it to the gameplay as well taking it a step above being just a neat visual. Tearaway brings all its core ideas together in such a cohesive fashion that it has to be applauded, it’s as if the Vita represents the world itself and you can manipulate various aspects of it through the consoles touch and gyro mechanics, you also whip up some little papercrafts or design elements to place in the world as per your own liking which brings the games visual style together with your own creativity and as a result the world and journey the messenger takes is distinctly yours. It’s like a game of two roles as you both control the messenger Iota or Atoi with the standard buttons and assist as a higher power via the handhelds more unique inputs that affect the environment, Tearway is successful and making the player holding the handheld feel like part of the world , it’s story and integral to game progression.

The more traditional aspects of Tearaway’s gameplay is simple yet satisfying with light platforming and item collecting that takes me back to the olden days of 3D mascot platformers, simply strolling around as Atoi (preferred design, sorry Iota) and taking in the sights is a joy in itself installing a sense of childlike glee at times leading to jumping up and down in puddles to watch the splashes of coiled paper unfurl. At its heart Tearaway is a whimsical journey of sorts, it takes you across a variety of lands and doesn’t aim to truly tax the player, it just wants you to have a good time, leave you with some pleasant memories and then have you present a slideshow of your in game snapshots to your relatives….okay maybe scratch that last one.

9. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; Never before has my strategy involved such tactical matchmaking by virtue of the Pair Up mechanic, so many angles to consider. Maybe you’ll place the slow unit with the speedy one to help cover each of the duos weaknesses, perhaps they’re an unlikely pair united by chance on the field of battle to get each other out of a reinforcement induced pickle and something about it just works. Then suddenly it’s not just about bros on the battlefield, marital bonds will be forged and for what purpose will the members of your army tie the knot? Are you one to try and create the perfect offspring through eugenics for future glory? Or perhaps a pair of characters support conversations won you over and this is what you envision to be their happy ending. In any case every tactician will have their own unique story to share, their own tide turning team of two, perhaps even their own tragic tales of a couple separated by death and powerful warriors slain by a rogue critical hit. The basic narrative of Awakening isn’t that special, it’s your tale told through many hard fought battles that create that enduring story and the one you’ll remember when the land is once again at peace and the participants in this performance set down their weapons at last.
Until of course you delve into the additional maps, it’s not so much returning to military duty as it’s a family reunion.

10. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; I thought it was impossible for me to enjoy the antics of cyborg Raiden, in MGS4 I was just a spectator to over the top displays of combat that reeked of desperation to change perception of the character along with whatever dialogue he was spewing. The key difference in Rising is that I AM the crazy antics of cyborg Raiden and on top of that the dialogue just embraces the cheese even if Raiden talks like he has a perpetual sore throat (hey didn’t I say the same about Asura last year?). Of all the games in this list this is the one where I could easily reel off a list of things that irk me about the game design at times and it shows the signs of its troubled development yet it’s counteracted by being a game that makes me feel incredibly empowered through the use of dynamic music, a simple and effective combat system that brings offense and defense close together and a barrage of intense situations that have mastered the usage of QTEs as an aid to the experience as opposed to being the scourge of it. Rising’s balls to the wall action is its greatest asset and it uses its short run time to deliver a fast paced and incredibly replayable action game where the bosses serve as the crowning glory that encapsulate the Rising experience of feeling incredibly awesome and none more so than the final encounter which embodies Rising’s spirit in every way. I think the sequel potential here is huge, give Platinum more time and they’ll take Rising to the next level.

x. Pokemon X/Y ; Arriving at the Elite 4 for the umpteenth time playing a recurring role as the soon to be Pokemon league champion I had a grin wider than usual for this time represented a small but notable change in tradition, this time I wouldn’t be walking straight back out of the building in order to grind levels for my traditionally even leveled team of six allies for the final challenge. The power of the new and improved exp share had saved me the endgame tedium of every pokemon game I’d ever played and it felt great, when it comes to a series like pokemon that makes gradual progress forward retaining a similar core it truly is the little things like this that make all the difference. X/Y is so close to being the series strongest outing but as usual I’ll have to wait for the updated return trip to Kalos for Gen 6 to reach its true potential and beef up that lacking post game, in the meantime though HAWLUCHA!

x. The Last of Us ; When I think back to TLOU I don’t recall strong feelings towards its narrative and it’s very well realized zombie apocalypse setting, it’s all handled strongly but the overall theme does nothing much for me at all. Yet here it stands as a game I very much enjoyed on the strength of its core gameplay which might be my biggest surprise this year. TLOU handles its combat encounters in a gripping fashion, removing many of the things that irk me about some modern TPS games like regenerating health and spongy enemies, it packs a fantastically frightening punch with gunplay that both wavers and has a sense of weight behind it, stealth that made me genuinely tense among the mutated creatures of the dark and most importantly of all it made melee so thoroughly satisfying and viable. If anything sold me on the bleak survival theme of this game it was sprinting up to a thug with a brick in hand and straight up obliterating their skull with an almighty wallop of blunt force trauma, it’s unrelenting, it’s grisly yet it’s oh so satisfying. The gameplay authenticates the theme and works with the cinematics to tell the tale, it may not entirely be my scene but I can tell that they achieved in what they set out to do.

x. Spelunky ; In my mind I kind of consider this a game from last year but it seems to count in which case I'll just say that randomly generated level design has no right to work this well and that multiplayer delivers the belly laughs from every demise, incredibly replayable.

2012. Hotline Miami ; Frantic and violent gameplay where the gap between life and death feels ever so thin, you die and retry until everything comes together with perfect execution leaving a bloody path of destruction in your wake.


Sep 30, 2013
1. The Last of Us; I really didn't want to put this at first. There were so many great games released this year deserving of GOTY that I wish I could put at 1, especially considering I know everyone else will be putting this first. But if The Last of Us was any lower than 1, I know I'd be lying to myself; it's just that good.
Ellie and Joel's journey was perfect in almost every aspect: story,character development, world design, gameplay, and more. And yes, I did enjoy the gameplay that so many others seem to find disappointing. Scrounging for materials to just barely get by and trying to plan out the perfect stealth routes in each area was a stressful and yet fantastic experience. My first playthrough was on normal with listening, but having to go through the game with little to no room for error and no listening on survival was even better. IMO, Survivor should have been a default option. I would have loved to go through the game in such difficult conditions without knowing what was ahead.
As for the story, it was perfect. It's definitely a contender for best story in a video game ever, right up there with Mother 3 and a few others. I really cared for Ellie and (to a lesser extent) Joel during the game, and seeing them come together in a father-daughter sort of relationship was touching, but also a bit depressing. By the end it seemed like Joel had fallen into a state of denial over his daughter's death, using Ellie as a substitute to keep himself stable. Nonetheless I thought just about everything about the story from start to end was perfect.
My only gripe might be with the stalkers, which were a bitch to kill and came in a huge group. Stealth was basically impossible with them, making fighting them in survival mode stupidly difficult.

2. Super Mario 3D World; Welcome back EAD Tokyo! I was one of the many to judge this game unfairly too early on, but damn did they prove me wrong. Super Mario 3D World is everything 3D Land should've been, and then even better. It's the perfect marriage of the galaxy games and Super Mario Bros 3/World, even adding plenty of its own twists. Unlike 3D Land it has new and interesting Bowser fights, has real bosses that are not named Boom Boom or Wendy (though those 2 are still around, and need to dissapear), introduces new level themes and power ups, and best of all, has multiplayer. Nothing in this game ever felt stale, since every level in world is unique, abandoning the typical "every world in the snow world is snow themed" idea, for the better. Even when you reach the end of the game, it keeps on giving with its fantastic post-game worlds, and even has a special treat in one the hardest Mario levels ever at the end.
Super Mario 3D World is the reason to own a Wii U.

3. The Wonderful 101; When I think of over-the-top, the first thing that comes to mind is Gurren Lagann. But after playing The Wonderful 101, I've found a second thing to define the term. Every time you think The Wonderful 101 has reached its peak of insanity, it finds a way to 1-up itself. "Fighting a giant robot cool enough? Nope, try a giant dragon. Actually, how bout you chop this alien commander in half with his own sword after shooting him through the chest with a giant arrow? By the way, this is just operation 001." Seriously, predicting where this game will go next is impossible.
But of course, the real meat of the game was the gameplay, and it certainly delivered. I've never really touched the action genre before (except for Okami, but that was easy), so this game was a big surprise to me. It took a bit of time for things to click-probably not until operation 003-but when it did it was simply wonderful. Even though I'm pretty sure I sucked at the game from start to finish, playing around with basic combos and finding strategies to quickly dispatch of enemies was fun. And even better, the game is difficult-more so than any game I've played in a long time. It forces you to get good or die, something I wish more games would follow. As for the story, it was surprisingly good for a story I heard was "nonsense."
The game does have quite a few problems though; the game has problems distinguishing between unite morphs often (especially between claw and whip), some of the minigame-type sections are pretty awful or just way too long, and I often felt like enemies had too much health. I don't want to just beat on enemy for 5 minutes straight when it has a repetitive pattern that has little chance of hitting me anyway. Thankfully this is mostly gone by the late game, and only seemed to be a problem in the earlier half. Despite all this, Wonderful 101 is a must-play for Wii U owners.

4. Pokemon X/Y; Well, it's no Black/White 2, but Pokemon's introduction into Gen 6 has been one of their best yet. Despite a few performance flaws, the jump to 3D has been great; Pokemon feels like it should have moved into 3D ages ago. I certainly don't miss sprites. The pokemon designs are top-notch this time around too, making this one of best looking gens yet. This may be the first time I can count pokemon designs I dislike one hand. The quality of the pokemon completely makes up for the smaller amount added, so I hope they continue this trend in the future. The new fairy type is a very welcome addition as well. I wasn't sure if it would even be necessary at first, but my Sylveon and Gardevoir proved me wrong, they're well balanced, have unique type advantages and weaknesses, and are plenty useful in battle. Lastly, the changes to competitive breeding and battling in gen 6 are invaluable. For the first time, even I can make a perfect pokemon and build an actually viable team for battle. There are quite a few issues with difficulty, Team Flare, the story, and content (which will all hopefully be fixed in the inevitable Z!), but despite all this Pokemon X/Y is still a really enjoyable game and one of the greats of 2013.

5. Rayman Legends; This is the game that originally tempted me to buy a Wii U (back when it was Wii U exclusive), and it's finally paid off. Just didn't expect it to be the lowest Wii U title on this list! Basically, it's more Rayman Origins, but with streamlined collecting, bigger and better bossfights, more interesting takes on level themes, and the music levels. Oh my god, the music levels. Talk about a fantastic idea to add onto an already amazing game, these levels were the best in the game, including the 8-bit remixes-I actually enjoyed being forced to use the sound over my sight. The only thing missing in this game was a stand out ridiculously difficult level like Origins's Land of the Livid Dead. If this game got as hard as Origins did, it might be a bit higher on this list. Still, it's a great to sequel to an already great game.

6. Animal Crossing: New Leaf; This was my first serious attempt at playing an Animal Crossing game, and it's certainly different. It took a while for me to "get" what the game was about, but after a few nights in my town I finally did. It's a relaxing experience, and meant to be taken slowly. Right now I'm still slowly building up my town, and seeing what my friends have done to theirs, I know I have a lot of work left to do. The game is loaded with content, and really enjoyable if you're not expecting to move through it quickly.

2012. Pokemon Black 2/White 2; Wasn't on NeoGAF last year for voting, but I can't let this game go without getting credit! Black/White 2 is the culmination of everything right in Pokemon, getting very little wrong like GameFreak often does. It's the best pokemon title since gen 2 (excluding remakes), and for good reason. It has the best gym designs (and the individual gym music is the best idea ever, why is it not in XY?), the biggest selection of pokemon available in the main game(only beaten by Pokemon XY), adds plenty of new areas to Unova, and puts interesting twists on the old ones from BW1. Best of all, it makes the already awesome Team Plasma even better, adding Colress, improving their music, making them a more obvious threat, and even having some small twists near the end. Let's not forget the difficulty either; hard mode makes the game an actual challenge, making some gym leaders (fucking Elesa) and bosses require multiple attempts, something rarely seen in a pokemon game. Black/White 2 also has one of the best postgames ever, bringing back every gym leader from every generation, as well as the old champions and even Red in the Pokemon World Tournament. What a spectacular finale. It's the definitive modern Pokemon game.

My only regret this year is that I couldn't play more of the great games released this year.
Apr 10, 2008
Buenos Aires
I had longer comments typed up but it got erased due to token expiring or whatever, so here it is:

1. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D ; cool platformer

2. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team ; cool RPG

3. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon ; cool action/adventure

4. Volgarr the Viking ; biggest surprise of the year for me. A great action-platformer in the vein of Castlevania or Ghosts n' Gouls, but without much of the randomness of those. While I stop playing those after I complete, Volgarr is just FUN to play. I even got all endings in both versions (the first one had a longer stage 2 which was shortened due to player's complaints)

5. Rayman Legends ; I didn't like it as much as Origins, but no doubt it's still a great platformer.

6. Witch's Cat ; Rabi Laby series continues to be great. If you like puzzle/platformers you owe to yourself to try it out.

7. Guacamelee! Gold Edition ; as a Metroid-like it's pretty poor, but as a brawler/platformer hybrid it delivers. Combat is not overly complex but satisfying and it cointains some great platforming sections. I was dissapointed by the extra content (El Diablo stages) though, they platforming stages were fairly uninteresting.

8. Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move ; a clever puzzle game that borrows the basic concept of Pipe Mania. I didn't like it much at first but once I got better I began to appreciate what it was going for.

9. DuckTales Remastered ;

10. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ; it would be probably #1 or #2 if it was my first Animal Crossing, but I played the GC and DS ones to death. It does introduce many new aspects, but the core experience is the same.

Special Mentions:
x. Mighty Switch Force 2
x. Gunman Clive
x. Disney Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse
x. Rayman Fiesta Run
x. SteamWorld Dig

Would probably have made it if I had played them:
Zelda ALBW - haven't got it yet
Phoenix Wright 5 - I'm not paying $30 for a digital game, especially with that account system
Super Mario 3D World - no Wii U
New Super Luigi U - no Wii U


Dec 6, 2012
1. The Last of Us; Great mix of gameplay, cinematics and characters that I actually cared about.

2. Dragon's Crown

3. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

4. Guacamelee

2012. La-Mulana; The only good "metroidvania" type of game ever made and one of my favorite games of all time.


Sep 8, 2006
Silicon Valley, California
1. GTA V ; I've spent hours just running around the open world . . . racing cars, flying planes, skydiving, jet-skiing, hunting, getting chased, picking up hitch-hikers, etc. Oh . . . and the main storyline is awesome too. I totally lost it when I 'jacked a semi-truck and the radio started playing "Convoy". That was perfection. I think GTA V is getting a lot of backlash because it is the big AAA+ mega-production . . . but it is fucking great. Same is true of Tomb Raider.

2. The Last of Us ; I'm a big uncharted fan. Uncharted meets Zombie infection? Awesome. I'm not sure why Naughty Dog's The Last of Us doesn't get much backlash but I guess it is because it is new IP

3. Bioshock Infinite ; As a game it wasn't so great . . . but when you throw in the artwork, the mind-bending storyline, the AI . . . great fun. The first 1/2 hour and the the last 1/2 hour were so cool.

4. Tomb Raider ; Fuck the haters, I loved Uncharted Lara Croft. Some Tomb Raiding, great combat, nice cover system, OK side characters, nice set pieces, cool island, etc. I'll be buying the upgraded version for the next gen consoles (when it drops in price a bit). I hope Crystal Dynamics keeps making games like this. If they don't, I hope Squeenix goes bankrupt so that EA, Activision, or Take-Two can buy Crystal Dynamics so they can continue their brilliant work.

5. XCom: Enemy Within ; I loved the first one and this DLC pack added a lot to it . . mutants, new maps, new missions, missions with twists, Mechs, Exalt missions, etc. I hope Firaxis can keep XCom fresh with more in the future.

6. Super Mario 3D World ; OK, I haven't played it. But I love these games and it almost got me to drop $300 to play this one game. I'll pick it up and a WiiU eventually. I've played ever 3D Mario platformer since Mario 64 and loved them all.

7. Brothers ; Creative. Fun. We need more games like this. I hope this game gets more recognition.

8. Gone Home ; PC gaming is essential since it allows cool small games like this to be made and efficiently distributed at a reasonable price.

9. Tearaway ; I've played some and my daughter has played a LOT. Cool game that does not get enough attention because the Vita platform is flailing. I look forward to what Media Molecule does on the PS4.

10. Papers, Please ; Again, thank Based gates & gaben for PC gaming that makes such weird concepts financially practical.

Sports games don't get much GOTY action so I'll recognize some:
x. FIFA 14 ; EA has done a good job keeping this game from stagnating. Wish I could say the same for NHL and Madden.
x. NBA 2K14 ; OK, still has some bugs. But the game is still in a league completely above NBA Live 14.
x. MLB: The Show ; Humiliated MLB 2Kn so badly that MLB 2Kn quit. However, this is a hugely worrisome trend . . . there is now no competition at all in football, baseball, and hockey games. And the basketball & soccer competition is a joke. This is very worrisome and all these games may stagnate. I urge the leagues to give out nonexclusive licenses.

Some Others:
x. Pay Day 2 ; Nice FPS heist game with character building system.
x. Rayman Legends ; Keeping the old school platforming alive.
x. Xcom The Bureau Declassified ; Not as bad as the reviews would indicate. I like the retro 1950's setting. But it seemed a bit unfinished and the it is hard to reconcile with the other Xcom storyline.
x. Stanley Parable ; more good low budget PC coolness.
x. DOTA 2 ; I view this game like heroin . . . something so good that I don't want to try it and get addicted.



Asks questions so Ezalc doesn't have to
Mar 26, 2007
Took me too long to get to this, so here we go.

1. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate ; (Region: USA System: Wii U/3DS) Monster Hunter is everything that gaming USED to be. It’s everything that used to make gaming so mother fucking special before it became the AAA homogenized mess that it is today. Monster Hunter isn’t about pouring millions of dollars into creating the most beautiful chest-high walls the world has ever seen. Monster Hunter isn’t about watching a bunch of scripted events that cause buildings to crumble and planes to crash the second you cross a magic line on the ground, creating a spectacle game that’s more engaging to watch than it is to play. Monster Hunter isn’t about throwing in every gameplay mechanic it can think of in a half-assed attempt to appeal to everyone. And Monster Hunter most certainly isn’t a “Press X to Win” game. Monster Hunter is about one thing and one thing only. Hunting Monsters. And it is unapologetic about it.
Monster Hunter succeeds in making this task feel purposeful because you’re not just wiping out wave after wave of baddies just to get to a boss and fight it, lather rinse repeat. There are smaller monsters running around to be sure, and many of them would like to make you their dinner, make no mistake. But the game never requires you to kill wave after wave of baddies just to get to what you’re ostensibly there to do, which is hunt big fucking monsters who can make your character shutter at the mere growl of such a beast. In fact you’re kind of incentivised not to waste time on the small fry unless you’re in need of some Raw Meat or a very specific material because you’re on a time limit. Can’t dawdle around deary, we’re giving you 50 minutes to get your shit in gear and if you spend it all lollygagging you lose and have to start the mission over from the beginning.
What’s that? You want us to tell you how to beat the monster? Tough luck, figure out the attack patterns yourself. Hm? You can’t see the enemy’s life bar? Yeah, we’re not telling you that information, you’ll have to figure out how well you are or aren’t doing by watching for the visual cues, and maybe if they start limping or something on them changes color. What’s that? You can’t find the lock on function? Piss off, learn to aim your damn weapon yourself you wimp. Oh what is it now? Oh, the Rathian attacked you while you were healing yourself. Better learn how to time that better, because that’s totally on you.
Monster Hunter can be punishing, just like many games of yore could be. But everything that punishes you in Monster Hunter isn’t the game being cheap or pulling some bullshit instakill attacks out of its ass. If you fail, it’s because you didn’t play well enough, or because you didn’t prepare properly. Maybe you didn’t bring potions with you, or antidotes for monsters that’ll poison you. Maybe you didn’t take the time to upgrade your equipment, or forgot to eat a stat-boosting meal before going out to fight. You want to get further in Monster Hunter? You’re going to have to earn it.
Now, I’ve mentioned once or twice that this is everything games used to be. And yes, let it be known that this also means some of the bad things about old school gaming came along for the ride too. I will fully acknowledge that. For one, the game doesn’t do much to explain anything. At times this is great, but at other times this is confusing, especially when you eventually realize that “Book of Combos” does not mean new “Combo Attacks” but rather “Increased Success Rate of Combining Items”. The controls aren’t the most intuitive either. Like, to shift through items you hold the L shoulder button to open the items menu and press Y to shift things left and A to shift them right? Yeah, like some older games of my childhood, the controls require “getting used to”. And understandably, many people aren’t fans of weapon degradation. I know I hate suddenly seeing a message appear stating that my weapon needs to be sharpened. Grrrrrr.
But you know what? I found I’m willing to put up with a few minor hiccups to enjoy a game that is unashamed in it’s gameplay first, other bullshit never approach. It’s the same reason why I love playing games from the old Nintendo and Sega days, when the tech and memory limitations didn’t allow for game makers to pretend they’re film directors. Sure, many of them included things like stories and likeable characters, but they didn’t have the tech to be much more than games. That was all they could do. Fuck, we all saw what happened to Sonic years ago when it tried to be all about the “touching” stories of Sonic and his friends as they watch him hit on a human princess or about “badass” darker emo hedgehogs touting shotguns and being all “dark” and “edgy”. Instead of just being, you know, high quality platforming action. If only they’d spent that time and manpower on the gameplay first approach Sega might not have needed to spend the last seven years trying to rebuild his reputation, but I digress.
Now, I’m not against games that want to be “more”. I want to see games push limits and try new things. But if you’re going to do that, do it in a gameplay way, like Shadow of the Colossus where the focus is still on one core gameplay mechanic. Where everything in the game serves that one mechanic that you’ve balanced and polished to a mirror shine. But if you’re not going to push the boundaries and try to create something genuinely new than please for the love of all things that used to be good in this world, do it like Monster Hunter. Be a game. More than that, be a focused game. Make your gameplay purposeful. If you’re game is about shooting, make it about interesting shooting challenges the player needs to overcome, not just “here’s a bunch of baddies and chest-high walls, now go shoot them!” Isn’t that what made Portal so great? If you’re game is about jumping on stuff, make everything in the game center around jumping and the execution thereof. Even if your game is just about the beating up of a bunch of dudes to fight a big dude at the end, the LEAST you can do is not wrestle control of the game from me and force me to watch the character do spectacular flips and parries as I think “Wow, I wish I was doing that!”.

2. Ace Attorney: Dual Destinites ; (Region: USA System: 3DS) You know, I think this is the first time I've ever made a Top 10 list where the two top games were from the same company (Capcom in this case). Well, Capcom decided they wanted to bring Ace Attorney back in a major way, and boy did they ever. The graphics continue to make my jaw drop; how they managed to cram all of the character and charm of the 2D sprites into the new 3D models is utterly astounding. The new prosecutor, Simon Blackquill, was a worth adversary. Noriyuki Iwadare's music was top-notch. The story somehow made use of three protagonists (Phoenix, Apollo and Athena) and weaved it all together masterfully. Everything about this rebirth of mainline Ace Attorney hit it out of the park, and I was glued to my 3DS until the very end.

3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; (Region: USA System: 3DS) Ever since The Legend of Zelda moved from 2D to 3D, I've always had the same complaint about them; their pacing was borked. Everything in the 3D Zeldas takes so much longer to accomplish (and to my mind, needlessly so), and A Link Between Worlds only proves the point further. The biggest reason this is the best Zelda I've played in ages is largely due to the return of the superior pacing of A Link to the Past. Sure musical callouts to A Link to the Past certainly don't hurt, but the return of the superior pacing combined with an actual shake-up to the formula (and the novel twist to navigating through dungeons by turning into a living mural) made for the best Zelda adventure I've played in years.

4. Super Mario 3D World ; (Region: USA System: Wii U) I was disappointed when this game was announced. VERY disappointed. It looked like an HD 3D Land, and I did not enjoy 3D Land much at all. Consider me completely shocked at how this one succeeded so much more than its predecessor in every way. And it's not just the obviously improved graphics and music, but the level design was just more creative and varied. The gameplay felt less floaty than 3D Land did, and that's a huge improvement. The one thing this game didn't do though, was sell me on the U gamepad. This is your system seller Nintendo, and after using it for a few levels I went with the Pro Controller instead.

5. Atelier Ayesha ; (Region: USA System: PS3) I love the Atelier series, this is no secret. I love finding the best ways to use the time I'm allotted, and as the clock ticked down on my first play-through I genuinely started to feel nervous as Ayesha's sister's life was depending on my getting to her on time. The cast was as lovable as I've come to expect and the music continues to be top-notch. The only reason it's down at number 5 as opposed to number 2 is the lack of dual language in the English release. I sincerely hope dual language is added to the Plus edition coming to the Vita.

6. Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai 2 ; (Region: JPN System: 3DS) You know, when it comes to both Project Mirai and Project Diva the merits of both games are virtually equal at this point. The music gameplay is dramatically improved over Mirai 1 so now it's virutally comparable to the Diva series. So why does Mirai 2 get the slight elevation over Diva F? Because of how gosh darned cuter it is. Nendoroid Miku is just so goddamn adorable. She will not be denied!

7. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F ; (Region: USA System: PS3) It finally happened! Project Diva has finally come to the USA and as much as I love Mirai 2 I'm glad this is the one that came over first. The Project Diva games are wonderful music games that got me into Vocaloid in the first place. The graphics on PS3 are stunning, and the song choice is very solid, though not as good as 2nd on PSP. I did like the song selection better than the previous entry, Extend, so there's that. :)

8. Ni no Kuni ; (Region: USA System: PS3) Sometimes a return to basics is just the ticket for a troubled genre, and Ni no Kuni goes back to formula. Gone are the insane conspiracies and intricate character back stories and nonsensical banter, in are charming characters and a rather straight-forward, but no less heart-warming story. The battle system is not the best, and I did sometimes die a cheap death because of the lack of a dedicated "Defend" button, but the charm won me over. Bonus points go to the English Dub, which I enjoyed much more than the Japanese original, a rare circumstance indeed.

9. The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker HD ; (Region: USA System: Wii U) While it doesn't contain quite as many improvements over the original as I would have liked, the Swift Sail dramatically improves the game all by itself. It dramatically improves the pacing of the 2nd half of the game, and combined with the remastered visuals and immediate access to Hero Mode made this HD remaster a great success. The one thing it was missing, however, was improved music. HUGE missed opportunity there.

10. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix ; (Region: USA System: PS3) Kingdom Hearts's HD re-release, however, did not miss the music opportunity. Most of the music remixes in this redo of the first game do a lot to enhance the feel of the game. Sadly the jumping is still as wonky as it ever was, and the Gummi Missions no less boring than before so it slides to my number 10.

Honorable Mentions
x. Tales of Xillia ; (Region: USA System: PS3) I agonized over whether to put this one in the top 10 or not, because I did really enjoy the game. The battle system fell short for me though after having come off of Graces f, which I personally consider to be a superior battle system. The pacing is better though, especially since they cut some story fluff and made it fit into a 35 hour game instead of 55 hours (the norm for Tales), so that's a step in the right direction. And while having both Inomata and Fujishima design the characters was a neat little gimmick, it did make the characters feel... off. Like they just didn't gel (heh) together very well visually.
x. Sonic: Lost World ; (Region: USA System: Wii U) There's a lot of interesting ideas in this one, make no mistake. But the cohesion that made Colors the best 3D Sonic game yet just isn't here in Lost World. LW feels rushed to make this year's X-Mas season, and it's a shame because this one had a huge amount of potential.

2012. Persona 4 Golden ; (Region: USA System: PSV) Oh look, I got a Vita this year. Oh look, I finally decided to give P4 a try after P3 disappointed me greatly with it's AI Teammates in a Turn-Based game and enemies constantly Insta-Killing my MC left and right. Oh look, to my delight P4 was made for me because it fixed virtually everything I couldn't stand about P3. Direct Control of Teammates, Less Insta-Kill spamming, and just overall much better execution. Thanks to Persona 4 Golden I now actually give a shit about the upcoming Persona 5, which I did not when it was announced.


Feb 21, 2012
*Best read with a horizontal resolution greater than 1440*

1. Dota 2 ; Return of the King. The undisputed leader in LoMas with depth as deep as the Marianas Trench, evoking boiling rage, crushing sadness and dizzying elation. Dota 2 is my digital crack. That feeling you get when you juke three players, catch out the entire enemy team in a Black Hole, steal that Ravage that your team so desperately needs... unmatched. This is a game where you savour every victory, because victory is earned. You live and die by your skills, and Dota is the purest distillation of that creed.

Dota 2 is probably the most mechanically robust game not named Dwarf Fortress. You've got a couple of dozen mechanics, most of which have some interaction with most other mechanics. Some mechanics are only available to a single hero out of the 100+ heroes playable, others are found on the 100+ items you can buy. With 10 heroes each holding 4 or more abilities and each possessing 6 item slots, factor in teamwork skills, individual player skill and a bit of luck, no two games are the same. Teamfights are controlled chaos, each person throwing their own piece of disorder in the pot and hoping they don't get burnt, with better players able to predict what will likely happen at a glance and act accordingly.

LoMas (or MOBAs as other people would know them) are very interesting to from a teamwork standpoint. You have a game with 5 or 6 main roles, with many different types of subroles under them. You put in 5 guys or gals who don't know each other and tell them to work together. Most of the time, the team can work seamlessly together without a word spoken or typed, because everyone knows their roles, how to perform them and how to maximize the effectiveness of the skills on their heroes. What other genre can bring about such cohesion? Of course that doesn't happen all the time, sometimes you just have to ride out an uncooperative teammate, but when it works it works like a well-oiled machine.

That alone would be enough, but Valve has done right with how it treats the game. It's F2P, but nothing you buy actually affects gameplay. It is the best way to put in microtransactions, bar none. On top of that, The International 3 was spectacular, and I caught as much of it as I could. Valve has also taken immense steps with curtailing the toxic portions of the community with a reporting system that actually works! What better way to punish poor team players than to make them play with each other and eat each others awfulness!

There is so much right about this game, I can't not give GotY to this game. A game that will truly last the ages.

2. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; I bought the PC version of DMC4 because I never finished Bloody Palace, and in the process of beating it (and I did, I got the Steam screenshots to prove it!), I caught that stylish action bug again. I had my eye on Metal Gear Rising, being Platinum Games and all, but this new fever cemented the purchase. The purchase was followed up by my face getting continually blown off by the Platinum Games' brand of insanity for 50 or so hours.

The "cut anything" philosophy is what all games featuring a badass wielding a sword should aspire to. No pre-baked limb chopping here, you cut at a 167.5° angle, you get a poor cyborg/mechawolf/cyber-raptor/tree/missile/helicopter (but not a cat) bisected at 167.5°. Actual slicing instead of a weak flinches makes it feel like you're using a real sword, not a pool noodle.

And that soundtrack! Amazing, if a bit campy if you actually listen to the lyrics, but still amazing. This game is 95% about the boss battles and they're accompanying themes. And let's not forget that infamous quote, that encapsulates the Metal Gear mythos so succinctly. "Nanomachines, son!". Grade A camp, I love it.

That's not to say this game doesn't have any flaws, it has a fair amount of them. The game looks drab and the 60 FPS doesn't hold steady at times. The scoring system is overly harsh. The camera is the biggest screw up, especially in an action game. You will learn to fear walls because they make your camera go crazy, and corners are the absolute worst, pointing inwards to the corner so the only thing you can see is Raiden getting ripped apart by offscreen enemies.

3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies ; (Downloaded from NA to Australia) This might just be pent-up demand, but this game. Dual Destinies had a lot to live up to, considering the franchise has been away for more than a few years. The move to 3D, while initially worrying, has paid off, with characters being more animated yet still retaining those jarring jumps to different animations loops gives it that 2D sprite feel. The animator really cared about their work, which extends to just about everything else in this game (except the translation. Ho ho ho so many typos). Music is fantastic, Athena is great, Apollo is... uhh less crappy I guess, Nick with his new found confidence (that is just a facade, he's still the same old Nick). The overarching story, while it doesn't hit the highs of 3, is still in the better part of the series, with a swerve that caught me by surprise. The meltdowns were excellent. There's not really much to say about it, it's just a great, well-rounded, complete package.

Which reminds me, I still haven't played the DLC case yet... I should get on that.

4. Fire Emblem Awakening ; (Downloaded from NA to Australia) The only other Fire Emblem I played was the one on the GBA starring Lyn, Hector and Eliwood (I think), so I'm pretty much a Fire Emblem scrub. Regardless, I went straight into Awakening on Classic Hard, because I wanted that Fire Emblem experience of getting mad over permadeaths and wearing my patience thin. Without grinding, most encounters were tough (with the philosophy of No Man/Woman Left Behind).

A contentious point of the game is the Pair Up mechanic, and I fall into the camp that likes it. I understand that pairing up greatly increases the power of a unit, and in doing so will limit the amount of actions your squad can take per turn, but I felt it gave an extra dimension to the combat. You still had to cover your weaknesses because even a stray -killer/-slayer weapon could outright kill a paired up unit or you missed an enemy with a Counter skill so it's not like this mechanic completely removed all challenge. Pairing Up felt more like a strategy opener to me because it allowed me to do things that I couldn't before.

I'm not sure as to the source of this, but I feel most of the maps are... lacking. They're mostly fields or a narrow maze, and usually both sides are planted at the start and it's up to you to make it to the enemy commander and kill them. There's not much scripting of unique events or presenting an objective that's not "Rout enemy forces" or "Defeat enemy commander". Only 2 or so maps feature terrain hazards, the volcano and the shifting maze, with a few more having interesting scenarios like getting shot at by mages with Mire. Also, damn reinforcements to hell, they should not be able to act on the turn they show up.

Another point I wish to address is the change in character art directions. I tend to be slightly on the dislike side, on the edge of being neutral. I understand why they did it, characters that didn't just look like another knight whose only distinction between each other is facial structure, hair style and colour and manner of speaking, but I really miss functional looking armour. Mages can dress up however they like though, they don't need armour or whatever (Hello Tharja!). It's a niggle in an otherwise great game, so I can overlook it (not that that's a problem for a lot of other people, the waifu wars in the OT were savage).

5. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; (Downloaded from NA to Australia) I've always wanted to get into the MegaTen series but I've always lacked the time or the means. Not so with SMT IV, being released on the 3DS (which is a weird place to put your next mainline game), I was pushed over the edge with the Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei $30 eShop credit cross promotion (which I tossed towards Ace Attorney 5).

You start in the Kingdom of Mikado, a land that looks straight out of the medieval age complete with huge class inequality. But then during Samurai induction (Samurai seems like a weird term for a European looking civilization, as is the name Mikado) you're given a gauntlet which looks completely out of place since, as a person living in modern times, you notice how high-tech it is. If you thought the setting was a bit odd, this confirms it, and now you're intrigued (I'm sure SMT vets knew this was coming or this was revealed in promotional media, but I was on unintentional blackout). Reaching the bottom of Naraku was quite a shock, and at that point, I couldn't stop, battery willing.

The demon fusion has been streamlined a lot in terms of UI and convenience from P4. Perhaps allowing which skills to pass down was a tad too powerful, there's never a reason to not pass down an absorb, reflect or null damage type or a Tetrakarn/Makarakarn and due to that your entire team are extremely powerful. Add in a Spirit Drain or Energy Drain for infinite SP and you'll likely just faceroll over 98% of enemies, which is a shame. One reason I liked the combat system in P4 was how fatal it was, but with skill inheritance it really trivializes the difficult. The game is most brutal in the early game where your skillset is the most limited and you can't benefit from a long demonic skill lineage. But as a whole, I enjoyed putting together my own demonic party and leveling them up to get their skills and passing them down.

There are a lot of problems with the game, not telling you Estoma Sword works on the world map, not knowing what district is where, but a fine JRPG despite that presenting interesting concepts and themes centered on religion and morality.

6. Spelunky ; (PC Steam Release) A platformer with roguelike elements. I know how overused "roguelike" as a term is, and I'm not entirely sure using it here is proper, but there is a load of randomly generated stuff in this game. The thing is, despite all the random stuff that happens, the game most of the time does not throw a no-win situation in your face, and it's possible to get through many bad situations without a scratch, provided you planned for everything and execute it flawlessly with deft fingers.

This game is easy to pick up and play, yet has a large amount of depth. The game demands constant decision making. The game is also relentless in its challenge, throwing more things to kill you with as you progress through the stages. Then when you get that Alien Rifle, the power instantly goes to your head. The game has trampled on you enough, time to pay it back! ...and then you blow yourself up. Again.

This game is a constant battle between misplaced bravado and knowing better.

7. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; (Downloaded from NA to Australia) I really liked this game, but not as much as other people it seems. Still, it's a very well made game, and I absolutely love the speed at which the game moves. Everything is fast, running is fast, slashing is fast, enemies are fast, menus are fast, transitions are fast. After playing and (subsequent dropping of) the plodding Skyward Sword, this drastic change of pace was most welcome. It's about time a Zelda game started quick.

The biggest change of the game is tackling the dungeons in almost any order you want. I appreciate this change of direction, but it does present a few problems that I have to address. Due to the fact that there's no set or assumable dungeon order the designers cannot develop a progression of ideas or puzzle challenge, and this necessitates the design of a dungeon around only one or two items. This makes each dungeon's theme or gimmick quite distinct from each other, but the ideas are cut off before they have a chance to evolve. On top of that, enemy strength will be out of whack if you take an unorthodox order. If the Zelda team continues with this direction, might I propose having tiers of dungeons? Basically dungeons are grouped in triplets, a pair of dungeons that must be completed to move on to the third, that is harder and incorporates ideas and difficulty from the prerequisite dungeons. So you'll have 6 dungeons that can be done in any order, and a further three that requires a pair of the previous tier to be completed.

Another outstanding part is the music. Some of them are remixed from aLttP, but that doesn't change the fact that it sounds amazing. I love listening to the Dark World theme, it's so out of character for a Zelda game. It's upbeat and energetic despite being attached to a destitute world. Great music, not something you would ever hear from a game made nowadays, has a "'90s feel" to it, a product of its time.

My other gripes is Hero Mode should've been unlocked from the start, or failing that, removing all the tutorials and explanations for your second go around. Also wish I could turn off those treasure chest build-ups, I know they're a staple but ehhhhh I could do without, it stops the flow of the game.

A great outing in the Zelda franchise and it represents a step towards experimentation, but Majora's Mask is still the best Zelda game. :p

8. Volgarr the Viking ; A 2D action game that's pretty similar to the Ghosts and Goblins, right down to losing power each time you get hit, fixed trajectory jumps and ball-busting difficulty (supposedly). A game that makes design decisions with conviction, backed up with great level design and balanced around Volgarr's limited moveset. Every piece of a level was placed with gameplay intent, and as a result levels are packed with puzzle after puzzle dressed up as combat encounters, platforming challenges or a combination of the two.

Enemies are dead simple in behaviour, made dangerous by level design. Draugr are slow and easy to kill, but if the lower half of their bodies are attacked, the top half comes flying off to strike an unsuspecting player. Easy to deal with alone, but then you throw in skeletons, who hold up a shield that blocks all attacks and can only be struck from the bottom half. Then you put in uneven terrain. Juggling enemies that can only be hit from the bottom, ones that are dangerous when hit from the bottom, crows that come swooping across the player from the top half, and spiders that charge at you from the bottom half, while jumping between unequidistant platforms with your fixed trajectory jump all at the same time? Good luck.

9. Tales of Xillia ; I think the Tales of series is my go-to for console JRPGs now, which is a shame since it's due to the loss of identity and quality Final Fantasy has suffered. Hopefully XV turns out good, but I digress. There's a lot to like about Xillia, but also a lot to dislike, but the things it does right get me good. I reckon more people should've picked up this game over Ni no Kuni but that's just me, that game seems archaic in the worst ways.

I think I'll start with the bad first. The biggest flaw of the game is the fields. To give an overview of how the world is stitched together, think of Xenoblade with its massive areas connected to each other by a short and narrow corridor. Not truly open world, but the feeling is there. Now take those expansive fields and shrink them down to 10% of the size and make them homogenous and devoid of anything and you've got Xillia's world. There are little distinguishing features in Xillia's field, just cliffs, trees and identical naturally (or unnaturally, really) formed crawlspaces and a shitload of monsters (monsters wander around the fields, and battle only commences when you touch one of them. No random battles here).

Behind that, copypasta ports. The kind that docks seaborne ships. Every port in the game is literally the same. Literally the same. Not literally as in figuratively, literally as in literally. I'm not gonna foul up my posts with images of that shit, but you can ask any of Tales-Gaf and they'll say the same thing.

On to the good things, the characters are range from tolerable to fairly likeable. The hero Jude isn't a complete dumbass and isn't angsty (he does for about 10 minutes but just grit your teeth through that). The heroine Milla is Lord of the Spirits and not a human, which can lead to a lot of fish-out-of-water comedy, and she's generally direct and headstrong. Alvin is the best character, a laid-back troll though you'll justifiably hate his guts a couple of times. Leia is superfluous to the story and a Pollyanna. Rowen is an old guy playing everyone for fools because he's not as senile as he looks, a trickster and a gentleman. Elize is the token little girl and dour in personality, but the only thing you'll remember about her is "Go Teepo! Sharing is caring!".

The series staple skits are back. Skits are characters depicted as portraits talking to each other about various topics not necessarily related to the main plot, and are there to flesh out characters and relationships. Most of them are pretty humourous as well, and they're voice acted (translated Tales games only started dubbing skits from Vesperia onwards, and they make a huge positive difference). It's essentially an outlet for shooting the shit with friends. Skits are one feature I wish were sown among more games, and I greatly enjoy them.

The combat system has a fair amount of depth, and it's in real-time AND you can play 4 player co-op, but that's not recommended for the following reason. This game has a Link system, you link up to a party member mid-battle and they will cover you, combo enemies with you and provide character specific perks. The problem is linking with a party member turns them into an AI, so it will boot any friends playing that character. Without getting into it, I think the Link system is poorly thought out. On another note the boost to TP gain on hit you can spend more time using Artes rather than relying on basic attacks to conserve TP. Bosses can be pretty unfair. Sometimes they'll use a Mystic Arte (super flashy attacks that have anime cut-ins) out of nowhere and could deal some serious damage to your entire team because one of your AI buddies stupidly got caught by an opener.

10. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger ; I feel like I'm reaching with the inclusion of this game. It tells me this year wasn't really that great, but that's not to denigrate what Gunslinger has achieved. This game has absolutely nailed the feeling of shooting a gun (a Hollywood gun, not a real gun). Each time you pull the trigger, whether on a six-shooter or a rifle, results in the most satisfying crack to reverberate through the air. These guns feel like they can draw ghastly holes in the unfortunate and paint the back wall in bright red.

To keep the player shooting, Silas can both Cheat Death and concentrate to slow down time. This allows him to keep shooting without constantly hiding behind waist-high walls. I appreciate the inclusion of those two mechanics as it cuts down on down time.

The narrative device is sublime, it tells a story that doesn't conflict with silly game conventions. The gameplay portion takes place as flashbacks as Silas tells them to a group at a saloon. Since Silas isn't exactly reliable and is prone to embellish his stories, it gracefully avoids the clash between gameplay and story. The saloon group can also interject their thoughts in to the tales, changing the world on the fly. An interesting concept and executed well enough.


Honourable mentions will only have short comments since I'm nearing the character limit.

x. Candy Box ; A game that continually one-ups itself in the possibility space.

x. The Typing of the Dead: Overkill ; I learnt from this game that I type like shit.

x. Ys I & II Chronicles+ ; Adol Christin, you're friendly neighbourhood god-slayer, doing his thing to the sounds of hair metal.

x. Risk of Rain ; A 2D roguelikelikelikelike with Binding of Isaac's item system with multiplayer. Had a lot of fun with my friends.

x. Winnie the Pooh's Home Run Derby ; ROBIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN!!!!!!!!


2012. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; This was the game that got me to buy and import a 3DS. A strange game to be a killer app and I agree, but after the absolutely fantastic 999 I needed more. Certainly, this is a visual novel, but this game definitively requires a player making decisions. The game literally cannot be done as a movie, string of cutscenes or a traditional novel without losing 80% of the impact (same as 999 really). A great example of leveraging the medium's unique feature--interactivity--to tell its story.

The core driver of the game's plot is the Ambidex Game, a variation of the Prisoner's Dilemma. It confronts you with how much of a bastard can you be. The Ambidex Game is the in-game "game" that the characters are playing. The interaction and agenda of each of the characters revolve around the Ambidex Game, which allows them to show their personalities when they otherwise wouldn't.

From the Ambidex Games, the story can spin off in a dozen different directions, starting from a common point. But there's a reason those branches exist, and you'll have to play the game if you want to find out. While mostly self-contained, the story feels like a part one of a two-parter. There are a lot of plot points open that will be resolved in the next game, far-in-the-background points but still points that beg answers.

The voice acting is phenomenal, especially Zero III. One of the biggest reasons I imported a copy is that in Australia (and other PAL regions), we get a copy that doesn't have dubbing. The dubbing is something that you shouldn't turn your nose up at, it's genuinely superb. An excellent game with a great story (behind 999), everyone should play this (after 999 of course).

Games that might've made my list had I played them: Bravely Default, Wonderful 101, Super Mario 3D World, The Stanley Parable.

Gif credits:
Dota 2 - Purge
MGR - Giant Bomb
PW:DD - Capcom
FEA - Pheonixmaster1
SMT4 - OmegaEvolution
Spelunky - Me
LoZ: ALBW - packattack04082
Volgarr - Me
ToX - OmegaEvolution
CoJ - Giant Bomb
VLR - Sagemaster15
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