Before we get started, I want to clarify to anyone who has stumbled upon our GOTY awards that we are a Nintendo-focused site, and our awards reflect that. This doesn’t mean that we don’t love and play games on other platforms, but for the sake of our GOTY awards, we stick to games that appear on Nintendo platforms only.
This year we have divided our awards into two categories, Nintendo handhelds and Nintendo consoles, each of which have 5 awards; virtual console GOTY, eShop Most Wanted, eShop GOTY, Most Wanted, and GOTY. For the sake of these awards we define eShop as anything that appears in North America as a digital download only (IE cannot be bought at a store as a retail product), while our regular awards apply to anything that can be bought in North America as a retail product. In the future this distinguishment will probably disappear as the lines between retail and digital become more and more blurred, but for now, it works.
2013 may have been the best year yet for the 3DS, with a whole slew of solid releases at retail and on the eShop from both Nintendo themselves and 3rd party developers. It was definitely Nintendo’s best year for the 3DS from a sales perspective, quieting the naysayers once again by showing that a dedicated gaming handheld can not only withstand the smartphone attack, but can prosper on its own terms. The release of the 2DS may have confused many gamers, but Nintendo seems poised to continue to carry the handheld crown well into 2014 and beyond.
Handheld VC GOTY
Originally we were not sure if we should combine a certain two games into one or not for this award, but in the end we decided that they were distinct enough experiences to stand on their own. Aside from these two, the handheld VC was a bit slow this year, and the handheld platforms were often overlooked to release console games that already existed on the console VC service.
And the winner is…
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (Game Boy Color) (78 points)
Runner-ups: The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (67 points) Mega Man 2 (56 points)
Not quite: Shantae (31 points) Super Mario Bros. 2 (US) (21 points) Wario Land 3 (12 points)
It was a battle between the Oracle games, but The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages pulled out to win in the end by a fair margin. As someone who greatly prefers Seasons all I can do is silently shake my head. Nah, Ages is pretty darn solid as well. I guess. Mega Man 2 fills out the top 3 while Shantae, Super Mario Bros. 2 and Wario Land 3 trail behind.
Handheld eShop Most Wanted
There were a few obvious choices for our handheld eShop most wanted this year, as well as a couple of games that may just end up becoming cult classics. I’d like to see a bit more coming from the 3DS eShop in 2014, but there are sure to be some as of yet unannounced gems, and what we know is coming looks pretty good.
And the winner is…
Mighty No. 9 (3DS eShop) (81 points)
Runner-ups: Shovel Knight (58 points) Shantae and the Pirate's Curse (48 points)
Not quite: Cult County (28 points) Treasurenauts (11 points) Aban Hawkins & the 1,001 Spikes (10 points)
Inafune’s ode to Mega Man takes a commanding victory over the competition, proving something that everyone except for Capcom seems to know; we want more Mega Man. Even if it can’t legally be called Mega Man. The also very Mega Man-inspired Shovel Knight takes the silver medal, while the upcoming handheld Shantae sequel settles for bronze. Renegade Kid’s two very different games, the horror FPS Cult County and the colorful collect-a-thon Treasurenauts fall behind, with Aban taking the last spot by a single point.
Handheld eShop GOTY
Although the 3DS eShop didn’t have too many huge games in 2013, it did receive a certain long-awaited sequel to a well loved franchise as a eShop exclusive, as well as a handheld of other games well worth playing.
Not quite: HarmoKnight (30 points) Picross e (25 points) Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move (7 points)
It’s hard for indie developers to compete against the much-anticipated sequel to a popular franchise, yet Steamworld Dig put up a respectable battle. In the end, however, Phoenix Wright’s return could not be denied. The short but sweet Gunman Clive edges out HarmoKnight and Picross e for third, while Mario and Donkey Kong barely puts up a fight.
Handheld Most Wanted
Once again the handheld most wanted was one of the toughest categories to narrow down, as there are way too many awesome looking 3DS games on the way. So we did the best we could, and hopefully we didn’t cut out too many potentially great games.
And the winner is…
Super Smash Bros. (3DS) (91 points)
Runner-ups: Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney (42 points) Bravely Default: Flying Fairy (41 points)
Not quite: Monster Hunter 4 (39 points) Kirby: Triple Deluxe (37 points) Mario Golf: World Tour (36 points)
The handheld debut of Super Smash Bros. takes an easy victory as our most wanted handheld game, more than doubling the points of the next contender. However, that isn’t to say that we’re not heavily anticipating other 3DS games; there was a major battle for the next five spots, with all of the games falling within a mere 8 points of each other. The Layton / Ace Attorney crossover and newcomer RPG Bravely Default take numbers 2 and 3, with Monster Hunter 4, Kirby: Triple Deluxe and Mario Golf: World Tour right behind them.
2013 was a big year for Nintendo’s 3DS, including a pretty darn huge title that came out of nowhere and dominated the mindshare of 3DS owners. Narrowing this award down to just six entries took a few cuts, but I think we got a pretty good list in the end.
And the winner is…
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS) (132 points)
Runner-ups: Fire Emblem: Awakening (62 points) Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (42 points)
Not quite: Pokemon X / Y (33 points) Animal Crossing: New Leaf (29 points) Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (4 points)
No one could possibly be surprised by our winner, with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds dominating the polls and easily winning our handheld GOTY award. The deft combination of both new and familiar mechanics made for one of the most beloved Zelda titles in years. Fire Emblem: Awakening and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, both arguably the best games in their respective series, also perform admirably, while Pokemon X / Y and Animal Crossing: New Leaf put up some decent numbers. Poor Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, however, received little love on this day.
ALBW and FE:A top the overall category…nicely done, NW! The 3DS had a pretty great year for sure, and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2014 holds for the little handheld that could. Congrats to all the winners and one excellent portable system.
I'm a bit surprised that Pokémon X/Y isn't in the top three, it seemed like everyone loved those games. Similarly, I'm a bit surprised that Smash Brothers is the most-wanted by a landslide, as I figured people wanted the Wii U version and would pick something handheld-exclusive as the most-wanted.
@Mop it up Yeah to be honest my logic was along the lines of what you expected... I know the Wii U Smash will be my primary version so the handheld one doesn't excite me much. Didn't even make my top 3 when voting.
Also keep in mind that a lot of other games in that category got a lot of votes, the votes just got split... 2-6 were all very close.
I'm surprised Animal Crossing didn't get more love, considering how many people here seemed to be obsessed with it when it released. That did die off though, so maybe people thought its worth was too fleeting to merit GOTY.
Just wanted to say, good job with the number of votes that went out. Sometimes Negative World feels like its only like 20 guys bickering about the Wii U. Nice to see lots of people come out to celebrate what we liked this year.
@kriswright Not to destroy your dreams but those are points not votes... each person's #1 pick gets 5 points, #2 gets 3, #3 gets 1. We did have more than 20 people vote but it wasn't significantly more... I think it was around 30-40 people voting this year.
If I could get these lists up in November it'd probably lead to a lot more votes. But a lot of people don't even get around to these games until Christmas so...
Yeah, I think tallying GOTY stuff in November is kind of cheesy anyway, like nothing in December could possibly stand a chance. And yeah, a lot of people get games around Christmas time (ALBW is perhaps my favorite GOTY and I didn't get around to it until late Dec).
Despite its flaws, it's a good game overall. Very worthy sequel to the original that could have been great, but it was still enjoyable on-the-whole and was my runner-up. I think if there's any backlash, it's not that it was a bad game or anything, just that it very easily could have been a much better package.
Nothing was gonna stop that Zelda train, though. What a game! I remember going and checking the "3D World vs. ALBW" poll after finishing 3D World and couldn't believe it was like 2/3 in favor of Zelda. I thought everyone was high! No possible way it could be better than the just-about-perfect experience that 3D World was...but somehow, someway, it was. In the lead-up for the game, I thought it would be good but I never envisioned it being my favorite Zelda in years. Probably the best gaming-related surprise of the year. I still can't get over how both games came out the same day and were both that damn good.
Yeah, agreed on Zelda. Nothing was going to top that. Especially because it had both the backing of being a sequel to one of the most beloved games of all time, but also because...honestly? I don't think many people were expecting it to be as great as it is. So it came out and took everyone by surprise, by being both a fantastic game and faithful sequel to a bona fide classic.
Nintendo's output on 3DS in 2013 was absolutely phenomenal. I hope they keep up the momentum in 2014.