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 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 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.
2012 was a pretty prime year for Nintendo handhelds, with the 3DS finally getting a full year to shine, both in the digital and retail space, and the DS having a few surprises up its sleeves as well. We saw a few mini-droughts and a couple of unfortunate delays (isn’t this always the case?) but for the most part, it was a satisfying year for handheld gamers. But you’re not here to be bored with chatter, so let’s get on with this!
Handheld VC GOTY
We decided that the handheld virtual VC GOTY would only include games that originally released on handhelds, lest the awards just be a mirror of the console VC GOTY awards. There was a decent mix of classics this time around, as well as a few gems that many of us passed over back when they originally released.
And the winner is…
Wario Land 2 (Game Boy Color) (91 points)
Runner-ups: Mole Mania (88 points) Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters (39 points)
Not quite: Mario Golf (35 points) Dr. Mario (28 points) Kirby's Pinball Land (27 points)
Wow, that one came down to the buzzer! In the end though, the power of Wario cannot be matched (as is often the case at Negative World), and we loved his platforming romp, while newcomer (to most of us) and much loved retro game club game Mole Mania will have to be happy with a hard earned silver medal. Kid Icarus fills out our top three, sliding in right over Mario Golf, while Dr. Mario takes Kirby's Pinball Land by a single point.
Handheld eShop Most Wanted
It was actually pretty hard to get this list down to 6 choices, and many of the games that missed the cut were a bit too quirky to get mainstream support, but will probably be played and loved at Negative World nonetheless. If you haven’t bought into the 3DS eShop yet, 2013 may be your year!
Runner-ups: Shantae and the Pirate's Curse (76 points) Picross e (61 points)
Not quite: Mutant Mudds 2 (37 points) (tie!) THE "DENPA" MEN 2 (37 points) (tie!) Ikachan (24 points)
Proving that the rhythm genre isn’t dead as long as you have a good idea behind it (either that or proving that we just love Game Freak), Rhythm Hunter: HarmoKnight is our most wanted handheld eShop game looking forward to 2013! Shantae also puts up a good fight, and last year’s winner and perennial candidate Picross e will have to suffice with third this year. Maybe Nintendo will finally release it and get it off our most wanted list and onto our GOTY? Mutant Mudds 2 and “DENPA” MEN 2 tie for fourth, while Pixel’s Ikachan is in a lonely last place.
Handheld eShop GOTY
2012 may not have been the most prolific year for the eShop, but a couple of great latecomers (including a key Dec. 27th release) helps pad out a list that, while not overflowing with quantity, certainly contains enough quality to keep most Nintendo gamers happy.
Not quite: Zen Pinball 3D (27 points) NightSky (21 points) escapeVektor (13 points)
Pushmo took our eShop GOTY by a fair margin in 2011, and its sequel, Crashmo, wins it handily in 2012. We just can’t get enough of block pushing goodness! Mutant Mudds represents platforming joy in second place while Fluidity: Spin Cycle, coming in last minute, swoops up third. Zen Pinball 3D and a Zero favorite, NightSky don’t quite make the cut, and another latecomer, escapeVektor, flies in under the radar.
Handheld Most Wanted
Although the 3DS is definitely a satisfying platform, there are a couple of key games that we have been waiting on since the launch of the system, and we continue to wait into 2013. Only half of the games from our handheld most wanted 2011 have actually released in 2012, so we have a chance to see which of the ones left over are still desired and which have maybe dropped a bit in mindshare.
And the winner is…
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS) (102 points)
Runner-ups: Animal Crossing: New Leaf (95 points) Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney (79 points)
Not quite: Monster Hunter 4 (53 points) Fire Emblem: Awakening (52 points) Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (27 points)
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon takes it with a solid 7 point lead! Meanwhile Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which was last place in our 2011 handheld most wanted, moves up to second (perhaps because we actually know some concrete things about it now?) while Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, only 3 points behind Luigi’s Mansion in 2011, drops hard (hey, I still want it bad!) Monster Hunter barely edges out Fire Emblem for fourth, and Castlevania can’t quite make the cut.
Ok here it is, the big one. Well, the big one for handhelds anyway! I think a lot of us here at Negative World probably know exactly what to expect, and maybe a lot of non-members have an idea what to expect as well. There were a lot of great games to release on the handhelds in 2012, but only one can be crowned GOTY.
And the winner is…
Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS) (141 points)
Runner-ups: Paper Mario: Sticker Star (75 points) New Super Mario Bros. 2 (64 points)
Not quite: Resident Evil: Revelations (57 points) Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (28 points) Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward (26 points)
Shocked? Probably not, but considering that Kid Icarus: Uprising finished our 2011 handheld most wanted poll in fourth place, only a single point above Resident Evil: Revelations, a lot has changed in a year! I’m not entirely sure what we all expected from this game, but what we got was a fully polished, varied, epic experience with some of the best voice-acting in a Nintendo game (or really, any game) yet. Our most wanted handheld winner of 2011, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, will have to live with a distant second place finish, while New Super Mario Bros. 2 pulls ahead of Resident Evil: Revelations for third. Layton (franchise fatigue?) and Zero Escape (people hate awesomeness?) can’t quite hang with the rest.
PS. And even once more I'd like to take this moment to thank the members of the Negative World for an excellent 2012! You guys and girls are the best and you know it. And if you're reading this and not a member yet, get yourself signed up, ok? You can sign up right now for free in less than a minute. Go for it!
No matter where I got with the controls, I'd still just be thinking "I'd rather be playing this with a Wii remote." I think it's pretty obvious that the game probably started out as a Wii game and they had to figure out how to get it to work on the 3DS. Playing on a stand just isn't how I like to play a portable game (typically in a chair or in bed). I don't know, I never really got the controls where I wanted to get them. I'll have to try again.
I don't think that it started out as a Wii game, it sounds more like they did some development for it on Wii because the 3DS wasn't ready yet? I dunno.
Designer, Masahiro Sakurai, confirms this in an Iwata Asks interview, revealing that development of the game began before his company, Project Sora, even had a Nintendo 3DS development kit. “At first we didn’t have the Nintendo 3DS development kit, so we started making it on a PC,” Sakurai shares. “Oh, and for a while we were using a Wii to make it!”
Whatever the case, the controls are definitely the big issue with the game but I got to the point where I could work with them, without the stand.
I never had an issue with the controls in Kid Icarus Uprising. After the game explained to me how to control it, it was almost second nature for me after the second or third stage. The more I played, the more I couldn't imagine this being played any other way.
The flight sections could probably work well with the Wiimote, but the other parts? Nah. Stylus or nothing for me!
The game seriously shouldn't be played any other way, and I never had an issue with 'em.
To be fair, I do have to use the stand with KIU, and I won't say that the controls don't require a bit of a learning curve.
But that said, I can honestly say that they feel genuinely great now--super tight and responsive and enjoyable. It's a little like Smash Bros in that it's kind of jarring and strange to get around at first, but the feel of the game eventually makes a lot of sense. I can't imagine two sticks being anywhere near this quick, and I applaud Sakurai for sticking to his guns with this particular control scheme. I've almost 9.0'd all the chapters and when I die, it's not the fault of the controls. (granted, I've got like 130 hours into the game so I'd BETTER have a grip on the way it feels) I can see it working well with the Wiimote as well, though.
Whenever I think about KIU, I just get happy. Such a memorable experience through and through, and one crammed with content.
I didn't do much voting on this side either. I voted for Wario Land II and Mole Mania for VC, even though I don't have them on VC and have the cartridges instead. My most wanted is easily Luigi's Mansion 2, I don't particularly want anything else on that last. The only contender of the retail section I played was New Super Mario Brothers 2, but it isn't good enough for me to vote it.
I'm kind of surprised LM2 is getting so much hype. I can't really get particularly excited about it, even though I really like Next Level Games. The original Luigi's Mansion was an enjoyable title, but I didn't find it particularly excellent or anything beyond the solid visuals and using the GCN controller for the first time in a game. As far as I can remember, fan reaction was pretty lukewarm about it all-around. Maybe once it's out of the "expectations for a Mario game at launch" point of view, it holds up better?
@TriforceBun Maybe, but I played it a year after launch with little expectations and it was still just... "ok". I'm oddly excited for the sequel (though it didn't make my top 3 in the poll.) I like the concept a lot. It just requires a better execution. And I think Next Level is awesome and can bring that execution to the franchise.
Luigi's Mansion is probably my second most anticipated game on that list. In part because I'm pretty excited for it, but also because I'm not excited at all for Animal Crossing or Fire Emblem. And I've never played a Monster Hunter game, so that's certainly not my most anticipated game. (Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney is higher up than LM2 for me, though, and Castlevania is probably number 3.)
I haven't played enough of Kid Icarus to judge whether it's GOTY material, but it sounds deserving based on everything I've heard about it. Zero Escape was my vote (if I remembered to vote, which I'm not sure I did).
I hadn't had a chance to review the results yet, but looking at the winners now:
Nice picks everyone! Very awesome to see Kid Icarus Uprising take the top spot by a landslide.
There were a couple of games where my pick was nowhere close to the popular choice: My eShop Most Wanted is Mutant Mudds 2, mostly because I love the first one, and also because the other games on the list I either don't know much about (Rhythm Hunter) or don't have a lot of interest in (Shantae sequel and Picross).
Also, Fire Emblem on 3DS is one of my most wanted titles but it came in at 5th!
It's not 'no interest,' it's just 'less interest' than some of the other games. The DSiWare game Risky's Revenge was good, but I didn't love it as much as some of my fellow gamers, many who praised the game endlessly. Obviously, if WayForward improves on the game even more and make this the best in the Shantae series, I will gladly download it!