This was kind of a weird year for me. Got busy with a ton of things, missed out on a lot that I would have liked to play. Spent a lot of time catching up on stuff from 2011 I never finished. I also kind of ignored my Sony platforms, and I'm not even sure why, although I guess it just comes down to finding more that I would rather play elsewhere.
Don't forget to add your lists!
10. Mutant Mudds (3DS eShop) - I know this game is a bit divisive around here, but for me it was a solid 2D platformer that felt like a modern take on SNES style gaming. Didnít like the time limit on stages, liked everything else.
9. New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U) - Honestly this wouldnít even be in my top 10 if it were just the main game, which is good but kind of same ol' same ol'. Challenge mode though... now weíre talking. This is exactly what I need from a Mario game, straight up challenging platforming with controls tight enough to make it feel right. They better include this in all future versions!
8. Journey (PSN)- This game didnít quite blow me away the way it did some people, but it was a pretty wonderful, sublime experience nonetheless. And very beautiful... very, very beautiful. Also, short enough that I may have to take another run through it.
7. Resident Evil: Revelations (3DS) - Revelations feels like a game with a bit of an identity crisis, as most modern Resident Evil games do. I loved the Jill stuff, which felt like a good combo of the gameplay of Resident Evil 4 + the mood of Resident Evil Remake. The other parts were not as good. Overall... still pretty good.
6. Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii) - Simple, wacky, fun, addicting. This is the direction I love seeing the rhythm genre head into. There was just enough challenge in obtaining all medals to keep me coming back for more (although in no way, shape, or form will I ever go for all perfects.) It doesnít hurt that my girlfriend loves the game too.
5. Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS) - My expectations for this game were pretty low, and it kind of blew them away. The moment to moment action in this game is amazing, as is the variety and sheer polish. It also had some of the best dialogue in any Nintendo game yet. I did have some control issues, but nothing that kept me from loving it.
4. Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS) - Now this is an odd one. Itís less of an RPG than older Paper Mario games, and more of a platformer. But not quite Super Paper Mario either. Really, Sticker Star is its own beast. And although I still donít fully understand why they took XP out, I loved pretty much everything else about this game. It felt like the dev team was having a lot of fun with their ideas.
3. Little Inferno (Wii U eShop) - Best fireplace simulator ever. No really, this is what I think of when I think ďexperienceĒ. Itís not the core gameplay that won me over (though it is rather fun to burn things), but the underlying narrative and revelations that happen throughout. Not many games really connect to me on a personal level, but this one did.
2. Monster World IV (VC) - Yes, Iím putting an old Genesis game way up near the top of my list, and I'm allowed to, because it finally released in NA this year. What can I say? Itís a great platformer, but it also has adventure / exploration elements, which basically means it hits all of my sweet spots. Tons of creativity too. I really feel like this is a lost classic from the 16-bit era (IE the best era ever), and it saddens me that more people have not played it.
1. Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii) - The number one game on my list is also the only one that I have not finished. Donít get me wrong, Iím not one of those people who love it but grew bored of it halfway through. Iím still very engaged. The problem is, the world is so vast and amazing and pulls me in so deeply that I feel like itís doing the game a discredit to sit down and play for anything less than 3-4 hours at a time... and I rarely have that much time to play a game nowadays. So Iím about halfway through, slowly moving forward. This RPG is so modern in so many important ways, and not ďmodernĒ in the non-linear, cutscene fest way that many others are, but modern in the ďnot going to penalize you in stupid ways but instead will make (almost) everything as slick as possibleĒ way in a lot of key mechanics. Itís a big, amazing world where every piece of it feels unique and ďrealĒ and you can spend hours exploring it without moving the plot forward... or you can go right to the plot, which is intriguing enough to keep you interested. Your choice. I tend to take my time...
Almost made it: Crashmo, La-Mulana, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Nano Assault Neo, NightSky, Nintendo Land, Trine 2
Too soon to call: Fluidity: Spin Cycle
Wanted to play but didnít (yet): Assassinís Creed III, Closure, Darksiders II, Liberation Maiden, NiGHTS into Dreams, Persona 4 Arena, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, Retro/Grade, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2, Sine Mora, Sound Shapes, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, The Last Story, The Unfinished Swan, The Walking Dead, Zero Escape: Virtueís Last Reward, ZombiU
Not 100% sure on the order, but my list goes something like this:
10. Journey - It didn't resonate with me nearly as much as it did with pretty much everyone else, but I think the concept of teaming up with a complete stranger and having no way to communicate with them is a really novel idea, and Journey did it very seamlessly.
9. Nintendo Land - Biggest surprise of the year for me. Very fun, and the presentation blew me away.
8. New Super Mario Bros. U - It's more Mario. I'm adoring the challenges though; I love the game's bigger focus on speedrunning.
7. Kid Icarus: Uprising - What a game! I always like to think of Uprising as an entire TV show, as opposed to most games which feel more like one season of a TV show. I love how the game goes out of its way to surprise you with more content. Most developers would have cut out all the extra story arcs and sold them as DLC!
6. Mass Effect 3 - This was all set to be one of my favorite games of the generation until the end. Very disappointing, but everything in the middle of the game is amazing. Lots of awesome scenes. This is one of the only games to ever make me cry!
5. SSX - Love the music integration in this game, and nothing feels better than pulling off a really great run.
4. Little Inferno - It's not the sequel of World of Goo, but it feels very very World of Gooey. Love the atmosphere, and the game's ultimate message has changed the way I play games. And the music is amazing.
3. Fez - Great art, great music, and most importantly, great puzzles. This feels like a modern-day version of the original Legend of Zelda. Captures that same isolated atmosphere and feeling of discovery, but isn't nearly as obtuse. The hints are just vague enough that having to make the leap in logic required to solve the puzzles makes you feel like a genius.
2. The Walking Dead - It's all the best parts of Mass Effect, without any filler! Well, there are a few boring puzzles in the early episodes (and I actually like Mass Effect's combat). This is one of the most tense games I've ever played. I remember kriswright said something earlier this year about how if a game could make him cry just through the gameplay, it would be the best game ever. I think The Walking Dead achieves that. Some of the stuff you'll choose to do in this game is unbelievable.
1. Rhythm Heaven Fever - Like Guillaume said on the podcast, it's a disk of pure joy. There isn't much to Rhythm Heaven Fever, but I think about it all the time. The remixes are absolutely phenomenal; I'd love to see a game that implemented that sort of WarioWare gameplay into a huge adventure or something. If you like music, play this.
Have yet to play: Spec Ops, Dishonored, Hotline Miami, Unfinished Swan, Borderlands 2, Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, ZombiU, Darksiders 2, Mighty Switch Force HD
WARNING: This is list is primarily Zelda as I caught up on most of the Zelda games this year.
10. Super Mario 3D Land When I first saw this game, I didn't think much of it. But after buying it and playing it for a couple of minutes I was hooked. The levels are short and sweet and the difficulty curve is perfect. Also that super secret level you unlock, is super duper hard!
9. Fez Brilliant soundtrack accompanied by perplexing puzzles and a gameplay twist that makes you think. The attention to detail and the way Polytron made this world and society is truly quite remarkable. Plus, Tetrominos!
8. Donkey Kong 64 Banjo on drugs. Basic N64 Rare platformer goodness accompanied by beautiful worlds, frustrating mini-games and of course, Lanky Kong.
7. Assassin's Creed 3 Still cannot gather my thoughts fully on it. The majority of the game I loved. It had a fantastic soundtrack as well as a true realistic world with great graphics to boot. The gameplay is a natural evolution of previous titles and the story is fantastic. Multiplayer is a blast too!
6. Skyward Sword This game was so close to perfect for me but it fell short in a few areas that just stopped it from reaching that point. Also, I wasn't too fond of the graphics. They were great and worked well with the Wii, but looked a little too watered down.
5. Super Mario Sunshine Love. Love. LOVE! It's everything I loved about Mario 64 in a sunny locale. Plus an awesome soundtrack. This game is pure joy.
4. Metroid Fusion Super Metroid but with moar lines.
3. Zelda II One of the hardest, yet most fun Nintendo games I have played. Brilliant sequel but overlooked by many.
1/2. Majora's Mask and Twilight Princess A tie! But this is impossible!! We all know Twilight Princess sucked, it was just a blatant copy of the greatest game of all time!!
Majora's Mask has dark and gloomy undertones all through it, and is the perfect example of video-game art. While Twilight Princess was a modern take on OoT that opened Zelda up to the masses, as well as our first glimpse of a massive explorable Hyrule. Plus they have some of the best music of all time in them and some brilliant dungeon design.
Have yet to play: Darksiders 2, Mutant Mudds, Batman: Arkham City, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Xenoblade Chronicles, Hotline Miami, Dishonored, ZombiU
Almost: Little Inferno, New Super Mario Bros U, Nintendo Land
Not enough time to know: Guild Wars 2 (although this probably would have been there if I had played it earlier)
1. Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii) - .... The problem is, the world is so vast and amazing and pulls me in so deeply that I feel like itís doing the game a discredit to sit down and play for anything less than 3-4 hours at a time... and I rarely have that much time to play a game nowadays. So Iím about halfway through, slowly moving forward.
This is exactly how I feel about the game too - I don't play it unless I have a huge block of time put away... This game is still my fav. of the year. For your own personal list next year, I will wonder how you will feel about The Last Story..
I don't usually play new releases since I mostly buy discounted games, so I'm usually not playing current games. I actually bought more new releases this year than in a while, however, I don't think it's more than ten.
Not too sure about the order, but I think my list would be:
10. Mutant Mudds (3DS eShop) - An awesome 2D platformer that looks awesome in 3D with the different foregrounds and backgrounds you can hop between (like VB Wario Land!).
9. Nano Assault Neo (Wii U eShop) - (my review) A very fun twin stick shooter that looks fantastic on Wii U and has great leaderboards.
8. New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS) - I didn't buy this game at first, maybe because word of mouth saying it had little new to offer, and that the coin collecting gimmick wasn't all that great. But once I played the game, I loved it. Great level design; the emphasis on coin collecting changed the way I played my Mario game.
7. Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii) - (my review) The game's humor and appealing art style combined with simple gameplay made me keep playing for a long time as I tried to get all the medals. Great music rhythm game.
6. The Last Story (Wii) - The 'other' Operation Rainfall game. I loved the battle system and the story. A much more direct experience compared to Xenoblade but very enjoyable nonetheless. 5. ZombiU (Wii U) - An awesome zombie survival game with excellent atmosphere. Excellent use of the Wii U GamePad and quite a creepy game to boot. 4. Nintendo Land (Wii U) - One of the biggest surprises, personally. It was not a game I was anticipating since seeing it at E3, but getting my hands on my own copy revealed how brilliantly designed this game is. Very fun multiplayer, wonderful art direction in every aspect, and compelling single player challenges that play off a variety of Nintendo franchises made this game quite good.
3. New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U) - Another 2D Mario platformer, but it's so polished. Other than having too much recycled music, this game is wonderfully delightful and makes me realize I just can't get enough Mario goodness. I also love how much in common this game has with Super Mario World.
2. Kid Icarus Uprising (3DS) - Amazing game from start to finish; the game is packed with content and goes on for much longer than I was first expecting. The multiplayer is quite awesome too.
1. Xenoblade (Wii) - One of the best RPGs I have ever experienced. I did not want to stop playing; this game took me all summer long to finish but it was worth it. Almost: #11: Assassin's Creed III (Wii U) - (my review) My first Assassin's Creed game ever, I was very impressed by how ambitious the game is. Wonderful environments and a compelling story made this game worth playing, even if I had some issues with mission design and lack of cohesiveness.
Wanted to play but didnít (yet): Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, Resident Evil: Revelations, Virtue's Last Reward, Monster World IV, Little Inferno, Trine 2
This was the first game I bought for the 3DS in 2012, IIRC. An amazing game that not only got back to Resident Evil's survival horror roots, but also adding in great action sequences and, amazing set pieces, a very fun and innovative new feature with Raid Mode, as well as becoming a showpiece for the 3DS hardware. Many would say this game even outclassed other recent console Resident Evil games, including Operation Raccoon City and the fun but overall disappointing Resident Evil 6. This is a game that should be in every 3DS owner's library. Check out the amazing demo on the eShop if you haven't already.
Tekken 3D: Prime Edition
This was another of the first few games I bought this past year. This was high on my priority list as I am a big fan of the fighting genre. While this particular title wasn't as robust as other fighting games on the system, it was still a solid addition to the 3DS library, while bringing in the classic Tekken gameplay, StreetPass features, and online multiplayer. Let's hope for Namco to bring their Soulcalibur series to the 3DS next!
Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater
February was a big month for the 3DS, with this release capping off the trio of big-name games on the system. Metal Gear Solid 3 is already a bona-fide hit game, but the 3DS version is worth checking out as well. Featuring new abilities (such as crouching and moving at the same time) new textures for all the character models and some of the environments, as well as touch-screen inventory management and custom camo options thanks to the 3DS camera, this was a must-have for 3DS owners early this year. There were even Nintendo call-outs, thanks to the hidden Yoshi dolls strewn about the game. Can you find 'em all? Not convinced? Check out the demo on the eShop!
Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy
3DS got some love from high-profile developer/producer Square-Enix this past summer. While this is not the typical Final Fantasy game one would expect from the company, this turned out to be a really great music game. It features a wealth of classic tunes that span the entire franchise, challenging players to tap and slide to the beat of the music in order to fight monsters and level up their characters. Players found this game to be really addicting, and their lust for more content was answered in the form of DLC - a first for any 3DS game. (in North America anyway, I think?) Definitely worth a look. If you're not sure about it, download the demo from the eShop. You'll understand why this game attracted such a following.
Rhythm Thief and the Emperor's Treasure
Speaking of music/rhythm games, SEGA threw their hat into the ring with this amazing little title. One part Professor Layton, one part Elite Beat Agents. ALL AWESOME. Catchy music, a charming story, fun characters and a quite challenging rhythm game. This also has the honor of being directed by the same guy who did Samba de Amigo on Dreamcast. Anyone that has played that game knows this is good pedigree. It was a great game to pass the time this summer, and definitely worth getting now. It's only $20 at retail, so I urge anyone to go out and get it. This also has a demo on the eShop, so give it a whirl!
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
3DS got some more love from Square-Enix this year, thanks to the release of Dream Drop Distance. Yet another chapter (sub-chapter?) of the popular on-going series, this entry features the story lines of two branching paths of Rikku and Sora as they continue their quest through seemingly random Disney movies and references to Square's games including Final Fantasy and even cult-hit The World Ends With You. I can't personally make heads or tails of the...uh, tale, this franchise is spinning, but I do dig the action-RPG gameplay, great music and the wonderful visuals. This also has a demo on th eShop, so give it a look if you haven't already!
Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward
This was one of my most anticipated games of 2012. I was a huge fan of 999: 9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors on the original DS. The game features a solid cast of characters, head-scratching puzzles, and one of the best, if not THE best story in all of videos games. The sequel does not disappoint, and it has all the ingredients the made the original such a hit. If you're in the mood for a wild and emotional ride with some of the best-written characters this side of The Walking Dead, give this game a look. This is also available on the Playstation Vita, so there's no excuse not to play this amazing title. I think there's even a demo on the PSN, but don't bother. Just buy the game, and enjoy every last second of it. You'll want to go into this game as "fresh" as you can. You will thank me later.
Code of Princess
This game kind of came out of nowhere for me. This is something of a spiritual successor to Guardian Heroes from Treasure. Featuring side-scrolling beat-'em-up gameplay reminicent of old-school arcade games, with RPG leveling-up elements, and local and online multiplayer co-op included, this game became a must-have title and an absolute joy to play. It was produced by Atlus, so there are limited physical copies out there in the world. But fear not! This game is due to be released as a digital download on January 3rd, 2013. So if you missed out on this great game THIS year, be sure to give it a download early next year.
NEW Super Mario Bros. 2
Oh yeah, the big one. Nintendo's mascot returns to the 3DS, this time in his 2D roots. This game features new a power-up, the return of flight, and the gimmick of coin-collecting cranked to the max. You can go for high-scores with coin-collecting while you (yet again) save the Princess from the clutches of Bowser, King of the Koopas. This game also features the all-new Coin Rush mode, which challenges you to collect as many coins as you can in a variety of stages as you race against the clock. You can challenge other players with StreetPass features, or go for the high score with the online leaderboards. This game also has DLC (both paid and free giveaways) to extend your Coin Rush experience. This is probably the best 2D handheld-specific game ever made. It's a fantastic addition to the 3DS library, and well worth purchasing, or downloading from the eShop. Let's-a-go!
Kid Icarus Uprising
Kid Icarus Uprising was one of the most anticipated games for the 3DS. After being MIA for decades, Pit's adventures return to the world of video games! This game has it all. And I mean, ALL. A lengthy and enjoyable single-player campaign filled to the brim with action, humor, and loads of creativity and imagination. Tons of unlockables, StreetPass features, AR card implementation, and local and online multiplayer. This is my personal GOTY, and one of the absolute best reasons to own a 3DS, IMO.
Borderlands 2, Mass Effect 3, The Walking Dead, Halo 4, Far Cry 3, Minecraft (XBLA), Hitman Absolution, Assassin's Creed 3. Of those games the only ones I would highly recommend are:
Borderlands 2, The Walking Dead, and Minecraft. Maybe Far Cry 3 as well since I am still really early on. The rest have much better previous entries in their franchises. They are still good games but I cannot honestly label or even consider them for GOTY.
All the games you listed for 3DS I have no interest whatsoever in for varying reasons. I don't like rhythm games, the demos for Metal Gear and Resident Evil didn't impress me, I have basically written off Kingdom Hearts as a franchise after playing the first one, and Kid Icarus I wanted to try but not for $40.
Just based on the demo? That demo was awesome dude! How could you not enjoy it?!? And beyond that, the ACTUAL GAME is far better. You're doing yourself a HUGE disservice (as a gamer) by not playing it.
Kid Icarus Uprising is amazing, and blows pretty much any console game released in 2012 out of the water with its sheer volume of features, content and creativity. You can buy that one without hesitation and know you'll be getting an amazing game. Trust me, regardless of whatever other games you've played this year (which, by your own admission, isn't much - only 8) it'll blow away your expectations.
It was a very interesting year. While there weren't any stand-out obvious winners this year like there was last year with Portal 2, all the small weird stuff like Fez and Journey and The Walking Dead made this year really cool. I agree with you, most of the sequels that came out in 2012 were way too samey in comparison to everything else.