Where does the time go? It feels only a few weeks back that we sat down with the first big-name release of 2012; yet here we are, looking ahead to what 2013 is set to bring us, deciding whether last year’s big releases lived up to their names, and taking a look at the under-appreciated gems which have surely surprised us all. Without further ado, here are the games we’ve enjoyed most throughout 2012:
In a year that’s seen the release of a brand-new Nintendo console, the Wii’s been somewhat neglected – by both gamers and developers. However, Mistwalker’s The Last Story was both the perfect lease of life for Nintendo’s final foray into Standard Definition console gaming towards the beginning of the year, and a fitting swansong for the system in its final days. It was by no means the longest game of the year, but this JRPG is certainly a fine case of quality over quantity, with the refined Lazulis City taking precedence over the huge worlds seen in the likes of Xenoblade Chronicles.
Featuring both a fully-fledged campaign and a bonus Raid Mode that offers more depth and replay value than The Mercenaries 3D in its entirety, Resident Evil Revelations is not only a fun game, but also a brilliant technical feat from Capcom. The production values are astounding, the graphics remain unmatched on 3DS, and it’s still a wonder how Capcom’s managed to squeeze so much out of the handheld within its first year.
While the previous entries in this list have been big productions, Mutant Mudds is quite the contrary. It may look, sound and play like a retro platformer, and it may be available on certain other platforms at a lesser price, but the 3DS version’s use of 3D genuinely complements the gameplay, and with the availability of the additional Grannie stages via a free downloadable update, there’s plenty of content for the asking price.
Party games have a questionable reputation, and countless cash-ins on Wii may go some way to making that reputation justifiable. Nintendo Land, however, shows why you shouldn’t dismiss a mini-game collection too quickly. The game is a tribute to all things Nintendo with 12 different games dedicated to 12 different Nintendo properties. It is also super accessible yet has a surprising amount of depth. My highlights are Donkey Kong Crash Course (the best of the single player games, in part, due to its ruthless difficulty), Mario Chase (like a modern update of playground tag) and Animal Crossing Sweet Day (perhaps the mini-game that provided the most laughs over the Christmas period). Nintendo Land is an essential Wii U title.
VVVVVV is a peculiar 3DS eShop title in that, realistically, it could be on any other platform. It makes next to no use of the 3D capabilities of the machine or any of the other features of the 3DS. Despite this, it is easily one of my favourite games available on Nintendo’s store. It is a 2D puzzle platformer that replaces jumping with flipping, contains an excellent chip tune soundtrack and contains extra levels designed by, amongst others, Minecraft’s Notch. Terry Cavanagh’s devilish indie masterpiece is a glorious tribute to retro gaming.
Pokémon Black/White Version 2
A few eyebrows were raised when the first numbered sequels in the series were announced as DS titles despite the 3DS having been released for some time. The games served as a great swansong to the old system expanding on the well-honed ideas of the previous titles in addition to plenty of new ones that you can see being expanded on in the inevitable 3DS editions. Evolution rather than revolution, as always with Pokémon, but this is another solid entry in the hit series.
Kid Icarus: Uprising
This game is a huge step forward in a lot of ways. It may be a solid on-rails/third-person shooter at its core – marred in some people’s opinion only by its controls – but this game is so much more. With impeccable presentation, hilarious and witty dialogue, and a superb adaptive difficulty system, Kid Icarus: Uprising is without a doubt one of the best games of the year, and one that we can see ourselves continuing to play throughout 2013.
Zombies on Wii U. To an extent, this game does exactly what it says on the tin. Open it up and take the game for a spin, though, and you’ll see that this isn’t just another generic shooter which, on the off-chance, features zombies as the antagonists. ZombiU is a gritty survival horror game, with a true focus on conserving ammo which has you thinking outside the box with every undead encounter, and with an extremely unforgiving difficulty level which punishes you greatly for one slight misjudgement. Granted, it doesn’t get everything right, but there’s no denying that this is a fine example of how to execute a fully-functional survival horror video game.
Trine 2: Director’s Cut, Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure and Assassin’s Creed III, Little Inferno
Your turn! Do you agree with our decisions? What have you enjoyed in 2012, and what are you looking forward to this year?