Thursday, January 31, 2013

Top Five Favorite Video Games of 2012

2012 was not an exceedingly exciting gaming year for me. Despite the birth of two brand new platforms, both of which I got in on, my interests veered more towards things like comics and film. I enjoyed enough games to fill a top ten list, but really, there were around five to seven games that really stood out to me. So I decided to do a nice, round 5 games. I love these games, and they left a real impact on me.

I'm pleased to present my top five favorite games of 2012.

5. New Super Mario Bros. U - (played on Wii U)
Christmas day - and the rest of my Christmas break for that matter - was Wii U week for me. The game that really captured my attention, and that really got me excited for Nintendo's new console, was New Super Mario Bros. U. Easily the best of the New Super games, NSMBU fills eight worlds with energetic and interesting level designs that look better than ever, thanks to Nintendo embracing high definition visuals. The new squirrel suit and the pink baby Yoshi are two of the coolest power-ups in any of the 2D Mario games, both giving the player a joyous sense of flight. The Miiverse integration smartly gives the experience a social flair, even when playing alone, and the option to play exclusively on the Gamepad is convenient. Nintendo still knows what it's doing. 

4. Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational - (played on PS Vita)
Yeah, I got on board with the Vita as well. Game releases sure are slow for the system at the moment, but that's partly due to its crazy launch day, filled with tons of big first-party titles. The first game I bought to go along with my Vita was Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational. Not Uncharted, not Wipeout, not Lumines, no - I went with the quirky, arcade-style gold game. It was great fun! The graphics are gorgeous, and do a great job of showing off the Vita's impressive display. The course design and character customization are great, as I've come to expect from this series. Golf games bore some people, but for me, there's not many things more exciting than an impressive shot across the map that lands right in the hole.

3. The Walking Dead - (played on iOS)
When Telltale's The Walking Dead set the gaming community on fire, with glowing reviews, game of the year nominations, and personal stories of tears, I was quite surprised. It seemed to me like it would be a "pretty good" series that got less and less relevant as it went on, but boy, was I wrong. The first season of The Walking Dead, which lasted five episodes, is a memorable emotional roller coaster. I was pleased to find that Telltale veered away from confusing puzzles and instead focused on storytelling, and I was even more pleased to find just how good the story it has to tell is. The game is incredibly tense all the way to its depressing conclusion, and it manages to give the player a tangible sense of moral responsibility for his actions. The game is also easy on the eyes, with a distinct comic-book-inspired look. It is a fulfilling experience that I am glad to have had.

2. Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale - (played on PS3 and Playstation Vita)
Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale gave me a feeling that I haven't had in around seven years - The feeling of playing Super Smash Bros. for the first time. Which is not to say that PS All-Stars isn't unique, because, as IGN's Colin Moriarty said in his review, "the two games are as different as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat." Its focus on Super Attacks is what sets it apart from Super Smash Bros., giving the game a much more strategic feel. The game's inclusion of solid online play and the option to play on the go [with the Vita version, which comes free with a purchase of the PS3 version] made the game incredibly addictive for me, and it's important to note that its inspiration can't boast those features.

1. Lollipop Chainsaw - (played on Xbox 360)
I'm not nearly as loyal and passionate as many other fans of Grasshopper Manufacture and Suda 51, but Lollipop Chainsaw blew my mind. I love practically everything about this game, from its goofy, stupid and sexy sense of style to its thrilling gameplay, rife with old-school sensibility. The developers clearly chose not to censor themselves much, filling the game to the brim with sex, violence and overall crudeness. All of that, mind you, juxtaposes with rainbows, cheerleading and light-hearted 80s pop music. The game especially shines in its aesthetics, but the solid score-based beat-em-up action does not get buried in the barrage of sensory gold. I almost immediately jumped in for a second playthrough after my first, which is something I never do. This game is easily my favorite of 2012.

What were your favorites? How awful is my taste in games? There's a comments section below, bro.