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Jhonen Vasquez's Top Games of 2012

The creator of Invader Zim and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac gives us his top games of 2012 for reasons I can't entirely comprehend.

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Jhonen Vasquez is a... guy. I think? I don't really know what else to say. I met him once, briefly, and he was super-nice in that way that you don't expect people who create really fucked-up, disturbing shit to be, but always are. Like, I bet H.R. Giger was a total sweetheart. Anyway, I made a Hot Topic joke at his expense and he sent me this self-portrait on the right. Pretty great, huh?

So here's what stood out for me in 2012 in no real particular order. I'm not easy with putting them in a best-to-worst way because they're just so different from one another. Mostly I just wanna say this is a list of shit that most distracted me from solving all of the world's troubles this year.

The Walking Dead

This did everything for me, made me laugh, curse at my TV, shout in horrified surprise. Someone should make a Walking Dead TV show, or at least a comic book.

Super Hexagon

The worst kind of addictive. I'd get texts from Penn Ward saying "I beat your score in Super Hexagon." and I'd play til I beat him back, not eating or using the restroom in the actual restroom.

Retro City Rampage

This game reminded me I had a Vita, and that's pretty impressive. Awesomely stupid game, great soundtrack.

Borderlands 2

More of the same, but the same was still me and my friends on headsets having a good time just shooting the shit while we shot shit. Much better writing this time around made the cold cold mechanics of grinding go down a lil' smoother.

The Room

Holy god I can play things like this forever. I swear I could hear the dopamine surging through my tubes with every latch I'd uncover and every gear I'd set moving with the right combination of OH GOD I WANT MORE.

Max Payne 3

Yeah, it's a different feel from the previous games I loved so much, but when Max's neighbor walks out and explodes himself after a few creepy words, I had no choice but to be cool with everything.

ZombiU

Surprised how much I got into this game. Can't even say I had "fun" playing it, but the stark, miserable stressful slog through garbage and undead horrors was addictive as hell for me. Reminded me of Condemned, only with less beating to death of homeless people.

Letterpress

I love winning, and even losing is fun when I play this--THAT's how much I love word games and this one in particular. Yeah, yeah, I cry when I lose, but in a fun way.

Sound Shapes

Pure charm this game, though it was barely a game in the usual sense. I'm a sucker for interactive music in games and this game was just growing smiles the whole way through.

FTL: Faster Than Light

Infuriating! I HATE you, FTL! What the hell is your merciless problem? My crew didn't deserve that shit! -plays FTL again-

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

More of the same same same yeah, but zombies has given me and my friends countless hours of awesome since World at War, and this is MORE zombies. Campaign was idiotic fun, and also vomit-inducing punch-glove.

Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit

Exactly the sort of thing me from the past would have imagined gaming on the Genesis of the future would be like.

Deadlight

Didn't trust the player to figure things out quite enough, but loved the art direction and the flashbacks to games like... well... Flashback.

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Avatar image for staff
Posted by Staff
2403355-boof.jpg

Jhonen Vasquez is a... guy. I think? I don't really know what else to say. I met him once, briefly, and he was super-nice in that way that you don't expect people who create really fucked-up, disturbing shit to be, but always are. Like, I bet H.R. Giger was a total sweetheart. Anyway, I made a Hot Topic joke at his expense and he sent me this self-portrait on the right. Pretty great, huh?

So here's what stood out for me in 2012 in no real particular order. I'm not easy with putting them in a best-to-worst way because they're just so different from one another. Mostly I just wanna say this is a list of shit that most distracted me from solving all of the world's troubles this year.

The Walking Dead

This did everything for me, made me laugh, curse at my TV, shout in horrified surprise. Someone should make a Walking Dead TV show, or at least a comic book.

Super Hexagon

The worst kind of addictive. I'd get texts from Penn Ward saying "I beat your score in Super Hexagon." and I'd play til I beat him back, not eating or using the restroom in the actual restroom.

Retro City Rampage

This game reminded me I had a Vita, and that's pretty impressive. Awesomely stupid game, great soundtrack.

Borderlands 2

More of the same, but the same was still me and my friends on headsets having a good time just shooting the shit while we shot shit. Much better writing this time around made the cold cold mechanics of grinding go down a lil' smoother.

The Room

Holy god I can play things like this forever. I swear I could hear the dopamine surging through my tubes with every latch I'd uncover and every gear I'd set moving with the right combination of OH GOD I WANT MORE.

Max Payne 3

Yeah, it's a different feel from the previous games I loved so much, but when Max's neighbor walks out and explodes himself after a few creepy words, I had no choice but to be cool with everything.

ZombiU

Surprised how much I got into this game. Can't even say I had "fun" playing it, but the stark, miserable stressful slog through garbage and undead horrors was addictive as hell for me. Reminded me of Condemned, only with less beating to death of homeless people.

Letterpress

I love winning, and even losing is fun when I play this--THAT's how much I love word games and this one in particular. Yeah, yeah, I cry when I lose, but in a fun way.

Sound Shapes

Pure charm this game, though it was barely a game in the usual sense. I'm a sucker for interactive music in games and this game was just growing smiles the whole way through.

FTL: Faster Than Light

Infuriating! I HATE you, FTL! What the hell is your merciless problem? My crew didn't deserve that shit! -plays FTL again-

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

More of the same same same yeah, but zombies has given me and my friends countless hours of awesome since World at War, and this is MORE zombies. Campaign was idiotic fun, and also vomit-inducing punch-glove.

Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit

Exactly the sort of thing me from the past would have imagined gaming on the Genesis of the future would be like.

Deadlight

Didn't trust the player to figure things out quite enough, but loved the art direction and the flashbacks to games like... well... Flashback.

Avatar image for cloneslayer
Posted by Cloneslayer

I fucking love Invader Zim!

Avatar image for prestonhedges
Posted by prestonhedges
Jhonen Vasquez is a... guy. I think? I don't really know what else to say. I met him once, briefly,

Uh, you're the one who asked him for a top ten list, man. You must have done it for some sort of reason. Don't pretend otherwise.

Avatar image for simpsonsfan
Posted by simpsonsfan

cool

Avatar image for john-luke
Posted by John-Luke

I love Giant Bomb.

Avatar image for apollobob
Posted by ApolloBob

I don't care how many top tens include Sound Shapes, I'm not buying a Vita, do you hear? Portables are dead. DEAD!

Avatar image for deegee
Posted by DeeGee

@gladspooky said:

Jhonen Vasquez is a... guy. I think? I don't really know what else to say. I met him once, briefly,

Uh, you're the one who asked him for a top ten list, man. You must have done it for some sort of reason. Don't pretend otherwise.

They write their own introductions.

Avatar image for slimepuppy
Posted by slimepuppy

Neat list. Captures a trend from this year: 'more of the same, but in a good way'. Also, glad to see The Room get some love - I had a great time with that.

Avatar image for falconer
Posted by Falconer

@DeeGee: The stuff in italics is written by Ryan most of the time.

Online
Avatar image for phatmac
Posted by Phatmac

This guy made Invader Zim, show some damn respect!

Avatar image for reygitano
Posted by ReyGitano

I'm so confused right now, but in an awesome way.

Avatar image for paulunga
Posted by paulunga

@slimepuppy said:

Neat list. Captures a trend from this year: 'more of the same, but in a good way'. Also, glad to see The Room get some love - I had a great time with that.

What? Almost all of those are original games instead of sequels? I don't get your more of the same comment.

Avatar image for giovanni
Posted by GioVANNI

Holy shit.  Invader Zim is awesome. 
 
This is also a solid list of games

Avatar image for arbitrarywater
Posted by ArbitraryWater

How did you get "Guy what made Invader Zim" to do a top 10 list?

Avatar image for icytower38
Posted by icytower38

Invader Zim is the shit!

Avatar image for zombie2011
Posted by zombie2011

Love the description he wrote for Hell Yeah!

Avatar image for slimepuppy
Posted by slimepuppy

@paulunga: Call of Duty and Borderlands 2. More of the same, but in a good way. As Mr. Vasquez points out, sometimes you just want to shoot shit while shooting the shit with some friends.

As most AAA games these days veer towards sequels and quite risk-averse ones at that, more of the same is fine as long as it continues to entertain. No one should feel guilty about liking the same thing over and over again, even if that's not for everyone.

Avatar image for ghost_of_perdition
Posted by Ghost_of_Perdition

Come to me you sinners, you evil men. You were born in filth and squalor, but today you'll be cleansed. Cleansed in FIRE!

Hoboken is a crazy place I hear. Also it makes me moist knowing Jhonen played Condemned. SQUEEEEE

Avatar image for fireburst
Posted by Fireburst

Huge Invader Zim fan! Nice list with good explanations, bravo sir.

Avatar image for ripelivejam
Edited by ripelivejam

wow this is a really unexpected list, but pretty damn interesting.

love what he does but feel i'd be very intimidated by him if i ever meet him irl...

seems hell yeah is really unappreciated, may have to try it. should've thought it'd be right up jhonen's alley...

Avatar image for wmwa
Posted by WMWA
@gladspooky
Jhonen Vasquez is a... guy. I think? I don't really know what else to say. I met him once, briefly,

Uh, you're the one who asked him for a top ten list, man. You must have done it for some sort of reason. Don't pretend otherwise.

Are you going inception with sarcasm or are you just that stupid?
Avatar image for manhattan_project
Posted by Manhattan_Project

Max Payne getting some more love is always a a good thing. That game took 60+ hours of my life.

Avatar image for undeadpool
Posted by Undeadpool

I always think JTHM gets a bum rep because of how misunderstood it is. It's A) Supposed to be funny and B) Johnny is supposed to be reviled. Hell, there's an ISSUE that deals with how Vasquez seems to feel about his most rabid fanbase, who are also the ones that have ENTIRELY missed the point.

That aside: great list, very diverse.

Avatar image for lackingsaint
Posted by LackingSaint

Oh man this is a surprise, but a nice one.

Avatar image for jkizzlemurphy
Posted by jkizzlemurphy

@gladspooky said:

Jhonen Vasquez is a... guy. I think? I don't really know what else to say. I met him once, briefly,

Uh, you're the one who asked him for a top ten list, man. You must have done it for some sort of reason. Don't pretend otherwise.

*joke flying over head

Avatar image for renegadesaint
Posted by RenegadeSaint

Judging by the horrifyingly accurate portrait, I'm going to say Jeff wrote the introduction.

Avatar image for buwchbach
Posted by buwchbach

Jhonen Vasques is adorable. He's really good at writing things that I like and other people like for completely different reasons. He's lovely. But Borderlands 2 is not well written.

Avatar image for fox01313
Posted by fox01313

Brilliant list & always happy as hell to see some interview or gem of knowledge like this from Jhonen. Always enjoyed the quirky dark humor in Jhonen Vasquez's work as well as Roman Dirge (Lenore).

Avatar image for coakroach
Posted by coakroach

Well this was certainly unexpected

Avatar image for mandrewgora
Posted by Mandrewgora

what?

Avatar image for natto
Posted by natto

This is a strange but welcome convergence of my interests.

Avatar image for detectivespecial
Posted by DetectiveSpecial

I would just like to state, for the record, that H.R. Giger is still alive. Thus, he is still a total sweetheart.

Unless aging turned him into a thundering asshole - which is quite possible.

Avatar image for phished0ne
Posted by Phished0ne

This is nuts, thats all i can say.

Avatar image for wearenotqualified
Posted by WeAreNotQualified

Really, REALLY glad to see that someone as cool as Jhonen Vasquez played ZombiU. The only other person I've seen with that game on their list has been Patrick, which has been bumming me out. The Wii U has been REALLY overlooked, and it's a real shame, especially considering how awesome ZombiU is.

It's not for everybody, and as Jhonen said, it's neither "fun" in the traditional sense most players prefer, but that doesn't mean it's not enjoyable for the right sort of person. It's stressful, challenging, addictive, and very rewarding, especially when you push against the odds and make it through alive.

Ever since Silent Hill and Resident Evil abandoned proper Survival Horror, I've been really bummed out on the genre, but I think ZombiU sets a new standard and really stands out as something new, both in the genre itself and in games overall.

It's kind of interesting how zombies sort of bounced back this year, with The Walking Dead, ZombiU, and the Zombies multiplayer in Call of Duty. I really hope we can look forward to better uses of the genre, especially with certain games fucking it up (looking at you, Resident Evil 6).

Avatar image for nintenjoe
Posted by NintenJoe

@ArbitraryWater: He's big into games. Saw a panel at a SDCC and spent a good fifteen minutes of it just talking video games. Awesome to see his list on here.

Avatar image for robotsquad
Posted by RobotSquad

Heh, Jhonen Vasquez's name was actually dropped in the Hell Yeah Quick Look.

Avatar image for mikegosot
Posted by MikeGosot

The description for Hell Yeah! was amazing. Also, HOLY SHIT THE GUY WHO MADE INVADER ZIM.

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Posted by Indiana_Jenkins

Great list, I love seeing shout outs to Super Hexagon and Max Payne 3.

Avatar image for bd_mr_bubbles
Posted by BD_Mr_Bubbles

@GioVANNI said:

Holy shit. Invader Zim is awesome. This is also a solid list of games
Avatar image for mnzy
Edited by mnzy

H. R. Giger is still alive!

Avatar image for shadowvirus
Posted by ShadowVirus

I love this man! So glad they got him to do a GOTY list.

Avatar image for nephrahim
Posted by Nephrahim

Ha ha ha... what on earth... what an odd person to send a list.

Still, he's a cool guy and these are cool games.

Avatar image for tearhead
Posted by Tearhead

@ShadowVirus said:

I love this man! So glad they got him to do a GOTY list.
Avatar image for crithon
Posted by crithon

huh, I last time I saw him was at the Castle Crashers booth. He's like the reverse of one of my best friends, so surreal.

Avatar image for omfgzell
Posted by omfgzell

I love you I love your work I kinda like your list

Avatar image for pleasedaddyno
Posted by pleasedaddyno

Invader Zim was my childhood!

Avatar image for viking_funeral
Posted by Viking_Funeral

Easily the list I least expected to see.

Avatar image for oginam
Posted by Oginam

Seeing this show up here of all places made me realize I really need to replace my copy of JTHM that I lost during a move.

Avatar image for gunstarred
Posted by GunstarRed

This list reminded me to go back and read Everything can be beaten. Aww, man, I love that book.

Avatar image for cornbredx
Posted by CornBREDX

Wow. Biggest surprise of the end of 2012. 
All it needs is insane rambling bordering the text... yep that's Jhonen Vasquez

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