Beautiful. Every pixel and tune is as close to perfect as it gets. I lost myself in this world until I had completed everything.
2. The Pinball Arcade
This was my year for pinball, and it's all because of this game. Because I started playing this on iPad, and because I got into one of the tables (Theatre of Magic), I found a real Theatre of Magic, got to know the number 2 ranked pinball player in Australia, was convinced to join a local Sydney tournament, and fell down the rabbit hole of pinball. Previously, I never cared for it. Now, perhaps 8 months on, I have come 5th in one of these tournaments (beating the aforementioned 2nd ranked player as well as the 1st!), have met a bunch of really cool people, and had a complete blast. I may have played more pinball this year than video games. I also still play a lot of Pinball Arcade as, even if it isn't the same as the real thing (the level of control in a real pinball table is beyond anything that could be emulated right now), it's still fantastic for learning the tables ins and outs and then applying them to the real thing. I also love that they are keeping pinball alive by replicating all of the awesome (and not so awesome) tables that are out there. It was a tough choice between this and Fez for number 1 game, but in the end, Pinball Arcade introduced me to something that isn't strictly a video game so I could not in good conscience make it number 1.
3. Super Crate Box
The first game I played in 2012 and I had a feeling it was going to take best game of the year. It still managed to stay in the top 3 which isn't so bad.
Jeff Minter is a mad genius, and the new Gridrunner on iOS is an example of that genius.
5. Lollipop Chainsaw
A genuinely funny game. The writing in this is some of the best I have ever seen applied to the medium and the characters are all fantastic. It's not the most exciting game to 'play', but one of the best in every other respect.
6. Forza Horizon
I've never cared for Forza as I don't care for sim racers. This is not a sim racer and, unlike Need for Speed Most Wanted, has a great selection of cars and I really enjoyed it. I have criticisms of this game however, such as the poor audio mix, and the world feels far too small. But it's still great to cruise around, participate in the events, and the feel of the driving is very well done. It never clicked with me until I completely turned off the driving line mind you... I don't understand how following a green line is at all interesting.
7. Super Ox Wars
Another Jeff Minter game. I didn't get into it until a few guys on my Game Centre friends list were swapping high scores (hi Gaz and Robert Ashley!). An enjoyable shooter with the classic Minter addiction feeling of 'just one more game'.
Newly released on iOS and the controls are beautiful. I was reminded why I loved this game back in the old days and it still holds up just as well. One of the best racers released this year.
9. Need for Speed: Most Wanted
I need to try and think of positive things to say about this game before I criticise it... I guess, in the end, I still loved driving around the world and looping around the freeways weaving in and out of traffic like I did in Burnout Paradise. But, I was really, deeply disappointed with this game. I was expecting it to be a sequel to my favourite game of all time (the previously mentioned Burnout Paradise), but it failed in almost every respect. The car selection was too small and the cars themselves a strange mix of boring cars (too many concepts), the co-operative and friendly multiplayer of Burnout Paradise was thrown out the window and replaced with a competitive smash fest that became infuriating. People are rewarded for taking out other competitors while they are just trying to complete a task and that ruins the entire multiplayer for me. I made so many online friends in Burnout Paradise because people were encouraged to help each other and teach each other how to do things. This is reversed in NFS Most Wanted. Also, the swapping back and forth of cars between multiplayer events was frustrating and you couldn't switch half the time without A: losing points by taking time to switch or B: getting taken out whilst trying to switch. The audio mix was horrible with the cop radio being far too loud and repetitive and never ending. The police events were frustrating and not fun, and could last forever. This game comes in at number 9 for me whilst at the same time being my most disappointing game of 2012.
Newly released on iOS this year and I had not played it before. Finished it last night and while my initial thoughts as I started playing was that the game was fantastic and might break top 5 of this list, as the game went on I found the mechanics and art a bit repetitive. Great music though.