Game of the Yesteryear 2013

As someone who by sheer circumstance is rarely able to enjoy games in their zeitgeist-laden prime at launch out of sheer financial necessity, it's hardly uncommon for the bulk of the ones that I do play over the course of a given year to have come out in years past. 2013 has been no different; having graduated university and constantly lacked anything in the way of a stable job beyond the occasional forays into freelance translation, my year in games inherently couldn't be defined by such titans as GTAV, The Last Of Us, and many others. Instead, it was mostly an odd menagerie of games from years gone by that impacted me the most and, in many cases, pleasantly challenged my idea of what could constitute good, worthwhile gameplay experiences.

So profoundly did some of these games manage to impress me in one regard or another that, if I'm being honest with myself, compared to many other lists on here that are bound to focus on games that properly came out this year, this list is the one that best summarizes my 2013. The games on here are admittedly a curious bunch, with some from the recent past, some from distant decades ago, and many not even in English, but they all will nevertheless go on to inform my understanding of games and what all they can be in the coming year and beyond. As I'm stubbornly of the opinion that we cannot fully comprehend the impact of today's games unless we better contextualilze their place by consulting history, this list is therefore as much of a celebration of video gaming's past, as well as a sincere hope that maybe, just maybe at least some of these games are still potent enough by today's standards to inform the creation of future works. While many developers have drawn upon similar sources of inspiration in creating the best contemporary works that the medium has to offer, I'd wager that those nostalgic wells have hardly been sucked dry and that all of these games still have plenty to teach about the philosophies of fun, design, and experience, especially those not readily available in English.

Given the diversity of experiences available on hand here, placement on this list is less about raw quality than it is simply the amount of impact I personally felt while playing these games. On their own, I would argue that each of these games could stand proudly among the best in their respective genres and, indeed, I also feel that they would have likely ended up on proper GOTY lists on the years of their releases had I been able to play them in a more timely fashion. Lasting impressions, then, are what ultimately dictate a game's position on this list, even if it's ultimately a granular distinction between absolutely fantastic for number 1 at the top and pretty god damn great for number 10 at the bottom.

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3 Comments
Edited by DevourerOfTime

From the way you describe it, Conception sounds like the Spec Ops: The Line of modern anime-inspired JRPG's. Except funny instead of depressing and actually has strong gameplay mechanics.

If that's still true for the sequel, I might grab it when it comes over to NA.

Posted by Pepsiman

@devoureroftime: Heh, that comparison actually made me laugh out loud. I never played Spec Ops, but from what I know about that game, I could certainly agree that Conception is out to accomplish pretty similar things. I still haven't beaten it so for all I know maybe it has its grim dark white phosphorous moment as some morbid conclusion about the nature of otakus!

But yeah, I think that satire is why a company like Atlus feels justified in bringing over the sequel. I haven't really been able to ascertain one way or another whether the comedy elements are still present in the second game since a lot of Amazon Japan reviews just play things with a straight face, but then again, judging by their reviews of the first game, apparently not everyone really understood it was satire, so I have hope. I'll probably end up buying it since this year has convinced me that Spike-Chunsoft knows what it's doing when it comes to game writing, but yeah.

Edited by DevourerOfTime

Hopefully, if you do pick up the sequel, you'll write about it a bit. I would love to hear about it from the perspective of someone who played and enjoyed the original. It'll no doubt be more comprehensive and insightful than any coverage that's gonna happen in NA.

And Spike-Chunsoft convinced me they were a company to pay attention to when I played 999. Looking forward to Danganronpa's English release in February!