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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.

No Caption Provided

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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staff

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Edited By staff  Staff • 
No Caption Provided

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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Cloneslayer

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Edited By Cloneslayer • 

I fucking love Invader Zim!

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prestonhedges

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Edited 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.

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simpsonsfan

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John-Luke

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Edited By John-Luke • 

I love Giant Bomb.

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ApolloBob

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Edited 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!

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DeeGee

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Edited 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.

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slimepuppy

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Edited 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.

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Falconer

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Edited By Falconer • 

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

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Phatmac

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Edited By Phatmac • 

This guy made Invader Zim, show some damn respect!

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ReyGitano

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Edited By ReyGitano • 

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

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paulunga

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Edited 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.

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GioVANNI

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Edited By GioVANNI • 

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

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ArbitraryWater

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Edited By ArbitraryWater • 

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

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icytower38

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Edited By icytower38 • 

Invader Zim is the shit!

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zombie2011

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Edited By zombie2011 • 

Love the description he wrote for Hell Yeah!

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slimepuppy

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Edited 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.

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Ghost_of_Perdition

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Edited 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

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Fireburst

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Edited By Fireburst • 

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

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ripelivejam

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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...

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WMWA

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Edited 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?
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Manhattan_Project

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Edited By Manhattan_Project • 

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

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Undeadpool

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Edited 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.

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LackingSaint

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Edited By LackingSaint • 

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

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jkizzlemurphy

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Edited 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

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RenegadeSaint

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Edited By RenegadeSaint • 

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

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buwchbach

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Edited 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.

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fox01313

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Edited 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).

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coakroach

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Edited By coakroach • 

Well this was certainly unexpected

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natto

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Edited By natto • 

This is a strange but welcome convergence of my interests.

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DetectiveSpecial

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Edited 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.

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Phished0ne

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Edited By Phished0ne • 

This is nuts, thats all i can say.

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WeAreNotQualified

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Edited 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).

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Edited 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.

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RobotSquad

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Edited By RobotSquad • 

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

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Edited By MikeGosot • 

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

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Edited By Indiana_Jenkins • 

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

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Edited By BD_Mr_Bubbles • 

@GioVANNI said:

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

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Edited By mnzy • 

H. R. Giger is still alive!

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ShadowVirus

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Edited By ShadowVirus • 

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

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Nephrahim

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Edited 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.

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Edited By Tearhead • 

@ShadowVirus said:

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

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omfgzell

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Edited By omfgzell • 

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

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viking_funeral

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Edited By viking_funeral • 

Easily the list I least expected to see.

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Oginam

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Edited 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.

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GunstarRed

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Edited By GunstarRed • 

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

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CornBREDX

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Edited By CornBREDX • 

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