GOTY 2013

[Ah well, I'm late in getting my list into the Giant Bomb GOTY community list consideration.]

Twenty thirteen. What a year, a year that I probably will not have many fond memories of. My parents’ business continues to struggle all-year as I’ve been supporting them with numerous payments to help keep it going. My workload at my job increased with partial weekend working hours, overseeing and managing an intern’s workload, adhering to my group of supervisors and project managers with whatever tasks they’ve assigned to me, and a calamity of other things. My brother got laid off from his job two months ago and is having a rough go on his job search. Me? It’s been pretty hard to stay level-headed while seeing my parents and brother struggle, the rampant stress from work, and the constant not-so-great news that seems to be prevalent this year.

That wasn’t to say that the entire year was shit to me. There were some notable great moments that I had in 2013. The best thing I ever did was going to Otakon this year. Many of my other great 2013 moments came through playing these games that I thought were magnificent and earned a spot in my 2013 Game of the Year list. I apologize in advance for not writing the best summary paragraphs on why these ten games made the list.

2013 Games That I Was Unable to Evaluate Due to Whatever Reason

  • Aquapazza: Aqua Plus Dream Match
  • Brain Age: Concentration Training
  • Chaos Code
  • Darkstalkers Resurrection
  • Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate
  • Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness
  • Dragon’s Crown
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
  • Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us
  • The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
  • Remember Me
  • Rune Factory 4
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers
  • Tales of Xillia
  • The Wonderful 101

Games In Progress That Just Missed Out on Evaluation

  • Need for Speed Rivals
  • Sweet Fuse: At Your Side

2013 Games That Missed the Cut

  • Battleblock Theater
  • DuckTales Remastered
  • Guacamelee!
  • Hatsume Miku: Project Diva F
  • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
  • Mighty Switch Force! 2
  • Picross e, e2, e3
  • Project X Zone
  • Sly Cooper: Thieves of Time

Without further ado, my GOTY 2013 list.

List items

  • [#10] One of the rare games that I have experienced that I still enjoyed for the most part in spite of struggling through the gameplay. It gets the nod for having impeccable production values (great graphics and voice acting, subtle soundtrack), numerous tense events and turns throughout the story, and the sense of adventure through a devastated country. The big item for me that squeezes The Last of Us into the ten-spot is Ellie. Her character was just one of those instances where she planted her stamp from the beginning and continued to glow as the game progressed. I did struggle aiming and shooting and when firefights got hot, through I feel like the game could’ve done a better job on some aspects. I also wish more map puzzles were traversed with more stealth. In the end, its strengths do enough to land on my list.

  • [#09] Sometimes for a game to garner some great attention, a mostly charismatic cast of characters with their unique flashy special attacks, set in a world where you get to beat the shit out of hordes of enemies set to seductively smooth soundtrack. Or you can take it out in a cage match, deathball, royal rumble, or manned chainsawed helicopters. Though it’s not Platinum’s strongest effort, they still manage to infuse their signature action game where a deeper than it looks combat system set surrounded with Platinum’s personality touches with its characters, setting, and soundtrack.

  • [#08] It’s hard to evaluate a game’s enjoyment due to its “difficulty.” Some games manage to earn fantastic reception with its notorious difficulty (Dark Souls, Super Meat Boy, some old-school classics like Ninja Gaiden), while other games don’t quite reach that high of a reception due to it. The first Runner game was a game I enjoyed, through levels in the last world I felt were impossible to navigate. It was refreshing to me that toning the difficulty down (even on the hardest difficulty) made the game a more enjoyable game to play. I feel like it has a far greater sense of being hard, but not being too hard where it’ll turn me off. The game’s charms from the first game still go strong here, with the obstacles mixing in well with the background music. The additions of new obstacles, moves, multiple paths, difficulty levels, and the mid-level checkpoints are welcome additions that really make it a sequel that improves and adds upon from what was laid down in the first game.

  • [#07] SMT4 did test my mettle over dying numerous times in my attempt to a resolution on my fate of Tokyo rampant with demons and two significant human powers, the old kingdom, and the fellow samurai. The SMT franchise is well-known for being pretty difficult games, mostly due to how quickly the tides can turn in battle. Despite getting frustrated over on how those battles went, they were part of the fun in figure out what to do after a defeat. Were you close and just caught a bad break? Do I need to fuse demons to get a new demon to particular statistics that will turn the fight around? Did I need to simply grind more? Part of what made SMT4 fun were the battles, figuring out the best course of actions against a group of demons that vary particular strengths and weaknesses and picking the right moves during the course of battle. Demon fusion and management was another fun element of the game where spending countless times reviewing over your party of demons and picking the demons to fuse and what traits to carry over to the new fused demon. Carefully choosing your responses and your actions during the story, in battle, in conversation, and during side-quests also adds in a nice strategic management mix, especially those who attempt in getting that hard to get neutral ending. I didn’t care much for the game’s story and its characters, and I felt the game’s pacing with the story development were slow, but those flaws weren’t enough to ruin a fun experience running and fighting with demons.

  • [#06] A young boy’s soul, trapped as a doll, is anointed the hero after the Excalibur scissor accepts him as the one the free the moon from the evil clutches of the Moon Bear King and his minions. During the journey, you encounter themed worlds filled with so much lovely art coupled with unexpected events and pop culture references. (Twitter, really?) It helps that the cast of characters featured throughout the game are well written with their own charm and personalities, whether it’s journeying the game with a chatty teenager princess, an evil witch teaching you new moves, an overzealous pirate, a feuding horse/bull couple, etc. The voice acting is top notch too. The gameplay is pretty darn fun too, with good level design with platforming, use of the scissors in unlocking areas and navigating paths, interactivity with the background, and enjoyable boss fights. Utilizing head events during the stage reveals some nice surprises on stage. Definitely a puppet show worth checking out.

  • [#05] I was touched once I read the letter my avatar/messenger delivered to me at the end of the game. It really is touching whenever you have that connection to a character that is trying so hard to deliver that message over to you, with the game instructing you to assist the messenger utilizing all functional parts of the Vita. My head was blown a couple of times where I utilized the touch screen, back touch, camera, and tilt to help my avatar get through the platforming puzzles and battling scraps. The game has a neat childish paper cut-out art look that always cracks a smile and it is fun changing the look of your messenger at certain times of the game and crafting specific shapes to the NPCs to liven up their worlds. It’s a wonderful world that I’m glad to interact with.

  • [#04] There’s something about strategy RPGs that always seem to secretly suck a ton of hours from me. My first entry into Nintendo’s long-running SPRG franchise was no different. The fun starts before the battle starts, scanning over the enemies on the field, and then judging which units you feel are the best to combat them with. The game really shines once the battle commences, as you move your units into the spots you feel you can take advantage of the enemy the next turn. It helps that you can forecast the enemy’s movement and attack range to assist you in planning your moves. The strategy element also happens outside of battle, where you get to choose what class and weapons each character you feel they should be equipped with the unlock their full potential. Add in numerous maps, enemies, StreetPass teams, and DLC and you have all the ingredients on how this game managed to grab over 100 hours of my time this year.

  • [#03] Rayman Legends really makes Origins bland in comparison. Rayman Origins had its merits and still stand strong as one of my favorite games I played in Gen 7, but Legends just adds in a lot of personality to each world that was lacking in Origins. There’s much more wonder and personality added into the worlds and levels in Legends, whether it’s battling a dragon in the medieval world, a luchador in the mariachi levels, or spy-themed frogs in that world. The level design is great throughout the game and adds in more of the theme that each world represents. Murphy adds a neat new element to the platforming levels: eating through cheese, moving platforms, pushing buttons, and slapping/distracting enemies. Oh yeah, those music themed stages at the end of each stage are pretty rad. Who would’ve thought running through the stage in tune of Ram Jam’s “Black Betty”, Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”, or that “Woo Hoo” song would be so creative and entertaining?

  • [#02] When Nintendo is on, NINTENDO IS ON! It’s not just the cat power-up that makes 3D World one of the best Mario games ever produced (though it’s a great power-up item), it’s also that jazz/swing soundtrack, and endless amounts of great levels. Each level is simply just a joy to play through, providing great puzzles, challenging but fair platforming sections, while giving you enough freedom to scour around the level to find those stars and stamps. The Bowser boss battles were different than what I expected and are definitely far better for it. And when you thought you were done… well Nintendo has more in store in more great levels and a surprise character. I seriously wish I can write more on how great this game is, because it is seriously great.

  • [#01] July 8. That was the tragic date where Rorie announced the passing of overall awesome person Ryan Davis. That evening, I finally arrived to fight the legendary titan with my Spark Guild consisting of Fortress formerly known as Krauser, Dancer Hinako, Landsknecht Hibiki, Medic Fina, and Runemaster Kula. I seriously wanted to defeat the titan on that evening as my little tribute to Ryan, but exhaustion and my battles against the titan came up a bit short. Two days later, I renamed my Fortress from Krauser to Ryan Davis and promptly defeated the titan. But it wasn’t just the timing and tribute that made EO4 a special experience. The old saying goes that the journey is what counts, and my journey with EO4 is one of the bright beacons in 2013 that I’ll cherish.

    There’s a lot to explore in EO4, with four overworlds that includes a number of small caves and a large labyrinths. What adds to simply exploring each world, cave, and labyrinth is that you can personally draw your own map of the area using the tools in the touch screen. It’s gives a player their own preference on how detailed they want their map to be, in marking cracks in walls, dig points, FOE’s paths, etc. It becomes pretty important in the labyrinths as you’ll be reliant on your notes for tons of back-tracking whenever you get through a tough portion of the map.

    The exploration wouldn’t be as exciting if the game’s battle system wasn’t fun, since you’ll be forced into battle after walking a certain distance in most instances. This is where mixing and feeling comfortable on what classes should constitute your party is essential. Each class has their own particular strengths and mixing up the right classes should help you get through many battles. Some neat things with each class is that you can choose and strengthen which skills that character should have along with numerous weapons, armor, and accessories to collect and equip. EO4’s boss battles were some of the most intense and exciting struggles I’ve had this year.

    Sure, there wasn’t much of a story and none of your party characters exhibit much of anything, but my Spark Guild crew provided some of the best personal moments this year, in a year where my own personal journey seemed to be constantly turbulent. Thank you EO4.