My late GOTY 2013 list

Alright, so I've finally played all the games I've wanted to play out of 2013...well, not all of them, Super Mario 3D World is a notable absence but otherwise, I played everything I wanted to in 2013. This may be the last year I have a filled out top 10 list as the games coming out interest me less and less, I can count on one hand how many games for 2014 I'm definitely buying.

List items

  • Danger's comin'

    Loomin' large

    So who's gonna

    Make a stand?

    THE WON-STOPPABLE WONDERFUL ONE DOUBLE OOOOOOOOOOOOOH! I did not expect Wonderful 101 to be THIS good. It's a Platinum game directed by Hideki Kamiya so I really shouldn't be too surprised but you don't go into ANY game, even a Platinum game, comparing it to Bayonetta. However if you come out comparing it to Bayonetta...that game is something else. This is the case with Wonderful 101. It took a while for me to really appreciate it and it didn't fully click with me until I started my second playthrough on Hard. It can be frustrating at first, understandably, this is Platinum's hardest game by far. The timing on enemy attacks and counters is very precise. I feel this is the reason the game reviewed rather poorly for a Platinum game. You have to try to get better at the game, it isn't gonna do it for you. That being said, anyone can beat this game as the only punishment for death is getting a mark against your score at the end of the level.

    The Wonderful 101 also kinda feels like a "Greatest Hits" from Kamiya, you got the character designs and Super Sentai vibe straight out of Viewtiful Joe, the drawing to affect the environment and for combat out of Okami and the precise timing and controls and ridiculousness right out of Bayonetta. Speaking of Bayonetta, this is also Platinum's most fully featured game, trumping Bayonetta as far as unlockables go. Yeah, that's right, a game in 2013 chock-full of unlockables, who woulda thought? Honestly, everything about this game feels like a game that I would have played the shit out of on the Gamecube back in 2003. It just has that vibe to it, it's hard to properly articulate what exactly it is that makes me think of that besides the obvious Viewtiful Joe influence. While it can be frustrating to get the hang of, when you do, it's pure joy like no other game since...well, Bayonetta. And like A Link Between Worlds, it has a story that is surprisingly good and heartfelt, sure, it's full of tropes you'd expect from a game that feels like sentai anime but they're used so effectively. It doesn't hurt that it has a cast of fun, memorable characters, it's all part of the game's undeniable charm.

    It's a shame to see this game not get a lot of love from...ANYONE. Poor Kamiya, once again coming out with a game he poured his heart and soul around the same time as the launch of two major competitor consoles. Someone throw more money at Platinum for marketing, for God's sake!

  • This is the johnny-come-lately of my game of the year list but it so happened that I saved the (second) best for last. I never finished A Link to the Past, I've played it and got like 2 or 3 dungeons in but then never got around to finishing it so, the nostalgia angle doesn't really work for me. This is all to say, A Link Between Worlds works incredibly well on its own. It provides some smart changes to the Zelda formula that I would love to see put into a bigger, epic-er Zelda like being able to choose the order of the dungeons you play and upgradeable everything!

    Being able to merge with walls is a genius mechanic and it's the best used "gimmick" in a Zelda game...ever. Ocarina of Time had the ocarina which you mainly used for transport, Wind Waker had...the Wind Waker which you used...mainly for transport and very few puzzles and Twilight Princess had the wolf form which was just kinda there and served as transportation. Merging with walls is a HUGE component of A Link Between Worlds and leads to some very, VERY clever dungeon designs. And the dungeons in this game are some of the best in the series, what they lack in atmosphere and boss fights, they make up for in just pure genius design. Oh and the story of A Link Between Worlds is, while simple, surprisingly good and heartfelt. The 3DS is doing pretty well, you guys.

  • I can't remember a game to go from such huge amount of praise to such huge amount of backlash like BioShock Infinite, I don't even think it was this bad with Mass Effect 3. However, unlike Mass Effect 3, I am firmly in the camp that thinks this game is awesome. The gameplay is a smart streamlining of the BioShock formula, it would have been nice to have a weapon wheel instead of just two guns at any given time but it certainly isn't a detriment. The skyline system is so much goddamn fun as is using the Charge vigor with the Shotgun. Irrational Games is probably the best at atmospheric world building and while it didn't quite reach the level of Rapture in the original BioShock, Columbia is still a fascinating, beautiful and ugly place.

    I feel the biggest gripe people have with this game is the story, next to the gameplay apparently being terrible (I can't really say much about that as I found it great, not the best, but incredibly enjoyable). The story is very clever...perhaps too clever and it went over a lot of peoples head, it went over mine until I went through it a second time. I guess a lot of people have problems with stories that involve "time travel" or in Infinite's case, alternate universes. I'm not gonna get into explaining why I think this story works incredibly well because that would just go on too long. To put it simply, BioShock Infinite is a deconstruction of BioShock and video game sequels in general and it reads to me like Irrational (more likely Ken Levine) saying they don't want to make another BioShock game ever again. And really after this game, there's nothing that can be done with a BioShock game that won't feel miniscule.

  • This was my first Fire Emblem game ever and I absolutely loved it. I've never had much experience with the genre as turn based JRPGs turned me away therefore stopping me from even trying the Tactical JRPG genre. The gameplay here is incredibly addicting, more than once I found myself starting to play only to look up at the clock and find 3 or 4 hours had gone by. While the story is nothing special, it's the characters that fill the story that make the experience so memorable and gives meaning to your decisions in battle considering those characters you love so much can drop like a fucking fly! Combat wouldn't be nearly as tense if I wasn't best buds with Gaius or Henry or wanted to see how Donnel and Tharja's weird, awkward relationship progressed. If you own a 3DS and don't own this game...for whatever reason, you need to correct that immediately.

  • RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULES OF NAAAAAAAAAATUUUUUUUUREEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

  • I was very cynical about The Last of Us being as good as everyone said it was which is strange because I was incredibly hyped for it when it was first unveiled some E3s ago. So I put off playing it until the middle of December...boy, did my worries quickly leave me. The opening alone let me no I did not have to worry about this game being sentimental or beating you over the head with "HUMANS ARE THE REAL MONSTERS", it just depicts the events. It's brilliant and brutal. The most brutal game I think I've ever played and it's not just about gore or bloodshed, it's making every punch, every gunshot and every spiked bat into the neck have impact. Horror movies have desensitized me to a lot of violence in media but christ, if I didn't cringe at some of the stuff in this game. I could go on about the story too but I'll try to some it up with: it's one of the boldest stories told in video games. This is not a post-apocalyptic survival story, this is a character study unlike any in video games. If you haven't played The Last of Us, get on that shit!

  • This was the year I stopped being just a fan of the Persona games and became a fan of the Shin Megami Tensei series. SMTIV removes the frustration in Nocturne while still maintaining the atmosphere, satisfying combat and difficult boss fights. The Press Turn system helped me realize why I don't like playing old turn based JRPGs, it always feels like a slog and it's so slow! With SMTIV, you can just plow through the cannon fodder enemies with the right demons in your party and focus your energy on the tougher encounters. Speaking of the demons, it's just as fun as ever to recruit them, level them up and fuse them despite some terrible redesigns.

  • Hack n' slash, third person action, character action, whatever the hell you want to call it, Platinum are the masters of the genre. Even when they bring their B or C game with Anarchy Reigns they're still way better than anyone else trying their hand at the genre. While the single player is incredibly lacking, the multiplayer is unbelievable fun and it's really the crux of the game. It's impossible to describe to someone who hasn't played 16 man Battle Royales or Deahtball how much goddamn fun it is, but suffice to say it's a lot of fun.

  • Much like your failures in Gunpoint, this game is short and sweet (seriously, it's like an hour and a half). Dripping with a film noir atmosphere, thanks to the phenomenal soundtrack, it's just "cool". Like Fonzie cool. Its sense of humor works to its advantage, providing that cynicism you oh so expect. Plus jumping through a window and beating/slapping a man to death never stops being hilarious.

  • I was not a fan of GTAIV. I felt it was a ill fitted direction for the series and the gameplay just...kinda...sucked. Thankfully, GTAV corrects basically all my problems with the previous game, adds more interesting characters, delves into the satire and social commentary even more and it's the best playing Rockstar game to date. Oh and the soundtrack actually has good music plus there's a good original score here too. It could have done with a couple more heists, a better paced last third and having co-op heists right from the get-go but this game is still incredibly entertaining.