Favorite Games of 2013

As of December 29, 2013, I have missed many big-name games like The Last of Us, Super Mario 3D World, and Tearaway. I will buy them eventually.

Games cut because I haven't spent enough time with them include Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destiny, Rocksmith 2014, and Shin Megami Tensei IV.

I'm not including them because they weren't released this year (they can be added to other lists), but To the Moon and Persona 4: Golden would absolutely make the top five.

List items

  • As of this writing, my current save has 48 hours attached. In total, I have logged 230+ hours with Fire Emblem: Awakening. That’s absolutely insane. There was zero doubt which game was hitting my number one.

    I love this game, from the characters and playing matchmaker with them to the tried-and-true Fire Emblem combat improved by pairing up allies for increased offense and defense. The dialogue is sharp (incredible job, 8-4!) and the (limited) voice acting a significant improvement over Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn. Random skirmishes and DLC in addition to SpotPass and StreetPass content ensured plenty of battles outside the main story.

    Awakening is, quite simply, the best Fire Emblem released outside Japan, and a definite entry as one of my favorite games ever. Over 230 hours… I can’t imagine myself stopping anytime soon.

  • It’s difficult to determine whether A Link Between Worlds was a conscious decision to address complaints of handholding and increased linearity in modern Zelda games or if that was simply the byproduct of making a sequel to one of the earliest games in the series, or both.

    Regardless, A Link Between Worlds is an amazing game and the best Zelda in ages. We can only hope that Nintendo manages to marry the freedom of this game with the narrative ambitions of most modern Zelda games.

  • Video games is a largely humorless medium, and that’s why the Stanley Parable is so damn fun. It frequently undermines expectations with sharp humor that makes fun at the player, the game industry, and itself without ever resorting to the lowbrow. It even manages to throw in a little deeper meaning, such as in the ending where Stanley is reunited with his wife. It’s difficult to imagine a game like this being developed by a large team, and it’s why the indie scene is a necessity.

  • Most backlash of 2013?

    BioShock Infinite is a spectacular experience, but not necessarily a spectacular game. Is there really a distinction between the two? Maybe. The highs of Infinite were enough to forgive the shooting (not that I consider it bad, but done better elsewhere) and the occasional plot issues (unloading a ton of info onto the player during the last 30 minutes is just bad storytelling) until after I was done and had time to reflect. But make no mistake, Infinite is a great game, just not a spectacular game.

  • There has never been more unlikable characters in a blockbuster game, and I’m not just talking about the three protagonists, but the entire cast. Luckily, the city of Los Santos and the surrounding areas are beautiful to explore and a joy to drive in. Had GTA Online been better -- Los Santos, without the insufferable jerks of single-player -- this game would’ve probably been higher, but all jumping onto multiplayer does is toss you together with a whole different group of jerks (y‘know, real people) with worse missions.

  • Terraria just makes sense on a portable like the Vita. Controls are identical to that of the console versions and aiming via Vita’s back touch pad (a new addition) is impractical. Regardless, it’s the full thing on a portable device that’s not reliant on a touch screen. (Seriously, I can’t imagine Terraria on iOS that much fun to control, but I could be wrong.)

  • I love me some Picross, and Picross e delivers more puzzles for an attractive price. The only thing better would’ve been bundling e, e2, and e3 together since I haven’t gotten around to buying the second and third games.

  • It’s Pokemon, so you know what you’re getting as far as basic gameplay. Fortunately, the series finally makes a complete jump into 3D, even if battles are plagued with slowdown. It’s hard to get too excited since you know what you’re getting, but Pokemon is still plenty fun.

  • This game shouldn’t be as enjoyable as it is. The story suffers beneath the illogicalities that come from tossing together 200+ humans, demons, robots, AI, people from the future, people from the past, people from alternate dimensions, and people from entirely different worlds. Meanwhile, the gameplay is easy, simple, and virtually devoid of strategy, but watching attractive 2D sprites over-the-top attacking is a simple joy. This may be the best worst game I have played this year, and there’s no reason why I should’ve enjoyed it as much as I did.

  • I can’t explain the appeal of Attack of the Friday Monsters without it coming off as simply boring. It contains all of the excitement of being a ten-year-old running around a small town with new friends. It’s a relaxing, charming experience.