Top Ten Console Games of 2012
Hard to believe that another year has come and gone. While 2012 was a year of personal significance, I was unable to play as many of the newest games as I would have liked. The last stretch of college proved to be incredibly busy, moving to another city, starting my career, and other things kept me away from my controller more than I would have liked. That said, I did get to enjoy a lot of the releases that 2012 had to offer and, even if my tastes weren’t particularly well represented, it was a pretty solid year for games.
Now, with that little rant out of the way, I’ll just step right into my countdown of 2012′s best console and handheld games. Josh and Betts have also put together a great video detailing their choices for the best PC games of the year that you should really check out as well.
10 – Resident Evil Revelations
Capcom’s handheld entries in the Resident Evil franchise typically arrive with little to no fanfare, owing mostly to the fact that, traditionally, handheld consoles just weren’t powerful enough to maintain the kind of experiences Resident Evil fans demand. With Nintendo’s 3DS, Capcom finally found a worthy portable home for the franchise, delivering a real powerhouse title that is a great showcase for what the 3DS can really do. Heck, it even manages to be a mostly successful marriage between the more traditional RE elements like confined spaces and atmospheric tension and the more straightforward action elements of the modern iterations of the series. Any 3DS owner that is even almost a Resident Evil fan should add this to their library immediately.
9 – Theatrythm: Final Fantasy
When I first started hearing about Theatrythm I was a little skeptical. Okay, I was a lot skeptical… But Indieszero, a young, relatively unknown developer, has managed to accomplish something really special here. Not only are the beloved, (mostly) legendary compositions of the Final Fantasy series packed by the dozens into this game, they’re also relatively untouched from their original versions, making for some fun nostalgia throughout the entire experience. Best of all, Theatrythm represents an intriguing glimpse into what a rhythm RPG could be like, especially with its admittedly fairly useless RPG elements like character levels and treasure collection. I still play this regularly and, believe me, when you play it you will want it immediately so brush aside your scepticism and get your hands on this one post hastega.
8 – Trials Evolution
The first Trials is a game that, for one reason or the other, I just didn’t get around to playing. I thoroughly enjoyed its demo and especially loved its concept, but it just never found its way into my library. With the second instalment, it was the infectious enthusiasm of MG’s own Evan Doiron that made me take the plunge. His tales of challenge, hilarity, and decidedly old-school game mechanics were dead on. Trials Revolution is very much the type of game that will challenge you to your limits, but you’ll love every second of its brisk pace and genius level design throughout the occasional soul-crushing frustration of you bike crashing for the billionth time. Further adding to its value are the amazing levels that the community has put together using its robust level editor and its fun (though forgettable) multiplayer suite.
7 – Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
I love me some Professor Layton. I became an instant fan when a friend of mine insisted that I grab her DS and give his first game, The Curious Village, a go. On paper it all sounds rather dull; an English gentlemen and archaeology enthusiast and his young apprentice investigating and solving crimes through a series of brain teasers? It undeniably sounds like a bad, boring idea in almost every way but, somehow, the wizards over at Level-5 (a personal favorite development house) somehow managed to make it an unforgettable, incredibly rewarding experience throughout the Professor Layton franchise. 3DS’ Miracle Mask, his debut for Nintendo’s newest handheld, carries the torch beautifully, replacing the static images of his previous games with well animated character portraits and more in-depth scene exploration. I can’t stress enough how much DS and 3DS owners need to play these games if they haven’t already, regardless of their thoughts of its genre or aesthetics. You’re only cheating yourself to do otherwise.
6 – Ratchet and Clank: Full Frontal Assault
Even if their previous game, the disastrously nerfed All 4 One, disappointed me greatly, I remained faithful that Insomniac could deliver a great experience when Full Frontal Assault, an experimental Tower Defense hybrid, was first showed off. By combining the strategy and micro-management of the TD genre with Ratchet and Clank’s signature goofiness and ridiculous arsenal, Full Frontal Assault was a game that never failed to entertain me. It’s hilarious, fast-paced, and insanely addictive – everything I want in a proper R&C game. With any luck, this will lead to a new full release in the franchise with similar mechanics thrown into the mix to keep things fresh and interesting. I can’t say I blamed them for wanting to mix things up with All 4 One, but I was damn grateful to see my favorite Lombax return to the kind of action and lunacy that made him so great to begin with. Hallelujah, Insomniac!
5 – New Super Mario Bros. U
I can’t lie folks; I’ve only been playing this game for a few days now, having only purchased a Wii U at the beginning of January. So, technically, this is a game I’ve played in 2013 but it was released in 2012 so it’s all good, right!? At any rate, this is the game I’ve been hoping to see with the New Super Mario Bros. series since its inception on the DS many years ago. That’s not to say that I’ve not enjoyed the NSMB series to date; it’s just that, with the exception of the chaotic Wii version, New Super Mario Bros. was overstaying its welcome and rapidly growing stale. Perhaps it’s the eye-popping HD visuals (my first HD Nintendo title) that makes it stand out, or the increasingly challenging level designs and nods aplenty to Mario’s better days? Regardless of the reasons (all are valid, honestly), New Super Mario Bros. U has proven itself to be a fantastically fun, addictive, and endlessly playable game. Everything you would expect to see in title topping best of year lists all across the industry.
4 – Tales of Graces f
My love for Japanese Role Playing Games (and Japanese game design in general) is a well known quirk of mine around here and with my friends and, even if it’s devolving into something of a guilty pleasure, I’m always eager to tear into the latest and greatest that the genre has to offer. This year, without question (though I’ve not played The Last Story), Tales of Graces f has been the best title to scratch that particular itch. Its beautifully drawn visuals, light-hearted plot, and frantic combat were too much for me to resist, keeping me glued to my PS3 for weeks until I had seen everything it had to offer me. If you can get past the cheesy, wide-eyed characters and lack of muscle-bulging space marines, I can promise you that you’d find Graces f to be both relaxing and exhilarating and, who knows, maybe it could spark a love for this genre in you, too? Yeah, probably not.
3 – Lollipop Chainsaw
Lollipop Chainsaw has proven to be an incredibly difficult title for me to chew on. On one hand, it’s far from technically impressive and likely would have barely been amazing on the original Xbox but, on the other hand, it’s so incredibly fun to play and experience that I can’t help but love it for all it’s worth. At the end of the day, it’s the rare example of a modern game that exists purely to be a game; it’s not trying to tell you an emotional tale, it’s not trying to make sense, and it’s certainly not trying to appeal to everyone. It made me laugh really hard at times, made me shake my head in disbelief at its exploitation of its pretty cheerleader protagonist, and never failed to make me smile at its absurdity. Besides, who couldn’t love spinning a chainsaw around like a maniac – your partner’s somehow still living disembodied head strapped to your waist and flailing about – dicing up zombies to cotton candy pop tunes? Lollipop Chainsaw… I love you and I’m not ashamed!
2 – The Walking Dead
What can I say about Telltale Games’ brilliant Walking Dead game that hasn’t been said before? It is at once a great video game, a great adaptation of a beloved comic book and television series, one of the best adventure games ever produced, and easily the best comic book game of all time. It nails everything it attempts with spectacular zeal and will have you scraping your jaw off the floor at nearly every twist of its roller-coaster plot. Beautifully cartoony yet amazingly sincere visuals guide the experience and aid its devastating, believable plot through the experience and, believe me, you WILL care about these characters by the time they meet whatever fates await them. The Walking Dead made me question my own morality, values, and beliefs in myself all while keeping me helplessly glued to my seat. It challenges the very notion of interactive storytelling as a lesser medium and redefines what a videogame can mean to its players. It’s a breathtaking, endlessly exhilarating, terrifying experience. Screw it, The Walking Dead is just plain one of the best experiences you can have in any entertainment medium. Get this now!
1 – Dust: An Elysian Tale
With all of the praise I just heaped onto The Walking Dead, you must be wondering why that isn’t my game of the year, right? Well, technically it is, but hear me out with this one. Dust may not be the most amazing example of what a videogame can be or the best playing game out there, but it certainly is the most inspiring. You see, Dust was primarily developed by a single freaking person! Art, gameplay, story, mechanics, development… All from one insanely talented individual. Of course it doesn’t help that I’m a sucker for 2D gameplay and hand-drawn visuals and couldn’t resist its charms in that regard. Oh, and fidget is probably my favorite character of any games this year; she is freaking adorable! At any rate, while compiling this list in my mind, Dust always stood out to me as the most impressive game released this year. As a young owner and contributor to an entertainment blog and avid follower of the gaming medium, Dust has been an inspiring example of what a single mind can achieve and, hopefully, will continue to inspire me and other people to let go of their limitations and produce the best products possible. My hat is off to you in utmost respect, Dean Dodrill.