DAN STINEHART: Comic/Graphic Artist

THAT 2012 Blog Part I: Game of the Year Awards

2012 as far as new retail releases go were lacking in my opinion. Being aware there are solid titles out there, I’ve put some of them on hold in hopes for a price drop. Technically this year was mainly about purchasing games of yesteryear while splurging on a few new releases that came out (Mass Effect 3, etc.) The following awards will focus on 2012 and any games, new and old, I’ve played. And with that, let’s begin!

BEST PS3 GAME: Rayman Origins

I originally was going to buy the 3DS port but due to the delays that spring, I bought the console release instead. I’ve loved the Rayman series ever since Rayman 2 and considering the 2D platforming and the art direction that gave the game design a charm and a purpose for being there, it’s definitely a wonderful (if not challenging) side-scroller that platforming enthusiast shouldn’t miss out on. Yahoo!

Runner-Ups: Assassin’s Creed II; Batman: Arkham City; NieR

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BEST WII GAME: Xenoblade Chronicles

In 2011 I originally thought Skyward Sword would be the last Wii game I’ll buy prior to its successor (which I haven’t invested in out of doubt), but 2012 was a pretty damn good year for the console in regards to Operation Rainfall and Kirby’s celebratory release. Xenoblade, along with The Last Story, were games I was very interested in due to their respected uniquenesses; and Xenoblade took more of my time (100+ hrs and counting) than the latter did (on hold for now). Considering there’s a “successor” in the works, that alone is motivating me to finish this JRPG. But… it’s so overwhelming…

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BEST 3DS GAME: Mighty Switch Force

This was recommended by a friend and I must say my adrenaline was pumping from beginning to end. The first three levels convinced me I should go Completionist, and because of that I managed to finish all of the original levels without frustration (well, one or two levels at most). The 3D effect is spot-on and it doesn’t distract from the game: It helped in many ways. The same could be said about Pushmo which is why I was on the fence between the two in terms of their fundamental state. Regardless, both are great titles which explains why I never bought a retail 3DS title that year.

Runner-Ups: Pushmo; VVVVVV

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BEST PS2 GAME: Deus Ex: The Conspiracy

The FPS gameplay wasn’t good (that and I’m terrible at the genre so God Mode it was, lol), but the game’s sense of experimentation over everything else made up for it. I was bummed that the Mac version doesn’t support Intel processors which is why I lean toward the PS2 port. I played a bit of it via keyboard and mouse controls (yes, it works and I don’t know why it’s not mentioned in the packaging). Having had my fill over the cyberpunk setting and its world, I can see why Deus Ex was considered way ahead of its time.

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BEST XBOX GAME: Panzer Dragoon Orta

Despite buying it a year or two ago, I finally sat down to finish my playthrough once and for all. Admittedly it’s the first Dragoon title I played and the gameplay reminded me so much of Dragon Spirit (the NES release). Unsure if “3D shmup” is the correct word, but regardless it’s a fantastic arcade-style game nonetheless.

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BEST MOBILE GAME: Temple Run

There’s not much to say about the game that’s already been said before. It’s addicting. The touch and gyroscope controls are well-done. It’s addicting. The microtransaction mechanic is done appropriately and is optional. Did I mention the game’s addicting? Explains why I’m enjoying its sequel a lot at the moment. Addicting. Addicting. Addic- OKAY I GET IT, LOL.

Runner-Up: Angry Birds Space

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BEST PC/MAC GAME: Prey

The narrative structure reminded me that of the Half-Life series. I felt the gameplay blended well with the setting (despite having that gimmicky and slight outdated charm). Not to mention Dowasi “Tommy” Towadi, which I personally felt he was a well-written character, especially in regards to his indigenous background. Being native myself, it’s refreshing to see such characters break away from their stereotypical-esque shells and just be themselves, whether historic or contemporary. It’s one of the more enjoyable FPSs I played in a while, more so than the typical military shooters spawning in a rapid basis. Here’s hoping Prey 2 sees the light of day.

~SPECIAL AWARDS~

MOST UNDERRATED: NieR (PS3)

During its pre-release, I was interested in the game. The reviews at the time were what scared me off, leading me to regret up until fall last year. The exploratory aspects and some parts of the action were decent at best, but it was everything else that made the experience timeless in my opinion. The bosses, story, music, character design (EMIL!!!), the wide range in variety of the experience alone: All of these left me wondering while at the same time made me appreciate since defunct-Cavia’s title more. It’s also one of those Japanese games that broke out of its comfort zone became its own self, which I tend to like with video games in general. Because of this, I’m curious to give the Drakengard series a go. Also, this is my current 2010 GOTY, replacing Heavy Rain of all things.

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MOST UNDERWHELMING: Quantum Conundrum (PSN)

First of all, the game is good. Secondly, it was easy (for me at least). I loved the game design, but I didn’t love its world. I just didn’t feel like I accomplished anything, even after finishing my playthgough. It just felt, I don’t know, empty. I wanted to love Quantum but in the end I ended up being divided over the whole experience.

Runner-Up: Sly 3

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MOST EMOTIONAL: Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (PSOne Classics) and The Unfinished Swan (PSN) (tie)

For Klonoa DTP:

  • Parts of the story, especially near the endgame, got me choked up. And in a psychological sense, it’s currently the only PS1 title I’ve beaten so far. I have other games for the platform and its a reminder that I need to get to taking care of my backlog.

For The Unfinished Swan:

  • Granted art games give out that pretentious aftertaste, but Swan in my opinion was more than just “art in a game”. The theme of “unfinished” resonated with my own personal experiences with the term, allowing me to enjoy more with that in mind. More so than what many got out of Journey (I played that too & got nothing of value from it). And, it’s probably the reason why I keep delaying that damn webcomic project I’m currently working on, lol.

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MOST DISAPPOINTING: Yoshi’s Island DS (NDS)

The gameplay is good but it’s not as good and memorable as Yoshi’s Island and yet more memorable than Yoshi’s Story. The playthrough to me felt more like a retread of the glory days of the SNES predecessor. Also, the music, final boss, and the reprisal of the crying baby chime were forgettable. I could see the effort it was made into the release but I didn’t enjoy the DS entry as I originally hoped. Here’s hoping a new Yoshi’s Island for 3DS will release with improvements. Yoshi for Wii U doesn’t count, though will take a grain of salt on that for now.

Runner-Up: Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

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Winner: Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

I will admit that I never played that many JRPGs in my time, but that doesn’t mean I’m not even trying. I’m kinda picky when it comes to my game purchases, considering I’ve lean toward independent/unknowns more than mainstream/popular of recent. But that’s beside the point.

Xenoblade has been the most fun I’ve had with the genre in years, given I haven’t beaten the game yet. The level grinding; the soundtrack; story; exploration (OMFG TEH EXPLORING!!!): All of these elements gave the game balance, giving it room to breathe, making it fundamental in all sense of the word. Think of it as the love child of Final Fantasy XII and any MMO out there: Counting I also have XII but never played an MMO but expressed fascination toward it.

Maybe I’m overhyping my winner of choice too much, but Xenoblade Chronicles unanimously deserves it not just from a personal perspective but the genre its associated with. It’s currently my favorite JRPG of the 7th console generation and one of my favorites in the genre (if not, possibly my personal favorite). Monolith’s swan song to an aging console should not be neglected; it’s worth it on a fundamental scale.

Lastly, Riki. What else is there to say? :3

~Dan

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Part II: Misc. Stuffs coming soon!

10 responses

  1. James

    Not surprised at all, though (for some reason) I expected Dark Souls to creep on the list.

    Didn’t Matt and I warn you about Yoshi’s Island DS? The reasons you stated are the reasons why the game is sitting on my shelf and in my Backloggery as incomplete. I sincerely doubt that any new Yoshi release could top the original Yoshi’s Island; I simply feel that nothing could top the original, especially after two failures (Yoshi’s Island 64 and DS).

    I forgot that you made a big deal earlier in the year regarding the PS2 Deus Ex release and it’s unannounced keyboard/mouse support. I also forgot about Prey (I thought that you played it during 2011). If there’s a Mac version, where is it (GOG, Steam or via an official site)?

    Twinners regarding making your Best of 3DS game Mighty Switch Force. I honestly thought long and hard about it and had to give WayForward’s newest release the nod over Pushmo and VVVVVV. Regarding Rayman: Origins, I remember that you stated that you weren’t impressed by the 3DS port (inferior graphics) thus you chose to ignore it and stay with the console version. I tried the demo and promptly deleted it.

    Looking forward to Part II – don’t keep us waiting!

    2013/01/24 at 8:40 PM

    • Dan J Stine

      Prey is available in the Mac App Store. That’s where I learned of the Mac port.

      Also, I previously mentioned Dark Souls on last year’s GOTY blog (via GameSpot) and aside what I said about Skyward Sword, it’s switched to DS so that’s my GOTY for that.

      2013/01/24 at 9:03 PM

    • Dan J Stine

      Another reason why I avoided Rayman Origins for 3DS was because its “compressed” graphics for the port made it harder to find the Lums along with the blurriness that hindered my time with the demo. I don’t know if improvements were made with the final product but it wouldn’t matter in the end; though I’ve read the Vita port translated far better.

      2013/01/25 at 9:25 AM

  2. Damn good list.

    I agree on the Yoshi’s Island DS game. It’s good, but just not as good as the SNES game I played in the late 1990s. Ironically, there’s a GBA version as well.

    Deus Ex for PS2? I knew about it, but never played it. I still own (via GOG download, DRM-free) the PC version and love it.

    2013/01/24 at 9:04 PM

    • Dan J Stine

      I played the GBA port not to mention I have it on my 3DS (ala Ambassadors). I find it strange that the SNES original was never released for Wii VC; if it did I’d buy it without hesitation.

      2013/01/25 at 8:51 AM

  3. Games like Panzer Dragoon Orta, Star Fox, and their ilk are usually known as ‘rail shooters.’

    I wasn’t much of a fan of Sly 3 either. Especially since I felt the series ran its course once I completed the first two games. Because of that, I can’t see myself ever picking up Sly 4 when it comes out.

    2013/01/24 at 9:54 PM

    • Dan J Stine

      Rail Shooters… got it. (Don’t know why it slipped my mind prior, lol.)

      Given that I finished the Sly trilogy (PS3 re-releases), all I can say is they were overly tedious, especially when it came to the in-game trophies. -_-

      2013/01/25 at 8:56 AM

  4. Good to see some of my own personal favourites. I agree Prey was good and I hope that Prey 2 does release some day.
    Temple Run and all the other “endless runners” are an addictive bunch by nature.

    Xenoblade looks great and makes me wish I had a Wii. Maybe someday I’ll get a chance to play it via WiiU.
    I’m glad to see that three of my friends — you, Usagi & Hart tried and enjoyed Deus Ex even if it happened to be a port. That is a special game which was ahead of its contemporaries at the time of its release and even today many games can learn a thing or two about level design from it.

    Unfinished Swan and Journey have caught my eye but so has Papo & Yo. Sony has shown great support to independent studios and I’m glad to see them getting the kind of reception they deserve for thinking “out of the box”.

    2013/01/25 at 12:34 AM

    • Dan J Stine

      Papo & Yo is another PSN title I have my eye on. I played the demo and was wanting more (then again, all demos carry that, lol). I’ll buy it eventually.

      2013/01/25 at 9:00 AM

    • I haven’t actually gotten around to playing Deus Ex yet. I expect I will sometime this year.

      2013/01/25 at 5:54 PM