This was supposed to go up more than a month ago, but I somehow lost it in the shuffle. I thought about just letting it go, the end of February is an odd time for a best of the last year list, but I wrote this and want to post. So here are my Top 10 Games for 2013.
2013 was the year that the 3DS really came into its own. It was a good system before that, but this year it really ruled. The hits started early, with Fire Emblem Awakening in February and never really stopped. Plus, there were a ton of great downloadable games as well. The WiiU, while a failure from a sales standpoint, also had a decent amount of good games. Plus a couple truly great games. I wish I’d have been able to afford a few more PS3 games, but I’m so far behind with that system it is hard to justify new game purchases.
Before I get to the list, I really should mention a few games that missed the list. Mostly because I didn’t play them, or didn’t play them enough. Pandora’s Tower was the last hurrah for the Wii. I bought it and gave it a try. It seemed okay, but was kind of janky. I need to give it another chance, but it got lost in my Monster Hunter mania. Pikmin 3 is by all reports excellent. Somehow, I just never made time for it. It slipped through the cracks. Likewise, I never really found the time for SMT Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers. I just added it to the ever growing pile of unplayed SMT games.
The two Zelda games released this year, A Link Between Worlds and Wind Waker HD, were also excluded. A Link Between Worlds because it is my Christmas present so I haven’t gotten to play it. Wind Waker HD, though, I Ieft out because it is a remake. That is also why I left out DuckTales Remastered, as excellent as it may be.
I guess that is it for the also rans. Now it is time for the Top 10.
10b The Cave (WiiU): I originally left this off the list, it coming out so early in the year I had sort of forgotten about it. Once I remembered I couldn’t leave it off the list. It is not really a mechanically interesting game, really it is a simple to play adventure/platform game. Narratively, though, it is great. All of the various characters and their stories are suitably complex and interesting. I still need to finish a second playthrough with most of the characters. Just a really solid, fun little game.
10a Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (3DS & WiiU): I am almost certain that this is the game I’ve spent the most time with this year. It is just so addictive. I plan to do one hunt, the next thing I know it five hours later and I’m ten hunts in. There is just so much to do, with monsters to kill and weapons and armor to build. Plus, each weapon nearly changes the game completely. I am glad I discovered this series and I can’t wait for MH4.
9 New Super Luigi U (WiiU): The DLC ever? I’d say so. It is basically a full new Mario game built on the framework of the first one. This takes the New Super Mario formula and tweaks it enough to be something completely different. NSLU is a series of short, challenge stages. It is harsh, but satisfying. Plus, its great to Luigi in a starring role, with his classic style, all floating and slipping. Any other year this would likely have been much higher
8 Pokemon Y (3DS): I loved most of the changes this made to the Pokemon formula. It eases most of the little annoyances in the series. Things look better and move faster. Plus, X/Y had another good new group of Pokemon. Its Pokemon. I don’t know what else to say.
7 Etrian Odyssey IV (3DS): Atlus really shook things up with this entry in their dungeon crawling series. Instead of one really big dungeon, EOIV has a lot of smaller dungeons. It also adds a world map to explore and find those dungeons. It kinds of breaks the flow that the older games have, but it is a fresher, friendlier experience.
6 Shin Megami Tensei IV (3DS): This was my first brush with the real Shin Megami Tensei series. I’ve played a ton of the various spin-offs, Persona and Devil Summoner and the like, but one of the few PS3 ones I never got to was Nocturne. The difficulty is a little swingy, sometimes very hard and sometimes very easy, but in all it is a complex, satisfying experience.
5 Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Dual Destinies (3DS): I am so glad to have this series back. When Investigations 2 didn’t make American shores and Investigations made me more than okay with that, I thought we’d seen the last of this series. Then came Dual Destinies, not only a triumphant return for the series, but also one for its star character. I don’t know that its my favorite in the series, but it is still excellent.
4 Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS): Another series that seemed to be teetering on the brink, especially in America, that saw a triumphant comeback. I was not a fan of the DS game, but this one fixes all of the problems I had with that. I came for the strategic battles and stayed for the excellent support conversations. The multi-generational aspect is what really sets this game apart. It adds another layer of replayability to an already great game.
3 Attack of the Friday Monsters (3DS): I had no idea what this game was when it came out and I almost passed on it. What a mistake that would have been. Despite only having the most vestigial amount of gameplay possible, Friday Monsters was some of the most fun I had all year. You play as a small boy in 70’s Japan whose town is the filming site of a Monster of the week TV show. While you run errands for your parents, you also meet and befriend other kids, play kid games and try to get to the root of the monster attacks. It is just too charming.
1b Super Mario 3D World (WiiU): In any other year this would be the the far and away number one game. If I am being honest with myself, it is far and away the best game I played this year. Nearly flawless and endlessly entertaining.
1a The Wonderful 101 (WiiU): W101 is a flawed gem. Mario is objectively the better game. But when I think of which video game I enjoyed the most this year, The Wonderful 101 is the first game that springs to mind. It is so fresh and so new, in an era of gaming that is mostly the same stuff you’ve already played, now prettier. This feels like a lost treasure from the 8-bit days, when everything was new. It seems a game unlikely to get a sequel, which is disappointing because that could conceivably sand off some of the rough edges. Of course, the rough edges are part of the games charm. The Wonderful 101 is not for everyone, but that doesn’t matter because it is absolutely for me.
That is my list. It is, of course, limited by my systems of choice and budget for games, but even had I played everything I can’t imagine it changing much. Not the top 4, at least. I’d say this was an excellent year for games. This list is probably the best such list I’ve ever assembled.