2012 was NOT a great year for gaming. At least based on my experience and the list of games that I’ve played, which by the way, doesn’t include well-reviewed titles like Zero Escape, Borderlands 2, Dishonored, Halo 4, and — umm, thinking — I guess that’s probably it…?
And I don’t think Halo 4’s gonna change the impact of this list anyway, since my excitement for FPS shooters these days (slowly) continue to wind down. Though I’ve heard many good things about it and I’m pretty sure it’ll be somewhere on the top; if only I had my hands on it.
What I’m trying to say is I was really disappointed with some (if not most) of the big releases of last year. Games based on existing property which, at least I would’ve personally hoped, would kick ass and be the superior products to their predecessors. But hey, you know, with every Final Fantasy XIII-2s, Resident Evil 6s, Ninja Gaiden 3s, or even Soulcalibur Vs — you still have other great 2012-published titles out there that should grab your attention, provided you know what you’re looking for! After all: We seriously need to move on at times and stop glueing ourselves to existing IPs we once cherished. Obviously I’m talking to both of you, Misters Final Fantasy and Resident Evil!
Let’s go! Comments and reactions — whether it’s wild, entertaining, or just “random” if you will — are very much welcome. Oh, wait! One more thing: Remakes and/or HD rereleases are excluded simply because, well — it wouldn’t be fair to see a game originally published in 2008 acing the competition now, wouldn’t it? I mean, if rereleases or remasters do count in this silly rule of mine, then I should edit last year’s list and immediately dethrone Xenoblade Chronicles with the PSP version of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. So, nope, you’re not gonna see Persona 4 Golden on the top of this list.
The Last Story
(Final Fantasy creator) Hironobu Sakaguchi’s recent console outing — and hopefully not the last! (?) — may not be as stellar as one would’ve hoped; especially after Tetsuya Takahashi’s Xenoblade Chronicles proved that modern J-RPGs can be extremely exciting again. Without using the words “Persona”, of course. BUT! You cannot at least deny that it’s one of his finest efforts and contributions to this generation next to Lost Odyssey.
New Super Mario Bros. U
The closest thingy we have right now to a “real” Super Mario World 2. It’s not as godly brilliant as the SNES classic, for sure. Hell, it’s not even a game that’s worth investing a Wii U just because Nintendo wants you to. But if we’re talking about experiencing a solid and polished 2D Mario game that you won’t probably find anywhere else: NSMBU delivers on all accounts.
The Walking Dead
“…and the awards for Best Supporting (video game) Actress AND Best Adapted Screenplay go to…”
It’s… one of the key reminders to why we love playing video games in the first place. And, please, don’t mind the price tag despite the game’s very short length. I mean: When you paid $15 (more or less) to watch The Hobbit in 48 frames-per-sec, did you complain afterwards? Oh, wait, you probably did. But I’m mostly pointing out to the amount of money you spent; you didn’t mind paying that much to see a 3 hour film, did you? Exact-lee.
Call me crazy, if not a fan of (Yakuza mastermind) Toshihiro Nagoshi’s gameography, but Binary Domain is (arguably) the best third-person-cover-shooter I’ve played since the original Gears of War. Shame we’ll never see the supposed planned follow up because it was such a very interesting universe. Fans of 80s style sci-fi anime will find a lot to like in this one, and that includes the dubbing.
Tales of Graces ƒ
I love Japanese RPGs as much as the next Twitter user (fans with Tetsuya Nomura, Akira Toriyama, and/or Shigenori Soejima-designed profile pictures to be precise). Whether it’s the grand adventure of saving the world, cheery characters, 90s-style dialogue, and interestingly designed combat mechanics — I always back them up, and Tales of Graces ƒ is a very good representation to the following J-RPG traits I just mentioned. Except maybe the characters because they can be pretty shitty (read: too kiddy) at times, I have to admit. Especially when compared to the previous game, which was Tales of Vesperia.
Guild Wars 2
Right, I don’t love MMORPGs as much as the next dudebro who has a healthy-and-not-so-healthy relationship with the Call of Duty franchise. That said: I was super hooked with Guild Wars 2 — to the point that I actually finished the entire single player campaign and reached level 80 a month after the game’s release date (not to brag or anything, mind you). That’s… something.
Lumines Electronic Symphony
If you need to distract me, or want me to be completely silent within the next hour or so: hand me a Vita with a copy of Lumines ES. It’s. So. Addiciting.
Persona 4 Arena
Atlus loves their fans so much, that in in 2012, they decided to release Persona 4-2! But instead of offering us the same template all over again — which I totally don’t mind! — they recruited the talented folks over from Arc System Works and instead gave us an amazing, well-presented, accessible 2D fighter that’s more than just “BlazBlue with Persona 4 characters/skins”. A true definition of fanservice, absolutely; I fucking love this game!
An odd and yet very interesting choice, and I reckon some of you are probably scratching your head at this point. But just… imagine the solo experience of Guild Wars 2’s single player campaign (well, sort of) and replace the typical PC RPG “clicky” battle interface with a solid, fun, Japanese-designed combat system that just, well, works! Dragon’s Dogma really pulled me through soon as I was messing around with my character — and his trusty sidekick — with new classes/jobs, armor, capes, weapons, and all the mumbo jumbo that represent goody-RPG-times.
And, again, it felt really awesome slicing-dicing-killing wolves, ogres, and other evil dudes with sharp objects. It’s almost like Skyrim but with a dash of anime and the best title screen… ever!