Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My favorite games of 2013

I haven't played as many games in 2013 as I imagined I would before the year began, but I've still played enough to be able to write a post about the ones that have pleased me the most.

Strangely--or perhaps not, considering my current obsession with the dual-screened handheld--all of the games discussed herein were released for Nintendo's 3DS. (That's not to suggest I've only played 3DS titles this year; pretty much all of the other games I played in the last 12 months, though, were for "older gen" systems like the DS, GameBoy, PC Engine, PlayStation and PSP.)

Animal Crossing: New Leaf--If I were to hold up one of these games as my absolute favorite of 2013, it would be this one. Not only have I played it more than any other title this year, but I've spent more time with it than I've spent with any game in the last few years (if not ever). I'm still not sure which Animal Crossing game I like best, the original or New Leaf, but it doesn't really matter--they're both among the most entrancing games I've ever come across.

Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale--Thank goodness for the 3DS eShop. Without it, gamers outside of Japan probably never would have gained access to this nostalgia-tinted title, which I can only describe as three parts open-ended adventure and one part card battles. Don't worry if that sounds less than thrilling--I can't imagine anyone but the most crotchety of gamers disliking this digital release.

THE "DENPA" MEN 2: Beyond the Waves--Although I haven't enjoyed Beyond the Waves as much as I enjoyed its more simplistic and straightforward predecessor, I've still had a good time with it. Sure, I find some of the newly introduced elements to be overwhelming, but I like a number of them, too--such as the new body colors and the additional clothing and equipment that can be used to alter the looks and even abilities of your adorable "Denpa" crew.

Nintendo's four "new" StreetPass Mii Plaza games--I held off on buying Flower Town, Mii Force, Monster Manor and Warrior's Way for quite a while (I only did so about two weeks ago) because I was unsure as to whether they'd be worth $15. Now that I've spent some quality time with each of them, I can safely say they're well worth the asking price--assuming you regularly StreetPass other 3DS owners--with Mii Force (the shmup shown above) and Monster Manor being my current faves.

Pokémon X--Back when it was first revealed, I wasn't all that sure what to think of the latest pair of Pokémon games. As soon as I started playing one of them, though, I was sold on its brilliance. That I've yet to get even close to finishing it says more about how hectic my life has become in the last few months than it does about the quality of this portable RPG, so rest assured I'm going to do my best to beat it in 2014.

Witch and Hero--It may surprise some of you to hear this, but I think this eShop title may be my second favorite game of 2013. There's just something about its mix of simplicity and depth (in terms of its gameplay--as in, there's more to Witch and Hero than simply bumping into baddies as quickly as possible), I guess. It's not for everyone, as the saying goes, but for me it's been the perfect title to turn to whenever I've got five or 10 minutes to blow.

A few games that I likely would've included here if I'd played more than an hour or so of them so far: Darumeshi Sports Store, Fire Emblem: Awakening and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds


Daniel Delacruz said...

Couldn't really get into Pokemon X&Y, but I might revisit that someday. ACNL is my no # 2 after Zelda, but it's definitely the game I've played the most of this year (I really want to know your total hours played, hehe). I'm almost at 200 hours >___<;;;;

Zaphod65 said...

I agree with you about Animal Crossing. It has dwarfed all other games this year. Just when I think I'm ready to wind down my time with it, they throw in something new -- like the Gorgeous Furniture set or Snowman Bingo -- and I have something new to motivate me.

The other games I loved this year are Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, The Last of Us, DMC Devil May Cry, Assassin's Creed IV, Pokemon X/Y, and A Link Between Worlds.

thegaygamer.com said...

Huh, that kind of surprises me RE: Pokemon X/Y, Daniel. Do you usually enjoy Pokemon games, though, or are you kind of ambivalent about the series?

As for ACNL and Zelda: there's no way Zelda will end up higher on my list than ACNL when all is said and done, but I *am* enjoying Zelda quite a bit--and a LOT more than I imagined I would before I bought it. (Hell, until the last minute, I was pretty unsure if I was going to buy it at all--*that* is how iffy I am on the Zelda series at the moment.)

Oh, and I'm not sure what my total hours played is RE: ACNL, but it's far north of 300 hours and may be north of 500 hours. (I'll check when I get home and let you know.)

thegaygamer.com said...

I think I'm finally at the point of throwing in the towel when it comes to playing ACNL, Terry. Or, rather, I'm at the point where I'm no longer going to check in every day. I'll likely check in every few days and start playing more when spring arrives, but the days of me checking in every day are over, I think.

Still, I've more than gotten my money out of the game and I've enjoyed it immensely--what more can you ask for, right?

Your list of your favorite games this year is interesting. Thanks for sharing it! I very much look forward to diving into MH3U in the next week or so, and putting more time into A Link Between Worlds--as well as Attack of the Friday Monsters! and Hometown Story, too.

Zaphod65 said...

I'm moving back into maintenance mode for awhile on ACNL, where I pop in for a few minutes in the morning and afternoon to check turnip prices, etc. I still want those post office rewards for saving bells. lol

Marcus Estrada said...

Out of all of these I've only played Animal Crossing D: ...

This is a really nice-looking list though! I'm glad to see Denpa Men 2 getting some recognition (the first game was certainly neat). Witch and Hero also looks like a lot of fun. Do you recall how much it cost? I still have that Nintendo eShop credit to spend and might grab it and Denpa Men 2 (and possibly something else?).

It's great to see how much the 3DS has finally begun to flourish. Really hoping the Vita can have the same sort of rebirth soon!

thegaygamer.com said...

I'm never going to get the post office rewards, Terry--mainly because I've yet to play the stalk market! Oh, well...

thegaygamer.com said...

I think most people would prefer Denpa Men 2, Marcus, so if you're curious you may want to go with that one over the first (even though I personally prefer the first).

As for Witch and Hero, I think it's something like $3. Regardless, it's cheap! So, give it a try if it sounds at all appealing to you.

BTW, I spent 2+ hours with Attack of the Friday Monsters today and absolutely fell in love with it. In fact, I may update this post tomorrow to include a blurb about it. Check it out if you can!

Monster_Hunter2882 said...

I want to say New Leaf is my game of the year but some some small problems like (what I find to be) a limited amount of item storage, not being able to quit tours, tours can't be paused and if you pause them by pressing home you still lose time on the time limit, and I find it forces you to use online to finish item sets a little too much but it's #2. I'm going to go with a Link Between Worlds as #1, and a tie between Pokemon Y and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for # 3. New Leaf was by far my most played game of the year though, heck it could be the game I've put the most hours in.

ImportGamer said...

The only one of those titles that I've even played so far has been Pokemon (though I played Y. Add me sometime!), but I have to say, I completely love it. The others all look interesting to me with the exception of Animal Crossing. I've tried to get into it with the one on the original DS, but the series has never really dug its claws into me like it seems to have with some others.

For my own personal "Games of the Year," I'd have to go with Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki, Fairy Fencer F, Pokemon Y, Fire Emblem Awakening, and Ys: Memories of Celceta.

Marcus Estrada said...

Denpa Men 2 is probably what I'll end up choosing! As for Witch and Hero, that really is too cheap to pass up. :)

I've heard from a few people (and now you!) that Attack of the Friday Monsters is a neat game. It's such a shame the GUILD 01/02 games didn't come out as a retail package here since that's my preferred purchase method. Ah well, won't let a game being digital-only keep me from enjoying it!

thegaygamer.com said...

Yes, Witch and Hero is cheap. Actually, it was on sale recently, I think, but I don't know if it's still on sale or if the sale's over. Regardless, $3 is ridiculously cheap.

As for Attack of the Friday Monsters, yes, it's a great game. In fact, I think I'm going to update this post today to include a blurb in support of it, as I spent about 2 more hours with it yesterday and it really grabbed me during that time.

I also wish the Guild games had been released physically as well as digitally, as I also prefer to own boxes and carts and manuals, but I always go digital when I'm forced to do so (such as in the case of the Guild games and in the case of the "Denpa" Men games).

thegaygamer.com said...

I agree with you about the item storage (really hope Nintendo gets rid of this issue in the next game), but other than that I'm pretty darn pleased with this entry in the series. That said, I do worry that it's becoming too much. I kind of miss the simplicity of the first game, if that makes any sense.

I can understand including A Link Between Worlds and Pokemon and MH3U on your list, though, as all are great games (or seem to be great games--as I've yet to play MH3U myself).

thegaygamer.com said...

Hello ImportGamer! Animal Crossing isn't for everyone, that I am sure of. So, don't feel too bad that it isn't your cup of tea.

I like your GOTY list, by the way. Fairy Fencer F was for PS3, right? And is a JP-only release at this point, isn't it? Regardless, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it at some point!

ImportGamer said...

Yeah, Fairy Fencer F is a JP-only PS3 title, made by many of the same people that made the Hyperdimension Neptunia games, and it shows. The battle system has that mix of Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter's field movement and attack combo creation with Final Fantasy X's "list of upcoming turns" along the side of the screen that Neptunia mk2 and Neptunia Victory also used, but it takes place in its own "universe," despite having a similar art style and game flow. If you like the Neptunia games (I love them (except for the first one)), then Fairy Fencer F is a must-buy.

My writing colleague Zigfried was supposedly writing a Fairy Fencer F review at some point. If he finishes it sometime this year, it'll appear on UZW.

Unrelated, but mentioning this year reminded me of it: Happy new year; hopefully you had a relaxing holiday season~

thegaygamer.com said...

Thanks for the description of Fairy Fencer F, ImportGamer! It certainly sounds interesting--even though I've never played any of the games you compared it to.

Hopefully Zigfried will finish and publish his FFF review at some point. I'd love to read it!

Also, thanks for the new year well wishes. I had a really nice holiday season, although I can't say it's stress free. As such, I'm kind of glad that we're now in January and all of that is behind us.

Happy new year to you, too, by the way. Hopefully your holidays were relaxing enough?

ImportGamer said...

Hmm... Have you played some of the PS1-era Lunar games? The battle system could be somewhat likened to that as well, as you have to move your characters around within a certain range (but not too huge; the battlefields are pretty small), and each attack has its own specific area of effect.

As for another game with some FFX influence, you could look at the battle systems used in any of Falcom's Kiseki games with the exception of Nayuta no Kiseki, which was an action-RPG. Sora no Kiseki was released in the states as Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky on PSP, and XSEED has been rumbling about bringing the original PC version and its direct sequel to Steam. Even if all you get is the first title on PSP, it's one of the finest RPGs you could ever hope to play. The writing is absolutely stellar, the music is 100% Falcom awesomeness, and the battle system belies a ton of depth. There's loads of sidequests to keep you busy, and additional difficulty levels even gives you incentive to replay it. I really can't recommend Sora no Kiseki enough.

And wow, that was a long tangent! I'm pretty bah humbug when it comes to the holidays, so for me, it was mostly just suffering and being grumpy until I stopped hearing Christmas songs everywhere. Luckily I don't work retail, because my mind would have snapped after the second day!

thegaygamer.com said...

I've played the original Sega CD versions of the Lunar games (although not to completion), but not the PS1 remakes. I'm guessing they're basically the same, though?

As for Trails in the Sky: it's definitely on my to-buy list, mainly because I've read and heard such great things about it.

Nayuta no Kiseki also is on my to-buy list, actually--due to the review on Unlimited Zig Works, I believe.

Sorry you had to suffer through the holidays, by the way. You sound a lot like my husband--although he's softened a bit over the years after having lived with me. (I love the holidays.)

ImportGamer said...

The Lunar games are pretty weird, since each incarnation tends to change a little bit about them (usually for the worst). The Sega CD versions are especially great though, in that fairy tale fantasy sort of way. A lot of that innocence and charm is lost with each subsequent remake.

As for that Nayuta no Kiseki review, I was the one that wrote that. When I registered for Disqus, the name Espiga was somehow taken. So I googled Espiga once and noticed there were a lot of pictures of wheat. Apparently it has something to do with plants in Spanish or Portuguese or something, and I never even knew it ; ;

Haha, ,I was exaggerating a bit when I said I was suffering through it... Though I was pretty grumpy the whole time. ^^;

The Girly Gamer said...

Animal Crossing is a big one for me too! I spent sooo much of my summer with that game. Then I unfortunately missed all of autumn as I became involved in all of the other games that came out then. I just started playing it again a couple weeks ago, and am now thoroughly obsessed once more.

I loved the four streetpass games after I got them, but that might have been because shortly after I got them, I went to an anime convention and got tons of streetpasses! Now that I'm barely getting any, they don't get much use. (At least until I go back to the anime convention in 7 months!)

And Pokemon was great fun too for awhile. I also got Pokemon X and played it so much. But I never did finish it. I got all of the badges, and basically turned it off right before I went to do the final(?) battle. I had just gotten so sick of pokemon battles by then. Is that strange? This was my first pokemon handheld game, and I really loved exploring the world, dressing up my character, and taking care of my pokemon. But I just couldn't stand the battles towards the end of the game. Maybe I'll beat it someday...

My favorite 3DS title of the year would probably have to be Rune Factory 4, with Animal Crossing as a close second. Overall, it was a fantastic year for gaming. :)

thegaygamer.com said...

Espiga! I should have known.

I really, really like the aesthetics of the Sega CD Lunar games. The PS1 remakes look OK to me, but there's also something missing in them--at least from a visual standpoint.

thegaygamer.com said...

Hello there, Girly Gamer!

I'm glad to hear that you were able to walk away from New Leaf and then get back into it. That's been my fear with the game--that I'd walk away from it and not be able to get back into it--but maybe there's hope :)

I'm pretty content with the StreetPass games so far, but it's only been a few weeks so who knows what'll happen in the coming weeks and months. I do think they have to be considered games that you're just going to spend a few minutes with every now and then--rather than more long-term investments like Fire Emblem, etc.

I can fully understand getting sick of battles in Pokemon. I like battles myself, but even for me than can be a bit much at times. It would be really nice if more RPGs took a hint from Bravely Default and allowed gamers to change how often they get into battle, etc., if they'd like.