“LittleBigPlanet Vita” nearly made it to my top ten of the year. This is the finest game for the PS Vita and even the best game of the “LBP” series. It seemed like the developers at Double Eleven, Tarsier Studios and XDev had a year’s worth of working knowledge of the PS Vita when I progressed through the game. There is so much creative use of the hardware arsenal of the PS Vita in this game, from the dual touch functions to the accelerometer. And those foreign things called “physical buttons” aren’t too shabby either. The truth is that “LittleBigPlanet Vita” is pure fun on a basic level from beginning to end. I couldn’t find anything wrong with the game when I reviewed it at its release.
(Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
It would be the opposite of trendy to nominate a “Madden” title as GOTY, but that doesn’t mean it’s not deserving of such an honor in certain years. “Madden 13” was one of those special years where it would have been perfectly acceptable to mention it in the awards season talks. EA Sports designed a groundbreaking gametype in “Connected Careers” that combines “Madden” gameplay with the addictive nature of fantasy football. Also, you control the outcome of the games. It was a brilliant recipe that will surely find its way into the rest of the EA Sports blockbusters. If that wasn’t ambitious enough, the developers created a whole new game engine that produces an infinite amount of player animations, aptly named “The Infinity Engine.” This is arguably one of the best “Madden” games ever.
Street Fighter X Tekken
(Xbox 360, PS3, Playstation Vita)
Just the concept behind “Street Fighter X Tekken” alone deserves praise. Back when fighters were in their infancy, it was a glorious pipe dream to imagine two beloved fighting franchises colliding in a glorious blaze of brutality. In 2012, it finally happened. Capcom’s “Street Fighter” team took fighters from the “Tekken” series and brought them to the 2D street fighter world. This game was loaded with beautiful detail, and even switched up the standard “Street Fighter” mechanics too. There were some issues with damage scaling that were never fixed, which caused an absurd amount of matches that ended in time expiration, but the overall game is a creative fighter that isn’t just a typical “Street Fighter” game with additional characters.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
(Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U)
While The “Street Fighter” team was adopting “Tekken” characters for their purposes, Harada-san’s “Tekken” team wasn’t just sitting back and cashing in. They were working hard on the follow up to “Tekken Tag Tournament,” a release title for the PS2. The sequel, “Tekken Tag Tournament 2,” added to an already stellar foundation by adding more characters, levels with boundaries, and a crafty character creation marketplace. Not to mention that “Tekken Tag 2” is the best looking 3D fighter on the market. It’s gorgeous. If you don’t believe me check out Snoop Dogg’s (Lion’s?) stage. Yes, he has his own stage.
Resident Evil 6
(Xbox 360, PS3)
Here we have one of the most loathed games of the year. I saw the good in it. It’s expansive. There’s a lot of game in “RE 6” for a mere $60. There are about 25 hours between the three story lines, and even more if you decide to give them a separate go in co-op. Sure, it’s not perfect. The camera is a little to close to your character’s body, and Leon’s story is a bore, but I didn’t mind the quick time events.
(Xbox 360, PS3)
“SSX” found itself in a similar predicament to “Madden 13.” For some reason, it’s taboo to consider sports games as GOTY candidates, but it’s up there in my mind. “SSX” reinvented itself with added realism, killer customization and groundbreaking multiplayer that worked like gambling. You can buy into events with in-game currency and then receive a return based on your performance. It was as fun as it was addictive.
(Xbox 360, PS3)
This is a game with heart, but not much of a brain. “Lollipop Chainsaw,” penned by James Gunn of “Super” and “Slither” fame, is a humorous game built completely on ridiculous tongue-in-cheek dialogue and story structure. The gameplay leaves something to be desired, but that’s not what’s showcased here. What’s showcased is a game with a personality that’s unlike nearly anything else on the gaming front.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
(Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Developed by the now defunct Big Huge Games, “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” combines the conventional RPG with action hack-n-slashes like “God of War.” It was easy to forget about “Reckoning” considering it came in January, but that doesn’t make it any less of a quality game. The headlines about its tumultuous development and Curt Schilling were bigger news than the game itself. The game was a fun journey in the creative new world of Amalur. There could have been a lot of potential in a sequel.
Here’s a game that received plenty of praise, and was nominated for “Best Downloadable Game” on many year-end lists, but it was actually overlooked by me. I had more pure fun playing “Trials Evolution” than any other game this year. It was excluded on my top ten of 2012 because I chose to go with games that had an ambitious artistic vision like “Spec Ops: The Line” or “Journey.” “Trials Evolution” has no great narrative, but does provide a fun factor that was unparalleled this year. I still play it religiously.
Kinect Star Wars
“Kinect Star Wars” was panned almost unanimously. Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t think this is one of the year’s best, but I do think that it was treated unfairly. Like most things Star Wars related over the last 12 years, this game was made for children. Anyone who saw Episodes 1, 2, or 3 shouldn’t have expected some sort of stroke of genius in “Kinect Star Wars.” It’s a Star Wars game and it’s a Kinect game. Those should be two obvious giveaways that this game is for kids 14 and under. For the purposes of entertaining children, it was completely serviceable. It had a good amount of content and the Kinect controls functioned well. The infamous “I’m Han Solo” dance routine caused facepalms for mature gamers everywhere, but that’s not the core audience for this game. Children can have plenty of fun with it.
Resident Evil: Revelations
Here’s another release from early in the year that gets overlooked. “Resident Evil: Revelations” wasn’t only a good “Resident Evil” title for the 3DS. It was a good “Resident Evil” compared to the rest of the series. “Revelations” pushed the graphical boundaries of the 3DS and could’ve even looked better if the screen had better resolution. This handheld game took me back to a suspenseful “Resident Evil” experience, which is something that has been absent from the series for years. I hope that it reaches a broader console audience in the future.
This game is the biggest enigma of all. It came out, people seemed to enjoy it, and then it was forgotten and never heard from again. “Twisted Metal” was a big deal in the months leading up to its release. Fans had been inquiring about a “Twisted Metal” reboot for a while and it finally arrived with a grade-A team behind it. It received praise and then promptly died. Give this game a try.
So there you have it. What games do you think didn’t get their due this year? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @GameGuyPGH.