[Featurama] Twinfinite Staff’s Personal Top 5’s of the Year

5

It’s here, folks. Game of the Year time and as you can see, Keith is PUMPED about it. Okay, okay, Keith is pumped about everything, but don’t let that fool you. We’re all excited. You’re excited, too. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? To see what games what we thought were the best in class of 2012. Keep in mind that these are all personal lists (with the exception of the site-wide GotY award, of course), so they’re just our personal favorites. Your personal favorites not represented? Let us know in the comments! Hit that delightful little “More…” button to see what games we were all about this year!

5. Kingdoms of Amalur
4. Warriors Orochi 3
3. Spec Ops: The Line
2: Sleeping Dogs
1: The Walking Dead

Let me start off by saying I was barred from being able to put The Simpsons Arcade on my list. It would have been on there four times, because it is amazing and fills me with so much nostalgia. As such I had to tack STUPID Kingdoms of Amalur in there. Kidding, it was a sneak up hit for me that I didn’t expect to absolutely love. It was like the perfect combination of Fable and World of Warcraft for those fans of both.

Warriors Orochi 3 is a given considering my love for Koei and their hack ‘n’ slashers. With Spec Ops: The Line, I went in completely blind except that people were raving about its story. In four hours that game manages to do more than most 30 hours games get to do with its writing, voice acting, and visuals. The gameplay wasn’t much, but the story was definitely something. Sleeping Dogs, my review says it all. Finally there is The Walking Dead. The game that everyone is talking about. It had me at “You gave Clementine hope” and even pushed me to tears in the final moments. I haven’t been this moved since Shadow of the Colossus, so it’s only fitting this would be my number one this year.

 

5. Hotline Miami
4. Dishonored
3. FTL: Faster Than Light
2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
1. The Walking Dead

Hotline Miami may be a little difficult to understand (and even silly towards the end), but this violent top-down indie game gets huge points for its style and innovative action gameplay. Then that “Bioshock meets The Count of Monte Cristo” action game, Dishonored comes in at number 4 on my GOTY list. I couldn’t become really engaged with the main plot, but I appreciated the style, large maps, fun combat, and the multiple ways to complete each mission.

I have never seen anything like the strategic gameplay in FTL: Faster than Light. The new surge of indie rogue-like games is a welcome trend, but this game does even more to set itself apart from other rogue-likes like Spelunky and The Binding of Isaac. The combat is completely different, and requires careful allocation of resources to protect your ship and prepare for difficult later stages. The wide variety of strategies and unlockable ships allow for replayability as well.

The exciting tactical gameplay of the new game in the XCOM series has earned it my number two spot for GOTY. The game seamlessly combines the elements of risk and reward, base management and strategic combat to make for a very rewarding and unique experience. The Walking Dead saw a series of five games released entirely within this year. The Telltale adventure game is basically an interactive novel where your choices within the game affect the story in dramatic ways. Although your decisions ultimately do not affect the major plot points as much as you might think, the characters naturally react to your decisions. This unique and immersive game has earned my number one spot for Game of The Year.

 

5. Resonance
4. The Walking Dead
3. Max Payne 3
2. Mass Effect 3
1. Spec Ops: The Line

In 1999, David Lynch was hired to shoot a pilot for a television show, and partway through filming was told that the project was cancelled. Instead of scrapping the footage he’d filmed, he reconfigured it and turned it into a feature film that ended up becoming his masterpiece; Mulholland Drive. A few years ago, Yager Development was given the keys to Spec Ops, a mediocre-at-best PS1 license, and was instructed to make a third-person shooter set in Dubai. After years of false starts and publisher pinball, Spec Ops: The Line was finally released.

While it is, on the surface, a basic third-person military shooter, at its core this game is (aside from perhaps Metal Gear Solid 2) the boldest and most successful deconstruction of a video game that has ever been released by a major publisher. You play as a soldier investigating the aftermath of a devastating sandstorm in Dubai. This journey guides you through the ruined city, while forcing you to confront their own beliefs about the true cost of rules of engagement, self-fulfilling prophecy, and heroism. Make no mistake, Spec Ops: The Line is tough and uncompromising and it kicks down narrative doors that 99% of games are too scared to even knock on.

This year The Walking Dead and Mass Effect 3 made me cry, Resonance made me nostalgic, and Max Payne 3 made my jaw drop… but Spec Ops: The Line made me think like no game has ever before.

 

5. Fez
4. Reprisal
3. Mass Effect the Trilogy
2. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown
1. Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time

For all extents and purposes, Growlanser stomped the competition this year.  I went through my long laundry list of games and debated the inclusion of every single one of them. Every one but Growlanser made me pause.  That’s an accomplishment and this is a damn fine game that nobody knows about and they should. It has more choice options than Mass Effect 3 and the Walking Dead, it has more interesting twists than any game that I think has been iterated in Game of the Year discussions, the battle system has a lot more wiggle room to define itself when compared to Final Fantasy or Gungnir.  It’s a shockingly good game and I had a blast with the title because it does so much so surprisingly well. Just because it is on the PSP doesn’t mean you should be passing it up.  I recommend it as Game of the Year easily and these other games were left by the wayside.

 

5. The Lord of the Rings: Guardians of Middle-Earth
4. Torchlight II
3. Fez
2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
1. Blacklight: Retribution

Despite Guardians of Middle-Earth‘s sometimes serious flaws in the connectivity department, it is some of the most fun I’ve had with a game this year. It’s a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) styled game that takes intense MOBA gameplay and perfectly maps it to a controller making it easy for anyone to pick up and play. I’ve played all of the big MOBA games and none of them have compared to how much fun I’ve had with Guardians of Middle-Earth. Also I can be Sauron, and Sauron is rad.

Perhaps the best example of a dungeon crawler to ever release, Torchlight II gives players hours and hours of content at a third of the price of the train wreck that is Diablo 3. Great co-op, tons of dungeons & loot, a new game+, hardcore mode options and fun classes ensure you’ll be spending plenty of time with this one.

A game that was honestly completely off my radar right until release, Fez is one of the more unique games released this generation. The world-turning mechanic is so simple, yet so brilliant and while some of the puzzles may seem impossible, Fez is not a game you need to get 100% in to enjoy. The gorgeous, stylized graphics coupled with the amazing music and relaxing gameplay make it one of the most pleasant surprises this year for me.

Perhaps the most addicting game on my list, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is one of those games that completely makes you lose track of time. You’ll want to wait just a few more turns to get that satellite built, when suddenly a UFO will attack and you just can’t quit now! “Just one more turn” becomes several turns and the next thing you know it’s bright outside. I also should note I’ve never become so emotionally attached to a video game character as I have to my XCOM squad. When one of them dies in battle, it’s on my hands. All of my feels.

Blacklight: Retribution: Damn, this game is good. Honestly, Free-to-Play games have leaped up in quality this year and Blacklight: Retribution is one of the best. Featuring insane amounts of character and weapon customization, well-designed maps & game modes and very balanced gameplay, it offers more than most AAA $60 titles can at absolutely no cost to the player. Almost every customization option can be unlocked just from playing, and even the stock equipment you start with is competitive. This indie effort by Zombie Studios is a gorgeous, well polished example of why big studios need to start worrying about the free-to-play games that are coming out nowadays. If you’re into competitive first-person shooters, you owe it to yourself to give Blacklight: Retribution a shot.

 

5. Max Payne 3
4. The Darkness II
3. Sleeping Dogs
2. Rock Band Blitz
1. Far Cry 3

Man, what a year for video games, huh? I could probably make a top twenty list of the games I loved and still feel bad for leaving some off. Though a lot of people have probably forgotten about them after the November onslaught of major game releases, Max Payne 3 and The Darkness II are some of the finest examples of cinematic, well-paced, unsettlingly violent video games. They’re also some of the best examples of how a change in studio isn’t always a bad thing. Rockstar Vancouver’s style and flair went a long way in putting Max in the most interesting fish-out-of-water scenario this side of Army of Darkness while Digital Extremes somehow managed to merge the drastically different universes of The Darkness’s video game and comic book with aplomb.

On the other side of the spectrum, Sleeping Dogs was my Saints Row: The Third this year. It’s not quite as stupid, but it’s still pretty stupid. And the sheer amount of urban chaos is unparalleled by any game this year. Rock Band Blitz is the zen music experience I’ve always waited for. It’s the perfect way to enjoy Rock Band without having to pull out the plastic instruments from my closet. Add in the social links and the hatred it’s formed between me and some of my closest friends, and you’ve got a nearly perfect game. A game that had its only major flaw patched out shortly after release.

I’ve always appreciated the Far Cry series at arms-length, but never considered myself a “fan.” Warts and all, Far Cry 3 grabbed me and refused to let go until I’d skinned every necessary animal, taken out every outpost, and become king of the jungle. It’s a shame that the story is the wrong kind of stupid, but that doesn’t take away from the sheer madness of sniping sharks and setting bears on fire.

 

5. Fez
4. The Walking Dead
3. Borderlands 2
2. FTL: Faster Than Light
1. Mass Effect 3

Yes, Mass Effect 3 came in first for me and The Walking Dead got bumped to fourth. I found Mass Effect 3 to have an incredibly engaging storyline up until the last ten minutes, which is exactly why the end was such a terrible let down! This is a testament to how emotionally involved players got in this series, which also had excellent and fun mechanics as well as great replay value which became an all around knockout for me. Admittedly, it wouldn’t be on my list if I hadn’t played the previous installments as it would have lacked the same emotional impact.

I feel FTL: Faster Than Light filled the number 2 gap by having very intense, unique gameplay and utilizing rogue-like elements for nearly endless replayability. Its soundtrack perfectly compliments the eerie, dark, yet exploratory feel of the environment as well. Even though 95% of my runs end with my crew dying cold and alone in the blackness of space, I always come away with a smile on my face.

Borderlands 2 is a game that, similar to my first choice, is strong in almost every category. Gearbox brought back everything I liked about the gameplay and humor of the first title and they addressed unpopular things like the private co-op system while adding a better ending. It sets the example of how to make a great sequel by listening to feedback.

The Walking Dead got bumped to fourth for me because, while it destroyed my emotions more so than any game ever, it lacked in every other aspect that makes a game a game. It would win Best Script, Narrative, etc. by a mile for each and every year retrospectively, but I just can’t give it Game of the Year in good faith. Fez is my number 5 honorable mention because, after being stuck in development hell, it had some really big expectations to live up to. I feel it was even able to hit above the mark and deliver exactly what I was hoping for.

 

5. Dustforce
4. Persona 4: Golden
3. Hotline Miami
2. Gravity Rush
1. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward 

Is it fair to elevate a game on account of its soundtrack? Well, it’s a lot easier to do than one would think, but that’s not the reason why Dustforce is in my GOTY list for 2012. In a revived era of platformers full of interesting new takes on the old staple, Dustforce immediately grabbed my eye with its warm colored visuals and unique controls. A joke I supposed if it’s reimagining the king of the genre, the plumber, into an elite crack team of janitors. With precision acrobatics, obstacle course runs, and an absolutely lush visual style backed with my favorite soundtrack of the year, Dustforce is my favorite platformer to have come out this year.

With enough new content to demand the asking price all over again, 2008’s brilliant, modern day JRPG Persona 4: Golden shines out as one of the best gaming experiences as a whole for 2012. In the same vein as Persona 4, Hotline Miami can mean a lot and could be seen as a commentary on the state of game space. However, Hotline Miami could also just be a really fun game. In fact, it could be one of the most fun games I’ve played in some time despite (or maybe because of) all its gore. In all actuality it’s really just the style that got me. The acid induced fever dream is one part Drive, one part something out of a David Lynch film, scored by an outstanding musical selection. Hotline Miami could mean a lot of things to a lot of people but for me it was a delirious little game that I simply decided to appreciate for all the superficial reasons and enjoyed every second of.

Why Gravity Rush? Because not only is it the best Vita game around, it’s the one that managed to fit a large vibrant world into a tiny handheld and showed what the powerful little system was truly capable of. Captivating and beautiful to look at, Gravity Rush is a game that deserves your attention. Simple as that.

Some games are on my list because of just how simply enjoyable they were, while others are on it because they represent something about the year (while still remaining fun to play). Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward is my game of the year because of how much it meant to me personally. If a game brings me to tears then it’s probably a good indicator of how much on an emotional level a game got to me and this year it was Virtue’s Last Reward. A game about love, identity, and importance of those close to you. Like Blade Runner, it asks whether or not organic feelings can grow in an artificial world and for simply that and doing it so well I can give it my game of the year title. For being a captivating, well-written, often funny, mature narrative filled with puzzles that were frankly sparse but enjoyable, Virtue’s Last Reward can be without a doubt my favorite gaming experience all year.

 

5. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare
4. Spec Ops: The Line
3. Dishonored
2. Mass Effect 3
1. Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 is hands-down the most fun game I’ve had the joy of playing in 2012. Throughout its meaty campaign, I’ve had the opportunity, in ascending order of awesomeness, to silently pick off targets in many bandit camps with a bow, make things explode with a grenade attached to an arrow, and pull a knife from a dude’s belt and throw it at another dude. Not to mention having the ability to jump off a mountain at any time, to fly over a gorgeous island using my wingsuit, and having the chance to burn marijuana with a flamethrower to the sound of a dubstep song about burning marijuana. These are among many of the ridiculously fun things that one can do in the playground that is on the tropical island of Far Cry 3. Combined with a great story that will shock you, a villain that you will regret seeing the end of, and a myriad of things to do such as hunting sharks and making drugs, Far Cry 3 is undoubtedly my Game of the Year.

The other games on my list are also not lacking in new ideas, and especially not in fun. Mass Effect 3 comes in at second, not breaking its stride in portraying its universe filled with many races and personalities confronted with the single goal of survival. As usual, getting to know the characters in Mass Effect through Shepard is an amazing experience, one that will leave you smiling at a moment, tearing up at the next. Dishonored is third, thankfully bringing the stealth genre back into light with a brutal combat system and multiple arrays of tactical choices. Although a bit short, the many ways available to approach the challenges presented invite multiple playthroughs to fully experience the rich setting of Dishonored.

Fourth is Spec Ops: The Line. While having mediocre gameplay and multiplayer, Spec Ops has a gripping story which will fill your head with questions which are difficult to think about, with answers that are nonexistent. It might be the only modern military shooter so far that ironically does not glorify killing; rather the opposite, making it an emotionally hard game to play. A game with the power to do that deserves a spot on my list, and is probably the most memorable game out of the 5. Last is Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, which puts a new take on map-based multiplayer combat. Removing guns from such a type of game leaves only a man-to-man battle waged with battleaxes and giant swords, which is very grisly and insanely fun. Lopping another player’s head off with a bardiche has never been so satisfying- oh wait, it hasn’t been done before.

 

5. Max Payne 3
4. FTL: Faster than Light
3. Hotline Miami
2. Journey
1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

This list changed time and time again. I could justify any order of these games, but my final decision is final, and with good reason. Max Payne 3 and FTL were both incredible time sinks that drew me in, and didn’t want to let go for a while. Hotline Miami was one of those games this year that I just couldn’t get out of my head. I have theories about this game’s true meaning, but when push comes to shove, it’s probably just a murder simulator. Alas, it was a damn good one.

So Journey… anyone who thinks they know me would bet money on Journey being in my number one spot. That game moved me to no end, with a soundtrack so phenomenal that hearing it now still manages to bring a tear to my eye. I’ll never have an experience like Journey for quite a while, I can guarantee, but the intensity of every move of the tile mattering in XCOM ultimately made it my game of the year. It is an engrossing experience to take 6 soldiers named after those that are in your life, and bringing them to war. The importance of these soldiers increases your overall ability to strategize and reign victorious over every invasion and crash site. Micro managing, while daunting in most games, is an easy to understand, rewarding process that’s boatloads of fun to watch and experience. XCOM broke me into a genre I thought I’d never be interested in, and for that, it is my game of the year.

5. Final Fantasy XIII-2
4. Sleeping Dogs
3. Mass Effect 3
2. The Walking Dead
1. Tekken Tag Tournament 2

Now I know it might perplex some people as to why I put Final Fantasy XIII-2 here, but bear with me… It’s a very good game. Sure, the series is different now and the stories are a little more convoluted, but that didn’t take away from 80 hours of a hell of a good time. It really sucks you in like no entry has in years. Then there’s Sleeping Dogs, which, at its most fundamental, is GTA in Hong Kong with Batman combat, but the world breathes a life into it that’s enough to just blow you away sometimes. Remember: “A man who never eats pork buns is never a whole man.”

So was I one of the only people that was not enraged by the Mass Effect 3 ending? I mean sure, it was kind of a cop-out, but it did not detract from the hours of bliss I spent playing through that trilogy. Then The Walking Dead came along and just placed my heart in a wood-chipper and tossed the remains in a fire made of sadness. This really was many peoples’ Game of the Year for a reason and I finally got the see that. More like Most Emotionally Exhausting Goddamn Game of the Year. Sure, the gameplay was not particularly groundbreaking, but I have nothing but admiration for an expertly crafted narrative structure like that.

Lastly, I have always been a Tekken fiend, so you could only imagine my pure, unbridled, panties-incinerating excitement when Tekken Tag Tournament 2 came out. It was really all I could ask for and more. The past two years have been big for fighting games, but it seemed like it was all amounting to this game, ready to melt my face with beauty and brutality. I would marry this game, make a family, wear my clean but worn gingham gown, sit on the front porch together, and watch our collie and kids frolic in the flowery fields. I was a bit late to the party, but yeah, it was a great year.

 

5. FTL: Faster Than Light
4. Dishonored
3. Mass Effect 3
2. Spec Ops: The Line
1. The Walking Dead

Wow, is FTL good. The sim genre of games always have that addicting quality to them and this is no exception. The lack of any real plot is a pretty large downfall to the immersion of the game, but you find yourself not really caring as you replay over and over after every single catastrophic death. The fact that I’m still playing a game that was released months ago like its brand new and that it’s only $10 is all I really need to say about it.

Every PC gamer has been begging and praying that a more updated version of Thief  would come out since the first one hit shelves in 1998. That’s what you get with Dishonored. Running around each mission in the shadows, slitting throats along the way and figuring out the best way to approach a challenge is very much reminiscent of the Thief series or Deus Ex and that is a serious compliment. The game isn’t incredibly challenging on the surface and your actions have real consequences on how the game perceives you by altering the story accordingly. While stronger writing would have bumped this game much higher on my list, I’m definitely looking forward to Bethesda doing more.

Mass Effect 3 was a continuation of a solid story. It has all around solid audio for the soundtrack and the voice acting only brings the storyline to even bigger heights. This is what happens when a big budget meets a dev team that actually cares about its product. Spec Ops: The Line is a shooter that only uses that genre and mechanics to tell a much deeper story. Something much deeper than any shooter to date has had the balls to tell. At a time when people are growing concerned with the war’s toll on soldiers’ mental health, the gritty details of war and the perception of the world on our actions, it uses a twisted story to put things into perspective and make the player truly think about how nasty the real world is. Needless to say, this isn’t a game to make you feel super happy and its one that will stick with you long after you’ve slid away from the screen. This is a game that seriously could have benefited from coming out a few years ago, but this type of storytelling is what will bring the shooter genre back into relevancy again, even if it’s incredibly dark.

The Walking Dead boasts solid visuals that are more reminiscent of a comic book doesn’t take away from an excellent story told through episodic content. With some of the best character development in a game ever, you quickly feel attached to your little companion and hurt when she feels disappointed in you. It’s nice to finally see a video game not try and use a child only as a pull on the heart strings with ridiculous emotions and guilt ridden writing but more as a living, breathing entity that has her own emotions and baggage. This is really one of the first games that I can remember feeling a full range of emotions while playing all at the hands of the supporting characters and their decisions. The vocal acting had to be spot on for this to really work and it was. I found myself feeling what I would feel as if it was real as I got lost into the experience, which is the hallmark of any true Game of the Year.

 

5. Borderlands 2
4. The Walking Dead
3. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
1. Max Payne 3

This year was arguably very long and jam-packed full of instant classics and unexpected hits. With so many great titles on a variety of consoles, it was a struggle to place these games, let alone pick from the giant, sexy jacuzzi of retail and downloadable titles.

Max Payne 3 won my game of the year for so many reasons. While those of you who are reading this are either coming up with your own reasons or completely dismissing my opinion all together, it is worth mentioning that MP3 is the first third-person shooter I left with a sense of remorse. Not because I paid full retail price for it, but because I will not be able to relive some of those moments. Giant set pieces like the airport shootout set to “Tears” by Health will always be one of my favorite moments in gaming.

There are still many games to address. XCOM hits a certain part of me long ignored since the days of Front Mission 3 and Final Fantasy Tactics. Borderlands 2 is a near-perfect example of a good time with friends. Kingdom Hearts has a wide appeal and doesn’t disappoint, even on a handheld. The Walking Dead raised the bar on comic-based video games, but with some captivating, emotional moments and a stellar story. Still, Max Payne 3 is a loud, but humble reminder that something like a video game can have the ability to make you feel something.

 

5. Mega Man X Street Fighter
4. Slender: The Eight Pages
3. Lone Survivor
2. Super Hexagon
1. Kid Icarus: Uprising

Starting my list are two incredible freeware titles. The first, Street Fighter X Mega Man, in all of its aspects, pays an incredible homage to both franchises from which it draws inspiration. Fusing aesthetics and music (props to A_Rival for the incredible soundtrack) from both franchises, SFxMM is engaging and tight with incredible detail put into the animations and move sets of the opposing world warriors. As the first piece of fan freeware published by a large company, I can only hope that it opens the gates for similar projects. On the other hand, Slender, an incredible (and free) experience, is the purest and simplest distillation of terror that I have yet seen in a video game. This is helped in no small part by its simple controls that allow almost anybody to share in the experience by drawing in friends who would normally be completely lost in the world of a game (and not in the good creepy forest way).

Continuing this horror theme is Jasper Byrne’s Lone Survivor. A stupendous retro-savvy survival horror, Lone Survivor carries a sense of paranoia throughout where dread and terror constantly attempt to fight into your mind, aided in a way by the alienation and abstraction afforded by the pixel-heavy art style. While the chances of survival may be bleak in Byrne’s game, they do not exist in Super Hexagon. Created by Terry Cavanagh of VVVVVV fame, Super Hexagon is the exact type of game that I never thought I would adore. Its extremely difficult and driven purely by reflexes. However, its design makes it almost impossible to resist playing just one more round, trying to beat a high score.

Finally, when I think of fun experiences from this year, nothing stands out more than Kid Icarus: Uprising. More than any other game this year, it evoked the magical feeling of playing video games that I experienced as a child. With a surprisingly robust arsenal and selection of special abilities, as well as a massive “checklist,” I always found myself striving for higher ground and self-improvement, yet the true heart of the game lies in its story. Kid Icarus: Uprising is basically an amazing Saturday morning cartoon. With a colorful cast of characters constantly bantering about, I gained just as much entertainment from the dialogue as the gameplay. Toss in an unexpected level of pathos and a brilliant multiplayer mode, and you’ve got my game of the year.

 

5. LEGO Lord of the Rings
4. The Walking Dead
3. Spec Ops: The Line
2. Halo 4
1. Mass Effect 3

You have to give it up to Bioware from making the best Mass Effect game to date and ending such an epic trilogy with a bang. 343 took Bungie’s baby and proved that switching dev teams CAN result in a game better than its predecessors. Spec Ops turned from a by-the-book 3rd person shooter to a piece of art that made you question your goodness with some of the best storytelling of this generation. The Walking Dead made everyone who played it struggle to live with the split second decisions they’ve made and showed that episodic adventure games can be massive hits…as long as they make everybody cry like a baby. LEGO Lord of the Rings combines two things that everybody should love and makes it shine with an epic narrative and battles combined with traditional LEGO humor and whimsy.

 

5. Writer Rumble
4. Middle Manager of Justice
3. The Big Big Castle!
2. Final Fantasy Theathrythm
1. Final Fantasy XIII-2

Most of my gaming this year has been playing stuff I’d missed in previous years, or picking up iOS games since they usually aren’t as much of a time investment. The only “big” game I played that was also released this year is Final Fantasy XIII-2. I had played FFXIII when it first came out, and then stopped a few hours in. This year, I decided to give it a second try and ended up enjoying it. I picked up FFXIII-2 shortly after release and loved it even more. It improved on everything that the first game had problems with, and from what I’m hearing, Lightning Returns is taking the series in an even better direction.

The reason Theatrhythm is on the list is because I’m enough of a fan of Final Fantasy games in general, and especially the music, that it’s nothing but pleasure to play. When I write or work, I usually am listening to instrumental stuff like music from games, covers of music from games, stuff from movies, or classical music. Being able to listen to music I enjoy and it being a part of the game is great. I usually suck at rhythm games though, and I had some hangups about this one since the likes of Project Diva was too tough or precise for me to enjoy. I’m happy to report that Theatrhythm is nowhere near as difficult, and if you happen to have an iOS device, that platform actually improves on the original 3DS version.

Finally, we’ve got the iOS stuff. The Big Big Castle! is on the list firstly because it’s co-created by one of my gaming-related heroes Ron Gilbert along with Clayton Kauzlaric. They made it just for fun, and it shows. You get to build things and then destroy them. It’s awesome.

Double Fine’s Middle Manager of Justice is the title on my list that has been released most recently, and it’s another fun game with story elements and some good ol’ hero on villain pounding. If you like comics and heroes, or even just Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles, you’ll like this game. And then there’s Writer Rumble. It got a good review here, but I would have probably scored it even higher. It’s highly addictive and will also have more characters and updates on the way for 2013, including a port to Android.

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Tyler Humphrey is a bearded fan of all things video game, Tarantino films, comic books, and professional wrestling. Follow him on Twitter (@AlmostApollo) to keep up with his nonsense and misadventures.