In what is the coolest jobs I've ever had, I write about toys for a living. All day, nothing but toys. It's amazing. When I'm not writing at work I'm writing at home, either working on my screenplay or my children's novel. When I'm not doing any of that I try to get in some video game time. I'm currently rocking Nintendo only consoles because dammit, I love Nintendo. More than Nintendo, I love platform games. Even though my favorite game isn't a platformer (The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker), it is my favorite genre of games.
Follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/thekillerbees and add me to your 3DS Friends List (1633-4277-3240 and let me know so I can add you to mine.) I'd love to meet some people who want play some Kid Icarus, Resident Evil: Revelations and Mario Kart 7.
The world didnít end this month and congress has decided to dangle us over the fiscal cliff instead of driving us over completely. That means gamers will get to play for another solid 365 days. As we look forward to the year to come, itís that time where I look back at the year that has gone by. A year that saw a zombified Nintendo DS rise from the grave and bite down hard on Pokemaniacs around the world, a slew of Nintendo 3DS games that seemed to get no respect (thatís the story of my life, no respect) and the Wii U launch to a bevy of excellent ports and baffling predictions. It was also a year where the curtains closed on the Nintendo Wii, but not after one hell of a last act.
Last year I handed out crackys, but this year I thought Iíd honor my favorite videogame of all time by handing out the Deku Leaf Awards.
The Last Story is XSeedís Most Successful Game
Iím sure gamers will argue throughout 2013 as to whether Operation Rainfall was successful or not. Did it achieve its purpose of convincing Nintendo to publish Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story and Pandoraís Tower? Not really. Instead Gamestop and XSeed stepped up to the plate and brought us two of the three titles, and two outta three ainít bad. While exact sales figures arenít available for either game, we do know that The Last Story was XSeedís most successful title ever.
Iím a huge fan of XSeed. I own many of the games they released for the DS and Wii, and many of those games easily fall into my Top 10 on the system. They are a company that I will support nearly every time because of the risks theyíve taken localizing games like Retro Game Challenge, Solatorobo, Fishing Resort, Ivy, the Kiwi? and Fragile Dreams. All great games that should have done better, so itís nice to see that XSeed is finally starting to see real success with The Last Story.
Runner Up: Bayonetta 2 for the Wii U.
Nintendo Fans Being Disappointed In Nintendo
It sure seems like Nintendo canít do anything right these days. At least thatís the impression I get when I read comment threads on Nintendo fan websites. The Big N always seems to be doing things wrong, not doing things fast enough or a combination of the two. Be it region lock, failure to localize games right when we want them, creating ďunderpoweredĒ systems or releasing too many Mario games, a day doesnít go by where Nintendo ďfansĒ are predicting doom and gloom for their system while at the same time mocking others who make the same predictions.
Is Nintendo perfect? No, but neither is Microsoft nor Sony nor Steam. Every company has its faults, I just wish every comment thread wouldnít be filled with people pointing them out.
Runner Up: People Rushing to Every Goddamn Pachter Comment Thread
Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime 3
If you were to ask me what my favorite DS game of all-time is, I would quickly respond with Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime and then spend 20 minutes telling why it's so great (Hint: The Tank Battles). So when a sequel was announced I got quite giddy. Here I am more than a year after its Japanese launch and Iíve all but given up hope that weíll see this game here in the US. That makes me sad because as Iíve said Rocket Slime is my favorite DS game of all time. The 3DS has quickly become my gaming console of choice and I would really like to hit the open seas as a slime and engage in epic ship battles, but I canít. I canít because Square-Enix refuses to localize the crap out of this game. FUCKING LOCALIZE IT ALREADY!
Runner Up: Pandoraís Tower
Of the three Guild-1 games released in the US, Aeroporter was the one I was most excited about. A puzzle game about handling luggage, bombs and big rocks all while trying to make your airport the best in the world? How delightfully quirky! I was really into the game for about the first four stages until I had to start using motion controls. Itís hard enough to navigate a particular piece of luggage down six rotation belts without having to focus on rolling a ball. Thatís when the game kind of died for me. I still enjoy it and will probably take the time to beat it in 2013, but I wish I could have liked it more.
Runner Up: Style Savvy: Trendsetters
Kid Icarus: Uprising
With the 3DS and now the Wii U, Nintendo has an opportunity to do something it hasnít since the end of the Gamecube era: make the most beautiful games on the market. Yes, Super Mario Galaxy was a stunner, but with the power available on its two systems Nintendo really has a chance to take its graphical capabilities and its wondrous art direction to a whole new level. While the 3DS had some good looking games in 2011, 2012 is when developers really started to shine; and no game was shinier than Kid Icarus: Uprising.
Unlike most of the other games this year, Kid Icarus: Uprising utilized the extra horsepower to not only make a graphically advanced game, but also to bring a unique and vivid art direction to life. The Space Pirate Ship, The Lightning Chariot, The Warís End, The Seafloor Palace... just remembering those levels gives me chills. Easily the best looking game on the 3DS and of the year.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star - Did is push the 3DS to the limits? No, but the wonderful diorama design made every level of this game a sight to see. Closure - Very indie black and white graphics that show you how to properly do two tone visuals.
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Kid Icarus: Uprising follows in the footsteps of Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword to show that Nintendo makes some of the best video game music around. Kid Icarus: Uprising is a long game, but thanks to the incredibly imaginative music youíll never want it to end. Some tracks of choice include Lightning Chariot Base theme, The Return of Palutena and Dark Pitís Theme. There are definitely hints of past Nintendo franchise scattered throughout the soundtrack so in the end it sounds like something that pays homage to the games that have come before it.
But audio isnít just about music, its also about voice acting. The cast of Kid Icarus: Uprising nails it. Theyíre funny, lively and practically perfect in every way.
Runner Up: Code of Princess
Kid Icarus: Uprising
I know that I should probably give this award to the runner up, but for me writing isnít just about the story. Itís also about the dialogue that fills the story, and no game delivered better dialogue than Kid Icarus: Uprising in 2012. The story for Uprising was already good enough to be considered for best of the year, but the punchy, funny, well timed writing kept me laughing as I played the game to the point that I just wanted to stop playing and listen to the back and forth banter. While Reyn kept reminding me that itís ďReyn Time,Ē Kid Icarus consistently brought new and better dialogue as the game went on. It really hit its stride once Viridi joined the cast. Unlike the runner up, I was never left annoyed by the dialogue or story in this game; and it really is an inspiration in my own writing.
Virtueís Last Reward - A very engaging story that took way too long for me to really get into. Paper Mario: Sticker Star - Very basic story saved by some outstanding dialogue.
Earlier I wrote that XSeed is a game company I would support through and through. Renegade Kid was on its way to having the same stature with me. Through the two Dementiumís, Moon and Mutant Mudds I was really starting to respect that developer. Then it released Planet Crashers and brought the whole thing down. Planet Crashers is an awful game through and through. It has bad graphics, bad music, bad writing... but the reason why itís the Dead Deku Leaf winner is that it's the worst RPG I have ever played. Terrible in every way, the game harkens back to early gaming with its no tutorial push into the open world in a way that would seem unfair and mean spirited in 1985. If Planet Crashers was released before the first Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy the RPG genre as we know it would have died out ages ago.
Heroes of Ruin: Boring gameplay matches boring visuals and boring story. NightSky: Ambient music and delightful graphics canít hide the fact that 2/3 of this game is just pushing right on the control pad.
Three games really could have filled this spot for me and I would have been satisfied. But the epic scale, inspiring vistas, evolving gameplay and heartfelt story of Xenoblade Chronicles reminded me of why I love gaming so much: the new and exciting adventures I get to have. The world of Xenoblade Chronicles was just as amazing to look at as it was to explore and itís one that I certainly didnít mind backtracking over to kill some of the stronger enemies. With itís JRPG meets WRPG design, it was one of the freshest games I played all year and went out of its way to save the JRPG. The Wii had a lack of good RPGís in general over its six years, but we have received some gems. Xenoblade Chronicles was just the cherry on top and a great ďlastĒ game for the Nintendo Wii.
Kid Icarus: Uprising - There is so much to this game I know Iíll play it forever. VVVVV - Easily the most surprising and most fun platformer I played this year.