2012 was an odd year in gaming for me. None of the big releases appealed to me and the one that did, Need for Speed, was a major letdown. On the other hand, I did pick up a ton of older games, bought an import 3DS XL, a domestic 3DS XL, a Neo Geo X, replaced my PS3 due to the laser failing and repurchased a Wii. So, it's been interesting and expensive.
My top games
Journey - This game affected me like no other. I was spellbound from the beginning and quickly encountered another player. I used the limited communication to contact the other player and we travelled together for a bit. We eventually took different paths and I felt the loss. Shortly after that, my character was surfing on the sand in some castle ruins and the scenery was some of the most beautiful polygon art I've ever seen. At the end of the game, I teared up. And that says a lot.
The Walking Dead - The first two episodes flew under my radar completely. Thanks to the Totally Rad Show, I found out about the game and downloaded the demo. It was good enough that I bought the entire season. Despite being an adventure game, a genre I don't like, this game is amazing. I love how no decision in the game has a good option and, no matter the choice, I always felt some remorse after the fact. The Walking Dead is also amazing for having the best NPC ever - Clementine. She outdoes just about every other NPC. This child makes Ashley in RE4 look even worse than she is in the game. The ending of the game is both intense and logical and I pray it leads directly into season 2.
Persona 4 Arena - As most everyone knows, I love fighting games and P4A delivered. It's fast and furious and one of the best fighters this generation. It shows that Arc System Works can do much better than BlazBlue. I was very grateful that Persona 3 characters were added to the roster since the Persona 4 cast doesn't excite me. After trying out every character, I found Yu to be my best character and Akihiko is my constant project character. No other fighters came close.
Adventure Time - When I first heard about Hey Ice King, Why'd You Steal Our Garbage, I had low hopes. I haven't loved anything Wayforward has done thus far and I expected this to fall into that mold. Their games always look amazing but something about them fails to capture me. But this game did capture me, thanks largely to how faithful it is to the show and how successully Wayforward was in retaining AT's charm. The game itself is short and sweet but I loved every minute of it. For once, video game side quests made sense as AT is a story of side quests and quirky characters.
The biggest change for me this year was leaving Dream Cancel. I felt that my work there was done and it was time to move on. Looking back, I loved the entire process of working on DC; everything from people hating on me, which let me know I was doing something good, to the community itself rallying behind the site. What started as my passion project grew into something greater and it was a hell of a ride. Since I'm no George Lucas I knew that once my goals were met, I would pass the site on. I left Dream Cancel in the hands of people who are more dedicated to it than I could ever be and I look forward to where they go with it.
No year end list is complete with a disappointment section. By far my biggest disappointment is the death of the Neo Geo Station series. Not only was the emulation accurate and the filter options great but the netcode was nothing short of amazing. In typical SNKP style, they started with mostly early Neo Geo titles. A few titles were released after the initial batch but not a single classic title was released - no SamSho II or IV; no Last Blade title; no Real Bout games; no KOF 98 or 2002; and, most importantly, no Mark of the Wolves. Had any of these titles been released, the sales would have been better and the concept may have survived. Hell, if they had released MotW, the sales would have increased by orders of magnitude.
Goodbye, 2012. I found some good games that I had previously ignored (Ridge Racer 7), played some games with tons of charm (Adventure Time, Downtown Nekketsu: Riki Gaiden) and had a generally good year. Here's to 2013.