Saturday, December 28, 2013

Archile's End of the Year Awards 2013 Part I

 Oh, I'm doing this. I'm so doing it.
 I played over 89 games this year. Reviewed 85 of them, 3 of them were my Megaman Spectacular, so I decided not to count them, and the other one I started it way before I begun the Of Swords and Joysticks project, but finished it recently(As in, right now). That's quite a load, according to my backloggery, this is the first year since starting it that I finished with a positive ratio! Although that's probably due to certain studies-related issue during the first semester that gave me a hell of a lot of free time. Regardless, these are the wonderful 89, conveniently graded for my viewing pleasure:

Nintendo Wii
Metroid Other M 5.0
Xenoblade Chronicles 9.0
Punch-Out!! 9.0
Trauma Team 9.0
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword  8.0
Samurai Warriors 3 7.0
Kirby's Epic Yarn 5.0
Fragile Dreams: Farewell, Ruins of the Moon 7.0
Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law 2.0
Pandora's Tower 6.5
Donkey Kong Country Returns 8.5

Playstation 1
Kensei Sacred Fist 4.0
Cardinal Syn 3.0
Alundra 7.0
Strider 2 8.0
T.R.A.G. Mission of Mercy 7.0
Alundra 2 7.5
T'ai Fu 8.0
Ergheiz: God Bless the Ring 9.0
DarkStalkers 3 8.0
Destrega 5.0
Xenogears 9.0
Dragon Valor 7.5
Chrono Cross 8.0
Dynasty Warriors 5.0
Bushido Blade 2 9.0
Rival Schools 9.0
The Legend of Dragoon 9.0
Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition 5.0
Breath of Fire IV 5.5

PlayStation 2
Ar Tonelico: Memory of Elemia 6.0
Street Fighter EX 3 5.0
Xenosaga III: Also sprach Zarathustra 7.0
Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2 6.0
War of the Monsters 8.0
Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore 8.0
Robotech Battlecry 7.5
State of Emergency 5.0
Justice League Heroes 7.0
Kengo: Masters of Bushido 5.0
Way of the Samurai 7.0
Dynasty Warriors 2 4.0
Forever Kingdom 5.0
Dynasty Warriors 4 6.0
Okage: Shadow King 7.0
Minority Report: Everybody Runs 5.5
Eve of Extinction 6.5

PlayStation 3
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon 7.0
Dynasty Warriors 7 7.0
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 10
Injustice: Gods Among us 8.0
Dynasty Warriors 6 6.0
Street Fighter IV 7.0
Zone of the Enders HD Collection 10
Dragon Ball Budokai HD Collection 7.0
Tales of Graces F 8.0
Genji: Days of the Blade 5.0
Tales of Xillia 7.0
Dungeon Siege III 8.0
Journey Collector's Edition 9.0
Warriors Orochi 3 9.0
Risen 2: Dark Waters 6.0
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune 4.0
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves 8.0
Uncharted 3: Drake's Fortune 9.0
Bulletstorm 6.0
Anarchy Reigns 9.0
Killer is Dead 9.0
Asura's Wrath 9.0
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate 7.0

Nintendo DS
All Kamen Rider: Rider Generation 7.0
Tetris DS 8.0
Bakugan: Rise of the Resistance 5.0
Dragon Ball Kai: Ultimate Butoden 7.0
Megaman Star Force Leo 7.0
Megaman Star Force 2 Zerker X Ninja 4.0
Megaman Star Force 3 Black Ace 8.0
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 9.0

Nintendo 3DS
Star Fox 64 3D 7.0
Tekken Prime 3D Edition 6.0
Kid Icarus: Uprising 7.5
Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition 9.0
Blazblue Continuum Shift 2 5.0
Dead or Alive: Dimensions 8.0
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D 5.0
Pokemon Y 8.0

Godzilla: Destroy all Monsters 6.0

Evoland 7.0
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger 9.0

 RPG of the Year:
 I've played RPGs ever since Quest 64 introduced me to the genre, it was love at first sight. This year I played lots of great ones, which made reducing the list to 5 a bit tough.
Xenogears: Every bit as good as I remembered it.
 The Legend of Dragoon: I didn't like it too much when I was young, well, that has changed. This game was fantastic, I liked it even more than Chrono Cross, one of my older favorite RPGs.
 Pokemon Y: While it's more of the same, it's really friggin' good. I'm still playing it, as in right now, breeding and hatching eggs for trades, brings me back to my Pearl days.
 Tales of Graces F: Even for Tales of standards, this game was really good, and on many fronts, superior to Xillia. Hubert was fantastic.
Xenoblade Chronicles: This game is massive, its scale is almost unmatched by any other JRPG. If you can see it, you can get to it. Bonus points for being made by the same people that worked on Xenogears, in some ways, it felt like a Spiritual Successor.

Xenogears. Of all the RPGs I've played, none stuck with me more than Xenogears. Even though I'd played it many times before, even though it felt like Xenoblade all over again... It still felt fresh. The story is as dark as it gets, and while the second disc is very much a disappointment, the overall product is fantastic.

 Action Game of the Year: 
I played a surprisingly large amount of action games this year, and most of them were really good too! Another list that was hard to bring down to five.
 Killer is Dead: Another Suda 51 masterpiece. With a plot that lends itself for many different and entirely valid interpretations, a unique visual style mixed with that Suda 51 crazyness... This game is nothing short of genius.
Zone of the Enders HD Edition: Supposedly this port, at release, wasn't very good, but I know nothing of that, as the patched version that I played was flawless. At least ZoE 2, but who cares about ZoE 1 anyways?

 Anarchy Reigns: A Fighting game disguised as an action game. Even though finding matches online was nigh impossible, when you got in one, it was pure bliss. And the Single Player Mode was great by itself. Everything about this game felt so good, the physics, landing blows, character designs, the cheesy dialogue... I loved Anarchy Reigns.
 Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception: I hated Uncharted 1. Uncharted 2 was really good, and Uncharted 3 just did what Uncharted 2 did even better. While some of the changes felt a bit iffy, like the unnecessary melee system, the setpieces were twice as epic as Uncharted 2, even if sometimes they felt as if they were tied together by very loose threads.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger: I didn't really expect to like this game, but I loved it. It felt very arcadey, a good thing in my book, the way it told the story, with on-the fly corrections by the narrator was very original, it looked awesome too. Bonus points for mixing real cowboy history with fantasy.

 Zone of the Enders: HD Collection. Zone of the Enders 1 is as mediocre as it gets, but Zone of the Enders 2 is every bit as good as it once was. One of the smoothest mech games ever created, the action and epic set pieces never stop coming. The word epic defines this game, from taking down an entire battleship fleet by yourself with the giant Cannon, to the war on the dessert, and later getting the 0-Shift and feeling like a total badass... one of the greatest games ever created.

 Adventure Game of the Year
I didn't play a whole lot of them, so getting this list done was pretty fast and pretty easy as I knew from the outset which were the better ones.
 Fragile Dreams - Farewell Ruins of the Moon: The most depressing game ever created? Maybe not, but one of the most depressing games I've ever played, poor Seto just can't catch a break. The game rises above it's mediocre gameplay thanks to it's setting and the way the story is told, plus, feelings.
 Dragon Valor: As underrated as it gets, the game is a very solid action-adventure hybrid, with a novel premise of haunting dragons with each subsequent generation of the Dragon Hunting family.
 Journey: Collector's Edition: Feelings. The game lasts about three hours, but you'll never spend three hours in a better way. A unique visual design with impossibly pretty backgrounds and simple, but engaging gameplay. It also includes two other games.
 The Legend of Zelda - Skyward Sword: I'm not the biggest Zelda fan, but I loved Skyward Sword. Some of the most original dungeons in the franchise(The TimeRocks anyone?), fantastic visual design, finally well-developed characters that you actually get to care for? The controls take a bit of time to get used to, but once you do it's smooth sailing from there.
Alundra 2: Alundra was a very frustrating, but pretty good game. Alundra 2 is almost as frustrating, but even better. There's new puzzles, and the gameplay was overhauled completely, it no longer feels like a Zelda clone.
 Journey. Best. Three. Hours. Of. My. Life.

 Fighting Game of the Year:
While my interest in fighting games is a waning a bit, surprising since it is, or maybe used to be, my favorite genre. I played plenty, many of them on the PS1(And many of those were mediocre!), but there were some great ones.
Darkstalkers 3: Street Fighter Alpha with monsters, that's the gist of it. Considered by many as the true precursor to the VS series, while it feels very much like Street Fighter, it has it's own mechanics that make it a very different game. 
 Ehrgeiz - God Bless the Ring: This is not your traditional fighting game, which is not to say that it's a bad fighting game. Developed by Namco, creators of Tekken, as a collaboration with Squaresoft, it was one of the first 3-D arena based fighter, and it's as good as it was unique. It also has a great Rogue-like RPG mode in which you have to go deeper and deeper inside a dungeon.
 Rival Schools: The game is so good, it needed two discs to contain it's greatness. Actually, the second disc has a rebalanced console-exclusive version of the arcade game. Fast paced, with a unique roster and the tight Capcom-gameplay that Capcom games used to be known for, plus, no shady DLC practices, make this one hell of a great game.
 Tekken Tag Tournament 2: The culmination of all that is Tekken. Over 50 characters, with very few clones, that bring together almost every character from the series, plenty of customization options, a great tutorial for newbies, lots of little details like every character speaking in his or her native language and it looks fantastic to boot make this a phenomenal game.
Bushido Blade 2: The most unique fighting game among the nominees, Bushido Blade has no life bars. It's a very slow paced game, in which every move must count, as your first move could be your last.

 Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Tekken has perfected it's gameplay throughout 7 different entries and over 10 years. Add to it over 50 characters, every fan-favorite returning to the arena.... this is a Tekken fan's dream come true.

 ??? Game of the Year:
A category for those games that are just too damn hard to classify. I didn't play many of them, which is why it's rather short.
 Trauma Team: A game about different doctors. A game that has you with different type of operations and specialties, from orthopedics to surgery. I didn't expect to like this game. I did. I fell in love with it's cast, and the story was pretty interesting.
 Asura's Wrath: The kind of game I'm always complaining about, the kind of game that tries to be a movie, but in this case, I didn't mind. This is the best Shonen anime you'll never see.
 Punch-Out!!: Not my type of game, but the care that went into it is undeniable. Some of the best graphics on the Wii, alongside challenging pattern-recognizing fights make it a bit unique among the Wii's library. 
Tetris DS: So many modes, and Nintendo decorations are everywhere. This is the best version of Tetris ever created.
 Asura's Wrath is everything that is wrong with the industry now a days: Made by Capcom, a lot of DLC that includes the true ending of the game, all which was made before the game was shipped, tons of QTEs and a very disappointing game-to-cutscene ratio. Despite all of that, I loved it. It's the greatest shonen show never created.

 Licensed Game of the Year:
Games based on many different franchises. I didn't play a lot of them(Lucky me, I guess?) and some of them were downright awful(Harvey Birdman anyone?) but a few stood out among the rest....
 Robotech - Battlecry: I don't know much about the Robotech franchise, but I do know that this is a great game.
 All Kamen Rider - Rider Generations: Like Kamen Rider? Like Beat'em ups? This is your game. A huge cast of characters, even if most are very clone-ish, each one with his special moves from the series he comes of. While a bit short, it's very replayable.
 Dragon Ball Budokai HD Collection: Budokai 1 is only worth it for the Story Mode, Budokai 3 on the other hand has a pretty dull story mode, but a fantastic gameplay engine. Budokai 3 is probably better than Burst Limit to be honest.
 Dragon Ball Kai - Ultimate Butoden: Has a story mode that is as good as Budokai 1's, however, while Budokai 1 has aged poorly, Ultimate Butoden's gameplay is pretty decent. Plus, it's the first Dragon Ball game that lets you customize existing characters with items!
Injustice - Gods Among Us: Remember the disaster that was Mortal Kombat VS DC? Netherrealm Studios took everything that they learned from their latest game and produced Injustice. It's a much faster game, and while you can tell that uses the same engine, the gameplay is like night and day. It also has an awesome story mode.

 Injustice: Gods Among us does so much right, and so little wrong. It has a very decent roster filled with fan favorites(Even if they went a little over board with Batman characters) and a fantastic story. If you are a DC fan, you need this game.

 Biggest Surprise:
Some games you just don't expect too much from. Maybe you expect to little from them but they surprise you. In this year, I had a lot of the former and very little of the later, luckily. Even Xenosaga 3 was somewhat decent, even if it made as much sense as Saint Seiya.
 Fragile Dreams - Farewell Ruins of the Moon: I expected a survival horror game, and during the first minutes of the game you are lead to believe that such is the case... and then misery begins to befall Seto, over and over again. It had such a depressing storyline, the feeling of loneliness was what prevailed over any other.
 T.R.A.G. Mission of Mercy: I've always wanted to play T.R.A.G., and I got so much more than I thought I would....
 Call of Juarez - Gunslinger: The last Call of Juarez game was universally panned by everyone. And this was a downloadable game, expectations were low. And then I played it, this game is so much better than it deserves to be.
 The Legend of Dragoon: While I played this game a lot when I was a kid, I never really loved it, heck, I think I hated it a bit. Color me surprised after I played both this and Chrono Cross and found out that I loved LoD. 
Bakugan - Rise of the Resistance: I bought this game because it was priced at 5 bucks. I expected garbage. Turns out it's a pretty decent Tower Defense game.

 T.R.A.G. Mission of Mercy. After I finished this game, the first thing I did was search for similar games. This went on for many days as I couldn't find anything similar. This is how much I loved this game, it surprised me both in how it played, it has tank-like controls in an action game, and how much I liked it. I'm still searching for a similar game....

 Character of the Year:
There were plenty of memorable characters this year, but these were the ones that stuck with me after the game was over, shame I couldn't get more than five spots.
 Mavda(Pandora's Tower): The mysterious old woman that aids Aeron in lifting Elena's curse. She's always very mysterious, and probably knows more than she lets on, but you'll never know, not until the end. She had a fantastic visual design, the voice acting was spot on and the part she played worked very well.
 Asura(Asura's Wrath): Do not make him angry, and whatever you do, do not make his daughter cry. Probably the strongest, and angriest, character ever created, he looks incredible no in small part thanks to the visual style they used, making his skin(and the rest of the demi gods) look like lacquer, and the visual design is very fitting for him. Characterization and Voice acting was phenomenal, the ultimate shonen hero.
 Hubert Ozswell(Tales of Graces F): By far, the most memorable character from Tales of Graces, Hubert was Asbel's shy and timid little brother. After being sent away, since his father didn't want both sons fight over his title to tear them apart as it once did between himself and his brother, he returns grown up and turned into a completely different person. He is strong, brave, a leader, he looks down upon everyone and always has a very serious straight-to-the-point demeanor. Which is why it makes it so cute when he develops a crush for Pascal, the most light-headed character in the cast, and she happens to be a bit older than him too, figures he likes them mature. The English Voice acting helped solidify his personality, his part in the Theater Play optional-scenario will never, ever be forgotten by me.
 Mondo Zappa(Killer is Dead): A Suda 51 character in a list made by me, this is surprising and new. Mondo Zappa is different from most of the other modern Suda 51 lead characters, as he is always very, very serious. He does get a few moment when he breaks the fourth wall, but the lines are always delivered in the same calm manner as he usually talks. However, he does have a mysterious past that haunts him, and his whole character arc from the start of the game 'till it's end is nothing short of memorable. Mondo Zappa might not be one of Suda 51's finest, but it was one of my favorite characters I met on 2013.
Zelda( The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword): For the first time in a Zelda game I've played, I've actually felt compelled to rescue Zelda. Zelda was given development this time, she was give a friendly relationship with Link since the beginning of the game, you are made to care for her since the very start. And she grows, she develops. In a Zelda game. Oh, and she's a total cutie.

 Hubert Ozwell. This was very close between Asura and Hubert, but in the end, I went with the most original one, as I liked both almost the same. While Asura is your typical shonen protagonist time a thousand, Hubert had a much fresher story. His reasons for changing were explained, you could also, if you explored, find more about his relationship with his foster father and why he was given away. Hubert is a very deep character, with his fair share of internal struggles, should he protect his homeland or fight for the town that raised him? Should he look for his foster father's best interests or the city's? He has a hard time finally opening up to his brother, Asbel, and his mother, but he does mellow out in the end, even if he still remains a bit of a jerk.

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