Eric’s 2012 Games of the Year Picks
2012 went by in quite a blur. I’ve been a busy guy this year, attending graduate school while still working in a middle school while reveling in the beginnings of an incredible relationship while keeping up with movies while getting swept up in the intricacies of General Hospital and doing so much more. I rode a train to Seattle for PAX Prime this year, completing my trifecta of transportation types to the opposite side of the nation. I ingested enough vitamin B12 in 30 seconds to last me til the day I die. Oh, and I also managed to play a bunch of PlayStation Network games. What were my favorite games this year? Coincidentally, many of them blended music with gameplay. A handful were also from virgin PSN developers, which is good news for the future of the PlayStation Network. Let’s take a look at my list:
Top 5 Games of 2012
Insane. This music/rhythm/acid-test flashing lights-fest will blow your mind. What impressed me most about this game is how playable it is. Sure, you expect video games to be playable, but when a game looks the way Dyad does and builds upon itself with a multitude of mechanics, you sort of expect it to falter in the gameplay category. Dyad doesn’t.
I’ve spent several nights trying to conquer the trophy challenges and beat Chris’s scores. I’m not sure I focused on anything else as intently as I did Dyad in 2012. ‘In the zone’ doesn’t even begin to explain the experience.
It’s been a long time coming, but this year finally saw the arrival of Retro/Grade on PSN. After playing it for the last two+ years at shows and conventions, I have to admit that my anticipation for it waned a bit. When I fired it up, though, I had a blast playing through the entire campaign first on Pro difficulty then playing through part of it at the X-Treme level.
The Challenge Mode adds a ton of nifty twists that reveal alternate builds of the game as well as concept art and indie dev costumes. Not much beats watching a T-Rex from Go Home Dinosaurs rock out in a space ship while rhythmically battling space aliens in reverse. A spectacle and an engulfing experience, Retro/Grade exceeded my already high expectations. Kudos to 24 Caret Games for such a strong first outing.
Retro City Rampage
Retro City Rampage is fun on both the PS3 and the Vita. It’s a #YOPO title that will bring a smile to the face of any gamer over the age of 20. Even with its 8-bit graphical style, the game manages to successfully build an open-world environment that’s easy to get blissfully lost in.
I wandered into the arcade one night before bed and wound up playing the Bit.Trip mini-game for over an hour. All of the challenges have friends list leaderboards attached to them, and the quests add to instead of detracting from the fun of the game.
It’s been a while since I woke up in the morning with a strong desire to play a portable video game. The night I downloaded Sound Shapes, I stayed up into the early morning the next day beating all of the campaign and Death Mode levels. I acquired the platinum, then went to sleep with visions of musical notes dancing in my head.
When I woke, I brought my Vita to the breakfast table and started creating my first level with one hand while eating cereal with the other. It sounds absurd, but I couldn’t help but explore the extremely easy to use creation tools as soon as possible. The game also kept me company on that aforementioned long train journey.
If I had to pick one game from 2012 that I had the most fun playing, it would be Awesomenauts. Chris, Brad, and I have put so much time into devising and executing strategies that I couldn’t choose any other game to grant my highest honors for the year.
From its cartoony art style to the deep, hybrid gameplay to the delightfully humorous sound design, Awesomenauts is a great game through and through. The fact that the PSN version isn’t receiving the same updates as its Steam counterpart is unfortunate, but it’s not enough of a reason to deter you from buying it. If you like platforming, team battles, French-speaking chameleons, and/or the balancing act of a good MOBA game, Awesomenauts is the game for you.
Lights, Camera, Party!
A PS Move party game that barely missed the mark, LCP is a ton of fun if you have a couple of friends around to play with. A couple of the mini-games don’t work as well as they should, but the bulk of them are great fun. Again, with the right group of people, preferably those who are familiar with the Move’s capabilities, Lights Camera Party! is my go-to Move title on PS3.
Little Big Planet Vita
I was late to join the Little Big Planet Vita Party (LBPVP), but since opening the game a week and a half ago, both my girlfriend and I have played it every single day. Whether I feel like going back and acing a few early stages or I just want to complete a few more levels in Tapling before bed, LBPV continues to impress me every time I boot it up. I recently hopped online to sample some user-created levels and, as with all LBP games, I feel absolutely steeped in creative content. A must-buy through and through.
F2P Vita/PSM Games
Frobisher Says, Treasure Park, Treasures of Montezuma: Blitz, and a handful of PSM titles. These free-to-play games have taken up almost all of my gaming time on the Vita. I have been against F2P models since their inception, but these games seem to be of a different ilk. They’re exactly what the platform needs to succeed in my opinion. After playing a quality game such as Frobisher Says for a while, I have no problem paying a small fee for more content. The same is true for F2P PSM games like Bullion Blitz. It’s in essence playing a demo and unlocking the full game. If free games continue to be this good, I’m all for ’em.
I have to mention this game because of how surprised I was when playing through it. The fact that WizOrb somehow made the brickbreaking genre feel fresh (even after Shatter) deserves proper recognition. I think the game fell a bit short of its full potential, but it’s one of the gems to be found on the dying Minis platform.