[Best PlayStation Vita Game]
There have been previous attempts at creating a first-person shooter on the PlayStation Vita. There's been Resistance: Burning Skies along with Call of Duty: Black Ops - Declassified. Both of these were anything but terrific. Now, the great gang at Guerrilla Cambridge has created one of the best FPS experiences ever to grace a handheld, Killzone: Mercenary. Not only does the game look absolutely gorgeous, but it plays so brilliantly. There's no question that Mercenary was overshadowed by its bigger PS4 brother, but this Vita game is definitely worth playing.
Muramasa: The Demon Blade originally released on the Nintendo Wii to little fanfare. Over the summer, the game received a second life with Muramasa Rebirth. This PlayStation Vita version features the same beautiful art from the Wii game, but now it looks even more glorious and jaw-dropping on the system's OLED screen. In addition to that bonus, four relatively quick scenarios have been included to make Muramasa Rebirth worth a second look.
Runner-Up: Ys: Memories of Celceta
The latest in the Ys series is on the PlayStation Vita, Memories of Celceta. For those who have played Ys Seven on the PSP, Memories of Celceta should feel like a familiar old friend. The three team system returns, allowing for on the fly switching as each battle situation presents itself. Whether you're exploring for treasure or hacking away at a gigantic boss, Ys: Memories of Celceta offers plenty of action RPG excitement.
Media Molecule's pet project for the PlayStation Vita, Tearaway is creative through every orifice. Using not only the power of the PlayStation Vita to give the player a lovely world to venture through, Media Molecule also pushed the Vita's functionality, making excellent use of almost every major function. From the rear touch screen to push up objects in game to taking photos in the real world and applying the shots to character patterns, Tearaway is an easy choice for Best PlayStation Vita Game.
[Best Nintendo 3DS Game]
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
Nintendo seldom hands over their trusted IP to just anybody, especially Western developers, but that was exactly what Nintendo did with Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. Eschewing the open mansion structure for a mission-based one, Dark Moon had plenty of challenge, exploration, thrills, cleverness and charm to it. Next Level Games really did Mario's overshadowed brother (can't really say that after this year) well, and it makes us really want to see what Next Level Games is working on next.
Fire Emblem: Awakening
For many consumers, Fire Emblem: Awakening was an excellent way to get acquainted with the series. The game's new Casual mode gave franchise beginners the solace in knowing that downed party members would return after a complete battle. However, for veterans of the series, or those who just wanted a greater challenge, the franchise's permanent death feature was available. All of this was under a splendid presentation, great story, and strategic game.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
A fair portion of gamers did not like this next game's amount of tutorials. However, when the writing is so consistently funny and good, it is easy to forgive. That was the case with August's Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, an RPG that tests the player's timing as much as it does their strategy. Exploring Pi'illo Island with Mario and Luigi and their unique abilities made journeying through dungeons, fields and towns fun, and the alluded to battle system forced players to take an active role in each and every battle. Clocking in at around 35-40 hours to complete, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is a fantastic RPG for the sensational 3DS library (and no, half of those hours weren't tutotials!).
Pokemon X and Y
We have been rather soured on the mainline Pokemon games. Black and White offered little in the way of pushing the series forward, and the games' direct sequels didn't really change that. What made Pokemon X and Y different was a plethora of things, most notably the 3D battle system (a long desired addition), Fairy type Pokemon, Mega evolutions, and a fresh new perspective for traveling along the game's routes, caverns and towns. Pokemon X and Y gave Pokemaniacs a whole new reason to fall in love with the franchise all over again.
Runner-Up: Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Animal Crossing: New Leaf was one of those games that you didn't need to play for hours on end. A simple five minutes here, a simple five minutes there... You could play for just minutes a day, or if you were as addicted as we were (and still are), then your overall playtime would be in the hundreds of hours. After the disappointing City Folk on the Wii, New Leaf changed the formula of the Animal Crossing franchise considerably. From being mayor and choosing where you wanted to build public works projects and what ordinances to set, to the unheard of amount of customization, Animal Crossing: New Leaf was the best yet in the series.
Winner: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
It says something about a game when as soon as the credits have rolled, you want to get right back into the game and start a new data to relive the experience all over again. Seldom has a Legend of Zelda game given us that feeling. A Link Between Worlds offered us more freedom than we've had in a Zelda game since the NES original. The wall merge mechanic is so ingrained into our minds that current Zelda games confuse us when we can't get past a hole through traveling along the wall like a drawing. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is the Zelda series at its very finest, easily giving the title our Best Nintendo 3DS Game award.
[Best Wii U Game]
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
A Link Between Worlds wasn't the only Zelda game to be released this year. The Wii U saw a grand new remake of the GameCube classic The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Giving players a breathtaking art style that will hold up many years from now, a retooled Triforce quest, Wii U GamePad functionality, among other things, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is close to perfection, but it being a remake and all prevents us from giving it anything but a nomination this year.
LEGO City Undercover
Initial loading times booting up the game aside, LEGO City Undercover was an ambitious project for the Wii U. It gave everyone a open world city setting to explore, filled to the brim with collectibles to find, secrets to uncover, and missions to complete. We cannot help but use the world "dense" each time we describe LEGO City because there is literally something to come across on each city block. Few times were there buildings just there for no good reason. Nearly everything had a purpose. Throw in a cast of kooky and hilarious characters, a self-aware story, and 50 hours of gameplay to complete the game 100%, and you have the brilliance of the best LEGO game yet.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
Also available on the Nintendo 3DS and available to have one's hunter transferred back and forth between systems, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is the definitive version of Monster Hunter 3 and the greatest game in the series, at least released in the West. The progression involved with the game transitioned players from hunting omnivores to savage beasts that can easily take a foolhardy hunter down in one blow. There was a grinding aspect to the game, taking down the same monster to carve their fallen corpse for materials, synthesizing new armor that wasn't just for practical use-- it was for a fashion statement, too. The Wii U version of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate delighted players with online play, voice chat, and simpler camera controls than that of the 3DS version.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted U
Another definitive version for the Wii U, Need for Speed: Most Wanted U delivered intense speeds, an entertaining and rather large open world setting, and plenty of content to ease into. The Wii U version supported full Miiverse integration, off TV play, hidden Mario-related vehicles, and a special co-op mode, which allowed one player to drive with a Wii Remote or Pro Controller, and the other to assist the player with the Wii U GamePad to give the driver some help with his or her navigation.
Runner-Up: Pikmin 3
It was a long wait between Pikmin 2 and Pikmin 3, but the wait was most certainly worth it. Pikmin 3 gave players three controllable captains to play as, each being able to split up the work among themselves. While this wasn't necessary all of the time, expert players could challenge themselves to be as efficient as possible. The new Pikmin types in the form of Rock and Flying opened the way for new environmental puzzles to be solved, colossal creatures to be taken down, and fruit to be recovered. The only downside we can think of the game is that it was sorely missing online multiplayer.
Winner: Super Mario 3D World
Proving that gameplay conquers all, Super Mario 3D World might not have a compelling narrative that gets you hooked. After all, games should find their own voice instead of trying to be Hollywood lite. No, Super Mario 3D World has creative level design that constantly throws something new your way, secrets abound, challenge, and multiplayer for some fiendishly fun four player sessions. All of this will hook you into 3D World, and all of those reasons are why the game is our favorite Wii U title this year.
[Best PlayStation 3 Game]
Gran Turismo 6
With more vehicles and tracks than ever before, Gran Turismo 6 might not have evolved the series, but it definitely did refine it to near perfection. Whether you're engaging in a simple three lap race, or taking on an endurance run, Gran Turismo 6 gave players a lot of racing fun. The visuals are some of the PlayStation 3's best, the amount of content will last the average player years to complete, and the realistic racing physics mean you can speed through Mount Panorama without a real world risk of death.
God of War: Ascension
The prequel to the God of War trilogy, God of War: Ascension focuses on Kratos' past and his vengeance against the Harpy horde. Featuring a marvelous mix of combo-heavy combat, puzzles and platforming, God of War: Ascension was a roller coaster ride that satisfied. The inclusion of online multiplayer not only made for additional replay value, but it didn't seem to have taken away from the single player campaign, something a lot of other games with added multiplayer have suffered from.
One of the most original PlayStation 3 games to come out in a good while, Puppeteer is a 2 1/2D platformer oozing with whimsy. Between playing on a stage and the characters being part of an ensemble of wacky figures and the innovative use of scissors to assist protagonist Kutaro in platforming, Puppeteer may not have won the sales battle against other games, but it certainly did win our hearts. Well, that wording is a bit too flowery, but you know what we mean-- the game was charming and good!
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
Sanzaru Games worked on The Sly Collection, the PlayStation 2 Sly Cooper games given an HD remastering and placed on one PlayStation 3 disc. No doubt reusing some assets from that Cooper compendium, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time was still an addicting game regardless. Being able to play as not only Sly and the gang, but also utilizing the powers of Sly's ancestors made for gameplay that was vast and varied. The open level areas that held each mission were fun to explore, and the missions themselves were a blast to play. Sanzaru Games did a great job continuing the tale of Sly Cooper, and we can only hope that they get a chance to continue-- especially after that cliffhanger!
Runner-Up: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
We have longed for the days of a game that was modern yet still had old school gameplay and sensibilities to it. If such a game ever existed, its name today is Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. While the West had to wait approximately two years for the game to be localized, Ni no Kuni offers a breath of fresh air in an era where Japanese RPGs and their creators seemed to be losing their way. Giving off a childlike sense of wonder as you explore the gorgeous world of the game, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is one of the best RPGs to be released this past generation.
Winner: The Last of Us
Many hold The Last of Us as one of the greatest games of the seventh generation. Encompassing the player in a hellish nightmare, giving them minimal tools for survival, unleashing unspeakable nightmares onto them, and presenting them with a whirlwind of emotional ups and down, The Last of Us seems more than just a game. It's a fine example of pushing gaming towards a more serious plateau. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is up to you, but what we can answer is that The Last of Us has one of the most enchanting tales ever told in the gaming medium. Moreover, it has the phenomenally tense gameplay to keep players attached to their DualShock 3's.
Tomorrow night is it, gang! SuperPhillip Central will be announcing the System of the Year as well as the Game of the Year 2013. The Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto V, Super Mario 3D World, Tearaway, and The Legend of Zelda: The Link Between Worlds are the winners of their respective categories, so they will be taking each other on in the final category. What game will stand atop the pile of gaming goodness that was 2013? Only one way to find out, and that's to be here tomorrow night.