Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The SuperPhillip Central Best of 2012 Awards - Day Two

Welcome back to the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2012 Awards! I'm so happy you could return. On today's docket, this second day of awards, we have four awards to hand out ranging from Best New Franchise to Most Disappointing. Don't forget awards for Most Unexpected Surprise and Most Innovative, too. If your preparations have concluded, sit back, relax, and start reading!

[Best New Franchise]

Sometimes it seems that all we get in the gaming industry are sequels after sequels. However, occasionally we get a glimpse of completely new IPs that delight with their new franchise smell. These four games are such examples. And the nominees are...

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (PS3, PSV)

Many may draw easy comparisons to Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series, and they would be right in doing so. However, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a product of its own. Using Supers to slay your opponents incorporates an interesting and different amount of strategy than the knockouts that Smash Bros. facilitates. Finally, PlayStation fans have a party game to call their own, and they can rank up their favorite characters from Sony and many third party franchises.

Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

One might think that Xenoblade Chronicles was a sequel to Xenogears or Xenosaga based on the Xeno prefix attached to the title. That is wrong, as Xenoblade (as it is known in Japan) was only called that as a tribute to the game's director. What we have is one of most outstanding RPGs of any side of the world on a home console, and on the Wii, no doubt! Grab the Monado blade, warriors, and prepare for some of the most epic battles ever seen!

Gravity Rush (PSV)

Introducing Kat, a character who has since appeared in the aforementioned PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale as a DLC roster addition. However, before she entered the PlayStation party fighter she debuted on the PlayStation Vita in Gravity Rush, a gravity-defying (and controlling) adventure. Sure, the game might be for a niche market, but that doesn't stop the awesome ideas brought by Gravity Rush from making it on my list this year of Best New Franchise.

Dishonored (Multi)

The first-person genre was in need to a shakeup, and Bethesda Softworks' Dishonored did just that. It allowed players to enter into missions that could be undertaken in a multitude of ways. The player's choice-- whether they went all stealth, all action, or a little from column A and a little from column B-- affected how the following story and subsequent missions would play out. Dishonored did a great job with this, and that is the reason why it gets honored in the Best New Franchise category.

And the winner is...

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (PS3, PSV)

As I said before, finally PlayStation fans received their own party fighter. If one ever wanted to settle who would win between Kratos and Nathan Drake, now they had their chance. Or how about Jak versus Ratchet? Sly Cooper versus Sweet Tooth? My, my, the choices are endless here! It is these possibilities, and all the fun that comes with them, that make PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale my choice for Best New Franchise of 2012.

Runner-up: Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)


[Most Unexpected Surprise]

Usually we can tell from previews and such on how a game we may or may not be interested in is going to turn out. Then there are those titles that come from out of nowhere to surprise us with their awesomeness. The six nominated games in the Most Unexpected Surprise category deliver such a surprise. And the nominees are...

Resident Evil: Revelations (3DS)

After Resident Evil 5, I went into Resident Evil: Revelations expecting more of the same. Concerning how Resident Evil 6 turned out, it astonishes me that the 3DS's Revelations turned out to be the better product. Whether you want survival horror or action, Resident Evil: Revelations constantly switches between a mix of both. One chapter you'll be stalked by a bioweapon as Jill Valentine while the next you'll be mowing down creatures with Chris Redfield. Don't forget about the awesome multiplayer Raid Mode that pits players in missions against the AI. What you get with Revelations is an enjoyable and thrilling ride.

Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

An MMO-like game on the Wii of all consoles seems like a pipe dream, but Monolithsoft somehow managed to pull it off with some of the largest areas on a home console this past generation. That's not even the most unexpected part of the equation either. The most unexpected part stems from Xenoblade Chronicles being so radically well done. The game hits high marks in most review categories. Fun and engaging gameplay? Check. Nice presentation? Check. Plenty of secrets to be found? Yes, sir. Xenoblade Chronicles astounded players throughout its 80 hour+ quest, and it's obvious as to why.

Gravity Rush (PSV)

For what could be perceived as a "killer app" for Sony's struggling PlayStation Vita, Gravity Rush brings with it a brilliant balance of open world discovery, more linear story missions, and the fun of leveling up in an RPG-like fashion. The question of where did this game come from is an apt one all things considering. Originally a PlayStation 3 project, Gravité, was moved to the PlayStation Vita. The rest, as they say, is history. And what a delightful history that is with one of the more beautiful and intriguing games of the year.

Journey (PS3)

The sole indie game in this category, Thatgamecompany's Journey is a work of art and a joy to play. You feel like such a small speck in the world around you, with the goal of reaching the mountain that towers over you far in the distance. Such a simple concept, but one that would go on to win Game of the Year nominations and awards all across gaming and non-gaming sites. Perhaps Journey can do the same at SuperPhillip Central...

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS)

A Final Fantasy rhythm game that incorporates various RPG aspects into the gameplay? You must be joking. Well, Square Enix wasn't joking, and they delivered one of my favorite rhythm games of all time. Containing music and characters from all thirteen mainline Final Fantasy games, leveling up and gaining new abilities, and a plethora of glorious unlockables, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy gave rhythm fans the goods this past summer. An iOS version released recently, but if you want to avoid DLC while still getting a complete game, the 3DS version is the one for you.

Style Savvy: Trendsetters (3DS)

I could not have predicted how engaged with the Nintendo 3DS's Style Savvy: Trendsetters I would become, nor would I have expected to adore both the gameplay and aesthetic. Running your own fashion boutique in real life is no cakewalk, but it's even a challenge in a video game. You have to keep your stock high so you have what your clients want, you have to satisfy customers, and you have to keep your fashion sense tingling. Then there's all those fashion contests to enter, where your designed outfits get worn by a model to be unleashed to the masses. A grand game, Style Savvy: Trendsetters is one feature-filled 3DS title.

And the winner is...

Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

Who could have foreseen that the greatest JRPG of the generation would end up on the underpowered Wii? Not me, for one. What players got with Xenoblade Chronicles was the first game of Monolithsoft under ownership by Nintendo, and the adventure was so grandiose, so large, so MMO-like. The world was spectacular and areas of the game ran for miles. It was simply put, breathtaking. I could have never imagined such lands would appear on the Wii, and that Xenoblade Chronicles would end up so overwhelmingly incredible.

Runner-up: Journey (PS3)


[Most Innovative]

For our second new category this year we have Most Innovative. Innovation moves the industry forward. A game nominated here doesn't just have to be innovative, but it's got to work. These nominees are and do just that. And the nominees are...

Nintendo Land (Wii U)

Nintendo Land presents players with much more than simply tech demos of the possibilities of the Wii U GamePad. No, we have full-fledged games (attractions) here. From using the GamePad to steer a cart through a course littered with obstacles in Donkey Kong's Crash Course to using the GamePad's screen to plot a route to run away from your pursuing friends in Mario Chase, the GamePad is put to great and innovative use.

Skylanders Giants (Multi)

The ultimate game for those of us who collected figurines as kids, Skylanders Giants takes it to a whole 'nother level. It makes various figurines characters in the game that can be transported to other players' games. Via the Portal of Power, these figurines come to life as characters in Skylanders and can level up and beat down baddies. The collectible aspect is insanely addicting, and it is a game that works for both kids and those of us that are kids at heart.

Sound Shapes (PS3, PSV)

Sound Shapes is a sensationally different and sublime platformer that has a unique twist. As your blob character collects little circular objects, the entire soundtrack becomes more lively. What was once a small amount of beats turns into a cacophony of sounds. Everything from the visuals to the music makes for an intriguing, and definitely fun, time.

ZombiU (Wii U)

The first-person shooter genre has been done to death, but ZombiU does it differently. When you get bitten by a zombie in the game, you are (un)dead for good. You spawn as a new survivor, and you must use the Wii U GamePad to find your zombified survivor to get back the goods from your inventory. It's a concept that only works on the Wii U, and while early reviews slammed ZombiU, those that have spent more time with the concept have come to adore the game big time.

And the winner is...

Nintendo Land (Wii U)

Nintendo Land successfully validates the Wii U GamePad, offering gameplay that wouldn't be possible anywhere else for the price of the system and controller together. Whether you're swiping your finger across the wide length of the touch screen to fling throwing stars, using both analog sticks to control two different guards in an attempt to capture your candy-collecting opponents, or using both screens (the GamePad and the TV) to plot a course for your Yoshi cart, Nintendo Land puts the Wii U GamePad to a plethora of interesting uses, winning it Most Innovative of 2012.

Runner-up: Sound Shapes (PS3, PSV)


[Most Disappointing]

I've said in the past that I dislike ending on a negative note, but that is exactly what I am doing today. There really are no winners here with the Most Disappointing category, only losers who don't lose as much as the "winner." We have five nominees for this award, and they are...

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (Multi)

From the awful friendly AI to the myriad glitches that ruin the experience, I would rather have to survive the zombie apocalypse than have to play Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City ever again. Well, I can say that with knowing that a zombie apocalypse will never happen, but I stand by statement. This game is SOCOM Resident Evil-style, and the end result is one of the most disappointing gaming affairs of 2012.

Ninja Gaiden 3 (PS3, 360)

Take everything you love about Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox and Ninja Gaiden II and remove it. That is what you get with Ninja Gaiden 3 essentially. You are left with all of the challenge and complexity of the previous two titles. When you have to develop a Wii U port of the game that attempts to fix all of the problems of your original effort, you have a problem and a place as a nominee for Most Disappointing.

Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (Multi)

"Oh, Mickey, you're so bad. You're so bad you blow my mind. Hey, Mickey." Warren Spector gave the usual "we learned our lessons" spiel when hyping up Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. Well, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. The Power of Two comes riddled problems, from the abhorrent camera to the glitches that completely spoil the fun. Not even the prospect of the cooperative gameplay can save this sorry excuse for a 3D platformer.

Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified (PSV)

What do you get when you purchase a Vita exclusive version of Call of Duty: Black Ops for fifty dollars? Why, I'm glad you asked. What you get are hilariously stupid AI that gets caught on level geometry, bizarre touch screen controls, and a single player experience that is so short that someone started it when you began reading day two of my awards and will have finished after you're done reading. The sad part is that I'm only half kidding.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II (Multi)

After the fun of Sonic Colors and then Sonic Generations, Sonic Team and Sonic the Hedgehog were flying high... er... running fast. Then Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II came out and stunk up the joint. Containing extremely poor level design and offensively long boss battles, Episode II proves that Dimps should stay far, far away from 2D Sonic. Perhaps Sonic Rush and the Advance series were flukes after all.

And the "winner" is...

Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified (PSV)

Saying Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified is a humongous ripoff would be doing a disservice to ripoffs everywhere. It lacks content, and more importantly, it lacks any fun. The fact that the game sold relatively well proves to me that you can call a turd anything and people will line up and buy it. The game didn't sell because there's nothing else to play on the Vita. They bought it because the Call of Duty name was stamped on it. Completely reprehensible and the reason why Declassified is Most Disappointing for 2012.

Runner-up: Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (Multi)


We have successfully reached the conclusion of another day of the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2012 Awards! Tomorrow won't be as busy-- we'll only have three awards. However, that doesn't mean that it won't be fun! I'll be awarding the Most Overlooked, the Developer of the Year, and the Multiplatform Game of the Year. Please look forward to it as much as I look forward to presenting it to you!

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