Friday, December 27, 2013

The SuperPhillip Central Best of 2013 Awards - Opening Night

Welcome everyone, to SuperPhillip Central's sixth annual Best of Awards, this time looking back at the year that was 2013. 2013 was a year that saw an abundance of incredible software in both retail and digital formats. The staff of SuperPhillip Central have put their heads together (boy, did that hurt!), and have seventeen awards to hand out this year. Tonight, being the first night of our five night journey through the best of 2013, we have four award categories. Tonight's just the beginning, and we have plenty of video games to give their due to! Just understand that our tastes our very eclectic in comparison to a lot of outlets, and also that we will not be covering Xbox One or PlayStation 4 exclusives.

Our formula is quite different this year. Compare it to last year for some perspective. We will be listing the games that were nominated first, and then we'll post the runner-up, followed by the winner of the category. It's a similar structure to what our friends at Digitally Downloaded use. With all the explaining out of the way, let's get to our first award...

[Best Original Soundtrack]

A lot of outlets this year have combined games with original music to those with licensed soundtracks. SuperPhillip Central will not be taking this route, as we don't believe you can properly compare the two fairly. We'll just be handing out an award to the game of 2013 with the best original soundtrack.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3, 360)

Like electronica? Like fast-paced music? Like heavy metal? Like vocal tracks? Like all these questions? Probably not. We're sorry. Regardless, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance's soundtrack is atypical of the Metal Gear series, offering fast tempo music to accompany the sword-slashin' beatdowns that protagonist Raiden provides.

Rayman Legends (Multi)

Christophe Héral and Billy Martin returned to compose Rayman's latest platforming adventure. It's unfortunate that Rayman Legends sold so poorly, as that meant that millions of gamers were robbed of having the chance of hearing this sometimes ambient, sometimes melodic soundtrack.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)

Journeying through the world of Ni no Kuni is like journeying through a fairy tale land. This fairy tale feeling is helped by the majestic sounds of the sensational score that accompanies the adventure. Joe Hisaishi, known for his work on Studio Ghibli's films, and Rei Kondoh composed a glorious soundtrack to one of the more reinvigorating RPGs to come out in a long time. It's important to note that even though Ni no Kuni originally released on the DS, that version never came out in the West, making it eligible for this year's category.

Sonic: Lost World (Wii U, 3DS)

Regardless of your opinion of modern Sonic the Hedgehog games, we think we can all agree that the series' music is always exceptional. Sonic: Lost World is no different. Focusing less on rock and more on classic-style compositions, Tomoya Ohtani created the majority of the Sonic: Lost World soundtrack. The end result is something that goes right alongside classic Genesis Sonic soundtracks. It's very familiar yet very new at the same time.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

Taking Koji Kondo's famous and heralded compositions from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and giving them a modern feeling is no easy task. However, Ryo Nagamatsu was most definitely up to it. Each theme was given a massive orchestral makeover, and the all-new tracks complemented the familiar boundaries of Hyrule rather well.

Runner-Up: Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)

We're honestly floored by the music of Fire Emblem: Awakening. We never thought back in the days that we were playing our old Game Boy systems that we'd actually get goosebumps from a handheld game's music. We actually did with the orchestral and choir sounds of Fire Emblem: Awakening. It's not just an amazing Nintendo 3DS soundtrack, it's an amazing soundtrack in general, making it runner-up this year for the Best Original Soundtrack award.

Winner: Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

Coming off the symphonic leanings of the Super Mario Galaxy duo of games, Mahito Yokota and his team of composers went with a more of a big band flavor to the music of Super Mario 3D World. The end result is astounding, insanely catchy, and livens up the game exponentially. We're suckers for brass and infectious tunes, and Super Mario 3D World delivers all of that in spades, even more than it delivers cat power-ups!

(Unofficial titles as the official CD has yet to be released)


[Best Multiplayer]

Whether you wanna go old school local or play online with your newfangled dial-up or whatever, multiplayer is a part of gaming that brings us together... or in the case of games like Mario Party, heavily divided. Our selections for the best that multiplayer has to offer in 2013 might surprise you, but again, we have eclectic tastes, you know!

Call of Duty: Ghosts (Multi)

It's never a true Best Multiplayer category unless there's a Call of Duty game present. That says a lot of the strength of the series' multiplayer. There's a reason so many millions of gamers invest in systems just to play this franchise, and it's seldom because of the campaign.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Wii U)

Offering online play on a home console, as well as voice chat, this definitive version of Monster Hunter 3 isn't for everyone, but those who take the time to learn the intricacies of the gameplay will find a deeply rewarding experience. This is true, too, for the multiplayer. Hunting with three other companions against a mighty beast is something extremely entertaining to do.

Wii Party U (Wii U)

SuperPhillip Central holds no hate to local multiplayer. It's actually our preferred method of play, so Wii Party U fits the bill for an engaging multiplayer experience quite nicely. Whether it's through the game's asymmetric mini-games, four player contests, or the exceptional and innovative tabletop games, played only on the Wii U GamePad, Wii Party U is a barrel of laughs and fun.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)

Whether played locally or online, Animal Crossing: New Leaf's multiplayer gives friends and family much in the way of pure bliss. Exploring one's village, trading furniture and other items, and participating in island tour mini-games are always enjoyable and innocent fun. The lack of voice chat online stinks, but overall, Animal Crossing: New Leaf's multiplayer is some of the Nintendo 3DS system's best.

Runner-Up: Grand Theft Auto Online (PS3, 360)

Although hampered by several major issues like freezing glitches and total deletion of accounts in the early going, Grand Theft Auto Online, the multiplayer component of Grand Theft Auto V, showcases unprecedented freedom. Up to 16 players can freely explore the vast expanses of Los Santos, engaging in crimes, custom match types, and joining crews. Even with the beginning issues, Grand Theft Auto Online is some of the most fun we've had over the internet.

Winner: Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

Many outlets will ignore offline-only games for online experiences. We don't this year, however, as our award to Super Mario 3D World shows this. Regardless, that isn't to say we're superior because of this! Anyway, Super Mario 3D World is a blast with friends and/or family members. Trying to keep one another alive, tinkering your play style to fit your companions', and helping each other all makes for some wicked fun. It's especially wicked fun when you're dying stupid deaths caused by an "accident" made by another player. Super Mario 3D World is the type of multiplayer experience that is perfect for this time of year, and it will no doubt give a lot of kids this holiday season nostalgic memories that they will look back on and think fondly of.


[Best Presentation]

Phil originally made this site, and he ran these awards for the five previous years until some staff joined up. His rationale for not simply calling the award "Best Graphics" was due to the fact that many games don't have jaw-dropping visuals that can compete with the biggest of the big AAA titles. However, when you compare their art styles, things are totally different and become more even. Hence, why we have Best Presentation instead of Best Graphics. There you go, friends. You're being entertained AND learning at the same time!

Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

The team at Nintendo EAD are geniuses when it comes to not only the obvious, game design, but also getting the most out of the hardware they are using, blowing everyone else away. Super Mario 3D World is a prime example of this, sporting fantastic lighting effects, character models, and worlds. We couldn't help but just sit with our mouths open as we gazed upon splendid vantage point after splendid vantage point.

Rayman Legends (Multi)

Using the Ubi Art in-house graphics engine, the team at Ubisoft Montpelier created a visual triumph that looks absolutely breathtaking in stills and even more amazing in motion. We thought the team would not be able to top what was seen in Rayman Origins, but boy, were we ever wrong! Rayman Legends is a truly modern marvel that shows you need not throw one million polygons at the player to get a beautiful end result.

The Last of Us (PS3)

This game was SO close to making it to the runner-up position, but it ultimately didn't make it. That said, The Last of Us pushes the PlayStation 3 to its absolute limit. Everything from the characters to the environments are intricately crafted to give the player a feeling as they play. Whether it's uneasiness in abandoned city streets or pure terror in darkened areas, The Last of Us definitely delivers in the presentation department.

Runner-Up: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U)

The original GameCube title was a gorgeous game that still holds up graphically today. However, Nintendo opted to update the game into HD for the Wii U. The final product is an incredibly impressive-looking title that runs like an interactive cartoon. From the expressions of characters, particularly Link himself, to the special effects like explosions and lightning, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD astounds us, and it will no doubt do that even after a decade has passed, just like the GameCube original.

Winner: Grand Theft Auto V (PS3, 360)

It floors us how Rockstar was able to create a living, breathing city with painstaking detail, awesome visuals, and a frame-rate as smooth as butter for the majority of the time. It's this ambition that makes us so amazed by what Rockstar accomplished here. Grand Theft Auto V is a phenomenal example of what developers can do when they receive the proper budget and time to create their vision. Rockstar's vision is visually a delight, and it's why we've selected it as our winner for Best Presentation this year.


[Best Box Art]

It may seem trivial to you, but having a great box art can be the difference between a game selling well or a game hitting the bargain bin eight weeks later. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but the point is that a truly great box art can turn you onto a game, while a boring one can make you become disinterested. Many kids like us in the NES days based our purchasing decisions solely on how cool the box arts looked. Many times we were burned. Damn you LJN!!!

BioShock Infinite (Multi)

A lot of people were turned off by this box art, but we here at SuperPhillip Central like its simplicity rather well. There's Booker DeWitt in all his glory, shotgun over his shoulder, and a burning American flag, symbolic of Columbia's disdain of the United States.

God of War: Ascension (PS3)

A depiction of the opening scene of God of War: Ascension, Kratos is getting his just desserts for defying a god. From the coloring to the highlights and shadows, this is a nice piece of box art that was created for the game.

The Last of Us (PS3)

"Did you hear that?"
"What, Ellie? Stop screwing around and come on."
"No. I get the feeling someone's watching us..."

You're right, Ellie. Consumers across the globe are looking at you and Joel and seeing this brilliant box art you two are in. With how good the actual game looks, one could easily confuse this art as in-game.

Runner-Up: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U)

While we prefer the colorized PAL and Japanese versions of this box art, there's just something special about a Legend of Zelda game with a gold cover. Seeing the cast of the game placed strategically on the cover with Ganondorf looking ominously over his shoulder, and looking at the center of it, a wind-wakin' Link, everything comes together splendidly.

Winner: Grand Theft Auto V (PS3, 360)

Grand Theft Auto box arts have a consistent pattern. Multiple well done art of what one can expect of a given installment. We have choppers, hot ladies, psychotic criminals, a doberman, motorcycles, and much more. It all comes together into one cohesive package that is both pleasing to the eye and gives information about what world awaits players.


That wraps up the festivities for this evening. Tomorrow we'll have four more awards to hand out, including Best New Franchise, Most Unexpected Surprise, Most Innovative, and Most Disappointing. We'll hopefully see everyone tomorrow night!

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