VIDEO GAME: Games We Love 2012 Awards!

 

It’s that special time of year when game publishers and developers are all praying that they get a prestigious Games We Love award from us. We've taken a long hard look at the hits and misses of the year 2012, and made up a bunch of appropriate awards. So put on your imaginary tuxedo or evening gown and prepare yourself for some lengthy acceptance speeches. Of course, since this is all on the Internet, you'll have to imagine the acceptance speeches yourself. Anyway, here we go!

The Money Can't Buy Happiness Award
1,000,000 Coins Reward New Super Mario Bros. 2
Nintendo > 3DS 

There’s a lot of moola to be made in New Super Mario Bros. 2, and the game encourages you to cash-grab as much as you can by challenging you to score a million coins in total. Even with a lot of spare change strewn across the game, getting a six-figure salary requires patience and a lot of sneaky money-making tricks. The reward for your hard work? A Mario statue on the title screen, a monument to your wasted days chasing virtual fortunes.

by Heidi Kemps

Sleeping Underdog of the Year
Sleeping Dogs

United Front Games > Xbox 360

Man, it really chaps my hide that people didn’t love this game as much as I thought they should. Sure I can’t control other people and make them buy it, but I kinda wish I could. This game has more heart than many of the games that came out this year. And this brilliant 90’s Hong Kong hard-boiled action flick simulator is just plain fun! A GTA-style sandbox game set in a living breathing Hong Kong with great characters, top-notch voice acting, cool missions and neat game mechanics. Sure it’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s got it where it counts. 

by Urian Brown

Craftiest Shooter
Far Cry 3
Ubisoft Montreal > PC, PS3, Xbox 360 


These last few years have been absolutely oversaturated with shooters. And after awhile, they all start to blend together. Hey, have you played the new Call of Battle Guy: Future War Gears? It's got guns and things that blow up and guns and guns! But there's one game that is crafty enough to make shooters fun again—Far Cry 3. This game is crafty for a few of reasons. One, you actually craft stuff! A hunting you will go to get animal skins to make better wallets, loot packs, holsters and a whole lot more. And unlike many games, the crafting is fun and simple, not tedious. Two, you have to be crafty when you're sneaking around figuring out the best way to take down enemies without being spotted. How you go into a fight is up to you, but the craftier you are the bigger the XP reward. Three, the developers of this game were crafty enough to mesh all the great things we love about shooters with all the things we love about sandbox games. That's no easy feat! And it's beautiful, fun, crazy, entertaining and a whole lot of other great things. If we did the boring typical "Game of the Year" awards every other site does, this would be my pick for game of the year. 

by Urian Brown

Best Punch-related Quest
Punch Quest
RocketCat Games > iOS

 

Bringing a new twist to the endless runner genre, Rocketcat Games has combined an old-school adventure game with the simple premise of punching things in the face. Repeatedly. Punches effectively move your character through an infinite dungeon, while unlockable upgrades and powers crop up along the way. Superpowers are weird—one makes your hero hallucinate, for instance—and unlocking new enemies keeps things varied. The pixelated, 8-bit graphics are drawn to perfection, and two-button controls are nothing if not punchy. 

by Devin Santos

Most Beautiful-est Wii Game in the Whole Wide World
Xenoblade Chronicles
Monolith Soft > Wii 

This game is gorgeous. Even on the Wii! It’s no exaggeration to say games don’t look that great on the Wii. Sure there are exceptions like Mario Galaxy, but for the most part the system is underpowered for the current HD TVs on the market. This results in games that looks pixelated or “jaggy.” But occasionally a game comes along that says, “Whatever, dude.” and manages to shine. Xenoblade Chronicles is one such game. Although the faces look a little fudgy up close, and there are still some jaggys, the sweeping vistas and inspiring world design easily overcome all flaws and technical limitations. In video games, beauty comes from design first, graphical power second. The world in this game is a masterpiece of design. From the elegant futuristic architecture to the intricate and terrifying mecha to the sublime and inspiring landscapes—this is beauty. 

Urian Brown

We Didn't Think Our Cunning Plan All the Way Through Award
Sony's Call of Duty Declassified Vita System Bundle
Nihillistic > PS Vita 

Ever since this year’s E3, Sony has hyped up Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified, an original game in publisher Activision’s megahit series designed exclusively for the PlayStation Vita. Leading to the game’s launch, ads for the title blanketed gaming websites. Sony even created a special system bundle, which packages the game and accessories with a new system. There was just one problem: the game sucked. Copies went out late to reviewers, who eviscerated it (it’s sitting at a 33 on Metacritic). Meanwhile, two high-scoring, critically-acclaimed third party Vita releases, Persona 4 Golden and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, got relatively little advertising support in comparison.

by Heidi Kemps

Drunkest Protagonist in a Game
Max Payne from Max Payne 3 
Rockstar Vancouver > PC, PS3, Xbox 360 

Max Payne has issues. He starts the game in a deep depression, serving as the bodyguard to a wealthy Brazilian industrialist. He drinks his way through bottle after bottle, at one point even puking in his kitchen sink and crying himself to sleep. Remarkably, though, when geared out with a pair of guns and up against several dozen enemies at once, Max can do the John Woo dance of death better than anyone. The slow-motion kills are some of the best ever put to code, and there are more than a few occasions when you’ll wish for an instant replay. If shooting up expensive dwellings is your thing, it’s tough to do much better than Max…even if he’s drunk the whole time. 

by Devin Santos

Biggest Big Ole Butt
Cortana from Halo 4
343 Industries > Xbox 360

Not that I mind, but I’ve always wondered, why did they make Cortana so sexy? She’s just an AI to help guide Master Chief. She could have been a talking banana for all intents and purposes, but they made her into a super-hot chick. If you were programming an AI to help soldiers in a combat scenario, would you really want them to get distracted by a super-hot chick? And over the years, Cortana seems to have gotten more and more curvy. It’s especially noticeable in Halo 4, as she gets a lot of screen time and I couldn’t help but notice her, well, giant butt. Congratulations on the success of your first Halo game, 343 Industries, as well as this prestigious award!

by Urian Brown

Most Fashionable Apocalypse Survivor
Noel Kriess from Final Fantasy XIII-2
Square Enix >  PS3, Xbox 360

You’d think that being the last survivor of a decimated future would leave you disheveled, weak, and filthy. But according to Final Fantasy character designer Tetsuya Nomura, you thought wrong! Noel Kriess is not only fit as a fiddle, he’s got stylin’ duds, immaculate skin, a well-toned body, and perfectly coiffed hair. (If the game didn’t tell us otherwise, we’d assume the second-to-last survivor was a hairdresser.) If we’re all going to look this fabulous, maybe the end won’t be so bad!

by Heidi Kemps

Most Broken Controller Inducing Game
Spelunky
Mossmouth, Xbox 360

On the surface, there’s nothing about Spelunky that seems overwhelming. It’s a 2D platformer, full of cute characters and environments in which to spelunk. But between you and vast treasure is an army of snakes, mummies, spiders and aliens, who will kill you. A LOT. Die at any point, and you're dumped back at the beginning of the game, without any of the weapons, money and items you’ve collected along the way. Your death count will rise right from the get go, and you will undoubtedly throw your controller, scream at your Xbox, and storm out of the room within about 30 minutes of turning the thing on. But you will come back, again and again, because Spelunky is a masterpiece...that may take the rest of your life to see the end of.

by Devin Santos

Proof That It’s a Topsy Turvy World
Gravity Rush
SCE Japan Studio > PS Vita

Pack your mental bags, because this game is a trip! You play a stylish anime gal with the amazing ability to control gravity! But she doens't just make things light or heavy, she can control the direction the gravity comes from. Fly up in the sky, target the side of a building—that’s the new “ground” and you go plummeting to it. It’s really an interesting game mechanic, and one that makes playing this game a wondrous experience…until you get to the subpar combat, which hamstrings the game. But pretty graphics, a sassy cool heroine, and the gravity control mechanism make up for other flaws. And it’s not like there’s much else on the Vita!

by Urian Brown

I Should Be Watching This on Neon Alley Award
Asura's Wrath
CyberConnect2 > PS3, Xbox 360 

If you’re reading Shonen Jump Alpha, odds are exceptionally good that you really like anime and manga. So the heavily anime-and-manga-inspired episodic action of Asura’s Wrath is precisely the sort of game that’s tailor-made for SJ readers. Asura’s been betrayed by those he trusted, and he’s going to take them down in crazy, over-the-top combat sequences that blow the power level barrier far past nine thousand into reaches yet unseen. At times, it feels like you should be watching it rather than playing it—but the fact that you actually can play it makes the experience all the cooler.

by Heidi Kemps

Best Tasting Brains
The Walking Dead

Telltale Games > PC, PS3, Xbox 360 

Arguably better than its comic and television counterparts, Telltale’s rendition of the popular Walking Dead series is an odd bird. It’s more than the sum of its parts: the game is essentially a point-and-click adventure, and the comic-tinged graphics are flawed if evocative. There are quick-time events. There’s lots of talking, the voice acting for which is good, though sometimes is less-than-convincing. But somehow, it ends up as one of the most intense videogaming you’ll partake in this year. It’s sold as downloadable episodes (there are five in total), but you can purchase a season pass, or even buy a boxed copy of the whole set. Get it—that is, if you’ve got any brains left in that coconut on top of your neck. 

by Devin Santos

Fighting Game With the Biggest Balls
Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition
Namco Bandai > Wii U

 

Tekken Ball is back! Fans have been begging for these balls to be put back in the game since Tekken 3 (1998), and Namco finally listened! For you non-old school Tekken fans, Tekken Ball is a fun, but silly affair where you use your moves to hit a giant beach ball and cause damage to the other player. You can spike the ball directly at them to do damage, or just hit it into the ground on their side. Oh, you can also dress the characters up in funny Mario-themed costumes, which is a lot of fun. We actually broke our wacky-meter, while scanning this game. 

by Urian Brown

Everything You Know Is Wrong Award
Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward
Rising Star Games > 3DS, PS Vita 

Zero Escape seems like a fairly straightforward horror/adventure game at first. The first time you hit a bad ending, you’ll be thrown for a loop. The second time, you’ll start wonder just how much of the game’s alleged premise—a group-based game to escape the confines of a mysterious facility—is actually true. By the time you’ve seen almost all the endings, everything you originally thought seems suspect. And once the last few puzzle pieces fall into place, your brain will have transformed into a pile of squishy goo from the shock.

by Heidi Kemps

Brain Meltingest Music Shooter
Dyad
Right Square Bracket Left Square Bracket Inc. > PS3 

Hear that slurping noise? That’s the sound of your brain coming out your nose the first time you boot up and dive into Dyad, the two-man indie game that took the hardcore, score-beating arcade game to a very scary, very psychedelic place this year. You begin with the ability to hook enemies by shooting them; hooking a pair of enemies gives you a boost, sling-shotting you ahead. There are racing elements, puzzle elements and more—every level is essentially its own game, with slight variations to what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Oh, and the interactive electronic soundtrack, which constantly shifts and evolves based on your actions, will blow your ears back as well. 

by Devin Santos 

Most Realistic Club Scene
Call of Duty Black Ops II
Treyarch > PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U

 

People in clubs may seem plastic and fake, but in this game they really are! That's what made the club scene in this game so realistic! A bunch of programmed characters wearing similar outfits, having fake conversations about the same thing over and over. It’s uncanny! It gets really creepy when you look at their shiny reflective skin, exactly like the shiny reflective skin of real club goers. Heck, they even programmed in the crappy repetitive dancing! It’s amazing! Haha, I jest, but the club scene did impress me, it totally brought back memories of ultra-tacky Vegas dance clubs. That is until the bullets start flying!

by Urian Brown

The Fourth Wall is Merely a Theoretical Construct Award
Kid Icarus Uprising
Project Sora Sora Ltd. > 3DS 

Most games try to immerse you in their worlds, but Kid Icarus: Uprising takes a very different approach to engaging the player. Every character in the game is well aware that they are playing their roles in an electronic world, speaking of their past exploits, making gaming in-jokes, and mocking clichés. It’s all played out through exceptionally amusing inter-character dialogue exchanges that play throughout the game’s lengthy campaign. It’s hard not to love a game that knows exactly what it is.

by Heidi Kemps

Best Way to Trick Teenagers Into Learning About U.S. History
Assassin’s Creed 3
Ubisoft Montreal > PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360

 

If you asked a bunch of high schoolers, “Hey, you guys wanna learn about the Revolutionary War and founding fathers of the United States?” You can bet your fancy powdered wig, they’d say no. But if you asked them, “Hey, you wanna play a game where you get to do crazy parkour and assassinate bad guys?” I think the answer would be a bit different. And that’s where Assassin’s Creed 3 comes in! This game has players rubbing elbows with tons of historical figures like Benjamin Franklin and getting front-row seats to major historical events like the Boston Tea Party. I’m absolutely convinced gamers who knew nothing about these events learned a thing or two playing this game, and that’s worth something. In the immortal words of the Fat Albert show “If you’re not careful, you may learn something before it’s done.” 

by Urian Brown

Last Place You'd Expect to Find a Vincent Van Gogh Reference
New Super Mario Bros. U
Nintendo > Wii U 

We started with Mario and I guess we'll end with Mario. I won't deny, I wasn't super hot on this game, because I felt like Nintendo was just rehashing the Wii version. Then I played it. I had an absolute blast and saw the kind of creativity and risk taking I haven't seen in a Mario game since Galaxy. This game is chock-full of fun and unique levels. Stuff I would never expect to see in a Mario game, like a whole level based on Vincent Van Gogh's masterpiece "Starry Night." This game really feels like Nintendo put their back into it, and I'll admit I underestimated how cool it is to see the Bros. in HD. Good stuff, Nintendo! 

by Urian Brown

2012 was a great year for gaming. The PS Vita launched, although it's not off to the best start (c'mon Sony!!!). We also got a brand new console with the Wii U, Nintendo's first foray into HD! The 3DS is still chugging along at full speed. Mobile games continue to improve and are finding their place. Download and indie games are a force to be reckoned with. And PC gaming, thanks to Steam, is doing better than ever. In other words, this is an amazing time to be a gamer. So much choice! Let's hope 2013 is even better!

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