2013 in gaming could be considered one of the finest we’ve had in awhile. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 burned up as their successors rose from the ashes to usher us into the next gaming generation. Though I played little of the new generation, by the end of 2014, we should see which system is establishing itself for domination. As the year moves forward, we will also see where Nintendo goes from here. The company has established itself as the “king of handheld” with the utter decimation of any and all competition in 2013 with the Nintendo 3DS and its various iterations, while also walking on thin ice with the Wii U. Though its future is uncertain, I know I’ll be rooting for Nintendo to come back strong with more Wii-like fervor in the new year. I’m excited for the future of gaming, especially in 2014, so it’s time to take a look back and choose what games were the best of my 2013.
Number Five – Pokémon: X
I originally refused to get the new Pokémon games. I had enough of the series with Black/White and decided that further purchases were unnecessary as the games were officially stale to me. How wrong I was. I caved and purchased X just to see what it was all about and to experience some of the features I had seen that impressed me and got me excited for the series again. 3D battles, a 3D overworld style, and the new Pokémon gave me Pokéfever once again. Playing through the game was almost akin to playing the original games for the first time and I had a blast beating gym leaders, capturing new monsters, and reliving a childhood past-time once more.
Number Four – Bioshock: Infinite
Every iota of information I could collect on Bioshock: Infinite after its announcement got me more and more excited for its release. I am a fervid fan of the original game and its sequel even and the world of Rapture is pure magic to me. That trip down the bathysphere in the titular game still puts awe and wonder into me as did every moment under the sea. The opening moments of Infinite gave me chills and deja vu and had me hopeful for what was to come. Not everything in Infinite lived up to the fantastic dreams I hoped it would be, but it was a great ride. From the first time seeing Columbia to the ending, my Bioshock experience resonated as one of the best of the year.
Number Three – Fire Emblem: Awakening
It was hard to put Fire Emblem in the third position. It was my first time playing a Fire Emblem, but it was easily the highlight and joy of my gaming year. I spent countless hours playing the game and searching for strategies to beating some of the hardest battles. I still have yet to collect and unlock every feature in the game, but not for lack of time. It stands as my second most played game on the 3DS and one of my favorite gaming experiences of all time. The battling system and the intensively difficult victory-defeat risks gave me an almost endless amount of gameplay – thinking hard to decide on the fate of my warriors, whether to risk the lives of many in the group or sacrifice one to win glory for the rest. In the end, I lost only one or two of my team, but the void left by the characters was truly felt when it came time to defending a location or pushing through enemy lines. Beyond the battling, strategic marriages and romance were key to my enjoyment. It was fun to let my favorite characters find true love and I looked forward to rewards given after wedding two together. It was a fantastic way to introduce myself to the series and I look forward to playing it through again.
Number Two – Grand Theft Auto V
One of the only things that could beat a masterpiece like Fire Emblem: Awakening is a game I have been waiting years for. Grand Theft Auto V is the game I was looking forward to most this year and it did not disappoint. Not only is GTA one of my favorite franchises, but I knew Rockstar simply could not do wrong with a new entry into the series. It was a blast from start to finish, exploring the vast and living world the game offered. The characters Rockstar created were fresh and fun, enjoyable missions and side quests brought in fresh ideas for the series, and callbacks to past games made me shout when noticed. A beautiful game all around that I repeatedly return to just to start a police chase or see if I can’t find something new to experience.
Number One – Animal Crossing: New Leaf
How can a bunch of adorable animals beat out on guns-blazing action and strategic battles? For me, it’s easy. Despite the fun and excitement I got out of my number two and three choices, New Leaf has me still coming back for more. Granted, I can’t play it in long stretches, it still leaves me with a desire to return the next day. I love the Animal Crossing universe and I bought this game BEFORE I even bought my 3DS. I simply had to have it. There is nothing quite like jumping on to visit with your favorite animal villagers and seeing what adventures your little town is up to. Every day presents new experiences, as do every holiday, season, and visitor. I love collecting items and building my town up into greatness. The unique charm of New Leaf is something you simply cannot get anywhere else, nor can it be replicated. It’s my game of the year and it’s just about time I get back to playing it!
Happy 2014 in gaming, everyone!