Another year, another games of the “____” list.
Posted on Sunday, December 30th, 2012 by Mark Dicks
Originally I planned to chalk up a top ten games of the year list. But seeing as us here at thumbACTIVE have a collective one on its way, I opted instead for something a little different. Reminiscing over the past button pushing activities of 2012 a reoccurring theme for me in particular was standout moments. The ones that make your jaw droop in awe, the many wonders we witness whilst gaming.
So folks, here are my picks of 2012 (could be classed as a games of the year list if you so wish)…
12. A Theme Tune of Awesomeness
I’ve played some pretty awesome titles this year (if you read on all shall be revealed) but none managed to top this one in the opening theme tune department. Awesomenauts a 2D MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) nailed it, 80s morning cartoon nailed it. Hey! Listen…
A game that manages to get you vocalising in the shower is deserved of any list. Musical hijinks aside it’s also a fun little blastathon to boot.
11. Backward Rhythm Action
I’ve always had (and always will have) a soft spot for rhythm action games. I blame being a drummer, that and a papery rapping dog, plus a certain Space Channel 5 reporter. It’s unsurprising then that Retro/Grade made my 2012 wonder limelight. What made it memorable though, apart from its thumping ‘All Your Bass Are Belong to Us level’, was its premise. Technically speaking you’re playing a sidescrolling shoot ‘em up in reverse. It’s your task to undo all your destruction in a to-the-beat funky fashion, now that’s just ace.
10. Pleasingly Muddy Handheld 3D
Handheld gaming always deserves a shout. PLAY MUTANT MUDDS! There, I’ve done my part. I admit I’ve struggled to correctly digest the Nintendo 3DS’ optical aspects, more often than not I find myself in cross-eyed predicaments. However, earning the award for simple yet well-executed 3D this year goes to Renegade Kid’s tricky little platformer. Background, middle and foreground plains was all it needed to create visually satisfying depth. And for one more shout out: IT’S GOT A CRACKIN’ CHIPTUNE SOUNDTRACK! Done.
9. Surviving One of Alan Wake’s Nightmares
Believe it or not Remedy’s tortured author made a return this year. Albeit in a brief pulpier cranked up one. I love me some ol’ fighting with light, so revisiting Mr. Wake’s turmoil was very welcome. Why Alan Wake’s American Nightmare has made the cut though, is due to it gifting me with the most memorable Achievement pop of the year. I was a juddering wreck after claiming Survivor (Get 70,000 points in any Nightmare Arcade level.) and loved every panic induced second of it!
8. The Sights and Sounds of Point ‘n’ Click Botany
When something strikes you as weird it resonates. Botanicula is weird, but a very loveable and memorable kind of weird. It’s a daft audiovisual phenomenon with a positive moral undercurrent. If you enjoy titles that only require use of the mouse I urge you to check this one out. I don’t think I’ll forget saving a miniature flightless chicken from being the dinner for a family of singing conkers anytime soon.
7. Cel-shaded Looting Addiction Take 2
After my first trip to Pandora I thought I’d just about had my fill of shootin’ ‘n’ lootin’. I was wrong. A fresh slate of characters, sleeker weaponry and a richer mix of environments yanked me straight back in. Borderlands 2 knew how to build on the strengths of its predecessor offering a more rewarding package. As far as shooting things in the face in a first-person perspective goes, this year, this was where it was at.
6. Cracking the Cubic Code
I did it! Somehow I managed to crack the complexities within. Technical hiccups aside Fez is a striking game in many ways. A pixelated homage of yesteryear which was an utter joy to play. It was only the realisation upon a second playthrough that the true depth of this game arose. Like last year’s ilomilo (my GOTY of 2011) Gomez’s adventure put my gaming braincells to the test. The only game this year which required a pen, notepad AND controller to fully accomplish.
5. I Am Alive and Climbing
Ubisoft’s I Am Alive caused a mixed bag of critical reaction. A post-apocalyptic epic shoehorned into a downloadable packet. Personally, I adored it. Exploring the dusty streets of Haventon was harrowingly engrossing, here is a survival game where for once you actually feel the odds are stacked against you. What struck me the most was the desperate and almost tactical approach needed for the climbing sections. You know you’re in for a memorable moment when you clinging off a crumbling skyscraper accompanied by a wilting stamina bar and a dramatically impending motif.
4. 100+ Hit Combos from Anthropomorphic Critters
My biggest surprise this year was courtesy of Mr Dean Dodrill. I was not expecting his solo effort (give-and-take) debut to grip me quite like it did. Dust: An Elysian Tail ticks all the boxes of just how a satisfying video game should be. A robust Metroidvania styled hack-and-slash with a loveable forth wall breaking cast. The most enjoyable quality being that of its combo infused combat. Stringing together endless chains of serrated blade swipes and magical ‘Fidget’ projectiles warmed the gaming soul.
3. Phoebe Shepard’s Farewell
A trilogy of investment drew to a close this year. I already miss my Sole Surviving Sentinel Spacer Heroine (with a dash of Renegade when required) of Mass Effect. She loved her crew, made tough decisions and overall kicked space beastie booty. Yes, Phoebe you were MY Shepard green eyes, scars and all to the bitter end. Mass Effect 3 needless to say was an event, full of moments with emotional payoffs for characters we all grew to love in our very own unique ways.
2. Strategic Punishment from Unknown Enemies
When you sink thirty odd hours into a first playthrough, only to then crave for instant seconds, in short means you have a quality title on your hands. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is just that. It’s a rebooted dream for the turn-based strategist who prefers the ergonomically grooved grip that consoles offer, and a punishing difficulty curve that leaves you begging for more. I’ve lost far too many great men and women to the alien threat, but when I’m bringing back breathing intel this in turn outweighs the KIA consequences. My biggest 2012 gaming addiction right here, right now.
1. My First Journey (and the rest…)
And here it is, 2012 gaming at its greatest. It’s not often I stumble across a form of media that completely strips me away from my surroundings. Yes the hours slip away, but I always know the pause button is nearby. My first experience with Journey managed to cut that cord. An absolutely unforgettable couple of hours where simply put, I became ‘one’ with my telly, speakers and PlayStation 3. thatgamecompany have managed to craft a form of interactive entertainment here which causes anonymous players to grow unbreakable bonds. To me that’s something truly special. No other video game moved me quite like Journey this year and I’m not entirely sure one will ever again…
An intriguing year overall for the industry to say the least. I think this is whereabouts 2013 comes in then.
Other 2012 special mentions: Rayman Origins, Beautiful Katamari, Red Dead Redemption and Super Stardust HD which I also played for the very first time this year. However seeing as they weren’t released this side of 2011 including them in this list would of been cheating!