My Top 10 Games for 2013

The golden face of the top video games for 2013.

I said recently I would go into more detail for my top games of 2013 which I mentioned in my post for my awards for The Best Games of 2013 and Other Awards. Well I have had it done for a while now but I finally got around to posting it. Like always the game doesn’t have to come out last year all that matter is that I played it during the year.

My Top 10 Games for 2013:

Special Mention: Bravely Default [demo] (Nintendo 3DS)

Bravely Default is surprisingly modern but also retro too.

Rarely does a game demo last a long time and feature unique content but SquareEnix and Nintendo with Bravely Default have done such that. I ended up playing more than 20 hours and counting of the demo (longer than most games these days), just doing the usual RPG type stuff. However this time there was a reason for my madness with certain items and rewards carrying over into the full game.

Bravely Default features a combat mechanic where you choose every turn to either be Default (Defend) or be Brave (Attack). The more times you Default when you finally be Brave the more damage attacks you can do. It’s pretty simple but adds a lot to a combat system that will be very familiar to fans of Japanese RPGs.

The demo is great and I hear the game is too but I haven’t gotten around to buying and playing the full game for myself yet.

10) New Mii Plaza Games (Nintendo 3DS)

The new StreetPass games are a lot of fun. StreetPass Squad is probably the highlight.

Everyone who has a Nintendo 3DS whether the original one or the newer 3DS XL and 2DS versions will probably have played the four free StreetPass games in the Mii Plaza which are all good for what they do. However if you talk to the cute but a bit scary Rabbit you can buy four more new games for a cheaper prices than if they were bought separately. The games in question are: Puzzle Swap, StreetPass Quest, StreetPass Squad, StreetPass Battle, StreetPass Mansion and StreetPass Garden.

While some could argue that they are overpriced and very average games, the fact is they are near essential games for anyone who regularly and actively uses the Nintendo 3DS StreetPass system and Nintendo 3DS steptometer. If you are one of those people then these games are great fun and show that even a pretty simple gardening game such as StreetPass Garden can be made several times better when other people are required (but not essential) to make your gardening days easier.

It’s the way Nintendo finds way to passively add other players into simple games is a sight to behold and experience. Nintendo should be talked about for more what they try to do and do more than what they don’t.

9) Alan Wake (PC)

A moving and enjoyable modern take on horror and storytelling.

Remedy are the masters of unique gameplay mechanics and story telling. They have shown this in Max Payne, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne and partly in Max Payne 3 while with Bullet Time which you can argue they thought about using before it became popular after the Matrix film. Alan Wake doesn’t use Bullet Time but instead uses light and darkness as gameplay mechanics. Enemies can hide and come out of the dark but Alan can kill them uses various light sources.

The gameplay is pretty standard third person fair but the way you need to use the environment and light to overcome obstacles and enemies is fun and pretty unique in places. Alan Wake also features a better open word feeling than the Max Payne games ever did with realistic outdoor environments and a believable secluded small town atmosphere. However its the story and characters like always in Remedy games that elevate Alan Wake into something special, major characters are believable and memorable. Even minor characters are well done and carefully though out.

I don’t want to spoil the story but there’s plenty of interesting things going on and the game further demonstrate Same Lakes signature story telling skills.

Alan Wake is great and you should play it. I havent tried An American Nightmare but seems good and I am hoping Quantum Break is not a disaster but Alan Wake 2 may come out some day or even a new Max Payne so plenty to look forward to.

8) Fallout (PC)

People forget games like Fallout had choices and consequences years ago.

I love the Fallout games with Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas being good modern versions for the franchise. However with me already basically getting 100% in both of those games and Fallout Online and future Fallout games being canceled or postponed, I needed my Fallout fix. I decided to go back to the orignal Interplay Fallout which I never completed and forgot to play more when it was new. Fallout didn’t disappoint.

Of course the game isn’t as good/complex as I original remember but now I can understand and appreciate it more in all its glory. I am still playing through it on my old NetBook which would have been basically unthinkable back when the game came out and its a hell of a lot of fun.

Fallout has a basic story to begin with (need to find water chip for your vault) but gradually gets more involving and complex as you get further into it but its the fact that the game just gives you one goal and you are left to do what you want that makes it great. You can go where you want and shoot who you want, its still amazing. There is so may good little stories to be had in the game and with everyone these days talking about emergent gameplay it like they have forgotten that it’s not a new idea or concept, games like Fallout were doing it years ago.

I decided to play the game with the Fallout FIXT mod after a while and the mod is mind-blowing in its features and fixes to the orignal game and I highly recommend it. Fallout is still a great game, so give it a go.

7) Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine (PC)

So French that it wouldn’t be the same without it.

PC Gamer have said that Pocketwatch Games Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine is “One of the best co-op games of all time” which I don’t really agree with it but it is one of the best top down steal em up and robbery/heist games out there. The game can be played with several of your friends or compete strangers but is not required. Of course the game is better with other people but I played it mostly by myself and it was still a lot of fun.

In Monaco you play as one of a group of eight thieves who escape jail and spend most of the time stealing and trying to escape their past. Monaco is very French which is expected seeing as where the game is set but what I mean by French is the way it looks and sounds, which all gives the game a very unique look and feel and reminds me a lot of film noir type films. I like the way the game presents itself but I know a lot of people will be put of by it.

Monaco is a pretty short game if you just do one of the characters stories but most of the characters have their own levels and story arcs which means there’s a tons of levels than what you might you might first believe and that’s not including any of the user-generated levels. The game can be very tense and frustrating but very rewarding at the same time. Monaco also features a zombie mode which just replaces the enemies but is pretty interesting take on the orignal game concept. Monaco also comes with a level editor which mean you could literally play the game forever and some of the user-generated levels are as good as the developers own.

Anyone who has small interest in stealth games or games that require more skill than just shooting people in the head should give Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine a look.

6) Fez (PC)

Sometime the best games are the simplest.

Like a lot of the games I play I don’t care when they came out as long as I enjoy playing them. Polytron Corporation’s Fez is a pretty old game now for the Xbox 360 but it only recently came out for the PC and despite being very good, it has been largely forgotten by the major game press in their annual game awards for whatever reason.

In Fez you play as Gomez a 2D creature living in a 3D world but only realise this when you get a Fez hat which gives him the power to rotate the world to four different sides. It can be pretty mind bending to get your head around at first but within a short time you be switching sides and dimensions like a god. You will also likely come to realise why don’t more games use a similar Fez mechanic. The way you use your power to navigate platforms and solve puzzles is amazing for a game that first glance may look like another 2D pixel platformer.

Again like Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine, Fez may seem short but contains plenty of replay value with all the little secrets and anti-cubes in the game world to be found.

Fez can be mentally complex but is a very relaxing game to play when you just want to hang out in a game world and with no enemies shows that games can be more than what you believe they should be or conform to trodden game rules and ideas.

I hope Phil Fish will return to the game industry and either make Fez 2 or some other games.

5) The Walking Dead [Season 1] (PC)

The Walking Dead franchise is the only think keeping the zombie genre respectable.

Between all The Walking Dead and The Game of Thrones buzz it would be understandable to think everyone is mad. Remaking books and graphic novels into seasonal television shows and games has gotten a bit out of control in the last year or so and sees no sign of slowing down. I am still reading The Walking Dead graphic novels and they are still entertaining.

The Walking Dead television is very well made and has been a great success for AMC by retelling the story of The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead episodic games do the same but in a better and more original fashion. The first season of the game tells the story of Lee a convicted criminal and Clementine a girl who is looking for her parents after her babysitter goes full zombie mode. You play Lee as he helps Clementine as they both try to survive the end of the world. Along the way they are joined by other survivors who you can choose survives and dies. The characters you meet are likely to be more dangerous than the zombies you encounter.

I am a fan of point and click games but the gameplay in The Walking Dead is very simple but the main draw pf the game is the believable apocalypse atmosphere and the interactions between all the characters within the overall story. The game contains a tension and pacing not seem in many games and even people with the coldest hearts will eventually either care for Lee and/or Clementine or some of the other survivors in the game.

The writing is very well done and Episode 2 of Season 1 is in my opinion one of the most memorable gaming sections in recent memory. The whole think I have against The Walking Dead franchise in general is that it has zombies. Zombies in any medium seems like a unnecessary tool that has to be used because most people can’t seem to think of or come up with a good story about using them. Zombies should be banned but despite this I recommend you play The Walking Dead Season 1 even if you aren’t a fan of zombies or The Walking Dead.

4) Pokémon Pearl/Pokémon X & Y (Nintendo DS/Nintendo 3DS)

Pokémon X proves that the first game of a franchise you play isn’t always the best.

The year is 1999 and I am young and have a Game Boy Pocket and only one game: Sylvester & Tweety: Breakfast on the Run (It was ok). After reading an article about the then pretty old 1996 Japanese game called Pocket Monsters in some monthly magazine, I was very excited to get my hands on a new game called Pokémon. In this case It was Pokémon Blue that I bought. Why I am telling you this? Well it’s because I was obsessed with that game (still my favorite) and everything Pokémon (cards, films, posters, the lot) while the Pokémon graze exploded and then eventually died down, I only ever played a few Pokémon games: Pokémon Blue, Pokémon Silver and Pokemon Pearl. I love Pokémon but I have been put of with the newer Pokémon games for a long time.  I belive the ever-increasing Pokemon count and less memorable characters have damaged the original core ideals of the franchise but with the upcoming release of Pokémon X and Y I was excited to get back into the franchise. This involved me resurrecting my five-year old play through of Pokémon Pearl on the Nintendo DS in 2013 which I originally started playing in 2007. To cut the story short, Pokémon Pearl, the upcoming Pokémon X and my first generation Blue Nintendo DS finally convinced me to get a Blue Nintendo 3DS XL and Pokémon X. I am glad I finally upgraded.

Pokémon X is a good return to form for the franchise, with old familiar Pokémon like Squirtle, new characters like Froakie, improved online capabilities and game visuals with a semi 3D look and most importantly of all full 3D Pokémon battles. The game looks great and plays well like it always has while the touch screen capabilities complement the game instead of being in the way or required. Pokémon X and Y finally make you feel like you are part of a breathing world by visually showing other people who are playing the game at the same time and in the area you are even if it turns out just being a face. It also is a more social game while you play online but of course not as much as the original games were because of the need to actually meet people in person to trade and battle.

If you let Pokémon X/Y take hold of your lofe it will consume you and will be the only game you need to play until the next one rolls around, it’s that good and addictive. However I played for nearly 50 hours in relatively short period of time and I am finding it hard to return to the game which you may say means the game is flawed but I know once I give it a little time I will back into the action and having a great time. It just means that Pokemon isn’t truly a portable game in the sense that you can’t really play for short periods, like for example Super Mario 3D Land because everything takes time, unless you are just running around in circles in tall grass doing battles to level up that is. A related point Pokémon purests will say that the new item you get early on which allows you to level all Pokémon without them appearing in battle is sacrilegious to the core principles of Pokémon. Now I could agree with that but I doubt many people, me include would say it was fun and made the game better, you did it because you had to.

Pokémon X and Y bring back most of which made the old games fun while also making it more refined for a modern audience and shows that portable console games like Pokémon X can offer a lot and be more fun and engaging than mobile phone games like Angry Birds.

3) Gnomoria (PC)

A relatively small looking game with great depth and soul.

I am a big fan of games where you can basically play god (even as an atheist). Having worlds, nature and small people all under you control make for an engaging and compelling game. Many games have done this concept in various forms from the orignal Populous to games like The Settlers. However in recent times there has been a shortfall of these type of game (good ones that is) so seeing and playing Gnomoria was a breath of fresh air for me. Gnomoria is basically a more advanced version of Dwarf Fortress and is quite similar to the game called Towns but I tried Dwarf Fortress and I felt it was to abstract for me. Using ASCII characters or similar was a bit too much for me to stomach in this day and age so I settled for Gnomoria.

In Gnomoria you lead a small group of gnomads and help them establish a town/city/castle (up to you) to survive. You then help them thrive against increasing hostility from such dangers as bears, goblins and spiders. In Gnomoria death and failure is all part of the experience, you will go through a few kingdoms before you finally get to grips with the gameplay mechanics but if you treat it like a rogue-like game you will enjoy it exponentially more.

Watching your group of gnomes get torn apart trying to protect their homes from some goblins and dying horrible or watching them all slowly dying of dehydrating will bring a tear to your eyes.

Gnomoria is still being actively worked on by a very small team and is a joy to play. Gnomoria and Fallout is a game I have been playing a lot on my old NetBook. Most importantly it doesn’t cost much to buy and is fun to play and has a great soundtrack.

2) Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 (Xbox 360)

Pro Evolution Soccer is still the football game for people who play and love football.

The story of why this game is on my list is similar to Pokémon X. I have been a massive International Superstar Soccer and Pro Evolution fan since the very fist games and anyone who like FIFA more are a bunch of sellouts. You know a game you like is evolutionary when its rival copies its game mechanics years later and very poorly. One of the best football games ever is ISS Pro Evolution 2 on the PlayStation and is why I decided to jump back into the franchise with Pro Evolution Soccer 2014.

Many people have said that the ISS series and now the Pro games are the closest to playing the real sport virtually. Now this isn’t as true of the older the games as much any more but you have to take into account when each game came out into context. For example ISS Pro Evolution 2 came out in 2001 and while FIFA was around, the stark difference between two were like the difference between night and day. FIFA Football 2002 was like an arcade game with sticky ball physics that was like playing in treacle while ISS Pro Evolution 2 had more realistic ball physics with gameplay that flowed like water. Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 brings me back to how I first felt playing ISS Pro Evolution 2 and for that reason alone deserves more respect and success than it gets these days. The franchise has mostly been stuck in a rut in recent years but with Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 I am hopeful that it again once again over time beat FIFA to title of best Football game.

The game has some pretty amazing visuals for an old generation console with Konami adding new faces and stadiums now and again in patches like they did for Pro Evolution Soccer 2013. However like always the difference between the specially crafted faces and the default ones are stark.

A word of warning the menu presentation and music is terrible and repetitive but play some music in the background or add some music on to a USB stick and its all fine. Also Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 suffered from dodgy online functionality for months with some people having no problems to people like me not been able to play online. All because Konami decided to release the game early and obviously unfinished. The online problems were unforgivable for a new game, with Konami getting of light compared to EA and Battlefield 4 (not exactly the same I know).

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 is hard to master like a lot of Konami’s football games but is deeply satisfying when you pull of some masterful moves on the pitch. Doing a successfully through ball for a forward who then scores is still one of the most satisfying things in gaming and the Master League remains as addictive as ever.

1) Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo 3DS)

Shows that even the simplest of game concepts can provide hours of entertainment.

My number one game is Super Mario 3D land, you might be thinking where I have been all this time and like I said before I only got a Nintendo 3DS XL relatively recently and I don’t adhere to the same year awards as everyone else. Now Super Mario 3D Land came out in late 2011 but for all intense and purposes it could have come out in 2013 (I know about Super Mario 3D World) it’s that good. The game is fresh and breezy and a joy to play whether you playing in long or short bursts.

The story will not win any awards for originality or surprises but that’s not why you buy and play a Mario game. You play it for its production values, well thought out gameplay structure and expert platforming design. The platforming and level is as good as ever and easily some of the best in a Mario game, with some levels and ideas only appearing once then tossed aside for even more new stuff. A lesser game would continue to reuse the same assets but Super Mario 3D Land have so much to offer that Nintendo aren’t afraid to keep giving you new levels and twists to experience.

The sound design in Super Mario 3D Land is excellent and features great music and sound effects with a seamless design that means it never feels out-of-place. This gives the world a felling of belonging and believability even if you would have to be on drugs or insane to believe a world like the Mushroom Kingdom exists.

It isn’t partially a long game if you just rush through the levels but with all the collectibles and all new content that gets unlocked when you complete the main game means Super Mario 3D Land is pretty long. You will get more than your money worth if you are te type who likes to collect everything and with a game like Super Mario 3D Land its hard not to be.

Super Mario 3D Land is defiantly my game of the year and one that I will defiantly continue to play during 2014. It’s so simple at first glance and to play but it gets pretty tough later on but you will never quit from frustration you will just keep playing and having fun. Super Mario 3D being fun and joyful in regards to a video game is the best compliment you can give a game in my opinion. If you have a Nintendo 3DS then this is an essential purchase.

This list took a long time to put together but I am glad I finally got it done.

I will go over The Best Video Games for 2014 and Other Awards and My Top Ten Games for 2014 later in the year or early next year.

My other awards related posts:

Some of my other opinions:

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