10. Layton Brothers Mystery Room
A surprise, and an interesting way to begin my list. This game came out of nowhere, releasing on the App Store in June. The game follows Lucy Baker, a novice investigator, and Alfendi Layton, a seasoned investigator and son of the famed Professor Hershel Layton, as they solve various cases in a number of locked room mysteries. While the game was relatively short and extremely linear, it was nice to see a different side of the Layton family solving a different kind of puzzle. Hopefully we see more of this type of Layton puzzle game in the future.
9. Project X Zone
I never thought this game would actually reach Western shores, to be frank. Considering all the sheer amount of characters involved with the series, it didn’t seem likely. Thankfully, Namco Bandai made strides bringing it here, and gave us an opportunity to experience something that we had missed on the PS2. Putting its own twist on the SRPG formula and tossing all our favorite characters into a convoluted story was enough to charm me as a fan.
8. Shin Megami Tensei IV
SMT IV served as an interesting entry in the franchise and one of my favorites so far. Riding off the success of the Persona series, the game borrowed several elements from its spinoff, making the game a lot better. From the lengthy story to the morality situations that with either bring order or chaos to the world, the game was packed to the brim with things to do. This was also one of the few games where the DLC that lets you get ahead doesn’t really take you very far at all.
7. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
It’s been some time since we had an Animal Crossing game on a handheld, and New Leaf marks a triumphant return to the portable world. Being mayor for a change was definitely a nice touch. Not only did it introduce one of the most adorable characters in the series, it also gave players even more options to customize their town to their personal needs. The multiplayer island was nice, as well.
6. The Guided Fate Paradox
Roguelikes haven’t always resonated well with me. For me to get anywhere near interested in them, they have to have a good story attached. The Guided Fate Paradox definitely follows through, combining a rather unusual story of a boy who becomes God by winning a mall lottery with an almost masochistic difficulty. This game constantly makes me question all my actions and watch my every move, even if every move is me accidentally turning in the wrong direction and paying for it dearly by losing all my items.
5. Grand Theft Auto V
I’ve always been a fan of Grand Theft Auto, even though some of the more recent entries have been hit-or-miss. The three stars of the game each bring their own flavor to the game, and kept me glued to the screen wanting to know more about their personal histories and how each of their abilities would play a role in each of their tasks. Heists were definitely a highlight for me. Being able to partake in elaborate missions like those only made it more exciting to play.
4. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
While there weren’t many gameplay changes, the addition of Athena to the cast definitely made it interesting for me and brought in an fresh element to the cases. As a fan of understanding psychological situations, Athena’s gift really resonated with me in liking this game. Additionally, the 3D models definitely give this game the graphical boost it has needed for some time now.
3. Super Mario 3D World
I don’t know what it is about the Super Mario series that keeps bringing me back. Reintroducing the abilities the cast had back in Super Mario Bros. 2 was a nice touch. It also kept each level fresh, as each character had to approach the layout differently. Graphically, it’s a fine example of the Wii U’s power and Nintendo’s ability to utilize the system to its fullest potential.
2. Pokemon X & Y
The Pokemon series has always shined in the gameplay department, even if it lagged visually. Nintendo finally brought the adventure into 3D with the newest entry, and it’s a great entry to boot. This generation brought a lot of new things to the table (like Battle Spot and Wonder Trades), as well as making older features (such as EV Training) more streamlined to the masses making this the most accessible game so far in the series.
1. Fire Emblem: Awakening
Considering this was a year of great games releasing on both home consoles and handhelds, choosing my personal game of the year became that much harder. However, it boiled down to what gripped me the most and kept me there. I’ve never been much for the Fire Emblem series, and this game singlehandedly changed my mind about the entire series. This entry was definitely the most accessible for newcomers, and the introduction of Casual mode played a huge role in keeping me invested. From the lovable cast of characters to the engaging story and all the additional content the game offered, it was hard for me to put this game down. I easily plugged over 200 hours into this game, and I’m still not done.