This may have been a year of new hardware, but for me it was the time that platforms released in the last few years really came into their own. The 3DS, Wii U and Vita provided some great fun in 2013, and even the PS3 posted one of its best lineups of its lifespan.
10. Pokemon X & Y
My sole complaint after finishing X & Y was its length, but when someone asked me how long I’d played, I looked it up. Oh. The advancements and streamlining elements of the new games make everything seem so painless that the hours melt away. Sure, you could turn the EXP Share off if you wanted, and you could build up your competitive team without Super Training, but… why would you?
9. Pikmin 3
After the breakneck pace of the original and the almost-painfully lackadaisical one for the follow-up, Pikmin 3 strikes a great balance between setting time constraints and allowing the freedom to be a bit creative. The bosses are still kind of in the way, but the rush of trying to collect fruit and defeat enemies quickly is a blast. (And the two-player mode is definitely worth checking out.)
Every system has that game that seems born from the very idea of the hardware, and Tearaway is that for the Vita. Features that I normally hate, like rear-touch controls and tilting, work so naturally here that I just don’t mind. Oh, and taking photos along the way is a lot of fun.
7. Diablo III (console)
Everything that bothered me about the PC version of Diablo III gets washed away in the console port, replaced with some of the most competent local co-op mechanics the industry has seen. There’s not much that’s more fun than grabbing some friends and settling in for a long night of hacking away at evil minions.
6. Tales of Xillia
Even though it may be the least friendly of the series to local play, there’s just too much that Xillia does right to not give it its due. Tales games have always been weighed down by systems like titles and cooking, and this game smooths over a lot of that while leaving just enough in place to not feel like a betrayal. The separate stories make the New Game+ option a lot more appealing, too, which is great given the franchise’s tendency to hide a lot of content in subsequent playthroughs.
5. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
My town has been abandoned, likely full of weeds and unhappy villagers. I had to do it; Animal Crossing is life or nothing, and I needed some other things to be life for a while. But I really didn’t want to leave. New Leaf continues to expand on what makes the series so great, letting you relax and get lost in a place truly your own.
4. Super Mario 3D World
The whimsical world of Mario is infectious, and in no game is this more true. Everything, from the new cat power-up to the giant orange plesiosaur to the little sounds Captain Toad makes, is designed to make you have that big dumb grin on your face. I do hope there’s a new Galaxy at some point, but after 3D World I’m much more patient.
The Ouya may not have lit the world on fire, but its launch brought with it some very promising local multiplayer games. The one that dug its claws into our game group and wouldn’t let go was BombSquad, a claymation-style arena game that’s best described as Bomberman with floaty LittleBigPlanet physics. You really do owe it to yourself to grab friends and random controllers and give this one a try.
2. Rayman Legends
I’m not sure I can say anything about Legends that I haven’t already said: it both distills what was great about Origins and expands upon it with some equally-cool mechanics. The Wii U version is the superior experience, but do play it however you can. Even if you don’t like platformers.
1. Fire Emblem: Awakening
I’m a big fan of the Fire Emblem series, so I was eagerly anticipating Awakening and knowing I’d really enjoy it. What made its exceeding quality truly sink in, though, was when I tried to return to previous games like Radiant Dawn and Sacred Stones that, again, I really do love. But man, it is hard to return to those titles after all the things that Awakening did so much better. Please do not miss out on this one. You will regret it.