Staff Picks

10. Persona 4 Arena

Turning an RPG into a fighter is inherently an interesting prospect from a design perspective, since you have lots of things like status ailments, critical hits and different equipments and spells to add mountains of depth to a game. Not many developers have actually stepped up to the challenge to make a game around this concept. Luckily, Atlus and Arc System Works teamed up to give us this fascinating little gem.

This was an even weirder year than usual for me, with pretty much every gaming high point counterbalanced by an accompanying low. The Wii was going through its last death throes… which consisted of two of the finest titles ever released for the system. (In North America. Eventually.) The 3DS finally received the XL upgrade I had been waiting for ever since its launch… and I still found the retail pickings to be pretty dire. The Wii U arrived after much anticipation… about a month before the final issue of Nintendo Power arrives in my mailbox. In between those events were wide stretches of absolutely nothing… which I used to catch up on a bunch of great older titles that I had missed out on the first time around.

Overall, I consider 2012 to be a net positive on the gaming front. I got to experience a bunch of great games and innovative hardware, while also filling in some glaring holes in my gaming history. And that’s not even considering all of the great Unplugged titles 2012 delivered. That said, I am really looking forward to what 2013 will bring both the 3DS and the Wii U; the first quarter alone should be fairly packed if everything arrives on schedule. But more on that when we get to our next Progress Report. On to my picks for 2012! READ MORE

I spent the vast majority of 2012 with my face glued to my gorgeous new Vita, mostly playing PSP games and PSOne Classics, but I managed to get a hold of enough current games to put together a list of my favorites. At times I feel as if I am still reeling from the greatness of 2011, but this year definitely packed a punch in its own right.

10.  Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!

This one was almost a surprise, but WayForward was behind it, so I knew I was in for a good time from the start. An energetic soundtrack, fantastic sprite artwork and animation and the signature Adventure Time style and humor, all built around a hilarious homage to Zelda II of all things, make for one of the better licensed platformers I’ve ever played. READ MORE

10. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

Square Enix again shows both its ability to expand the Final Fantasy brand and its knowledge of stylus controls with Theatrhythm. While it probably stands up more on the music than the gameplay, the controls work about as you would expect on a portable rhythm game. A great soundtrack and solid DLC options make this one of the best 3DS titles of the year. READ MORE

10. Max Payne 3

Max Payne 1 and 2 were two of my favorite games ever. The film noir setting, combined with the Matrix-like moves and gunplay, gave a 16 year old me an incredible rush. Times have changed, and this is easily the weakest game in the trilogy, but I’m glad they brought it back. The voice acting and cutscene direction is splendid, and it definitely feels like a movie. But did it need to be this hard? I died more in this game than the first two combined, easily. The flashback levels to the snowy city skyline were far superior to the South American setting, but it still worked. READ MORE