Rules reminder : I’m picking from the games I’ve played in 2012, even if they were released in 2011 or if they’re yet to be announced in the West.
Best action game
I’ve always wanted to experience the action scenes from Evangelion in video game. With Liberation Maiden, no need to search further. This shoot’em up is a nearly exact transcript of the legendary anime. True, not the same scenario, not the same characters, a rather short story, but the spirit of Evangelion is here : the ferocious aliens, the awesome sound, the non-stop action. All those priceless things you can get for only 8 euros.
Runner-up : Senran Kagura Burst (3DS)
Although Call of Duty did poorly with Modern Warfare 3, Treyarch made the wise choices to turn the situation over. An innovating campaign and a reborn quality multiplayer make Black Ops II the king this year.
Runner-up : Call of Duty – Black Ops Declassified (PSVita)
Best fighting game
Dead or Alive 5 deals a powerful blow to a competition mostly asleep at the wheel. At last effort is rewarded and improvisation useless. The gameplay is complex, even too complex, but the competition is sane and the noobs have been driven away. Graphically outsanting, with high value and a flurry of adorable characters, DOA5 takes the crown, and for a long time.
Runner-up : none
Best strategy game
Like every time, it’s hard to resist to Fire Emblem once you have it whithin your reach. The clever gameplay is further enhanced by the support system and the unit management has some amazing surprises. CG scenes are beautiful and the art direction the best to date.
Runner-up : none
Best puzzle game
True, PlvsAA won’t melt your brain like past episodes did. But its breathtaking story and lovable characters make up for the lesser difficulty settings.
Runner-up : If I were in a sealed room with a girl I would… (3DS)
Atelier Totori made history imho, and only logical that its sequel would take the title if it lives up to it. Actually, Atelier Meruru does even better in music, gameplay, management, battles, character design… Seldom did I feel such self-fulfillment with one game.
Runner-up : Tales of Xillia (PS3)
Let’s get this straight : it’s gonna be hard for any game to compete here as long as Hatsune Miku is in the place. Not when brilliant composers like the vocaloid god Wowaka delivers such goodness as Unhappy Refrain.
Runner-up : Project Diva Extend (PSP)
Best game no one bought
Love Application literally crashed in Japanese charts. The audience for dating sim has never been that high so it might have been OK. Anyway, the amount value and fun crammed is this game is more than worth the few thousands yens.
Runner-up : Hyperdimension Neptune Victory
Best game you might never play
The title I chose last year in this category, Final Fantasy Type-0, still hasn’t made it west. Released in Japan last year, Ace Attorney Investigations 2 probably won’t be luckier and might well end up being the only title in the series to skip the west too. A real shame when you think it’s the most brilliant Ace Attorney so far.
Runner-up : Shining Blade (PSP)
An abysmal campaign and a dismal multiplayer. That’s all I could think of this 5th iteration of a series had enjoyed so much. Everything that made the glory of the past ones, including characters and gameplay, has been reshuffled for the worst as armies of noobs increasingly took the power.
Runner-up : Ciel no Sourge (PSVita)
Mastering gravity. That’s what Gravity Daze is about. This game achieve the outstanding performance of having a unique, exhilarating and yet simple gameplay. Add to that an art direction that is one of the best this year, and you have the ultimate must-have on PSVita.
Runner-up : The Unfinished Swann (PS3)
A small step for the PS3, but a giant leap for the Tales of series. Tales of Graces F, which wasn’t exactly ugly, is merely a sketch of what awaits you in Tales of Xillia. Never had the anime style been so detailed, seldom could you enjoy such a flurry of colors and light.
Runner-up : Gravity Daze (PSVita)
Game of the year
Can the Atelier series win for the second year in a row? YES! You do have one of the finest management-strategy-RPG ever. Characters, battles, music, side-quests, everything is as good as it can get. With games like these, there are no such things as eating or sleeping : Atelier Meruru nurtures your soul to delight.
Project Diva f (PSVita)
Tales of Xillia (PS3)
Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS)