December is a joyous time for most. It's the holiday season, and many enjoy their holiday of choice with friends, family, and of course gifts. That said, December is rarely a giving time in the gaming industry. We've gotten a few solid games, such as the PlayStation Vita version of Terraria, but in reality there isn't that much to look forward to this month. Then again, it isn't surprising, as November is typically the time frame for big holiday releases, both on the hardware and software side, and many publishers don't want to confuse and make a rush for consumers with last minute game releases.
So, for the most part, December is pretty light on the releases, but there are still some great titles that release right at the end of the year. Which ones? Let's find out by walking down (yes, you guessed it) Memory Lane.
Beyond Good & Evil is one of those much loved games that will probably never get a sequel, despite various teases of the opposite over the last few years. This unsuspectingly good title released in December 2003 to little competition, and its blend of exploration, puzzle-solving, item collecting, and unique setting helped Beyond Good & Evil gain quite the fan following over the years.
Other Notable Releases: Deus Ex: Invisible War
The original Knights of the Old Republic game provided Star Wars and RPG fans with a fun romp through the universe, but it was Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords that really put this subseries and Bioware on people's radars. With improved gameplay and an intricate storyline, this RPG offers plenty for fans to play and replay.
Other Notable Releases: Mario Party 6
December 2005 was more of a Nintendo month, with the first portable version of Animal Crossing coming to stores, titled Animal Crossing: Wild World. This DS title brings the life/debt simulator on the go, which is perfect for the general bite-sized gameplay that the series promotes. The DS screen also is quite helpful for creating new patterns.
Other Notable Releases: Super Mario Strikers
Before Lords of Shadow, the Castlevania series was still going strong with 2D exploration titles, and December 2006 brought us Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. Portrait of Ruin brought a new playstyle to the table with two playable characters you can switch between at the press of a button. It also allowed for interesting strategies that previous Castlevania games couldn't offer.
Other Notable Releases: Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
Before the Tomb Raider series was rebooted earlier this year, the series universe received another semi-reboot when the series was taken under developer Crystal Dynamics' wing. The second game of this reboot, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, was a remake of the very first PS1 game. This remake expanded on the plot of the first game, as well as helped it tie into the plotline that Tomb Raider: Legend and Tomb Raider: Underworld were creating. In addition, the gameplay was also improved (of course), making Anniversary the definite version of the original game.
Other Notable Releases: NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams
When Dissidia: Final Fantasy was first announced, many people were confused by the prospect of a Final Fantasy fighting game. However, when the game released with practically no competition in December 2008, fears and worries were put to rest. Dissidia is an interesting and strong fighting game, with plenty of convoluted plot to get through and items to collect.
Other Notable Releases: Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories
Whenever a new Zelda game is released, there is always a good amount of fanfare, even with a title with as unusual of a concept as The Legend of Zelda: The Spirit Tracks. While the first DS entry was a sequel to Wind Waker, complete with sea travel, Spirit Tracks instead gives you a train to ride around, exploring the land and saving Hyrule.
Other Notable Releases: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Okay, December 2010 was a bad, bad month for gaming. The only release of any not at all was the 25th Anniversary Wii version of Super Mario All-Stars, which was more a less a port of the Super Nintendo version of the game. It may be nice to own 4 Mario games in one place with neat packaging and a mini-book, but most can admit it's a pretty bare-bones port... it doesn't even have the version of Super Mario All-Stars with Super Mario World in it!.
Other Notable Releases: That's about it.
The last month of 2011 offered a slightly better line-up than 2010's. Not only was the long-awaited, Bioware-developed Star Wars MMO released, but Nintendo gave then starved 3DS owners a solid experience with Mario Kart 7. This new entry to the series had such new features as kart customization and hang-gliding, providing new experiences for Mario Kart veterans.
Other Notable Releases: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Last year, during many months, indie games got just as much recognition as big releases. In December, though, they really got to shine, as when most of the game industry takes a break from releasing games, the indie scene kept their releases going strong. Probably the most memorable of these releases was Awesomenauts, a fun and quirky multiplayer game. While the similarities to games like Team Fortress 2 could be made, Awesomenauts stands on its own with exciting, 2D gameplay.
Other Notable Releases: Mutant Mudds, Street Fighter X Mega Man
That's all for December's Memory Lane. We rarely got many big-hit releases during the month, but many would probably say that's a good thing. After all, it's important to have time to work on your backlog, especially after the typical deluge of games November brings!
Which December release is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!