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  1. As we move into the new year after successfully surviving the end of the world (thanks again, Goku!), it“s time to look back on all the fun times we had in our virtual worlds. There were certainly lots of games released in 2012 – some good, some bad, and some so ugly only a blind prostitute is willing to look at it. Which ones are worth playing, though? With such a large slush pile of bad games that may or may not have something to do with Kinect or James Bond, there are plenty of gems for each game-playing platform that I find extraordinary. So let“s take a look at 2012 and pick out what I think are the most outstanding games of the year…from what I“ve played. Keep in mind that I haven“t played all gazillion games that came out in 2012, and this is just a list of the games I enjoyed the most out of what I played. PC Game of the Year: Guild Wars 2 I haven“t exactly played too many PC games recently (now, if you“d like to buy me a better computer, we“ll talk), but out of the ones I have played, as far as PC exclusives go, none have given me as grand an experience as Guild Wars 2. With such a gorgeous world to journey through, unique systems to play around with, and a vast array of nice character classes, this game is fun from the get-go. But throw in tons of imaginative quests, a brilliantly-designed PvP system, and a crapload of other content, and this is one helluva MMO. And ya wanna know the best part? All of this requires a subscription of only $0! PS3 Game of the Year: Journey Official GP Review It“s not a 2012 Game of the Year list without Journey in there somewhere. And there“s a reason thatgamecompany's newest game is finding its way onto so many of these lists. As far as video games go in general, few have immersed me into its world as much as Journey has this year. It's not only one of the most beautiful games I've seen, and not only does it have one of the best co-op modes I've ever played, but the soundtrack... oh, that soundtrack! And you know a video game soundtrack is amazing when it gets nominated for a friggin' Grammy. That doesn't happen often. Xbox 360 Game of the Year: Silent Hill: Downpour Official GP Review It“s pretty much unanimous that the first three Silent Hills were the best, and many considered the series to have been going downhill since. With that said, Silent Hill: Downpour is exactly what the series needed to get it going back uphill again. With the survival horror genre having shifted directions, it took a while for the series to truly find the path it needed to keep modern gamers happy while also giving hardcore fans a true Silent Hill experience. It has its share of flaws, sure, but as a hardcore Silent Hill fan myself, I really enjoyed it. Wii Game of the Year: Xenoblade Chronicles The Nintendo Wii didn't see much in 2012, but that didn't stop it from having one of the console“s greatest games arrive on American shores, thanks to the efforts of Operation: Rainfall. Sure, The Last Story could be considered the Wii“s swan song, but compared to Xenoblade Chronicles, that is merely a duckling chirping. Out of all Wii games released in 2012 (yes, all four of them), none can hold even a drip of candle wax to Xenoblade. I already knew it was a good game from all the praise it got, but once I was finally able to spend 70+ hours exploring the incredibly expansive world, I realized that Xenoblade is by far one of my favorite experiences I've ever had on the Wii, and definitely the best one to come out of 2012. Wii U Game of the Year: New Super Mario Bros. U Unfortunately, I still need to buy a Wii U. That said, my lack of owning the console hasn't stopped me from playing a few of its games (I have my ways). And out of what I“ve played, there“s no denying that New Super Mario Bros. U is my favorite thus far, so it gets my pick for Wii U Game of the Year. While I for one love every entry into the New Super Mario Bros. series, many of you have your share of problems regarding them. And I understand that because none of them has been able to match my love for Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World. But after playing NSMBU, I think one of them has finally come pretty close. Whether you play solo or with four others, New Super Mario Bros. U is a great game every Wii U owner should own. Now, back to saving up for my own Wii U! DS Game of the Year: Pokemon Black 2 / White 2 Official GP Review With the 3DS having picked up steam a while back, you“d think the DS would have been set aside long ago. Pokemon didn't think so, which is apparent by its love for the last-gen handheld throughout the year. One (or two, rather) such game is Pokemon Black 2/White 2. Of course, with what little the DS got in 2012, there really isn't much competition aside from Pokemon Conquest, but whatever. If you“ve played the first Black/White, you“ll pretty much know what to expect from this one. But that“s not to say it“s the same thing. I see it as Black/White after it took a few rare candies (oh there I go with the lame Pokemon jokes). If you're a Pokemon fan, this game is a no-brainer. 3DS Game of the Year: Kid Icarus: Uprising Official GP Review It took about 20 years for our favorite little angel warrior to show his face in a game of his own, but when he finally returned, I couldn't have been happier. Kid Icarus: Uprising is a lot of things, and a lot of things handled really well. To put it simply, Uprising is a fantastic revival to a classic gem, and has a lot going for it as a fantastic game all in itself. And of course, it is. I mean, what list do you think this is? Sure, the game does have a few flaws, but they were obviously no match for the awesomeness this game exudes. Of all the quality 3DS games released in 2012, Kid Icarus: Uprising is the one I enjoyed the most. PS Vita Game of the Year: Zero Escape: Virtue“s Last Reward First off, I actually haven“t played the Vita version of this game. I played the 3DS version, though, so at least I played it. As for why I named Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward my favorite Vita game of 2012…well, that“s pretty much because I haven“t exactly played anything else for Vita that isn“t also for the 3DS. So, uh...I guess take my word with a grain of salt (or sugar, if you prefer sweets). Second off, I did do my research before finalizing my decision, so there“s that too. As I understand it, the Vita version is just as good, if not slightly better than the one I played, so that“s something to consider if you own a Vita. Regardless of which version you play, though, Zero Escape in general is simply amazing. If I owned a Vita, I“d buy this version of the game just so I have an excuse to play it all over again… Mobile Game of the Year: Rayman Jungle Run If there“s one thing Rayman Origins did right, it“s everything. Well, as far as platformers go, anyway. Not only was it one of the greatest platformers this generation, but it even gives Mario a run for his money as one of the greatest platformers ever. Speaking of running, if you liked Rayman Origins and have an iPhone or Android, Rayman Jungle Run is a game you must own. In fact, even if you haven“t played Origins, Jungle Run is a game you must own. Seriously, while I don“t think mobile gaming will ever truly take over the handheld gaming market, it“s games like this that make that a compelling argument. It's basically a game where our favorite man-without-limbs runs continuously throughout each level, giving you the task of making him not kill himself by getting him to jump, punch, and fly his way to the finish. This game is such a delight to play and definitely my most enjoyed mobile game of 2012. And My Pick for Game of the Year... Xenoblade Chronicles No matter how much I love each and every other game on my list, none of them gave me quite the year-defining experience that Xenoblade Chronicles did. Operation: Rainfall was right in petitioning to bring this game over because it truly is an amazing game. Not only is it the best Wii game I“ve played in 2012, but it“s also the best RPG I“ve played in a long while. But most importantly, Xenoblade was the game to come out of 2012 (even if others did get it beforehand) that I enjoyed the most, which makes it my official pick for 2012's Game of the Year.
  2. Jordan Haygood

    Review: Kid Icarus: Uprising

    Developer: Project Sora Publisher: Nintendo Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: Out Now ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10+ "Sorry to keep you waiting!" When these words were first uttered at Nintendo's E3 2010 press conference, they were quickly followed by a certain flightless angel, who had been missing-in-action for the past 20 years, swooping onto the scene to announce a new Kid Icarus game. Needless to say, not many people were expecting this. But our expectations are meaningless in this case, because it happened. After all these years, we finally return to Skyworld in Kid Icarus: Uprising for the Nintendo 3DS. So does this long overdue sequel ascend into greatness, or do Pit's wings burn as the game comes crashing down into a pitfall (get it?)? Let's find out, shall we? After making us wait for over 20 years, Pit finally returns. Kid Icarus: Uprising puts you in the sandals of the cherub warrior known as Pit, who is fighting to save the world from Medusa and her Underworld army. If this plot sounds familiar to you long-time fans, it should. The game begins with a plot fairly similar to that of the original, where Medusa also wreaked havoc with her crazy shenanigans. Uprising, however, takes place after the snake-haired goddess has somehow been resurrected. You'll find out how before the halfway point, as well as the role her resurrection plays in the bigger picture. And no, I won't spoil it for you. If you're interested in Greek mythology, Kid Icarus: Uprising does a great job reinventing it with its own creative charm. There are some familiar faces to mythology such as the flamboyant God of Death Thanatos, the petrifying Goddess of Darkness Medusa, and [censored due to spoilers], as well as the series' own original characters such as the Goddess of Light Lady Palutena, a certain reimagining of Mother Nature known as Viridi, and, of course, Pit. By the way, Pit actually alludes to the story of Icarus - an angel who flew too close to the sun that he burned his wings and became unable to fly (hence the title of the series). And don't worry if you haven't played the old NES classic or its Game Boy sequel, because everything you need to know is explained within the first few chapters of Kid Icarus: Uprising. The game does a great job re-introducing spectators to the main players of the Kid Icarus series, as well as the newcomers who introduce themselves later in the game. Our favorite two-headed dog also makes a return While we're on the topic of the story, the writing in Kid Icarus: Uprising is superb. The writers did a brilliant job writing a story that hooks players from the start and keeps them hooked throughout the game with its interesting characters and intricate plot points. Once you get through one chapter, something big happens in the next chapter that gives you that itch to play more as you get further and further into the plot. And that itch is hard to scratch without playing all the way through to the end. And it's not just the story that's well-written; the dialogue in Kid Icarus: Uprising is often very funny, with humorous jokes, cheesy lines often followed up by sarcastic remarks that point out the cheese, and a complete lack of fear when breaking the fourth wall (such as Pit pointing out how much one of the enemies looks like a metroid). And to top it all off, these lines are all complimented very well with some astonishing voice work (albeit a tad annoying at times). Of course, the dialogue can also be a hit-and-miss at times. While it's fun to listen to the witty banter between the characters, it can sometimes get in the way, since characters will often converse while you're fighting enemies. Basically, there will be times when you have to make a choice between ignoring the dialogue and fighting with precision or listening to the conversations and getting pummeled by enemy fire. It's a tough choice sometimes, and only a master multitasker can do both with relative ease. Another thing that compliments the quirky dialogue of this game very well are the game's colorful and overall stunning visuals. It's like watching a classic cartoon Disney movie - it simply wouldn't work as well without the surreal imagery. The game is simply gorgeous, showing us just how stellar 3DS graphics can be. And that's only the primer of the graphics; when you see the true polish of Uprising with the 3D turned on, the game really shines. It's a visually-striking experience that will keep you staring at the screen until your eyes burst. Soaring through the gorgeous skies is truly magical We spoke earlier about how astonishing the voice acting in Kid Icarus: Uprising is, but that was only the tip of the iceberg with just how good the audio work is in general. The sound effects in Uprising aren't really the auditory focal point of the game, but they get the job done. You'll hear many bashing, blasting, and bursting sounds as you fight enemies, and that's about it. But all that, along with the other 20% of the game's sound effects, are top-notch and realistic enough to sound how a game should sound these days. Of course, the true auditory focal point of Uprising, as with most games, is the soundtrack. And boy does this game deliver. First off, the game gives us some classic Kid Icarus tunes remixed for this fully orchestrated musical masterpiece. Well, I guess I shouldn't say FULLY orchestrated, as the game also gives the original a few more nods by throwing some sweet chiptunes into the mix. And as far as original music goes...well, I did call this soundtrack a musical masterpiece, didn't I? Here's an example of why I think so: Dat Spanish guitar... In terms of gameplay, Kid Icarus: Uprising is many things. For starters, each chapter begins with roughly five minutes of in-air, on-rail shooting similar to games like Sin & Punishment. These sections of the chapters are always such rewarding experiences, and a splendid way to begin levels. Being on-rails, you move your little angel around the screen, dodging projectiles as he travels along a set path. You also have a reticle in front of Pit that you control using either the stylus or the face buttons. This reticle acts as the aiming tool for Pit's own projectiles, which you fire via the left shoulder button. It's very fun and engaging, with special thanks going to the amazing cinematics that you see in the world around you. And the reason you get only five minutes of flight has something to do with Pit being the flightless angel that he is. Your buddy, Lady Palutena, uses her powers to give Pit the ability to fly, but her powers limit you to only five minutes at a time. This explanation, of course, is just an excuse to force the gameplay mechanics to shift and keep the game interesting. However, things get a bit cumbersome once you put your feet on the ground. During ground-based sections of the chapters, you are no longer on-rails and have total control over Pit, fighting enemies head-on as you take him through the levels. But since you are no longer following a set path, you now have to guide Pit a full 360 degrees, which is where the control scheme turns a little sour. As a beginner, you'll find that using the stylus to aim this way is pretty difficult, and the complete change in simplicity can make you feel a bit aggravated at first. You'll get used to it over time, but many players might get turned off by this and give up on the game before that ever happens. Not to mention the 3DS itself is a tough beast to handle when it comes to playing on the ground. Using the circle pad, left trigger, and stylus throughout the game makes holding the system highly uncomfortable after a short while. This is exactly why the game comes packaged with a little stand to play the game on, but then you're pretty much restricted to playing the game on a flat surface just to play it comfortably. Fortunately, you can always customize the controls to whatever fits your preference, includng the simple use of the face buttons to control the reticle/camera (both of which are controlled by default via the stylus). Using this option certainly takes some getting used to, but once you play around with it a bit, you may find it to be the better way to play the ground segments. The game even allows lefties to play the game by using the Circle Pad Pro, which is a nice touch. Overall, the on-land control scheme is tough at first, but once you get used to it, it gets a lot easier and things begin to feel more natural. The controls take some getting used to Honestly, I could play Kid Icarus: Uprising for hours-on-end. The single-player campaign will only take a dozen hours or so to complete, which is almost a shame, but thanks to an insane amount of replayability, Uprising has plenty of reasons to have you come soaring back for more. One of these reasons is the unique difficulty scale (or "intensity" scale) that you can set before each chapter, which range from 0.0 (Effortless) to 9.0 (Nothing Harder!). The idea is that you wager your own in-game currency (hearts), which is a higher amount depending on the intensity you choose, and you get rewarded if you can survive the chapter. If you can't survive your chosen difficulty, however, you not only lose a number of hearts gathered throughout the level, but you are also forced to lower your intensity in order to continue. And when fighting certain bosses for the first time, this can get a bit frustrating, since learning how to win can sometimes cost you a lot of hearts. There are also certain "Intensity Gates" you will find throughout the chapters. As the name implies, they are gates that you can only open if your intensity is high enough. And as you would expect, some pretty cool things are hidden behind these gates, which mostly include rare weapons. Gambling at its finest. Speaking of weapons, that's another thing that makes coming back to this game worthwhile. The weapons have an immense amount of variety. Seriously, you have everything, from your classic bows to things like clubs, swords, cannons, claws, and...a few things I have a hard time even describing (palms?). And with each weapon class, you're introduced to a plethora of different weapons, which will each come with their own specific stats (like how good of a ranged/melee weapon it is) and buffs (such as making you faster or raising your defense). It's things like these that make you want to experiment a little. And to make the weapon system even more innovative, you can also fuse your weapons together to make other weapons in the Arms Altar. This allows you to take certain stats and buffs from two weapons and put 'em into a completely different one. This fun little mechanic puts a whole new spin on the idea of "mixing and matching." Also, if you don't see a certain weapon you're interested in fusing with, or just to use in general, you can always redeem some of your hearts for weapons to put even more weapons at your disposal. You can also convert weapons into gems, which can then be traded with players via StreetPass for either fusing into your own weapons, selling, or simply claiming the weapon it came from. I don't even know what this thing is, but it looks cool. Not only is this game full of weapons and difficulty levels, but it also provides a vast achievement system, just in case the game wasn't getting you hooked enough. There are a total of 360 achievements (a nod to the Xbox 360 achievement system, perhaps?), and they can be as tough as nails to receive; like beating the last chapter on 9.0 difficulty, or easy as pie; like playing the game's multi-player mode for the first time. The amount of content packed into this little game is truly incredible... Oh, did I not mention the multiplayer mode yet? Silly me. The multiplayer in Kid Icarus: Uprising is, for lack of a better word, fun. You can either duke it out with up to five others in a simple Free-for-All match or team up in a 3-on-3 battle in Light vs. Dark, whether with friends locally or strangers online. The first option is self-explanatory, but the second is a little more interesting. Basically, you start out sharing a certain health bar with your companions, but once that health bar depletes completely, the teammate who was defeated last will transform into Pit (Team Light) or Dark Pit (Team Dark), and the other two will have to protect him while attempting to defeat the other team's angel. And if you've gotten some pretty awesome weapons and powers in your single-player game, don't worry, because they transfer right over to your multiplayer matches for you to use as you see fit. Be forewarned, though, that your team's health bar in Light vs. Dark depletes faster the stronger the weapon. Basically, your double-edged sword can indeed be a double-edged sword. But aside from that, you also have several different options to customize your matches with, including handicaps, item frequency, AI difficulty levels, and time limits. But the multi-player in Uprising certainly isn't perfect. While the single-player game is pretty well-balanced with its simple level-progression, fighting with friends can get a little too helter-skelter at times, which can often cause players to struggle a bit with the controls, especially since it's not really the best idea to play unless you've gotten past the initial hurdle of the game's ground controls. Another thing that gets a little helter-skelter at times is the framerate, which occasionally gets choppy from the stress of all the action going on all at once. After playing multiplayer for a while, it's pretty obvious that single-player is the main draw of the game. Pit and his posse in Light vs. Dark All-in-all, Kid Icarus: Uprising is a fantastic revival to a classic gem, and has a lot going for it as a fantastic game all in itself. Boasting a great storyline, hilarious dialogue, gorgeous graphics and art design, breathtaking music, solid gameplay, and a ton of replayability, this game truly is a terrific experience that shows just what the 3DS can do. However, the game still has its flaws, including initially-awkward controls, chatty characters that can distract you from the action, and a multiplayer mode that is only really there so that the game can have a multiplayer mode. But despite the minor faults this game has, Kid Icarus: Uprising is a game no 3DS owner should be caught dead without. Pros: + Wonderfully-written story with interesting characters + Gorgeous graphics with inspired art direction + A soundtrack that puts many to shame + Fun, solid gameplay + An insane amount of replay value Cons: - Controls take some getting used to - Dialogue can get in the way sometimes - Multiplayer isn't as great as it could be Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic A revival to a classic franchise that carries the legacy to new heights in gaming. Once you get past the initial hurdle of the control scheme, the game provides a brilliant experience to immerse yourself in.
  3. Jason Clement

    Kid Icarus Uprising for $29.99 @ Best Buy

    Didn't expect to see any great deals on this so soon but Best Buy has it for a whole $10 off! So you can buy it for $29.99 right now; I can encourage anyone who's still on the fence but interested to jump on this deal because you likely won't see a better one for a few months considering this is a first party Nintendo title. Link