Letter from America: The highs and lows of 2013

Plus: What's your earliest gaming memory?

Happy New Year!

While the industry has been vegging out in front of the TV, one hand absentmindedly slipped betwixt trouser and y-front, we've been busy posting an absolute ton of features. The first of which is a trio of slightly off-the-wall articles where we ask entertaining questions designed to elicit hopefully interesting responses.

The first one sounds simple, but is deceptively tricky: what's your most treasured game? This precipitated a fair amount of chin-scratching and pontification, but resulted in some quite revealing responses, including the origins of a tattoo and a defining moment that launched a career in games writing.

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This is a most treasured game - for a rather strange reason.

The next article poses a similar sort of question that also has a one-game answer, but with added complications. In this case, it's about you, a desert island, and a waterproof case containing the game of your choice (and a console to play it on). Most of the team played along, but we did get some slightly cheating answers involving online games. But hey - speaking as someone who's spent decades writing columns dedicated to negotiating objectives by nefarious means, I should not be at all surprised at this.

Finishing our hat trick of question-posing features is one that asks: what's your earliest gaming memory? I loved this feature because many of the answers are pure nostalgia. Not the misty-eyed, slightly rose-tinted variety - but very genuine and heartfelt. Hopefully this feature will also make you think about your very first gaming memories - because I'd love to hear them.

Of course, no end of year would be complete without a selection of forward- and backward-looking articles, and to that end, here's another hat-trick of features.

First up, there's our list of the best games of 2013. It's not scientifically devised or critically definitive, but more of a "stuff we liked on a personal level" kind of thing. Which means it contains plenty of games you wouldn't expect to see on a "Best of 2013" list.

It goes without saying that there's a diametrically opposed companion piece: our noms for 2013's worst. It covers both games and ideas, an amendment I had to make for reasons that will become obvious when you read the article.

The third piece is a gaze into the future, as the USgamer team reveals which games they're most excited about for 2014. What's clear is there's some pretty tasty stuff coming up, and even if only half of it turns out to be as good as it looks, we should be in for a vintage year for gaming. At least, let's hope!

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Princess Peach is one of the most fun Super Mario World 3D characters. So why isn't she used more?

Creating a hat-trick of feature hat-tricks, are three multiple-opinion discussion articles. We talked about the state of RPGs, argued over what should be done about microtransactions and free-to-play games, and waxed long and lyrical about the ways this year's games have succeeded and failed at telling great stories.

And finally, we had a deluge of retrospective reviews. Pete talked about Final Fantasy XIV - his personal game of the year that nobody's really talking about. He also pondered whether 2013 was the year Sim City died. Jeremy created a touching tribute to Animal Crossing: A New Leaf, and a slightly less touching take on GTA5's ugly journey through a beautiful world. Our Bob talked about why A Link Between Worlds is the best thing to happen to the Zelda series in ages, and Nadia wrote an awesome piece about whether or not Princess Peach, after some highjinks in Super Mario 3D World, should play a much more active role in the Nintendo universe.

See you next week!

Jaz Rignall is editorial director of USgamer.net, a version of Eurogamer from a land where the footy season doesn't start for another three months.

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