I used to do a thread on my top favorite games of the year here, because being Japanese and living in Japan almost always made it so that my top ten was completely different from most of the forumites here and it never really fit with an existing thread, and I figured it would provide some helpful information and perspective on what's going on with the market here. I always did it after some time had passed so that I could more accurately judge how much I liked the games with some time to reflect.
I thought I would do it again this year, but something weird happened. If I made top 10 or even top 20, they would ALL be 3DS games. 95% of my playing time this year was on the 3DS even though I like all sorts of games. PC games, PSP games, Vita games, Wii games, PS3 games, cellphone games. I even like browser games. But nothing, absolutely nothing compared to the 3DS in 2012.
I think that was pretty much the mood from January to December of last year. No matter how much the rest of the industry put out quality games, the 3DS was really the only thing that resonated in any memorable capacity. Most of the games I liked you can't buy yet overseas, so explaining why I liked them would be tricky, since just nobody else here has played most of them. Nevertheless, I thought this time I would list my favorite games, give a brief description for ones nobody has much of a clue about and let you guys ask about them.
So without further ado, I decided on a Top 20 this year, in order, because I need to show how superior Fire Emblem and Bravely Default were to everything else.
1. Fire Emblem: Awakening - I have long, long waited for a new Suikoden. I love Fire Emblem. I feel like I got both in the same game AND a fresh SRPG that feels really different than anything that came before it.
2. Bravely Default - I sometimes question whether this game is better than Chrono Trigger. 'Nuff said.
3. Virtue's Last Reward - anyone who has played it knows why.
4. Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy - Final Fantasy music and a crazily addictive RPG/puzzle-y rhythm mechanic with tons of content? It's like a dream come true.
5. Demonic Training - no, not a game that trains you to be MegaTen demon, the next in the Brain Training series, which means devilish puzzle stuff. I spent more time connecting two lines between mahjong tiles than any other game this year. It never gets old. There's only one level that's randomly generated and two difficulties. That's all I needed. A triumph of devious puzzle design. Kudos on the other 30 games included too. But man, that mahjong tile puzzler, I still play it nearly everyday.
6. Light and Happy Beach Volleyball 3D - Words cannot quite explain how weirdly addictive this game is. You just have to experience building up a power gauge so that a first grader and a speedo-clad heartthrob high schooler can jump in the air like dolphins so they can spin around like ballerinas to finally make a volleyball turn into a meteor and orbit around so hard it makes an afro-sunglass-wearing geriatric grandpa fly into the air so far he knocks the little girl beside into the sand birds come flying out of her head and you get a point. In 3D.
7. The Denpa Men 2 - Adding a world map and towns and other standard RPG stuff to the simple and awesome concept of the Denpa Men, fleshing it out into a much more epically Earthbound-esque affair, but even better is the idea of earning light to fill a lantern to travel deeper into a fearsome dungeon with no light at all.
8. Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright - peanut butter and chocolate, baby. Tastes great by itself, tastes better when combined. Also, voice-acted Phoenix and Maya, squee!
9. Space Harrier 3D - this is the most mental port of an arcade game I've ever played. Seeing as how Space Harrier is probably the most mental shmup ever made, that sounds good to me. You know you're in the Twilight Zone of good ideas when M2 went through the trouble of giving you the option of emulating the screen being bigger than your vision, presenting the impression that you are leaning left and right on arcade cabinet, and not only gave you the option to emulate what it would sound like to hit the buttons and fly around on the arcade cabinet. Mental. Awesome. Perfect. Old game newly made = great success.
10. Time Travelers - For those who love games that are awesome, awesome experiences for the brief time you play them, and never let up, this is your game. Much better executed than Heavy Rain, which it is similar too.
11. Fantasy Life - I've never had so much fun chopping down trees. I never knew there was so much technique to chopping down trees. I had no idea that life in a fantasy kingdom chopping down trees for a living could be so absorbing and exciting. I do now.
12. Escape Adventure: The Girl in the Old School Building - I always thought it was a shame that so many portable downloadable adventure games only ever amount to being a fraction of what a real one tries for. I never thought I'd see the day when a downloadable one would rank as one of my all time most memorable experiences playing an adventure game. Whoever designed this game knew exactly why we all fell in love with adventure games in the first place. There is a reason this was number one on the Japanese e-shop for such a long time.
13. The Legend of Riki - I always love it when we get a game like Bowser's Inside Story, that's about the bad guy. I never, in a million years, thought that we would get that a River City Ransom sequel that took that idea and milked it for all its brilliance.
14. You Can Count on My Weapons Shop - Four great games in Guild 01. A shame the freshest and most unique one didn't make it over though. Who knew a comedian could design games so well? I guess its proof that someone who isn't in the industry can bring an entirely fresh perspective to game design.
15. Project X Zone - Making a SRPG crossover game with tons of characters and long, drawn out battles for a handheld turned out much more in its favor than I would have thought. Wow!
16. Romance of the Three Kingdoms Pinball - I shit you not, this game exists and it is AWESOME!
17. Roll, Roll, Roll Around the Sushi - You are an apprentice to a robot sushi chef who loves sushi so much he wears it on his head, manage the shop by playing a fantastic mix-up on Zookeeper with a sushi management slant.
18. True Remembrance - A very touching and sad story, improved and brought to its full potential on the 3DS. Probably the most thought-provoking game I encountered all year. Not many games take up a conflict so relevant to modern life and devote so much detail to it.
19. The Night Demon & The Country of War - A war simulation game with no actual battle -- you "fight" by being a vampire who sucks the blood of an unsuspecting populace, manipulating everything you can so that no one finds out your secret and its too late. It would be way, way higher on the list if it were easier to understand, but its just so unique an idea, it takes forever to get used to what the developer wants you to do.
20. Ex Troopers - Monster Hunter with aliens in the form of anime space opera? Sign me up! Keep me there with really addictive mechanics. And spice it up with the most enthusiastically told story of ALLLLLL TIMMMMMEEEE! YEAAAAH GALAXY SPARKLES BABY! It's like diving into the mind of a hyperactive 7 year old kid who is a fan of pulp science fiction serials.