The Radio Free Nintendo team discussed their top five games of 2013 in this weeks episode. Here's my list. Any game I played and completed in 2013 is eligible; I don’t care about platform or release date. For context, I pretty much only play games on my Nintendo 3DS, because it fits in with my life better than TV-connected consoles. I have criticisms of the games below (especially Zelda) but I'm keeping this post positive.
5. SteamWorld Dig (3DS)
I didn't know what to expect going into this one, but downloaded it on Jonathan Metts's recommendation on RFN. I found it exceedingly hard to put down and dug to the bottom in eights hours over just a few days. It is remarkable that a game can be so well paced, with a constant feeling of progress, while using a mostly randomly generated world. The nicest gaming surprise of the year.
4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
A Link Between Worlds brings many streamlining design changes to Zelda. I especially love the straightforward fast-travel system, the brisker dungeons, and touch-screen item access. The result is an adventure that took less than half the time of a typical console Zelda (that’s a good thing). The sounds and music are also very well done, as is the 3D effect.
3. Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (3DS)
This was one of the first video games I ever played, and I was excited to play through again on 3DS virtual console. It was even better than I remembered; there is a great sense of exploration to the levels, and the distinctive power-ups lead to differing styles of play. I completed it with all the treasures and maximum coins, which took around eight hours.
2. The Last Story (Wii)
The only non-handheld game I played to completion this year. I was expecting a fast-paced RPG, which The Last Story delivers on, but it is by no means a short game: at thirty hours it is the longest game on this list, but it always seems like you're moving on in the quest. The voice work is superb; hearing the characters speak in my native British accent makes a huge difference. The Wii’s last story, beautifully told.
1. VVVVVV (3DS)
A modern, simple, and delightfully challenging platformer; this is a distillation of what video games should be about, making it my game of the year. There are so many design choices that resonate with my own ideas about how games should work — the most fundamental being: in VVVVVV the only punishment for losing is not succeeding. Delivered with a charming, zany atmosphere.