First Annual Potaku Game of the Year Awards: Powalen’s Choices

2012 comes to an end and Potaku wraps up it’s GOTY community choice awards!

The “Why the Hell Did They Release This Garbage” award for Super Shittiness: I try not to badmouth much when it comes to games, everybody has their likes and dislikes. But the one thing that stood out to me for being less-than-great this year was the 3DS port of Rayman Origins. Rayman Origins is a fantastic game- one of my favourite platformers- but the 3DS port was spectacularly sub-par. The beautiful graphics and art-style of the console/PC version is replaced by a blurry, unoptimised mess. It’s such a shame more time wasn’t spent to get it looking just as wonderful as it does on other platforms.

Most Bomb-Ass Character: I’ve played a lot of story-focused games this year with tonnes of great characters, but one stands out to me as the most memorable: Clementine from The Walking Dead. A tag-along child in a video game is usually a warning signal that screams “PREPARE TO BE ANNOYED,” but Clementine (and plenty of other characters in The Walking Dead) managed to not only win me over, but make me care. That is certainly an achievement!

Honourable mentions go to Pit and Palutena from Kid Icarus: Uprising. Some fantastic writing and brilliant voice acting give these two characters an excellent dynamic, full of clever quips and genuinely funny moments.

Coolest “HOLY SHIT” Moment: Without spoiling anything, the one game had me regularly yelling, cringing and leaving my mouth agape was, again, The Walking Dead. There were so many great moments I would like to share, but won’t for the sake of spoiling them. Every episode seemed to have at least one or two moments that absolutely floored me through the characters’ situations or from some amazingly cinematic sequences. Go out and see for yourself!

Honourable mention goes to that time in Picross E when the puzzle I was solving turned out to be a turtle.

Most Kick Ass Multiplayer: Competitive multiplayer isn’t usually my thing, even co-op can sometimes be a little silly. But, with great friends comes great re-playability! Planetside 2, while honestly not that great of a game in my eyes, does some things very well. Massive maps to run around in and encouraging players to form teams to complete objectives is pretty awesome, couple that with some swell friends chatting via microphone and you’ve got a winning combination! I’ll probably never play this game solo, and there are some pretty drastic changes that still need to be made (a tutorial, for one), but the multiplayer sure is fun!

And one honourable mention to the Street Fighter X Tekken local multiplayer. While overall I think the game is a bit of a dud, local multiplayer with friends in the same room is a wonderful experience. 2v2 fights can get pretty intense, especially when a more experienced player gets partnered with a newbie. There’s plenty of options to play and lots of fighters to use, so it gets a gold star there. Just don’t expect it to last long in single player unless you’re a fan…

The “This Music is Making Ear Love to Me” award for Best Soundtrack

There’s been some great soundtracks this year, but Kid Icarus: Uprising on the 3DS is something special. The background music during the opening levels in particular does a wonderful job at re-creating a retro tune for a modern game. Even the sound effects do a great job at throwing back to the original NES game. Motoi Sakuraba and the game’s other composers did an amazing job at creating a soundtrack that is instantly recognisable.

An honourable mention also has to go to Pokémon Black 2 & White 2 for providing some absolutely cracking new themesand well done remakes of some classic old ones. Special consideration has to go to the Ending and Credits theme which manages to perfectly encapsulate the feeling of completing a massive challenge with an uplifting “This is it. You’ve earned it”. One of my favourite credits themes ever.

The Outta Left Field award for Most Surprising Game: Continuing on the theme, my most surprising game of the year came from Pokémon Conquest, the strategy crossover game for the DS. I’m a huge Pokémon fan, but to me the spin-off games usually fall a bit flat compared to the main series. I went into Pokémon Conquest not expecting much, but was instantly sucked in by some pretty great gameplay and found myself playing for hours on end. There is definite room for improvement (it doesn’t put a scratch on the more established turn-based strategy games like Fire Emblem) but there was a lot to like. Here’s hoping for a 3DS sequel to improve upon a very solid idea!

Best Use of Your Money award for DLC: ‘Bad’ DLC has really soured my opinion of DLC in general, but when somebody does it right it, man do they do it right! My award goes to Mutant Mudds. The game is great on its own, but add the fact that the developers, Renegade Kid, added 20 new super-hard levels for free to everybody that bought the original game and it just sweetens the deal. One of the best retro-styled platformers I’ve played in recent memory.

Keanu Reeves’ “Whoa” Trailer of the Year

This award goes to something a little different: The Denpa Men trailer for the 3DS. Just… watch it. There’s not much to say other than: “Huh?”. It’s one of the craziest, weirdest trailers I’ve ever seen. And I love it. The game isn’t half bad either!

Honourable mention to the Sim City E3 2012 Trailer and the LEGO City Undercover E3 2012 trailers. Both were very good at ramping up the hype levels, particularly Sim City.

The “Someone Painted This With a Goddamn Rainbow” award for Best Art Style: This was a difficult category. I’ve played lots of good looking games this year, but not many really stand out to me as having a truly fantastic art style. In the end though, I have to go with the very pretty Journey. I wouldn’t give Journey a nomination for overall Game of the Year for a few different reasons, but there’s no denying that it is a very slick looking game, especially during the more special moments like the sand surfing and ‘home-stretch’ sections. It’s a very stylish art style that will no doubt still look fantastic years down the track.

And one last honourable mention to Mutant Mudds for its fantastic retro-style 2D sprite graphics. The style looks particularly good on the 3DS version which took full advantage of the 3D display to show the different platform depths. Looks even better on the larger 3DS XL screens!

Most Dick Kickingest Game of the Year: A month or two ago, I was fairly adamant that I was not going to participate in Game of the Year awards this year. I didn’t feel that anything I had played wowed me enough to even bother nominating. Then, I played XCOM: Enemy Unknown and that somewhat changed. I love turn-based strategy in this style so it was an instant hit, but there was still that “wow” factor that was missing. I played The Walking Dead and absolutely adored it, but gameplay shortcomings and save-corrupting bugs prevented it from really bringing the award home.

Thinking about it for a while, I realised that the one game that I never thought I would nominate for my overall GOTY award was really just that, my Game of the Year. Pokémon Black 2 & White 2 was always going to be a good game in my eyes, I’ve been a Pokémon fan since the very beginning so it would have to be spectacularly awful to make me hate it. Originally I thought, while a good game, it was really nothing special or different in terms of where the series had been in the past. But looking at my in-game time of 150 hours and still climbing, spread over the three months since I bought the game on launch day and including the huge amount of pre-release hype I held, there really was nothing better I had experienced in a video game in 2012. Congratulations Game Freak and Nintendo, I’ll be first in line for generation six of Pokémon!

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