(Screenshots from www.thelastofus.playstation.com/media.html#screenshots)
I am definitely a fan of RPG's, traditional or not. I enjoy navigating through menu's, equipping magic, weapons and increasing stats. I enjoy what is normally gorgeous art work and design throughout and I'm definitely partial to the epic sweeping scores that normally accompany the action. And though developers seem to be moving ever away from the traditional turn based RPG, there is a still a lot on the market to devote hours, weeks and even months of your life to, without even looking at the offerings of online gaming. It takes something truly special to stand out from the croud.
Luckily, Ni-No Kuni does this from the get go. I pre-ordered the special edition purely based on how pretty it looked before even turning it on. The collectors box, plush, magic book and game are all stunningly presented and even if the game had been rubbish, I would've been happy with that purchase.
In fact, the only real shortcoming of this game is a flaw of my own, and that's just that as an adult I could not devote the time to it that it truly deserved. now it's Christmas, I have more time, which will likely be taken up by any presents I may receive for being well behaved these last 365 days. I will try to play through this masterpiece again, and if you haven't already, please go and buy it and encourage more games of this calibre to come into existence.
Is definitely the WiiU's killer app right now. It's just an excellent 3D Mario game. Closer to a HD Mario 64 than Mario Galaxy, the game ditches the excellent gravity based mind bending puzzles from the latter in favour of more traditional go at things. This can only be a good thing, and in HD Mario looks better than ever, as do his pals Luigi, Toad and Peach, who, if you can believe it, is not who we're saving this time round!
All four characters are playable, and the game caters to multiplayer very well. Player 1 on the gamepad, further players can pick up a wiimote, with or without nunchuck, or a classic pro controller and just drop in when it suits. It doesn't feel like you're missing out playing alone at all, but things are definitely more laughable with more of you on screen.
The display is just mirrored, and actually looks excellent on the TV and gamepad (my naff iPhone screenshots really don't do it justice). The gamepad image is a slightly fuzzier version of what is on screen, but I've probably played more without a TV then I have with.
The map looks great - like an old school Mario map, except you can move about freely. People from Miiverse are dotted around your map; move towards them and see a comment from that person, complete with unlockable Mario stamps that they've posted about the level or world they are in. You can also toggle Miiverse ghost data, which inserts Miis in to the level your playing. It's a great user friendly way to introduce the WiiU's online capabilities and the world of Miiverse.
The gameplay then is good old fashioned fun. No gimicks like the water canon in Sunshine or Gravity in galaxy. As great as they were, it's nice to have a normal Mario game on the big screen again and it's a great debut for Mario and co to the land of HD.
I've already devoted a post to the latest handheld adventure, which you can get to here, but just to summarise, A Link Between Worlds is a perfect blend of old meets new. Nostalgic for Nintendo veterans, but easy to pick up for newcomers. It looks, sounds and plays great, uses Street-pass and 3D superbly and is quite simply another must-own title for the ever expanding 3DS library.
Another game I've blogged about before here, Steamworld Dig is an astonishing accomplishment, and is making GOTY lists all over the shop according to developer Image & Form's twitter account. It really does hold it's own with some of the triple A titles, and is only an £8 download (or if you're quick, I think it's on sale for about a £5a right now).
Again, to summarise, this is a Metroidvania meets DigDug or Boulderdash with a steampunk art style. There is an element of resource management as you strive to rejuvenate an old mining town by bringing rare rocks and gems to the surface for selling, in turn being able to buy more and better equipment to make your way further into the mines to find more valuable gems to come back and sell to buy even better equipment...ah, I think you understand.
Picking a winner for my own list is difficult - of course it is. It's my list of my favourite games from the entire year! It's supposed to be hard These games are completely different from one another and all have their own merits. In my head I feel it should be The Last Of Us, as it was just like nothing I've ever experienced before and really took my breath away. That's kind of the sensible option. But no one likes sensible, so just pipped to the post I think it would have to go to A Link Between Worlds. I just had such an immense amount of fun playing through the familiar land of Hyrule and becoming a living painting. It made me smile I think more than the Last Of Us had me terrified (just about). And for that reason, my GOTY goes to (with no trophy or anything - absolutely no expense spared) Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Now go out and buy all 5 of these games right now!