The time around January 1st has customarily been reserved for reflecting on the past year, and even though New Year's Day may have been almost three months ago, it’s still nice to look back on what 2012 meant to the gaming industry. 2012 saw the worldwide release of Sony’s new handheld, the PS Vita; Mega Man, Street Fighter, Metal Gear, Maniac Mansion, Contra, and Leisure Suit Larry all celebrated their 25th anniversaries; and the Wii U ushered in the eighth generation of console gaming, marking the first time since the NES that Nintendo beat the other major console developers to the new era of gaming. The year was also marked by the typical signs of a console generation coming to a close: speculation ran rampant as to what the future would bring, and developers exhibited simultaneous excitement and wariness over the possibilities and challenges that new technology would present. Lastly, the world did not, in fact, end, as was previously predicted. No-good, lying Mayans...

The changing of the year also heralds a (somewhat new) tradition here at GameFAQs: the annual list of great games chosen by Top 10 List writers. Nazifpour got the ball rolling with 2010’s list with the help of the (at the time) brand spankin’ new Top 10 Lists Board, BlueGunstarHero organized the list for 2011, and now I bring you a list of some of the greatest games of 2012 (based on US release dates).

In 2012, a total of 144 Top 10 lists were submitted by 66 unique authors, and 10 of them (including myself) have each written an entry about one of the year’s standout video games. It is important to note that this is not a typical ranked list; this list does not represent any sort of consensus, and the games herein are not necessarily listed in order of greatness. Rather, each of the 10 writers wrote about his/her singular favorite game of the year, and the entries are presented in alphabetical order by author. Naturally, this means that absolutely no one is going to agree with all 10 games on the list, but that’s part of what makes this yearly experiment interesting. It showcases 10 different authors with 10 different tastes in games.

With the reminder that the entries are ranked alphabetically by author, here are 10 of 2012's greatest games, as chosen by Top 10 List writers.

Let's begin with the understanding that F=ma. A medium soldier with an energy pack grabs your flag traveling at 243 km/h, moving away at an upwards parabola of 39 degrees. A heavy juggernaut halfway across the field skis down the nearest hill to begin moving at 84km/h and jetpacking up at an angle of 53 degrees to intercept. The juggernaut calculates distance= v^2 sin(2theta)/g, time= square root of 2 *v/g, and the angle of fire (theta) required= 1/2 arcsin(g*d/v^2), launching a fusion mortar from location y with an additional 50% inheritance i (42 km/h) from the juggernaut's own velocity towards location x. The mortar follows its ballistic trajectory at y= x tan (theta) - {(g*x^2) / (2 [v+i]^2 cos^2(theta)}, colliding with the soldier at location x resulting in 1300 damage, killing the soldier, and forcing a flag drop.

n00b Soldier should've had a utility pack. Shazbot!

Tribes: Ascend has its quirks. The number of bullet weapons available is concerning over its mainstay spinfusors and mortars, and character customization has been nerfed, divided up between classes and with unlockable upgrades behind experience and pay walls (although the game is decidedly not pay2win; in fact I'd say it's an excellent example of a fair free-to-play business model). Other players pose many frustrations as well; from fractal-spamming Brutes, to static Sentinels (is it me, or is it hilarious to drop a supply crate on them?), to whoever that guy is that keeps typing [VGS], [VGS], [VGS], [VGS] instead of contributing to the team.

Despite this, all of my annoyances melt away the moment you connect with people that know what they're doing, and when matches go right, there's just no better game of FPS "Capture the Flag" available on the market, and hasn't been since Tribes 2 back 10 years ago. Tribes: Ascend offers a learning curve a bit steeper than the average shooter (due to its speed, players need to aim where targets are going to be rather than where they currently are), but once you refine your calculations and begin to understand the physics of the game world and building your own momentum within it, you'll be skiing down hills and jetpacking across the entire map to take the opposition by surprise and with incredible force. A stylish force, mind you, as you'll also find a shared mindset for every Triber out there: a will to impress in the most spectacular way possible, with the desire to improve one's game only increasing with every action.

Tribes drives its players, its community, and even its own development team (who have spent the year tweaking the overall experience) to better themselves and reach that transcendent level of play the series deserves. While other quality games held my interest this year - truly great stuff like AirMech, Legend of Grimrock, The Walking Dead, and even quick hilarities like Frog Fractions (seriously, play it) - I've invested over a hundred hours in Tribes: Ascend without a heavy monetary commitment, and ended up having a blast every time I powered on. By my calculations, this game was a Force to be reckoned with.

The end of 2012 saw the release of Nintendo's latest console, the WiiU. Like the Wii, the WiiU promoted an unconventional and untested method of gameplay - specifically, the use of a touch-screen tablet-like controller. However, unlike the white-hot launch of its predecessor, Nintendo's latest console received more of a lukewarm response from the gaming community. I was a Day 1 buyer of the WiiU, but I'll admit I had my share of doubts about the console. I questioned just how much a tablet-controller could really add to gameplay. It seemed more of a novelty than something that really had potential for any truly creative and fun applications.

Well, apparently Nintendo is a few steps ahead of me on that one, because their choice of a bundle-game (at least for buyers of the deluxe version of the console) is Nintendo Land. This was the game which singlehandedly converted me from the masses of non-believers and convinced me that Nintendo was actually onto something with this whole "asymmetric gameplay" thing they were harping about.

Like Wii Sports before it, Nintendo Land is a collection of short, simple minigames designed to show off the WiiU's features. Twelve Nintendo-themed "attractions" are the focus of the game and range from playing a Mario version of hide-and-seek (where the tablet-player, who can see the entire map, tries to evade the other three players who can only see the area around their characters) to a surprisingly fun Donkey Kong game that relies on tilting the controller to guide a wheeled-spring-machine through an obstacle course.

Nintendo Land is not a deep game, but it is tremendously fun, especially in multiplayer mode. Looking back on the year, there are few experiences I found more genuinely entertaining than gathering a group of five players (who can be virtually any experience level, thanks to Nintendo Land's fairly simple controls) and throwing down in the game's various multiplayer attractions.

Throughout gaming history, there have been games that played a role in redefining the video game industry. Some provide experiences that take game development as a whole into a new direction, presenting new ideas or new gameplay concepts that go on to become significant players in the industry. Some elevate what a genre is capable of providing, transcending the natural attributes of video games and becoming true works of art. Some legitimize new means of production or distribution, changing the business side of the industry just as much as others change the design side. Some are just so well-implemented in and of themselves that they become beloved hits and all-time greats. However, throughout gaming history, few – if any – accomplish all these things at once.

Journey, however, does that. Journey is a once-in-a-generation look into the future, an all-time one-of-a-kind game that redefines, refocuses, and redirects the gaming industry towards what's next in many ways. First, Journey, simply as a game, is beautifully implemented in and of itself, providing an infinity of experiences and emotions to the player. The subtle gameplay cues provide an evolution into more complex styles, and the cohesive, unique, engaging atmosphere is one-of-a-kind. Even without the details provided by other elements of the game's creation, it would still be a masterpiece. But it does not stop there; Journey is a work of art as well, a departure from the status quo of the industry as a whole and an escape into all-new frontiers of experience. The wordless collaboration the game provides creates one of the most breathtaking experiences in all of gaming history even for novice gamers raised on radio; that first encounter with a partner is truly one of the momentous events in any video game ever. The bond you form with your partner without even saying a word is something truly remarkable to behold, and that moment at the end of the game when you discover the players who joined you in the preceding trial by fire remains astounding.

But Journey goes even further beyond that. It is not just a great game in and of itself, it is not just a work of art (although the Grammy nomination certainly proves its accomplishment there as well), and it is not just the initial conception of the new features. Journey demonstrates a revolution on the business side as well, the arrival of a new era of development. It is proof that a small studio working on a small budget and selling their game for a small price can compete with the biggest, most well-funded games of the year simply through active attention to good design and new ideas. It is evidence that the gaming industry need not stagnate on infinitely rehashed sequels to tired old franchises from bygone generations, and it is evidence that we need not rely on the multi-million dollar corporate conglomerates to do the impossible and put aside profitability for the sake of innovation. Journey is evidence that independent game development culture, that smaller price points and smaller development teams and openness to new ideas, can create games that each are a true revelation, every bit as polished and engaging as big-name titles while also providing the innovation, creativity, and magic that the industry risks losing otherwise. These independent games can eclipse even the biggest-budget games of the year.

Journey is revolutionary in every possible way: in design, in development, in distribution, and in success. Not bad for a little downloadable game.

Just as the works of Shakespeare have been told on film through the respective lenses of animated lions, a Nazi-esque Ian McKellen, feudal Japan, and a high school attended by Heath Ledger*, Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness has proven to be a surprisingly versatile piece of literature. First, Francis Ford Coppola transplanted the story from 19th-century central Africa to the rivers of Vietnam War-era Cambodia in the seminal film Apocalypse Now, and in 2012, Yager Development moved the action to the modern-day UAE city of Dubai in Spec Ops: The Line.

At first it seems as though such cerebral source material will be wasted on the game. It’s a formulaic, cover-based, third-person military shooter, with a protagonist voiced by Nolan “Are you sick of me yet?” North. Aside from the exotic setting (Dubai is about as close as the real world is going to come to matching the opulence of BioShock’s underwater metropolis Rapture, and the fact that this version of Dubai is caught in the middle of a freak sandstorm gives it the same post-apocalyptic feel as well), there aren’t any immediately obvious aspects of the game to separate it from the horde of me-too military shooters that followed in the wake of Call of Duty 4. However, Spec Ops: The Line is much more than simply “Unchart of Darkness,” and to call it “Modern Warfare Clone #42” is tantamount to saying that Cabin in the Woods is “just another horror movie.”

Unfortunately, it’s tricky to describe what exactly makes Spec Ops a great game without revealing significant plot details, and this game is best experienced with as few preconceptions as possible (or rather, with the preconceptions the developers expected you to have). In fact, while I’ll try to avoid explicit spoilers, you should probably skip the rest of this entry if Spec Ops is still on your to-play list.

The fact of the matter is that Spec Ops: The Line is a brilliant deconstruction of the military shooter subgenre of video games. Through increasingly less-subtle means, it highlights the cognitive dissonance displayed by every gamer when he or she slaughters fellow human beings by the hundred, commits an untold number of other horrendously violent acts, and then describes the experience as “fun.” Part of what makes it so effective is just how closely the game resembles a typical military shooter at first. The lack of innovation in game design is a conscious decision, and the casting of Nolan North – often derided for playing characters like Generic ActionDude and Whitey McDudebro – is almost definitely not an accident. (To be fair, I have nothing against Nolan North. He’s excellent in this game, and his roles in Arkham City and Portal 2 are proof positive that the man has range when uncreative game directors aren’t asking him to “do the Nathan Drake voice.”) Some might say that purposefully degrading a game for the sake of sending a message is overly pretentious and a sign of bad game design, but Spec Ops never sabotages itself to the point of being tedious or frustrating, and the subversive commentary on today's gaming industry more than makes up for any flaws that were implemented intentionally.

While it may not be as polished or well-rounded as similar games like Far Cry 3 </shameless plug for other favorite game of the year>, Spec Ops: The Line is bold enough to be heralded as one of the greatest and most important games of 2012, and it’s almost certainly the game that will live longest in my memory.

*By the way, The Lion King/Hamlet, Richard III, Akira Kurosawa’s Ran/King Lear, and 10 Things I Hate About You/The Taming of the Shrew, if you’re curious.

Game Freak breaks tradition from their usual third installment release by releasing the series' first ever direct sequel(s), Pokémon Black 2 and Pokémon White 2. These new installments allow the player to once again explore the region of Unova where there are new experiences to discover and familiar sights to revisit.

Fans of the Pokémon series are familiar with the main point of the game: to assemble your team of Pokémon in order to win eight badges and challenge the region's champion. While the core aspect of the main game has not been changed much throughout the series, Black 2/White 2 offers some refreshing new changes to the usual status quo. At first, players will notice that the sequels have two new protagonists who have no resemblance to the protagonists from the original installments. The player also starts off in a city instead of a town like in the previous installments, but still must venture on the familiar quest of acquiring the badges in the Unova League.

The Unova Legaue has familiar faces with new tricks, as well as new entrants into the League who have replaced a few select members from the original installments. Each Gym in the original Unova League lineup went through a radical redesign while still fitting accordingly to their theme. You'll discover that Elesa's new Gym in Nimbasa City became a lively catwalk for a fashion exhibit, and Clay's new Gym resembles a bleak underground mine where you'll have to find Clay's location in the darkness while being surrounded by his Gym member cronies, as well as others that have undergone changes. The Gyms now also have their own unique remixes of the classic Pokémon Gym theme soundtrack with the exception of the Asperita Gym, which is a change from hearing the same soundtrack repeatedly throughout each Gym. My favorite has to be Viribank City's Gym theme where there are singers in the background who spell out "Pokémon" in the English versions and "Dodgars"(Koffing) in the Japanese versions.

There is also a new reigning Champion who sits on the Unova League's throne, but I won’t spoil who it is. All I can tell you is that you're in for a surprise if you don't know already. Other aesthetic changes include character and location redesigns as well as new areas for the player to explore.

Remember Team Plasma? They’re back, but not in the way that you used to know them. Black 2 and White 2 take place two years after the events of the original installments and Team Plasma's attempt at executing their plan. Team Plasma returns, but because of inner conflict they have split into two different teams that still share the same name. The old Team Plasma wants to seek redemption for what they have done in the past; while the new Team Plasma follows the leadership of a familiar enemy. The player will encounter old foes as well as surprising new allies in the first continuation of a generation's story.

The post-game material in the Pokémon games has always given players something to do after their long journey to become the Champion, and Black 2 and White 2 have plenty of material to leave the players immersed in the games for a long time. The first significant new inclusion is the "Pokémon World Tournament" (PWT) feature which brings together the many faces of Pokémon Trainers to battle competitively in the arena. The PWT is a tournament-like feature in which players could have three different Pokémon of their own choice or the computer's choice and face off against different opponents in sequence. Players have the opportunity to battle Gym Leaders, Trainers, and even the Champions from each generation exclusively or from all the generations. The players can choose all the battle formats (single, double, etc) in a variety of tournament styles, including facing only the Leaders from a particular generation or facing only the Leaders who use a particular type. The Trainers who participate in the PWT will show up with different move pools and/or different Pokémon than they would usually have, and some are significantly more difficult than their original counterparts. If the player happens to win a tournament, the player can earn Battle Points that are given based off of battle performance in order to purchase beneficial prizes from the nearby vendor.

Another nifty new feature is the "Pokéstar Studios" where the player will have the opportunity to create movies with their Pokémon. The player can act out different scenarios with their Pokémon and has to engage in battles with another actor. The course of the film is determined by the choices that the player makes and the reception from the audience is dependent on it. Prizes are given out according to how much money the film made through the player’s participation and the player can even view the film when the work has been done.

Other features to note are new mini-games for the Xtransceiver, move tutors returning, Join Avenue, and the new Unova Link feature. Join Avenue is a new place that is situated on Route 4 and allows the player to customize the location with different shops pertaining to different interests for other trainers. The new Unova Link feature comes with two uses: The Key system, which lets players change the difficulty setting of the game in the next playthrough after beating the game; as well as the Memory Link feature which allows players to connect with Black and White cartridges.

Although many of the series' features are tried and true, Game Freak shows that it can still introduce fresh new ideas to attract and retain fans both old and new. Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 shine as the first sequels which improved on the original Black and White versions with their roster of changes and additions. To be honest, I didn’t like the fifth generation games until I played Black 2.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star is the fourth entry in the Paper Mario series, released in November 2012. This game is one I got along with a slew of other games in 2012 - Pokémon Conquest, Kingdom Hearts 3D, the Angry Birds Trilogy, and Pokémon Black/White 2, to name a few. Yet, this game has earned a special place in my heart, like the other entries in the series before it also did.

Perhaps the most enthralling feature of the game, to me, is the combat system. I’ve always been a bit of a fan of turn-based combat (the majority of my RPGs rely on such concepts), as it allows for more strategy, more thinking. However, this is usually unbalanced due to potential overpowering or overleveling; think of the Johto-region Pokémon games, where it is not hard to have Level 80 or 90 at the end, and that will let you breeze through all but one battle of that game. Sticker Star implemented a system akin to, but not entirely like, that of The Illusion of Gaia/Time, in which you can only have so-much power at a given time. Of course, in this game, you’ll find that to be implemented solely through HP-Up Hearts, which obviously increase HP. Everything else, battle statistics-wise, is handled through your main weapons.

These are called “stickers”, quite aptly. They are effectively commands, like you’d find in the command decks of various Kingdom Hearts games – they’re there, but you can’t always use them. In Sticker Star, they actually go away upon use, meaning it is possible to be unable to fight battles. You will certainly learn to strategize and manage your sticker album as the game goes on.

One of the more interesting features of the game, in my opinion, is the use of graphics. Paper Mario is known for having paper- and diorama-like environments. This holds especially true in Sticker Star, helping to create interactive environments that other RPGs tend to have problems with. For example, one memory I have of the game is knocking down a wall in a dungeon by hammering it, and it just fell over and looked like a piece of cardboard, which is odd for a structure made of stone.

Of course, this game, like any game, has its downfalls. The initially-decent story just falls off the map pretty quickly – you rarely see it other than the start, middle, and end of the game. That, perhaps, is its only downfall, unless you don’t like remixes of old Mario themes.

For me, it was an excellent play and a fun game to write an FAQ for. It gave me more than seventy entertaining hours in a single playthrough of the game. While I would have preferred a better storyline, and better plot dynamics (e.g. more conversation, more Paper Mario-esque jokes, helpful allies), this is definitely the top game I played that was released in 2012.

Editor’s Note: Remember, the entries are in alphabetical order by author!

My dear friend and co-writer at Gaming Symmetry, David “DDJ” Jerebko, points to some fundamental and interesting problems of open-world games in his reviews of Batman: Arkham City and Assassin’s Creed III. The basic problem is this: there is a formalistic contrast between a game with an open-world structure and one with a great plot. That is because a good plot is driven by a sense of immediacy, and a great curiosity of “what is going to happen next”, while an open-world game requires the world to be open to your wandering, and you should be able to diverge from the main plot to go around the world and complete secondary quests or stuff like that. So when the main plot hooks you with a mid-story cliffhanger (someone needs to be rescued, a bomb is about to explode, etc.) it makes no sense for you to go around and have fun in the world.

I believe the unique gameplay of Dishonored solves this problem. The game’s world is a contained open world – you have a specific mission within the overall plot of the game, and during that mission you have optional objectives – but the game is completely free in how it is played, and people have come up with ingenious ways to beat it. Because of the vast range of freedoms and possibilities within the game, the game has all the good characteristics of an open-world game.

And the plot is also awesome. Again, it is linear and it’s not at the same time. It is linear because many events are predetermined, and it is not because you can decide ultimately how dark and pessimistic the tone is. In this aspect, Dishonored is the most unique. You are not really free to shape the events, but you are completely free to decide the meaning and the tone. As a gamer you interpret the story.

None of your choices are meaningless, and all of them are restrained by a great plot. None of your actions are without impact, and yet all of them are controlled by a mission structure. Reader response critics consider a literary text something which provides a range of meaning, and the readers come to the text with their own tastes and background, and from the transaction between the two a “poem” is born. This is how Dishonored works, and this is why it is a timeless, revolutionary masterpiece, and my choice for 2012 game of the year.

The original Borderlands had freshness and innovation; it was an exploration into a budding genre of the RPS, and as such, was a flawed but ultimately brilliantly new game. Then came Borderlands 2. Suddenly, everything new was new again.

The beauty of BL2 is that the creators and developers took every criticism to heart and improved upon it, whether it be a gameplay change or a storyline complaint. And the latter was where the majority of the changes occurred. Instead of a story that was about as deep as Torchlight, Borderlands 2 found a way to create a hybrid of intriguing storytelling with the frantic pace of a shooter that enriched the experience of the player without being beholden by gaming speed bumps like cutscenes. The first and most major change was the inclusion of the original four BL protagonists as NPCs with major recurrence. Suddenly, there was a deeper continuity to the story that allowed for more immersion and longevity. The second step for the developers was to take minor locations and characters from the first BL and grow them into major Pandora fixtures; the impact of these Pandora mainstays allowed for players to understand the mechanics of Pandora within the game and therefore become a more contributive piece of the working world within the game.

Of course, improving on the old is not all that BL2 did. Instead of resting on better laurels, Gearbox built new ones too. Most notably, BL2 features two of the year's most memorable and unique characters: Handsome Jack and Tiny Tina. Jack served as the hilariously cocky and overly amoral overlord of Pandora with voiceover that never seemed to cease its nonstop prattling; this helped define the new tone of the series. Instead of utter insanity, there was a new sense of cold and calculating greed that overruled the simple anarchy of the previous installment. Of course, Jack was the sort of foe that required an abandonment of what was for what needed to be, and that is exactly why BL2 feels like a refocused brand of energy. And on the other hand, Tiny Tina. Easily one of the funniest and most addictively interesting characters to appear on consoles in the year of 2012, Tiny Tina was exactly the shot of pure ridiculousness that the Borderlands franchise has become known for. Again, story took a more important role in the development of this character, as her tragic backstory is a crucial part of her sidequests after finding Mordecai. Both of these characters highlight the changing times of both Pandora and the BL franchise, as plot and continuity earn the Most Improved Award in Borderlands.

Of course, I'm mandated to mention the excellent gameplay in BL2. While not as overhauled as the storyline, the 5 new types of playable character are all fresh and work well in both solo and multiplayer sessions; furthermore, the few gameplay complaints many gamers had with the first installment have been addressed, and the addition of the Badass Rank concept was an excellent way to create replay value in a game that sorely needed it. Overall, the Borderlands 2 experience is EXACTLY the kind of sequel that games need: it is a game that demonstrates both unique innovation and intercommunication between a game company and the fans of its games.

My personal game of the year is one that deals with friendship, family, war, loss, trust, love, and finding out who you really are and where you belong in this crazy world.

The Tales series comes back with a bang in Tales of Graces f, while keeping some of the old and delving into new territories as well; keeping it fresh for veterans of the series as well as making it accessible to newcomers. Taking a page out of Ocarina of Time's book (though definitely not to that extent), you start out as a young rebellious boy named Asbel, and control him through his childhood and adulthood.

A nice touch here, though, is that the two "main" characters' stories are so intertwined, that there really is no singular set-in-stone character that the story follows. This is great for some players who feel obligated to control only the one like in some games.

I love how they amped up the action in battles in this game. Replacing the tried and true TP system in previous Tales games is the CC system. Instead of a set amount of points to use Artes with, which you constantly have to worry about refilling or conserving for long treks through dungeons, you get a constantly changing and recharging range of numbers that allow you to use your Artes in every battle and, if you play your cards right, nearly endless combos; this makes long dungeon crawls much more fun. This is also great because you don't have to waste precious Gald, items, and item recharge times constantly to win battles quickly. With each Arte (of which you have two different fighting sets with each character) being assigned to a “tree”, you can mix and match which Arte you wish to connect to another for countless different combo possibilities, keeping battles from getting stale much too quickly.

Another new addition is the Eleth gauge and Eleth mixer. These two features add another level of depth to your journey by allowing you to cook mid-battle, replicate rare or common items, increase Gald, exp, and SP at the end of battle, and even grant you the ability to use your Mystic Artes and endless combos when the gauge is full. You also need to always be aware of the enemies’ gauge as well. There is nothing worse than being close to winning that tough boss fight, only to be wiped out by a foe with an ill-timed Mystic Arte or constant combo interruptions.

Titles are back with what is probably my favorite use in the entire series. The Title systems in previous games in this series ranged from meager stat gains at level up to actually doing nothing and seeming tacked on for no reason but to say they're there. In this game, they are still fun to collect for completionists, but have a vital function as well: they are how you learn your new Artes, status resistances, Mystic Artes, costumes, etcetera. They even go the extra mile by giving you great bonuses, like reducing status effect chances, stat gains, filling the Eleth gauge much more quickly, and even reducing 1,000+ damage by half, by simply having them equipped.

The most notable addition, and new to this series, is the Lineage and Legacies segment (or future arc as some call it). After the main game is completed, you can choose to play through an extra 10 hours or so of content which allows you to see what happens to your party after they take care of business. It's almost like a whole other game with story, voice acting, battles, and everything! I absolutely love this feature, and feel all games should include it. I can't count how many times I've wondered things like “What will they do with their lives now?”

The game is an absolute blast to play, and has tons of optional content to keep you playing for hours on end. Between the plethora of sidequests, Titles to collect, costumes to find, the main arc, the future arc, mastering all the skills and abilities, and returning favorites like the coliseum, the game is well worth the full price (especially now that it's been out long enough that the price has dropped). They even added customization, like weapon and armor synthesis, and tempering weapons to extract gems with new abilities to equip. The content never ends. I highly recommend this game, so go support Namco Bandai so they localize more Tales games!

Editor’s Note: Just another friendly reminder – entries are in alphabetical order by author!

The visual novel market has been growing ever-so-slowly in the west, but this all changed thanks to Katawa Shoujo (KS).

Originated from 4chan, 4 Leaf Studios took an idea discussed on 4chan’s anime board and developed it into a wonderfully executed visual novel, Katawa Shoujo. KS unexpectedly gained so much popularity at its release that it reached the number 3 PC game spot here on GameFAQs in a matter of days, not to mention it being the number 1 requested game for a walkthrough and reaching number 11 overall.

Katawa Shoujo is a visual novel featuring Hisao, whom you have the privilege to play as in first person. The story takes you to a school for the disabled where you meet and pursue five girls each with their own unique disability. From clichés like blindness and amputations to less-known issues such as physical burns, Katawa Shoujo has a wonderful cast of characters that describes its setting perfectly.

However, don’t judge the girls by just their conditions. Their personality is what’s most important and where the visual novel truly thrives. As a visual novel writer, I look up to the writers from 4 Leaf Studio as inspiration to create wonderful characters. 4LS did a wonderful job with KS and I am very happy to add them to this list.

Conclusion and Honorable Mentions:

Thus, we come to the end of 2012’s list. Keep in mind that this list isn’t ranked in any way; it’s simply 10 different people (in alphabetical order, by the way) with 10 different opinions each writing about their personal #1 game of the year. Of course, due to the nature of this project, there are a sizeable number of excellent games that didn’t appear, and I would be remiss not to at least mention them. Some of the other marquee games of 2012 include:

Assassin’s Creed III, Bloons TD5, The Darkness II, Dragon’s Dogma, Far Cry 3, Fez, FIFA 13, Frog Fractions, Guild Wars 2, Kingdoms of Amalur, Legend of Grimrock, Mark of the Ninja, the first 99% of Mass Effect 3, Max Payne 3, Persona 4 Golden, Sine Mora, Skullgirls, Sleeping Dogs, Trials Evolution, The Walking Dead, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Xenoblade Chronicles, ZombiU

If you’d like to comment on the list or share your own personal favorite game of 2012, feel free to stop by the Top 10 Lists Board. (Or you can belligerently demand to know why Journey wasn’t ranked higher than Paper Mario: Sticker Star if you totally just skimmed the headers and didn’t actually read how this was set up. That works too.) Alternately, if you are an aspiring writer and would like to try your hand at writing a Top 10 List, you can stop by for help and advice; the Top 10 Lists Board a contributor board as well as a discussion board. You might even be able to write an entry for 2013’s list, which at the rate we’ve been going, will be posted in late April of 2014. Thanks for reading!

List by Eesgooshee (03/25/2013)

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