10. Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemis of Dusk
As I said JRPG's did come back and starting off the list is a JRPG that wasn't the biggest at all, but just a very relaxing one. The Atelier series is a very nice franchise if you got the time for it. It's sort of like Harvest Moon, but with a more standard JRPG like feel. There is Rune Factory, but it goes for a different style of JRPG's. Ayesha keeps a lot of the same usual methods from the past games mostly Totori and Meruru and yet really adds some new features and extended on the battle engine. The battle system is a usual turned based style as you take turns attacking and there are certain attacks that have more range as you can get more than one foe if possible. There is also item, spell, and defense usage like in Meruru, but Ayesha puts a new feature which I had a lot of fun with. When you build up on a certain bar you can perform back attacks and even if you don't have that you can easily move behind foes. Back attacks always cause a critical and it's very helpful with certain enemies. I had a blast with this part of the battle system. Along with that the story is a very nice and relaxing one, it doesn't go to amazing lengths, but I do miss those JRPG's. It's nice to just relax and forge items, do side quests, and explore to many new areas. Now there is a story of course as it;s basically Ayesha trying to save her younger sister. This game may not be the most ground breaking game, but I can always stick it and and waste five hours just making items and exploring.
9. Pokemon X and Y
Pokemon entered into the sixth generation this year as I do feel that the fifth generation could have expanded a little more, but with the 3DS Pokemon really took a huge step forward. I always had fun with the games, but after the third generation there wasn't a lot of new things happening. X and Y came around though and just gave fans a lot of new things. There is a whole new type of Pokemon, the Fairy types and I am quickly loving them. Finally there is a type that can really take on Dragons and be so cute at the same time. There were the Mega forms as well and I do love which ones got selected, but no fifth generation Pokemon got one. Along with this there weren't a huge amount of new Pokemon, but the new ones we did get were very strong like Aegislash, Florgres, Sylveon, and Greninja. There were also great expansions on how to play the game thanks to making battles easier online, trading is easier, a lot of online modes got better! Then the AI in this game felt approved, like I actually did struggle at some points with gym leaders or the Elite Four which is different for once. Now what I was really happy in generation five was the focus on story presentation as gym leaders did more than just fight and we had N. X and Y tried to do that, but easily not as well and did focus more on the competitive play and not the solo play. The whole game got a lot of new, but I guess we could have to wait three more generations for the next big step after this.
8. Mario and Luigi Dream Team
The Mario and Luigi series is surprisingly a very strong JRPG franchise than many people would think. I always had fun with the series just like Paper Mario until Sticker Star so I was a little worried with this game since Paper Mario had a bad game for once, my opinion of course. Dream Team didn't suffer from Sticker Star's problem and really expanded on the ideas that Bowser's Inside Story had. Along with that it brought back some nice elements from the past games and even some characters like Popple. Again the story isn't much like all the other Mario RPG's, but what always does it is the presentation. This game is heavily focused on Luigi and boy does he shine here. He is as silly as ever and the whole game is funny. Dream Team also really mixed up the Bros Moves with the help of using the 3DS by titling it or using the touch screen. Now I will say I could have dealt with less hand holding, but soon the game lets loose many times. There are some decently hard bosses in this game or just some nice little puzzles, I was actually surprised many times. Dream Team really keeps the Mario and Luigi series the same, but really keeps it fresh with a lot of surprises with the game play.
7. The Wonderful 101
I was liking Platinum a lot before this year, but my goodness they easily became one of my favorite companies thanks to this year. The Wonderful 101 is a great new way to make a character action game with the use of many characters and many moves. The story may not be much since it's just heroes fighting aliens, but again the presentation work is perfect. There is so much humor thanks to all the characters like Red being a righteous leader, but wanting to know everything and stumbling here and there. Blue who is a cool bro who just wants to slice things in half. Green, a french boy with a love for food and tries to look smart with his vocabulary. Pink who is a glamour girl who will snap at anyone who ticks her off and Tara Strong does her voice! Even the villains are lovable in this comedic sense as the man bad guy is a prince and the first time you meet him he tries to give you his complete back story. The Wonderful 101 really pokes fun at the superhero genre, mostly the Toku genre and it's great. There are many moments where the narrator is talking and everyone is just standing around and waiting for things to continue on. Now the game play is great as well, but the presentation can get in the way. Even though it's strong it's too strong as things can get a little confusing here and there. Still the controls work very well and even though the game can throw a little too much at you, you will have a Wonderful experience!
6. Pikmin 3
Now here is when the presentation is strong and doesn't get in the way of the game play. Pikmin 3 is a great step forward for the franchise as the use of the Wii U really helps it. You can see the whole map with it and even pause the whole game so you can plan out your activities. You can even use three characters at a time with their own groups of Pikmin so the pause method is very useful. The new Pikmin in this game, Rock and Flying were really great. Rock is an upgrade of Purple in someways, but are mostly just hard hitting when launched. Flying Pikmin are weak, but their flight ability can take down some foes very easily. I remember the Burrowing Snagret from the previous games and how evil that monster was. With the Flying Pikmin, he cannot even get them! Again the story is not strong whatsoever as it's just three people finding fruit for their planet. The presentation is the best part though as the environments are just beautiful and calming. The main story is pretty short as well if you know what you are doing, but being able to play again and again to repeat certain days and do better and better is great. There is also mission modes which really puts you to the test with fights or fruit gathering challenges. Pikmin 3 shows off why this franchise is easily going to be around for long and how Nintendo can really think of great ideas, I can't wait for Shigeru's new IP!
5. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
I talked about this game a whole lot before and again this year made me love Platinum so much more. Rising really took a lot of risks with the Metal Gear franchise and having Raiden go into the Character Action genre. This game really takes off with a huge sense of fun which I love the most. Like Wonderful 101 the presentation and humor really take off. It's silly and over the top and Metal Gear easily did this before with their games so it feels at home here. I will say I did love the story aspect of what's right and wrong with two groups fighting each other and with the many characters it was done so perfectly. Blade Wolf who was a prisoner who got free and becomes Raiden's sidekick, Jetstream Sam who is a wandering samurai who finds himself at a cross path with his life while looking for the fight he's been looking for. Mistral who found her true meaning with her group and did everyone thing she could for them. Monsoon who talked a lot about the memes and got Raiden to accept his past and himself as Jack the Ripper. The final boss is the best though and I don't want to spoil this guy at all, he's just so great. The action is very good as well and thanks to the amazing soundtrack it just makes everything feel way too good. This is easily the best soundtrack of the year as the heavy rock easily makes fast paced fights much much better. I will say I would have liked to see the espionage worked on a little better and even though they got rid a lot of it, they still tried to keep it. It should have gotten rid of it completely and did a No More Heroes style of moving onto different levels. Still I easily had fun getting my vengeance and I am ready to kick that to Revengeance!
4. Killer is Dead
3. Tales of Xillia
Another game I have mentioned on the blog before even though Xillia released in Japan on 2011, for North America it was 2013 and I had a blast with this game. Tales of Graces F was really fun, but it didn't grip me in like Xillia did. Xillia also took a lot from Graces and yet keeping the usual Tales action JRPG style. Playing as each character was a lot of fun to do since each had a very different way of fighting. The story was very strong and the presentation was strong as well. I also really loved the anime cutscenes presented in this game, they were very top notch and amazing to look at. I also love how you can see the viewpoints of the main characters as some scenes really do help expand the lore and explain some mysteries I had with my first time playing the game. Again this shows that the JRPG genre has a lot coming for it even though it has been around for a long time. Tales of Xillia keeps a great amount of the usual Tales style thanks to the combat bringing back HP and TP, but expands on it with a full 3D map and being able to link up with other characters. Xillia really shown me a lot of greatness and I can't wait for the sequel and the upcoming new Tales game!
2. Fire Emblem Awakening
Holy crap did Fire Emblem show off what it's got. Fire Emblem has been around and ever since Smash Bros started to show case the franchise it became a lot bigger in the states. This is also thanks to how the franchise evolved thanks to Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn. Awakening was the next big game and it came out for the 3DS and it's easily the best game on the system so far. I have played this game so many times already as it's easily the most addicting game of the year. Each time I do a new playthough I can do many things completely differently. I can change my class as my character could be a Knight, Mage, or even a mounted warrior. The other characters can also change their classes as well and it's so much fun to experiment with this game. The presentation work is also very strong with a water color style for the animations which reminds me of Valkyria Chronicles. The story is pretty nice with some rather good twists and good focusing on the Chrom and Robin. There are also many side characters to love in this game and thanks to how the support system evolved it made each character lovable. The game even explores with the difficulty and my goodness does it get hard! I played it on hard and so far I'm on Lunatic, but there is no way I am going to try Lunatic+. It's amazing how much this game expands the whole franchise as I can't wait to see the next installment for it. Awakening easily got Fire Emblem to be a much bigger franchise than it was ever before and I hope it can stay like that.
1. Ni No Kuni: The Wrath of the White Witch
Now here is an JRPG that really went back to basics. First I have to say I love Studio Ghibli and their films and seeing their touch for this game really made me love a whole lot more. Ni No Kuni really brought back that feeling I had when I played classic JRPG's like the old Final Fantasy games, Chrono Trigger, and even my all time favorite JRPG Tales of Symphonia. Exploring to one place to another with the bird's eye view of the world and walking through, forests, desserts, and snowy fields just made me fully immersed with the game. The story really plays out like a Ghibli film and I love them so much so having that done in a video game style was perfect. There are many great moments in the game and with a great cast of characters it just makes it more fun. Oliver is a young boy who wants to save his mother and explores into a completely different world to save her as he finds out how connected this world is to his own. Oliver also reminds me of the classic JRPG characters like Chrono even though he talks, he has that righteous and hero attitude. His first partner, Esther is a young girl who joins him to thank him for rescuing her. She is easily not the damsel in distress though as she has her own abilities to fight both with her monsters and herself. Swaine who easily became one of my favorite JRPG characters had a tragic story with his past and royalty and just looking at him he's just a very different type of character for the genre. There are even great villains like Shadar who just has the perfect menacing feel to him and plays out perfectly. There are also many side characters you get to meet and it's so much fun to see who they will be like a Cat King or a Cow Queen. This game carries a lot of fun while being relaxing and addicting at the same time. It's one of the most perfect JRPG's I have ever played and this was the biggest game that shows that this genre can always stand.
So that is my list and so far looking at 2014 I got a lot to look forward to. I do think 2014 is going to be Nintendo's big comeback even though I was still very happy with what Nintendo had this year. With Bayonetta 2 coming around, the Xeno series continuing with Nintendo, Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei, Smash Bros, two new Yoshi games, Kirby Triple Deluxe, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, and much more. There is even Tales of Symphonia Chronicles coming out and the ending to the Blazblue franchise is coming around, 2014 I have big hopes for you.