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In 2012, I finally tried every game in my backlog. All the dregs from Steam sales and Humble Bundles, all those free 3DS Virtual Console "ambassador" games, even all the junk in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection. Then I built my first gaming PC and bought even more. As you can imagine, I played a lot of games in 2012. Just as I did in 2011 and 2010.
Because we all love lists, here's mine: all the games I played in 2012.
1. KID ICARUS UPRISING (50 hours) Finished story mode on various difficulties. Played several hours of online multplayer. 285/360 challenges complete. Yet another Masahiro Sakurai game loaded with polish and value, though I wish it wasn't so uncomfortable to play.
2. NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. 2 (10 hours) 100% complete the single-player game. Dabbled in Coin Rush mode.
3. BORDERLANDS 2 (25 hours) There are roughly eight million treasure chests in this game, most of which have nothing worthwhile inside, all of which I will open. I’ll put more time into this one in 2013.
4. TALES OF GRACES F (90 hours) Beat the game and almost all of the sidequests and post-game content. I haven't put this much time in a game since Brawl. A decent chunk of those hours were dull filler. But the best pieces of the game are downright excellent.
5. RHYTHM HEAVEN FEVER (8 hours) Acquired all medals and a handful of Perfects. Just pure joy on a disc.
6. THEY BLEED PIXELS (4 hours) Beat the game and the three bonus levels that were available. Pretty fun, but some finicky controls make it more frustrating than it had to be.
7. AMAZING ALEX (5 hours) Completed all stages and stars available at launch.
8. THE LAST STORY (30 hours) Finished all the game and all major sidequests. Tried a few online deathmatch and co-op rounds. Pretty good new take on the JRPG from the guy who basically made the genre what it is today.
9. PENNY ARCADE'S ON THE RAIN-SLICK PRECIPICE OF DARKNESS 3 (7 hours) Beat the game. It's a shame the series took three games to get good.
10. RETRO CITY RAMPAGE (8 hours) Finished all story missions, played a bunch of the rampage missions and unlocked all secret characters. Explored Theftropolis for a couple hours afterwards.
11. RAYMAN JUNGLE RUN (2 hours) Finished all 40 stages, collected all 3600 Lums. An update to the game erased all my progress, so I’m done.
12. STREET FIGHTER X MEGA MAN (2 hours) Beat the game. Not bad for a fan-game. Disappointing as an official Mega Man 25th Anniversary tribute.
13. POACHER (2 hours) Played until I couldn't figure out where to go next. I remember being lost underwater. Apparently there is an in-game map system, but I couldn't use it for some reason.
14. HOME (1 hour) Played through the game once. A retro murder mystery that leaves a trail of cryptic clues and and a few dozen binary choices, leading to an open-ended conclusion. Not exactly my bag, but it was an interesting experience.
15. A VALLEY WITHOUT WIND (2 hours) Played a bit with Greg and alone. It wasn't bad, but the forceless action dulled my interest in exploring this apparently massive game further.
1. XCOM: ENEMY UNKNOWN
4. NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. U
5. THE UNFINISHED SWAN
6. FAR CRY 3
9. NINJA GAIDEN 3: RAZOR'S EDGE
10. MARK OF THE NINJA
1. FLUIDITY (15 hours) Found all rainbow drops and most puzzle pieces. A fresh take on Metroidvania that quietly presents some of the best puzzle design in years.
2. RAYMAN ORIGINS (15 hours) Got the platinum trophy. It’s really good.
3. THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: MINISH CAP (19 hours) Beat the game, connected most of the kinstones. I’ve recently taken to 2D Zelda in a way I never quite did with 3D Zelda. Minish Cap and its ilk beat the pants off Ocarina of Time.
4. SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE (15 hours) 120 Shines. Used a guide (several, actually) to get all the blue coins. With some more development time and common sense applied to the challenge design, this could have been the platformer to rule them all.
5. AETHER [The Basement Collection] (1 hour) Finished the game, found all the moons and cameos. My favorite game in the collection. Fun gravity physics, tether controls, and a whimsical yet somber tone.
6. GREY MATTER [The Basement Collection] (1 hour) Beat the game on Normal, Expert, and Boss Rush and got all Steam achievements. Very neat take on bullet hell. I just wish there was a little more to it. I’ll probably come back for Endless mode now and then.
7. TIME FCUK [The Basement Collection] (5 hours) Beat the game, Chapter 2, and a run through The Unknown. Hard to believe one of the best puzzle platformers I’ve played in years was originally a free flash game. Of the two plane-switching platformers I played this year, it was the best!
8. NOITU LOVE 2 DEVOLUTION (3 hours) Beat the game once with each character, and once on Harder mode. Hardest seems a bit out of my league. Great little indie game I've been meaning to try for years now. Reminds me of Gunstar Heroes.
9. RED FACTION: ARMAGEDDON (7 hours) Color me impressed (har) by my first foray into the Red Faction franchise. Starts out with pure wrecking ball fun but loses sight of its strengths in the final acts.
10. ART STYLE: PICTOBITS (6 hours) Finished all normal and Dark stages. Tough puzzle game with a fun 8-bit Nintendo theme. Ensnared me in a way that few puzzle games do.
11. JAMESTOWN: LEGEND OF THE LOST COLONY (3 hours) Finished the game on Legendary mode, all bonus stages finished. Expertly scratches the itch for a good old not-quite-hell bullet shmup.
12. ALPHA PROTOCOL (22 hours) Beat the game as a sneaky spy guy. Really impressive how many threads depend on your dialog choices, mission methods, and the character and plot details you dig up. If I didn't have so many games to play, I'd go through it again and do things differently.
13. NIGHTSKY (2 hours) Finished everything except bonus levels that crashed the game for some reason. Just a nice, relaxing, die-and-retry platformer.
14. ART STYLE: CUBELLO (6 hours) All 36 stages complete, one run through Endless mode. Because sometimes you just wanna shoot cubes at other cubes until there’s only one cube left.
15. MOLE MANIA (10 hours) 100% complete. Solid little puzzle game. Underappreciated Miyamoto classic. You'll dig Mole Mania.
16. GOLDEN AXE WARRIOR (7 hours) Beat the game. Solid copycat of the original Legend of Zelda. I wimped out and used a GameFAQs map rather than make my own.
17. RATCHET AND CLANK: UP YOUR ARSENAL (11 hours) Beat the game and most of the optional missions. Pretty good kid-friendly shooter. Not platformer. Shooter.
18. CUT THE ROPE (3 hours) Finished all 11 available boxes, collected all stars. One of the few smartphone games where I'm not fighting the controls all the time. That automatically ranks it among the best.
19. DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION (30 hours) Finished the game and all the sidequests I could find. The stealth and combat were okay, but hacking only led to overly tedious world-building and copious amounts of XP. And the social “pillar” clearly wasn’t handling its share of the load. I liked the game more in theory than in practice. Alpha Protocol for life, chumps.
20. A BOY AND HIS BLOB (12 hours) Completed the game and all the challenge levels. It started out good and then got better and then got a little worse but ended up all right overall.
21. MONSTER WORLD IV (6 hours) Finished the game. Neat old Genesis action/platformer/RPG. I don't know why Sega decided to localize it twenty years after it came out in Japan, but I'm glad they did.
22. THE STANLEY PARABLE (30 minutes) Played through all six endings and really expanded my horizons, man.
23. LIMBO (2 hours) Finished the game. Pretty good, but I can see how XBLA customers might regret paying $15 for it.
24. SPIDER-MAN WEB OF SHADOWS [DS] (5 hours) Beat the game. Decent 2-D Spidey game. Lots of cool moves, not a whole lot to do with them.
25. ELITE BEAT AGENTS (2 hours) Beat the game on Cruisin' mode. Not quite elite, but definitely good.
26. YOSHI'S ISLAND: SUPER MARIO ADVANCE 3 (4 hours) I finished World 3 in the latest of several attempts to appreciate this game as much as everyone else seems to. The blurry visuals and small screen size make some parts very frustrating. I’m just not that into Yoshi, I guess.
27. GAIN GROUND (2 hours) Finished the game. Wasn't feeling it at first, but it's actually a pretty interesting top-down action/tactics game. A surprise hit from Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection (of terrible games).
28. SHANK (2 hours) Beat the game. Cool moves, lame enemies, bad story.
29. RISTAR (2 hours) Beat the game. One of the better platformers on Genesis, but doesn't fully explore its grabbing gimmick and borders on cheap difficulty.
30. DEAD NATION (2 hours) Finished the first half of the campaign solo. Would consider playing through the rest with a friend.
31. BIONIC COMMANDO [GAME BOY] (4 hours) Beat the game. Doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the HD remake games, but it's more than I expected from an old Game Boy game.
32. WAVE RACE: BLUE STORM (4 hours) Played until the Expert championship mode tempted me to violence. I love Wave Race’s arcade-meets-sim design, but hate its steep expectations and wish it had some more variety. All the tracks in Blue Storm feel overly similar to those in Wave Race 64.
33. F-ZERO GX (5 hours) Won the four Grand Prix courses on Standard difficulty, finished most of Story mode. It’s a neat arcade racer, for sure, but I must be missing whatever keeps rabid fans clamoring for more.
34. ACTRAISER (4 hours) Finished the game. It's like a mediocre Castlevania and an oversimplified SimCity smashed into one, but greater than the sum of those unremarkable things.
35. WARIO LAND: SUPER MARIO LAND 3 (5 hours) Not as good as I remember, but still fun. Finally managed to get all the treasures and secret exits, too.
36. WIZORB (3 hours) Beat the game, found one of the four magic children. Of the two Breakout offshoots I played this year, it’s the best!
37. SERIOUS SAM HD: THE FIRST ENCOUNTER (8 hours) Beat the game. If it were four hours shorter, I would have loved it. The second half of the game is like treading water in a sea of instant death.
38. FLICKY (1 hour) Beat Stage 48 and saw the credits, thanks to plenty of save states. Surprisingly good arcade game: challenging but not cheap, simple but not rigid.
39. SPEWER [The Basement Collection] (2 hours) Beat the game and all bonus stages. I expected to like this physics/puzzle platformer more than I did.
40. LOST PLANET (7 hours) I finally played through the game that sold me on the HD console generation. I shouldn't have been surprised to see that the visuals haven't held up too well. It still feels fairly unique among third person shooters, so it was enjoyable enough.
41. LINK'S CROSSBOW TRAINING (1 hour) Got all platinum medals in singleplayer mode. It was fun while it lasted. I miss real light-gun games, though.
42. JETPACK JOYRIDE (1 hour) Fiddled around with it for about an hour. It’s alluring, but I can almost pinpoint the distance where the “freemium” barrier really takes hold.
43. TRUE SWING GOLF (3 hours) Took 1st in the Rookie and Regular tours. I like the touchscreen swing mechanic a lot, but the game never demonstrates how to apply curve or spin, nor what the "Special Shot" meter does or how to use it. I feel like I'm golfing with a half-empty bag.
44. KID ICARUS (5 hours) Beat the game. An interesting look back at a NES oddity. Lots of ideas that didn't quite pan out perfectly. Eggplants.
45. TRAUMA CENTER: UNDER THE KNIFE (1 hour) Finished the first chapter. I forgot how trial-and-error these games could be. I prefer the remote/nunchuk controls of the Wii games, too.
46. CRAYON PHYSICS DELUXE (2 hours) Finished about half the stages, if I remember correctly. The game stumped me more than I'd like to admit, though my broken mouse didn't help much either. I was a bit too frustrated (with my mouse and myself) to keep going, but I had some fun.
47. ART STYLE: ROTOZOA (2 hours) Finished 20 stages (out of 28, I think). Played each Endless Mode and Snake mode once. A less interesting and more frustrating entry in the Art Style puzzle series.
48. FLINGSMASH (3 hours) Finished all eight worlds. Not the best showcase for motion gaming, but it was dumb fun for a bit.
49. MIGHTY SWITCH FORCE (2 hours) Finished most stages with par time. Probably won't bother polishing off the last couple. Of the two plane-shifting platformers I played this year, it was the worst!
50. WORMS: RELOADED (2 hours) Played through half of the singleplayer campaign. Would revisit for multiplayer. I wish Worms’s real-time cousin Death Tank enjoyed the same popularity.
51. DE BLOB (1 hour) Finished the first two stages. Not bad, not great. Not compelling enough to keep my interest.
52. COGS (1 hour) Played the first 20-ish puzzles. Pretty neat, but seems more suited to a bus-ride time plug on iPhone than a full PC game.
53. SERIOUS SAM: THE RANDOM ENCOUNTER (2 hours) Beat the game after much frustration. Neat piss-take on the RPG, but it’s almost too true to Serious Sam’s absurd difficulty.
54. WORMS: CRAZY GOLF (2 hours) Played through the first three courses. There's just not much challenge in the singleplayer: hole-in-ones are practically automatic with the anti-gravity item. Might revisit for multiplayer.
55. SUPERBROTHERS: SWORD AND SWORCERY EP (3 hours) Finished the game. I like its style and soundtrack, but I can only get so excited about point-and-clicks.
56. CTHULHU SAVES THE WORLD (2 hours) Made it like a third of the way through the story or something. Even JRPG parodies can't get away with dull gameplay.
57. BREATH OF DEATH VII: THE BEGINNING (2 hours) See Cthulhu Saves the World.
58. CONTRA 4 (8 hours) Finished the game on Normal mode and played through 25/40 Challenges. Solid production value and impressive boss encounters don’t excuse arcade cheapness.
59. PENNY ARCADE ADVENTURES: ON THE RAIN-SLICK PRECIPICE OF DARKNESS EPISODE 2 (6 hours) Finished the game. It's amazing how Mario RPG-style button inputs can elevate a middling, fetch-questy RPG into a worthwhile play.
60. PENNY ARCADE ADVENTURES: ON THE RAIN-SLICK PRECIPICE OF DARKNESS EPISODE 1 (4 hours) See above, minus the Mario RPG-style button inputs.
61. METRO 2033 (4 hours) Got about halfway through the game. I stopped when enemies suddenly got perfect accuracy and full awareness of my position at all times. A few neat ideas and atmosphere don’t quite save your garden variety shooter in my book.
62. KIRBY'S BLOCK BALL (2 hours) Beat the game. I love most Kirby spinoffs. Not Block Ball, though. Of the two Breakout offshoots I played this year, it was the worst!
63. BEN THERE, DAN THAT (2 hours) Finished the game. I liked the ending. The rest of the game was funny once or twice, too.
64. SEQUENCE (1 hour) This DDR/RPG mashup might be worth playing if I had a DDR pad to use; it's pretty dull using the keyboard. The insufferable characters don't help.
65. IRON GRIP: WARLORD (30 minutes) Tried a bit of this FPS/Tower Defense hybrid. Could be something neat to play with friends, though I imagine there are better takes on action TD out there.
66. HAMMERFIGHT (30 minutes) Finished the first five stages or so. I wanted to dig deeper into the cool, unique, intuitive combat style, but everything else about the game is just so uninviting.
67. WARIO LAND 4 (1 hour) Played through three stages. Reminds me of the very fun Wario Land: Shake It, but it's still not really grabbing me for whatever reason. I didn’t really understand all the transformations and such.
68. LOST IN SHADOW (10 hours) Beat the game. A lot of neat ideas wasted on tedious design.
69. JAK AND DAXTER: THE PRECURSOR LEGACY (1 hour) Wasn't sure where to go and didn't have a great feeling about the game. Might give it another shot someday but probably not.
70. STARCRAFT (3 hours) Played through the fifth Terran mission. I’m still very much a mouse/key neophyte, so RTS just rubs me the wrong way. I didn’t find StarCraft’s campaign to be a particularly smooth introduction to the genre, either. I’ll probably try again in 2013 with Company of Heroes (thanks THQ bundle).
71. KID CHAMELEON (1 hour) Made it to Shishkaboss and found a few secret levels. I think. Game may be a bit too complex and unclear for its own good. Interesting, but feels kind of slapdash.
72. BONANZA BROTHERS (1 hour) Finished the game on Normal, set to 7 lives per continue. Neat premise, but its arcade roots make it pretty sloppy.
73. AMNESIA: THE DARK DESCENT (1 hour) Maybe my attention span just isn't what it used to be. It's certainly got the creepy atmosphere down, but an hour of walking around, lighting torches and picking up potions just wasn't doing it for me.
74. PENUMBRA: OVERTURE (30 minutes) See Amnesia, but with flashlights and spiders.
75. DECAPATTACK (1 hour) Played about halfway through the game. Not a fan of the cartoon undead look. Plays okay though. Man, these Genesis “classics” are kind of crap.
76. LEGEND OF THE MYSTICAL NINJA (2 hours) Finished chapter five. Not a big fan of brawlers in the first place, but it's got some charm.
77. COIL [The Basement Collection] (30 minutes) Finished the game. Can’t say I’m surprised that an art game that dramatizes alien squid gestation with racy text screens and strange microgames didn’t enthrall me. Honestly it grossed me out a bit. I'm a squeamish baby. But it was an interesting piece in the collection, at least. And short.
78. TRI-ACHNID [The Basement Collection] (2 hours) Made it to level 6 and spent what felt like an eternity trying to get the larva. Awkward to play and frustrating as all hell.
79. BEYOND OASIS (1 hour) Played through the first dungeon. Just roundly unappealing.
80. DARK FORCES (30 minutes) Sprite-based FPSs have not aged well. I had no idea where to go after getting the Death Star plans. "Back to my ship" apparently, but I have no idea where that is or how to get there.
81. ALEX KIDD IN THE ENCHANTED CASTLE (30 minutes) Played through the first level. Rock-paper-scissors challenges in a platformer? Hahaha I'm done.
82. ALTERED BEAST (30 minutes) Possibly the worst game I've ever played. Played a bit of the Genesis version, then beat the Arcade version using only about 50 credits. This is one game that should never rise from its grave.