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Wiiloveit.com Presents: Best of Nintendo Awards 2012

Special Feature
30th January 2013; By Team Wiiloveit

Some would say 2012 was an uncomfortably turbulent year for the industry at large. Others are of the opinion that it brought about good discourse and sparked positive change. However you spin it, a lot went down this past year. Just on the Nintendo side of things, we saw Wii support fall away as it reached the end of its lifespan, the 3DS came into its stride and was helped by the launch of the XL and unique IPs, the arrival of the Wii U and the growth surrounding its new Miiverse service, and there was also the company's move to bring retail games to the eShop as downloadable packages. On the flip side, there was a lot of nonsense as well. Both positive and negative are emphasized in this year's Best of Nintendo Awards for 2012. You may notice a few changes in the line-up of categories for this year, but as always, our roster touches on the breadth of offerings available on all of Nintendo's current platforms and highlights executions that soared or were overlooked, even misunderstood in their greatness. There's plenty of love to go around, so with that said, let's kick things off!

Winner: ZombiU

Runner-Up: Denpa Men

Ubisoft's new IP, ZombiU, brought with it a new style of survival horror worthy of praise in a genre that 
has been neglected across all consoles for some time now. What made this game work so well is the idea that when your character dies, you've lost that character for good. The ensuing chase to find your old survivor and retrieve your gear without being killed yourself is one of the most memorable moments in any horror game in the last decade. As for the characters of a thousand faces, it is by means of the Mii-like facial features, lycra-clad costumes and quirky dialogue that every Denpa Man was uniquely interesting and constantly remained a surprise each time a new member of the team was discovered.

Honourable Mentions: Chasing Aurora

Winner: Rhythm Heaven Fever

Runner-Up: Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition

Following in the footsteps of the charismatic soundtrack present in the DS iteration, Rhythm Heaven Fever featured highly memorable, toe-tapping tunes that both stand up on their own as catchy melodies and seamlessly fit in with the often-crazy, on-screen action. While having grand variety in the way of genre representation and feel, there was still a general cohesion that pulled each musical theme together for some pure, smile-inducing, musical fun. This one was a clear winner. Not to be overlooked, too, is the excelling quality of the soundtrack for Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition, our Runner-Up for this year. Featuring incredibly energizing, chiptune compositions that completely rejuvenated players, as well as the inclusion of remixes with heavy retro inspirations, its soundtrack remains unforgettable.

Honourable Mentions: Xenoblade Chronicles, Adventure Time: HIKWYSOG, Liberation Maiden, Mario Party 9, Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed, Nintendo Land

Winner: Nintendo Land

Runner-Up: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

It's been a long while since we all had such reliable fun as what Nintendo Land presented. The competitive games offered such an inclusive gaming experience, being easy to understand and learn, mechanically simple to control, and offering something new thanks to player dynamics. Mario Chase alone could probably win this award, though the other competitive games offer increasing depth, strategy and variety, not to mention the co-operative games deliver a deeper, more tense experience for those willing to put in the time to master them. Taking Runner-Up in this category is Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, a rather brilliant kart racer that takes on such a great energy in the case of multiplayer bouts. Emphasizing variety far better than its predecessor with lastingly entertaining track designs, as well as well-tuned gameplay mechanics that offer room for skillful manipulation, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed offered an exhilarating and fun kart racing experience that won't soon be forgotten.

Honourable Mentions: Mario Party 9

Winner: Paper Mario: Sticker Star

Runner-Up: Dillon's Rolling Western

Sad to say (and even sadder to witness), a lot went wrong when it came with Paper Mario: Sticker Star. From questionable battles, to building main puzzles on obtuse item collection, to boss battles that are unbeatable without knowing the tricks taught during the battle, the game that was heavily anticipated as the return to the series' roots let down repeatedly. Even the series' strongest asset -- a humor-filled story -- was almost completely absent from the franchise's first portable entry. Truly a mistake not to repeat. By comparison, we were more divided on our Runner-Up, Dillon's Rolling Western. Upon the game's announcement, it certainly piqued great interest with its bold western theme and promise of a mix of action-based strategy. While it delivered on the theme, the mix of gameplay ultimately didn't hold up responsibly. The tower defense side, as some of us contend, never manages to shine due to a lack of resources for the majority of each campaign, leaving the action side to pick up the pieces and quickly becoming dull and overwhelming in the process. With a bit more balance it could have been truly great, and that's something we all agree on.

Dishonourable Mentions:
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games (3DS), Chasing Aurora, Disney Epic Mickey: The Power of Illusion, New Super Mario Bros. 2

Winner: Little Inferno

Runner-Up: Paper Mario: Sticker Star

Tomorrow Corporation's Little Inferno held all of the charm found in such titles as World of Goo, while still carrying a strong sense of identity. With nothing quite like it available, the gameplay satirized free-to-play games on Facebook while keeping you hooked through the combo system. Add in an enthralling story, and you have one of the most original games of 2012. Coming in a second place is Paper Mario: Sticker Star, a game that, although flawed in multiple respects, still stands as being one of the most creative games of the year, both in gameplay execution and stylistic touches. The entire concept was one that borrowed principles and ideas belonging to a scavenger's mindset, making it unique through major changes to the standard RPG formula and carrying an underlying innocence that connected well with the themes of collection that were leveraged.

Honourable Mentions: Pokémon Conquest, NightSky, Dillon's Rolling Western

Winner: Little Inferno

Runner-Up: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Using a very passive method of storytelling, the captivating letters in Little Inferno created the main impetus in continuing with the game. As you receive letters from three different stories, you learn about the three distinct characters in the game, providing reasons for your burning and actions up until the very end. By means of a storytelling feat that may never be forgotten, Little Inferno really is one-of-a-kind in this department. As for our Runner-Up, we felt Miracle Mask did a wonderful job with its outlined story, to the point that it proved hard to shake off. It's certainly not a foreign concept for the series to tell captivating tales, and Miracle Mask's plot happened to be one of much intrigue, revolving around a theme of friendship that follows after Last Specter in more ways than one. Even though it wasn't filled with as many twists as past stories, it was still very classy and set things up very nicely for the final game in the second trilogy.

Honourable Mentions: ZombiU, Kid Icarus: Uprising

Winner: Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition

Runner-Up: Rhythm Heaven Fever

Offering two for the price of one is Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition, our winner for Best Boxart. The front of the box set features a colourful, pink explosion of Kirby's many abilities over the years, which helps grab attention while also reflecting the series' history. Hiding inside is a great disc jacket that utilizes a wood effect, stirring up a vintage charm of old and paying homage to the Japanese boxart for Kirby Super Star -- itself a collection of Kirby games on the SNES. Our Runner-Up this year for Best Boxart is bright, fun, and more colourful than a rainbow vomiting Skittles. Cover artwork should grab attention on the shelf, and Rhythm Heaven Fever does this with boldness and an intriguing cast of characters, without being too cluttered or messy. Informative too, which is always a help when it comes to selling the game's contents.

Honourable Mentions: New Super Mario Bros. U, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Brave: The Video Game, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, New Super Mario Bros. 2

Winner: Rhythm Heaven Fever

Runner-Up: Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition

Along with the stellar soundtrack mentioned above, Rhythm Heaven Fever also was a feast for the eyes due to its vibrant art style. From sparse robot factories to the colourful world scrolling below badminton-playing animals, or a samurai's trail that looked straight out of a Japanese woodblock print, every level delivered something new with its art direction while still seamlessly fitting together in the game's remix stages. With such a bold yet cohesive visual style, Rhythm Heaven Fever is a game that will be remembered for many years to come. With related reference to art direction, our Runner-Up for the year, Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition, especially impressed. With smooth animations that look even more glorious than they did on the 3DS, engaging backgrounds that are supported nicely by futuristic environments, and a high-quality aesthetic that has such a defining flair, WayForward did an excellent job in enhancing the original for the Wii U eShop.

Honourable Mentions: Nano Assault Neo, Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword, Xenoblade Chronicles, Dot Runner: Complete Edition, Chasing Aurora

Winner: New Super Mario Bros. U

Runner-Up: NightSky

Things haven't been going too hot for everyone's favourite gaming mascot, but New Super Mario Bros. U put Mario back on the map with gameplay that poked veterans with difficulty and aesthetic touches that called to mind classic titles from long ago. While the creativity remained subdued through a greater portion of the adventure, the title still was the closest the series has ever been to reaffirming devotion of long-time fans through an effective return to form. Close to follow is NightSky, which, while being out on previous platforms before its release on the eShop, demonstrated excelling execution that outdid even new IPs of the year, featuring an alluring and creative puzzle-platforming style that was supported in kind by unique aesthetics.

Honourable Mentions: Mutant Mudds, Fractured Soul, Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition

Winner: Darksiders II

Combining the best elements of The Legend of Zelda, Prince of Persia, and God of War, Darksiders II brought a cohesive and thrilling adventure that was deserving of recognition. The over-the-top combat was a welcome change of pace, while the skill trees and large list of combos kept combat fresh and interesting. Navigation also proved hugely enjoyable, with dungeons providing scalable walls, and the massive world providing waypoints that you could teleport to at any time to avoid retreating long paths to the central hub. All in all, a strong turn-out.

Winner: escapeVektor

Runner-Up: Nano Assault Neo

Nnooo's first iteration in their arcade series impressed us on WiiWare, but it's amazing how much more pleasurable escapeVektor became in a handheld format. The formula is greatly streamlined and harks back to classic arcade philosophies of old, reinventing itself with each successive chapter while still keeping true to its core. Throw in a healthy leaderboard system to add to the layers surrounding the scoring system, and you have what is arguably Nnooo's best release to date. Our Runner-Up, Nano Assault Neo, did a far better job than its 3DS predecessor, skillfully adapting its focuses in a way that did not alienate and still maintained a strong thrill. With gameplay that tests your patience and skill with balance, it was a very replayable and highly inviting arcade-shooter that left a mark.

Honourable Mentions: Marvel Pinball 3D

Winner: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Runner-Up: Crashmo

Layton's yearly mix of brain-teasing puzzles and an implausible-yet-believable mysteries did it again with Miracle Mask, retaining much of the series' intelligence even after five games. What really seals the deal is the inclusion of downloadable puzzles, which have gone from a weekly affair of 30 or so puzzles to a full 365 head-scratchers, delivering lasting value, challenge and charm that will keep us occupied through most of 2013. Much of what Crashmo did to deserve a spot as Runner-Up can be attributed to its cleverly-disguised thrill and satisfying mechanics, in addition to the level of depth it had that made it oh-so-desirable for puzzle fans of all sorts! Isn't it often the case that some of the most memorable puzzle games also happen to be the most simple in concept? Go figure.

Honourable Mentions: Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, Bomb Monkey, Picross e

Winner: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

Whether you've had a developing eagerness for SEGA's properties since a young age or have fallen out as a result of their recent endeavours, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed delivered an excellent racing experience that is not to be missed. With stunning track designs to go with the thrilling pace, an overload of fan service that was crafted rather than simply placed for nostalgic effect, as well as a surplus of well-tailored features for longevity purposes, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed was one of the finest kart racers to ever surface on consoles.

Winner: Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH!

Runner-Up: Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 3D

We felt Shin'en deserved a pat on the back for taking their debut WiiWare game (which, to be fair, was very limited in its fun factor) and expanding it commendably. While some of the base design remained the same, the addition of unlockables, challenges, and other ends towards replay value made a big difference in ensuring that the addiction factor was not conditional upon multiplayer functionality, as was the case in the original release. As for our Runner-Up, while first glances might've indicated Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 3D was more of the same when compared with the previous iteration, Konami fleshed out the game much better with key components such as online play, whilst still keeping that level of challenge at an all-time high for fans of the sport who long for something that isn't watered down.

Honourable Mentions: Mario Tennis Open

Winner: Style Savvy: Trendsetters

Runner-Up: New Art Academy

After a successful outing on the DS, Style Savvy returned to the 3DS bigger and better than ever. The mix of shop and stock management with fulfilling customers requests made for an addictive experience as you try and balance stocking clothing styles with customer desires for a unified look. With varied fashion contents, the addition of menswear, the ability to open and browse shops with the game's online community, as well as a steady expansion of the in-game universe through features and clothing brands, there is plenty here to keep us occupied for a long time to come. In a similar league, New Art Academy not only took the triumphs of the original games but managed to improve on the experience in nearly every way with new lessons covering a whole new range, vastly improving on 
tools previously implemented, and also providing new mediums such as coloured pencils and pastels for use. For new students and experienced artists alike, the approachable nature of New Art Academy is what made the package such a highlight.

Honourable Mentions: Order Up!!, Colors! 3D

Winner: THE "DENPA MEN": They Came By Wave

Runner-Up: Pokémon Conquest

THE "DENPA" MEN: They Came By Wave brought back a return of traditional dungeon crawling, turn-based RPG mechanics, while also streamlining a number of things that have dragged the genre down over the years by 
injecting charm, humour and strategy. Having eight party members to take on each adventure, chosen from a cast of thousands of recruitable heroes, made every adventure unique. And speaking of unique, Pokémon Conquest, our Runner-Up for this year, delivered a strong and deeply involving RPG that was as accessible as it was expansive. This crossover with the famous Nobunaga's Ambition strategy series brought a new level of strategy as players took command of multiple Pokémon on a grid-based playing field, making not only their attacks important but also their position. We hope we haven't seen the last of this spin-off.

Honourable Mentions:
Kingdom Hearts 3D, Xenoblade Chronicles, Amoebattle, Pokémon Black/White 2

Winner: Rhythm Heaven Fever

Runner-Up: Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy

Offering something new around each and every corner, Rhythm Heaven Fever serenaded players time and time again with infectious tunes that proved to be a key component in a perfect marriage of outstanding music and visual vivacy. Even the slightest thought of the game still triggers smiles, and much like the DS original, it functions superbly as one of the strongest rhythm games in recent memory. With a mix of addictive rhythm gameplay and nostalgic Final Fantasy music, Theatrhythm also captured affections from the moment you began playing it. Hours and hours of content mixed with some of the best music in videogame history made this a game unlike any other.

Honourable Mentions: Just Dance 4

Winner: Pokémon Typing Adventure

Runner-Up: New Art Academy

It seemed like Pokémon Typing Adventure was a game to never leave Japan and even now it still hasn't reached North American shores, making Pokémon Typing Adventure an authentic hidden gem on the retail scene. While the concept may sound initially strange, the combination of accurate typing combined with the instant recognisability (but not necessarily spell-ability) of Pokémon helps provide a solid arcade experience that is well worth hunting down or even importing from European shores. A similarly successful effort in the way of ease and functionality, our Runner-Up, New Art Academy, is one of those rare games that offered something so much more than the contents on the cartridge. It opened up the world of art to a degree that allowed even the most novice users to create something they could be proud of and acquire the skills to go forth and create something truly unique. Its personal connections played a key role in it landing a winning spot in this category.

Winner: Candle Route
Runner-Up: Puzzler World XL

Greeted by little fanfare, Candle Route proved to be a sleeper hit. With an approach geared toward young and old puzzle fans, it proved satisfying in the experimentation encouraged by its formula and the deceptive challenge that came along in connection with the fun turn-based system.
The friendly atmosphere in conjunction with the developing mechanics and the pleasing sense of pace all made certain of the game's strength even after hours of play. And at a price of only $2, the game delivered amazing value. Another DSiWare goodie with unbeatable value came in the form of Puzzler World XL. Besides just how greatly the game's level of variety diffused the presence of boredom, the underlying system did a commendable job of keeping players motivated and feeling challenged after a victory, making the game feel more than just a straightforward collection of puzzles.

Honourable Mentions: Penguin Patrol

Winner: Nintendo Land

Runner-Up: Mario Party 9

It's been said a number of times already, but it should be repeated that Nintendo Land offered some of the most enduringly fun experiences of the year, regardless of age. Especially offering plenty for families to get excited about in the way of competitive and co-operative challenges, the nature of many of these team exercises connect with still-remembered Nintendo titles from long ago as an aid to creating memories and cementing friendships. It's a highly recommended for anyone in your family who you feel could benefit from expanding their views on videogames. As for our Runner-Up, Mario Party 9 took on the New Super Mario Bros. aesthetic and had this translate to the mini-game executions, but what made this iteration especially divisive in the way of opinions was its new board progression, wherein players would work in a co-operative context whilst still fending for themselves. Now although the game's performance in some areas was questionable, it's hard to ignore that Mario Party 9 does a great job in appealing to kids especially, and that is why, in spite of its flaws, it deserved to be recognized as such.

Honourable Mentions:
New Super Mario Bros. U, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super HeroesTransformers Prime: The Game (DS), Ben 10: Omniverse (Wii U), Spirit Hunters Inc, Candle Route

Winner: WayForward
Runner-Up: Nnooo

Of the different teams that released titles on Nintendo platforms this past year, WayForward left the most satisfying mark, we felt. Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!! shaped up to be a well-done mix of adventure and platforming elements, though limited in a certain respect. And Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition? Well, what more is there to say but that the gameplay, as subdued as it may seem, is still remarkable; a complete package punctuated even further by the addition of Hyper levels. Nnooo also deserves mention for the two games they released towards the end of the year: Spirit Hunters, Inc and escapeVektor. Spirit Hunters managed to add depth and replayability to the concept of AR-based ghost retrieval, while escapeVektor took the first chapter on WiiWare and fleshed it out into a highly entertaining experience.

Honourable Mentions: LEVEL-5, Renegade Kid, Zen Studios

Winner: Rhythm Heaven Fever

Runner-Up: Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition

What more can be said about Rhythm Heaven Fever that we haven't already? Crazy, colourful, accessible, diverse, surprising, magical fun. Just go buy it! Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition served to be a desirable collector's item, featuring refined gameplay experiences that, while could've seen to greater expansion, paying direct tribute Kirby's history quite well. It effectively functioned as a superior starting point for anyone new to the franchise and an opportunity for fans to reacquaint themselves with some of Kirby's best departures while also learning some interesting trivia along the way.

Honourable Mentions: Xenoblade Chronicles

Winner: Nintendo Land

Runner-Up: New Super Mario Bros. U

While there was still room for improvement, Nintendo Land impressed on multiple levels, most of all in the way it borrowed from established support systems to craft experiences that would be as easy to jump into on the first go as they would be later down the road. With multiplayer games that are hard to pull away from in a group setting, as well as some single-player activities that are mildly replayable, the end product proved very robust and an active showcase of the Wii U GamePad's features and the possibilities held out to developers for the future. New Super Mario Bros. U's main use of the Wii U's capabilities stemmed from Miiverse integration for the purposes of community-building and sharing, as well as the family-friendly Boost Mode that proved especially valuable for the way it changed co-operative play for families especially. But looking beyond its feature set, it performed commendably, albeit not superbly, in the way of gameplay that proved both nostalgic and a structural advancement for the series.

Honourable Mentions: ZombiU, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition

Winner: Pokémon Conquest

Runner-Up: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2

Pokémon Conquest may have strayed away from the main series roots, but it was such a welcome departure for the franchise that it also stood out as being the most memorable DS games of the year. With a system that's simple enough to quickly learn but also offering enough depth and variety to keep seasoned players invested, this new direction was a breath of fresh air during the DS' twilight tears. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2, on the other hand, was not only an incredibly strong strategy RPG with a gripping story, a vibrant cast of characters and rewarding difficulty, but it too was an excellent swan song for a system that was marked by RPGs throughout its life.

Honourable Mentions: Pokémon Black/White Version 2

Winner: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Runner-Up: New Art Academy

Besides just continuing the tradition of preceding Layton titles, Miracle Mask went all-out in establishing a new form of presentation that brought field navigation to life, and its design choice of differing from the 2D presentation adopted in the past was certainly appropriate for its debut entry on the 3DS. While other retail releases have disappointed, it's comforting to know that Layton continues to stand out on top in a reliable fashion, and Miracle Mask is certainly an active demonstration of this. Also experiencing growth of its own, our Runner-Up, New Art Academy, continued after the first title's successes in bringing out the artist in all of us. Now furthering this uplifting process through new tools that proved to be of great assistance to the ends of translating artistic visions, as well as greater opportunities for sharing your creations with family and friends, the encouraging beliefs the game convincingly extends to even those who may feel incompetent in their drawing ability ultimately go a long way in establishing the game's worth.

Honourable Mentions: Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Kingdom Hearts 3D

Winner: Little Inferno

Runner-Up: Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition

By its own admission, Little Inferno is a rather pointless exercise, which in itself makes the fact that it won this award a tad puzzling. Yet there is something so very welcoming about the glow of burning mountain of toys that warmed our hearts, as eerie as it got at times. Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition isn't an entirely new IP for the year, but it still delivered a strong experience with content that bumped it up to the status of the more satisfying downloadable titles available on the Wii U's eShop.

Honourable Mentions: Nano Assault Neo

Winner: Amoebattle

Runner-Up: Candle Route

With engaging design that successfully rose above its faults, Amoebattle was a definite highlight for the DSiWare service. It proved to be an impressive real-time strategy game, with interesting reproduction principles and a great deal of depth in its mechanics to match its personality. With tangible progression to support its core system, it was a fun ride. Our Runner-Up, Candle Route, also elevated itself above the different iterations we saw on DSiWare in 2012, with an addicting setup that proved both accessible and strategic, holding player interests very well.

Winner: escapeVektor

Runner-Up: Crashmo

Both fresh and modern, escapeVektor was indeed a fine creation worthy of much praise, as indicated by our decision to award it 3DS Download Game of the Year. Following on from last year's surprise hit, Crashmo, our Runner-Up for the year, behaved much like Pushmo in being simple to learn but offering plenty of challenge (brutally so at times) for avid fans of puzzlers. It remains one of the most rewarding gameplay experiences to be found on the eShop.

Honourable Mentions: Fractured Soul, Art of Balance TOUCH!, Mutant Mudds, THE "DENPA" MEN: They Came By Wave,

Winner: Zombii Attack

Runner-Up: Planet Crashers

With the considerable share of tacky showings and upsetting duds that were covered this past year (gladly, if it meant sparing others of the same suffering!), the hardest part was, not in coming up with nominations, but deciding on a final take-home "winner." After some deliberation, it was decided that of them all, Zombii Attack was the worst (though not by far). In fact, there's nothing further to be said about how atrocious it is in every aspect. Coming in second place, Planet Crashers was a pitifully bland RPG, with a horribly repetitive cycle of unbalanced and incredibly flat combat. And considering that Renegade Kid was in control of the game's developed, we surely expected far better execution.

Dishonourable Mentions: 101 Pinball World, Madagascar 3: The Video Game, Crazy Hunter
Men in Black: Alien Crisis, 3D Classics: Urban Champion

Winner: Pikmin 3

Runner-Up: The Wonderful 101

While much of the game remains a mystery, we're greatly looking forward to exploring the vast jungles of our back gardens once more in Pikmin 3. With simple-to-learn strategy, four characters to control, as well as new critters to unearth, it promises to be a bigger and deeper adventure than ever before. Similarly alluring is The Wonderful 101, which seems to relay a fantasy of might through a collective joining of forces. We're hoping this new IP will be one to give the Wii U added life in 2013.

Honourable Mentions: Bayonetta 2, Wii Fit U, Rayman Legends

Winner: Two Brothers

Runner-Up: BIT.TRIP Presents... Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

We can't wait to see what the Wii U brings to the table as far as downloadable offerings, and Two Brothers is, for us, at the height of this promise. Taking on a vintage aesthetic that makes no uncertain references toward games of an earlier era, this RPG is slated to feature a welcome dose of real-time exploration, as well as other gameplay attributes that group it with The Legend of Zelda and the like. We can't wait to see how it translates in a high-definition format. Arguably the most successful in the BIT.TRIP series, we're also eagerly anticipating the arrival of Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, to see how Gaijin Games grows BIT.TRIP RUNNER to that of the legendary status implied by the title. With trippy production values that advance beyond the hardened retro inspirations that were at the forefront of the original, and with the difficulty curve still remaining intact, Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien appears to have creative qualities more than it seems to rest on an established framework.

Honourable Mentions: Pier Solar HD, Toki Tori 2, Cloudberry Kingdom, 1001 Spikes

Winner: Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Runner-Up: Fire Emblem: Awakening

After a somewhat lazy, though still fun, Wii outing, Animal Crossing looks to be back in full form with its latest release heading to the 3DS, offering plenty of new friends and neighbours to meet. Just another chance to hang out on a Saturday night with K.K. Slider is enough to instill excitement, but this edition promises to offer so much more as players become Mayor of the town, allowing you to shape your own personal community more than ever before. The only question left on everyone's mind is when exactly will we be able to move in. Equally exciting is the next iteration of the Fire Emblem franchise, which, after some indecision on Nintendo's part, will be hitting North America in a few short days. The franchise has long been regarded as offering some of the most deep, tactical strategy formulas around, and Fire Emblem: Awakening is poised to build upon the franchise's long-standing principles in ways that have the potential of being exceptional.

Honourable Mentions: Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate

Winner: Harmoknight

Runner-Up: THE DENPA MEN 2

The announcement made back in August that Harmoknight would be localized for North America was an exciting one, to be sure. Seeing as we're big fans of rhythm games and the game is in the hands of a well-known dev Nintendo has had close ties with for many years, it's not a big surprise that this took the win in this category. Speaking about our Runner-Up, it was great to learn of Genius Sorority's intention to localize THE DENPA MEN 2 for North America. With the sequel appearing to make considerable improvements on an already-great formula, we can't wait to get back into the process of hunting these omnipresent creatures and using them to our will in battle.

Honourable Mentions: Go! Go! Kokopolo 3D, Jett Rocket II - The Wrath of Taikai, Space Harrier 3D

With 2013 promising to bring several long-anticipated titles to the 3DS and holding out the prospect of the Wii U coming into its own as its arsenal of downloadable software takes flight, here's hoping for many more successes and pleasant surprises in the coming months ahead. Congratulations to all our winners for 2012!

Special Feature by Team Wiiloveit