It is that time of the year — when it is closing in on the end and it becomes necessary to decide which games from the past twelve months stood above the rest. The Nintendo Enthusiast staff fought valiantly over the last few weeks, but only a few games could come away with the distinguished honor of Game of the Year in their respective nomination categories.

Nevertheless, the list has been finalized and the time has arrived to announce Nintendo Enthusiast’s Game of the Year winners for 2013. (Un)fortunately, Super Mario 3D World has been disqualified from all categories except Game of the Year, because it would have otherwise also won Best Wii U Game, Best Platformer, Best Graphics, and Best Multiplayer.

But, that business is behind us and it is time to celebrate the true pinnacles of gaming this year.

Categories:

  • Game of the Year
  • Best Wii U Game
  • Best 3DS Game
  • Best Downloadable Game
  • Best RPG
  • Best Platformer Game
  • Best Puzzle/Strategy Game
  • Best Action/Adventure Game
  • Best Multiplayer Game
  • Best Graphics
  • Best Story/Writing
  • Best 3rd Party Title
  • Most Anticipated Wii U Game
  • Most Anticipated 3DS Game
  • Best Non-tendo Game
  • Reader’s Poll – GOTY

Game of the Year — Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D World Artwork GOTY Banner Final

“If there is one consistent rule about Nintendo, it is to never doubt EAD Tokyo.  After an underwhelming reveal at the E3 Nintendo Direct, many people were ready to count out Super Mario 3D World.  The faithful endured months of a total information drought and complaints about how Nintendo was just phoning in a rehash of Super Mario 3D Land, but they were rewarded for their patience.  Filled with everything that made previous Mario platformers great and a wide array of new themes and ideas, Super Mario 3D World is another masterpiece that earns its place alongside the Super Mario Galaxy games.  Super Mario 3D World is Nintendo at its best in every aspect with vivid and beautiful graphics, a fantastic soundtrack, a seemingly endless amount of levels and secrets, and challenges that will test platforming veterans if they want to see everything the game offers.  Even with all the challenges Wii U is facing, games like Super Mario 3D World send a clear message that everything is going to be all right.”

–Giancarlo Bellotto

Runner Up: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Honorable Mentions: Pikmin 3, Lego City: Undercover, The Wonderful 101

Best Wii U Game — The Wonderful 101

The Wonderful 101 GOTY 2013 Best Wii U Game Banner Final

“The end of the year saw the Wii U getting a sudden burst of excellent software, high-quality titles suddenly hitting the console left and right. One the most exciting, however, was The Wonderful 101. A brand-new IP from Platinum Games, no one was quite sure just how it would turn out, but when released, it blew us away. With incredible combat and mindblowing bosses, the gameplay was top notch and even beyond its core mechanics, the game is incredible. With colorful, evocative visuals always running at a smooth sixty frames-per-second, this is easily one of the best looking games on the console and the soundtrack is legendary to boot. It even makes great use of the GamePad, with switching abilities done by drawing different shapes and with the helpful-as-always Off-TV play making an appearance as well. In the end, despite the stiff competition, The Wonderful 101 managed to amaze us enough to take the top spot. Succeeding on nearly every front, The Wonderful 101 is a game that truly shows just what sort of experience the console is capable of producing, and is our pick for the best Wii U game of 2013.”

–Jonathan Harrington

Honorable Mentions: Pikmin 3, Lego City: Undercover

Best Nintendo 3DS Game — The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

A Link Between Worlds Artwork Best 3DS Game 2013 Banner Final

“If anything, A Link Between Worlds was a breath of fresh air. A return to form in many ways, this 3DS outing took everything that works in a handheld Zelda game while also paying tribute to the legendary SNES title A Link to the Past. The gameplay design was flawless, allowing players an unparalleled sense of freedom. A number of new mechanics were also thrown into the mix, such as the item rental service and Link’s ability to merge with walls on a 2-dimensional plane. It was a refreshing reminder of what Zelda games used to be and even if it lacked the charm of a console version, it was still an exemplar in game design.”

–Anthony Retondo

Runner Up: Shin Megami Tensei IV

Honorable Mentions: Fire Emblem: Awakening, SteamWorld Dig

Best Downloadable Game — Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

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“Of all the independent games released on Nintendo consoles this year, Bit Trip Presents…Runner 2 feels the least “independent.” It features almost 100 levels across three difficulty settings, which adds new hazards and obstacles, effectively tripling the size of the game. New gameplay mechanics are introduced at a perfect pace and also contains secret routes to unlock characters and costumes. Runner 2 is addicting, fun, and sets the standard for independent gaming on Nintendo hardware.”

–Ryan Crittenden

Honorable Mentions: Gunman Clive, SteamWorld Dig, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies

Best RPG — Shin Megami Tensei IV

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(Shin Megami Tensei IV)
“What truly makes Shin Megami Tensei IV the best RPG of the year? Aside from the fact that the game already contains all of the things necessary for a good JRPG, such as a wide array of monsters to fight, challenging gameplay, and a plethora of locations to explore, what truly helps Shin Megami Tensei IV stand apart from its competition is the fact the the game truly feels like a role-playing game. In fact, few JRPGs have made me ever feel like I was the one truly in charge, not the game makers themselves. Shin Megami Tensei‘s demon-recruitment system, as well as the mechanic put in place to determine a player’s ending, are very unique to its genre, and for this Shin Megami Tensei IV deserves only the highest praise.”

–Elia Pales

Runner Up: Fire Emblem: Awakening

Honorable Mention: Pokemon X/Y

Best Platformer — Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

runner2
“An underdog victor, Runner 2 earned its spot.  A sequel to what was already the longest and deepest Bit. Trip game, Runner 2 does more than you would ever think possible in a platformer with no directional control.  Using jumps and slides you auto-run through over 70 surreal levels.  Drawing inspiration from the strangest and scariest of old theater cartoons and combining it with narration by Mario voice actor Charles Martinet, there is nothing else like Runner 2 in presentation.  The levels are just as creative, forcing you to put your surprisingly robust move set to full use as you are zoomed through levels where one mistake always means instant death.  Optional items to collect, secret paths, and multiple difficulty settings give Runner 2 more content and replay value than you’d ever expect from a downloadable title, and you’ll enjoy every second of it.”

–Giancarlo Bellotto

Runner Up: Rayman Legends

Best Puzzle/Strategy — The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

A-Link-Between-Worlds-art
A Link Between Worlds featured some of the best dungeon designs in the series to date.  They were short, but expertly crafted in a way where players never feel they’re being lead along. Most of the puzzles revolved around the brilliant new mechanic that allows Link to cling to walls on a 2-dimensional plane. At times, the game excels beyond every Zelda game from the past decade by offering a new way of thinking with this mechanic. The wall-clinging system is unlike anything we have seen from previous ventures, and we hope that some day Nintendo can expand this idea even further. It has been a while since puzzle solving felt so relevant in a Zelda game.”

–Anthony Retondo

Honorable Mentions: Pikmin 3, Fire Emblem: Awakening, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

Best Action/Adventure — The Wonderful 101

The Wonderful 101™i_39032
“Nintendo and Platinum making a game together was surprising enough at E3 2012, but the game itself was even more of a shock.  A brightly colored superhero game that at first seems to copy Pikmin, The Wonderful 101 was not the game anyone expected from Platinum.  Once you play the game, however, the hilariously over the top action and deep combat system will make it very clear who developed this game.  You may also hate the game due to a mountain-sized learning curve, but I promise you the rewards of learning it outweigh the initial pain one hundredfold.  Once you unlock some of the advanced moves and get used to the combat system, you will see that The Wonderful 101 is one of the most creative, challenging, satisfying, and shockingly long action games ever made.  The battles may seem like overwhelming chaos at first, but once you master turning your team into a wide array of weapons and defensive objects they become sheer joy.  In addition to the combat, you get great characters and new gameplay styles thrown at you throughout the gigantic and highly replayable game.  The Wonderful 101 requires dedication, but once you understand it that will be exactly what you want to give it.”

–Giancarlo Bellotto

Runner Up: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Honorable Mention: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

Best Multiplayer — Pokemon X/Y

Pokemon X Y 3DS Logo White
Pokémon X and Y were the first in the series to make the transition to full 3D. But it was a number of refinements that stood out and made it one of the best in the series. Player-to-player interaction has been improved dramatically, thanks to the new ability to see when a friend is online at all times. X and Y may be the closest Nintendo has come to creating a contemporary online system. Players can communicate with friends through voice chat, offer them special buffs while they are exploring the main campaign, and of course, challenge them to a battle. In our time with the game, we experienced little to no issues with the online multiplayer component. Battles are smooth even with four players dueling at once. It’s without a doubt the quintessential competitive Pokémon experience so far.”

–Anthony Retondo

Honorable Mentions: Call of Duty: Ghosts, Rayman Legends

Best Graphics — Rayman Legends

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“Without its graphical style, many would argue that Rayman Legends wouldn’t have had the same effect. Ubisoft’s Ubi-Art engine allows Rayman to be what it is: a game put together by not only the hard labor of the game designers and programmers, but one that is built upon the artists who put their love into creating hand-drawn characters, enemies, and environments.
Rayman Legends is absolutely gorgeous, but what’s even more, the game proves that more RAM and processing power doesn’t always lead to a better-looking game, because if there is enough talent, art can be made out of anything, no matter the materials provided.”

–Elia Pales

Runner Up: Pikmin 3

Best Story/Writing — Lego City: Undercover

 lego city
Lego City Undercover definitely doesn’t have the most unique story in the world, but is one of the very few games that has ever made me laugh out loud. In fact, Lego City was so funny, that I laughed again, and again, and again, and again. Unlike most games, Lego City was able to keep its humor up for the whole duration of the game, and what made it truly amazing was that thanks to all the references, the game could be even funnier for older gamers than for the younger ones. The excellent writers insured that I will be  waiting eagerly for a sequel announcement.
–Elia Pales

Honorable Mentions: Fire Emblem: Awakening, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Shin Megami Tensei IV

Best 3rd Party Title — Rayman Legends

rayman
Rayman Legends should stand as a benchmark for all sequels. The game improved mechanically from Origins while also spawning dozens of new ideas, most of which revolved around the Wii U GamePad. This was without a doubt the finest example for the GamePad’s superiority to date. Controlling Murphy felt integral to the level design and never obtrusive. But Legends’ brilliance doesn’t stop there. Even pitted against the mighty titan of platforming, Mario, Rayman’s latest adventure proved more charming and innovative. It may or may not be the better platformer, but it was an absolutely gorgeous game that managed to surprise us time and time again; a fine example of labor of love.”

–Anthony Retondo

Runner Up: Need for Speed: Most Wanted U

Honorable Mention: Deus Ex: Human Revolution — Director’s Cut

Most Anticipated Wii U Title — Monolith’s X

monolith's x

“There’s a reason X is so hotly anticipated by Nintendo fans. Coming from Monolith, the team that developed the critically acclaimed Xenoblade Chronicles, this is undoubtedly the biggest, most ambitious Wii U game we’ve yet seen. With a huge, beautiful-looking world, engaging looking combat, and a mouthwatering soundtrack, this is arguably Nintendo’s most promising game of next year. Sure, we don’t have a ton of info — thus far, we’ve seen only two trailers — but both have been tremendously epic, showing us tantalizing glimpses at the insane scope and detail of this beautiful world we soon will be diving into, yet they’ve done so without revealing much, if anything. Other games may offer fantastic glimpses at the future of their respective systems, but Monolith’s epic new JRPG still takes the cake for most exciting upcoming title.”

–Jonathan Harrington

Runner Up: The Legend of Zelda 2014

Honorable Mentions: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Smash Bros 2014

Most Anticipated 3DS Title: Super Smash Bros 2014

smash bros 3ds

“I don’t know what more convincing needs to be done. It’s Super Smash Bros., the ultimate four-player fighting game, on the go. Now you can hone your Smash Bros. fighting skills from places as normal as the morning commute, your local café, or the doctor’s office to places as crazy as the Washington Monument or an aircraft carrier. Portable Smash Bros. even has the potential to spark friendly relationships among Nintendo 3DS owners as an exciting beat down is only a Nintendo 3DS local-play (or online) connection away. Is there a bully constantly standing in your way? No problem, as now you train up with portable Smash Bros.! Of course I wouldn’t recommend it, being that there’s no need to show off.

Surely, a portable Smash Bros. has been everyone brawlers fantasy? I only hope Nintendo allows such a game to be truly great, not only packed with a fantastic game mechanics balance between Melee and Brawl, but also with elaborate online interface equipped with Miiverse. It would have been icing on the cake if Nintendo 3DS players could be matched with Wii U players. The future couldn’t be any more exciting for Nintendo 3DS owners, and for those who haven’t yep hoped on board, as The Regginator would say, ‘What’s wrong with you?’

– Omar Taylor

Runner Up: Bravely Default

Honorable Mention: Kirby Triple Deluxe

Best Nontendo Game — Bioshock Infinite

bioshock infinite

“One word that sums up Bioshock Infinite is “memorable.” From the first steps onto Columbia to the bizarre ending, Infinite is a game that sits with you long after the credits finished scrolling. It understands the value of pacing, which a lot of shooters seem to forgo in favor of non-stop set pieces. The story is engaging, but it’s smart enough to not interrupt gameplay, instead going for a more organic story-telling method. It’s beautiful in every sense, and is a prime argument for how video games can be art.”

–Ryan Crittenden

Runner Up: The Last of Us

Honorable Mentions: Ni No Kuni, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

So there you have it, Nintendo Enthusiast’s Game of the Year winners! In all, it was very hard to choose winners for every single one of the categories, because there were so many awesome games that came out this year. Truly, that’s only a testament to how great the gaming industry is as a whole, and how great of consoles both the 3DS and Wii U are.
But this isn’t over yet…
new challenger approaching
You! That’s right, you still have to choose your Game of the Year in our Readers’ Choice Awards! Feel free to vote in the poll below on your favorite game released this year on Nintendo platforms and then make sure to head down to the comments section to elaborate on your choice. May the best game win!
[polldaddy poll=7648914]

Written by Elia Pales

Elia Pales owns pretty much every single product Nintendo puts out, and due to his impulsive tendencies, he also tends to purchase every gaming product put out in general. When not gaming, he’s probably running cross country or writing. He makes sure to take regular gaming breaks, though.