Favorite game of the year conversations usually center on fourth quarter releases since the industry still gears most of its releases towards the holiday season. In the midst of a packed fall and winter, any game that came out before, say, June, usually feels as if it came out last year. Just looking through a list surprised me with how many new releases I enjoyed so much during the first six months of 2012.
Now, this year did have a few notable releases in the earlier months that still get talked about now, Mass Effect 3 being the obvious one. The other obvious one is Journey. That still leaves plenty of games that should stick out as highlights of 2012 but might not because of how many months ago they came out.
Rhythm Heaven Feaver — Being a Wii game in 2012 probably put this game doubly in the background for most people. Even among 2012 Wii games it got kinda overshadowed by the likes of Xenoblade and The Last Story. Rhythm Heave Fever was, however, one of the few console games I bought at launch this year. Ironically it’s also one of the most unique.
Lumines Electronic Symphony — Probably the only PlayStation Vita game I’d buy if I owned the system.
Dear Esther — A true sign of 2012 being a year of indie games is the presence of enough great ones for a few to be forgotten. I feel like Dear Esther wasn’t talked about much at all after it came out back in February. It’s probably one of the most beautiful Source Engine products around right now, and in my opinion is at least as important as Journey in the pursuit of video game storytelling.
Crush3D — This is actually a remake of a 2007 PSP game and I haven’t actually played this version, but I think I still need to mention it. Even back on the PSP I thought it was one of the most underrated games around — an exceptionally well-designed puzzle game built around a unique idea. It’s kind of like Super Paper Mario but with extremely hard platforming puzzles. 3DS owners definitely need to seek it out.
Soulcalibur V — It’s actually kind of surprising how many fighting games came out in 2012, even with the veritable renaissance the genre has gone through during this console generation. I honestly thought the fire would’ve burned out by the Xbox 360’s eighth year. From my view a lot of the competitive attention seems to be centered on Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Persona 4 Arena, and (negatively) Street Fighter X Tekken.
Skullgirls — I think Skullgirls is really underrated to be honest. Even I shrugged it off as a shameless western appeal to Japanese moe sensibilities until I actually saw people play it at Otakon. Coming into the game fresh after all the hype and hate passed though, allowed me to see it for what it was without any preconceived notions clouding my judgment.
Fez — You’d think that with all the press around Fez’s five-year development cycle and subsequent patch issues, that Fez would be on people’s lips in game of the year or at least indie game of the year talks. I haven’t heard much of any though, and even after all its problems, Fez still stands out for me based on its quality.
There’s actually quite a bit more that I wanted to mention in this post. There are at lot o games that came out in the earlier months of 2012 that I either didn’t play or just don’t know enough about but seem like they should’ve been highlights to at least someone.