5) Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)
When Intelligent Systems was developing Fire Emblem: Awakening, Nintendo alerted them that if the sales of their latest endeavor wasn't up to par, the series would end with Awakening as its swan song. Whatever mind-numbing panic drove Intelligent Systems to put everything they had into Awakening worked wonders: it not only met the 250,000 sales minimum that Nintendo placed, but far exceeded it. Combining all the most popular gameplay systems of the Fire Emblem series as well as creating a difficulty that was forgiving towards more casual players, Intelligent Systems managed to create one of the best, if not the best entry in the ongoing franchise, pulling in as many new players as they did old. With Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem still on the horizon, Fire Emblem's future seems bright indeed.
4) Pokémon X/Y (3DS)
There's nothing I can say here that I haven't already said in my review; the Pokémon games hit many new milestones with its latest installment; functional online, completely 3D environments, engaging new battle systems, and more have rejuvenated a franchise that many feel was on its way out. I should feel cheated that Nintendo will likely release a third entry in the latest line of games, but I can't wait to explore Kalos all over again with a different team of new Pokémon. Bring on Pokémon Z, I say.
3) Dragon's Crown (PS Vita, PS3)
Many games of the modern day have their artistic visions compromised by bureaucrats who care nothing for the medium, so it's rare that a game like Dragon's Crown exists. Beautiful, hand-drawn art breathes life into every scene and character of the game, and George Kamitani's style is a perfect fit for the game's fantasy elements. That the game plays like an old-school beat-em-up and that a few vocal writers in different game journalism venues were convinced of its evil nature in the name of social justice should have been a kiss of death, and yet its beautiful visuals and cathartic gameplay captured the hearts of many a gamer. It's also one of very few games that continued to offer free content, updates and patches that enhanced gameplay further post-release. Developers could do worse than to take cues from Vanillaware.
2) Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright — Dual Destinies (3DS)
After a tumultuous period where the Ace Attorney series seemed fated to vanish into the shadows, Capcom saw fit to localize the latest Ace Attorney stateside. An updated visual style and new gameplay features were secondary to the fact that we were getting a new Ace Attorney game in three years, and while the base gameplay remained the same as before, fans were eager to take on another series of cases with the titular Phoenix Wright and his employees and the Wright Anything Agency. Lots of cameos and guest appearances pleased longtime fans, and a hook for more future adventures makes the wait seem almost unfair.
1) The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
Many were expecting A Link Between Worlds to be a nostalgic trip through already-explored locales, but to say that the latest Zelda game exceeded expectations is like saying that the sun is just "a great ball of fire." As it turns out, A Link Between Worlds is the finest Zelda title to be created since the classic that inspired it. There's really nothing I could say here that I haven't already touched on in my review of the game. In fact, why are you still reading? Go play it already.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)
I've always viewed Animal Crossing as a boring waste of time due to its lack of a focused narrative, gameplay endpoint, and lack of anything to do after one or two hours of play per day. That is, until my friends badgered me enough to get my own copy of New Leaf. Suddenly, I was addicted to micromanaging my town and inviting others over to see my efforts. Catching wildlife and earning money became a inexorable part of my daily routine. The lack of a fixed endpoint meant I could continue playing the game for eternity and still discover new projects and townsfolk to populate my village.
Look at my list above. Notice how many are 3DS games? Nintendo, you've outdone yourself this year. Now if you could just do the same with Wii U...