Games of the Year 2013

John Tucker's Awards
5) Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity (3DS)
"Wait," you're telling yourself, "doesn't he mean X or Y?" Nah, those two will get plenty of love elsewhere. I enjoy them, and their improvements over previous generations are huge, but the same is true of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity. The new mechanic of moves leveling up is a great way to keep all of your team members relevant, even if they don't often travel with the group. In addition, the 3D effects are among the best I've seen, and it was nice to see the characters in 3D prior to the release of X/Y.

4) The Raven — Legacy of a Master Thief (PC)
It's been fun to play new ports of great old adventures games over the past few years, like this year's iOS version of Gemini Rue, which almost made my top five. But it's even better to play a great new adventure game like The Raven. It may not be completely unique in the gaming world, but this is certainly the first game I've ever played in which I got to be both the detective investigating a series of crimes and the person committing them. It does stumble a bit at the end of the final chapter, but it's a top-notch game in every respect up until then.

3) Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (3DS)
The Mario & Luigi series has always been fun, and Dream Team is one of its best entries yet. Its story and graphics get the job done, but the music is great, controls are solid, and the gameplay is top-notch. Combat is fun throughout, partially due to the fact that it's different in the real world, the dream world, and in boss battles. Those giant boss battles are great, and the final boss is the best of all — always a good thing.

2) Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
Ni no Kuni has received a lot of praise this year, and rightly so. It's a gorgeous game with outstanding music and complex combat that doesn't devolve into pure chaos. With its system of catching monsters to serve as "familiars" (all of which have elemental affinities and astrological signs), it takes the Pokémon formula and does something new and different with it. And if you want to take a break from the action, you can stop for a while and read the very well-written and illustrated in-game Wizard's Companion book for a while. As I said in my review, this is a game that drew me in more and more as it progressed, and that's a rare quality in a video game.

1) Diablo III (PS3)
I enjoyed the PC version of Diablo III despite its issues, but playing the console version is so much fun that it actually makes the PC version less enjoyable. All of the little gameplay tweaks do a great job of streamlining the experience, leaving you free to spend your time hacking and slashing rather than making trips back to town to sell loot. The new UI is great as well, and I love seeing it all on my nice, big TV instead of my little laptop.

Improvements are all well and good, but the most important reason I'm placing this as my personal game of the year is that it's the game I keep going back to when I have free time to play something "just because." I'll happily play Diablo III again on the PS4 when it's released, and I can't wait for the Reaper of Souls expansion.

Last second note: the morning before this list was published, my level 59 Hardcore Demon Hunter died fighting Iskatu in Act IV of Hell. She was so close...

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