Games of the Year 2013

Mike Salbato's Awards
5) Ys: Memories of Celceta (PS Vita)
I had never played an Ys game until earlier in 2013, when fellow editor Derek's gushing about the series got me to play Ys Origin. Even if it was standard action RPG fare on paper, it was such a well-made and solid package that I could barely put it down until I finished it. Memories of Celceta feels very similar: it may not be a totally unique gameplay experience, but it's so fun and the action moves at such a blistering pace that it's simply a blast.

4) Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk (PS3)
I never thought I'd be listing one of these games on a "best of" list. I tried getting into Atelier Rorona, but didn't stick with it; the game felt too much like a chore. The structure of Ayesha made for a game that's not only far more enjoyable, but is so darn charming, I can't resist it. I've always loved Gust's art style, so I was pleased to finally play a game of theirs that delighted me in the same way the art itself did.

3) The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U)
I'll admit I was among those shocked at Wind Waker's graphical stylings when it was first revealed. Any doubts I had vanished once I saw the game in motion, and it remains one of the stronger titles in the series. Adding HD visuals and some small but important gameplay tweaks made a great game even better.

2) The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
A Link to the Past is many gamers' favorite Zelda title. While it's not my #1 (which is, incidentally, Twilight Princess), I have immensely fond memories of it, and it is in my top 3 SNES games. To do a sequel so many years later to something people are so attached to is incredibly risky. That Nintendo succeeded in delivering so flawlessly was gratifying. This is the Nintendo I grew up with, and the one I've been missing in recent years. Welcome back, guys.

1) Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PC)
It's hard coming up with new, flowery ways to say "I adore this game," but let's try it. Final Fantasy XIV is, as I say often, an unprecedented achievement in gaming. It's the greatest comeback I've ever seen in the 28 years I've been a gamer. Yoshi-P and team had done the impossible — and that makes them mighty big damn heroes in my book. Because I don't throw out Firefly references for just anything. I know it sounds hyperbolic. I do. But much like Nintendo has restored and rewarded my faith in them, Square Enix has made me a believer again. Don't you guys ever let Yoshi-P get away — he and his team struck gold (crystal?) here, and I'm going to be with this game for a long time.

Bonus Brownie Points for Localization
Square Enix hasn't brought Type-0 over yet, but there's a glimmer of hope. Everything else is coming though. Drakengard 3 was announced before its release in Japan. And thanks to Nintendo, Bravely Default is finally making its way out of Japan.

Namco Bandai, though, has completely surprised me this year. The move to finally bring us Tales of Xillia was a welcome one, given the title's high praise. But to announce we were getting Xillia 2, before they even saw the sales figures on Xillia? Risky and impressive. This was followed by the confirmation that we're getting the two-game Tales of Symphonia HD collection, and culminated in Tales of Zestiria being announced for Japan and America simultaneously. That's nearly unheard of in the gaming world, but any Tales fan will tell you it's nothing short of amazing to see Namco Bandai do it. Kudos to you guys; thank you for finally rewarding Tales' fans patience.

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