The Best Overall Games of 2013

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. Which game takes home our top honor?

By Kevin Knezevic. Posted 01/10/2014 09:00 2 Comments     ShareThis

If the past week has shown us anything, it’s that gamers were treated to a wealth of fantastic releases in 2013. From excellent new installments in some of Nintendo’s most notable franchises, to all of the wonderful independent offerings on the Wii U and 3DS eShops, the past year gave Nintendo fans of all stripes something to enjoy, regardless of which platform they own. Now that we’ve recounted our picks for the best games on Wii U, 3DS, the Wii U eShop, and the 3DS eShop, we come down to our choices for overall Game of the Year. There are many frontrunners in this category, but only one can have the distinction of being the best game of 2013. And so, without further ado…


Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D World may have been a predictable choice for the best game of 2013, but as anyone who has spent any amount of time with the game knows, there’s a good reason it took home the top honor. As the first 3D Mario game designed for Wii U (which has had some well-publicized difficulty gaining traction in the market), all eyes were on the heroic plumber to reverse the console’s fortunes. While it’s still too early to tell just how much of an impact Mario will have on Wii U’s success, his latest romp proved to be one of his best yet, charming gamers with the series’ signature blend of tight platforming and innovative mechanics.

But what made Super Mario 3D World so captivating, especially in a year rife with noteworthy contenders for our Game of the Year award, was its imagination. From clever new power-ups like the Cat Suit and the Double Cherry, which created a duplicate of your character each time you picked one up, to the expertly designed levels and frenzied multiplayer (a first for a 3D Mario game), to even the wealth of collectibles scattered about the Sprixie Kingdom, Mario’s latest was one of the richest and most varied adventures on any console, proving just why the old plumber is still the most iconic character in all of gaming. If you have yet to purchase a Wii U, Super Mario 3D World is all the reason you need to invest in the console. And if you already own one, well, you’ll be too busy experiencing its magic for yourself to read this. In either case, Super Mario 3D World embodies everything that we love about Nintendo, and is yet another masterful installment in the company’s flagship series.


Pikmin 3

Absence, as they say, makes the heart grow fonder, and it was the Pikmin series’ nine-year-hiatus that made our reunion with the critters in Pikmin 3 this past summer such a joyous occasion. Little may have changed since gamers last set foot on the Distant Planet, two generations ago on GameCube, but that sense of familiarity could hardly dilute the game’s charm. Even though Pikmin 3 did not differ all that wildly from its predecessors, it was still one of the freshest, most imaginative gaming experiences of the past year, and the innovations that it did bring to the series (two new Pikmin types, improved pointer controls) helped refine its idiosyncratic blend of puzzle solving and real-time strategy even further. With beautiful, high-definition visuals, a surprisingly addictive multiplayer mode, creative use of the Wii U GamePad, and downloadable content in the form of additional missions to complete, Pikmin 3 is one of the finest games not just on Wii U, but in Nintendo’s entire oeuvre, and a more than worthy runner-up for the best game of 2013.

Fire Emblem Awakening

Fire Emblem may not carry the same name recognition as some of Nintendo’s other franchises (at least here in the West, where the series didn’t make its debut until the eponymous Game Boy Advance installment in 2002), but its latest title, Fire Emblem Awakening, was just as impressive as any of the company’s other releases this past year. Like previous Fire Emblem games, Awakening featured a complex storyline and challenging tactical gameplay, but a few new elements helped make it, arguably, the best installment in the series yet (certainly the best one to arrive stateside). The ability to pair characters up on the battlefield completely changed the dynamic of combat; now heroes could strike an enemy in tandem, and one could even deflect an incoming attack, shielding the other from damage. Add in a lengthy campaign, phenomenal localization, and a new Casual difficulty mode (which disabled the series’ trademark permadeath, making the entire experience more welcoming to newcomers), and it’s easy to see why Fire Emblem Awakening was our second runner-up for best game of 2013.


The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds may have just missed securing a runner-up spot on our final list, but that doesn’t make it any less deserving of recognition. As a followup to the SNES classic A Link to the Past (which is still widely regarded as one of the finest video games ever created), Link’s first new 3DS adventure had impossibly high expectations to live up to. Fortunately, the game effortlessly reaffirmed just why the Zelda series is held in such high regard among fans, tempering the series’ classic top-down gameplay with new elements (like the ability to merge into walls) to create a title that was as much a tribute to the past as it was an evolution of it. With challenging dungeons and an affecting story, A Link Between Worlds proved to be yet another excellent installment in the legendary franchise.


That concludes our Best of 2013 awards! Do you agree with our choices? Vote for which game you think should be the Game of the Year in our poll below, or choose “Other” and tell us in the comments!

[poll id=”176″]

2 Responses to “The Best Overall Games of 2013”

  • 12 points
    Sheldon says...

    I would have also thrown Animal Crossing New Leaf in as a mention, the game added enough to make it a fresh experience while holding on to what makes the game so enjoyable.

    • 1 points
      Kevin Knezevic says...

      Animal Crossing was probably my personal favorite game of 2013, so I definitely agree with you on that! Unfortunately the votes didn’t come out in its favor in this category. Still, I was happen to see it take a runner-up spot in our 3DS awards. :)

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