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EGM’s Best of 2013: Editor’s Awards: Andrew Fitch

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Posted on December 19, 2013 AT 12:00pm

Introduction

You know it was a great year when Rayman Legends—a game I absolutely adored and sunk probably 50 hours into across several different platforms—didn’t even make my top five. But that’s what happens when several of the industry’s best creative minds—Shigeru Miyamoto, Ken Levine, and Eiji Aonuma—bring their “A” game. Oh, and for those who might deride my picks as Nintendo-centric, bear in mind that I wasn’t overly enthusiastic toward New Super Luigi U or Game & Wario this year, so it’s not like I won’t criticize their games when it’s warranted. I have my problems with some of Nintendo’s practices, and they may not always hit their mark—but when they do, they’re still pretty much unparalleled in the industry.

Andrew’s Top Five Games for 2013

#05: Fire Emblem: Awakening

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Platforms: 3DS

Andrew’s Take

I’ve always had a soft spot for Intelligent Systems’ hardcore tactical series, but Awakening blew past all previous entries. Sure, the strategy was spectacularly solid, but the real fun was playing dastardly evil matchmaker and watching the awesomely awkward chemistry unfold. Emo dark mage Tharja, meet your soulmate: the dimwitted, Russian-accented swordsman Gregor! For those of you who miss the days of Blind Date (and Roger Lodge’s accompanying zingers), Awakening will definitely impart similar schadenfreude as you watch the “happy” couples squirm.

#04: Pikmin 3

Publisher: Nintendo 
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: Wii U

Andrew’s Take

For me, Pikmin 3 was the moment I became a believer in the Wii U—lackluster sales regardless. I’d always enjoyed the series on the GameCube, but the third iteration really illustrated how much HD makes a difference with classic Nintendo properties. I’m sure developers will get a handle on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 tech as next year unfolds, but Pikmin 3’s intricate inch-high visuals—and its sumptuous fruit collection—are far more impressive than anything I saw in Knack, Ryse, or Killzone.

#03: Super Mario 3D World

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: Wii U

Andrew’s Take

Unlike some, I don’t really mind Mario appearing in several platformers over the past couple of years. It’s a shame other people seem to have plumber fatigue, though, since many apparently assume Super Mario 3D World is “just another Mario game.” Well, another Flying Dragon this is not, I can assure you. 3D World is the most fun I’ve had with a three-dimensional Mario game since Mario 64 thanks to its amazing visuals, varied level design, and diverse set of protagonists. Plus, new power-ups like the Cat Suit and the Double Cherry make this Mario adventure feel like its own animal, not a simple rehash of what we’ve seen before.

#02: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Publisher: Nintendo 
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: 3DS

Andrew’s Take

The original Legend of Zelda is probably my favorite game of all time, and I’ve always been slightly disappointed that the series never really went back to the freedom offered in that epic that devoured my childhood and led me to play hooky from grade school on more than one occasion. I can guarantee you Zelda plays a bigger role in my life than Padre Junípero Serra’s exploits do, so it was clearly worth it! I’ll admit that I was skeptical about A Link Between Worlds, but Link’s first 3DS adventure combines the stunning world and aesthetics of A Link to the Past with that boundless exploration found in the original game, and the result is the best portable Zelda of all time—and it’s not even close. Plus, it’s got Octorok baseball! What more could you want? Truant schoolchildren of today, the best part about A Link Between Worlds is that you don’t even have to ditch class to play it!

#01: Bioshock Infinite

Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Irrational Games
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Andrew’s Take

I will never apologize for loving BioShock Infinite. I know it’s become fashionable to rip the game for its alleged “ludonarrative dissonance,” brutal violence, and purported false moral equivalency, but in my view, the game’s soaring successes far outclass any of its problems. Infinite’s “eerie Americana” setting resonated with me, its charming characters entertained (particularly the bickering Luteces), and its combat was enjoyable enough that it never felt like I was playing just to see the story through. I had my own issues with the game, but Ken Levine’s astonishing worlds are always far more than the sum of their parts.

Andrew’s Off-Topic Awards for 2013

The Adol Christin Invincible Ginger Badass Award
Adol Christin
He may have been the upstart underdog back in 1987 on the Japanese PC-88, but Ys’ Adol Christin has left just about every other classic Japanese RPG protagonist in his dust in the following 26 years. Ys: Memories of Celceta on the Vita is his latest retro-style triumph, and that’s because he’s stayed consistent. He needs no gimmicks—and he has no need to settle down, either, even as buxom maidens all across Eresia, Afroca, and the Canaan Islands throw themselves at his feet. Human lasses, elf girls, even goddesses—they all want a taste of what Adol Christin’s got under his tunic. But adventure is his true significant other (and if he’s got a soulmate, you just know it’s his strapping burly buddy, Dogi), and while consoles may come and go and companies may die, one constant will remain in the industry: Adol Christin. And deservedly so.
The So Good, It Drowned Out the Pain of Shingles Award
Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan
Earlier this year, I came down with a case of shingles. Not exactly common for someone my age, but if San Francisco Giants Superstar and American Hero Buster Posey could fight through it on his way to leading the team to his second World Series title in three years back in 2012, so could I. At the same time, I happened to be assigned to play through Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan. I was so engrossed with the game and its excellent reinvention of the series’ formula that I was able to block out the pain for a good portion of the month-long ordeal—thanks, Atlus! If any readers are diagnosed with shingles, I can now recommend the perfect game to occupy your time. If you’ve got a case of the whooping cough, though, I got nothin’.
The Tim Hortons Award for Canadian RPG Excellence
Etrian Odyssey Untold’s Raquna
No, this doesn’t go to BioWare. Instead, I rightly “honour” Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl’s Raquna, the first openly Canadian JRPG protagonist I can recall. This rough-and-tumble Protector hails from the mysterious province of “Ontario” and isn’t afraid to let her Canuck flag fly: She loves beer and maple syrup, and while she may sound like a 19th-century Hudson Bay fur trapper to Canadian ears, she perfectly fits what Americans think of our charming “neighbour” to the north. She’s not just the Bob and Doug McKenzie of JRPGs, though: Her skills with a shield are invaluable on the front lines, making this red-headed rabble-rouser worth her weight in poutine.

EGMNOW’s Best of 2013 Awards Schedule

Andrew Fitch, Managing Editor
Andrew Fitch, a proud Japanese RPG and serial-comma enthusiast, has been attending E3 for close to a decade now. His least-proud moment? That time in 2004 when, suffering from utter exhaustion, he decided to take a break on the creepy, dilapidated—and possibly cursed—La-Z-Boy at Konami’s Silent Hill booth. Follow Andrew’s adventures in avoiding cursed furniture at his Twitter feed: @twittch. Meet the rest of the crew.

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