Game of the Year: Nintendo Life Readers' Awards 2013

You have spoken

On Christmas Day we asked you to choose your Game of the Year winners, and we've been delighted by your enthusiasm to do just that. We received thousands of votes across all categories as you had your say on the best gaming that was on offer with Nintendo's systems.

The categories were the same as for our Staff choices, yet you lovely readers had a tougher job as you had to choose just one game in each category. We've counted up the results and there are some interesting winners.

Every category had well over 1000 votes, and that certainly gives the results plenty of interest; while our staff awards consisted of far less votes and reflected some regional release inconsistencies, some region-specific games have had a greater chance to shine in your awards, with both European and North American contingents weighing in. One category's results match the staff equivalents, while there are some notable variations.

Our thanks for all of your votes, they're much appreciated. Without further ado, let's get started.

Wii U Retail First-Party Game of the Year

The winner was comfortable for this award, but the two runner-up spots were undoubtedly a close-run contest. In fact, the second-placed title had just two more votes than that in third, which is extraordinary.


Mario's latest swept the board in the staff awards and has started well here, clearly delighting many who've picked it up on Wii U. Games don't often go from prompting apathy to excitable hype in just a few short months, but that's exactly what happened with Super Mario 3D World, and it was your favourite Nintendo game on Wii U this year.

Second Place: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

Third Place: Pikmin 3

Wii U Retail Third-Party Game of the Year

Some may insist that the Wii U didn't have any games, but that was never actually the case. The number of exclusives did drop, but your choices in this third-party category did include two games that were only on Nintendo systems. The winner is perhaps a surprise, not because of its level of quality but the controversy it caused; we're pleased that arguably poor corporate decisions didn't damage its impact on those that played it.

The limbless wonder truly delivered in this 2D platformer, with gorgeous visuals, tight controls and some breathtaking level design. This title made clever use of the GamePad, though those levels are perhaps more enjoyable in multiplayer, and Kung Foot may be one of the best mini-games ever produced.

Second Place: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Capcom)

Third Place: Sonic Lost World (Sega)

Wii U eShop Game of the Year

The Wii U eShop saw a number of excellent download-only games appear this year, yet it seems that Nintendo's offerings were the most consistently popular. One title makes it into these awards that potentially missed out in the staff voting due to timescales, so its inclusion is great to see. It's clear that many of the Nintendo Life community love a bit of platforming and old-school gaming...

Although this would also have a limited-quantity physical retail release, it began as DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U, serving up plenty of fast-paced and challenging levels. Luigi used a fantastic flutter jump, and this was clearly a big favourite among download fans here at Nintendo Life.

Second Place: NES Remix (Nintendo)

Third Place: DuckTales Remastered (Capcom)

Wii U Virtual Console Game of the Year

In truth this category only ever had one potential winner, as it was a game hotly anticipated for many years. The clash over the runner-up spots was far more intense, with Super Metroid missing out by just five votes. Considering the number of votes overall, that's extremely close.

The absence of this title on the Wii Virtual Console may have frustrated many, but its short-notice arrival on Wii U brought frenzied excitement and reminded us all of the power of retro gaming. Full of character and memorable moments, an audience both old and new has been enjoying this one all over again.

Second Place: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Nintendo)

Third Place: Super Mario World (Nintendo)

3DS Retail First-Party Game of the Year

The 3DS was the shining light for Nintendo, with impressive sales around the world. Nintendo often reiterates that "software sells hardware", and can certainly point to the 3DS as compelling evidence for just that. It may be overpowered in raw specifications by the Vita and various smart devices, but its games have continued to find a sizeable audience. Nintendo games were vital in this, of course, and you chose three beauties, with the best ultimately coming last in 2013.

Once Nintendo said that this would be based in the same overworld as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, fans of the 16-bit classic no doubt paid attention. Yet this is no simplistic sequel, but stands on its own as a terrific top-down Zelda title; it saw off plenty of competition in this category.

Second Place: Fire Emblem: Awakening

Third Place: Pokémon X & Y

3DS Retail Third-Party Game of the Year

As can often be the case with these votes, regional differences can make it difficult for some titles to shine if they're yet to be released worldwide. This third-party winner from Square Enix is all the more impressive as it is yet to hit North America, yet it still managed to take the prize. It was incredibly close, however, with its vote total less than 1% higher than that in second place.

When this RPG first appeared in previews from the 2011 Tokyo Game Show it drew a lot of positive attention, with the hope that it'd be one of many titles to continue the proud tradition of the genre on Nintendo's handhelds. Its commercial success in Japan has led to confirmation of a sequel, and his one landed in Europe in early December, making its victory all the more impressive. Fear not, North American 3DS owners, it comes to the region on 7th February 2014.

Second Place: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Capcom)

Third Place: Shin Megami Tensei IV (Atlus)

3DS eShop Game of the Year

The 3DS eShop has seen plenty of excellent download-only releases this year, but one game was relatively dominant with 30% of the vote — it had a retail-level price, no less. We should also note that the second-placed game was also comfortably ahead of the rest, emphasizing how it's captured the hearts and minds of many this year.

Capcom's decision to localise this latest entry in the iconic franchise was a delight to gamers outside of Japan, but was perhaps tempered by the news that it would be a download-only release. For those that have loyally purchased every game in the series at retail, it was a blow, but the eShop option did, nevertheless, help the series to continue outside of Capcom's homeland. It clearly didn't disappoint, either, as it comfortably picked up the award.

Second Place: SteamWorld Dig (Image & Form)

Third Place: Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move (Nintendo)

3DS Virtual Console Game of the Year

Like its Wii U contemporary, the 3DS Virtual Console gives retro gamers and all that are curious a chance to sample games from yesteryear. The portable's version brings us games from platforms such as Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Gear, too, which is terrific for those that didn't own the hardware back in the day. In a pleasing case of unified viewpoints, the community results match those of the staff awards.

Taken separately these titles would have seized the top spots, so like in the staff equivalents we'll combined these together, especially as they fit each other perfectly. For those that love Link Between Worlds and want to experience more portable top-down Zelda goodness, these are certainly appealing options.

Second Place: Shantae (WayForward)

Third Place: Mega Man 2 (Capcom)

Overall Wii U Game of the Year

After splitting the Wii U vote into first- and third-party categories, this is the vote to bring them together. It's all Nintendo in your top three, with an unsurprising winner; yet the second and third places are reversed, with just four votes separating them this time. it was so close that you couldn't definitively decide between them!

We're running out of superlatives for this one after its repeated wins so far. It's awesome. Yeah, that'll do.

The second award for this one, making it our staff's favourite Wii U game of the year.

Second Place: Pikmin 3 (Nintendo)

Third Place: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

Overall 3DS Game of the Year

In another category that shows the continuing dominance and excellence of Nintendo's games, it's a big N lockout in your top 3DS list. Once again the last to arrive takes the prize; nicely played, Nintendo.

It's clear from the number of votes for this title that not many waited for Christmas Day to unwrap this one. We blame no-one for diving straight in, as it's an accomplished entry in the franchise that's familiar but also dares to be different, with the item rental mechanic allowing gamers to explore some temples in the order they please. A truly worthy winner of the top 3DS game prize.

Second Place: Fire Emblem: Awakening

Third Place: Pokémon X & Y

Overall Game of the Year — Wii U and 3DS

In a reassuring show of consistency, your votes for this prestigious overall gong were consistent with those that came before. Wii U and 3DS games are often so different from each other, with each complementing each other wonderfully, and though the hardware can only aspire to 3DS sales success at present, its clear that the Wii U's top game has won many of you over.

When announced, its slightly underwhelming first trailer made some unfavourably declare it to be a rushed spin-off from Super Mario 3D Land; though that was an excellent game, we would argue. It turned out to be much more, however, and has secured a number of Game of the Year awards here on Nintendo Life and also on some major multi-platform outlets. Outstanding creativity and design are perfectly aligned with impeccable physics for an experience best described as fun. It perhaps best typifies that Nintendo difference — you won't find too much gritty realism and violence on Wii U, but you will find fantastical settings, hilarity and laughs; there's nothing wrong with that.

Second Place: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Nintendo)

Third Place: Fire Emblem: Awakening (Nintendo)

So those were the results from your Game of the Year votes; once again our humble thanks for the thousands of contributions. It's not over yet, as you can talk over the results (and share your own personal choices, of course) and debate the outcomes in the comments below.

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