News Article

Game of the Year: Nintendo Life's Staff Awards 2013

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

A great year for gaming

As 2013 draws to a close it's time to look back and consider which games we enjoyed the most, and then heartily debate the results. It's Game of the Year time, and first up we have the Nintendo Life staff votes.

The categories for the site's staff were the same as those in the community votes, though the results were calculated in a slightly different way.

  • The three major awards at the end of this feature necessitated ten picks in descending order, with the top game in each individual's list receiving ten points, the second nine points and so on.
  • All other categories necessitated five picks, with the same principle of the top game getting five points, the second receiving four etc.
  • All votes were tallied up with this points system.

In a move that's perhaps unique to the circumstance of being Nintendo gamers, we also have categories to recognise the best third-party retail games, separate from first-party contemporaries. With major releases on Nintendo systems being dominated by games from the big N, we thought it important to also highlight the best offerings from other publishers. We also have categories for the Virtual Console platforms — VC games weren't permitted in the eShop and overall voting, but these retro gems certainly deserve some recognition for their role on the 3DS and Wii U.

Finally, as is always the case with our staff votes, some games suffer from circumstances. Primarily, some fantastic games are available in Europe but not North America and vice-versa, and this limits the potential votes, lowering their odds against games available worldwide. We have a transatlantic team so potential casualties in votes are games such as Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, Bravely Default and most titles published by Atlus.

Finally, we call these "Staff Awards" as we certainly don't claim them to be outright Game of the Year awards as drawn up by a Royal Committee of writers locked away at a remote retreat to deliberate on the outcome. Or to be less silly, it's simply a reflection of the team's overall favourites, accommodating the fact that we've all bought, played and prioritised games to our personal tastes. That's why we have a votes / points system. It's democratic, and an aggregate of the team's favourite games of the year.

We also have your community votes, of course, which may tell a different tale, we'll find out on 31st December!

So, enough pre-amble, let's get to the awards.

Wii U Retail First-Party Game of the Year

This category may not have had a lengthy list of candidates, but it had plenty of quality. It also included Wii Fit U— due to its physical release in Europe — and a couple of games published and funded by Nintendo, such as LEGO City Undercover (as opposed to games published or marketed by Nintendo but with development financed elsewhere). Those were tricky decisions but, ultimately, the winner was in little doubt.

Not really a surprise, as the latest 3D Mario title has been acclaimed by many that have played it, hoovering up GOTY awards, too. Terrific fun in single and multiplayer, with breathless creativity throughout, it's another masterpiece from Tokyo EAD.

Second Place: Pikmin 3

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

Wii U Retail Third-Party Game of the Year

The Wii U, despite popular opinion, had some excellent third-party offerings this year. Not many were exclusives, that was undeniable, but they helped to flesh out the year's lineup, particularly in the second half of 2013. The winner in this category romped away in the votes, despite a troubled path to release...

Originally a Wii U launch window title thought to be an exclusive, Ubisoft angered fans when it not only announced that the game was going multi-platform, but that the release would be delayed to ensure a release across all systems at the same time. When it arrived it was a stunning platformer, however, though the PR disaster of its early days perhaps damaged its reception and perception among Wii U owners. That's a pity, as it's a treat.

Second Place: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Capcom)

Tied Third Place: Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut (Square Enix)
Tied Third Place: Need for Speed: Most Wanted U (Electronic Arts)

Wii U eShop Game of the Year

This category is for download-only games, or those associated as such — New Super Luigi U and DuckTales Remastered were included in this voting. While 2014 may bring a greater volume of exciting games to the console's eShop, the year just past did deliver some quality for us to enjoy, with the eventual winner running away with the prize.

If we had a strangest game name prize it would certainly have been a candidate, but it's picked up the far more lucrative Wii U eShop GOTY gong. The BIT.TRIP series was hugely popular on WiiWare and in its eventual retail bundles, and a number of the Nintendo Life team clearly felt that this sequel to the Runner entry pushed all of the right buttons; it even had the voice of Mario, Charles Martinet, as its star.

Second Place: Wii Sports Club: Bowling (Nintendo)

Third Place: DuckTales Remastered (Capcom)

Wii U Virtual Console Game of the Year

Virtual Console games aren't eligible for the eShop or overall awards, but the platform is nevertheless an important part of Nintendo's consoles. The arrival of the VC on the Wii U has had its ups and downs, from giddy highs of long-awaited releases and massive discounts to some duds and release gaps. Overall though, some retro games have excited us, with our favourite likely to surprise no-one.

We've already described this game's arrival and the manner of release as one of the highlights of 2013. The RPG had been on wishlists since the Wii Virtual Console, but reports of licensing and copyright problems seemed to cloud the issue. Whatever the ultimate reasons, its release on the Wii U was an event in itself.

Second Place: Super Mario World (Nintendo)

Third Place: Super Metroid (Nintendo)

3DS Retail First-Party Game of the Year

In what has been an outstanding year of software for the 3DS, this was one of the most fiercely contested categories, with Nintendo delivering terrific content throughout 2013. Sticking to a top three also means some high-profile games missing out in our staff vote, with the quality of those missing a testament to the standard of the winners.

An impressive results for the latest Zelda title, considering its arrival late in the year and some staff voting before receiving the game as a festive gift. It says much for its impact on those that have played it that it still came top with relative comfort, picking up maximum points from multiple members of the team. It may be based in the same world as the iconic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but it stands up to scrutiny all on its own.

Second Place: Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Third Place: Fire Emblem: Awakening

3DS Retail Third-Party Game of the Year

Quite possibly the most fragmented of categories, as the volume and quality of the third-party 3DS library depends a fair bit on the love of specific genres or, perhaps, whether or not you live in North America. The range of Atlus games passed the EU-based team members by, for example, and our winner is a surprise, narrowly edging out a title that perhaps suffered due to some opting for a Wii U version.

Every set of annual awards has a decision that's hotly debated, and this one may attract some heat. Some fans of Konami's franchise simply do not like this series or the combo-based gameplay, as examples; yet some of the Nintendo Life team were fans of this one on Nintendo's portable. If you warm to its style it can be a fun adventure, while the use of stereoscopic 3D was particularly impressive.

Tied Second Place: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Capcom)

Tied Second Place: Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan (Atlus)

Third Place: Shin Megami Tensei IV (Atlus)

3DS eShop Game of the Year

Another tightly fought contest, again reflecting a breadth of excellent games on the 3DS. The eShop has continued to flourish with some excellent releases in 2013, with a lengthy list of games receiving voting points; download-only games with retail-level prices did struggle for consistent votes, however. The final outcome was extremely close, with the musical nature of some of our staff members tipping the scales, but only just.

This is product of a development policy encouraging staff creativity at the studio behind the main Pokémon series. It's bright and cheerful rhythm music gameplay, with some high-profile cameos to help it along; its charm and wonderful soundtrack helped it to win the prize by just two voting points.

Second Place: SteamWorld Dig (Image & Form)

Third Place: Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale (Level-5)

3DS Virtual Console Game of the Year

The 3DS Virtual Console has brought us a number of NES games, it's true, but also retro delights previously only available to those with retro collections. Thankfully, with the Game Boy and Game Boy Color library steadily growing, we get the chance to visit some portable gems, with the results showing that these delighted the Nintendo Life team the most, albeit with one NES title joining in.

We'll admit that combining these two releases can be up for debate, but such was their prominence and the nature of these titles best being owned together, that it seemed apt; staff voting for these games instinctively grouped them together. We've already had a modern Zelda victory on the 3DS, but these excellent Game Boy Color games shouldn't be disregarded, and provide a valuable portable Zelda education for those yet to dive in.

Second Place: Shantae (WayForward)

Third Place: Mega Man 2 (Capcom)

Overall Wii U Game of the Year

We've split up the Wii U games into various categories, so this vote brought all retail and eShop games (apart from Virtual Console) together. The winner was in little doubt, but the two runner-up positions were keenly fought, with one breaking the first-party monopoly.

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: Rayman Legends (Ubisoft)

Overall 3DS Game of the Year

Like its Wii U brethren, this combined all new titles on the 3DS, and also reflects the first-party dominance of the handheld in the past year. This category showed that, sometimes, first-party truly does rule the roost on Nintendo systems.

A second award for the latest Zelda game on the 3DS, as it proved sufficiently legendary to us.

Second Place: Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Nintendo)

Third Place: Fire Emblem: Awakening (Nintendo)

Overall Game of the Year — Wii U and 3DS

When combining all games across the Wii U and 3DS, statistical logic would point to a 3DS winner, with the handheld enjoying monster sales and an impressive range of major releases. Gaming isn't always logical, however, and Nintendo saved its finest work for late in the day, delivering a platforming masterclass that comfortably won our staff vote.

Not top of absolutely every staff member's list, this was nevertheless a runaway winner and number one for quite a few. It'll perhaps go down as one of the strangest progressions for a game — its E3 reveal was slightly underwhelming, early preview builds were fun but relatively safe, before Nintendo unleashed a wave of reveals, new footage and exciting preview builds that suddenly changed the message. It was critically acclaimed but, far more importantly, seems to have created plenty of joy for Wii U owners that have taken the plunge. We'll learn in the coming weeks what kind of impact it's had at retail, but what perhaps matters more to us at this time is that it's simply a fabulous experience, and a worthy Game of the Year winner.

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

Third Place Place: Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Nintendo)

So those are our staff's awards for 2013. We'll be revealing the results of your community votes on 31st December, in which we'll see which games have most excited you over the past year. In the meantime let us know what you think of these results in the comments below.

From the web

User Comments (146)



Jazzer94 said:

I think Steam Wold Dig deserved first in 3DS e-shop game of the year much better then harmoknight. Not sure about Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate either that game was a bit hit and miss ended up trading it in after completion my only 3DS trade in so far.



Anclation said:

Very disappointing to see you ignore The Wonderful 101, that game was awesome and criminally overlooked.



Blast said:

I.... I.... I can understand the list only reflects the STAFF of Nintendolife but I really hope the community list turns out different than this list....



Nareva said:

Nice list. I bought myself a 3DS for Christmas and just picked up Steamworld Dig and Attack of the Friday Monsters (both on sale). I guess I'll have to check out HarmoKnight as well.



Shiryu said:

Nice choices. I would like to throw "The Wonderful 101" up there in the mix. Looking forward to 2014 with a big smile.



OGGamer said:

In overall Wii U game of the year I would definitely like to see rayman legends replaced by W101 . In my opinion w101 is the superior game .



Kifa said:

I second @Jazzer94 and @Anclation - Steam World Dig and The Wonderful 101 deserve to at least be on the list. How does Rayman Legends get into top 2 Wii U games of the year and TW101 does not? Heck, even Pikmin 3 is not really all that good - it's just a HD bump of Pikmin 2 to be honest, and why does it get so much praise is beyond me...



Gioku said:

As much as I've heard praises sung of Fire Emblem, interesting that it only got third...
And as @berzerker99 points out there's an odd lack of Pokémon... hmm...
Anyway I agree with all the awards, though, haha!



NintyMan said:

Nice list; I was pleasantly surprised to see Harmoknight win 3DS eShop GOTY as I've really enjoyed that one. Super Mario 3D World is a well-deserved overall GOTY.



BossBattles said:

The Wonderful 101 is all the proof you need that Nintendo has real hardcore action experiences that will forever be ignored by the ignorance of today's so called "gamer".



Sakura said:

When I saw the title "Nintendo Life's Staff Awards 2013", I thought you were appraising the staff for a second there. My vote goes to Damien McFarren because his mii nabbed me a Streetpass day bag at Eurogamer Expo! BTW has named Nintendo's Mario 3D World as the game of the year, even though they still consider 2013 to be the year of PS4 and Xbone... Errr...okay.



marck13 said:

We are so spoiled (by Nintendo)! Great games like The Wonderful 101, Luigi´s Mansion 2 or also ZombiU (Ubisoft) don´t even appear in the top titles of the main crowd.



shigulicious said:

I like all of the choices except Steamworld dig should have won. Also Runner 2 is filled with awesomeness. Glad to see it here. How about another bit.trip. sequel? I think a Fate sequel has potential.



GearsOfWarU said:

@Anclation I totally Agree with You I had a 2 Way Tie for My Game Of The Year ... Super Mario 3D World & The Wonderful 101 . 101 was an Amazing , Awesome Exciting & Colorful Game that was a Blast and deserves Credit for being something Different!!!!!



Rapido said:

What Castlevania over SMT IV?! Just kidding, I will not start throwing my own preference in games unto others : ). Happy New Year!



ThomasBW84 said:

I just finished totting up the community votes, with intriguing outcomes! Some the same, some definitely different.

In terms of The Wonderful 101, it actually did pretty well in the voting, a couple of us (me included, ) even had it second in our Wii U list. It missed out across the whole sphere but did get some votes, finishing fourth in the first-party Wii U category. It was this close.



GearsOfWarU said:

I Just got a 3DS for Christmas .... Mainly to play Kid Icarus Uprising , Castlevania Lords Of Shadow Mirror of Fate & Luigi Mansion Dark Moon !!!! How is Luigi Mansion Not one of the 3DS Game of the Year ????? I basically bought a system for it !!!!!!!



ACK said:

Overall great choices. About as good as a list as I could expect...

However, Duck Tales showing up at all deeply bothers me. Seriously. It's one of my least favorite games of the year and has completely shaken my faith in Wayforward. Day one I bought it without a second thought as to it being anything other than a great remake of one of my favorite childhood NES games. Immediately I was shocked and disappointed. It's ugly, the animations are questionable, the gameplay an utter bastardization, the cut scenes god awful... I forced myself through it with my kids (who love the show to no end) and even they had no interest in playing or watching (which never happens with anything other than sports games). I wish it that game never happened.

I also am not too fond of Castlevania or Bit Trip Runner getting nods (both of those are pretty tedious, joyless experiences for me). And shutting out NES Remix... Nah, that ain't right.



Spoony_Tech said:

Why wasn't Kid Icarus even mentioned!! Lol

No surprises this year really. Just thought maybe that FE:A would take #1 for 3ds from all the round table talk. Also lots of love for Atlus and that's great in my book!



TreesenHauser said:

I guess you could say this was The Year of The Cat?

Super Mario 3D World deserved the wins, such an awesome game. I beat it the other day, but I'm still having fun with it!

@ACK Sorry you didn't like DuckTales, Castlevania or Bit.Trip Runner, but just because you didn't like them doesn't mean everyone else should hate it too. The general consensus was that all three were very good games. Though I do agree with you about NES Remix, that was a blast!



GearsOfWarU said:

My Favorite Wii U Games of 2013 are #1 Super Mario 3D World #2 The Wonderful 101 #3 Sonic Lost World # 4 Rayman Legends #5 Injustice : Gods Among Us # 6 Pikmin 3 #7 Batman Arkham Origins .... Sorry I'm not the Worlds Biggest Zelda Fan so I saw no reasoning in buying a 10 year old HD remake ... I think Ducktales Remastered HD is a Better Game . Wii U VC we're is the love for My all time Favorites Ghost N Goblins , Super Ghouls N Ghosts, Castlevania , Super Castlevania 4 & Kid Icarus !!!!!! O well that's just my take on Wii U 2013 .... Can't wait for 2014 Smash Bros Wii U , Donkey Kong Tropical Feeze, Bayonetta 2 & Mario Kart 8 !!!!!



awaitingreatnes said:

I'm playing through Mario right now and understand where some of the praise is coming from, but for me it just lacks something every other Mario had, and I can't put my finger on it. On world 5 so far, and I have no incentive to finish. On a more positive note, Fire Emblem was superb... hopefully it tops the community awards for 3DS!



GearsOfWarU said:

@ThomasBW84 ... Ok thanks for the info ... I played the Demo at Toys R Us and had to get the Game ... Wish it came out on Wii U along with Kid Icarus Uprising



GalacticMario28 said:

I'm happy to see Super Mario 3D World get the awards it did; it's my pick for Game of the Year, after all. I'm a little sad that Pokémon wasn't represented here, but I can't say I'm surprised; it's one of those series that a lot of people play and like, but which hardly anybody really loves. But at least Game Freak got some recognition in these awards. Some of the eShop and Virtual Console winners were a little surprising to me.



sinalefa said:

Hopefully the Wonderful 101 will make it in any of tomorrow's categories. I started another playthrough on Normal yesterday. Not many games will entice me enough to do that.

But I am not sore because the winner absolutely deserves it.



moomoo said:

Castlevania?... Okay then...

Well, here's hoping the reader's list is better.



AlexSora89 said:

I was surprised to not see any mention of Pokémon at first, until I remembered the lack of X and Y's replay value supply, the Pokémon Bank.



GraveLordXD said:

Castlevania MoF was horrible should be burned in a fire with all the other Mercury steam castlevanias not worthy of the name!



AyeHaley said:

We will tell our grandchildren about 2013's legendary lineup of games.

These were (almost) perfect games and my favorites: 3D World, SteamWorld Dig, Luigi's Mansion 2, X/Y, Lego City (sequel please!), Earthbound,New Leaf, Link Between Worlds, NES Remix (more please!), Ninja Gaiden 3(bad story but epic fighting), Rayman Legends, Pikmin 3, Mario&Luigi, 3D SEGA remasters and The Wind Waker HD.



TwilightAngel said:

well this list is perfect for me super mario 3d world won it all i actually wanted the legend of zelda a link between worlds would win this and damn next year will be hard to pick which game wins the game of the year with all of nintendo software.



Windy said:

Woot for Castlevania! One of the coolest and best looking games on 3DS. Very underrated by some. Great game!



Hordak said:

I have a free download code for The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages on the 3DS eShop for anyone who wants it. It's from Best Buy in the U.S. so I'm not sure if it works anywhere other than North America. First come first serve!



I-U said:

I don't like seeing Super Metroid in third place, and don't feel New Leaf should be a Top 3 in any category above. Overall though, I do like the lists and couldn't agree more that Super Mario 3D World is the GOTY.



Hordak said:

@rachfell you replied first, so you get the DL code. Now I'm just trying to figure out how to get it to you so no one else steals it first!



Giygas_95 said:

Runner 2 absolutely deserved Wii U eshop game of the year!

Heck, I even voted it my overall Wii U game of the year!



RR529 said:

I totally forgot that HarmoKnight even existed, lol.

Surprised it even placed, considering that people simply stopped talking about it altogether shortly after it's release.



SquirrelNuts said:

I know it has already been addressed, but The Wonderful 101 deserved a second place nod somewhere on this list. That game is epic, exclusive, rad, awesome, great, imeancomeonwowitsgood, and just overall a remarkable experience on the Wii U. For shame.



GearsOfWarU said:

@ThomasBW84 super Mario 3D World & The Wonderful 101 for Wii U GOTY & Luigi Mansion Dark Moon & Castlevania LOS Mirrors of Fate for 3DS Game of The Year .... Quick Question as an old School NES Nintendo Fan who has spent the last Decade 2002-2012 playing Xbox & 360 exclusively and is not a huge Zelda Fan How good is the New Link Between Worlds on 3DS and should a non Zelda Fan give it a Go ?



GearsOfWarU said:

@Spoony glad to see so many other Wii U owners Appreciate such a Great Game .... I myself have it tied with Super Mario 3D World as GOTY it is super Action Packed , Colorful , Exciting & Fun with Amazing Boss Battles & 1 of the Few Games That takes Advantage of the Wii U Gamepad



LeVideoGamer said:

No Pokémon makes the 3DS list an insta-fail in my eyes. Much better than Animal Crossing.

As for The Wonderful 101, yes, it's a good game, but is it really better than Pikmin 3 or Wind Waker HD? I don't think so.



ThomasBW84 said:

@GearsOfWarU I don't always get obsessed with 2D Zelda games — I do with 3D entries — but I love Link Between Worlds. I'd say it's worth playing for pretty much anyone.



imageform said:

So, our SteamWorld Dig almost becomes 3DS eShop GOTY - beaten by brilliant Harmoknight by two votes. Do you think we're dejected that the first effort on the 3DS from a small studio in rainy, windy Gothenburg, a game that has taken the Nintendo world entirely by surprise, doesn't win? Think again. We HAVE won, and you, the most marvelous community we will come across, made it happen.
These are the greatest people on the planet: lead designer Olle Håkansson, art director Tobias Nilsson, project manager Marco Podda, programmers Ola Frid, Tobias Lilja, Sebastian Strand and Ulf Hartelius, artists Björn Håkansson, Peter Broqvist, Agnieszka Mikucka and Jakob Wahlberg. Stand up straight, guys and girl - it's a thunderous achievement.



Gioku said:

@ThomasBW84 And this one's a little bit of both - it's top down, sure - but's it's also very 3D (in more ways than one)!



Gioku said:

@imageform I just bought SteamWorld Dig, but I have yet to start playing it - but I'm excited to start because of all the great things I'm hearing about it (plus it got second in these awards), and you guys seem to have put a lot of effort into it!



Matts14 said:

Next years game of the year award goes to............ Smash bros runner up Mario kart



CanisWolfred said:

CV: LoS - Mirror of Fate winning out over many more deserving games aside, this is quite possibly the first time I've been rather pleased with a GotY list around here, both because NL picked a great format this year, but also because a lot of great games hit Nintendo platforms this year as well. Sure, there were some games that I felt deserved to be mentioned, but there weren't any games that I felt didn't deserve a mention (again, CV aside). I'm even tempted to try out a few games that I forgot, like Runner 2 and I guess SteamWorld. Overall, great list, to the point where I'm dreading the Readers awards since Pokemon's probably gonna sweep all the 3DS awards it doesn't deserve...



Xjarnold said:

Fire emblem shouldn't won or at least got second bit hey, that's what the readers choice awards are for.



Ailingforale said:

Most of these I saw coming, though I wished for higher ratings for Fire Emblem and Monster Hunter.

... HarmoKnight though.. really?



JaxonH said:


Pikmin 3 is not even close to being an HD bump of Pikmin 2...??? If anything it's closer to the original Pikmin. Of course it's going to be similar- it's a series of a franchise. The game is supposed to be similar to its predecessors. But Pikmin 3 is fantastic, superb really. I got a sense of joy playing that game that not even Wonderful 101 or Super Mario 3D World could replicate.



JaxonH said:


I actually just bought Steamworld Dig last night, and it's strangely addictive lol. I saw all the high scores for it and thought I'd give it a go, and I gotta say, I'm fairly impressed!



Alucard83 said:

I never got into Earth Bound. Checked the video's on youtube it just doesn't do anything for me.



Royalblues said:

What a surprise. A Mario and Zelda game make game of the year. In my opinion (speaking as a person who's played most of the major 3DS games this year, sans Fire Emblem, but I have watched extensively its gameplay), I'd have to say that Etrian Odyssey IV and Animal Crossing New Leaf are the two 3DS games of the year. EO was more engaging to me than any other RPG this year, mainly due to the game's fighting system, and brutal difficulty that compel the player to employ meticulous strategy in order to progress.
As for Wii U Game of the Year, I can't say, because I don't have the system. But I will say this: It speaks volumes about the Wii U that the best game this year for it is a Mario game. That shows that it hardly has anything to offer.
Just my two cents. I'm mainly a handheld gamer these days anyway.



Prof_Clayton said:

Wow, no Pokemon or W101?
I can see how Attack of the Friday Monsters! got on the list; but as a kid still I didn't enjoy it much.



MAB said:

I know I played better games this year then what is highlighted in this list... Especially as far as the eShop only is concerned



SkywardLink98 said:

Fire Emblem... second... to Animal Crossing!?!? As a proud owner of both, I find this insulting, as Fire Emblem was at least twice as addicting as Animal Crossing. Haven't played Zelda yet, but it better be [I'd curse, but it's against my religion, so you'll have to do without] good considering how amazing Fire Emblem was.



DuggyFresh said:

Hate to say it, but I don't think Pikmin 3 should be on this list over Wonderful 101 or Lego City. Both of those games are way more fun. Maybe no one remembered that Lego City came out this year?



R_Champ said:


Huh, it's funny I didn't think about it until you mentioned it, but I'd DEFINITELY put Wonderful 101 in the No. 1 spot for third party game of the year...I was actually a little disappointed with Rayman Legends, sure, it was a great game, but once Mario 3D World and W101 were released I was like: Rayman what? But of course everyone has their own opinion. I might put FE:A a little higher too...buuuut I'm kinda a Fire Emblem fanboy so I can't blame people for not liking it as much as I do.



DreamOn said:

Ah now here is some love for the Zelda in 2013! great picks, team! Mario and Zelda on top and not just because there wasn't anything else to play this year! Mr. Video Game and Miyamoto's childhood wonder turned video game are both a craft to behold still in this modern and varietal gaming world.



3dcaleb said:

i thought for sure pokemon would at least place on the list. and edge was awesome in 3d i thought.



DreamOn said:

@Swiket Sticker Star did get 3DS GOTY...last year. lol even though it would cause murder, I certainly could get on board voting Sticker Star GOTY for a second year xD



larry_koopa said:

Super Mario 3D World is simply outstanding and I am glad it is getting Game of the Year recognition across multiple gaming sites and publications beyond just Nintendo-centric ones. I know The Last of Us and GTA V are running away with lots of Game of the Year consideration elsewhere, but in terms of pure fun Mario 3D World can not be beat.

Oh, and Rayman Legends is also fantastic, though I have to admit that I own it for my PS3 as the GamePad functionality did not appeal to me... still, don't overlook this one, folks.



bizcuthammer said:

Having played both, i can honestly say SteamWorld Dig is by far the best eshop game, over HarmoKnight. Both are good, but SWD is great. It's actually my third favorite 3DS game this over behind Link Between Worlds and Fire Emblem.



unrandomsam said:

The 3DS Castlevania is rubbish. A Link Between Worlds is too easy. (Surely Bravely Default is better than Castlevania even the DS Castlevanias are better.

Ducktales is poor as well I prefer rhe NES one.

Runner 2 is ok but only worth it at about £3 or less.(



gregrout said:

I can't understand how Pikmen 3, Shin Megami Tensei IV, Ducktales and Animal Crossing made this list. Pikmen 3 controls are a mess especially on the pro controller. Shin Megami Tensei IV was unnecessarily harsh right from the start with a death cinematic that droned on so long it was like watching a commercial. Ducktales is bland and Animal Crossing loses all it's appeal after you've maxed out your house, improvements and museum. Wonderful 101, Pokemon X/Y, Rune Factory 4 and Fire Emblem trumped all of these winning titles.



theblackdragon said:

@cyrus_zuo: i kid you not, i've got a brand new copy of ALBW on the table in front of me and i still haven't even unwrapped it from the plastic thanks to RF4. it truly is an amazing game, i'm absolutely loving it :3



Hordak said:

@rachfell Do you have twitter or Facebook? I didn't realize I cannot send anything to friends on the 3DS and swap note is not working for me. I didn't realize it would be so hard to get this code out there for someone!



Mecha_Boo said:

kinda dissappointing Luigi didnt even make mention in this list despite it being the year of luigi ;( Luigi's always forgotten ;(



electrolite77 said:


In not sure I follow. A game that's been very highly rated across the board and upholds a legacy consistent with top quality games wins Game of the Year. How does that show that the system has 'hardly anything to offer'?



brandonbwii said:

For Nintendo Life to say there was such a heated debate on the 3DS side. Your picks were quite predictable actually. Zelda, Animal Crossing, and Fire Emblem are pretty much every media outlets' pick. We'll see if that changes with the community votes, but somehow I doubt it.



cyrus_zuo said:

@theblackdragon: hah that is funny my Zelda copy is also sitting unwrapped b/c I'm too busy playing Rune Factory 4. (As is my copy of Mario Sticker Star that I got on the cheap from Walmart)



scrubbyscum999 said:

No Pokemon in any spots, list invalidated. That and as a Castlevania fan, Mirrors of Fate should not be here at all.



GreatPlayer said:

@unrandomsam @ACK @TreesenHauser
I think bit.trip runner 2 is a very good game, and it definitely deserves the award as the best eshop download. However, as a veteran in platforming games (or, I basically only play platformers most of my gaming life), I feel that the game is not complex enough to satiate my hunger. I finished the entire runner 2 game and I don't find it very satisfying, but that is due to my previous experience with more complex platformer games. AVGN Adventure is better (though it is too short).



SpookyMeths said:

Pretty good choices. Think the only one I'd have to really disagree with is 3DS 3rd party GOTY. Rune Factory 4 was the clear winner for me and Castlevania didn't even register. MH3U, SMT IV, and EO IV were all strong contenders though.



MrWalkieTalkie said:

Surprised to see HarmoKnight & Castlevania as winners. I heard a lot of people say how they were mediocre or just plain bad. Although I've never played either of them yet.



kupo said:

I LOVE Castlevania and Lords of Shadow is one of my top 3 Castlevania games, but Mirror Of Fate is just...blah. The load times between each screen alone make the game nigh unplayable for me. I even bought it on PS3 to see if they fixed the loading and, nope, walking across the maps is still a tedious exercise.



andrea987 said:

My best WiiU eShop tiyle is Trine 2 DC, surprised it didn't get a place in your first three, but Sports Club Bowling (!) did.
Edit: I just realized it came out november last year, lol. Still puzzled by that bowling, somehow. Maybe 'cause I prefer golf, meself.



BulbasaurusRex said:

Everyone keeps mentioning "Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies" as an excellent yet strange contender for 3DS eShop awards due to its unusual status of being basically a retail game with a download-only release, but what about its retail eShop brethren "Senran Kagura Blast" and "Unchained Blades," both hidden gems as well? I was disappointed that I had to use a write-in vote for "Senran Kagura Blast" for my 3DS eShop vote.



GoombaJMR said:

-New Leaf is good, but not imo the 2nd best 3ds game of the year.
-Etrian IV imo Best 3rd party game this year for 3ds (my GOTY for all systems)
-Rune Factory IV also a spectacular 3rd party game that I am thoroughly enjoying this year. Been playin that instead of Zelda similar to what @cyrus_zuo is doin xd
-Surprised Pokemon X/Y didn't get a mention in any of the rewards I saw
-Also thought that Fire Emblem was awesome, definite 1st or 2nd first party 3DS game for me mm



Gamer83 said:

Figured 3D World would take it as home console games usually do, but I'd still put Zelda slightly ahead. Either way, can't go wrong with any of those games for GOTY.



Inkling said:

Um... there's a typo: on the last line of Overall Game, it says Third Place Place. An easy mistake, I was just pointing it out!



AJWolfTill said:

@Anclation What makes you think it was ignored? It may well have got plenty of votes it just got beaten by other releases. Rayman Legends and Deus Ex are fantastic games well worth the small asking price.



sinalefa said:

Staff picks the highest rated games: "You guys are predictable!"

Staff does not pick the highest rated games: "You guys are crazy!"



Leu10antFalcon said:

Congrats to Nintendo and Nintendo EAD Tokyo. Super Mario 3D World is truly the Game of the Year 2013. The development team have done an outstanding job on delivering the HD graphics (especially scaled in full HD), new play control, new and unique power-ups, and the characters we all love and admire. 10 out of 10! Look forward to a new title from EAD Tokyo in the near future.



SeVok said:

Picking out one GOTY almost seems like injustice of what has been an awesome year for the 3DS with one quality release after the other.



Shambo said:

Whatever game picked as absolute number one, you'd leave out an incredible amount of top-quality titles on both 3ds and Wii U.



Chris720 said:

Pretty good overall board, however the 3DS Retail Third-Party Game of the Year award is for Castlevania? No... Its a good game, but not game of the year worthy.



IxnayontheCK said:

I'm gonna say it - I agree with the Castlevania choice!
It takes a bit of time to get into it, but its a great game. IMO of course...



Royalblues said:

@electrolite77 Think about it this way. Zelda on the 3DS faced stiff competition against it's peers in the 2013 library, as there are numerous games that came out that could be argued deserved the title. And it still won. That means LBW is really that good.
With Mario 3D world, there was hardly any competition for GOTY on the Wii U, so of course it is going to win.The system is starved for games.
I mean, I know you are still going to argue my logic, but see it one last way: if the Wii U had the variety of games that the competition is getting, I highly doubt the GOTY would be SM3DW. As fun as that game is (and yes, I have played it), I would hardly call it the most engaging gaming experience this year.



dumedum said:

Love the castlevania decision. Luigi Mansion as absence from the top 3 is a mistake though.



electrolite77 said:


I see what you're getting at in that the Wii U didn't have the best year. However, the issue I have with your argument is how do you explain that SM3DW has reviewed well across the board? It's not just Nintendo sites, it's got perfect scores from Destructoid, Joystiq, Digital Spy and Eurogamer who have it as their GOTY ahead of all the multi-format competition. A lack of competition on Wii U isn't a factor in these reviews, they just reflect an excellent game in comparison to anything else out there whether it be The Last Of Us, Bioshock Infinite, Ni No Kuni, Persona 4 Golden, Zelda ALBW or Papers Please.

And let's face it, it's not unthinkable for a 3D Mario game to be GOTY on the format it's released on. It happened in 1996, 1007, 2010 and 2011 again ahead of different competition to the Wii U's library this year. There's precedent there that doesn't suggest Nintendo or anyone else would have done anything this year to top SM3DW.

Ultimately, you don't like it that much which is fine, it's your opinion, but there's no need to justify it by suggesting others are over-rating it because of the paucity of competition on Wii U (and that's without the debate about the actual strength of the Wii U's library). It's all hypothetical of course, we'll never know, but I suspect if Nintendo would have released more games in 2013, you'd just have seen a stronger battle for second place.



element187 said:

Great list but I would vehemently disagree with Rayman Legends. Just way too easy. If a platformer doesn't have me wanting to throw my controller at the wall, then it's just not challenging enough for me to even enjoy..... I know the first 65% or of 3D World is super easy but the bonus levels is putting me through the grinder. Exactly what an excellent platformer should be.



element187 said:

@awaitingreatnes only world 5? You got a LONG way to go, son.

Keep at it, it keeps getting better.... I'm still not done with every level yet, but after 80+ hours I'm still not getting bored.



element187 said:

@gregrout what death cinematic? I am almost 100 hours into Shin Megami Tensei IV and I haven't seen a death cinematic yet.

The game is great. How attached you become to Isabeau than having to do the unthinkable to her. Just heart wrenching. I don't think a video game has ever taken a toll on me emotionally before. Not even TLOU can compete with it.



gregrout said:

@element187 Enjoy...
I guess if you're used to these games you wouldn't die very often and I'm sure it would be very enjoyable game. This is the first game of the Shin Megami Tensei series I've played. After getting my butt handed to me about ten times in a row, I figured I'd do some research on the game. I didn't fault the game, I figured I must be doing something very wrong. From what I've found, these games are very difficult. The number one piece of advice given was to save very often. The second piece of information was to study each of the demons for strengths and weaknesses. Saving, Studying demons, reloading, trial and error learning curve from hell and Titanic-esc death scenes basically told me I'd have to invest a lot of my time for this game to be remotely enjoyable. I just wasn't going to invest my time in a game so daftly designed to the point of being exclusionary to new comers. I'll chose Fire Emblem Awakening that ramps up the difficulty in stages any day over this game. The community surround this game was much more invested in boasting about their accomplishments than helping new comers out. I get that, it's a tough game. I don't think it's a good strategy if you're looking forward to a "Shin Megami Tensei V", poor sales from people skipping the title due to it's difficulty isn't exactly the right ingredients for a follow up. I bought the collector's edition so it wasn't a complete loss (nice soundtrack CD). But I'm about 99.9% sure I won't be picking up the next entry in the series if it's ever made. Your post however has peaked my interest. I might dig the game out and give it another try.



andreoni79 said:

... 4th place for The Wonderful 101: a good way for the critic to promote a brilliant new IP! W101 has far more replay value than Pikmin 3 and WW isn't nothing more than a good HD port...



Blizzia said:

Okay-ish list, really wish NL would take off the Mario/Zelda goggles though. I still cannot believe these games hogged first places this year. While good, they were definitely not the best. Oh well, opinions differ.

Still surprised that Etrian Odyssey IV didn't take any places whatsoever on the reader's choice awards. Glad to see them hog something here

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