With the flipping of the calendar to 2014, it’s time to engage in the great tradition of looking back on the year that’s past and fete the best of 2013. This year we decided to chicken out and name not just one Game of the Year, but three Games of the Year. And some honourable mentions too. Because that’s what we do. With so much to celebrate, why stop at one? So let’s get this started with our GamerPops Family Games of the Year
Knack wasn’t the most critically well-received game in mainstream gaming circles, and it certainly wasn’t without its flaws, but if you were able to get your hands on a PlayStation 4, it was easily the best family-friendly game you could play on the system. New hardware or not, the game’s assistive co-op play is a perfect match for parents and kids to play together (or older and younger siblings) and make a real difference.
We gave another LEGO game the nod as one of our best of the year (more on that later), but let’s be honest: any of the big LEGO games from TT Games would deserve to be on the list. Since the original LEGO Star Wars, TT Games have been refining their craft, and to date, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is the best of the license-based games. With a fully-realized version of Marvel’s Manhattan, over one hundred heroes and villains to play as, and the expected co-op play, this game is mighty like the Avengers, uncanny like the X-Men, and spectacular like Spider-man.
The Swap Force thing might be a gimmick, but it seems to be resonating with quite a few kids. Plus, the newest entrant in the money-printing series finally includes the long-overdue ability to jump, freshening up gameplay. Character design continues to impress (an advantage over Disney Infinity, I’ve found), and my kids still get more mileage out of the toys than the actual game itself. Yes, this hobby can get pricey, and parents will need to deal with that aspect. Backwards figure compatibility takes some of the sting out of that though.
Sure, the original Terraria came out a couple of years ago, but it became more widely available this year, expanding beyond the PC to a number of different platforms. Think Minecraft in two dimensions with some action-adventure elements. While it’s not exactly story driven, it does nudge you into action more than Minecraft, and it’s side scrolling action is a throwback for parents and something of a novelty for kids. It doesn’t replace Minecraft, but it’s an excellent companion.
Now that we’ve had the appetizers, it’s time for the main course.
Our Top Three Games of 2013
#3 – Pokemon X & Y
Perhaps the king of kids games, Pokemon’s first 3DS titles provided not only improved visuals, but a number of new connectivity features and increased accessibility. My kids won’t stop playing it, no matter what other games come and go, and given the amount of strategic planning and thinking required (not to mention reading), I think I’m okay with that. Even my 4-year-old is getting on the bandwagon.
#2 – LEGO City Undercover
Chase McCain’s adventure was our clubhouse Game of the Year back in March and managed to hold on to the top spot despite a fairly solid list of challengers. This ambitious and hilarious open LEGO world delighted both parents and children alike. It was basically Grand Theft Auto without the violence, drugs, titillation, and dart games with annoying cousins. It would have been our overall Game of the Year, but an unfortunate, if not understandable, lack of co-operative play allowed it to be overtaken in the end by…
#1 – Super Mario 3D World
Cat Mario alone might make this the Game of the Year, but this game was more than just frolicking felines. Wonderful and varied level design. Up to four players playing co-operatively (with a little bit of competition thrown in). Captain freaking Toad. Characters with different abilities like Super Mario Bros. 2. This game has a LOT. Nintendo still makes a great game, and this one gave Wii U fence sitters ample reason to take the plunge.