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2012 Video Game Underdog Awards

This year is starting to wind down, so I’m going to be using my posts to call out games I think deserve special mention for either good or bad, ending with my overall top 10 games of 2012.  This week, however, I thought I’d call attention to some games that may have slipped under the radar by handing out some awards in some rather…unique categories.  A few of these may pop up again in my overall top 10 list, but I thought they all deserved special mention because most of these probably got lost among the Call of Duty’s and Mario’s of the year.

Best Use Of The Song “Pac-Man Fever” In A Videogame:  Lollipop Chainsaw

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The concept of this game sounds very dumb – a cheerleader fights zombies with her magic chainsaw, while her boyfriend’s disembodied head hangs at her hip.  But make no mistake, this game is anything BUT dumb.  It uses clever, tongue-in-cheek humor to back up a very fun action game filled with interesting characters and some great environments.  If you wrote this one off because you assumed it was just trying to slide by on the main characters…erm, assets, then I forgive you.  But if you’re a fan of clever humor and extremely well-made action, you owe it to yourself to give it a look.

Best Anger Simulator: Asura’s Wrath

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Asura’s Wrath is as much an anime as it is a game, and you’ll do as much watching as playing – if not more.  But the entire package is so well done and comes together in such a way that the gameplay adds a ton to the anime.  It’s entirely unique, and extremely fun.  Oh, and Asura is probably the angriest guy you’ve seen on screen this year, and yes I’m counting the Hulk.

Best Game That Should Have Sold A Ton Of Copies, But Didn’t Because The General Public Would Rather Play Crappier Games: Sleeping Dogs

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Did you play Sleeping Dogs this year?  Did you play Assassin’s Creed III?  If you answered “no” to the first question and “yes” to the second, then congratulations!  You’re part of the problem!  What can you do to fix this, you ask?  Go buy Sleeping Dogs now.  It’s the best open world sandbox game released this year.

Full Review

Most Totally Radical Game, Dude! :  Double Dragon: Neon

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Double Dragon: Neon is a game that is better than it had any right to be.  It’s better than it HAD to be, honestly, because it could have just skated by on people’s nostalgia for the name.  What it did instead is present a loving tribute to 80’s arcade games while adding in enough modern improvements to make the game a blast to play.  It also totally made hot pink work for the menus.

Full Review

Best Use Of Amnesia As A Plot Device: Tales of Graces f

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I am a relatively new convert to the Tales series, since I’ve only been a fan since Tales of Vesperia on the 360.  And while Graces f (Graces was originally a Wii game in Japan but was ported to the PS3 as Graces f, and that’s the version we got in the US) isn’t quite up to the same level as Vesperia, it isn’t far off.  A great cast, a fun story and some excellent combat combine to give us something we’ve been sorely lacking this gen: a really good JRPG.

Best Tale Of Loss, Revenge, And A Zombie Rabbit’s Love For His Rubber Ducky:  Hell Yeah!  Wrath Of The Dead Rabbit

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This game is every bit as nuts as its title would lead you to believe.  But on top of that, it’s also a blast to play, which is something you might not expect at first glance.  Metroidvania-esque gameplay combined with over-the-top cartoon violence has made one of the oddest games of 2012, but also one that deserves to be played.

Full Review

Worst Use Of Lighting In A Video Game, Ever:  Syndicate

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Never before have I had to stop playing a game because it was literally too hard to look at.  The lighting in this game is atrocious – blinding, glaring glows shine off of nearly every object in the environment.  The screenshot I’ve chosen has not been doctored, and it is not showing something that just happens in one small part of the game – the entire game looks like this.  If you insist on playing it for yourself, you might want to wear sunglasses.

Best Post-Apocalyptic Game Featuring A Pomeranian: Tokyo Jungle

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Tokyo Jungle is a game where you play as an animal trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo.  In the beginning, you can choose between being a deer or a pomeranian, but as you play you can unlock a ton more animals including tigers, bears, alligators and velociraptors.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that game, because what else could you possibly want to know?

Best Game Made Almost Completely By One Guy: Dust: An Elysian Tale

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Dust is gorgeous, fluid, extremely polished and every bit as good as a full retail release (it is available on the Xbox 360 for $15).  And aside from the music, voice acting and some of the writing, it was entirely developed by one guy.  That’s impressive, to say the least.

Best Game I Played Last Year But Wasn’t Released In The US Until This Year: Xenoblade Chronicles

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AKA “Best Reason To Own A Wii, Period.”  This game is mind-blowing.  I sunk over 120 hours into it last year, and never once got bored of it.  It tells a very deep story with fully fleshed-out characters, but it also combines several intricate systems to create an RPG that continues to reward you the further into it you explore.  The only possible knock against this game is that it is on the Wii, but for the Wii the graphics are still stunning.  Any opportunity I have to sing this game’s praises, I’m going to take it.  If you’re a fan of JRPGs, it’s worth owning a Wii just for this game.  This game was only sold directly through Nintendo and through Gamestop, so if you come across a copy don’t hesitate to pick it up.  You’ll thank me later.

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