It’s awards time! This year, there were so many outstanding games that giving out the Boysies was the hardest process in recent memory. There were more games to consider with the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One. But cue the fanfare: Here are The Boysies!
BEST WII U GAME (TIE)
Super Mario 3D World (Nintendo)
You wouldn’t think it would be but, boy, is it fun to play as Mario in a cat suit. Plus, the amount of creativity the game makers put into each level makes you want to find all three green stars. More than that, it’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
Lego City Undercover (Nintendo)
Open world games made for everyone are still rare. Fun and funny, engaging and challenging, Lego City Undercover has all the ingredients of a game you want to play over and over again.
BEST PLAYSTATION 3 GAME
Lego Marvel Super Heroes (Warner Bros.)
Another Lego offering wins! Starting with the Hulk, the ability to play as dozens of superheroes is a true escape into fantasy adventure for game fans who love comics. And if you don’t know comics, there’s not a more fun way to learn about superhero powers and history than with this game.
BEST PLAYSTATION 4 GAME
There aren’t many great PS4 games for kids — yet. Knack can be good, but Resogun is better. It’s an old-school science-fiction game all dressed up with new technology and fiery graphics. Classic arcade games like Sinistar and Zaxxon seemed really easy to play, but were hard to win. Resogun upholds that tradition for 2013.
BEST XBOX 360 GAME
Disney Infinity (Disney Interactive Studios)
Sure, Skylanders SWAP Force has a cool new trick. But despite lackluster-looking action figures, Infinity feels innovative. The opening sequence is one of the best ever seen in games for kids — or otherwise. New user-made Toy Boxes keep coming weekly. If you have the time, that Minecraft-like build function makes for endless replay value.
BEST XBOX ONE GAME
Zoo Tycoon (Microsoft)
There aren’t that many good kids games for One yet, either. But how could you not love this game? The brand-new Kinect makes hand-feeding the animals an awesome experience. Yes, your zoo looks a little too tidy in an unreal way. But there’s so much to do, see and learn, you’ll enjoy playing for some time.
BEST NEW CONSOLE
Face it: Both One and PS4 have their wow factors and are close in quality. But the PS4 has better graphics, an easier-to-understand interface — and you don’t have to buy the camera if you don’t want one. That saves you $100. The machine looks better and everything is better designed overall, right down to the lack of a heavy power brick.
BEST 3DS GAME (TIE)
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Nintendo)
From the music to the portability to the unique, quirky characters, the appeal of this game is endless. And so is the play — especially on holidays when wondrous things happen. And those sea shanties heard as you travel to the island are nothing short of brilliant. Bravo, Nintendo.
Pokémon X/Y (Nintendo)
This re-imagining of the old series is so full of surprises, it got me interested in the Pokémon again. The 3D portions are lackluster. But everything else about the game feels original. I kept thinking, “If this game were a theme park, I’d be first in line.”
BEST COMPUTER GAME
Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force (Zen Studios)
It’s simple: Play amazing pinball and go deep into the Star Wars trilogy. You want to keep coming back to get high scores … and to unlock everything. It’s thrilling, and you even get to race the ships and shoot an X-Wing. Plus, Darth Vader is at his creepiest.
BEST VITA GAME
Just as they did with LittleBigPlanet, the game makers created an unusual, fresh world. It feels like you’re inside a fairy tale, and thanks to Vita’s touch functionality, you feel like you really control it. Whether it’s Iota or Atoi you choose, you’ll remember your character even when you’re away from Tearaway. That in itself is the sign of a winner.
BEST ROLE-PLAYING GAME
Ni No Kuni (Namco Bandai)
This story-filled game just oozes charm. More than that, it’s the first game I can remember that deals with a sweet mother-and-son story. Oliver is stalwart all the way through. But it’s Drippy, his sympathetic guide, who really steals the show.
BEST OVERALL SPORTS GAME
NBA 2K14 (2K Games)
For sheer sports exhilaration, this basketball game rules. It just feels real. Players go on hot streaks and then cool off. And the animations are top notch. If you tire of the NBA, you can play European teams, too. LeBron: Path to Greatness is a fun what-if scenario (but I’d like to see the return of the Jordan Challenge). Still, you just can’t stop playing.
BEST RACING GAME
Forza Motorsport 5 (Microsoft)
Need For Speed Rivals sure comes close with its open world. But Forza 5 lets you turn back time to avoid crashes that eat away at your top speed. And moving through the world’s great courses as a racer never gets old. Bonus? Cool artificial intelligence lets your car race against others in the cloud even when you’re sleeping.
BEST MOBILE GAME
Ridiculous Fishing (Vlambeer)
There are many well-made mobile games, but few are as beautifully ridiculous. First, you don’t have to buy extra stuff (like many mobile games ask you to). Then, you fish for hundreds of species using your phone’s tilt controls. Then, you tap, tap, tap your way to shoot as many fish as you can. Finally, there’s Billy. He’s really ridiculous, too.
GAME OF THE YEAR (TIE)
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Super Mario 3D World