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A Look Back at 2012: Best XBLA/PSN Game

The best games of 2012 this year are not just big, AAA retail games as the downloadable space on consoles continue to produce some of the most original, innovative, and creative games yet. Entertainment Fuse picks their best Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network games this year below.

Jackson Pounds - Sound Shapes (PSN)

Sound Shapes was one of those games that I just couldn't wipe the smirk from my face as I played it. Beck's "Cities" album is some of the best music i've heard all year and the game doesn't just use it's nuanced features as novelties, but rather as ways to enhance the gameplay. An important concept games these days seem to have forgotten. It's graphics pop with rhyme and reason, it's platforming is extremely solid and refined, the music is absolutely phenomenal and some of the best I have heard all year, and whether or not you've sucumb to "music" games before makes no difference. Play, love it, and never let that smile leave your face.

Paul Lawford - Sonic Adventure 2 (XBLA/PSN)

I look back at my gaming history and there are only a few games that stick out for me as being totally memorable and gave me some great single or multiplayer experiences. One of these is the Sonic Adventure series that cropped up on the Sega Dreamcast and now I get to experience it again with the XBLA/PSN versions. The Sonic Adventure 2 port is totally flawless and plays as well as the Dreamcast version did. The game also features DLC, which is the battle mode feature on the GameCube version of the game. After downloading this I spent my afternoon solidly playing it and still had great fun raising my Chao and switching between the hero and dark story modes. The game plays exactly the same as Sonic Adventure and the level are beautiful to look at even 11 years on. A definite pick for anyone who is a fan of the Sonic series.

Steve Smith - Trials Evolution (XBLA)

Trials Evolution is exactly what it name says: an evolution of Trials HD. Evolution is the one of the most challenging games I have ever played but also the most rewarding. Each level gets progressively harder and harder until it’s nearly impossible to beat but when you do, you breathe out a sigh of relief and smile. It’s all worth it to get to the finish line, no matter how long it takes or how many tries it took to get there.

Emma Quinlan - Machinarium (PSN)

Machinarium has a pretty simple concept: solve the puzzles and you’ll get to the next stage. Don’t figure them out and you won’t. It sounds like a standard game but Machinarium definitely is not. The graphics are practically art in motion and the gameplay is simple yet addictive with the game's puzzles pecking at the old brain until you finally do it and feel like an ass for not working it out earlier. 

This game gets my vote for Best PSN/XBLA game because it leaves you coming back for more. Everything fits beautifully together and the puzzles are challenging yet fun to play. I personally think that everything about this game is brilliant, from the artistically carved backdrop, the eerie soundtrack, and comically odd daydreams your main machine has when you leave him alone for a while. Machinariumis a bizarre and unique gaming experience that doesn’t break the bank balance. 

Kyle Enz - The Walking Dead (XBLA/PSN)

I don't think it comes to anyone's surprise that my choice would be The Walking Dead. TellTale games really broke the mold this year with what I feel is arguably the most groundbreaking decision making mechanics seen in a video game. The story of Lee and Clementine and their struggle through the zombie apocalypse was something that I came to not only enjoy every two months, I craved the next episode. It goes without saying that The Walking Dead is also one of the most emotionally draining games of the year, where Episode 3 is probably one of the most emotional and dark moments seen in a video game this generation. While your decisions don't impact the end of the first season as much as I would have wanted to see, I was constantly surprised when I would talk to my other friends playing the game just how different their stories were from mine. At the end of the day, the experience offered by The Walking Dead is second to none this year, and will be remembered as one of the crowning achievements of this console generation.

Christopher Puenner - Journey (PSN)

My Best XBLA/PSN Game has to go to Journey. No other downloadable title even comes close in my opinion. Aside from being a meager $15 the game will give you more than you bargained for by overloading your senses with beautiful art, amazing music, and a breathtaking experience. The brilliance of Journey is the compilation of great assets drawn together in one product. In the future, you can bet that you'll see this game referred to as a benchmark for the quality of both downloadable games and indie games.

If you haven't had the opportunity to play this game I'd recommend just dropping the small fee or go visit a friend that already owns it, you won't regret doing so (plus PSN is free). Not only is Journey my personal Best XBLA/PSN Game but it also won Best Independent Title at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards. It would seem that across the board Journey is a winner!

Matt Rowles - Journey (PSN)

The best XBLA/PSN game I played in 2012 was definitely Journey. The third game from Thatgamecompany as part of an exclusive deal with Sony took creative storytelling to a whole other level. The ideas and concepts it provoked such as religion and afterlife with such minimal imagery is remarkable and it is an experience like none I've ever played.

The style of the game is fantastic and one of the best looking games on the Playstation Network. The sound is incredible and really creates the perfect atmosphere. No surprise it's been nominated for a Grammy. Overall it takes about two hours to play but once you have finished the experience will stay with you for a while longer.


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