Starting off the GodisaGeek Game of the Year Awards 2012, it’s time to talk about handheld gaming.
This year we’ve been treated to a brand new handheld console launch with the PlayStation Vita, whilst the 3DS has continued to get first party support, and smartphone gaming has steadied out a little, but is still ever-present in our pockets.
As we run down each position, our writers will have their say on each title, telling you exactly why they think each game is so good.
Of course, we’d love to hear your thoughts and picks for this category too, so please leave comments at the end of the article. In reverse order then, let’s get it on!
3: LittleBigPlanet Vita (Sony – PS Vita)
Robin Parker: Being able to build your own levels and then share them with friends was always one of the most attractive features of LBP. Now, with the use of the twin cameras on the PS Vita, gamers can photograph any items or textures they find in real-life, pull them in to LBP and use it as part of their level. With extended wi-fi play and extra features, players can share their creations whilst still on the move, and even jump in with a friend or a stranger to test their level right away. Sharing your gameplay experience has never been easier.
Colm Ahern: When an established home console series makes its way to a handheld, there’s always the risk that something will be lost. Whether it’s on a visual or gameplay level, the possibility for error is great, especially when developers seem keen to include some silly, unnecessary touch controls on the Vita. LBP Vita is the example of how to do it right.
Every little touch, tilt, grab and flick feels natural. Sackboy’s switch to the handheld world is handled excellently, which is especially impressive as the hessian-made chap’s latest adventure wasn’t under the guidance of regular parents, Media Molecule. The reason to own PlayStation 3’s little brother is this.
Martin Baker: The LittleBigPlanet series of games is one of my favourite on any console. Something about the mix between the platforming and the ability to create just about anything that your mind can think of, not to mention the ability to download other people’s often superb creations, makes me foam at the mouth when I get my hands on a new title in the series. That being said I was a little bit underwhelmed with Sackboy’s first foray into the handheld market on the PSP and so I was a little skeptical when it came to playing LittleBigPlanet Vita. It looked like more of the LBP that I know and love, just on a portable platform, but that previous game had left a relatively bad taste in my mouth.
I needn’t have worried though, LittleBigPlanet Vita is an amazing accomplishment when it comes to portable gaming. Everything that you would expect from a LittleBigPlanet console outing was ready and waiting for players and the entire presentation was absolutely fantastic. There’s even a decent create community too, meaning that there’s always going to be something new to play. Wonderful!
2: MotorStorm RC (Sony – PS Vita)
Lee Garbutt: I’m usually not the kind of person to bother with leaderboards, but as MotorStorm RC’s well-implemented Pitwall system makes it so incredibly easy to challenge your friends, beating my GodisaGeek colleagues’ times became an obsession. It’s the best top-down racer since Micro Machines.
Martin Baker: I pre-ordered my PlayStation Vita, I succumbed to just about all of the hype that surrounded the console and I was invested from day one. One of the things that excited me about the console was the promise of cross-play titles, games that you purchased once and you’d have the game on your PlayStation 3 and your brand spanking new PlayStation Vita. I loved this idea so much that I bought MotorStorm RC before I had even picked up my PlayStation Vita and I loved every second that I was able to play once I finally had my new piece of kit in my hands. Picking up the console every couple of hours to see if someone had beaten my proud scores was one of the highlights of the first couple of months of the console and I still turn the game on once in a while (thanks to the fact that it’s a downloadable title, so I don’t need to have a card in all the time) to see if I can better my own times, or preferably, beat Calvin or Adam’s.
Adam Cook: Given that I don’t really consider myself a competitive gamer, MotorStorm RC unleashed the beast in me. At points, I was no longer playing for fun, I was playing to beat my friends and colleagues. The ping that would appear telling me my time had been bettered was like a nagging disease that required attention. But much mirth and frivolity would be had after the stress inducing multiple efforts to best my friends, we’d all laugh about it afterwards. But it was always a front, because I knew that this laughter hid a plot, a plan to take my throne at that particular time, which – let’s be honest here – they often did.
MotorStorm RC may be a cross-platform game, but it’s the game I’ve spent the most time playing on my Vita. It’s utterly essential, cheap and addictive. You can’t put it down, and it even had brilliant and affordable DLC. Evolution Studios created the best game in their fabulous MotorStorm series, and if you don’t own it, I don’t think we can be friends.
1: Rayman Origins (Ubisoft – PS Vita)
Robin Parker: The game that we all thought was such a beauty to behold still looks just as good on the screen of a handheld console. The hand-drawn art style is as crisp as ever and it seems such a shame that Rayman Legends looks to have changed the look somewhat.
As the levels in the game are often quite short, bite-sized chunks, the title makes sense to be played on the go, with gamers dipping in and out as much or as little as they like. The game may be simple and a throwback to more old-fashioned platformers, but everything it does, it does with style.
Martin Baker: Rayman Origins was one of my most loved games of the year last year when it was released on the home consoles, so naturally I jumped on the title again when it was released as a launch title for Sony’s new PlayStation Vita. From the moment I started the game (again) it was easy to see that the Vita’s OLED screen was the only way that such a gorgeous game should be viewed. The gameplay elements that were added to utilise the various elements of the PlayStation Vita left a lot to be desired but the main gameplay of running, collecting Lums and speedrunning towards the finish line just felt perfect; so much so that I ended up completing all aspects of the game, completely filling each medallion and even starting the entire game all over again to try and beat my own speedrun times.
If there’s one reason why I’m upset why Rayman Legends is a Wii U exclusive it’s not because I would have preferred to play it on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, it’s because I won’t get to play it in the handheld format that I’ve come to love.
Mick Fraser: Even more so than Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Rayman: Origins was the perfect game for Sony to show off what the Vita could do at launch. Absolutely gorgeous to look at and an unbridled joy to play, the translation from home console to handheld takes nothing away but adds so much with the subtly integrated touch controls and the brilliant ghost mode. The best version of one of the best games of 2012.
Keep coming back throughout the day and the week for more Game of the Year 2012 content. If you want to hear which titles were also in the running in each category, then listen to the daily Podcasts throughout the week.