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Merry Christmas - the PG staff pick their best and worst games of 2013
By Mark Brown 25 December 2013
Game Name: Pocket Gamer | Manufacturer: Steel Media | Format: Android, iPhone, iPad, 3DS, PS Vita
Merry Christmas, everyone. Thanks for reading Pocket Gamer in 2013, and we look forward to writing about whatever the next year might bring to the world of mobiles.

Probably smartphones that turn into hover boards.

To sign off, I forced the main Pocket Gamer crew to dig into their failing memories and pluck out some good (and not so good) games from the last twelve months. Plus, some predictions. Come back in 2015 to see how we did on those.

See you next year!

MarkMark Brown - editor, hopeless nostalgic

What was your favourite handheld or mobile game of the year, and why?

We write a lot about "addictive", "compulsive", and "habit-forming" games at PG, but this year there was only one title that seriously threatened to turn me into an obsessive game-oholic in need of rehab: Spelunky.

There's something about this masterpiece Vita platformer that keeps me coming back day after day. Whatever the magic ingredient, Spelunky has become a harrowing compulsion and having it in my pocket at all times just makes it even more potent.

Send help. Please.

What was your favourite console or PC game of the year, and why?

I liked being a border agent in harrowing PC indie game Papers, Please. The game is all about accepting or rejecting people from your fictional communist country, by checking their passport for errors and forgeries.

Sounds boring, but when you lay on the fact that your job performance has an impact on the health and safety of your family, you find yourself making some questionable decisions as you slowly but surely become corrupt. It's fascinating.

What was the worst game you played this year?

Earlier this year, I wrote "I hate Kamikaze Pigs with a passion usually reserved for seal-clubbers and dubstep music".

To me, it was emblematic of everything wrong with in-app purchases as the developer's greed for more cash made this unfair, unfun, and unimaginably slow if you refused to pay money.

It was horrible. I hate it. It makes me mad when I think about it and I can't even eat bacon anymore as it brings back bad memories of this game.

What's your prediction for the world of mobile gaming in 2014?

I predict that free-to-play will take over entirely, paid games will be impossible to make, and I will quit my job to go be a lighthouse keeper in Swanage.

What's your personal New Year resolution?

Beat King Yama in Spelunky.

RichRichard Brown - production editor, Oxford comma fanboy

What was your favourite handheld or mobile game of the year, and why?

Rayman Fiesta Run on iOS. Show me a better one-touch platformer on an iOS or Android device, and I'll tell you you're wrong. Twice.

Put simply, Ubi's limbless hero is the Cristiano Ronaldo of mobile gaming. He's jet heeled, full of spunk, gets more hang time than Michael Jordan on a trampoline, and is rather gorgeous. Ahem.

What was your favourite console or PC game of the year, and why?

WWE 2K14 on Xbox 360. £40 for the opportunity to listen to the opening strains of The Ultimate Warrior's iconic entrance theme over and over and over again? Bargain.

What was the worst game you played this year?

SpongeBob Moves In on iOS. Sometimes, being an uncle can be a fabulously rewarding and edifying experience. Other times, I have to play SpongeBob Moves In.

What's your prediction for the world of mobile gaming in 2014?

Apple will, once again, disrupt an existing technology market with a seemingly underbaked product.

In this instance, Tim Cook and co. will be targeting the wearable tech space. Yep, I predict a riot. A riot at your local Apple Store for an iWatch that is in incredibly short supply. How convenient.

Playing video games on your wrist will soon become as passé as cheddar cheese and Shoreditch. You can quote me on that.

What's your personal New Year resolution?

To turn professional at footgolf. Yep, it's exactly what you think it is. Probably.

RobRob Hearn - senior editor, grammar pedant

What was your favourite handheld or mobile game of the year, and why?

Ridiculous Fishing, of course. It's beautiful, funny, arty, original, inventive, and incredibly fun. To a certain kind of gamer it feels almost as though Vlambeer broke into the neural research laboratory of a successful freemium game developer, stole its reward centre-stimulating, addiction-inducing secrets, and defiantly chose to use them for good instead of evil.

What was your favourite console or PC game of the year, and why?

I'll say Gone Home. There are games I enjoyed more in a puerile sort of way, like Far Cry 3 and Arkham City, but Gone Home had far more emotional impact than anything else I played and it made me think a lot more about games and storytelling.

What was the worst game you played this year?

There's a lot of pretty shoddy stuff on iOS and Android but Optical Inquisitor stands out as particularly awful. Considered on the grounds of dialogue alone it's definitely a 'so bad it's good' proposition, and almost worth downloading for the experience. The gameplay is simply bad.

What's your prediction for the world of mobile gaming in 2014?

I think at one end of the spectrum there will be lots of big traditional indie games getting developed for PC and iOS at the same time, and at the other end there will be a lot more free to play social and casual games.

What's your personal New Year resolution?

More running. Maybe a half-marathon. Write a novel. Learn a martial art. Learn a language. Read more. Depressingly, these are the same as the resolutions I submitted last time.

PeterPeter Willington - handheld editor, relentless enthusiast

What was your favourite handheld or mobile game of the year, and why?

Tearaway, by a very slim margin over Touchgrind Skate 2. Media Molecule's papercraft-em-up is a wonder to watch, a delight to play, and one of the most creative and positive experiences of a good few years. It deserves every square inch of the mighty Platinum I gave it.

What was your favourite console or PC game of the year, and why?

Can I pick Age of Empires II: HD Edition? The original was released in 1999, but this marginally spruced up version came out early this year, and I've been investing countless hours into it, uncovering the hidden strategies within.

What was the worst game you played this year?

I had the displeasure of reviewing Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin this year, a brawler that isn't half as good as titles released over twenty years prior. I awarded it a two out of ten, the lowest score I've ever given.

What's your prediction for the world of mobile gaming in 2014?

It feels like 2014 is the year that free-to-play learns some lessons, and I imagine many of them will be the hard kind.

The Drowning, Real Racing 3, Angry Birds Go!, Ravenmark: Mercenaries, Papa Pear Saga, Dead Trigger 2, Solstice Arena, and many more have taken different approaches to the free-to-play space in 2013, each to varying effect.

It seems like game studio bods are on the cusp of figuring out how to release a game for free and make money from it, while avoiding the age-old gameplay-ruining pitfalls of freemium.

What's your personal New Year resolution?

I'm going to try and get into an MMO / MOBA in a big way this year. Mind you, I'm also going to try and go on a health kick, and I get the impression the two aren't always compatible.

HarryHarry Slater - staff writer, cynical grump

What was your favourite handheld or mobile game of the year, and why?

Blackbar. Because it told the best story of the last twelve months, and it didn't have any zombies or cartoon animals in it. Also Alpaca Evolution.

What was your favourite console or PC game of the year, and why?

How is this relevant? Er, I dunno. I honestly can't remember buying any. Maybe DmC. Did that come out this year?

What was the worst game you played this year?

Most of them. Tekken Arena was pretty awful. Angry Birds Go!, Final Fantasy: All The Bravest. Anything that displayed a notification when I told it not to. And anything that started with a shop menu.

What's your prediction for the world of mobile gaming in 2014?

Disaster, misery, and tragedy. Probably an Angry Birds tennis game. Bendy phones you can wear as goggles. Lots of innovative games that are ignored when blinkered mainstream sites write about how rubbish mobile gaming is.

What's your personal New Year resolution?

Fight an Octopus.

ChrisChris Priestman - staff writer, indie guru

What was your favourite handheld or mobile game of the year, and why?

The way 868-HACK encourages you to constantly take risks with potentially great pay-offs while hacking into hostile cyberspace kept me coming back. Every loss teaches you something new, so you never feel like you've failed entirely, and this gradual learning system also allows for confidence in your tactics to grow over time.

I'm still terrified of the sounds of an angry daemon hot on my tail, but now I growl back. Not out loud, of course…

What was your favourite console or PC game of the year, and why?

Goodness. Erm. I don't do favourites, but the first one that came to my head was Antichamber. I love everything about that game. It messes with 3D space just because it can, and games should do that more often. I remember thinking that some of the puzzles were impossible to solve, until I experimented a little and ended up sitting back in my chair slightly amazed.

What was the worst game you played this year?

Apart from the many unfinished messes that I've played, the only one that comes to mind as being notably bad is a game called Leaving on iPad.

It's supposed to be this terribly emotional experience about leaving home. It's actually a hilarious and bug-infested trip through a mostly empty airport. I usually like these types of games, and have a very open mind for them, but Leaving was poorly executed throughout.

What's your prediction for the world of mobile gaming in 2014?

Developers seem to have become more confident in charging a little more for a game in favour of dropping IAPs recently. I'm very happy about this. I'm not entirely against IAPs, but I'd much rather pay in full for a game upfront and never have to worry about being pestered by adverts or pay walls.

What's your personal New Year resolution?

To not allow my life to be consumed by Dark Souls II (it probably will). Drink less tea. Either one of those, probably.

MikeMike Rose - staff writer, lanky Manc

What was your favourite handheld or mobile game of the year, and why?

SteamWorld Dig! It was just pure entertainment from start to end. I loved how it took the popular "randomly-generated level design" that is proving a big hit right now, and mixed it up with some fixed Metroid-style design. Definitely my favourite 3DS game to date.

What was your favourite console or PC game of the year, and why?

Ooh, tough one! It's probably a toss-up between The Stanley Parable and SpeedRunners. The former is one of the most ingenious first-person narrative-driven games I've ever played, while the latter has kept me and a bunch of friends going for many months now. Both are super essential, and will genuinely cause you to redefine what a "great" game is.

What was the worst game you played this year?

That's even tougher! It was probably World Conqueror 3D for the Nintendo 3DS. Such a pointless waste of time for everybody involved. I'd rather close my eyes and imagine a game of Risk than play that again.

What's your prediction for the world of mobile gaming in 2014?

It's got to be a move to the living room, doesn't it? As more and more developers make their mobile games compatible with gamepads, I can imagine the mobile generation of gamers switching their eyes over from their mobile devices, and back to the TV - coming full circle, if you like.

I reckon VR will be pretty big too - the Oculus Rift support for mobile could be glorious if done right.

What's your personal New Year resolution?

To stop playing around on my phone so much. I hate when a group of people are sat together, and instead of talking, they're all on their phones ignoring each other. I'm guilty of it too - but not for long! I'm going to give myself a strict policy of only looking at my phone briefly every hour. I don't want to become a Wall-E character.

MattMatt Diener - US correspondent, lanky yank

What was your favourite handheld or mobile game of the year, and why?

This is a tough one as there was an insane amount of quality games released for handhelds this year. Fire Emblem: Awakening and Dragon's Crown both stood out, but Pokemon X and Y was probably my favourite.

I've never picked up a Pokemon game before this one, and playing through Y as my wife plays through X has been a silly amount of fun - especially when we'd race each other through gyms.

What was your favourite console or PC game of the year, and why?

Also a hard one to answer! I'm tempted to say Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, but thinking back to the whole of 2013 I need to pick Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. I'm a fan of almost any content that Studio Ghibli puts out, and this game was no exception.

What was the worst game you played this year?

Madden NFL 25. Free-to-play is not the inherently evil model as many gamers think it is, but this one shows exactly how not to implement it in a manner that's friendly or welcoming to your players.

What's your prediction for the world of mobile gaming in 2014?

I think there's going to be a huge reckoning ahead. Maybe not in 2014 exactly, but there's simply too much content being released too quickly. A parallel could easily be drawn to the video game recession in North America in the early 80's in what we're seeing on both iOS and Android.

Soon, consumers are going to begin to flock to quality titles - and a lot of the 'fast follows' and clones that we've been seeing will melt away. Then again, I've always been an eternal optimist.

What's your personal New Year resolution?

1920 x 1080, baby. 1920 x 1080. (Ok, and I'm training to run a half marathon)
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