The Sega Addicts 2012 Game of the Year Awards


[Classical music slowly fades out]

Welcome to the 2012 Sega Addicts Game of the Year Awards. I’m so glad everyone could fit our humble award show into their busy schedules. It’s going to be an amazing night as we’ve got some great awards to give away and several world renowned musical acts ready to perform for you this evening. Don’t forget to stop by our banana buffet in the reception area after the show. We’ve got bananas of all shapes and sizes with thousands of different dips and toppings in honor of our coveted Golden Francie award.  It’s truly going to be an award ceremony for this history books.

Now on with the show!


Best Portable Release: Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure (3DS)

Runner-up: Virtua Tennis 4 (PSVita)

Scott Morrison: Rhythm Thief captured the magic of catchy tunes, rhythm mini-games, and an obscure yet intriguing storyline to create a very fun ride for the 3DS. Never has a game made more of an attempt to connect the story line coherently in a rhythm game, and that is saying something for Rhythm Thief since it involves the battle between a resurrected Napaloen Bonaparte and a humble cat burglar.

The game blends swiping, tapping, and twirling on the touch screen in fun spurts with random, yet somehow logical, mini-games to further the story. Also, for those completists out there, there are many collect-a-thons to pursue throughout the game’s setting of Paris by tapping every inch of the screen. Rhythm Thief keeps things going at a decent pace, or you can take your time and explore the city and its residents. The mini-games themselves are fun and only get difficult nearing the very end of the game, but can be completed with a bit of practice. With its colorful atmosphere, light-hearted humor, and catchy soundtrack, Rhythm Thief is a nice little adventure fit for any 3DS library.


Best Mobile Release: Jack Lumber

Runner-up: Spellwood

Josh Newey: To the untamed eye, Jack Lumber looks like a simplistic, personality-fueled swipe game and nothing more. But upon further inspection, you’ll find a surprisingly unique and impressively challenging iOS title that takes the satisfying destruction of games like Fruit Ninja and mixes it with a liberal dose of time-restricted strategy. Following the amusing titular character and his quest to avenge his granny, this game is loaded with character, exemplified by a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and attractive, cartoony art style. Of all of Sega’s iOS titles released this year, Jack Lumber might be the only one that I will continue to play into the new year.


Best Re-release: NiGHTS Into Dreams HD

Runner-up: Sega Vintage Collection: ToeJam & Earl Collection

Flake: This has been a year full of re-releases. It’s almost like someone installed a revolving door on Sega’s vault of classic goodness. It’s become obvious that Sega’s game plan going forward is to bank roll one or two risky games a year with safe offerings that the fans already know and love with a minimum of effort (read: money) expended in the process.

NiGHTS is the one digital re-release this year that went against this pattern. While the HD remix does not invalidate owning a Saturn and a physical copy, NiGHTS HD shows that Sega can properly take care of a game’s legacy when they want to. NiGHTS HD is a name you can drop whenever Sega is (perhaps rightfully) accused of milking their library for easy money. The graphical enhancements, heaps of options, and faithful preservation of the source material (despite how awesomely 90’s much of it is) is as much a gift to the fans as it is a slam against some of the other games that were re-released this year (looking at you, Sonic Adventure 2).

As much as NiGHTS HD Remix gives NiGHTS fans hope that their favorite Jester has not gone the way of Alex Kidd or Opa Opa, it also can give fans of everything Sega a reason to believe that Sega might be on the right path to mixing their undeniably powerful collection of beloved classic franchises with the online technology this generation of consoles has brought into our living rooms.


Best Home Console Release: Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed

Runner-up: Binary Domain

Tom Kyzivat: I’m not a huge fan of racing games, so for my favorite Sega game of the year to be a racing game means that it must be a pretty dang fun game, and that’s exactly what it is! Transformed improves on pretty much everything from the first game, by adding the transforming mechanic, including more beautiful and varied levels, adding characters to the roster that were missed the first time around, and continuing to provide classy fan service. And to top off this console release? It retailed for only 40 bucks! Is there any way this game could have been more appealing? Maybe if an Eternal Champions character was in there. Okay, I’ll stop.

The bottom line is that this game is put together extremely well, and it’s nice to see Sega respecting their old IPs again. Makes you wonder if they’ll be tempted to use those characters more in the coming years, now that they’re fresh in their minds! And I haven’t even unlocked every character yet–I hear there are some pleasant surprises as you get to the last few. I’m hoping so, because the opening roster is a little weak (Aiai and Meemee? Really?). And of course you can’t mention the roster without bashing on the fact that Danica Patrick’s dumb face is in it… and it seems odd that Wreck-It Raph is playable and not Vanellope VanSchweetz, who is a kart racing character in the movie, but whatever. In the end, these are more-or-less minor complaints, and not really an issue when you consider how brilliant the rest of the game is. Happy racing!


Best Sega Relevant Game: Double Dragon Neon

Runner-up: Code of Princess

Stevie Grant: Double Dragon Neon is maybe not one of the most complex, artistic or ground-breaking games of the year but for a retro gamer it’s nothing short of sweet bliss. With a unique exaggerated 80’s art style and a tongue in cheek sensibility to it, the game manages to capture the energy and feel of the classic Beat em Ups that were so popular on the Mega Drive and Genesis.

I know we’ve had a lot (and I mean a ton) of retro throwbacks lately but I still feel that this game deserves specific attention for the top notch quality and production value. I mean have you even heard the music? It’s like being punched by a fist of pure 80’s cheese, and I love every single second of it. Sure the gameplay itself can be a bit frustrating, but that comes with the territory. And with a friend at your side it’s sure to be an enjoyable experience anyway. If you’re a Sega fan and you haven’t checked out this game then you really need to. If you squint your eyes you could even pretend it’s a Streets of Rage remake! Who knows it’ll probably be the closest (and best) we’ll get for a while.


Best Visuals: Binary Domain

Runner-up: NiGHTS Into Dreams HD

Kris Knigge: When I first saw Binary Domain, I was completely underwhelmed. It looked like a gray, generic TPS. I was afraid that the Yakuza team had lost some of their taste for the colorful.

When I saw it in motion, I began to fall in love. The way that armor would shatter off of an enemy as you fired on them (and the waves of broken parts after a charge shot) made combat a thing of beauty. While the enemies generally stick to one color each, the environments you pass through are absolutely gorgeous. From the bizarre hellish disco of the chandelier boss to the seedy, Yakuza-esque grunge underground Tokyo, the game kept surprising me as I played through. The beauty wasn’t just limited to that set pieces. The Amada headquarters in particular matches the Apple-like sterility that characterizes the enemy robots in the game. It’s just a wonder to see.

While the game doesn’t have the traditional colorful beauty that some Sega games have, it’s got a well-realized art style. Combined with the Yakuza team’s technical muscle, it makes for the prettiest Sega game of the year.


Best Soundtrack: NiGHTS Into Dreams HD

Runner-up: Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed

Scott Morrison: To be completely honest, I don’t know where to begin when describing the NiGHTS Into Dreams HD soundtrack. The original game and its soundtrack inspired fans to remix and create an entire album dedicated to their love for the game and its recent 15th anniversary. So, to sum up the soundtrack in a few paragraphs may be tricky for me since I used to pop the game disc in my awesome Sony Walkman all the time back in 1997. Yes, I am just that cool. *glances over sunglasses*

The NiGHTS Into Dreams soundtrack is almost unnoticeable at first, which usually means the songs fit perfectly with the game as it sets the mood without the player even noticing. From forests and canyons to under water worlds and mountains, the soundtrack is full of orchestral blends with a jazzy feel that compliments every bit of the setting as much as the game’s artistic appearance. NiGHTS’ theme song has been redone and remixed to death, but always has that mystical, and dare I say dreamy, feeling that takes anyone to another world and puts a smile on their face in the process. If you have not yet heard it, the best version of the theme song in my opinion in the Boyz II Men a cappella cover during the Christmas NiGHTS ending credits. Something about the a cappella version really does hit ears the right way to remind you not only of the Christmas season but everything that is captivating about NiGHTS as a game and an experience.

When it needs to be tense during boss fights, guitar solos help Reala dish out pain, or a dissonant xylophone aids in Wizeman’s creepy tyrannical laughter as you fight for your life. The soundtrack for NiGHTS Into Dreams HD is not only my choice for this year’s Best Soundtrack, but it could be one of my favorite video game soundtracks of all time as the music really is a timely classic in the Sega family.


Best Multiplayer: Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed

Runner-up: Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown

Brett Hatfield: While it would’ve been very easy to pick Virtua Fighter 5’s multiplayer over ASRT’s, just for having the smoothest netcode in the entire 3D fighting genre, it just seemed very bare bones. Transformed, while having occasional disconnection issues, is far more varied in terms of modes, with the incredibly fun battle mode to go along with the racing. And honestly, still running lag-free for the most part with all the visual flair and chaos, along with keeping so many players together, is incredibly impressive. I’ve played some racers with a far larger scale and budget that still couldn’t keep as consistent online as Transformed does. And because of that, a couple disconnects, no matter how heartbreaking they may have been, still can’t keep Transformed from claiming its rightful place as this year’s best multiplayer Sega title.


Best New Character: Cain (Binary Domain)

Runner-up: Jack Lumber

Josh Newey: I’ve bounced back and forth quite a bit on my feelings towards the characters of Binary Domain. On one hand, several of them wear various cultural stereotypes like some kind of badge of honor, sputtering “aight” at every opportune moment. On the other, the game’s character arcs and voice acting come together to form some really likable, engaging personalities, nearly all of which keep me interested even after several hours of gameplay. On the top of the list is Cain, a cyborg cohort with a charming French accent and an endlessly likable demeanor. While most games of this ilk tend to imbue robotic teammates with one-note, droning speech patterns and disinterested binary (hehe) dialogue, Cain is presented with the beguiling cadence of a true gentleman, replacing the cool detachment of Robocop with the warm, authentic naivete of Johnny 5 and Wall-E. In a story all about what separates humans from cold machinery, Cain serves as a fascinating midpoint between the two, embodying both the sense of mechanical disconnection and the desperate search for common moral ground that makes Binary Domain’s conflict so intriguing.


Most Anticipated Game of 2013: Anarchy Reigns

Runner-up: Aliens: Colonial Marines

Michael Westgarth: It’s no secret that my high anticipation of Anarchy Reigns stems directly from my enjoyment of Sega and Platinum Game’s last collaboration, Bayonetta. I’ve played through Bayonetta countless times (twice) and would even go as far to say that it’s the best game to have Sega’s name on it this generation. But I need more.

With the fate of Bayonetta 2 and Sega’s involvement with it still shrouded in mystery, my hopes turn to Anarchy Reigns. With the tight, yet fluid controls of Bayonetta, and the craziness of a frantic multiplayer free-for-all against simply powered characters, Sega fans look set to be rewarded for their saint-like patience with a future classic that will undoubtedly show up in our 2013 awards.

Platinum Games is one of the very few developers I have absolute faith in, and even if this is the end of their relationship with Sega, Anarchy Reigns will make sure it’ll be a relationship for the history books. Roll on 2013!


Worst Game of the Year: Sonic 4: Episode 2

Runner-up: Doctor Who: Worlds in Time

Flake: One word comes to mind when I think about Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2: Unnecessary. Why does this game exist? Why did they continue development on it? Did Sega and Dimps really think that we would somehow not compare this game to the infinitely superior Sonic Generations? And on doing so, how could they think the comparison would be favorable?

The developers were explicit that this game was made to ‘fix’ the complaints fans had about the first episode of Sonic 4. In interview after interview, they gave themselves mental high fives and bragged about their attention to fan input. What fans were they listening to? What fans wanted a sloppy mine cart level? Or new ways to make Tails even more annoying? Or levels that are so chock full of special sequences that the pace of the game feels cluttered? What fans wanted this game to be so crammed full of throw-backs to Sonic CD while demonstrating NONE of the level design and creativeness of that title?

The real mystery is who should be blamed for such a forgettable, bland, and broken experience? Dimps developed the game but it was up to Sega to make the quality control decisions. Both companies have proven in the past that they can do better by the Hedgehog than this. There are a lot of Sonic games that came out this year that will be remembered years from now. Ironically, the numbered ‘main-line’ game is not one of them.


Best Game of the Year: Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed

Runner-up: Binary Domain

Josh Newey: After the first All-Stars Racing game earned a solid reputation for being a decent-if-unremarkable entry into the kart racing genre, many weren’t expecting anything spectacular out of its sequel. But with Transformed, developer Sumo Digital have completely outdone themselves, overhauling not just their own original formula, but refining an entire genre that’s been begging for something new. Instead of resting on the pre-established groundwork of the first game, Transformed feels wholly different, offering three completely distinct driving styles that force players to adapt with the tracks as they shift from lap to lap. Choosing to go for a sense of speed over accessibility, Transformed is faster and more exhilarating than any previous kart racer, stepping beyond the tepid family-friendly bounds of Mario Kart and into the realm of stylish, speedy racers like Need For Speed Underground. With stunningly realized and expertly designed tracks, a thrilling and relentless sense of speed, and a rewarding bountyof fan-pleasing references from the established (Jet Set Radio) to the obscure (Burning Rangers), Transformed is more than a solid mash-up racer–it truly is one of the most fun and addictive kart racers ever made. Coming from somebody who hasn’t cared about the genre since the days of Mario Kart 64, that means something.