Normally, I like to write a comprehensive list of the best games of the year when the leaves start changing color. Picking favorites, while inadvisable with children, is fun with video games. Everybody likes labeling their best and brightest. Plus, these yearly articles let me practice my meager Photoshop skills. 

That couldn't work this year because of my schedule. 2013 was packed from start to finish with schoolwork, my job, and as much freelance writing as I could fit into my schedule. It was great. 

The only downside was that it cut out time for gaming. I played a handful of games this year, and only one of them was a new release. That makes me unqualified to pick the best games of 2013. 

Instead, I decided to put together a nice list of my favorite 9 games from the past few years. Why 9? Why not? It's not comprehensive by any means, but it gives you a sense of what titles stuck out to me over the years. Let me know what you think in the comments. 

Edit: As has been pointed out, there are only 8 games here. Well. Let's just pretend this never happened and tack on N+ at the end of the list, yes?

Out of all the games here, this one has the most hours logged on it. My roommate brought his Wii freshman year of college and one multiplayer game. Brawl. 

I've played this game with him once a day, every day, for the last two and a half years. It still surprises me with its depth and intricacies. The stage creator and massive roster of characters mean I'll probably keep playing for another 2.5 years... or until Super Smash Brothers Universe releases this Christmas.

I'm not much for Japanese RPGs, but dang, Chrono Trigger is good. This Squaresoft classic boasts an engrossing story, punishing combat, and deep leveling system. Everything in this game is exactly right, minus the pointless rat-chasing minigame. 

The whole package comes together in a seamless experience. It feels like it hasn't aged a day since its 1995 release. This is an experience every gamer should have. 

My freshman year at college wasn't great. I didn't know anybody and ended up staying in my room more than I should have. On the upside, I had Grand Theft Auto IV to keep me entertained during those long Friday nights of doing nothing. 

The long campaign strikes a more serious note than previous GTAs, and comes off the better for it. Niko Bellic's American odyssey uses cutting satire to remind us of our country's flaws, all while serving up fun (albeit dated) open-world gameplay. Grand Theft Auto IV is a classic of our generation. 

There are good games, and then there's The Witcher 2. The Polish RPG stunned players with a brutal combat system that forced them to learn its intricacies. 

It's all worth it in the end, though. The feeling you get from wiping the floor with bad guys who could kill you in two hits is like nothing else in gaming. If you want a serious game made for adults, this is it. 

Some games you just know people will remember in ten years. Ken Levine and the team at Irrational outdid themselves with a new world, new story, and new adventure in Bioshock Infinite. Running across the rooftops of Columbia thrills and keeps player riveted, right up until the trippy conclusion. 

This is my favorite Bioshock game, even more than the original. Killing bad guys from the skyhook is too cool to pass up.

Consider this my salute to my childhood. Thinking of Advance Wars brings back memories of hunching over my DS for hours, endlessly replaying old maps to level up COs and unlock new skills. 

Despite its atrocious balancing, Advance Wars: Dual Strike is the pinnacle of the series. It offers endlessly addictive content that kept me playing for years. That this franchise has been dormant since 2008 is a shame. 

You know what I love? Hats. Wear 'em all the time. That's why I'm so glad Valve constructed an elaborate hat simulator called Team Fortress 2. You can buy, sell, trade, and earn new hats alongside other players. 

If you get bored of being fashionable (impossible), Valve also threw in a first-person shooter minigame. That's alright too, although it really distracts from the main point of the game. 

Oh, Mass Effect 2. You understand me. You heard my pleas to improve gameplay (dramatically better), to streamline the inventory (simplified to the point of absurdity), and get rid of the persistent bugs (no crashes in sight) from the first game. 

What makes Mass Effect 2 shine is its focus on side characters. Your teammates are hands-down the best-written characters in gaming. They show passion and depth. I cared about them. That, more than any gameplay improvements, brought me back to stop the Collectors again and again. 


That's all I've got. What do you think of the list? What are your favorite games? 


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