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Portable Gaming: Top 10 Portable Console Games of 2012

A Look at the Best Handheld Games of the Past Year


December 2012 — This year was an exciting time in the portable handheld arena as the Nintendo 3DS started to hit its stride while gamers got served another new system in the form of the PlayStation Vita. Yes, apps are nice and all. But as someone who has struggled with shoehorned touch controls on tablets and phones, there’s still something to be said about the accuracy provided by portable systems with real sticks and buttons. Like Janet Jackson, I want a lot of control, darn it! So without further ado, here is my personal Top 10 portable console games for 2012.

For more about gaming on the go, check out our Portable Gaming Hub.

1. GAME OF THE YEAR: Persona 4 Golden

I normally don’t like picking re-releases for Game of the Year. Still, “Persona 4 Golden” is just so good that I could not demote it in good conscience. From an entertaining storyline that serves up some hilariously laugh-out-loud moments to a solid battle system based on the creation and creative use of in-game personas, the Japanese-style role playing game is one of the best representations of the genre ever released. Add several new features over the PS2 original and even owners of the home console version will likely want to give this golden baby a shot.

System: PlayStation Vita

2. Kid Icarus: Uprising

The classic Nintendo title returns with a fresh coat of paint and new game mechanics. Part Panzer Dragoon and part third-person action shooter, “Kid Icarus: Uprising” features two forms of gameplay via on-rails aerial sequences and a more adventure-style ground game. A wacky but charming cast of characters adds to the game’s appeal as well.

System: Nintendo 3DS

3. Rayman Origins

Another port of a home console game, “Rayman Origins” makes the transition to portables quite well, particularly on the Vita. Once reduced to the dustbin of old game mechanics, classic 2D platforming returns with a vengeance in this game, showing once again why the genre was so popular back in its heyday.

System: PlayStation Vita

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4. Resident Evil: Revelations

Mayday, mayday ... maaayyydaaayyy!!! Gamers seem to have a love-hate relationship with the console versions of recent Resident Evil games. For fans of the series, however, “Resident Evil: Revelations” is Resident Evil in its cramped, creepy best. A great mix of both old-school and newer Resident Evil 4-style horror shooting, this portable original serves up a home console-style experience.

System: Nintendo 3DS

5. Pokemon Black & White 2

The Nintendo DS isn't quite dead yet. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a huge fan of the Pokemon metagame. So while story is usually never a strong suit for the series, the deep battling system is and “Pokemon Black & White 2” continues to deliver on that front. For parents looking for a gift, this is also a sure hit for little kids, even if they don’t have the slightest clue about what an “EV” stat is.

System: Nintendo DS

6. LittleBigPlanet

At some point or another, every avid gamer has likely had an itch to create a game. It’s the ability to humor those same creative tendencies in every gamer that makes LittleBigPlanet for the Vita such a delight. The addition of touch and gyro controls also provides an extra element to this handheld version. This game is literally as good as you make it.

System: PlayStation Vita

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7. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

It may be a pain to type while writing a review. Still, “Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance” deserves kudos for providing a full original game to a portable console as opposed to a poor quality cash in. If you’ve been pining for the next home console version of the series, this iteration of the 3D adventure game will definitely tide you through.

System: Nintendo 3DS

8. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

The beloved professor returns with a new mystery to solve as well as hundreds of puzzles to tickle players’ brains. The first full Layton game for the 3DS, “Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask” makes the transition to the third dimension quite well while managing to maintain the series’ charm. In addition to puzzle-loving adults, this is also a great game for kids since it actually makes them think and use their brains.

System: Nintendo 3DS

9. Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention

The strategy RPG gets ported in portable form, complete with its wacky Japanese-style storyline and hours and hours and hours and hours of gameplay. If you like “Tactics” style games or other Nipponichi titles, this one is sure to float your boat — for hours and hours and hours and hours.

System: PlayStation Vita

10. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

The Final Fantasy series is known for its JRPG titles so a rhythm game might sound out of place. When you think of the fact that music plays an important role in the series, however, then “Theatrhythm Final Fantasy” starts to make a lot of sense. Featuring music and characters both old and new, this rhythm game is a charming homage to Final Fantasy fans everywhere.

System: Nintendo 3DS

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