Shockers: The Biggest Surprises of 2012

What things took us by surprise this year? Chances are you were just as startled as us!

2012 has been a startling year for video games, both behind the scenes with business and with general releases in themselves.  Some games have thrown us for a loop, while others failed to live up to the hype, despite all the hoopla and pre-release events.  And other news stories managed to shake up our hemisphere as well.  Which leaves us to ask…what were the year’s biggest surprises?

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We’ve got a list of some of the most ridiculous – and somewhat entertaining – moments from 2012 that caught us off guard, and while not all of them can be considered a success, in hindsight, they’ll be rather hard to forget as we move on into 2013.  Let’s get started…

Persona 4 Arena shifts RPG gears into the fighting realm

For the longest time, Atlus’ Persona series has been about traditional role-playing, and in a way continues to do so with the release of Persona 4 Golden for the PS Vita.  But with Arena, created by the team behind Guilty Gear, Atlus managed to do the unthinkable – create a role-playing style experience with secondary characters and a brilliant story and mold it into an excellent 2-D fighting game.  It’s easily one of the year’s best, and well worth the cash if you find it on sale.

Resident Evil 6 foregoes the survival horror route mostly

Bigger isn’t always necessarily better, and that’s something companies eventually have to learn with some of their highly produced sequels.  EA could learn something from the somewhat ill received Medal of Honor Warfighter, as could Disney with Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two.  But perhaps the most confusing of highly-hyped sequels was Resident Evil 6, a game that delivered more than its fair share of action, but eventually fell to criticism that it wasn’t dwelling that much in the survival horror mold like its previous releases did.  And what’s worse, Capcom is believing that the game’s failure to be a mass hit could lead to a huge loss in the year ahead.  Remember, guys, sometimes you have to keep it simple.

Cliff Bleszinski departs Epic Games

One of Epic Games’ hugest successes has to be attributed to one of its key members, Cliff Bleszinski, who’s helped shape the company’s greatest releases, including the Gears of War series.  Some thought that the relationship would be inseparable, but months before the release of the company’s latest game, Gears of War Judgment, Bleszinski announced he was leaving.  Many thought he was retiring, but in the weeks that followed, he teased through his Twitter account how he was talking to other companies, and even revealed a possible “secret” project was in the works.  That’s the thing about game designers, you can’t keep the good ones down.  And why would you?

Nintendo comes back strong  

With the Wii U set for release during the holiday season, we expected Nintendo to come out guns blazing for E3 with a system price and release details like crazy.  Instead, the company took the odd route of going with a more casual approach, talking about games like Nintendo Land and Wii Fit Plus, rather than revealing the details that gamers wanted to know.  As a result, it still had gamers wondering about their next move.

Months later, to reaffirm everyone that it knew was it was doing, Nintendo held a press conference that not only revealed launch details for the much anticipated console, but also a surprise that would’ve been better suited for an E3 reveal – the exclusive rights to the long-awaited Bayonetta 2 from Platinum Games.  Gamers quickly returned to Nintendo’s good graces upon the announcement.

Tim Schafer kicks off a Kickstarter phenomenon

Before Tim Schafer had proposed his Double Fine project through the website, KickStarter was just another small fund raising site.  But ever since its program launched and successfully met its goal several times over, developers came out of the woodwork, pushing their projects and offering rewards for those who helped get it successfully funded.  There are dozens upon dozens of KickStarter projects now, and though not all are 100 percent guaranteed, most meet their goals with fluent success.  Don’t expect 2013 to slow down anytime soon either.

Telltale Games carves out its own piece of legacy in The Walking Dead

Mention The Walking Dead to a fanboy this past summer and they likely would’ve just mentioned the TV show and Robert Kirkman’s comic book.  However, mention it now and you’ll immediately think of Telltale’s brilliant five-episode series, a shocking adventure revolving around escaped convict Lee and poor little Clementine.  Featuring excellent writing, superb choices that can lead to a variety of consequences, and plenty of shocks, the game has gone on to earn huge accolades – including Game of the Year honors at the Spike Video Game Awards.  Don’t be surprised if the folks at Telltale do it all over again next year when they launch the second season of the series, right alongside Activision’s first-person shooter take on the franchise.  2013 is gonna be a great year for the Dead.

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Prima Games Staff
The staff at Prima Games.