151 Japanese Devs Name Best Games of 2013: The Last of Us Dominates, Nintendo Games Shunned

By Giuseppe Nelva

December 27, 2013

The Japanese video game industry is becoming less and less insular lately, with local developers opening themselves to influences from the west, but what are the titles that impressed them them most this year? 4Gamer asked that question and a few others to a large group of prominent Japanese devs, and we took upon ourselves to count the “votes” and compile a ranking to see what their favorites are.

Some of the results are fairly predictable, some others not so much. Here’s the full list, with the number of preferences given to each title.

  1. The Last of Us – 14
  2. Grand Theft Auto V – 12
  3. Dragon’s Crown – 12
  4. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – 11
  5. Kantai Collection (browser) – 9
  6. Beyond: Two Souls – 6
  7. Candy Crush Saga – 6
  8. Monster Hunter 4 – 4
  9. LINE Pokopang – 4
  10. Chain Chronicle – 3
  11. Hotline Miami – 3
  12. Rain – 3
  13. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – 2
  14. Earth Defense Force 4 – 2
  15. Dragon Quest VIII – 2
  16. The Walking Dead – 2
  17. Cookie Clicker – 2
  18. Nyanko Dai Senso – 2
  19. Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi – 2
  20. Puppeteer – 2
  21. Pokémon X & Y – 2
  22. FarCry 3: Blood Dragon – 2
  23. Detakadodasu Aikatsu (arcade)- 1
  24. Brave Frontier – 1
  25. Sports Champion 2 – 1
  26. Battlefield 4 – 1
  27. Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl -1
  28. World of Tanks – 1
  29. Plague Inc. – 1
  30. The Wonderful 101 – 1
  31. Rocksmith 2014 Edition – 1
  32. Gone Home – 1
  33. Antichamber – 1
  34. Anata Te Yokumiruto Dobunezumi Mitaina Kao Shi Teru Wa Ne – 1
  35. Keri Hime Sweets – 1
  36. DanganRonpa – 1
  37. Oshioki Punch Girl!!! – 1
  38. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – 1
  39. Bear Tomo – 1
  40. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – 1
  41. Minna no oshaberi Chat – 1
  42. Majo to Yuusha – 1
  43. Deemo – 1
  44. Nobunaga’s Ambition: Creation – 1
  45. Papers, Please – 1
  46. League of Legends – 1
  47. Fantasy Life LINK! – 1
  48. LINE GAME – 1
  49. Panini Football League – 1
  50. Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai 2 – 1
  51. The Stanley Parable – 1
  52. Sega 3D Classics – 1
  53. Color Zen – 1
  54. Drift Spirits – 1
  55. Payday 2 – 1
  56. The Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki – 1
  57. Yokai Watch – 1
  58. 3D Afterburner II – 1
  59. Despicable Me: Minion Rush – 1
  60. Tearaway – 1
  61. Gran Turismo 6 – 1
  62. Astebreed – 1
  63. Clumsy Ninja – 1
  64. Tomb Raider – 1
  65. BioShock Infinite – 1
  66. Killer Instinct – 1
  67. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – 1
  68. Resogun – 1

It’s worth mentioning that five developers didn’t have a preference or refused to give one.

The Last of Us is the game that impressed most developers, with fourteen “votes”, followed by Grand Theft Auto V and Dragon’s Crown, that were deemed the most impressive by twelve developers each.

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The Last of Us was favored by legendary names like Final Fantasy developer Hiromichi Tanaka, Comcept President Keiji Inafune, Yakuza series Producer Masayoshi Yokoyama and Nihon Falcom President Toshihiro Kondo.

Grand theft Auto V was preferred, for instance, by Gung Ho Online Entertainment President Kazuki Morisihita, Yakuza series Producer Toshiho Nagoshi and Director Hiroyuki Sakamoto, Rain Director Yuki Ikeda and Ni No Kuni Director Ken Motomura.

Dragon’s Crown received quite a few votes from Capcom developers, in addition to Killer is Dead‘s Director Hideyuki Shin, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Designer Yuji Abe and Nippon Ichi President Souhei Niikawa.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn impressed many, and is the only MMORPG with a relevant presence in the list with eleven preferences (World of Tanks got a single vote).  Final Fantasy XIV was favored, between others, by Valkyria Chronicles Producer Shinji Motoyama, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Director Keiji Sato and Level 5 President Akihiro Hino.

Interestingly enough, the Japanese browser game Kantai Collection was also quite popular, following suit with nine votes, while Beyond: Two Souls got six preferences, together with the mobile classic Candy Crush Saga. 

Surprisingly, best selling games like Monster Hunter 4 and Pokemon X and Y didn’t get that much attention from developers, receiving respectively only four and two votes (don’t be surprised if you don’t see Animal Crossing: New Leaf in the list, as it was released in 2012 in Japan).

As an interesting tidbit of information, indie hit Hotline Miami got two votes despite the lack of a Japanese release in Japan on consoles. One was from SCE Worldwide President Shuhei Yoshida and the other from Grasshopper Manufacture Director Goichi Suda.

Completely absent from the list is Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, that apparently was completely overshadowed by XIV‘s epic rebirth.

What about Nintendo? Classic first party franchises from Kyoto’s historical developer were almost completely shunned. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds got a single vote, and there’s no trace of Mario or Pikmin in the list. Wii U games are also hard to find, with a single, lonely vote given to The Wonderful 101.

The next generation still hasn’t dawned in Japan, so only Resogun and Killer Instinct got one preference each between PS4 and Xbox One Exclusives (but Resogun‘s vote comes from legendary Drakengard director Yoko Taro) .

Ultimately, it’s definitely an interesting list. Japanese games are still definitely there, but western games like The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V have a much stronger presence than many would expect.

There are a lot of different mobile games, and the lack of Nintendo games is a bit depressing. While being appreciated by developers doesn’t necessarily turn into big sales, it’s still quite telling.

It’s nice to see Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn up there. The development team made an almost superhuman effort to steer around that sinking ship, and that seems to have gained them the respect of their peers.

It’ll be definitely interesting to read their opinions next year, after the Japanese release of the two next generation consoles.

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Giuseppe Nelva

Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.

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