Magical assassins. Two-dimensional plumbers. Japanese high schools. Those are just some of the nutty things you'll see in fall 2012's crop of eclectic video games. We've got big-budget blockbuster shooters, PC strategy games, and even a couple of handheld RPGs.
Here at Kotaku, we've spent a great deal of time playing and digging for info on what's coming out this fall. Some of the games could be good. Some could be not-so-good. We don't know. What we do know is what we're really, really excited about. So each of us picked one or two games we think will be great.
Here are the video games we're psyched to play this fall.
Antichamber: The game's creator calls it "first-person Escher." It's a puzzle game. It's using some very unusual, non-Euclidian rules. It blew me away in 2011 and is supposed to be out this year. I loved both Portals, and this is in that vein. I can't wait. (2012, PC/Mac)
Paper Mario: Sticker Star: I like lots of the Mario role-playing games, especially the Mario & Luigi ones, which are made by the folks at Alphadream. But this is by Intelligent Systems, creators of the original Paper Mario, the excellent Fire Emblems and Advance Wars as well as my current favorite 3DS game, Pushmo. The glimpses I've seen of the game's integration of realistic-looking items into Mario's made-of-paper world is tantalizing. This one better be awesome. (November 11, 3DS)
Dishonored: What jazzes me most about Arkane's first-person title is the amount of freedom that you'll supposedly have to meet Dishonored's mission objectives. I'm hoping that the whole experience will feel like a series of improvisatory setpieces for me to cause all kinds of unscripted chaos inside of. (October 9, PS3/360/PC)
Assassin's Creed Liberation: Liberation is exactly the kind of game that I want to play on a plane ride or a long commute. But full-featured action/stealth romps with engaging narrative are rare in the smartphone landscape, if they exist at all. I'm psyched to see how different the combat and strategy in this Assassin's Creed feels. (October 30, Vita)
Paper Mario: Sticker Star: The peanut butter and chocolate of the video game industry, Mario and role-playing games are a match made in gaming heaven. Sticker Star is the latest entry in a long-running, hilarious string of Mario RPGs that have always been consistently awesome. And with its throwback world map, quirky humor, and timing-based combat, Sticker Star seems like it could be one of the best entries yet. (November 11, 3DS)
Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward: Maybe Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors slipped under your radar. Play it. Now. It's one of the best games on DS, a visual novel adventure that's simultaneously horrifying and delightful. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, the sequel to Nine Hours, adds 3D graphics, voice acting, and a whole new mind-bending story to explore. I can't wait to play it. (October 23, 3DS/Vita)
Assassin's Creed III: As far as I can tell, Ubisoft has really done their homework not only with the locations and the history, but with Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton and Mohawk culture, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that all plays out. (October 30, PS3/360/PC/Wii U)
XCOM: Enemy Unknown: Because I've played it for a few hours and really want to keep playing it for many hours more. Hands-on time just plain sucked me in. (October 9, PC/PS3/360)
NBA 2K13: No sports franchise consistently delivers the goods like this one. The game won't have a mode like the Jordan Challenge (2K11) or NBA's Greatest (2K12) but it is getting some much-needed control refinements and will reunite the 1992 U.S. national team—the Dream Team—for the first time in a high definition video game. It's one of the best for off-the-court roleplaying scenarios in its career mode too. Everything suggests another strong contender for Sports Video Game of the Year, provided they've solved their online troubles. (October 2, every platform)
XCOM: Enemy Unknown: I never played the original, but my time with this game at E3 really struck a chord. Jake Solomon, the game's lead designer, is a diehard XCOM fan and communicated a sense of responsibility to the original and those who loved it. The previews have shown something that is console playable without alienating PC fans. I rarely play strategy titles, but I am drawn to this one's history and the mission of defending everything we have. (October 9, PC/PS3/360)
Assassin's Creed III: When you grow up on the north shore (prounounced "Nawth Shauwah") of Massachusetts, pretty much every school field-trip is about the founding of the United States. Now I get to be a be a badass half-Native American assassin in the middle of the Revolutionary War? Sign me up, man. (October 30, PS3/360/PC/Wii U)
ZombiU: Games, horror games in particular, don't screw with people enough. The games I've played that have—Metal Gear, Fatal Frame, Eternal Darkness—are all games I cherish. I'm hoping ZombiU follows that tradition. (November 18, Wii U)
XCOM: Enemy Unknown: I knew about the whole "There's a first-person shooter! It sucks! It's delayed! Wait there's also a classic-style tactical game! It seems good!" deal. But I wasn't prepared for just how good X-Com: Enemy Unknown is. After spending a bunch of hours with preview code on my PC, I'm ready to say that barring some insane unforeseen development in the later acts, this game is going to be amazing. It's become one of my most anticipated games of the fall, if not the most anticipated one. October 9 can't come soon enough. (October 9, PC/PS3/360)
Persona 4 Golden:
I love my Vita. I do! I want to play games on it, but there are so few that I actually want to play. All I really want to play is Persona 3 Portable, which... yeah, that's a PSP game! But I know that Persona 4 Golden is coming, and I cannot wait. It looks amazing, is by all accounts even better than its predecessor, has enough content to keep me playing well into 2013, and best of all, it's a known quantity—it's one of the most beloved and critically praised JRPGs of all time. There aren't many portable re-releases that would take precedence over the fall's big AAA games, but Persona 4 Golden qualifies. (November 20, Vita)
(Also, sorry Jason, I know you said only two, but: I gotta do a small mention for Far Cry 3, a game I'm finding myself surprisingly excited about, even though I still have doubts about that December release date.)
Dance Central 3: I'll probably be a minority here, but Dance Central has always been a beloved franchise for me. It's not just a well-designed game that gets me, it's the fantastic choreography that blows me away. Having spent roughly 10 years as a dancer of many styles, I can attest to the variety and creativity of the dance moves in the game. And what sillier game can you whip out at a party where all your friends are drunk and in the mood to be silly? (October 16, Xbox 360)
Far Cry 3: Drugs, tigers and guns? Color me interested. The game looks as gorgeous as it does trippy. I like a game that can play with my head, and I love a good first-person shooter that gives me a deeper storyline and world to play around in than you'd expect. (December 4, 360/PS3/PC)
Dishonored: I don't even care if the game sucks. It looks gorgeous, and I can't wait to explore its dark, grimy world. (October 9, PS3/360/PC)
Assassin's Creed III: Assassin's Creed, only with more muskets, bears and cannonballs. What's not to get excited about? (October 30, PS3/360/PC/Wii U)
Assassin's Creed III: If anything, what has me jazzed is the setting and the time period. ACIII really seems like it stands out in that regard. The other main Assassin's Creed games have been great, so no big worries there. Excited to see how they pull it off. (October 30, PS3/360/PC/Wii U)