Take Risk. Simplify the rules and create a bunch of new maps. Add an intuitive web-based interface and a complex worldwide ranking system. Make the game entirely free to play and attract a solid stable of online players, available at all hours of the day. The result is one of the most addictive strategy games you've probably never heard of.
Sure, it just the same old third-person shootfest at its core, but the incredible, organic environments, impressive character animation and the amazing sense of jump-where-you-want freedom kept me playing. The year's best script and voice-acting this side of Portal didn't hurt either.
Sudoku is dead, as far as I'm concerned. The new reigning champion for game-to-play-while-watching-a-horrible-TV-show-in-the-background is now officially Picross DS. While the concept isn't exactly new, the interface and wide variety of puzzles on offer in the DS version makes it a winner. Plus you get a cute picture at the end, instead of Sudoku's random jumble of numbers. Beat that!
Note to whoever developed Defender for the PS2... this is how you do a classic remake. Equal parts old and new, Pac-Man Championship Edition was instantly familiar and instantly intriguing at the same time. The high-speed action and constantly changing environments combine to create a uniquely smooth experience -- the whole thing just flows better than any game since Geometry Wars. Now, if only there were a mode without the time-limit ...
Yeah, the constant flipping got kind of annoying, and the 3D puzzles were often obvious and/or gimmicky, and the game fell apart a bit at the end. It's hard to care, though, when you're hopping on enemies and stringing together mid-air bouncing combos like it was still 1985. And any game that so effectively makes fun of geeky game-player stereotypes is hi-technicaaaaaaaal in my book.
Forsooth! Verily, a game that dost try to be Oblivion but fails to have decent combat, a sensible story, or really anything at all interesting to do shalt hereby be declared the worst game of the year. And yes, all the characters do actually talk like that.
New Year's Resolution
Re-launch Games for Lunch and keep it updated daily.
Sony PlayStation 3 (late 2012)
Nintendo Wii console
Microsoft Xbox 360