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As we canter into another year it’s time to look at the best incoming games. As a primarily Nintendo gamer with no immediate aspirations (or necessary funds) to buy the other consoles my options for this list have been rather limited. My equivalent post last year very accurately predicted both my Game of the Year and the runner-up but I’m not expecting that this time. Nintendo’s newest home console, the Wii U is due out in the second half of the year but no first-party titles have been unveiled yet so we don’t know what’s going to be available to play at launch. My guess is we’ll get Pikmin 3, which Nintendo have confirmed they are working on for Wii U but the game hasn’t been shown off in any official capacity or been given a release date yet so for that reason isn’t eligible for the list, nor are any third-party publications confirmed for the system that have already been released on other platforms so there goes Batman Arkham City. The result is a list dominated by 3DS games and featuring a few titles I’m not 100% certain I’m going to get. So here we have the ten Nintendo games due before 2013 I’m looking forward to most even if there are other hitherto unannounced projects that might prove more appetising.

10. Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright (3DS)

I’m a massive Professor Layton fan but have never picked up a Phoenix Wright game so this crossover only half appeals to me. The story pitches the two popular characters into a strange mediaeval town rocked by strange goings on where a young woman stands accused of witchcraft while gameplay will stick to the formula of each franchise depending on which character you choose. As Layton creators Level 5 are the developers in charge of the project we know it’s going to be quality. The only question is how well the idea will work.

9. Mario Tennis (3DS)

Another title I’m not sure I’m going to get, this latest entry in the Mario Tennis series will have to make good use of the hardware to justify its existence. Mario Tennis on the N64 was a cracking sports sim and gave the world Waluigi. Mario Power Tennis on the Gamecube was pretty much the same game with better graphics and power moves that spoiled things somewhat. With any luck Camelot will judge this handheld version a bit better.

8. Mario Party 9 (Wii)

The Wii isn’t dead quite yet. Mario’s long-running party game series has been missing for a few years following the weak Mario Party 8 but I’m hopeful this second Wii entry will make more engaging use of the Wii Remote in mini games and feature better-designed boards. I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for the series but this is another entry on this list for which my decision to buy it or not will depend on reviews.

7. Luigi’s Mansion 2 (3DS)

This long-awaited sequel to the Gamecube launch game looks set to eclipse its predecessor by featuring multiple mansions for Mario’s scaredy-cat brother to explore in search of ghosts to vacuum and treasure to hoard. It’s already looking pretty sweet and with a reported stronger focus on puzzling is in with a good shout to end up as that rare thing, a superior sequel. Check out my Luigi’s Mansion review.

6. Metal Gear Solid – Snake Eater 3D (3DS)

Appearing on this list for the second year in a row Metal Gear Solid – Snake Eater 3D is finally due for release in March. This port of the PS2 classic is looking better every time we see it, features ingenious use of the handheld’s features and should be spectacular in 3D. Despite being an enhanced re-release it’s set to be one of the biggest third party games for the system this year.

5. Kid Icarus Uprising (3DS)

The first 3DS game ever revealed missed launch by a whole year but in the intervening time has caused quite a stir with its heavily action-orientated content. Pit’s first game in two decades feels like a whole new IP for Nintendo given how different the 3D experience is looking. Circle Pad Pro support has been confirmed to give lefties an easier time and the game itself looks better and better each time we see more of it.

4. Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle (3DS)

It’s going to be a busy year for the puzzling professor especially with his first ever foray on 3DS due to arrive in Europe some time before 2013. Once again Layton Luke and Emmy are challenged to solve the mystery of a town suffering from a severe case of unexplained happenings. Quality is assured but how the game makes use of the console’s unique features will be of great interest.

3. The Last Story (Wii)

Although my early impressions of Xenoblade Chronicles haven’t been the best that hasn’t put me off wanting this other Wii exclusive JRPG, which always appealed to me more anyway. It’s been out in Japan since last January but perhaps thanks to online campaign Operation Rainfall is finally seeing the light of day in Europe in February. Could this be the last great Wii game before the Wii U arrives?

2. Paper Mario (3DS)

Another game to make successive appearances on this list is the latest instalment in the Paper Mario series from the godly Intelligent Systems. Paper Mario – The Thousand-Year Door is one of my favourite RPGs and after the franchise shifted to a more platforming focus with the Wii’s Super Paper Mario it’s great to see it returning to its roots with its first handheld instalment and a slew of new features. The paper world concept will work brilliantly in 3D and Intelligent Systems have a habit of making some addictive RPGs. That being the case…

1. Fire Emblem Kakusei (3DS)

Fire Emblem – Shin Monshō no Nazo: Hikari to Kage no Eiyū, which placed high on last year’s list never made it out of Japan so I’m desperate for this first 3DS entry to reach UK shores. It’s already looking wonderful with the new double-teaming concept proving an intriguing prospect and is rumoured to become the first Nintendo game to feature paid DLC. I can’t wait to see what other new features the game will offer, not to mention what the story will be about. If it does get greenlit for a western release it’s still possible it won’t appear this year but all the same if there’s even a chance it will that’s good enough for me to consider it the 2012 game I’m most eagerly anticipating.

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