2013 has been a cracking year with some big-name franchises firing on all cylinders, well-regarded studios at their very best, indie visionaries again making huge waves, and no shortage of quality gaming nourishment for our hungry souls.
But, as always, there have been many games -- large and small -- that have slipped under the radar. There are one or two characters in this list we would never have expected to find adorning a rundown of underdogs, but times are changing.
There are dozens that we could have included on this list (pretty much any Wii U or Vita game that released his year, to be honest), but here are ten of the best that we've plucked out of sales obscurity to champion as the year draws to a close.
Antichamber is amazing. And it was made by one person. One! If you liked Portal, if you're a fan of mind-bending games and enjoy a challenging experience, sort your life out and get on it.
Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, and Pokemon took the popular plaudits for the 3DS this year, with good reason. But then, just before the end of 2013, Square quietly dropped the best RPG they've make in years onto the system.
A Metroidvania, Mexican-flavoured modern classic, Guacamelee proved one of the year's best platformers. Bursting with charm and vibrancy, not to mention a plethora of pop culture references and nods to indie games, Drinkbox delivered a wonderfully challenging title that sadly slipped under many a radar.
A mashup between Level 5 and Studio Ghibli? Yeah, that sounds like a match made in heaven to us, and Ni No Kuni lives up to expectations. But then again, we're enormous fans of interesting niche titles, and as glorious as Ni No Kuni might be, mainstream appeal is not something it can really offer.
Jon described MirrorMoon EP as an "abstract masterpiece", saying that "there really is nothing else quite like it out there". Of course, the one difficulty with convincing people to buy into an inventive slice of abstract brilliance is that it can be fairly difficult to describe in simple terms.
Puppeteer is a masterpiece of craftsmanship, particularly when it comes to the striking visual design. It's absolutely bonkers and riddled with creativity and invention. But it was never going to sell well. Full-price, 2D, platformers rooted in vaudevillian theatre and marionette pantomime aren't the greatest money-spinners in the industry.
Ubisoft make some utterly outstanding games, they really do. Rayman Legends is our game of the year: it's insanely good, cracking fun, and riotously imaginative. But it's a Rayman game, so no matter how good it is, it'll never reach the audience it deserves. More's the pity.
Super Mario 3D World
If console sales were predicated on the excellence of their exclusives, then the Wii U would be flying off of the shelves. Super Mario 3D World is outstanding. But it released for a platform that very few have bought, and sold fewer copies than Knack.
The injustice alone is almost enough to make me buy a Wii U on principle. But then I remember that Nintendo released it on the same day as Sony unleashed the PS4. *facepalm*
People are excited for the Vita again, and that's brilliant. It's all because of Tearaway -- Media Molecule's latest captivating creation. But most of those people already owned a Vita, so we can probably count the number of sales on one hand.
The Wonderful 101 is, unsurprisingly, wonderful. It's a modern classic, another fine string to Platinum's bow, and one of the most fantastically unique games we've seen in some time. But it looks fiendishly complex to the untrained eye and is only available to the Wii U audience, which isn't exactly enormous.
Those are ten of our underdog of the year, but what about you dear reader? Are there any overlooked titles you want to shout about? There were plenty more we could have added here. Let us know your thoughts in the box below!