2014 was a strange year for gamers. It was supposed to be the greatest year of gaming ever, with massive titles being introduced such as Destiny, Watch Dogs and Titanfall. Unfortunately, many of the year’s biggest titles failed to live up to the hype.
Many gamers were left feeling disappointed by the lacking performance and features of many of the year’s biggest titles. Publishers such as Ubisoft, EA and Activision released games that were either buggy or incomplete, and asked gamers to buy extra downloadable content before fixing obvious problems.
However, one publisher did deliver: Nintendo. Many of the best Nintendo titles I have ever played were released this year and weren’t stricken with bugs and greedy downloadable content policies. Here are my five favorite games released in 2014.
Super Smash Bros Wii U (Wii U)
There’s not much else I can say about this game I haven’t already said. This was the best game of 2014 and capped off an amazing year for the Wii U. It is extraordinarily diverse, offering a variety of gameplay experiences for any kind of gamer to enjoy. There was not a single game released this year that could match its multiplayer experience, polish and replay value.
Bravely Default (3DS)
Although it was released in 2012 in Japan, Bravely Default took until February of 2014 to finally release in the US. An old-school RPG, Bravely Default sets the player in a fantasy world with a party of four characters who endure an epic adventure. It implements new features to keep the gameplay fresh. This includes an amazing turn-based battle system that allows the player to spend or save a character’s turn by going into brave or default modes, respectively. Bravely Default also employs a class system where the player can change a character’s job any time they want. Tired of your character being a white mage and want to turn them into a vampire? Go ahead! You are allowed to so at any time. The game’s story and characters are what really push it over the top, I found myself immersed in its world. Bravely Default brings back classic RPG gameplay, and manages to make it exciting and varied, it is the best handheld game I played all year.
Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)
Bayonetta 2 taught us that a story-driven game doesn’t need a good story to be amazing. It features an obnoxiously bad story, with cutscenes that include poor voice acting and writing. This would be a problem for most games, but Bayonetta 2’s action-packed gameplay more than makes up for its narrative shortcomings. The main character in the series, Bayonetta is a witch who can basically do anything and has unlimited destructive capability. This means that action sequences are outrageously massive and ridiculous. The player never feels intimidated by the games’ enormous enemies because Bayonetta 2 controls perfectly. The total control granted to the player allows for smooth gameplay and stunning combos.
Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-
Yes, it has a very strange title, and yes, it is one of my favorite games of the year. A traditional 2D competitive fighter, Xrd features over-the-top aggressive gameplay and intense action that is relatively easy to get into. The only thing holding Xrd back is its roster. With only 15 playable characters and two purchasable as DLC (one of which was free for a limited time), Xrd is not as diverse as other fighters such as Street Fighter IV or Mortal Kombat. This never became a major issue for me however; as the game’s technical ceiling and depth ensured I never got bored. The playable characters are all very different, and all take some time to learn. My favorite part of the game is its aggressive nature. Camping the opponent is not an effective strategy, as your character will lose strength if you do not land hits on your opponent. It is a fighting game where you are actually rewarded for attempting to fight your opponent, something I greatly enjoyed.
Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
Probably the best entry in the Mario Kart series, Mario Kart 8 looks and drives great, and finally delivers a game balance that is fun for everyone playing. Old iterations of the series bothered me because the item system gave too much strength to the players losing the race. In Mario Kart Wii, the player in last place had about the same chances of winning as the player in first, as a single bullet bill could land them in first place. This doesn’t happen in Mario Kart 8. Items help struggling players stay in the race but don’t grant them victory. Mario Kart 8’s gameplay is much improved from that of past entries. It controls very well, is easy to understand and also offers depth for players looking to race for more than just fun. Mario Kart 8 features great online play in addition to stellar local multiplayer. It also allows players to use any Wii or Wii U controller, meaning nobody will ever be left out because I didn’t feel like buying overpriced next-gen controllers. Mario Kart 8 was extremely hyped and did not disappoint, delivering a racing experience for all to enjoy.