It is the end of the year, the perfect time for pointless lists. I feel the burning need to toss mine on the fire. I played a ton of games in 2014, but all of the new ones were for Nintendo consoles. Which is fine, all of the best games came out on Nintendo consoles. There were a handful of games I would have liked to play on PS3, but I can’t say there was anything I really missed. The 3DS and WiiU are more than any person needs. So let’s get on with the Top 10 list.
10) Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy/Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright –It is my list, so I can cheat and include two games in the last spot. I couldn’t separate these two. The Professor Layton game and his side of the team up are a perfect send off for one of the best video game characters to be seen in the last decade. This seems to be the end for Professor Layton, at least as we currently know him. There is more hope for Phoenix Wright, whose series recently had a revival. At least we got these two games, even if they are the last.
9) Persona Q – Like Layton v Wright, this is another mash up of my favorite series, this time Persona mixing with Etrian Odyssey. I was incredibly excited by this game, but it didn’t quite work out as well as I’d hoped. Not that it is bad, but the combination is not quite as smooth as I’d hoped. The combined casts of Persona 3 & 4 are mashed together and there just isn’t enough space to go around. It kind of kills the feeling of the big team up when the teams are reduced to one-note annoyances for the most part. Still, it is an excellent game if not quite as excellent as I’d hoped it would be.
8) Mario Kart 8 – This long and illustrious series has never really had a bad game. Still, this game manages to stand above most of the other Mario Kart games. Especially with the recent dlc that started expanding the game beyond just Mario, adding F-Zero, Excitebike and Zelda to the mix. The racing is great as always, but this time the junk items seem to be much less frequent. Just a great way to spend some time.
7) Bayonetta 2 – The first Bayonetta was a great game, but it wasn’t really a hit, sales wise. Bayonetta 2’s existence seems like something of a minor miracle. Platinum Games hit it out of the park like usual, though. Bayonetta 2 might not quite reach the delirious highs of the first game, but it is a much more even game. It is great all the way through. Bayonetta 2 is just one of the best action games ever made.
6) Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse – This game was delay a long time, but when it finally came out it was certainly worth the wait. It looks and plays almost perfectly, through it teases the idea of being a Metroidvania without really following through as well as it could. That is a small gripe, though, in an excellent game. It is just enough of a gripe to knock it from my top 5.
5) 1001 Spikes – This game is one that I seem to enjoy much more than anyone else. This game is hard. It is cruel and mean, downright insidious. It is also addictive and delightful. Each victory is hard earned and all the more memorable for it. Then there are all the extra modes. The Tower of Nanaar would almost make my top 10 on its own. There is just so much charm in this game’s little sprites and its cruel difficulty makes it all the more memorable.
4) Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker – Not an overly ambitious game, but a perfectly realized one. This game oozes charm and there has hardly been a more appealing protagonist in a game this year. And while the puzzle platform gameplay is rather simple, it is done perfectly. This game might be getting a little bit of a boost by being so fresh in mind, but I want to just sit and play it all day right now, so it gets pushed up the list.
3) Shovel Knight – Kickstarter’s big success story. Shovel Knight actually came out just about on time and at least as good as promised. This game is the perfect distillation of what made NES games great, with 20 years of further game development to inform its design and make it all the better. Everything about this game is great, from the graphics to the music to the gameplay.
2) Smash Bros 4 – I am just going to combine both versions of the game and slot it here. This is where the WiiU game would go on its own; the 3DS might have made the list significantly lower. I have written enough about this game, but it was definitely one of the highlights of the year. It is almost everything someone could want out of a Smash game, except for the single player. The only game I enjoyed more was:
1) Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze – Taking the crown this year is DKC Tropical Freeze. I loved DKC Returns, and this game takes the same basic gameplay, removes some of the crappier aspects of the game, and piles on fun new stuff. Like extra companions besides Diddy. Dixie and Cranky Kong add a ton of variety in how players attack certain challenges. Then there is stuff like the theme level, such as the one that looks like the stage version of The Lion King. The game is just one of the best 2D (or 2.5D) platformers in years, including the recent New Super Mario Bros games.