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Found 13 results

  1. GP Staff

    Game of the Year 2014: GP's Top 10

    "Tumultuous" is perhaps the one word that could be used to sum up the video game industry in 2014. We've seen some of the highest highs (PlayStation Experience, an E3 where virtually all of The Big Three "won," etc.) and also some of the lowest lows (Gamergate, broken games on launch, etc.); clearly, it was a divisive year for many. 2014 also saw another challenge in the way of being the first full year of life for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, as well as the second full year for Wii U, and all three experienced growing pains in some fashion. For Xbox One, Titanfall came and went and—for the most part—now largely remains untalked about, and Sunset Overdrive, while critically acclaimed, was not the sales success Microsoft had hoped for. PlayStation 4 was the best-selling and fastest-selling new console for much of the year but struggled to release any great first-party exclusives beyond inFamous: Second Son and First Light due to several delays (not to mention running into huge issues with DriveClub). Wii U sales still lagged far behind the rest despite Nintendo releasing some of the most critically acclaimed games this year and selling the most units this past holiday season since its launch in 2012. Still, the beat goes on, as they say, and as 2015 looms large in front of us all and we look forward to an onslaught of fantastic-looking game releases, here are the top 10 games that the GP staff found to be the best during 2014. 10. Cho Dengiki Stryker In a world where Western gamers are still mostly getting used to the concept of "visual novels," it seems impossible that any of them would plunk down for 40+ hours playing Cho Dengeki Stryker. Yet, thanks to the excellent cast of characters, heavy emphasis on action, and storyline it's impossible not to become engrossed. This superhero tale plays out with a good mix of camp and drama and paces itself wonderfully. Even after you've experienced it once, playing through another few times reveals new layers of the story. Working to a complete understanding of Cho Dengeki Stryker is immensely enjoyable and very much worth the time commitment. - Marcus Estrada, Managing Editor 9. Velocity 2X Velocity 2X may not seem like a big deal at first, but that's one of it's strengths. The classic gameplay elements of top down shooters are polished until they shine like pure diamonds while Velocity/Velocity Ultra's teleport mechanic spices up the mix, giving originality to the experience. Add finely crafted levels and a difficulty progression that is nothing short of masterful, and you may start to understand what I love about this game so much. It's hard to imagine how this game could be improved at all, but considering I said that about Velocity Ultra as well, I think the folks at Futurlab will think of something. If you have a Vita or a PS4, I can promise you that Velocity 2X is a stand out experience on either system. - Chris "WildCardCorsair" Garcia, Staff Writer 8. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze The Wii U saw tons of great games during 2014, and while it can be easy to see Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8 as the console's big ones, one mustn't forget the masterfully-crafted platformer that is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. What Retro Studios did right when reviving the Country series with Donkey Kong Country Returns (which is everything, basically), they did even better when they froze DK Island over and catapulted Donkey Kong, Diddy, Dixie, and Cranky into some of the most cleverly-designed levels you'll ever play through. Add the game's fantastic level design to David Wise's stellar soundtrack, fun co-operative multiplayer, beautiful backdrops, and a level of challenge befitting of the Donkey Kong Country name, and you've got yourself one of the finest video games of the year. - Jordan Haygood, Video Manager 7. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth When you have a title (or more) that has as passionate a fanbase as the Persona titles do, it can be tough to create something that offers fanservice without feeling too cheap. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth melds the Persona 3 and Persona 4 casts with the gameplay mechanics of the Etrian Odyssey series, and it works so well. You have the two familiar teams as well as newcomers Rei and Zen in addition to a storyline that is set during both games, yet isn't connected to either. It's a great fanservice title that gives us that opportunity to see the two groups interact together as they work to solve that mystery behind both aforementioned characters' memory loss as well as the formidable tower that looms above the world they were teleported to. - Elizabeth Burnette, Moderator 6. Transistor Transistor is an incredible experience not just because its aesthetic expertly necessitates its drama, but because it is proof that (quite literally) placing the narrative into the hands of the player is a highly evocative means of eliminating the player/game dichotomy. Additionally, over the course of the last decade, seldom is one able to recall a game that transmutes the tropes and cliches of its genre(s) in order to successfully capacitate an end result that is both reverent and neoteric. - Ciel, Moderator 5. Steins;Gate Attempting to explain why Steins;Gate is one of the best game of 2014 presents a a bit of a quandary. With the game being such a plot driven experience, as most visual novels are wont to be, it means many aspects of it must be glossed over or left unmentioned entirely in risk of providing unwanted spoilers. But it is these aspects which make it such an intriguing and piquantly flavoured dish, one you must sample for yourself lest you won't get the complete experience. Is Steins;Gate for everyone? Not at all, the visual novel aspect of it is very much a "love-it-or-hate-it" kind of deal and slow starting plot often filled with incoherent technobabble could definitely turn some people off, but ultimately none of that truly matters when discussing one the most poignant experiences ever displayed on a monitor. - Julian "Ludono" Rittmayer, Moderator 4. Mario Kart 8 Mario Kart 8 exceeds at just about everything it sets out to do while somehow managing to be the best-looking game Nintendo has created to date. In addition to having the best and most exciting tracks the series has ever seen, a plethora of characters to play as, and tons of customizable kart parts, a robust online multiplayer mode helps make it the definitive version of Mario Kart. As far as kart-racing games go, it doesn't get any better than this. - Jason Clement, Editor-in-Chief 3. Shovel Knight Independent developers have produced many memorable characters and moments. Games like SteamWorld Dig, Mutant Mudds, Velocity 2X, and more have managed to breathe new life, characters, stories and designs into genres that "triple A" publishers and developers have all but left for dead. As you're playing through some of the titles I've mentioned, you can see how they've taken the titles that inspired them and created some sort of unique spin that brings the dated concepts of their retro-gaming "ancestors" to the modern age. And then there's Shovel Knight. There are many reasons why Yacht Club Games' labors couldn't have actually been possible on the Nintendo Entertainment System. But I'll be darned if playing through it didn't have handfuls of people singing praises regarding how this game belongs on the NES, standing alongside games like DuckTales, Adventures of Link, Mega Man and the games that motivated YCG and their backers to create this truly unique world. It's one thing to evoke the golden age of gaming in your work. It's another thing entirely to create a game that so many could actually see playing back in 1993 when the NES was at its most evolved. Here's to Shovel Justice. This game has done a solid to anyone looking to relive days gone by. - Jonathan Higgins, Staff Writer 2. Bayonetta 2 From the threat of non-existence Bayonetta 2 was saved by none other than Nintendo. What's more is it became much better for it on the Wii U. Everything about the original Bayonetta“s stylish, frantic gameplay carries over to its sequel and then a whole lot more. It ups the ante with its incredibly tight combat system, stellar bosses, crazy personality, and an absurd amount of content to work towards. Bayonetta 2 is in such a class of its own among character-action games that many are unlikely to even come close to it for years to come, regardless of the system hardware that they appear on. - Barrel, Moderator and Staff Writer And GP's Game of the Year for 2014 is... 1. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U The most recent Super Smash Bros. incarnation is nothing short of a masterpiece. Nintendo created a product that is immensely entertaining and can even be used to help decide if Thursdays should be a “no pants” day. An obscene amount of care went into every aspect of the game, from the balance of fighters to the amount of unique information on each in-game trophy. Smash Bros. for Wii U brought back many familiar characters and added a healthy dose of newcomers from Pac-Man, Xenoblade, Duck Hunt and Fire Emblem: Awakening. Players do not need to be Nintendo aficionados to appreciate the healthy roster or amazing compilation album. The new modes like Smash Tour and 8-Player Smash turn Super Smash Bros. into an even better party game for those who are not feeling particularly competitive. It offers something for just about everybody, and that's why it is GP's Game of the Year for 2014. - John Kidman, Staff Writer And that wraps 2014! Are you surprised at the outcome of the list? Let us know what you think!
  2. Jason Clement

    Game of the Year 2014: Jason's Picks

    2014 was a strange year for me when it came to video games. In other years, it always seemed as if there was an abundance of truly great games that were destined to become classics—such as 10-20 games or more that could easily go down on the top 100 (or 200) games of all time list. It didn't seem as if that same abundance was there this year, and I'm not sure if that was due to a number of large AAA titles ultimately ending up as disappointing or broken on launch, or even something else. That isn't to say there weren't any great games at all, however. In a year where I actually played more games than ever (more than 50, I believe), I had a blast with many of them. And with that, here are the top 10 games I played during 2014. 10. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Toad is unmistakably one of the least likeable characters in Mario games, but his very first solo outing as Captain Toad makes a strong argument that he's finally coming into his own. The game itself oozes charm, and while the puzzles are never too clever for their own good, they're extremely entertaining and fun to play through. There's quite a breadth of content as well, especially for those looking to complete all of the challenges. It doesn't hurt that it's extremely gorgeous to look at either; the whole game is polished with a visual sheen and care that could only come from Nintendo's EAD Tokyo team. 9. Hyrule Warriors Like many others, Hyrule Warriors was my first musou game, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little hesitant going into it. A big worry of mine was whether the gameplay itself would be too repetitive and monotonous (what with all the hacking and slashing). The good news is that the game offsets that nature somewhat with a system that progressively unlocks more combos for you to use as well as having some characters be able to use some additional weapons, so as long as you mix up your combos and use them creatively, it never quite becomes too repetitive. And while the actual plot is a bit fan-fiction-esque, there are some interesting moments (especially between Sheik and Impa) throughout. In any case, the amount of content packed into it and the sheer action experience that Hyrule Warriors offers should definitely attract any Zelda fan. 8. Monument Valley Developer Ustwo set out on the seemingly impossible task of making a game in which every level would look like a piece of art that you could hang on a wall. To say that they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams would be an understatement. Every level and every puzzle is lovingly crafted and expertly executed on a level you rarely see from mobile titles. More than anything, Monument Valley sets a new bar for quality among mobile titles as a whole, and I'm excited to see what they do next. 7. Broken Age: Act 1 Official GP Review I must have a knack for putting partially finished games on Game of the Year lists. Last year, it was The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1, and now, Tim Schafer's latest magnum opus. Broken Age: Act 1 delivered on the hype it garnered after becoming the game that launched Kickstarter into the stratosphere in regards to using it as a means to crowdfund game development. Its plot and writing are some of the best I've seen in some time, and the game's art and setting instill a sense of wonder that I haven't experienced for years now. Act 2 can't come soon enough. 6. The Wolf Among Us Official GP Reviews > (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) What—two years in a row? Yep. When Episode 1: Cry Wolf released last year, it was such a strong debut for the episodic series that there was no doubt as to whether or not it should make my list. For it to make the same impact and make it on the list again this year would prove to be a challenging prospect given that many episodic games have been known to lose steam over the course of its story. Not so with The Wolf Among Us. While I felt that Episode 2 faltered a bit, every episode thereafter continually raised the stakes and added more depth to the story, culminating in one of the most intelligently devised endings yet for an episodic game. Episode 5: Cry Wolf had everything you could hope for from a finale: rising tensions, a climactic battle, and a fitting resolution to everything that transpired. The battle of wits with The Crooked Man during the finale is one of the standout moments in the game as it makes the player really reflect on themes of morality and question who the bad guy really was. It was a brilliant send-off for an incredible game. 5. Child of Light Official GP Review It's difficult for me to describe what makes Child of Light a truly special game; I won't deny that a lot of it comes from its utterly charming aesthetic. It never pretends to be something it isn't; it's a fairytale through and through, and the way that it's expressed through the game's painterly visuals is superb, detailing such otherworldly scenes as a literal, living and breathing mountain, castles in the sky, underground caves, and more is fantastic. It's fantasy at its finest, and the narrative's poetic prose adds a sense of whimsy that you rarely see in games today. That isn't to take away from its gameplay, however. The battle system, while derivative of earlier JRPGs, is also one of a kind due to the extra layer of strategy laid on it by its time-based nuances. It isn't perfect in every regard, but it adds up to some of the most intense boss fights I've experienced in some time. All of this easily makes Child of Light one of the best games Ubisoft has produced in years. 4. Shovel Knight Official GP Review How strange it is that, in a year of largely droll AAA releases (on average), one of the biggest breaths of fresh air was a game that replicated the feel of retro games. But to say that Shovel Knight succeeded only because of its charming and well-done visuals would be a huge disservice to what Yacht Club Games achieved. Stripped down to its basic gameplay, Shovel Knight is brilliant not only as a reminder of what made games great in a simpler time, but also because it takes that design to the next level with its action, something that's readily apparent in the game's intense boss battles. Above all else, Yacht Club Games created one of the best new characters and IP in years. Both Shovel Knight and the knights of The Order of No Quarter are cleverly designed, not to mention extremely likeable. It's rare to see this kind of creation have such drawing power to gamers and the regular populace outside of major animation studios like Disney, Pixar, and Studio Ghibli (to name a few), and that's just one of the many nuances that makes Shovel Knight a fantastic experience. 3. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS Official GP Review (3DS version) Wait a minute, two games in one spot? That's not quite fair, is it? Well, if they were two completely different games, I might agree. While both have content unique to their version, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS are actually two sides of the same coin. The core game exists in both, along with all of the fighters, even if the Wii U version boasts quite a bit more content and variation among its modes. Even still, it would be tough for me to say that I love one version more than the other. I've actually put far more time into the 3DS version (109 hours of this writing, in fact) and even completed it 100%. The Wii U version has been a blast to play with friends, and the amount of playable modes is so staggering that it's overwhelming. There's no doubt that series creator and director Masahiro Sakurai went above and beyond to make this the definitive version of Nintendo's mascot fighter, and I can easily say this is by far the best entry to date. 2. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Never did it cross my mind that Retro Studios would make a sequel to 2010's Donkey Kong Country Returns. I never wanted it; in fact, it was almost a sure thing to many fans that they were hard at work on their grand return to Metroid Prime next. But when E3 2013 arrived and Reggie revealed what Retro had been working on, my heart sank, as did plenty of other fans. Returns was an admirable attempt at resurrecting the Donkey Kong Country franchise and I had liked it a lot when it first came out, but it was never a game that really stuck with me in the long run. It was a one-and-done deal, as far as I was concerned; no real need to look back. When Tropical Freeze released, I knew it would be a competent and fairly "good" title; it came from Nintendo, after all. What I didn't count on was it being great or, dare I say it, incredible. Tropical Freeze doesn't change the game dramatically; it plays exactly like Returns but with subtle improvements and new additions (like the return of Dixie Kong and being able to play as Cranky Kong)—but where it goes from good to great is with its brilliant level design and variety this time around, all made even more amazing by returning series composer David Wise, who made arguably one of the best soundtracks of the year here. And where it goes from great to incredible is when you begin to uncover hidden paths, unlock secret stages, and explore levels so masterfully designed that you begin to realize that Retro was completely justified in making this sequel with all of their unused ideas left over after the release of Returns. 1. Mario Kart 8 Official GP Review To me, Mario Kart was a series that I looked back fondly on, but in reality had lost its magic over the years. Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64 were a big part of my childhood, though nothing ever quite felt the same after; I even ended up skipping Mario Kart Wii entirely and—despite owning it—still have not opened and played Mario Kart 7 (mostly due to being distracted by other games). Mario Kart 8 definitely looked impressive, but I went in with pretty grounded expectations given my feelings on recent entries. It's a good thing too, because it shattered every expectation I had and then some. Simply put, Mario Kart 8 has the best and most exciting tracks to play through in the entire series, partially due to the added anti-gravity feature, which allows for tracks to twist and turn and rise up into the sky and shoot straight down. One course even has you riding up one side of a waterfall and down another, making for some intense karting action. In addition to its fantastic soundtrack, Mario Kart 8 is not only arguably the best-looking Nintendo game ever made, it also has the best online multiplayer of any Wii U title to date. Playing through 12-player online multiplayer matches seamlessly with friends was like a dream come true and was, in many instances, one of the biggest highlights of my year. The recently released DLC pack made things even better with 8 entire new tracks and three new characters, making this the most fully-featured game in the series to date. Everything about Mario Kart 8 blew my expectations away, and I had the most fun and exciting times with it throughout 2014, and that's why it's undoubtedly my game of the year.
  3. Jordan Haygood

    Game of the Year 2014: Jordan's Picks

    Ho ho holy crap, it“s already after Christmas! Quick, S.I.R., write me up a Game of the Year article! Don“t tell me what to do, meat bag. Write it yourself. Meh, not sure why I thought you“d help. Selfish robot… Bite me. *ahem* Well guys, it“s that time of year again, where your lovely Game Podunk staffers bombard you with Game of the Year lists. And whether you like it or not, I“m one of ”em, so here“s a list for you all to gawk at. Like last year, I have decided to be a bit different and ditch the numbers, because… well, that makes me cool, right? No. Aww man… well, whatever. That“s how I“m doing things, so DEAL WITH IT. In any case, my picks are all worthy of your money, and while my list isn“t numbered, these are still the ten games that have satisfied me the most during 2014. Keep in mind, though, that I have not played every single game that was released, so don“t be surprised if a game you love isn“t on here. I“m only human, after all. Best Spin-off Starring Link Hyrule Warriors There have been a ton of Dynasty Warriors games released over the years. And I have played a total of none of them. Not until the release of Hyrule Warriors, anyway. This Zelda entry in the hack-n-slash action series appealed to me because, well, it“s Zelda. I honestly wasn“t sure what to expect going into Hyrule Warriors, but once I started playing the game, I got hooked. It“s fun, pretty, and packed with so much content that I didn“t feel like $60 was too much to ask. I even ended up buying all of the game“s DLC. Now I kinda wanna check out other Dynasty Warriors games… The Video Game Adaptation That Doesn't Suck South Park: The Stick of Truth I started watching South Park when I was 7, much to my parents“ dismay. And ever since then, I wanted a South Park game to exist that actually felt like I was playing the show. South Park 64 was fun and everything, but it was a 3D first-person shooter. There were others, too, but none of them fit the bill. But then came South Park: The Stick of Truth. Not only is this game developed by Obsidian Entertainment, but the folks over at South Park Studios—Trey Parker and Matt Stone themselves—were heavily involved in the game“s creation, even going so far as to officially mapping out the town for the first time ever. And the game is insanely fun, too, being an Obsidian-developed RPG and all. It also has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Well, at least if you find South Park funny. Overall, this game is perfect for any South Park fan. I do wish it were a bit longer, but I loved it regardless, from start to finish. Best Finger-Pointin“ Crossover Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney I“m a huge fan of the Ace Attorney series. I“m also a huge Professor Layton fan. So you can imagine how delighted I was when I first heard that the two series were crossing over in the form of Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. And you can also imagine my impatience after a year went by without a localization. And then another nine months… But it did come out over here in the states, so I“m happy. And boy was it well worth the wait! This 3DS title mixes the best of both series – the puzzle-solving and exploration from Professor Layton as well as the court segments that Phoenix Wright games are known for, with all-new mechanics introduced to keep things fresh. And both games cross paths with the help of a pretty interesting story. If you“re a fan of these two series, or even just one of them, you should play this game. Best Game with Pokémon in It Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Are you even surprised? Basically, if Nintendo releases a main Pokémon game (or games, I should say, since they almost always come in pairs), it“s pretty much guaranteed to make it onto my GotY list. And this year, we have Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire – remakes of two GBA gems (pun intended) known as… well, guess. Pokémon ORAS (which is what people tend to call these remakes to save time, which I am totally not doing by explaining all of this) aren“t merely straight-up remakes, though. There“s more to do now and plenty of new features have been added, including Primal Reversion, as well as Mega Evolutions, which, of course, were introduced in Pokémon X and Y last year. In fact, one could say these remakes are basically Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire XY-ified. That“s a word as of right now. The RPG That Defeated the Rest Bravely Default I have always been a sucker for good RPGs. When I find a good one, I tend to play for far longer than I should, not being satisfied enough until I“ve done as much as possible. I“ve clocked in more than 100 hours on Xenoblade Chronicles alone. And my intervention didn“t do me any good, so I“m still at it just as hard with other RPGs. This year, my RPG addiction was Bravely Default for the 3DS, which I have at least 70+ hours on. One of my favorite things about Bravely Default is just how retro it feels. From the exploration to the more traditional battle system (albeit with some modifications), and even the story itself, it feels like what Final Fantasy used to feel like once upon a time. It also has a fantastic job system that I found myself utilizing an awful lot. There are some flaws in the game, of course, most people tending to agree on certain aspects of the latter half of the game, but it“s still a great game nonetheless. And the sequel couldn“t come soon enough… Best Game with Retro Flare Shovel Knight I don“t know quite what it is, but for some reason, I just love games that try to be retro. And not only did Shovel Knight try to be retro, but it succeeded with flying colors. 8-bit colors, that is (I“ll be here all week). Seriously, one could easily mistake this game for a game released on the NES. Of course, that was kinda the point. The look, the music, the feel; everything was designed to imitate classic NES platformers (the original NES color palette was even used). And I love everyone who supported the game on Kickstarter for making it happen. Well, and the developers over at Yacht Club Games, obviously. Shovel Knight is insanely fun, and if you don“t have a 3DS or Wii U, you can also play it on a computer. And I“m pretty sure everyone in the world has a computer, SO YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE. The Frozen Banana Award (aka Best Platformer) Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze The original Donkey Kong Country trilogy was—in my eyes—legendary. In the company“s golden years, Rare made some of my favorite games ever. But then, “that†happened, and it took a while before we got a new game in the series in the form of Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii, which was a pleasant, yet very unexpected surprise. Retro Studios did a fantastic job taking over, and they did an even better job with their 2014 follow-up Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for the Wii U. Tropical Freeze is what I would consider platforming at its finest. Not only does it prove itself worthy enough to don the Donkey Kong Country name, but the game also goes above and beyond to become perhaps one of the greatest platformers I“ve ever played. Yes, I think that highly of this game. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is fantastically fun in almost every regard (playable Cranky Kong among the highlights), and the original trilogy“s composer David Wise even made a return. David. Freaking. Wise. I missed you, David… The Racing Game That Blue-Shelled the Competition Mario Kart 8 I“ve been playing Mario Kart since Super Mario Kart for the SNES. And I“ve had an absolute blast with each iteration since. And while I certainly expected to have a similar level of blastness with Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U, what I was not expecting was to end up crowning the game as my new all-time favorite game in the series. Nostalgia couldn“t keep this puppy down, no siree! There are plenty of things that led me to such a conclusion, of course. First of all, there are a ton of tracks in this game, with the initial package containing 16 new tracks and 16 remastered ones and the two DLC packs providing a total of 16 more. There are also a fair amount of characters, although seven of them are Koopalings and five are #@%$ing babies. Still, I can play as Link now, so I“m good. All in all, Mario Kart 8 is insanely enjoyable, and while the anti-gravity feature isn“t really a game-changer, it still adds some charm to an already masterful racing game. Best “It†Settling Fighting Game Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Come now, it“s Super Smash Bros. Even if Masahiro Sakurai was wasted every time he worked on the game, it would probably still be good enough to make this list. Actually, I would love to play that game… but back to the point! The newest iteration in the Smash Bros. franchise may have had two versions, and while I do love the 3DS version of the game, I do consider the Wii U version the superior one. Still, I do think they did a great job making the best damn Smash Bros. game the 3DS could probably handle. Anyway, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U isn“t just my favorite of the two versions, but I will go ahead and say that it“s the best Super Smash Bros. game to date. Sure, it may not have a Brawl-like story mode, but everything else that made the series so great was improved upon, and the several development teams that worked on the game added so many new features to the already vast number of features that carried over from others that this game is just overflowing with content. Overall, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is loads of fun, and I recommend it to anyone who, you know, likes fun. Sexiest Game of the Year Bayonetta 2 There“s a very good reason that Bayonetta 2 received so many perfect scores across the board—it“s just that good. No, it isn“t perfect, as no game is, ever was, or ever will be, but that doesn“t mean this Wii U exclusive isn“t a friggin“ masterpiece. The first Bayonetta was already a classic, although one that maybe too many people overlooked, so it“s cool to see that its sequel is not only on par with it, but better in just about every way possible. I agree, the story in Bayonetta 2 could have been better. But come on, dude, it“s a video game. Nintendo has pumped out how many top-notch games with generic stories now? No, what truly makes Bayonetta 2 my 2014 Game of the Year is pretty much every other aspect. The game is crazy fun to play, the soundtrack is catchy as hell, and there are so many things to unlock that you feel obligated to just keep on playing. Of course, I wanted to keep playing after I beat it anyway, so I“m cool with that.
  4. WildCardCorsair

    Game of the Year 2014: WildCardCorsair's Picks

    2014 turned out to be quite the year, despite my initial expectations. A stellar E3, some great announcements (New 3DS anyone?), even a few surprises—like me transitioning to a full time GP writer, yay! But what really made this a great year in gaming was of course the games. My Wii U definitely got some love in the way of the spectacular Bayonetta 2, which more than deserves to be on my list this year, but I decided to go a different route and make a handheld Game of the Year list. I mean, come on, someone had to represent a bit better than giving handheld Game of the Year to Hearthstone (*cough Geoff Keighley cough*). So with a very honorable mention to some of the amazing console games that have come out this year and even Persona Q which I can't play until the 25th, let's take a gander at some of the best handheld games that I've played this year! 10. Xeodrifter This game was actually a gift to me from fellow GP writer and friend Jonathan Higgins, and I'm pretty glad he did so. Though Renegade Kid games tend to fall on the harder side, I've had a blast reliving the classic thrill of Metroidvania-style level design and exploration through this retro homage. The game is filled with challenge and rewards alike and makes a very solid start to this year's list, even just sneaking in under the wire! 9. Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus Official GP Review Ok, go ahead and laugh now, but I've had a lot of fun with Tamsoft and XSEED's latest installment of the Life and Hometown simulator... I mean ninja action series, Senran Kagura. Now with literally twice the schools and ninjas to choose from, and the transition from sidescrolling to 3D style gameplay, Shinovi Versus definitely uses the Vita's assets for more than just displaying the girls'... *ahem* assets. The game even features online play that is admittedly a little shaky, but overall—between the character building and over the top action—Shinovi Versus is a game I am never ashamed to admit that I play. 8. Fantasy Life Official GP Review Where as Shinovi Versus had plenty of M-rated shenanigans, Fantasy Life is a great example of why games don't need mature content to be fun and engaging. A first rate localization by Nintendo makes what would otherwise be a good game into a great one. Picking from both combat and non-combat classes, each with their own accomplishments, you can do plenty of everything while still handling a tongue-in-cheek story that is more engaging than I ever thought possible. 7. Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth1 Official GP Review Being my first foray into this already established franchise, I didn't expect to like this game as much as I did. But the game's hilarity, combined with some solid RPG gameplay made me a fan. I mean, if killing animal representations of the PS4 and Xbox One isn't enough, are you sure your standards aren't too high? 6. Shovel Knight Official GP Review In the vein of Xeodrifter a little while ago, Shovel Knight is Yacht Club Games' take on retro gaming in the modern age. What's most impressive is they built the game to almost the exact limitations that they might have faced on on the NES, with a few obvious exceptions (like stereoscopic 3D and StreetPass functionality). Even without that, though, Shovel Knight has a surprising (or perhaps unsurprising) amount of atmosphere and allure. I guess you could say it's easy to dig this game! 5. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS Official GP Review I've already been vilified by my friends for my proclamation that the 3DS's exclusive stages are better overall than the Wii U's, but it really goes even further than that. Smash Run is a legitimately fun way to earn equipment and custom moves. The online multiplayer has been more stable on the 3DS than it has been on the Wii U (for me). Even things like 3DS-exclusive trophies help give the 3DS version of this game its own legs to stand on. And hell, at the end of the day, I'm playing Smash Bros. on a handheld. How cool is that?! 4. Bravely Default I know a few people will disagree with me on this. And while certain plot aspects of the game remain quite unpopular (though it isn't like they weren't easy to see coming from a mile away), there is far more to absolutely love about this game than there is to be disappointed in. The Final Fantasy Tactics-esque job system, the Brave/Default twist on classic turn-based RPG combat, the collection of highly compelling side quests, the StreetPass and online friend summon capabilities... well, there's so much to love. Then throw in the massive amount of customizable settings—things like being able to tweak difficulty, voice over language, enemy encounter frequency—all on the fly? Well sir, I'd say you have a pretty damn good game on your hands. 3. Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire Official GP Review I know I say this like every time a Pokemon game comes out, but all the additions to Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire make it the best Pokemon game to date. The DexNav app in the new PokeNav+ alone was enough to drop my jaw, but frankly every app in the PokeNav+ is great. Then add the ease of online options and EV training carried over from X & Y and... well, it's truly super effective. Of course, there is too much water for this game to take the #1 spot but that's another story for another time. 2. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call It's no secret I love Final Fantasy. It's also no secret I like rhythm games. It's even less of a secret that I loved Theatrhythm Final Fantasy when it first came out. So is it really any surprise that I love Curtain Call? Online battle, while not my thing, was executed way better than I'd have ever imagined. But the real star (aside from the massive amount of new songs and characters) is the new Quest Medley that gives the game even more reason to keep bumping those FF tunes... at least until Theatrhythm Dragon Quest comes out! 1. Velocity 2X Well the name says it all. And I mean that literally. Velocity 2X is no mere sequel, it is easily twice the game that Velocity Ultra is, and that is no small feat. The guys and gals over at Futurlab decided to venture into the platforming business by adding levels where Kai Tana can stretch her legs a bit, as well as enhancing the finer points of the Quarp Jet's already stellar top down shooting, teleporting, and puzzle solving action. The game even has more story, with a finale that will leave you with double vision. Oh, and the soundtrack is bloody amazing too. It may be a PSN title, but Velocity 2X has impressed me more than any other title this year, and even if this had been a console and handheld Game of the Year list, Velocity 2X would still have come out at number one.
  5. John Kidman

    Game of the Year 2014: John's Picks

    A wide range of video games are made available each year that run the gamut of quality, from the truly inspired to the tried and tired. One of the most difficult tasks at the end of the year is reflecting on the library of games each year to determine which deserves to be dubbed the absolute best. This year, Nintendo brought the long awaited Bayonetta 2 to a system struggling with sales. Telltale Games and Supergiant Games kept their Home Run streaks alive by providing us the opportunity to play The Wolf Among Us and Transistor. SquareEnix brought over yet another quality roleplaying game with the somewhat polarizing Bravely Default. Ubisoft Montreal mimicked the indie game scene with the amazing Child of Light and crafted one of the best titles this year, while indie developer Scott Cawthon left us with a major impression using just a few assets in Five Nights at Freddy's. The aforementioned games are all a great value and round out my personal top ten list of 2014, but here are just a few titles that deserve special accolades. The 'Not Even Close To Top 10' Award -Destiny- This is a tough choice with all of the lackluster AAA titles that made their way to market this year like the hugely disappointing Watch Dogs, Master Chief Collection (whose matchmaking servers are still broken as of this postdate) and Assassin's Creed Unity. The biggest offender? Destiny. It is the year's best selling title and one of the most played games since its release, but those boast-worthy stats are not indicative of a high quality experience. Destiny is nothing more than video game crack. An abysmal story and uninspired voice acting are two of the game's worst crimes, but this game also combines its addictive properties with a gross lack of respect for the player's time and effort. The first piece of disc-based paid content incidentally renders most previous work insignificant mere months after the base game launched. The expansion also promises to keep owners of the base game out of weekly challenges about one week every month as the new paid content is placed into the regular cycle. Not even close. The Golden Spork Award -Lord of the Rings: Shadow of Mordor- The Golden Spork Award is given to the game that borrows most heavily from other sources, but finds the best way to incorporate those sources' strengths. Move over Ford Fusion, a new hybrid is in town. Lord of the Rings: Shadow of Mordor may not be the most unique title released this year, but it is definitely a welcome addition to the Lord of the Rings universe. War in the North and Lord of the Rings Online received decent reviews in years passed, but titles like Guardians of Middle Earth, Aragorn's Quest and Lord of the Rings: Conquest did little more than scrape the bottom of the proverbial barrel. Shadow of Mordor clearly took what it needed from games like Assassin's Creed and Batman: Arkham Asylum with the way it handled stealth, climbing, synchronization points and free flow fighting. The foundation may be found in other titles, but these borrowed mechanics are just a vehicle to help the player manipulate the enemy's internal power struggle. So many great things about this game, making it one that is truly deserving of a spot in your Playstation 4 and Xbox One libraries. The Phoenix Award -South Park: The Stick of Truth- Video games based on movies hold spots for some of the worst games of all time, but titles that are based on television shows are worse on a more consistent basis. A few gems definitely exist on older platforms, but titles like 24: The Game and Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse continue to plague fans who simply wish to explore their favorite television shows in an interactive medium. In this light, South Park: The Stick of Truth rose from the ashes that we knew as THQ and left players with the idea a future can exist for video games based on television shows. Fans of the spectacularly raunchy show South Park anxiously awaited The Stick of Truth, but the game finally found a home this year despite a few publisher related delays. This particular road map may not be ideal for those companies who are seeking a simple cash grab from fans, but South Park: The Stick of Truth is well designed and stays true to the nature of the show. The involvement of Matt Stone and Trey Parker with Obsidian Entertainment game remains evident as The Stick of Truth matches many of the high notes that we have seen on the show. The Stick of Truth is not for those with thin skin, filled with plethora of debauchery and cringe-worthy moments that one should expect from a franchise known for pushing boundaries. The Cave of Wonders Award -Shovel Knight- A crowdfunding website is my Cave of Wonders. The allure of so many shiny objects is strong, but the chance that the project will melt before your eyes and result in nothing keeps me away. I dislike almost every aspect of a crowdfunding website, but on occasion a project crops up that really makes me reconsider my stance. The magic lamp. No, I'm not talking about a company who seeks to create a fully funded, multimillion dollar film in order to garner good will towards fans and gobble down the profit. I'm definitely not speaking about the major publisher who opens their own 'indie' studio so that they can profit from the public's funds with minimal or no risk. I'm talking about Yacht Club Games' Shovel Knight. Yacht Club Games managed to combine two things that I hold in disdain—crowdfunding and retro games designed that way for the sake of being 'retro'—and made me love it. Well played, Yacht Club. The Ripcord Award -Dragon Age: Inquisition- Dragons? ✓ Meaningful Cameos? ✓ Quality narrative? ✓ The wonder of exploration? ✓ Player choices impacting the story? ✓ What more could one ask for? Dragon Age II was a major letdown for most fans because it was a sharp deviation from the Origins formula that worked so well. This shift in direction is akin to what we saw with Final Fantasy XIII. Dragon Age II, for all its faults, helped set the stage for Dragon Age: Inquisition. The second installment served as little more than a convoluted political drama, dooming the series for those drawn in by promise of more Origins. Bioware did not share the same vision to simply let the series just die on a sour note. They pulled the ripcord and released a parachute, rescuing the franchise from its free fall. The result: a brilliant experience safely landing on your doorstep. Inquisition removed the linear nature of its predecessor and opted for an adventure that gives the player a series of more open areas to explore. The developers listened to player feedback and they definitely delivered. Best Alternative Dispute Resolution Tool (Also Game of the Year) -Super Smash Bros for Wii U- The most recent Super Smash Bros. incarnation is nothing short of a masterpiece. Nintendo created a product that is immensely entertaining and can even be used to help decide if Thursdays should be a “no pants” day. An obscene amount of care went into every aspect of the game, from the balance of fighters to the amount of unique information on each in-game trophy. Smash Bros. for Wii U brought back many familiar characters and added a healthy dose of newcomers from Pac-Man, Xenoblade, Duck Hunt and Fire Emblem: Awakening. Players do not need to be Nintendo aficionados to appreciate the healthy roster or amazing compilation album. The new modes like Smash Tour and 8-Player Smash turn Super Smash Bros. into an even better party game for those who are not feeling particularly competitive. It offers something for just about everybody. The odds on favorite to be my personal game of the year ends up being my Game of the Year in true Vegas fashion.
  6. It always feels like my opinion of certain years in gaming tends to go against the general consensus. I found myself with bittersweet impressions of 2013 when Grand Theft Auto 5 and The Last of Us weren't my favorite games ever, and I could not earnestly come up with ten games to put on my 2013 GOTY list. I eventually pondered if 2014 would be any different when I heard constant woes of games being delayed, disappointing, or just plain broken. Granted, most of that seemed to happen to games that I didn't care about in the slightest. Now that the year is over, I have come to realize that I was actually not disappointed by 2014 (game-wise) at all since I put my attention towards everything but the new and shiny PS4 and Xbox One systems. As with personal GOTY deliberations, I have decided to play with my format this year as an excuse to highlight certain games. These primary personal rules include not allowing enhanced ports or certain games that I did not like significantly more than their predecessors. So, regardless of how much I may enjoy certain titles, if I feel like they play it a bit too safe they probably won't be on my list. Or will they? I guess you'll just have to scroll down to find out, because if there is one thing that I am not, it is consistent. 10. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Toad is the worst. His grating voice generally makes me want to claw out my ears, and seriously—who wants to listen to his crap about telling you that the princess is in another castle? Captain Toad, however, is far more respectable. He is a man with ambition, and has a level head on shoulders as he undergoes in various trials to help his friend in need and claiming his rightful cash monies. But, for real, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a very charming and clever puzzle game that has a certain sheen to its design that feels like only Nintendo would even consider putting in the level of polish that it has. 9. Guilty Gear Xrd-SIGN- 2014 was actually a solid year for fighting games. We finally got the highly anticipated new Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS to more iterative releases like Ultra Street Fighter IV and Skullgirls: Encore. However, Arc System Works probably had the most impressive output of any developer in quantity alone. I admit that Blazblue is more of my kind of game in terms of character mechanics (also because I'm terrible at Guilty Gear), but Guilty Gear Xrd-SIGN- manages to hit a fighting game sweet spot for me that feels both very fresh and also oddly nostalgic with its overhauled engine. It isn't quite at the level that I want it to be for its character roster (JOHNNY? BAIKEN? WHERE U AT?!) or modes, but Xrd -SIGN- is a really strong start. 8. The Banner Saga Official GP Review "If Oregon Trail was good..." No, saying that will probably anger people. How about, "If Oregon Trail had substance as a game and a real story"? No, too much to the point. Actually, The Banner Saga is fairly interesting beyond its homage to Oregon Trail. It probably has my favorite unique soundtrack by Austin Wintory (yes, even if Journey's is REALLY good), an extremely cohesive art direction, very ambiguous design for both gameplay and narrative structure, and solid SRPG mechanics to boot. I am definitely looking forward to getting my hands on its sequel in 2015. 7. DanganRonpa 2: Goodbye Despair Official GP Review I liked Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc a fair amount, but I feel like DanganRonpa 2: Goodbye Despair is just a smarter game overall than its predecessor. The characters are a lot less tropey, murder mysteries far more involved, and the narrative twists underneath are far more surprising and intriguing in DanganRonpa 2. Some spotty minigames and point-and-click segments were neither here nor there for me (same with the original), but the sharp, generally hilarious, dialogue and engaging, dark storytelling more than made up for such shortcomings. 6. Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord Official GP Review To be honest, I originally played Tears to Tiara II on the basis of it being a SRPG. No real rhyme or reason beyond that; I seriously like SRPGs that much and I will like the average SRPG more than the average RPG on a base level. To my surprise, however, my primary drive while playing though Tears to Tiara II was not actually the SRPG gameplay, while pretty solid, but it was actually the very well-written storytelling. It is a rough game in a lot of ways, especially with its pacing and presentation, but I feel like there is a lot of heart hidden in Tears to Tiara II's fleshed-out cast of characters and storytelling that had me quite engrossed the further I delved into it. 5. Ao no Kiseki Evolution Leave it to me to try to play pretty much the least import-friendly series possible, and also one with several incredibly text-heavy RPGs as mandatory prerequisites. Still, it has been a while since I have been so excited to immediately play an RPG sequel after I had—extremely slowly, but surely—finished Zero no Kiseki Evolution earlier this year. Guys, you don't understand: You can make a totally pimp SUV, play a totally legit Bejeweled clone, and... oh, I guess I could say the music is awesome, the characters/storytelling are great (so far), and there is a stupid amount of things to do too. The only reason it is not higher on my list is because I had to stop playing it since I've reached a point where I run the risk of hugely spoiling Trails in the Sky: Second Chapter for myself, which is being officially localized in English for release in 2015 (...hopefully). 4. Shovel Knight Official GP Review Usually throwback games do nothing for me. They tend to be so obsessed with capturing the aesthetic that the actual game itself feels uninspired. Shovel Knight is certainly not that and gets what those older titles did well and then some. I feel like there is very little that I can say that others among the staff haven't already said more eloquently, so I'll only just say that Shovel Knight has a certain purity to its action-platforming gameplay that I have not seen in a good while. 3. Dark Souls II It is strange to see a series in the modern era where dying is not a sign of failure but it is an outright expectation. Not even in a strict trial-and-error way like most difficult games tend to be, but rather the Souls games highly reward those who play smart, thorough, and most importantly—patiently. I may be a bit odd in how this game clicked with me far more than its predecessors with its tighter gameplay and general structure primarily, but that can't be helped. Still, Dark Souls II had me downright hooked with its challenging, flexible action-RPG design while it unapologetically consumed my entire spring break—and I don't regret it at all. 2. Bayonetta 2 Best game on Wii U; it's just science, guys. In all seriousness, 2014 was a quite a strong year for the Wii U. Even if certain critically-acclaimed Nintendo releases resonated with me less than the average folk (perhaps a certain kart racer in particular), I nonetheless respect Nintendo's output on the console during 2014. Still, no other game has validated my purchase of the system more than Bayonetta 2 has. I already had high expectations for the title and to see them surpassed is downright astounding. I could gush on all day about how the combat is constantly exhilarating, bosses are amazing, controls are nearly flawless, and the soundtrack is catchy—even if the story is... ok (we don't talk about the story). Even now, I still find myself chipping away at its crazy amount of unlocks and playing the higher difficulties just because it plays so friggin' good and is just so much fun to play. 1. Steins;Gate I may have liked the Steins;Gate anime a fair amount, but I had several complaints with certain plot holes and underutilized characters. Little did I know that those complaints were remedied in the much more in-depth and far superior visual novel. Steins;Gate is far and away my favorite visual novel ever—period. The characters are fantastic, the dynamic approach to the story is incredibly fascinating, and it features the most well-thought-out time-travel scenario that I have ever seen in any medium. It is a master class among visual novels and I could not be happier that more people will soon be able experience it in 2015 on Vita, PS3, and even iOS. Ok, you caught me, I just want an excuse to play it again on my Vita. And, to end this write-up properly, I shall leave you all with a deep and meaningful proverb—"El Psy Congroo".
  7. We have had some highs and lows this year, GP, haven't we? Friends were lost and friends were made—both here and elsewhere. But no matter what, we will always remember those we have lost. Here is to another good year. Here is to keeping on. Here is to you, GP. I dunno, I wish I had something more to say. I don't. Without further ado, listen to some music, sit back, and explore my list. One thing is certain: I am tired inside and out. It is worth noting that this list is not in any particular order. Transistor Official GP Review Composed, evocative; these two words alone epitomize what Supergiant Games has achieved with Transistor. Over the course of the last decade, seldom am I able to recall a game that transmutes the tropes and cliches of its genre(s) as a means of successfully capacitating an end result that is both reverent and neoteric. Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax There is no denying that 2014 saw numerous releases in the fighting game genre. However, none so captured my attention quite like DBFC. This is perhaps due to my partiality to the roster and the game's developers, who are among my favorite in the business. Indeed, games such as Persona 4 Arena Ultimate, Guilty Gear Xrd Sign, and Super Smash Bros. have their merits, have more to unlock and do—and are, as as a result, spectacular in their own right—but DBFC is proof that sometimes a solid, simple yet decidedly complex fighter can go a long way. Kudos to developers French Bread for one again proving just how much better they are at this than others. Here is hoping a new Melty Blood is on the horizon. Eidolon Whether Eidolon is a sensory illusion or a glimpse at reality in its objective form remains to be seen, but I admittedly contend that it is at the threshold of the latter. The core gameplay is a standard survival affair, but the game's art and idiosyncratic nuances lend to an experience that is truly an aesthetically gratifying experience. Eidolon is not a game in the traditional sense. Rather it provides by way of some odd, intelligible, double movement a removal and subsequent return of the player's psyche. One is not playing to win here per se, but to live truly. It is a unique and unparalleled take on what it means to "survive," in a video game. It is not for everyone, but through traversing its world, I was able to reflect on the whole of my life and grow as a result. How many games can say that? Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth Admittedly I am only—roughly—fifteen hours into Persona Q (thanks, college finals). That said, from its characters and story to its dungeon crawling, puzzles, and combat, PQ is incredible. I can easily lose up to two to three hours in a sitting, only to be saved by my hands falling asleep from holding the 3DS. This is, after all, Etrian Odyssey with a Persona skin; one would be pretty dumb to expect anything less than greatness. There is really not much more that needs to be said. Oh! The whole multi-persona thing is totally rad. Terra Battle Terra Battle is an interesting mix of Final Fantasy, Fire Emblem, and chess. Which I guess doesn't sound too strange given the existence of Final Fantasy Tactics and FE's chess-like nature. At any rate, the (rock-paper-scissors) turn-based combat revolves around characters moving around the game board as a means of attacking, defending, and healing. But enemies can only be attacked if they are positioned between at least two of the player's characters. Additionally one can link and chain attacks with adjacent allies or those with a clear line-of-sight to the those attacking. For example, so long as the player keeps a clear line of sight with his or her healer, whoever is attacking after the turn has ended will receive a heal. Being an RPG, the player acquires new characters and each character levels up, acquires new skills, and can even be promoted to a new 'job.' Ugh, it's so good; I do not have enough time to explain it all at length here which is why I am—or have been—working on a (more formal) review of it. An aside: even if you're not interested in the game, could you please download it? The game is FREE. The more downloads the game receives, the better the chance it stands of being ported to the PlayStation 4. Fault Milestone One Fault took me by surprise. As a Kickstarter game, I was skeptical—perhaps I should stop being so anti-Kickstarter now—but Fault is quite remarkable. The art is beautiful and the story well-written. I think what captivates me most however is the game's distinct and likable characters. Even the villains are likable and it is indeed hard to write even a half-way decent villain let alone more. Indeed, the game was officially released in 2013, but the English translation came out this year. As such, here it is. Get over it, purists. Monument Valley As a student who is in the habit of getting to class ten minutes early with nothing better to do, Monument Valley saved me from having to converse with other students. The beautiful beautiful puzzles are naturally augmented by the games aesthetic. Since the puzzles never pose too arduous of a challenge, the game keeps you moving forward; if not for the sake of solving the next challenge, then certainly for the sake of the art. Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed Official GP Review The main protagonist resonates with my friends and I so well and the the game is utter absurdity. I have also never played it sober... hmm. Anyway! As a result, I cannot deny that I love ACUU. From its concept to its dialogue, ATUU is a riot. So much so, in fact, that I am able to overlook the particularly clunky combat. I guess I can understand the disinterest and contempt people have for the game, but those opinions, I am convinced, are the result of political correctness and pretentious chivalry. Sometimes it is nice to have a game that is mindless fun even if it borders on satirical hyperbole. I think it is high time gamers get over themselves and appreciate this game for what it is. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Does that matter? Not at all. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U You know what you can do in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U? Make NSFW stages. So there! The game is (un)officially an adult title. Right? But really, do I need to explain why this is on my list? I think it is pretty self-explanatory, but whatever. A large roster, new items, new maps, a map creator (caution: NSFW...possibly), tight controls, hours of fun, friendships lost and friendships made, etc., etc., etc.. Seriously, anyone want to Smash tonight?
  8. Wait, 2014's over already? Thank goodness, what a wild year it's been for gaming. New releases and ports, announcements and petty arguments, rants and raves... there's really been too much going on this year to keep track of it all. But while the backlog piles up, time marches on, and here we are at the latter half of December. As per tradition, now I'll ramble off my favorite ten games of this year, while silently grieving for all those AAA and portable releases I never got around to. Without further ado... 10. Bravely Default Bravely Default, like Fire Emblem: Awakening last year, is a game I waited a long time for. When the game was first announced for Japan, I'd gather up every little chestnut like a gaming squirrel storing up for the winter, marvelling at what was essentially Final Fantasy V-2 with a Final Fantasy IX-like artstyle. Seeing as those were my two favorite entries to the mega-series, my excitement was boundless when the game finally made it West. Of course, Bravely Default suffers from some glaring flaws, most noteworthy of which being 'that part' during the second half of the game where you wonder just what the developers were thinking. Still, the awesome Job system and nice little tweaks to the standard turn-based battle system made it a lot of fun to play through, even through that particularly rough patch. 9. Shantae: Risky's Revenge Director's Cut I missed Shantae: Risky's Revenge when it first released on DSiWare. There's a few reasons for that: I didn't really like the DSiWare service, the price of the game seemed a bit steep, and I never played the original (rare and pricey) Shantae. But when the title re-released on Steam, I decided to take the plunge anyway, and I'm glad I did. Risky's Revenge is a wonderful Metroidvania title with an often underutilized Middle East like setting, and it constantly reminded me of the brilliant Monster World VI. It's a short title, but it's just brimming with personality. 8. Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- Years. It's been years since a new fighting game entry to the Guilty Gear series has come out. After Guilty Gear 2, a game I can't even begin to describe, the wait became unbearable. I assumed the Guilty Gear series was dead, never to be brought back as the company moved on to the somewhat similar BlazBlue games. How happy I was to be wrong. Guilty Gear Xrd might have only been *just* released, but I already know it's everything I wanted from the series, and more. The wonderful, rocking music... the frantic and somewhat technical gameplay (can't button mash, but not as tough as King of Fighters)... the absolutely stunning graphics... it's not for everyone, but it's exactly what I wanted, flaws in plot and netcode aside. 7. Shovel Knight Official GP Review I missed all the hype when Shovel Knight first came out. When the Kickstarter for the indie title debuted, I was skeptical; after all, there's been so many Kickstarter projects with indie games trying to recreate nostalgia that anyone's bound to feel fatigue. But, eventually I did buy the title and (very recently) give it a whirl... and Shovel Knight really is a special title. Retro imitation done right, it's challenging but given the soft death penalties (losing money that you can get back if you're skillful) really helped to lessen the sting of the many defeats I suffered. Oh, and the game itself is a blast to play, look at, and listen to. 6. The Wolf Among Us Official GP Reviews > ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) Sure, The Wolf Among Us may have started in 2013, but the majority of the episodes didn't make it until this year, so it managed to squeak onto my list. So, I have a confession to make: I'm a little sick of Telltale titles. The Walking Dead Season 2, while good, didn't really grip me, and Tales from the Borderlands and The Game of Thrones interest me so little I keep forgetting that the episodes started coming out. However, I still really enjoyed The Wolf Among Us. The dark fairytale lore setting was awesome, and the characters were nicely written and fleshed out. It isn't perfect, but story-wise The Wolf Among Us was one of the better plots I worked through this year. 5. Mario Kart 8 Official GP Review I've always been one of those people that scoffed at the Mario Kart games. Like any good gaming kid, I adored Mario Kart 64, but every entry to the series I tried after that was... well, boring. Who can beat nostalgia and 100's of hours, after all? Then I played a demo of Mario Kart 8 in a Target one day, and I was absolutely blown away. The graphics were amazing, and the driving just felt wonderful. I did not regret picking it up later, either; Mario Kart 8 is simply a wonderfully fun title for the Wii U, if you're playing by yourself or with friends. 4. Super Time Force Official GP Review Goodness, is Super Time Force just a blast or what? Super Time Force takes the 'rewinding time' mechanic that's seen in just a few too many games and really spices it up, with an emphasis on dying and using sheer bullet power to mow down foes before time is up. With a metric load of collectibles and an absurd storyline, you are bound to be entertained for the entire duration of the relatively short plotline. Few games can plant a smile on my face for the majority of the game, but Super Time Force managed to do that, so it gets a high rating in my book. 3. Demon Gaze Official GP Review A confession: I never expected Demon Gaze to be a good game. I had barely heard about the dungeon crawler before I had to review it, and what little I did know did not seem promising. There seemed to be a main character with that weird 'Black Rock Shooter' eye affliction, a lot of fanservice, and otherwise boring graphics. However, the gameplay really sold me over on Demon Gaze. Dungeon crawlers tend to be extremely difficult, but this one manages offer some challenge without beating players down at every interval. The story managed to work well enough, and overall Demon Gaze is just a solid game. ...Oh, and with some of the skills available, it can be fun to simply break the game's balance and steamroll everything. That's always a lot of fun. 2. Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited I've only recently gotten back on the Disgaea bandwagon. I loved the original for the PS2, but I quickly became bored with Disgaea 2 and promptly ignored the series for multiple years. It was only until the original game's direct sequel, Disgaea D2, came out that I took interest in the SRPG series again, and quite honestly the game hooked me in a way I didn't really expect. So when it was announced that the Vita upgraded version/port of Disgaea 4 was going to make it West, I made sure to snatch it up. Honestly, I didn't expect to have the greatest time, as part of what hooked me with Disgaea D2 were some of my favorite characters making a return, but I was very pleasantly surprised by what Disgaea 4 had to offer. The gameplay took some bold departures from the series standard, and offered a bunch of fun ways to decimate the enemy. On top of that, new additions for A Promise Revisited, like the Cheat Shop, helped to make the game that much more streamlined and accessible, and the insane amount of stuff to do after the credits roll feels like even more than the average Disgaea game. A Promise Revisited is probably the most complete and enjoyable game I played this year, but sometimes the number one slot has to go to something a little more... different. 1. DanganRonpa 2: Goodbye Despair Official GP Review DanganRonpa 2 is probably not the absolute best game on this list. Many of the other games here offer better gameplay elements, and arguably a few on here provide a more cohesive storyline. DanganRonpa 2 requires you to play DanganRonpa 1 to really get everything out of it, and with them both being fairly dense and convoluted visual novels, the games certainly aren't for everyone. But, what made DanganRonpa 2 the best for me is that it stuck with me. The plot engrossed me from the near beginning, and the characters and their more multifaceted personalities grabbed me in a way that no gaming characters have before. Even now, a few months after I've played it, I still ponder over the various nuances of the plot, and marvel over how well written some of the characters were. Goodbye Despair may not be the best game mechanically or storyline-wise, but it is a wonderful experience that manages to be far more.
  9. Sailor Liztress

    Game of the Year 2014: Elizabeth's Picks

    This year has offered quite a number of great titles across all platforms. From handheld RPGs to an overly-hyped first-person shooter, there's been something for everyone. Though I haven't had the chance to play all of them, there have a been a few that really stood out to me for numerous reasons. Another thing that actually surprised me was how this year was more about the handheld titles for me. Below are the top four games as well as an honorable mention that I've been enjoying that can be debated on being placed in a Game of the Year list. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth I need to preface this by saying that I am currently playing through Persona Q. However, after nearly 20 hours in and completing two of the dungeons, I can easily say that this 3DS title is a must-play for fans of the Persona series (well, Persona 3 and Persona 4) and the Etrian Odyssey titles. Bringing the casts of Persona 3 and Persona 4 together, Persona Q offers the ability to create a party with your favorites from both games. It's a great fan-service title that gives us that opportunity to see the two groups interact together as they work to solve that mystery behind newcomers Rei and Zen's memory loss and the formidable tower that looms above the world they were teleported to. Bravely Default Ah, Bravely Default... As one of the first games I played earlier this year, it really impressed me with the combination of traditional JRPG elements with new features, such as the battle system. The cast is lovable, though some more than others, and the soundtrack is one of my favorites. The battle system allows you to skip a turn or two in order to deal extra damage the next round. Want to use a move that could put your turns in the red/negative? Be ready to have to wait for those turns to build back up. The story can be a bit lackluster and slow at some parts but I did think it helped to make the characters shine. Especially Edea and Ringabel. South Park: The Stick of Truth Official GP Review Whenever you have a game that is tied into a popular TV show or movie, there is always that risk of it missing its mark. Luckily, Obsidian Entertainment managed to capture the charm and humor from South Park in South Park: The Stick of Truth. Who would have thought that mixing South Park with RPG elements could lead to a worthwhile adventure? In South Park: The Stick of Truth, you're the new kid on the block and get thrust into the war between elves and humans. Your party member, whom can be one of the four main guys or Butters, helps make the sometimes overwhelming odds seem like child's play. Hijinxs range from harmless fun to potentially offensive material. Nods to different episodes are littered throughout the game. If you love the show, then you'd enjoy what felt to be an interactive episode (or full-length movie). Tomodachi Life Life simulation games can be fun and a great way to escape from the sometimes harsh realities of real life. While Animal Crossing has always given players that chance to turn their neighbors from possibly annoying humans to cutesy animals (who can still be annoying) as well as do the mundane chores as paying off your mortgage and saving bells to don the best looking clothes you can buy, Tomodachi Life offers a more laid back experience. There's no cute animal neighbors, there's no worries about Tom Nook breathing down your neck if you don't get that last million bells paid, and you don't even have to worry about making sure the Miis make it to the potty in time. Tomodachi Life lets you bring your Mii and the Miis of your family members/friends/famous celebrities/other random folk to your own island where you play mini-games to win prizes used to earn money to purchase clothes/food/interiors/trips. Honorable Mention - Destiny When gamers first heard about Destiny, there was a lot of hype given for the first-person shooter by Bungie. Yes, the story is lacking and there are numerous rinse-and-repeat missions. But there is something that has me coming back to it. (And it's not Peter Dinklage, sadly.) Perhaps it's the community (it's definitely a top reason) or the cool looking armor. Maybe it's the potential that lies hidden beneath its issues.
  10. 2014 was a quite a tumultuous year for me, both in terms of gaming and my life overall. Without going into too much detail, I had several major changes to my life over the past year, most notably my move to the other side of the planet. Obviously this had a significant impact on my gaming lifestyle, which, while not extinguished, suffered at the hands of less time allotted for it. Nevertheless, 2014 saw many incredible games come and go, and while I may not have been able to play as many as I“d have liked, I definitely can“t complain. This year saw the end of the first full year of games for both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, but it was arguably the Wii U which touted the strongest line up of first party exclusives with heavy hitters such as Smash, Mario Kart and Donkey Kong Country making their way to the system. On the handheld front, both the 3DS and Vita continued to shine; the 3DS more so due to massive franchises such as Pokemon and Smash having iterations released this year. However, the Vita, while down, was definitely not out with a continuous stream of fantastic niche and indies titles coming it“s way this year. Overall, I felt the two big next-gen systems failed to deliver much in the way of spectacle this year with many of their releases being available elsewhere or simply being downright lackluster. I had a bit of difficulty choosing my Game of the Year this time around, simply because there was no singular title that screamed “GAME OF THE YEAR†as there had been in prior years. Ultimately, 2014 was a pretty good year, which while not mind blowing, definitely did not disappoint! And now, without further ado, here are my top 10 games of the year! 10. Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey The Longest Journey series has always been one of the best the adventure game genre had to offer, and the new Dreamfall Chapters continues that tradition albeit in episodic form. Only the first chapter has been released as of this writing, but if it continues to deliver at this caliber it“ll easily claim awards this year and next... 9. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze If there is anything Nintendo knows how to do, it“s make an excellent platformer, and Tropical Freeze proves this point many times over. Coupled with the classic Nintendo charm, and featuring a phenomenal soundtrack,Tropical Freeze slides in the top tier of triple-A Wii U games, an incredible feat considering the tough competition. 8. inFamous First Light Official GP Review After touting the superiority of its PlayStation 4 console, Sony did little to deliver on good first party exclusives. Of the handful they did bring to the table, the newest entry in the inFamous franchise was the most notable. Second Son was a very enjoyable game overall but also extremely forgettable, a fact that First Light tries to counter by shifting gears and giving us Fetch, a character from the original game to whom Delsin owes his neon powers to. Visually, both games feature some incredible lighting and particle effects in an attempt to showcase the power of next-gen. There are some change-ups and the story is ultimately much more interesting—and more importantly—concise, giving First Light the edge over Second Son. 7. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc Official GP Review Both Danganronpa games saw US releases on Vita this year and while both are good, I“ll have to give the nod to the first game. The story is something we“ve all seen before—a Battle Royale-type mystery where students are killing each other off—but the execution and trial system is brilliant and makes for a fun and exciting gameplay experience. The game“s plot constantly took twists and turns that more often than not, I did not see coming. It is well written and each of the characters have their own likable (or dislikable in some cases) quirks that gives each character a unique flavour that added to the story.The villainous Monokuma is one of the most insane antagonists of the year, but is somehow lovable in a weird kind of way... 6. Child of Light Official GP Review I came in knowing next to nothing about this game, but I had to play it based purely upon my first look at the art style which is absolutely gorgeous. I have to give kudos to Ubisoft for bringing out a game like this amongst its other massive blockbusters this year such as Assassin“s Creed, Watch_Dogs and Far Cry 4. It features a combat system that is essentially a watered-down RPG experience, which may turn off the more “hardcore†players but I did not mind in the slightest. The story is quirky, the visuals are stunning and soundtrack is enchanting,all of which come together to make a worthwhile experience which should not be overlooked. 5. Mario Kart 8 Official GP Review There“s not much I can say about Mario Kart 8 that hasn“t already been said. It“s this generation“s entry into the Mario Kart series and the first to be in HD. It“s huge array of characters and tracks, hours upon hours of multiplayer mayhem, and DLC featuring non-Mario character (a first for the series!) come together in what may be the best Mario Kart iteration since Double Dash. While it has gained many equally competent rivals out there, Mario Kart still reigns supreme amongst kart-racers. 4. Dragon Age Inquisition Despite being a huge fan of Bioware“s much acclaimed Mass Effect series, Dragon Age has never really drawn me in the same way. That said, Inquisition definitely took some, scratch that, A WHOLE BUNCH of steps in the right direction and has finally gotten me interested in the series. It“s tactical combat mechanics gives it that extra bit of allure, and helped bump it up my list. Initially not wanting to pick this up I was finally convinced by friends making this my biggest surprise hit of the year! 3. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn While A Realm Reborn “technically†came out in 2013, it received a much welcome PlayStation 4 release in 2014, which is when I first jumped into one of my biggest time sinks this year. The game has received a continuous stream of updates and seasonal events over the course of the year, giving you an endless supply of things to do and—with the first big expansion due in the spring—shows no sign of slowing down. 2. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Often the butt of jokes regarding the time it takes to complete the game, Ground Zeroes is actually one of the best examples of quality over quantity. Indeed, the game itself is not much more than a small taste of what“s to come with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but what a taste it is! It boasts what is easily the most solid gameplay mechanics the Metal Gear franchise has had to date. Not only that but it packs hours upon hours of replay value into a single level through the clever use of giving you a multitude of options in the ways of completing the various missions. It is easily the most perfected gameplay experience of 2014, and because of that, a close contender for Game of the Year. 1. Zero: Nuregarasu no Miko / Fatal Frame: Oracle of the Sodden Raven (JP/ENG titles) Fatal Frame is an often underappreciated franchise that hasn“t received much love in the US as of late, what with the fourth and now the fifth entry in the series failing to appear on our shores. Nevertheless, the series continues to deliver with Zero: Nuregarasu no Miku (Fatal Frame: Oracle of the Sodden Raven), which brings the franchise to the next generation as a Wii U exclusive. Utilizing the gamepad as the Camera Obscura adds an extra layer and really helps add to the ambience of the game. This series continues to deliver one of the best survival horror experiences in video games and I can only hope that one day they bring the game stateside. Regardless, credit is must be given where credit is due and my Game of the Year goes to Zero: Nuregarasu no Miko (Fatal Frame: Oracle of the Sodden Raven).
  11. Jonathan Higgins

    Game of the Year 2014: Jonathan's Picks

    Another year will soon be behind us. And while it may be easier to recall the many things that happened involving the gaming industry this year versus the games themselves, there are a handful of titles that many believe will stand the test of time. I've done my best to create a Top Ten List absent of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U (an easy choice for most) and Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire (because I've certainly made my adoration for that franchise known around these parts). I've even made a last minute substitution! There are a myriad of honorable mentions (like Xeodrifter from Renegade Kid, which I didn't include because I'd need more time to think critically about how it compares to these others; and Bravely Default, the game I booted at the last minute), but without further ado... here are the ten greatest games I've played this year, and a few reasons why. 10. Kero Blaster After being in the dark for over a year, the newest game from Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya made its way to iOS devices and PC by way of Playism. There are many things that set this game apart from Cave Story (the game Pixel is known for), but the two games were born from the same school of thought. Some of these differences are actually interesting to learn about, like the fact that this game's level designs are Pixel's first collaborative effort, among other things. Kero Blaster makes my list because it feels like a natural evolution of one of my favorite games of all time. (Fun fact: I actually got to meet and interview Pixel at PAX East this year; it was the first time Playism attended a convention in the west.) 9. NES Remix 2 When the first NES Remix was announced and promptly released less than an hour later, I ate up the premise like a kid at a candy store. The small, bite-sized chunks of retro-gaming goodness were varied enough to be entertaining, and consistent enough to be completely addicting. The only problem with the first game was its lack of NES staples like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Kirby's Adventure. Enter: NES Remix 2. Indeed, it's more of the same. But this time, it featured all of the choices the previous entry was sorely missing and a bonus, backwards version of Super Mario Bros. in its entirety. NES Remix 2 makes my list because I have a problem. Here's to hours of my life gone by... 8. 1,001 Spikes Official GP Review Oh, my goodness. I don't even know where to begin with 1,0001 Spikes from Nicalis. It's like Indiana Jones for the truly sadistic at heart. You're going to die a lot. The game's platforming cruelty will push you to the point of madness. You're given 1,001 lives total, and if you lose them all... your only choice is to start all over again from the very beginning, forsaking hours of progress. The game auto-saves, so there's no escaping death. You're going to scream and say curse words in six different languages because of how many blatantly cheap shots this game lands on you. But if the kind of torture that makes LA-MULANA look like child's play is your idea of fun (like it is mine) then you're in for one wild, crazy ride. 1,001 Spikes makes my list because I'm a glutton for punishment. 7. Kirby Triple Deluxe True story: I've purchased every single Kirby game at launch since his debut in the early nineties. While that may show my age a little, his games have always been a guilty pleasure of mine. Kirby's Return to Dreamland, in my opinion, is a mark of how far the pink puffball has come since his grey-scaled origins. Kirby Triple Deluxe makes a decent portable follow-up to the Wii's successful entry. There are a great many things that hold the new 3DS game back from being everything it could be, but I still spent almost fifteen hours with the game. Kirby Triple Deluxe makes my list because, even if I felt like Return to Dreamland did a bunch of things better, I still enjoyed every moment I spent with the game. (And the Beetle Copy Ability is so ridiculously overpowered, too. You've got to love it.) 6. Tomodachi Life I don't think I'll forget the anytime soon. Prior to those ten minutes or so, I'd heard about the game, but I had no idea what it was actually all about. The game gets a special mention on my list, somewhere close to the middle, because it's actually one of the only games this year my girlfriend and I enjoyed together. Since your apartments can be populated with Miis of your choosing, since love and friendship are complex, and since you can even generate QR codes to send your Miis to other systems and make your stories part of your friend's island... this game makes my list because no one person's Tomodachi Life experience is the same. 5. Transistor Official GP Review Transistor, I think, proves a point that the developers at Supergiant Games are definitely not a one-trick pony. I actually played through Bastion for the first time this year (as a proper lead-in to this game) and I expected Transistor to be more like it, if I'm being perfectly honest. In this game's case, I was certainly happy to be wrong. I don't think I've seen a style of gameplay quite like it. It's one part action, one part... move-management, almost like a Strategy RPG because of its time-based mechanics. I know an idea must be good when it's easy to learn and possible to master, but hard to explain. And Red's story, soundtrack and world show off a unique sense of style that you don't often see. Transistor makes my list because even my friends are starting to memorize the lyrics to "Paper Boats". This game is destined to stick with me for a long while. 4. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call NES Remix 2 barely made the cut for my list this year because its premise is addicting. The latest Theatrhythm Final Fantasy game is on my list because of the same reasons; I'll admit that. But it's ranked quite a bit higher in my eyes because of how much it improves upon the game that came before it, as well as how much I still have to do in it even after thirty-nine hours of play. The Quest Medleys make sure you won't become excessively frustrated trying to unlock characters. Downloadable Content isn't afraid to venture outside of the mainline Final Fantasy music. I could go on. But Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call makes my list simply because I'm musically inclined, and this game marks what I hope is the beginning of many possible Square-Enix musical tributes. 3. Fantasy Life Official GP Review It's been a long time since I first started Fantasy Life. I've now Mastered three different lives, my review for the game has long since been written, and that game's script/sense of humor is still sticking with me, ladies and gentlemen. While it may take a minute for the game to hook you, and there are probably comparable games out there, when I'm thinking about how much fun I had in 2014, Fantasy Life is one of the three games that comes to mind immediately. And no one's more surprised as me that this is the case. The latest collaboration from Nintendo and Level-5 makes my list because, while its gameplay and ambiance are memorable enough, its script and the personality of its characters are what will make it truly timeless, in my eyes. 2. Rex Rocket Official GP Review Eat your heart out, Azure Striker Gunvolt. Don't get me wrong, that game is definitely fun. But you folks on the lookout for Mighty No. 9 next year, as well as anything from Comcept because Mega Man... I think you should look towards Castle Pixel while you wait. I keep coming back to Rex Rocket whenever I get the itch to play something inspired by Mega Man, because there's no better example without knocking on Inafune's door. My review should do most of the talking, but really... this game is so good that I now have eyes and ears pointed towards Castle Pixel for whatever they're up to next. Seeing as their next project is a Zelda-like...yes, please. Seeing as I had no idea this game even existed before attending PAX East... I'm happy that a game and a studio could be launched so high on my proverbial "things to look out for" list in so short a time. Rex Rocket makes my list for being everything modern Mega Man should be. 1. Shovel Knight Official GP Review When the Shovel Knight Kickstarter first went live, I figured the game would be good. If I had any idea how good, I would have put hundreds of dollars towards making this project a success. I beat the game a good number of times. I got the soundtrack and the t-shirt and heaven knows what else. While games like Rex Rocket and Fantasy Life ranked high on my list for their originality, and Tomodachi Life made it because it affected my lady as much as it did me... everyone who interacts with me regularly knows how much I love Shovel Knight. Most of the games on my list light a torch in homage to various games I love; Shovel Knight manages to take the torch and run with it. There is no better example of an indie studio taking the ideas of its backers and creators and turning it into something that can become the next great franchise than Shovel Knight, in my opinion. And that's why I consider it to be the greatest game I've played this year. And yes, even if Pokémon or Smash had made my list, I still think Shovel Knight would rank above them. It may not be the game I've spent the most time with, but it is definitely the game I've had the most fun with this year.
  12. Marcus Estrada

    Game of the Year 2014: Marcus's Picks

    Hello everyone! 2014 has been a pretty great year for gaming! Of course, I think gaming fans usually think as much for every year. If you know anything about me then you can probably guess none of my favorite games will be those big budget titles most certainly getting accolades elsewhere. It“s not a matter of disliking them; I simply spend far too much time playing other games to even get around to anything else! With that said, here is my selection of the best games released in 2014. Enjoy! Cho Dengeki Stryker Do you like super heroes? Do you like reading a lot? Cho Dengeki Stryker is probably the perfect visual novel for you! Heck, I“m not even much of a superhero guy but it somehow rocketed up to my list all the same. That“s thanks to a great cast of characters, awesome action sequences, and tons of routes to pursue (which were expanded for this “Cho” release of Dengeki Stryker). The best feature for non-eroge (erotic game) aficionados is that the Steam release removes particular sequences to obtain a T rating. And you know what, I“m actually glad that some of those are gone because they really hampered the otherwise engaging storyline for me. Cloud Chamber ARGs (Alternate Reality Games) are not nearly as common as they should be—at least not in the way I particularly enjoy them. I love to play through a game which forces research things on the internet and interact with others to figure it out. Cloud Chamber was exactly that. An online-focused storytelling experience, you are given a database of videos and asked to discover the truth behind the storyline with other players. Yes, the other players are real and comment on videos with theories and other interesting tidbits. At least, this is the way it was when I played around launch. Hopefully there“s still a current userbase working in conjunction to piece together the mysteries. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc Official GP Review I wasn“t sure what to expect after loading up Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc for the first time. As it turned out, this visual novel with courtroom elements may have taken inspiration from other games, but it still ended up as a very unique property. The cast of characters is great, weird, and worth interacting with to know even more about. Who wouldn“t want to uncover why a cast of high schoolers are trapped in a prestigious high school? Each murder mystery brings unique elements and usually isn“t completely transparent. Why did I select this game over its sequel? I felt that version dropped the ball even further in regards to courtroom minigames and had a less immediately likable cast overall. Escape Goat 2 Escape Goat (the original) was one of my most favorite platformers in a long time. The gameplay was fresh and fun and had great music and visuals to go along with that. Escape Goat 2 also excels in all these areas and brings me just what I wanted: More Escape Goat! There“s a ton of puzzles to solve, and many can be done in varying orders. This is great for those times when you get stuck on one particular puzzle and keep doing it in the same wrong way. All in all, the sequel may not have reinvented the game but that“s fine when the base is so wonderful to begin with. Extrasolar It“s a bit hard to describe Extrasolar, but here“s my best attempt. This is a browser-based game which invites you to remotely control a rover exploring a planet. Your goal is simply to take pictures of the landscape so that scientists may analyze anything they find via your photos. So, in one sense it“s just like a strange twist on Pokemon Snap but there“s actually much more to it. Underneath this easy mechanic is a storyline, neat scientific analysis, and a weirdly engaging experience. Finally, you can play it for free as long as you don“t mind waiting a bit between photos. Iron Fisticle It“s pretty hard to make a bad twin stick shooter but perhaps harder than that is making one which hooks me from the get go. Iron Fisticle certainly did, and kept its hooks in for a surprisingly long time. Sure, the main gameplay simply consists of going from room to room and shooting everything—but it looks and sounds great! Then there“s the neat aspects of copious weapon power ups, silly collectibles, boss encounters, and a persistent leveling system. Twin stick shooter fans owe it to themselves to nab a copy. Nidhogg Here“s a game that had years worth of hype trailing behind it. Despite being tangentially aware of Nidhogg for all this time, I never quite understood the appeal. It was only when it finally launched that I saw the light. The gameplay consists of two characters fencing each other. Every players has the same base set of abilities to use but each match ends up completely different. Although the AI provides a pretty good opponent the most fun is definitely had by going against a human opponent. Oh, and don't even get me started on those visuals. It's definitely one of the coolest looking releases this year. OlliOlli I never got into the whole skateboarding scene, but skateboarding video games usually hold a strange appeal to me. OlliOlli is not a simple riff on Tony Hawk's Pro Skater or even Skate. Instead, it turns the concept of skateboarding into a fast-paced 2D twitch platformer. Combined with a strange control scheme you“ve got a game which is incredibly simple to understand but that requires utter devotion to master. Oh, and let“s not forget that astounding mixtape soundtrack. It definitely raises the game up to another level when you get a huge combo on a stage while your favorite song plays. Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike Now, I“ll be the first to admit that Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike does not have a particularly pretty name. In fact, it sounds like the most uncreative thing ever. However, this does perfectly describe it! Rogue Shooter takes roguelike elements (randomization, permadeath, leveling) and bakes them with retro FPS stylings. Somehow this works incredibly well. Thanks to its early 90s graphics it also manages to be ridiculously charming. If you like “hallway shooters” and roguelikes then I highly suggest playing this game. Platformines Official GP Review Platformines is a pretty simple game in concept. You“ve got a gigantic randomized map to explore and only one tiny gun-toting dude to venture into the expansive world. According to the storyline, your goal is to collect pieces to rebuild your spaceship but it“ll take a lot of bullets to do so. After all, this place you“ve crashed is absolutely teeming with monsters. The 2D platformer/shooter hybrid includes an outrageous amount of guns and accessories to wreak havoc with. Near the end of the game it does become unfairly difficult, but that was just a little stumble in this otherwise fantastic, violent adventure.
  13. Decided I'd keep track of what sites choose what as their GOTY and what their numbered lists look like. GamesRadar was first off the bat (on Dec 9, no less). Will update when other lists drop from other sites as well. The List GamesRadar - Top 25 Games of the Year Of course, GP's GOTY list will be coming at the end of this month. Feel free to discuss what you think of these lists, whether you think it's strange that they chose what they chose or whether they're spot on, etc.