2014 is nearly over and what better time than to list off our favourite titles of the last twelve months? While this year hasn’t been a real home run, it has seen its fair share of great games both big and small on all formats. Let’s finish this off by now moving onto games two and of course our number one game of the year…
2. Mario Kart 8
It was a tough decision to make, picking between my number one and two games of 2014 but in the end I felt Mario Kart 8 couldn’t take the top spot because of one simple thing. It’s battle mode. However let’s focus on the great first…
While it’s hard to tweak the Mario Kart formula too much, this eighth instalment managed to do so in a way that made the series feel the freshest it ever has in a long time. Part of this has to do with the game’s excellent track design that now takes racers upside-down, underwater and through the air. An improved and more balanced weapon system, handling system and online features also didn’t hurt either.
Mario Kart 8 looks amazing. In a year where we all expected the next generation of consoles to truly blow us away with their visuals (but ultimately fail) it was Nintendo’s racer that impressed. Unbelievably detailed environments and character animations full of… well character this was the title to prove that the Wii U could deliver in terms of graphics.
Sadly the battle mode didn’t make the shift to Wii U as successfully – a small price to pay though considering how fantastically fun the racing is.
While the series has seen its share of highlights and low points over its twenty plus year run, Mario Kart 8 might just well deliver the best experience yet. Zero-gravity, amazing visuals, fantastic track design, excellent online features and that same addictive multiplayer mayhem we all know and love – Mario Kart 9 will certainly have a hard time toppling the plumber’s latest.
1. Super Smash Bros For Wii U
Was there ever any doubt that Sakurai wouldn’t deliver the most explosive, amazing Super Smash Bros yet? While immense expectations can often lead to huge disappointment as 2014 has proven on multiple occasions (Assassin’s Creed Unity and Destiny to name a few) that was definitely not the case here. Where to begin though?
Shall we start with the list of superstars that populate the expansive roster? Everyone from Mario to Donkey Kong, Link to Pikachu, Pit to Samus, Sonic to Pac-Man, Little Mac to… well you get the point. How about the laundry list of stages to battle on each taken from a famous franchise – Racing round Mario Circuit from Mario Kart 8, jumping and dodging in the Garden of Hope or even battling atop glider planes from the Pilotwings series to name a few. Or maybe it’s the sheer wealth of options available that will keep you busy well into 2015 and beyond – single player modes, multiplayer modes, online, literally thousands of collectables, customisation and so on.
While many saw Melee as perhaps a little too fast and Brawl a little too slow, it feels like Nintendo have nailed the fighting system here by finding a perfect middle ground. Newcomers will enjoy mashing buttons and simply watching their beloved Nintendo characters beating on each other, and more skilled players will find plenty of depth here to keep them “maining” characters for years to come.
As a Nintendo follower it certainly doesn’t hurt that this game simply oozes fan service at the very seam. From trophies of the popular and even the obscure the history here is vast and detailed. The same goes for the game’s soundtrack that features both memorable and once forgotten gems. Mario and Zelda will instantly send you into nostalgia mode while odd surprises in the form of a remixed Wii Sports Medley and songs from The Wonderful 101 will raise a few smiles too.
So what more can be said about one of 2014’s most packed games? Far too much in a short opinion piece but let it be said that in a year that many will argue has been one of the weakest in recent memory Super Smash Bros for Wii U was more than worth the wait. I for one will not remember it as the year that disappointed, but rather the year the fighting king returned in HD.
And there we have it! Do you agree with our top ten or is there another hidden gem you’d pick over our list. Sound off in the comments below!