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The end of the year is a great time to reflect, so we’ll be doing just that. From now until January, we’ll be sharing what we think, both individually and as a group, are the best that 2014 had to offer. If you do need something to pick up, rest assured: we’ll put you on the right path!

Also, in this holiday season of peace and joy, maybe play some fun games with friends? Or settle down at the table with a good unplugged title? Maybe even use our Amazon page to order some things, and give us the gift of being able to pay our hosting bills.

Mostly, though: have a happy holiday! We’ll be back to our normal schedule in January.

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Lev Grossman is one of my favorite authors. The first two books in his Magicians trilogy, The Magicians and The Magician King, are right up my alley. They’re Narnia meets Harry Potter with a macabre twist. The series is scary, realistic in its own way and has a protagonist whose voice matches my own at times. It really does feel like it was written for guys just like me; obsessed with fantasy and not exactly sure what to do in life. The third book was released recently, The Magician’s Land, and it, too, was spectacular. Some scenes were so beautifully written that I will never forget them. But something wasn’t quite the same. READ MORE

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Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was a real surprise when it came out. That’s partly because it happened just as the series was being rebooted and used the old Lara and not the new one, but partly because it was a well-designed cooperative puzzle game that seemingly came out of nowhere. Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is a direct sequel to Guardian, expanding the potential player count to four from the original’s two. READ MORE

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Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy achieves the gameplay goals that it sets out to hit quite well. It functions as a straight dungeon crawl, with individual quest runs broken up into bite-sized five-to-15-minute chunks. It isn’t the most interesting game, and it doesn’t really push the envelope in any new ways, but it is fun and it is designed well for portable play. If you enjoy short dungeon runs, beating up bad guys and collecting loot, then you should seriously consider Fantasy Hero. READ MORE

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We’re human. We don’t always get to every game before the end of its year of release. This is our way of making amends: the best games we missed out on until 2014. Because we can’t go back in time and honor them in a more timely fashion. READ MORE

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Emergents: Genesis is a new deckbuilding game currently finishing up a successful Kickstarter campaign. Designer Anthony Conta took some time out of his schedule to talk to us about the game.

Snackbar Games: To begin, tell us a little about the Emergents Universe.

Anthony Conta: The Emergents Universe is a world where individuals have begun to realize powers that lay dormant within them. As the storyline unfolds, peoples’ powers emerge and they start to become extraordinary. The first emergent, Zeroth, uses his powers to recognize and fend off an alien invasion, with the help of several others he gathers to fight. The others that fight also have powers, and after the battle, the four go on to form a school to teach others These four others — Helios, Moxie, Billy Stopless and The Abyss — were each members of the Genesis Squadron, the first team of Emergents. Thus, we’ve named this game after them: Emergents: Genesis. READ MORE

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Life as an outlaw in the Wild West must have been rough. Secret Ponchos focuses on the romantic notion of the Western shootout, and allows up to eight players to simultaneously enter an arena and duel to the death in a variety of score-based modes. Occasionally I would feel completely untouchable, a dead-eyed outlaw taking no prisoners and gunning down my opponents while ducking in and out of cover and evading the bullets that could end it all.

Much more often, however, I felt like a clunky joke that was constantly out of bullets and missing point-blank shots. When everything clicks just right, Secret Ponchos is a lot of fun, but things never seem to do that often enough. READ MORE

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When you think of Western RPGs, the name BioWare is bound to pop up. It has created some of the finest and most well-regarded titles in that genre, turning a once-modest studio into one of the foremost RPG experts. Despite BioWare’s rich history, many fans have been disappointed in its recent efforts, especially 2011’s Dragon Age II. The expectations for the third game in its large-scale fantasy series, Dragon Age: Inquisition, were cautiously optimistic.

No matter how you feel about BioWare’s modern titles, it’s safe to say Inquisition is a return to form for the team and a shining example of what it does best.

READ MORE

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It’s the end of another packed year of new game releases. Some might consider it a lackluster one (I know I do), but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile at the end of the day. When December rolls around, we don’t often find time to pay attention to any last-minute releases. Sure, some games manage to squeeze in right at the last minute, but they are rarely worth your attention. This year, however, there is one well worth your time, and one that might just fit alongside other, larger releases: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. READ MORE

In this episode, Andrew, Graham and Henry check out Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker! The game’s full of tricky puzzles, fun gameplay twists and basically the cutest idle animations you’ve ever seen in your life.

Our next show will be a special Game of the Year edition on January 1. Tune in for our overall favorites of 2014!

To watch the show and chat with us live, check out this page when we’re on the air and follow us on Twitter for special streams.