2014 was, for me, a time of endless bounty. With innovative multiplayer indies, engrossing RPGs, cool translated titles from days past and the sort of charming quirk that can only come from Nintendo, this crop of titles gave me great fun this year — and will continue to do so in the years to come.
HM: Puyo Puyo Tetris, Nintendo Pocket Football Club
I’ve restricted my top ten to games with North American releases, but two import titles grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. The first, Puyo Puyo Tetris, meshes two great puzzle games and has a slate of fun multiplayer modes for lots of fun with friends. The second, Nintendo Pocket Football Club, takes a Kairosoft-style management framework and fleshes it out with long-term goals and a heck of a lot of personality. Both would be great to see on American systems, and easy enough to bring over. READ MORE
10. Wolfenstein: The New Order
I usually play a lot more shooters in a given year, but in 2014 I only played one. Thankfully, it was Wolfenstein: The New Order. This unexpected gem gave me a fascinating backdrop (the Nazis had won World War II) and put me back in the shoes of BJ Blazkowicz. You get the usual shooter gameplay, but a most unusual group of compelling characters, weapon upgrades, game-changing decisions, insane enemies and fantastic cutscenes. This is the complete package and, to top it all off, it has a great ending. It’s one of the few first-person shooters I wanted to replay as soon as I was done. READ MORE
We continue our special staff categories with Best Enhanced Port, Best Add-On and Most Emotional Scene awards. READ MORE
Honorable mention: Tomodachi Life
This game definitely tapped into the child within me that liked taking care of Tamagotchi. Being able to see what kind of crazy antics Miis get into when you decide to put them all in a room together was interesting. This was a game I was able to play alongside other games without much interruption, something I can’t really say about many other games on this list. It was definitely a nice change of pace to play something not incredibly serious alongside something I wanted to dedicate a lot of time into. I just wish I had more than two married couples… I have no idea how my friends managed to have over ten. READ MORE
10. Dead Man’s Draw
It is immensely fun to examine your opponent’s traits, choose two that completely nullify them and then win a game in a landslide victory. With 18 traits and the eventual ability to use two of them simultaneously, there is always a way to win a tournament and always a new strategy to try out. Parry and Beastmaster synergize well offensively, while Captain’s Hook and Miser work well together defensively. Dead Man’s Draw is a great press-your-luck card game, and I can’t wait for my physical copy to arrive so I can play with friends when I’m not at the PC. READ MORE
There were many great games in 2014, but these were the best of the best! Here are our selections for best 3DS game and best Vita game of the year, as well as deserving runners-up. READ MORE
10. Assassin’s Creed: Unity
This game has gotten so much hate from the gaming community this year, some of it admittedly deserved, that it feels strange to say that I really enjoyed it. I don’t like the pirate ship combat and controls in Assassin’s Creed, and I thought that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was a weak entry (albeit worlds ahead of the abysmal Assassin’s Creed III). In an Assassin’s Creed game, I want a solid city to explore with lots of interesting things to do, as well as some connections to the modern-day struggle between the templars and the assassins. While Assassin’s Creed: Unity completely abandons the modern plot, the city is interesting, and I found Arno’s character to be the best replacement for Ezio the series has found yet. I, luckily, didn’t run into the myriad of technical issues that so many others seemed to experience. If you’re a fan of Assassin’s Creed II, I would implore you to give Unity a chance. It’s not perfect, but it really is a lot of fun. READ MORE
We kick off our Game of the Year awards with some special staff-selected categories: Best Original Soundtrack, Best Licensed Game and Best Retro Re-Release.
10. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
2014 was a great year for WayForward, continuing its tradition of releasing uncharacteristically good licensed titles, and having a highly successful Kickstarter for a full HD console game in its own Shantae series. In the midst of all this, it quietly released one of the best Metroidvanias in a great while. Pirate’s Curse polished the exploration mechanics and added interesting new uses for transformations using the extra horsepower of the 3DS, all while sticking to the creative puzzles, clear progression and memorable characterization that makes the series great. READ MORE
This wasn’t gaming’s best year for many reasons, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have plenty of worthwhile titles. Honestly, some of this year’s best could easily stand up against the best from stronger years. It was also full of surprises, with plenty of games that would often be overlooked during more crowded years. While my list was easier to put together than 2013’s, I still wanted to take the time to focus on both: smaller titles that might have been overlooked and also games that deserve all of the praise in the world.