Game of the Year 2014: Wii U, PlayStation 3/Xbox 360

December 29, 2014


Today, we’re unveiling our picks for best Wii U game of 2014, as well as best game to release on PS3 and Xbox 360 this year.


If the Wii U makes a comeback and manages to match sales of the Wii, pundits will point to Mario Kart 8 as one of the turning points in the system’s history. The sun glaring off a giant beanstalk in Cloudtop Cruise, the colorful eye trip of Electrodome and the feel of finesse from Mount Wario are a few of the hundreds of highlights this game has to offer. It takes a lot from Mario Kart Wii, which isn’t necessarily bad, and tweaks it in all the right places. Less obnoxious item usage, a more varied track list and full HD visuals give this series the punch it needed. – Henry Skey

Mario Kart, upon every release, always manages to bring something new to the table and re-invigorate the series in new and exciting ways. Anti-gravity mode was a nice addition, allowing classic courses to be re-imagined in ways we never would’ve guessed. Being able to customize karts, bikes and ATVs to your exact liking is a huge plus toward making the whole racing experience comfortable for the player. On top of all that, the game controls fabulously, and with one more DLC pack on the way, this game is far from being forgotten this year. – Eric Albuen

Runner-up: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

What makes Super Smash Bros. for Wii U the best? In a word: options. Smash U has a nearly-bottomless amount of customization built into it, allowing players to tailor the game’s experience to their liking over various modes, including cooperative Classic and Events for the first time. Up to an insane eight players can participate in local battles if you have the hardware to support them all, which includes about a half-dozen different recognized controllers. You can also make up to ten versions of each of the 49(!) fighters with tweaked moves and attributes, and if those aren’t enough, you can even construct your own fighter from any Mii on your system. – Chris Ingersoll

Runner-up: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Donkey Kong Country Returns was a big surprise from Nintendo and Retro, and it was so good it got everyone excited about Donkey Kong again. This follow-up is everything great about the first game and more, minus the pesky motion controls. When legendary composer David Wise comes back, you know something special is happening. – Lucas White


Lightning Returns was a surprise. I went in expecting to find a desperate grab for money, and I got what is probably the best game in the trilogy. Taking the game even further toward action mechanics and removing the turn-based trappings made it more fun to play; the XIII games always felt too fast for turns anyway. The other side was a game of time management: finding the most efficient path and making choices based on the game’s time limit gave a reason for new game plus, aside from simple trophy-hunting. – Jeff deSolla

Square Enix took a long time to get there, but it finally figured out what it was trying to do with the Final Fantasy XIII series. Instead of trying to force players to approach the action-oriented systems exactly the way the developers wanted at the expense of agency, Lightning Returns is much more open. Bringing actual timing and skill to the table, player freedom is encouraged, and a more than satisfying number of customization options are available for whatever style of play you can come up with. – Lucas White

Runner-up: South Park: The Stick of Truth

It always bothered me that licensed games never really looked like the movie or TV show it was emulating. Why would I play a Toy Story game if it doesn’t look or feel anything like Toy Story? But now, now we finally have a game that we can point to and say “it looks exactly like the TV show.” You can tell that Trey Parker and Matt Stone poured everything they had into this one, as the game felt like an entire season of new episodes. I’ve never laughed harder at reading Facebook status updates, nor have I paused a game so many times due to outbursts of horrified laughter. I wanted to be a part of South Park, and for 12 glorious hours, I was. – Henry Skey

Runner-up: Tales of Xillia 2

Seeing more of the Tales series’ famed Linear Motion Battle System is always a treat, and Xillia 2 takes it to its next logical step from its predecessor. Refining the combo system and adding a massive number of new quests, it may be easy to write it off as a mere expansion. However, Xillia 2 works with the original’s strengths so well in the new story that it’s hard not to see the charm. – Chris Dominowski