Snackbar’s 2014 Staff Picks: Jeff deSolla

December 30, 2014


10. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd

Rhythm games live or die by their music, and every song in this package is suitably catchy: the sort of music you don’t mind hearing over and over. The fact that Hatsune Miku isn’t real lends itself perfectly to a rhythm game, and the Vocaloid characters have more stage presence than any number of the fake CG bands featured in all of the instrument games.

9. Fantasy Life

Fantasy Life really fills that hole in Animal Crossing. I always felt that something was missing, something to do other than simply min-maxing your trees to generate the best possible coin per day. Fantasy Life is more than just Animal Crossing with a plot, too: the story here is pretty trope-heavy, after all. Exploration and leveling up your various jobs gives you so much more to actually do, yet still lets you buy a house, coordinate your clothing and arrange furniture to your heart’s content. It’s an absolutely perfect handheld game, wonderful for those 30-minute blocks of time that just aren’t big enough to progress in a more serious RPG.

8. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

I really like the Halo universe. It’s one of of those few non-RPGs that actually gets me interested in its history, outside of what is shown in the games. Halo has tried to tinker with the sci-fi FPS formula over the years, but the universe has been that one constant that keeps me coming back. Halo 2 looks great in this pack, and it offers one thing the original didn’t: Halo 3 is right there waiting, saving us the agonizing years of waiting after that ending.


7. Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition

If Final Fantasy XIV didn’t exist, the Reaper of Souls-enhanced Diablo III would be the most improved RPG ever. The changes were night and day, and after one of the most disappointing releases of the generation, it won me back. But even better is the next-gen console version, the Ultimate Evil Edition. Diablo III was re-designed from the ground up to be fun on consoles, and it really shines here.

6. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII should have been an action title from the start. Lightning Returns has some of the best gameplay in the trilogy, taking the fast-paced combat that XIII wanted to have and just going for it all the way.

5. Mario Kart 8

It’s hard to think about Mario Kart without either complete joy or rampant cursing. It doesn’t really change much each time, and yet you can just tell that 8 is the best one yet. It’s probably the most fun you’ll have on the Wii U this year, but you will never be so angry at a video game for the rest of your life. All’s fair in love, war and Mario Kart.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War_20140626210827

4. Valiant Hearts: The Great War

War is an awkward subject in games. That’s odd, because it’s also so frequently used. Valiant Hearts manages to provide a fun game while treating the subject with respect. It’s not glorifying any one side of the conflict, and it’s not some kind of power fantasy. Valiant Hearts is simply a wonderfully fun puzzle game that manages to tell a touching story.

3. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Captain Toad is, quite simply, a game that reminds me why I love video games. It’s not hard, and it’s not long, but I just can’t put it down. It shows why Nintendo was successful in the ’80s, and why it’s still around today. Captain Toad has an uncanny ability to take a basic game mechanic — or the lack of one, in this case: Toad’s inability to jump — and turn it into an incredibly polished and entertaining experience.

2. Bayonetta 2

Bayonetta is one of those games that should have been successful. It was better designed and more fun to play than the other games in its style, but really fell to the wayside. Thankfully, Nintendo has really given it a place to shine, and it’s proven to be one of the best games of the year, even for people who generally don’t like memorizing combos in character action games. Everything just fits together perfectly, and that makes the game work regardless of skill level.


1. World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

I’d be wrong if I said that WoW wasn’t in a rut this year. The last two expansions were met with mixed reactions, and neither of them managed to recapture that need to keep playing to see what is next. Draenor has changed all that, even in its early days. Whether it’s leveling up and progressing the game’s story or just mucking about upgrading the garrison, it feels less like grinding and more like playing — even if it’s doing the usual MMO thing of hiding that grind behind progression. Like Final Fantasy XIV in 2013, Draenor has breathed new life into WoW here in 2014, and it’s got me feeling really good about the future of the game.