While the whole editorial staff contributed to our 2014 awards, we wanted to allow everybody the opportunity to publicly name their personal top 10 games of the year. While many did play the majority of releases in 2014, please remember that unlike our main awards, the editors are not naming the *best* games, but their personal favorites out of the selection they played.
10. Mario Kart 8
(Wii U, Nintendo)
I’ve never been into Mario Kart quite the same way as most gamers, but I can’t deny that it’s always done the job as a party game. Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U is perhaps the system’s most acclaimed and successful release to date, and the launch promotion that entitled you to a release of your choice made it an offer I simply couldn’t refuse. Mario Kart 8 is packed heavy with content and offers a nice selection of imaginative courses. Mario Kart TV helps to bolster the presentation, and the variety of vehicle types, challenges, and unlocks gives it plenty of single player substance when you’re not racing your buddies.
9. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U
(Wii U / 3DS, Nintendo / Bandai Namco Entertainment / Sora Ltd)
Anyone who thinks the Wii U lacks graphical muscle needn’t look any further than the dazzling visuals of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. A meticulously crafted brawler that will be enjoyed by many for the next five years or more. Behind the gorgeous visuals and presentation is a supremely polished fighting game featuring a star studded roster. As a ‘90s kid, seeing Pac-Man, Mario, Mega Man, and Sonic duel it out in the same game is like a console wars fanart come to life. Serving as a companion game of sorts, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS presents a similar and yet much different experience that is perfectly optimized for the portable confines of the 3DS. If you’re passionate about Smash Bros. or just a lifelong gamer who enjoys quality fighting games, then owning both versions will guarantee hours of enjoyment.
8. Bravely Default
(3DS, Nintendo / Square-Enix / Silicon Studio)
Bravely Default is a game that reunited me with the Final Fantasy of old, echoing the sentiments of timeless RPGs that have given me so many nostalgic memories. The size and scope of the adventure is remarkable for a 3DS game, and it has all the right intangibles that made JRPGs of yesteryear so enchanting. At the same time, however, playing Bravely Default ultimately convinced me that Square-Enix was right to constantly evolve Final Fantasy, for better or worse. Final Fantasy can’t always stay in the past, as things need to keep moving forward for it to stay relevant. As Final Fantasy bravely ventures into the future, those yearning for past glory– with all pros and cons intact– will have Bravely Default.
7. Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
(3DS, Nintendo / Game Freak)
I’ve had an on and off affair with the Pokemon series, completely missing out on the GBA and DS entries before hopping back with Pokemon X & Y and falling in love with the franchise all over again. I was naturally inclined to pick up Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, which takes all the welcome changes and additions introduced in X & Y to breathe new life into a classic game. I missed out on their original GBA iterations all those years ago, so my experience with the tropical themed Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire felt far more refreshing than it would for most. The core principles may still be the same old in this major remake, but as our review so eloquently puts it, Pokemon is perhaps the surest thing in gaming right now.
(Xbox One, Microsoft / NinjaBee)
Our review of the game was not exaggerating when it warned about the addictive appeal of NinjaBee’s Nutjitsu. A puzzle action game starring a Shinobi Squirrel who must collect acorn gems in several Pac-Man style mazes involving different objectives and fun power-ups. Nutjitsu is the quintessential game to play while you wait for your Xbox One to install/download your games, and it’s really the kind of game you keep falling back to when you can’t think of anything else you’d rather do.
5. Ultra Street Fighter IV
(PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC, Capcom / Dimps)
The fighting game phenomenon which started in 2008 saw a fitting closing chapter in 2014. Street Fighter IV captivated the gaming world and fighting community, allowing it to remain unstoppable to this day. Street Fighter IV brought back a lot gamers into the fighting genre, and I found myself spending entire weekends on couch sessions with friends during college. Super and Arcade Edition kept the game fresh and relevant, and in 2014 Ultra Street Fighter IV wrapped up the series in resounding fashion. Quite simply, Ultra Street Fighter IV put the finishing touches to perfect the best fighting game of the generation.
4. The Waste Land
(PC, Digital Tribe / Fledermaus)
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 to me was the biggest letdown of 2014. A heavily hyped title that was riding the coattails of its quality predecessors, only to end up completing crushing everyone’s excitement by delivering one of the most poorly designed action games in recent memory. It was the ultimate buzzkill for Castlevania fans, and with the future of the franchise now up in the air, the quiet arrival of The Waste Land in 2014 couldn’t have happened at a better time. This surreal and genuinely immense 2D adventure embodies all the qualities of NES era Castlevania, delivering a stimulating odyssey that will draw you into its dark poetic setting. The Waste Land caught me by complete surprise, and I felt fortunate to have experienced something so rare.
3. WWE 2K15
(Xbox One / PS4, 2K Sports / Visual Concepts / Yukes)
As much as I complain about the problematic bugs and issues present in WWE video games over the last ten years or so, I still buy each edition the morning it releases and play it almost daily until the next one comes out. Wrestling video games are my guilty pleasure addiction, and now WWE 2K15 has consumed my life. No doubt this is a flawed package and yet here I am playing it every single day, clocking nearly 25 hours in My Career Mode and have only just started to delve into 2K Showcase and the never ending Universe Mode. I also kept refreshing the store page until the DLC was released and bought everything without a second thought. What other new wrestling video game am I supposed to unhealthily obsess over?
2. D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die
(Xbox One, Access Games / Microsoft Game Studios)
The stealth launch of SWERY65’s bizarre adventure is what finally tipped the scales and convinced me to purchase an Xbox One instead of PlayStation 4. The first season of this time travelling detective thriller is one of those special games which exude a quirky yet intoxicating demeanor that you simply cannot miss. Thanks to fantastic and smart writing, topnotch voice acting, and stylistic visuals emitting charm and personality, D4 is one of the most unique and memorable gaming experiences of 2014.
1. Freedom Planet
So Sonic Boom completely bombed, but fortunately fans were graced with the true Sonic release of 2014 in the form of GalaxyTrail’s Freedom Planet. This labor of love takes everything that was great about the Sonic franchise to create a 2D adventure that deserves to be recognized as the true successor to 1994’s Sonic 3 & Knuckles. This game is a dream come true for Sonic fans and more. As a kid I would lucidly imagine what a true next-gen 2D Sonic adventure would be like, and Freedom Planet is pretty much the realization of those fantasies. My personal pick for Game of the Year 2014, Freedom Planet represents everything I love about video games.