Top 10 Games of 2014 – The Year of Nintendo

2014 marked the first full year of the current console generation, but somehow, Nintendo found a way to overshadow that and put out hit after hit on the WiiU and 3DS. Including honorable mentions, Nintendo has a hand in six of the games on this list.

Overall, this year lacked flashy game titles like those associated with Naughty Dog, Rockstar, or even Nintendo. A lot of these games fly under the radar in retrospect, but there are some real gems here, especially from Indie developers. The lineup packs a punch and delivers on some of the most important aspects of gaming: story, replayability, and exciting gameplay. These games amount to hundreds of hours of fun, whether it be with friends or solo.

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Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

10. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

“While the remakes don’t stack up to the GBA classics, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire bring the old favorites to a new generation, along with all the polish of generation 6. Catching them all is easier than ever with the dexnav, super training makes EV training easily accessible to newcomers to the competitive scene, and all your old favorite team members look better than ever. All the little tweaks make this return to Hoenn refreshing and the remastered soundtrack is the perfect cherry on top.” – Max Broggi-SumnerPokémon Ruby and Sapphire have a special place in my heart. It was the first time I had owned both versions of a Pokémon game. I replayed those games at least a dozen times. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire brought back some of my favorite games in vastly superior versions. The soundtrack was revamped, graphics overhauled, and new Pokémon and online features had been added. It makes going back to the original that much more difficult.” – Nathanael Hueso

Bravely Default

9. Bravely Default

 “Bravely Default is a perfect mixture of new and old JRPG traditions that appeal to players from all eras of gaming. The cutesy art style, epic story of heroes and villains, and job system are bound to draw in fans of the older Final Fantasy games. As to not just copy older traditions and hope to churn nostalgia, Bravely Default also has plenty of newer features that really make it worth playing.“The battle system stands out most here: players can store up their turns using a points system and use them all in one go. Some more powerful moves require you to have saved up a certain amount. Say you want to really lay down the hurt on a boss, you’ll probably want to save up points for your main attacker while maintaining the party’s HP with your White Mage. There are tons of challenging optional bosses too, most of which give you a new job class as a reward for beating them. This means you have to learn the ins and outs of each job before you can even use it.” – Lewis Mackin

8. Alien: Isolation

 “For a first-person, horror title, Alien: Isolation is pretty damn long. What it manages to do, unlike many other scary games, is maintain the player’s sense of helplessness. The Xenomorph is constantly chasing you around the ship as you navigate the narrow vents, trying to avoid creepy androids called ‘Worker Joes’ and violent humans.You manage to attain plenty of tools and weapons to fight against smaller threats, but it’s usually better to just run and hide. The Xenomorph remains indestructible throughout the chilling experience, and no matter what you do, fighting it head-on is never an option. It can ambush you at any time, and you’ll frequently hear it moving through the vents ready to strike. Best of all, Alien: Isolation captures the magic of the first Alien film like no other piece of media has done since.” – Lewis Mackin

Divinity Original Sin

7. Divinity: Original Sin

 “Divinity: Original Sin brings the magic of tabletop gaming to the screen like no other. Of course, there are plenty of other RPGs that manage to borrow systems and lore from games like Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder, but Divinity gives the player a different freedom. This really encourages player creativity and gives you liberty that’s very hard to come by in modern titles.“Divinity: Original Sin isn’t afraid to let you make mistakes, and you’ll be making plenty of them. Accused the wrong person of murder because you didn’t investigate thoroughly enough? Looks like you’ll have to live with the consequences. The game’s chock-full of lore to back the intricately woven questions up. Ancient spectral kings who thirst for blood, talking heads who need you to help find their body, you won’t find yourself wanting for variety when navigating Divinity‘s complex world.” – Lewis Mackin

Tales from the Borderlands

6. Tales from the Borderlands

 “Tales from the Borderlands was a hidden gem that nobody expected when Telltale’s writers got their hands on the Borderlands franchise. Discarding the series’ usual, high-octane action for a quieter, more placid experience akin to Telltale’s other titles, Tales from the Borderlands doesn’t skimp on humor and heart, and it proves itself a shifting example of how to write humor in video games.” – Donogh Moore

5. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

 “When you think about The Binding of Isaac, you’re probably thinking about The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, and there’s a good reason for that.“Rebirth is one of the rare titles I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into, via quick, 20-minute runs before I leave the house and 10-hour play sessions where the time just drifted on by. The number of items and playstyles means that no run is the same. Whether you just want to pass the time or want a challenge where the slightest mistake in item synergizing means you’ve lost a 40-minute run, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is still the perfect place to go.” – Lewis Mackin

Mario Kart 8

4. Mario Kart 8

 “Mario Kart 8 is the culmination of a plethora of great features from previous titles. It’s often touted as the best in the series, and I can’t help but agree.“As well as the wide appeal of couch co-op, Mario Kart 8 offers up plenty of single-player content. Karts you unlock all feel different, and there’s a real knack to learning which parts to use for which course. Just like the Karts, each course has a unique feel with plenty of fan favorites returning from previous games in the series. Knowing where to drift, jump, and use your items in each circuit almost turns playing Mario Kart 8 into an art form with plenty of great music tracks and colorful environments to back it up.” – Lewis Mackin

Mario Kart 8 was the pinnacle of the series, perfecting the best of what pervious entries had established. Gone were any gimmicks like a focus on motion controls or dual-racers. Instead, Nintendo had put a focus on the core mechanics of driving, drifting, and getting hit by freaking blue shells. You still had the randomness of items, but that’s part of what gives Mario Kart its charm. Although I placed in 12th for weeks after the game launched (I was that bad), I still had a lot of fun with friends and online.” – Nathanael Hueso

Mario Kart‘s foray onto the WiiU brought with it fantastic new courses (and older ones fans were happy to see return), a better kart customization system than its predecessors, and a great new mechanic in the anti-gravity sections. Just like always, Mario Kart 8 is fantastic to play with friends and family who aren’t into games, and its charming characters, easy-to-pick-up nature, and short time commitment make it perfect for a casual experience. At the same time, each track allows for constant improvement and new tricks, so the competitive races are great for players looking for something a bit harder. It’s inviting for everyone, just like Mario should be.” – Max Broggi-Sumner

Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS and WiiU

3. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and WiiU

 “Smash Bros. 4 roughed up my 3DS pretty bad. It was so cool to finally play Smash Bros. on the go, but it was the WiiU launch that brought it home for me. The insane amount of characters the series is known for is an obvious hook, but with the floatiness that Brawl had brought to the series, WiiU started to bring back some of the speediness of Melee. It was a great balance between the two, and you could now play with eight people at once, something we had wanted for years. Turns out, putting eight Ganondorfs in a match was a huge mess, but it still turned out to be really fun. Online still didn’t quite live up to what it should have, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better local multiplayer game out there.” – Nathanael Hueso

Shovel Knight

2. Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight was an instant classic as soon it came to shelves. The wackiness of the main character’s weapon, the way in which you use it by bouncing off of objects and enemies, as well as the excellent soundtrack – Shovel Knight is an extremely memorable title.

“It’s a really well-made game too. The shovel mechanics are thoughtful, and as levels get more complex over time, so do the abilities available to you. Unlockable items let you navigate the 2D stages in fun ways and armor attributes allow for a degree of customization that gives the relatively short title more replay value.” – Lewis Mackin

“Starting from the humblest of KickStarters, Shovel Knight has since become the poster child for indie games. Charged with nostalgia and determination, Shovel Knight’s quest is full of demanding platforming and perilous boss fights. Despite being 8-bit, Shovel Knight himself has a lot of depth. His hopes and fears are very human which make it easy to empathize with his character and push on in the face of adversity. Though the game came out five years ago, the developers are still making good on their KickStarter promises. The time between DLC campaigns has been lengthy, but they’ve always been worth the wait, providing not only new ways to conquer old stages but also emotionally resolute storylines. Shovel Knight wears its heart on its sleeve while paying homage to many classic titles from the NES era, but for every concept it borrows, it gives back in spades.” – Theo Durrant

Shovel Knight manages to trick you into believing you’re playing a game that came out 30 years ago. The difficulty isn’t as crushing as games of the past, but everything else is retro as hell. This is one of the best old-school mimicking games made in the past few years and incredibly fun to play. You can pretty much get this game on any platform now; you should get this game! You don’t have any excuses if you own any recent console or a PC.” – Nathanael Hueso

Bayonetta 2

1. Bayonetta 2

 “For some people, Bayonetta 2 was THE reason to buy a WiiU. When it came out, it didn’t disappoint with its bigger boss fights, a more intricate combo system, and a larger variety of environments to explore. The sequel strays a little further from its Devil-May-Cry-inspired roots by focusing even more on the action and just having an overall different atmosphere to Bayonetta.“The game also has great replay value, especially considering the pretty enjoyable multiplayer mode. The mode lets you play as a few different characters from the game, which helps to differentiate it from the single-player. It worked pretty well considering the WiiU’s bare-bones online functionality, and I still wouldn’t mind grabbing my best mate and hopping back on it at some point.” – Lewis Mackin


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