This will be a blog where I post my thoughts on games. Most posts will be short and to the point.
However, this particular post is a feature I might want to do each year briefly discussing some/all of the games I played over the past year.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U)
Having never made it through a single Zelda game when I first tried The Wind Waker for GameCube, I didn’t stay with it for very long. However, having loved Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, I was quite looking forward to Zelda Wii U. Since that wouldn’t arrive for awhile (and still hasn’t, obviously), The Wind Waker seemed like a great way to scratch the Zelda itch.
The Wind Waker HD became my favourite game in the series to date. The story was amazing and the gameplay was typical Zelda gameplay, except the GamePad greatly enhanced the gameplay experience. Go back to playing Ocarina of Time on the N64 and try using the menu after playing The Wind Waker HD and you’ll see what I mean.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (Wii U)
I usually love the LEGO games, so I wasn’t shocked that I enjoyed this one. I think I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, though. There was something that this game just did right. It’s the best LEGO game (based on a franchise) that I’ve played yet. I still have yet to play LEGO Batman, however.
Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
Even though this came out in late 2013, I played the majority of it in early 2014. Looking back at Super Mario 3D Land for 3DS (2011), I remember being hesitant about it. It was obviously the [New] Super Mario Bros. format but in 3D. However, I found myself surprised at how well it turned out. I realized that being in 3D allowed this game to be a lot different from the New Super Mario Bros. games that had begun to wear out their welcome (and would truly have worn us out by the end of 2012).
So what about 3D World? Would it begin to wear us out like New Super Mario Bros. had before it? Not even slightly. Instead of simply rehashing the Super Mario 3D Land setup, Super Mario 3D World surpasses it by far. The multiplayer was executed flawlessly, the graphics were absolutely gorgeous, the music was phenomenal, and the gameplay in general was polished beyond compare. Super Mario 3D World gets a strong recommendation from me whenever someone asks what games to get for Wii U. But a Mario game being recommended when purchasing a Nintendo console is not surprising in the least.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U)
Speaking of stomping on your predecessor, if there’s any game that really blew me away in 2014, however, it’s this one. Donkey Kong Country Returns (2010) was a great game that revived what made the original series great and brought it into the modern era. It had some minor issues, but nothing that would make me not recommend the game. But Tropical Freeze somehow managed to blow it out of the water. Or…into the water? Tropical Freeze has one of my favourite soundtracks of all time, the best swimming mechanic in any game I’ve ever played, and it’s simply beautiful to look at. There’s no question about it: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is my favourite 2D platformer of all time.
Sonic Lost World
This was a big disappointment. The game is nice to look at, but the gameplay is bland. The music is bland also, which is unusual for a Sonic game. I’m not sure why Sega decided to toy with working controls and gameplay from Sonic Generations (or even Sonic Colors, which I wasn’t crazy about anyway). That seems to be their problem with Sonic games. They’re trying to fix what isn’t broken, without necessarily fixing what IS broken.
Mario Golf: World Tour (3DS)
I’ve always enjoyed the Mario Golf games. This one does something different in adding the Castle Tour mode. If you’ve liked Mario Golf in the past, you’ll enjoy this one.
Child of Light (Wii U)
I’d heard a lot of praise for this game before buying, and it was well-deserved. This is a great effort by Ubisoft Montreal that really pays off in an interesting game. I’d like to specifically point out the fighting system, which is executed really nicely. I’m not sure if it’s been done before, but it’s a really cool implementation of speed during battles.
Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
There’s not a lot to say about this game that hasn’t been said already. Amazing graphics, flawless gameplay, great soundtrack, etc. This is the definitive Mario Kart experience. Unless you’re talking about battle mode, of course.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (3DS)
An impulse purchase, I figured that having never played the original (and I couldn’t handle the controls on the Virtual Console), and with my positive reception of the remake of The Wind Waker, I’d try the remake of Ocarina of Time. It was an enjoyable experience thanks to controls being optimized for the 3DS, but I do have to say that I enjoyed both Twilight Princess and The Wind Waker more in the story department.
Star Fox 64 3D (3DS): This is a game I never owned but I had played before. The 3DS remake is a solid one and it was fun to play through.
Perfect Dark (N64)
They don’t make shooters like this anymore. Sure, controls have evolved into a much better standard, but I feel like no modern games match this one in the single player area.
I’ve played through this before, but having replayed it over the last few months, I think it’s worth a mention here. Before I say anything, I’d like to state that I’m a huge advocate for the revival of 3D adventure platformers. I wish we’d get more of them these days, as they really were something special. But I think that when that revival does happen, there are many lessons that can be learned from Banjo-Tooie.
Firstly, it really is the perfect sequel. It gives you more of everything without pretending that the last game didn’t happen. I don’t know how many games have done it, but I remember being really impressed that the game started you off with your entire moveset which was obtained in the previous game.
My one problem with the game is how tedious it can feel at times. Whether it’s because of the N64’s really chugging on this game due to the huge worlds, or because the size of the worlds makes everything really laborious, it does tend to drag on at some points. A lesson that 3D platformers can learn from Banjo-Tooie in the future is to try not to make in-game tasks feel like work because of excessive travelling around/between worlds. That said, it doesn’t do nearly enough to ruin the game, which means it was still very enjoyable.
Super Smash Bros. for 3DS (3DS)
This was Part 1 of the year’s main event for me. The dream of a handheld Smash Bros. comes true here, and it really excels at being Smash Bros. on the go. I’m glad this exists.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Wii U)
This was Part 2, and on its own served as THE main event for the year. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U delivers an amount of content that makes the 3DS version feel like a demo of this game, and it surpasses Brawl in pretty much every way. While I feel it lacks something where there was previously a story/adventure mode, the fighting itself is so perfectly executed that the game is easily the best in the series.
Pokemon Omega Ruby (3DS)
This game was a pretty solid remake of Pokemon Ruby, but I will say it didn’t have me jumping for joy like Pokemon SoulSilver did. This may be partially due to a fondness for Generation II (and lack thereof for Generation III) back in the day, but it didn’t have the same effect. It may also be due to the fact that Ruby wasn’t as “primitive” as Gold/Silver were, so remaking wasn’t as much of a jump as it was from Silver to SoulSilver. In any case, I still enjoyed the game. I think the Pokemon games will need to make big changes in the near future, or they risk growing stale. But then, they haven’t grown stale so far, so who knows?
I started some new games before 2014 ended, but the majority of those will be played in 2015. Most of my posts won’t be this long-winded, and I’ll post throughout the year my random musings on games and such. Otherwise, you can find me on Twitter @rardk64.