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. Freedom Wars
(Vita, SCE Japan Studio, Shift, Dimps)
Freedom Wars first caught my attention with its intriguing premise and anime flair, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that neither of those elements were ever intended to do any more than that. This is a hunting game through and through, with repetitive mission design and very little enemy variety. Yet for some reason, to this day I cannot stop playing it. Freedom Wars possesses that rare addictive x-factor that keeps me coming back for more, looking past its obvious flaws to revel in the assault on enemy Abductors and Panopticons, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve moved past my initial disappointment in its skeletal story and sunk countless hours into its combat both on and offline, and if that isn’t the sign of a good game I’m not sure what is.
9. Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
(3DS, Game Freak)
I practically spent the entirety of fourth grade in Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire’s Hoenn. I caught em’ all, collected every badge, and won every contest. Ten years later, and now a professionally diagnosed Pokemaniac, I couldn’t wait for my chance to do it all again. Game Freak managed to capture the awe, beauty, and excitement of those games in ORAS, while utilizing the much more detailed 3D style of Pokemon X & Y. ORAS brought a bundle of improvements and the welcome return of secret bases, and also added subtle hints of humor and personality to each of the characters. It’s a dream come true for a fan like me.
Velocity 2X is the kind of game that becomes more and more awesome the more you play. It seamlessly transforms from a deliciously refined top-down teleporting space shooter into a sidescrolling platformer, and somehow manages to maintain the same amazing sense of speed throughout. It’s a game that made me miss more than a few bus stops, a testament to its sheer addictive appeal. Futurlab completely outdid itself with Velocity 2X, and I ate up every minute of it.
7. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
(Vita, Spike Chunsoft)
When a game marries eccentric characters, an intriguing premise, and a healthy helping of fanservice, you better believe I’ll be all over it. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc achieved that and more, offering a stylish visual novel experience unlike anything else released this year. Some may argue that the sequel did it better, but I’ll abstain from that discussion; I’m waiting to play Danganronpa 2 until The Great Danganronpa Drought of 2015 hits next year.
6.Mario Kart 8
(Wii U, Nintendo)
Is this the most beautiful game Nintendo has ever produced? Maybe. More than that, however, it’s an astutely tuned racing game that returns the series to its former glory. Mario Kart 8 was responsible for some of the most fun and insane experiences I had with any game this year, and shows no signs of losing its luster in the months ahead. I’ll see ya’ll on the circuit.
5. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
(Wii U, Nintendo)
For some, Super Smash Bros. Melee will forever be the pinnacle of the series. It’s fast, frantic, and surprisingly deep. However, 2014 finally saw the release of a worthy successor in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, a game that is destined to capture the imaginations of a new generation of gamers just as Melee did for me. It packs the roster with fighters both iconic and obscure, offers an almost overwhelming variety of modes, and most importantly plays like a dream. It’s the kind of game that defines a console, and one I know I’ll be playing for years to come.
4. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
(Wii U, Nintendo)
When Nintendo released Super Mario 3D World last year, nobody quite understood just how much potential the bite-sized Captain Toad levels had for expansion. One year later, however, and we’ve all become privy to the charm, creativity, and uncontrollable cuteness that is Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. It’s loaded with brilliantly designed puzzles and ingenious ideas, and managed to keep me smiling from start to finish. READY FOR ADVENTURE!
(PS4/PC, Supergiant Games)
Supergiant Games’ sophomore effort had me spellbound from start to finish. It’s brilliant pacing and fantastic narration kept me glued to the screen, but the stellar score and strategic combat sealed Transistor’s place amongst my top game of 2014. It’s rare to find a game that resonates so deeply and completely, but Transistor did just that. It’s a treat for the eyes, ears, and thumbs, and is without a doubt one of the most sensational games I played in 2014.
2. Bayonetta 2
(Wii U, Platinum Games)
No other game released in 2014 better combined the craziness, fun, and sex appeal of Bayonetta 2. It’s a perfect sequel, fixing the flaws of its predecessor and refining the already superb and fluid action fans adore. It might even be the best action game ever made, but we’ll leave that argument for another day. What Bayonetta 2 is, however, is a consistently zany, challenging and incredibly enjoyable experience, only boosted by the luxuries of HD visuals and a top-notch soundtrack. In any other year it may well have secured the top spot on this list, but alas…
1. Shovel Knight
(3DS/Wii U/PC, Yacht Club Games)
For me, Shovel Knight defined gaming in 2014. It turned away from the current trends of cinematic spectacle and high-definition graphics and brought players back to a simpler time in the medium when characters endeared themselves to players with awesome feats and pixel-perfect presentation. Shovel Knight is a hero for the ages, and his game manages to revel in nostalgia while blazing its own impeccable path. From the music to the level design to the beautiful visuals, Shovel Knight absolutely nails everything it attempts, and it’s without a doubt my favorite game of 2014.