Show Some Love

Posted on Jan 1st 2015 at 12:00:00 AM by (Crabmaster2000)
Posted under Best of 2014, Mega Man X, Wii U, Bayonetta, Pikmin, Smash Bros, Project X Zone, Fire Emblem, Wipeout, Bomberman, Mario Kart, NES Remix

This past year saw huge changes to my gaming habits. I spent significantly more time playing with other people than I have in the past and played a lot more games that were convenient for me to setup (which meant 3DS and Wii U). This definitely flavored some of the choices on my list, but a few of my old tendencies still shined though brightly.

10. Mario Kart 8 - Wii U

The start of my renewed love affair with my Wii U this year!

I have yet to play this game by myself, so far its always been with at least one buddy, but quite often 2-3 others. Nearly every track in this game is fantastic and there are no "dreaded" races like in previous Mario Kart games that I've played. The remastered levels are great as well, for example, the N64 Rainbow Road remake is a vast improvement over its original version. I've found that without putting in the solo time to get better at this game, I'm actually having a lot of fun losing to some friends, but giving them what I hope is a solid competitor. The trash-talking involved with most races gets intense. Never have I put this game in my system and had a boring time with it.

9. Bomberman 93 - TG16

Several months ago, I decided to dig out my TG16 stuff from my current mess of a gameroom and spend my afternoon catching up on a few titles I had recently acquired. After spending my afternoon enjoying games like Air Zonk (thanks Russ!), Devil's Crush, Ghost Manor, Samurai Ghost, and Soldier Blade, I was getting ready to pack it all up when my nephews came over. They were immediately interested in what I was doing and asked to try. Since there were 3 of them, plus myself and my son, I though what better time to get out the Turbo Tap and get some Bomberman going. What I thought would be a quick 15 minute excursion into an obscure retro system for them, turned into nearly 3 hours of fierce laughing and groaning.

Once every few years, a game comes out that gets us all, regardless of age, having a fantastic afternoon. In recent years, it's been Wii Sports and Kinect Adventures, so it was nice to go way back to something from my childhood and share that fun with a new generation of gamers.

8. Bayonetta 1&2 - Wii U

Early in the year, I was home ill and looking for something to play while struggling not to barf. I put in Bayonetta for the PS3, but in my current state, it was far too much for me to deal with. I ended up playing South Park Stick of Truth instead, which was a brilliant game and I'm very sad it didn't make the cut to this list. In the 20-30 minutes I spent on Bayonetta, I saw the potential it had and decided to keep it high on the backlog and revisit it when I was feeling better. Luckily for me, they announced that the Wii U Bayonetta 2 game would come with a copy of the original as well! That being the case, I decided to make it one of the few games I was going to buy at full retail price this year instead of waiting for a price cut or a copy to make its way into my store.

It was clear very early on in the first game that this was my kind of game. It was very challenging and fast paced, but also very fair. There is constantly a lot going on and moving on screen, but it is paced in a way that gives you the chance to deal with everything and the execution in the controls is possibly the tightest I've ever seen. The crazy, over the top action sequences are breath taking, from surfing on a broken panel from your recently crashed airplane while fighting a giant water Angel, to battling your rival atop an active and fired live missile. Platinum Games is never at a loss for fun, beautiful, and bizarre ways to get you fighting the agents of Heaven and Hell.

The atmosphere of the game is just as unconventional and appealing as the crazy battles. These settings include beautiful ancient cities, modern day metropolises, mountain tops, heavenly inspired excursions, and underwater grottos. You are never in one place long enough to grow tired of it, yet there is still enough attention to detail that they all look and feel fantastic and unique.

The story and dialogue are just as unique as the action sequences. I feel this made it hard to follow and is what is keeping this one so far down on the list. Still, I'm eager to revisit the game and try and improve some of my level scores that I know I can do better on!

7. NES Remix Pack - Wii U

When this game first became available for download, it sounded like something I would love. As usual, when I hear about a great sounding digital only game, I summon the Dark Ones and sacrifice all that I love in the hopes that they will bestow a physical copy upon me. Usually this fails miserably, but this time it actually worked!!

The NES Remix Pack feels like a fan project made by guys that have played far too much Nintendo. It takes several classic games and throws you into different parts of them and gives you a small twist. Examples include playing Excitebike with the Turbo on the whole race, beating a boss on Zelda without taking a hit, sinking a ball in Golf with extreme weather conditions, or getting Mario to the flagpole without being able to stop moving. Everything is short and sweet in this game and there's lots of replay value as you are rewarded with 1-3 stars for completing the level without mistakes. These stars let you unlock more levels and games to play.

Loved every second of it!

6. Fire Emblem - GBA/Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon - DS

These games are similar enough that I'm gonna cheat and count them as a single entry.

Ever since playing the Path of Radiance many years ago, I was hooked on Fire Emblem. I've made it a personal goal of mine to own and beat every single game in the series. This year I took a big leap forward with that goal and was able to obtain and finish 2 of them! Mechanic wise these games were very similar and it was really just the story that set them apart.

Shadow Dragon is a remake of the original game and features Marth, which many of you may recognize from the Smash Bros series. The game starts off with the Royal Family, for which he belongs to, getting slaughtered and follows with him looking for revenge on those who killed his father. He must also regain a lost family heirloom and eventually cement his place as the rightful king.

The GBA Fire Emblem has you playing as a tactician for Lyn, a girl who leads a small nomadic tribe and is looking to reunite with her grandfather. This scenario eventually escalates into much more.

If you've never played a Fire Emblem game, they are very good starting points for newcomers to sRPGs. They are simple to pick up, yet they don't hold your hand (with the exception of maybe too many tutorials in the beginning stages of the GBA game).

With these two under my belt, that just leaves me to find and defeat a copy of Sacred Stones and keep my fingers crossed that Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei is still in development.

5. Wipeout 2048 - PS Vita

Early in the year, I planned a trip with my family down to San Diego. To stay entertained on the plane ride and in the hotel room, I brought along my Vita and stocked up on about 10 games. I expected to spend my time playing things like Gravity Rush or Tearaway that I had been waiting for a very long time to experience. Much to my surprise, I couldnt put down Wipeout once I started it. I had never really put much time into any previous Wipeout games before and feel like I may have missed out on something special. It was fast, vibrant, crazy, arcade-y, and the music was unique and interesting. It quickly became one of my favorite racing games and pick up and play kinda title. Its incredibly cheap, so I'd urge anyone with a Vita to check it out if they haven't already.

4. Project X Zone - 3DS

Much like Nintendo Remix, this game seems like a fan passion project. They take many of the recognizable characters from the SEGA, Capcom, and Bandai-Namco franchises and figured out a ridiculous way to get them all in one sRPG style game. It is over the top, tongue in cheek, constantly nonsensical, and always entertaining. The story is huge in scope and very hard to follow, but that didn't matter. The concept and gameplay were enough to keep me entertained the whole way through. Having Mega Man, Ulala, Chun Li, Frank West, and many more, all fighting along side each other was such a blast.

This game also got me interested in several other franchises that I had missed out on. Since playing Project X Zone I've picked up other games from these franchises to try since I found the characters interesting. Some titles include: Gods Eater, .Hack, Resonance of Fate, Sakura Wars, and Dynamite Cop.

It's definitely not a game made for everyone to enjoy, but I sure did!!

3. Pikmin 3 - Wii U

I've long enjoyed the Gamecube Pikmin games and my wife picked up Pikmin for the Wii when it was remade with the Wii Controls (which were much to my surprise fantastic!). I had high hopes for the 3rd installment with the new Gamepad controller. My son always enjoyed picking Olimar in Smash Bros Brawl so when he noticed me playing something that looked like Olimar, he asked if he could join me. So we started a new save file and took turns playing each game day. After we figured out the basics, started gathering food to survive, and found the other characters in the game, we were having so much fun that any time we were both together we would rush home to play. It was a great game to share across experience levels, since each stage had multiple things to collect, some much harder than others. This gave my 6 year-old the opportunity to feel like he was helping us accomplish our goals (because he was) and also gave me a good challenge when it came to certain bosses or puzzles. After about a month, we were finally able to finish the game together. Even though we'd beaten other games together before, this one felt significant in that it was like we had completed an adventure and not just a game. Mario is fun and has its place in our home, but Pikmin just felt a little more special to both of us I think. At one point, my son was so involved in the game that he looked like he was going to cry. When I asked him why, he said something along the lines of "all those Pikmin that don't make it home at night keep dying. We need to try harder to save them dad!" He had let himself get lost in the world to the point that it was causing him distress. We had a long talk about it and contemplated stopping, but ultimately decided that we should try and finish it so he could have some closure. We just had to be a little more careful in getting all of our Pikmin back to their pods before the day ended Wink

2. Smash Bros Series - N64/GCN/Wii/3DS/Wii U

Running a store and having a second full-time job has left me with significantly less gaming time that I've been used to for the last several years. Lots of the time that I do get to play is with others these days. The Smash Bros. series is something that nearly everybody I know enjoys and wants to play semi-competitively. As a result, I've been able to promote it through my store and hold many different events around it. It's been such a great experience to start building this community from nearly scratch and getting people of all ages and skill levels to come out for the evening to play games together.

Since the game is very eclectic, I try to be this way as well when planning my events. We'll go from the N64 game with items on and random stage selection to hardcore tournament rules like Melee with 4 stock and a timer to a 2vs2vs2vs2 giant Team Battle on the Wii U game. People are drawn to this game in its various forms and I'm happy to accommodate them. Even though I've yet to win one of these events, I do place quite well in them and have been slowly and steadily climbing the ranks. The Wii U and 3DS versions are my favorite yet and I've been putting much more personal time into each in the hopes of eventually being able to rise up and win against some very stiff competition.

1. Mega Man X Series - SNES/PS/PS2

If you know my gaming tastes at all, this should not be a surprise. However, let me elaborate because it's probably not what you'd expect. Early in the year when the store was relatively new, I had a customer come in who was trading in a lot of REALLY fantastic stuff. We got to talking and it turned out that when he was quite young, a friend and he opened a store much like mine and a lot of the stuff he was bringing in was leftover from those days. After the 3rd time he came in, we got to talking about some of our favorites and it turned out that we were both big Mega Man fans. We set up a time and I went over to his home. Both of us, along with another of his friends, played through Mega Man 3 and had a great time doing so. While talking that evening, we discovered that both of us had only played the first few Mega Man X games and were curious to see what the rest of them had to offer. We came up with the idea of playing through all 8 of them chronologically each Thursday evening over the course of the next few months.

We started with X and finished it in a couple hours as it was the one we were both familiar with. Next Thursday, we played through X2 and finished it in 3-3.5 hours. The following Thursday we knocked off X3 in about 4-4.5 hours. Once we got to X4 we were out of familiar territory and had to rely on saves to finish the game the following week. This was the case for the rest of the games. Each one seemingly took us longer and longer to finish. This gave us a lot of time to talk while replaying harder levels and while each conversation often started with Mega Man, they were ending up in more personal territory.

Fast forward to last week and my wife, son, and I are at his house along with a couple dozen other friends all playing board games and celebrating nothing in particular. My new friend has helped us out personally, socially, and professionally, and we've gone in together financially on a large purchase. This person has quickly become one of the most important friends we've ever had and I'm proud to save it all started with Mega Man Smiley

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Did you try the 3DS release of NES Remix? If so, what did you think of it?
I havnt had a chance to play the handheld version yet. Are they much different?
@Crabmaster2000: I haven't tried either of them yet, I'm still hesitant to give them a go. I'm also waiting for another buy-2-get-1 sale to hit at one of the major retailers. So I'm cheap, too.
Nice to see you enjoying handheld games!
Great list Crabby! I was most pleased to hear about your experience playing Pikmin with your son. As you know, my kids are getting old enough to enjoy video games now and my daughter really loves her DS. We shared a really great moment yesterday after hooking up the PS3 for the first time and popping in DuckTales: Remastered. This was a perfect game for them to enjoy watching and I've been eagerly waiting for them to ask to play (other than using controllers that aren't plugged in). My son actually asked to play Shadow of the Colossus yesterday and spent about a half hour riding on the horse and exploring. Such a great feeling as a parent.
@singlebanana: My son and I had a great time playing Duck Tales as well! He was actually able to make it all the way to the final fight without my assistance! Was really cool.

Your son has fantastic taste already!
Loved the story over friendships and Mega Man.  I met one of my childhood friends over Mega Man 3.  So cool when video games are the catalyst for close relationships. Smiley  It's great to hear so many personal stories over these; I can relate to most of the games too. 

I've been a fan of the WipEout series since the first, and while there have been ups and downs (like any series) most are very solid.  I think WipEout XL is still the best, followed by 3 and then 2048.  Incidentally, since I know you are like me in vastly preferring physical copies, the PS3 equivalent of 2048 was download-only in region 1, but saw a disc release in a few other territories:

My import copy is all in English, and is my preferred way to play (I got stuck on the Vita version trying to get that tiny analogue stick to move with the speed and sensitivity required on the later tracks, and didn't have as hard of a time on the Dual Shock 3.)

Thanks for the nice write-up!

I find your lack of Playstation games disturbing... Though, I guess I will admit, Playstation's releases in 2014 were, how we say... awful. But still, Stick of Truth man! Come oooon, that's gotta crack the 10 for sure! I think for 2015, I'll have to ram a bunch of Playstation games down your throat. 2015 the year of Playstation!
#5 and #1 spot went to Playstation games!!

Stick of Truth is definitely an honorable mention though.

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