It’s been a bad year for games, there’s no denying it, between broken, glitchy, messy games released by AAA companies, games that were hyped up beyond anything we have ever seen before in the industry, only to ultimately flop, not in the sales department, but in the quality department. Games were released this year that were just not… FUN. 2014 will also be known as the year of the re-release. 2014 did not have me excited about gaming!
What it DID make me do, is visit lesser known games from years past, games I have missed out on, and while this list does contain games from 2014, it also contains more retro titles, from years past. This is NOT a “Top 10 games of 2014” list. This is a “Top 10 games I enjoyed more than others in 2014” list…. just to be clear!
#10 Alien Soldier – 1995
Made by Treasure, the same studio between such games as IKARUGA, Mischief Makers, and one of my all time favorite games, Gunstar Heroes, you play as a Birdman. With guns. Boasting 25 stages, 31 bosses, this is a HARD game. 25 stages sounds easy, broken down into a platforming section and a boss or two at the end. You couldn’t be more wrong. One stage can last about 20 seconds to 2 minutes depending on how safe you want to be, ending with different bosses that require fast movement, fast thinking, and game mechanics that you will need to hone in order to complete.
This game literally pushed the limits of the Mega Drive in 1995, with amazing graphics and sounds that only Treasure were capable of, and it stands as probably their finest work to date. The only bad part of this, if you’re a collector, at least in Europe, a copy of the game is incredibly rare & expensive to come across, but, good for us, a cheap copy can be picked up on Steam for less than Four Euro.
#9 Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric – 2014
Broken. Boring. Lacking in the Graphics department. Slow. Worst Sonic game? Absolutely. The game is sitting on a 32/100 on Metacritic. This game should not have been released. So why is it here? Read back. It’s broken. And that’s what makes it not good, but FUN. When you play the game as intended, without (intentionally) using one of the games many glitches, it’s without a doubt the worst game of 2014. But once you use the glitches to bypass half the game, or just use them for amusement, it becomes fun. “That’s a nice door, time for me to use Knuckles infinite jump to get over it”. “This room takes 10 minutes. Lets clip through this wall”. It’s how dumb this game is, that makes it fun. Throw in some genuinely good script, and you’ll find yourself laughing under your facepalm. I’d only recommend buying this game if you see it for €20 or less.
#8 Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed – 2012
Mario Kart rip off? Sure, why not? Many a franchise & company have tried this formula and succeeded. A little background, as you can tell by the first two entries here, I grew up a SEGA kid, so when I got this game back in the Halloween Steam Sales, I was ecstatic to see the roster, featuring such icons as Sonic, Alex Kidd, AiAi, Ulala, Nights, and Wreck-it Ralph. Wait, Ralph is here? Yes. Yes he is. As is Team Fortress, DON’T QUESTION, JUST EMBRACE.
Why did I enjoy this? Not only playing as my icons as a kid, the one thing I hate most about Mario Kart, is rubberbanding. The mechanic of coming from last to first place thanks to the item distribution. Is it better than Mario Kart? In my personal opinion, it’s debatable but regardless it’s a great kart racer, and with tracks from SEGA classics, allowing you to race in a format similar-but-not-identical to Diddy Kong Racing, think mid race car transformations into planes & hovercrafts, and you have yourself a fun Mario Kart substitute.
#7 Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition – 2014
A fantastic sandbox game set in a semi true to life version of Hong Kong, originally released in 2012 for Xbox 360, PS3 & PC has been remade into a fantastic sandbox game set in a semi true to life version of Hong Kong released in 2014 for Xbox One, PS4 & PC! There is no wrong this game can do, a gripping, interesting, well written story told by characters you genuinely care about. This is basically a more arcadey version of Grand Theft Auto, with less gunplay, more focused on Kung-Fu combat, with Arkham style counters. Also, jumping from one car to another blazing down the motorway will never get old. The definitive edition also comes with all the DLC built in that would be rather expensive if you were to buy the original Sleeping Dogs & DLC separately.
#6 One Finger Death Punch – 2013/2014
It’s as it says.
You play this game using one finger. It’s a stick figure over the top stylish as hell Kung-Fu beat-em-up. Waves and waves of enemies coming from your left and right, click your mouse button to punch them, break their legs, decapitate them, PUNCH THEIR HEART OUT FROM THEIR CHEST. Sound boring? TRY LIGHTSABER BATTLES. Game too slow? Crank that sucker up to 200% speed. This game literally ate my time, or punched it, I really couldn’t care either, because this game is pure awesome!
#5 Sonic: Lost World – 2013
Last Sonic game, I swear. This game is interesting. It’s colourful, it’s harder then other Sonic games, it’s diverse, it has a stellar soundtrack. It’s a great game in some aspects. But the engine itself is what makes it fun. Using the environment to dodge an oncoming boulder by walking left, tilting the entire level to make the boulder shift planes? Genius. This is the Sonic game people wanted, albeit with a different design. You can go fast, it has challenging platforming sections, good, linear level design, and best of all, no stupid side characters. And lets not forget that awesome rails only level in Volcano Zone. Bliss. You can pick this game up cheap on eBay now, and I’d definitely give it a look.
#4 I Wanna Kill The Kamilia 3 – 2013
First things first. I have not beaten this game! I would not only say this is a challenging game, I would say this is the hardest game ever made. Not even a retail game, this is a download only title, and is a spin-off to the now well known “I Wanna Be The Guy”. This game is one hit, and you’re dead. No excuses. Not only that, but literally hundreds of spikes per screen are there to stop you.
I have seen people die in this game over twenty thousand times, and beat stage 3. There are 8 stages. Think about that. Why is it good? Call me insane, but the level design, simple graphics, music (All copyrighted, or TouHou), are all stellar. Getting by that screen that has haunted you for days on end is an achievement in itself. It gives you a sense of accomplishment I’ve never felt in a video game before. It’s a good game. It’s a great game. It’s going to kick your ass!
#3 Wings of Vi – 2011/2014
Recently released on Steam, by a one man development team, Wings of Vi is a great throwback to the retro rage platformers of old. Beautiful graphics inspired by the SNES era of games. The reason I am willing to put this on the list is because I know the developer, he has literally poured all his time into this game, and the effort he put into this game shows. Amazing platforming, challenging, yet fair enough for you, the player to acknowledge that you messed up. With imaginative weapons, well designed enemies, stellar, exciting boss battles, a fantastic soundtrack, and even character customization, Wings of Vi is hands down my favorite platformer of the year.
#2 Cloudbuilt – 2014
If there’s one thing I like, it’s fast games. If there’s another, it’s graphically stunning games. Throw them together and you get Cloudbuilt. A very solid third person high speed, parkour platformer where precision is key to success. This game took my breath away. It’s visually striking pencil stroke art style stands out to me, as an anime lover. As a huge fan of Mirrors Edge, the wall jumping made me feel something I haven’t felt in years.
Scaling vertical tunnels, sliding down debris to make a 100 foot jump, to catch onto the side of a wall to boost run to get to the next floating platform… The feeling is something special, something that games nowadays in my opinion, simply lack. This game captures the feelings of joy, the game grasps you with it’s nameless character who may or may not be dead, attempting to relive your memories in this kingdom of cloud.
#1 Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc // Goodbye Despair – 2010/2011 & 2013/2014
Even though the rest of the games on this list are good in their own rights, not including Sonic Boom, they made me play for a couple of hours and then reminded me that I had more important things to do. With Danganronpa, I couldn’t put either of them down. I was literally so enthralled by these games, sleep became an afterthought.
The story for these games were so well written, the gameplay was simplified, live your life, person dies, investigate how it was caused, do a class trial, find the murderer, rinse & repeat. But never has a visual novel grasped my attention and said “PLAY ME” like Danganronpa has. The story, I can’t put enough praise on, it’s so masterfully written, I want to hear every word that every character has to say. I am ok with you repeating yourself, because I am so engrossed by this game, this… cartridge.
You will feel sadness, guilt and despair because that’s what the games want. They want to make you feel sad and they do it so well, between the story, the art and music, a lethal trio! These two games are without a doubt the best games I have played in 2014, and with the recent rise in popularity of Danganronpa, I can only help but smile at the people I see cosplaying, talking about, or playing Danganronpa. Why?
Because this is a franchise that legitimately deserves it.