We come to the end of the year celebrating life, believing in the bright hopes of next year, and driving to Taco Bell in the bitter cold. I did one of those things earlier today. With the end of the year comes the expected end of the year awards, and luckily, I have been keeping public weekly logs of what I played. I’m going to start with the statistical awards, based upon the quantifiable aspects of keeping up the update all year.
Game I Played the Most this Year:
NBA 2K14 (X360): Eleven Appearances
2K14 was purchased back in March, and led to eleven of the most frustrating weeks of my life. I would never say I was ever good at this game, even against fairly easy AI. Thus, I never really enjoyed it, and I trudged through loss after loss until I finally gave up and bought the version on the XBOX One. Very rarely have I wanted to be good at a game so badly that I would play it joylessly for eleven weeks, but I paid the full 60 dollar price for it and I really wanted to be good at an NBA game. Plus, the playoffs were going on for most of the time that I had it, so I could only think about basketball.
This game’s reign ended in the most depressing of ways for any game – obsolescence. I bought the XBOX One version (a far better-feeling game of basketball, by the way) and I never went back to the 360 game. It still sits in my stack of 360 games, where it has sat since July. It may never move.
Longest Streak of Weeks Played
TIE: NBA 2K14 (X360) and NBA 2K15 (XBONE): Six Straight Weeks
The NBA season consists of 82 games and generally takes forever, so I don’t have a problem with finding like an hour of my time three or four times each week to enjoy or struggle through a game of top-notch basketball action.
Had I counted the mobile game Threes!, it would have taken this award for sure, I really ‘can’t think of a day between March and June in which I didn’t play at least a couple of rounds of that game. Also to be mentioned, though left off as it isn’t quite in the spirit of the Monday Update, is Windows 8 Solitaire, which I played every day at an undisclosed location probably for at least 2 months.
Another World (VITA): 652 Words
I looked back at this and I’m actually not too surprised I could write this much on a game like this. Generally, my longest entries come from the first or second week of me playing those games. I consider those entries to be the general reviews of the games before actual updates start. Another World deserved all 652 of those words particularly because I played Heart of Darkness earlier in the year, and I was fascinated by its feeling of weakness and the emphasis on puzzle solving, as well as the artistic graphical style. Though the rerelease was the only aspect of it released this year, I was still floored by how good it looks and how good of a game it is. I even did a presentation on the work of programmer Eric Chahi for a class this year (and I still don’t know how I managed to do so).
Wario Land 4 (GBA): 3 Words
and indeed it was good.
So thus ends the first half of the awards. Now, my own opinion and beliefs upon the games I played this year.
Best Game I Finished this Year
I think I only finished like 5 games total this year. Only one of them made a heavy emotional connection to me. This game was my favorite because it tells a story of growing up and looking back via the medium of gaming. Everything kept building upon itself, where tactics learned to solve puzzles early on are fleshed out later, and reminders of the stickers and pictures taken of the past keep coming back, up to a climactic ending which was less exciting and more fulfilling. The ending was like coming back home after a semester away. You’re constantly reflecting and learning, and by the end, you’re finally there, and you’ve grown.
So it came out last year, but it would be my game of the year for last year
Worst Game I Played this Year
Three Stooges (NES)
ahhhh Wise Guy eh? A woobwoobwoobwoobwoobwoob, clams or something, there’s a scene where you throw pies
Best Console of the Year
Same as every year. MechAssault and Madden 2003 are forever GOTYs
Best Games of the Year
I’m gonna count down from 5 here. I did play some games and I’m also going to count re-releases because hot damn did I not play that many games released this year.
5. Halo: Master Chief Collection (XBONE)
Alright, I get it. The matchmaking is broken. But let’s say for a second that I wasn’t going to play the online multiplayer anyway and I was really looking to play my favorite 2 Halo games in HD on my new console. At least after I bought the game, that aspect worked pretty well.
4. Freedom Planet (PC)
I love Sonic CD and this is like that but with more fun additions and mechanics. It’s like the natural progression of the 2D Sonic games if they kept getting better in a different way than the direction that Sonic 3 took. Likable new characters don’t hurt, either.
3. NBA 2K15 (XBONE)
You know those 1-Star Steam reviews left by players with hundreds of hours logged on a certain game? This is like that. The more time you spend with anything, the more its flaws become apparent. I talked constantly about these flaws as the year progressed, so here are, for a change of pace, the high points of NBA 2K15:
When it comes down to the final minute of a basketball game, and it can go either way, there’s a certain gravity that can be felt throughout the arena. 2K14 lacked that, but 2K15 has it. Everything seems more locked in, more dynamic like a real game of basketball. There’s a different feeling for a possession midway through the second quarter and a possession at the end of the game, and you can feel it this year.
Dunking on fools is vastly improved, too. People talk about KJ over Hakeem and John Starks over Horace Grant & MJ more than they talk about Patrick Ewing dunking on however many people he dunked on because a guard dunking on a center or Power Forward has a narrative and changes the atmosphere of a game. Last year, dunks didn’t change much in terms of atmosphere, but I can feel it more this year. You can feel that “air being let out of the building” that Tracy McGrady described after he dunked on Shawn Bradley.
There are many other reasons why this is an excellent game, but I don’t think it really competes with the next two
2. Another World: 20th Anniversary (VITA)
I know that this was just the Vita release which came out this year, but it still came out this year. I’ve written so much on this game already in this post and back in July that I can’t write that much more and not repeat myself. I wish I had tried it earlier.
1. Trials Fusion (XBONE)
Sometime back in maybe 2010 or so, I got the idea into my head that the Trials series was mindless and pointless, and that I’d never play it, no matter how much I enjoyed the demo of Trials HD. Sometime back in July of 2014, I was standing in the Microsoft Store at the local mall, looking for at least 3 games to try on my new XBOX One. I chose Wolfenstein (a game which I think could be next year’s Tearaway of the year, a game from the last year that I play through in January), NBA Live 14 (morbid curiosity), and Trials, because it was 20 dollars off.
Trials ended up being the game that defined my choices of games in 2014. If I messed up, I could just go back to the latest checkpoint. Even if I only won a bronze medal, I would succeed if I could just get to the end of the course, then work up from there. There were ridiculous, but fun easter eggs, the announcers gave the game a fun atmosphere, sort of like more clumsy versions of Portal’s GLaDOS. The depiction of the future was so much different from most modern depictions of the future, it’s fun and exciting, not dystopian like so many other forms of entertainment (aside from has shown. I appreciate dystopia, but a little optimism, even in my weird motorcycle game is much appreciated.
Basically, 2014 was the year that I learned more about what I wanted. In some cases, like Tearaway, I wanted a game to make me react emotionally. In others, like Trials, I wanted to have fun and race someone up a mountain on a bicycle, losing only because my opponent flew further on a bailout.
Super Smash Bros. (3DS): It’s pretty good, but I’m just not that into Smash Bros. I guess
Mario Kart 8 (WiiU): I don’t own my own copy of this game, and I feel like if I did, I might get better acquainted with it and it could possibly make the Top 5. I just have too many issues with it and too little experience.
reProgram (PC/Twine): I followed @sokareemie on Twitter earlier this year and I played her Twine title reProgram on my iPad at 5:30 in the morning one Sunday morning. I don’t know if that atmosphere helped the intended experience but it helped my own. Anyway, I was introduced to Twine late last December and I’ve been really impressed by how well a developer (artist? I don’t know what word to use in a relatively new thing like this but I’ll figure it out) can deliver a personal story through this medium. I won’t spoil any of it, but you can Play it here
Wolfenstein: The New Order (XBONE): I’m gonna finish this game within the next few weeks, and a lot of people I respect have said some really nice things about it.