The Top 10 Games I Played in 2014

TopGames2014In keeping with tradition, I’m going to forego writing a best-of list, just like I forgot to do in 2012. Scratch that, I mean I’m going to simply order these games alphabetically instead of ordering them. This list is very Wii U heavy, which makes sense as I purchased the system shortly after Mario Kart 8 released. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back in the sense that there were plenty of titles available and coming soon that I wanted to play. And of course, this list is diverse with older games as I usually don’t play many new titles. In that regard, this list is unlike any other I’ve constructed.

Bayonetta 2 – Now this is a video game. Platinum Games, Sega, and  Nintendo expanded upon the formula of the original by blowing it out of the water. This was easily the most fun I had playing a game by myself this year.

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence – I’ve been a big fan of the series since playing Aria of Sorrow but this was my first foray into a 3D entry. I did’t think the game was outstanding, but the focus Koji Igarashi and his team had was. An enjoyable action game.

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem – The same can be said for this game – that I didn’t find it to be outstanding. It just hasn’t seemed to age super well. Still, this was a fun game to play through with a friend and I’m glad to finally check it off my backlog.

Gyruss – With this game, my friend and I had a great high-score competition going that stretched from late 2013 into early 2014. We had long breaks in between, but the rivalry was fierce. The game and our rivalry was a great example of the Golden Age of Arcade Games.

Mario Kart 8 – This was the game that pushed me over the edge on the Wii U and what a game! If it’s not my favorite in the series, it’s easily #2, right behind Double Dash. A great selection of courses, great DLC, and solid online wooed me in the early days with my new system.

New Super Luigi U – This was another early adoption title that wooed me. I played through the entirety of this in co-op, and it was such a pleasurable experience. A great blend of traditionally designed platforming stages, with super tough requirements, and fun implementation of the Wii U Gamepad.

Pokémon Emerald – I limited myself to one Pokémon game, so despite the more traditional Platinum, HeartGold and the less traditional XD: Gale of Darkness, Battle Revolution, Ranch, and Trozei, I chose this. Having skipped this game in its time, I was excited to revisit Hoenn and see the things I missed out on.

Scribblenauts: Unlimited – My friend and I haven’t beaten this game. We’re maybe halfway through it. Still, the amount of fun we had brainstorming ridiculous creations was probably the most fun I had with a video game all year. Highly recommended.

Super Mario Bros. – I mean, come on. This game is legendary. I finally beat it this year after many attempts and the assistance of my friend. What a sense of accomplishment afterwards! Talk about checking something off of a backlog, this is more like a bucket list item!

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U – What a stupid name. Still, this is such a highly refined, balanced game with enough content to keep me content for years. Rest assured, I will play this game until its successor comes out and it will be in the mulitplayer lineup that long too.

Random Game #31 – Castlevania [NES]

Castlevania

When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

I can still recall the garage sale I got my first NES, this game, and about a dozen-and-a-half others including Contra, Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda. I was already interested in vintage video games having read Tips & Tricks for a while at this point, marveling at the Collector’s Corner section mostly. To find all these goodies, and for practically nothing, I was ecstatic. I actually haven’t played this game too much, which is a shock considering I’m such a fan of the more modern releases. It’s a very difficult game and I can only recall getting to the third or fourth section of the castle. The gameplay was solid however and the soundtrack is an undeniable classic. Something I need to play more of for sure.

Castlevania was developed and published by Konami. It was first released on the Famicom Disk System in Japan on September 26, 1986. Its first release in North America was on the NES on May 1, 1987. It was later ported to the Game Boy Advance as part of the Classic NES series. It has also been ported to all of Nintendo’s Virtual Console services (Wii, Wii U, and 3DS – what a mess, needs consolidation!).

Random Game #30 – Ridge Racer V [PlayStation 2]

Ridge Racer V

When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

There was a time when it wasn’t a PlayStation launch without a Ridge Racer game. The series’ peak was arguably confined to the era of the first PlayStation, but this game is also very well regarded. The only games in the series I’ve spent a great deal of time with are this game’s predecessor and successor. I have played this game maybe once. I’m interested to play it more but I don’t believe there’s a ton to do. This was a launch title for the PlayStation 2 and I would bet the development was constrained due to the impending launch of the system. I still get a kick out of reading OPM and PSM during this game’s preview cycle and reading the writers’ praise for the graphics though.

Ridge Racer V was developed and published by Namco. It was available for the PlayStation 2’s launch in all three major video game markets, which means it was available in North America on October 26, 2000. One cool unlockable is the ability to play as Pac-Man and his ghost enemies.

Random Game #29 – Deep Labyrinth [Nintendo DS]

Deep Labyrinth

When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

This is a fairly recent addition to my collection. During one of the more recent buy 2, get 1 free promotions at Vintage Stock, I acquired this game. I have yet to play it, and I’m doubtful that I’ll complete it once I check it out. It’s an old-school first-person dungeon crawling RPG which I can dig, but I’m unsure of the game’s quality. The game is sitting at 55% on GameRankings, and even taking into account that RPGs generally don’t fare too well with western critics, that’s low. However, Ii do enjoy making graph paper maps and this game may bring out that need and other minor OCD tendencies.

Deep Labyrinth was developed by Interactive Brains and originally released as a mobile game in Japan on December 1, 2004. They ported it to the Nintendo DS and it was published by Atlus in North America on August 15, 2006. It has some revered individuals behind it according to Wikipedia; namely, the script writer behind many Square classics Masato Kato and the prolific composer Yasunori Mitsuda.

Random Game #28 – Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearer [Wii]

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles The Crystal Bearers

When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

I’m drawing on a blank on where and when I acquire this game. I’ve played this game with a friend as it has limited co-op functionality. We played for about an hour, so we didn’t complete the game or anything, but what we experienced was enough to make me want to revisit it. Rather than a traditional Final Fantasy RPG system, or a Crystal Chronicles action-RPG system, this game was an action-adventure affair. I ran around as the player-character and interacted with a variety of objects, inspecting them and using them to fight enemies. My friend could do the same. There seemed to be a lot of diversity in the gameplay, a well-presented story, and colorful graphics and designs. A game I’ll have to revisit.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers was developed and published by Square Enix. It was released for the Wii in North America on December 26, 2009.

Random Game #27 – The Legend of Heroes III: Song of the Ocean [PlayStation Portable]

The Legend of Heroes III Song of the Ocean

When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

I want to say I purchased this game this year, although it may have been late 2013. My PSP collection has seriously expanded as GameStop shifted towards discontinuing the platform in the majority of their stores. Anyway, being a fan of JRPGs I’ve always been interested in this series but never took the plunge. I knew these games were remakes from a much older line of games, but reading about the series is a good refresher on just how many games remained exclusive to Japan in the late 1980s/early 1990s. This is actually the fifth game in the series, and the third in a trilogy. I haven’t played it and while I’d like to, I can’t say when I will.

The Legend of Heroes III: Song of the Ocean was originally developed and published by Nihon Falcom and released for the PC on December 9, 1999, exclusively in Japan. It finally reached North America as a PSP remake. This version was developed by Microvision and published by Namco Bandai Games on January 23, 2007.

Album Review: Extreme – Pornografitti [1990]

Extreme - Pornografitti

So when we spent the weekend with her family in Moore, Jenny, her family and I went thrift store shopping. We visited a single Goodwill as we came to realize our desired destination was closed on Saturdays. I spent my time scouring the books, albums, and CDs – too much time actually. I saw a couple of video games in the glass cases around the cash register, but surely they had more. I figured they’d be with the other various media I was sifting through, but there was an electronics section that I didn’t examine. Regardless, I walked away with a few items – one of them being the CD Pornografitti by the 1980s/1990s funk metal band Extreme.

At the time, I was being awfully pretentious and was very skeptical of its quality. I’d never heard of the group and I mean, it’s an album called Pornografitti, how great can it be? It wasn’t until our drive home Sunday evening that I was given the opportunity to listen to it. As Jenny began falling asleep in the passenger’s seat, I began rocking out to the very Van Halen riffs. Strong Bad would have no qualms with this music. The first handful of songs were quite lengthy – averaging five minutes a piece – and they were enjoyable. With titles like “When I’m President” and “Get the Funk Out” it was easy to tell these guys were having a good time. I didn’t take them too seriously and it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I appreciated it. Then “More Than Words” came on.

You know, that song. I was baffled. I figured “Okay, every metal album in the 1980s and early 1990s had to have a ballad and they must’ve just covered this song.” Then I looked it up real quick (don’t do this while driving folks) and realized “Holy shit, they did perform this song” and what’s more, they wrote it too! This song topped the Billboard charts; talk about a newfound respect! I continued listening as the night came on and the subsequent tracks returned to the band’s hair metal roots. It was all standard fare until “When I First Kissed You” came on and I questioned the band and the album again.

This song was not a mega-popular single or a single at all. Instead it was a piano-centric crooner song not unlike something Frank Sinatra would perform. It didn’t have that kind of glamour or sensuality, but it helped to portray the band’s broad interests and talents. Again, written by them – not simply a cover. In fact, all of the songs were written by Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettencourt – the lead vocalist and guitarist respectively, although they handled other duties as well. So, as we’re nearing our destination, the songs return once more to the band’s standard fare. Until the final track: “Hole Hearted.”

I thought to myself “Are you kidding me!?” No way did they also do this but sure enough, written and performed by the group. I hear these two singles practically every day at work, when Christmas music isn’t playing that is. I’ve heard them so much just growing up that their lyrics and music are hard to forget. They’re not songs I would’ve actively sought out on iTunes or anything, but I’m glad to have broadened my horizons to the group and associated the two in my head.

That’s one of the great things about thrift store shopping. Sometimes you find surprises and sometimes you surprise yourself. I was prepared to have a laugh and write this album off and by proxy, the band. Instead, I found a group of optimistic hard rockers who had the talents to write diverse songs, be them generic hair metal, piano-centric croons, or heartfelt broad-based singles. If anything, they had fun at the time and someone’s still able to enjoy their music 24 years later courtesy of a thrift store. But I still didn’t find any other video games.