Gaming News

2014 Retrospective


Introduction

I did this 2007 Retrospective (other related links inside) last week – as 2007 was the first full year after the launch of two seventh generation consoles, I thought it’d be interesting to do it with the eighth generation as well. As mentioned in the previous post, 2021 parallels 2014 (and 2007) to some degree – with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One officially launching in November 2013 and the Wii U launching in November 2012, 2014 was the first full calendar year after the launch of two major consoles.

I’m going to do a write-up for most of the notable games released in 2014, though some will be left out due to the 40,000 character limit. The 2014 window is based on North American release dates.


Indie Games, Kickstarter, Early Access, and Twitch and Twitch Plays Pokemon

2014 featured a number of high-quality indie games: Shovel Knight, Five Nights at Freddy’s, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, etc. This was at the point where so many indie games started to release that it was difficult to keep track of them all. In previous years Valve was a lot more selective about what went on their platform, but by 2014 the floodgates had opened, and 1771 new games were released on the platform, while just the year prior only 565 new games had released on the platform (and in 2020, there were 10,263!). Not to mention, a lot more indie games started coming to eighth generation hardware compared to the previous generation, though a lot of these titles came to consoles long after their initial Steam release.

Kickstarter was also becoming a big thing around this time – Kickstarter first launched in 2009, and by 2014 saw a number of hit games that were crowd-funded on the platform – Shovel Knight, Divinity: Original Sin, Freedom Planet, Wasteland 2, Broken Age: Part 1, etc. Early Access on Steam was launched in 2013, with the intention to allow players to experience games before their official 1.0 launch and give feedback.

Twitch had launched in public beta in June 2011, and by February 2014 was considered the fourth largest source of peak Internet traffic in the United States. February 2014 was when the legendary “Twitch Plays Pokemon” social experiment occurred – it was a playthrough of Pokemon Red controlled by users inputting their desired button inputs in chat. An AI program would register the button inputs in sequential order. The concept was developed by an anonymous Australian programmer. It took 16.4 days to complete and featured 658,000 participants and 36 million total views. This inspired other Twitch Plays variants, and Pokemon Crystal was put up as the next Twitch Plays game on the channel the day after Pokemon Red was completed.

Amazon acquired Twitch in August 2014. Twitch – as well as Let’s Play channels – have become very important to players and developers alike, and it’s allowed small time indie developers to see their games attain a wider audience. Five Nights at Freddy’s is an early example of an indie game popularized on Twitch and Let’s Play channels. PewDiePie’s Let’s Play of Skate (2010) in 2014 also prompted EA to print more copies of the game. Built-in video recording on the PS4 and XBO also allowed users to more easily share footage of gameplay.


Toys-to-Life, Microtransactions and Free to Play Games, and Ports/Remasters

Toys-to-life were a bigger thing in the mid-2010s, with Disney Infinity 2.0, Skylanders: Swap Force, and the introduction of Amiibo all releasing in 2014, with Lego Dimensions releasing in 2015. The first Skylanders game from 2011 gave rise to the toys-to-life gimmick that ultimately culminated in other major companies trying to mimic its success, though toys-to-life have since tapered off in recent years. That said, Nintendo is still releasing new Amiibo figurines on a fairly regular basis.

Microtransactions and free to play games were also making their way into PC and console games in greater numbers around this time, with Hearthstone being the most notable game released in 2014 that was free to play and included microtransactions. The trend of microtransactions really began earlier in the decade – for context, Team Fortress 2 – first released in 2007 – dropped its $20 price tag and went free to play in 2011, and RuneScape (2001) first introduced microtransactions in 2012. Though microtransactions existed in games even earlier than 2011, they did not have a pervasive presence in AA/AAA games like they do now.

This year was also dominated by ports and remasters. Many of the top scoring games – like Grand Theft Auto V, Diablo III, and Rayman Legends – were ports of seventh generation games to eighth generation platforms. A big part of this was in part due to the lack of backwards compatibility on the PS4 and limited backwards compatibility of the XBO. To be clear, I won’t be talking about any ports or remasters released in 2014, unless it is a full-fledged remake like Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, or a substantial collection like Halo: The Master Chief Collection.


Ouya and Virtual Reality

In addition to the standard set of consoles from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, the Ouya and Oculus Rift Development Kit 1 also released in 2013, with Development Kit 2 releasing in 2014. The Ouya was a Kickstarter-backed cloud streaming service that ultimately failed to take off, selling only 200,000 units in total and being discontinued in 2015.

The Kickstarter-backed Oculus Rift would see much greater success and would kickstart the modern Virtual Reality scene. Oculus was purchased by Facebook for $2 billion in March 2014. 2014 would later see several VR releases and announcements: Sony announced “Project Morpheus,” which would be their own VR headset and would eventually release in October 2016. Samsung announced the Samsung Gear VR. Google released their cardboard DIY stereoscopic viewer for smartphones. Commercially available VR headsets would trickle out throughout the years, with the Oculus Rift releasing for commercial use in March 2016 and Sony’s PlayStation VR releasing October 2016.


Expansion Packs/DLCs from Games Released in Previous Years

This list will not include games released in 2014 that received DLC the same year.

  1. World of Warcraft – Warlords of Draenor
  2. Diablo III – Reaper of Souls
  3. The Last of Us – Left Behind
  4. Street Fighter IV – Ultra
  5. The Binding of Isaac – Rebirth
  6. BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode Two
  7. Europa Universalis IV – Conquest of Paradise & Wealth of Nations
  8. Company of Heroes 2 – Ardennes Assault
  9. TowerFall – Ascension
  10. Killzone: Shadow Fall – Intercept

Multiplatform Games

  • Dark Souls II – Dark Souls II is probably the most divisive game in the Souls fandom, and the only SekiSoulsBorne game not to be directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki. However, with critics the game scored actually slightly better than both Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls before it (91% versus 89% for the other two). Dark Souls II was controversial for its significant downgrade of graphics shown in pre-release footage versus the final product, plus technical issues in the PC version of the game. The chief complaint was that the world didn’t feel connected – the levels were more segmented, and the ability to warp to any bonfire from the beginning ruined the prospect of interconnectivity. Three DLCs were released that same summer, and reception among fans was much more positive than it was with the base game. While initially released only for PS3, X360, and PC in 2014, PS4 and XBO remasters were released the following year.

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition – Inquisition was actually intended to be the second game in the series rather than the third, but looking to cash in quick on the success of Dragon Age: Origins, publisher EA forced BioWare to ham out Dragon Age II in only 14 to 16 months – a similar scenario happened with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II. Inquisition was a large-scale RPG more akin to the original than the controversial second game. The game featured a semi-open world, dialogue choices, and a choice between three classes of characters. Like many games around this time, it featured a tacked-on online mode for up to four players.

  • Destiny – Destiny was the first new IP from Bungie since 2001’s Halo. Shortly after the release of Halo: Reach in 2010, Bungie went to work on a new IP. Under agreement with publisher Activision, the development of this new IP would be owned by Bungie and not Activision. Although originally slated for a September 2013 release, Destiny would be delayed a whole year to restructure the game around a more open-ended approach. Destiny received a 75%-76% average depending on platform, with criticism aimed at the bare-bones story and grindy and repetitive post-game content. Future DLC and updates eventually expanded the game, and the sequel was much better received, though the first game’s initial launch in 2014 failed to live up to most people’s expectations.

  • Titanfall – Titanfall was the first game from Respawn Studios, a studio composed of former Infinity Ward (Call of Duty) co-founders and other staff after both co-founders were fired by Activision, which was reportedly a way to deny them their bonuses and the creative control they were seeking. Several lawsuits followed, and Respawn Studios was formed soon after the firing, who then partnered with publisher EA. Rather than using market research to dictate the direction of the game like many big companies, Respawn Studios instead focused on open collaboration and ideas the team found exciting to eventually come up with the concept and core mechanics behind what would later become Titanfall. Titanfall combined parkour, mechs, and AI units in an online multiplayer game. Unlike its successor, Titanfall had no real single player campaign – just a few missions that helped the player learn the mechanics of the game.

  • Far Cry 4 – With the third game releasing in 2012 and Blood Dragon in 2013, Far Cry at this point became one of Ubisoft’s biggest series. Far Cry 4 followed a similar structure as the previous mainline game, with the key differences being the inclusion of online co-op in the campaign and the more vertical and mountainous environment of Nepal. Far Cry 4 was one of the few games to make use of the DualShock 4’s touchpad, which was used as a weapon wheel.

  • Watch Dogs – Watch Dogs received a tremendous amount of hype when it was first revealed at E3 2012. Although the game received good reviews, it didn’t quite live up to the hype. The original Watch Dogs was set in a fictionalized version of Chicago, in an open world environment with a day and night cycle and a dynamic weather system. The player character was able to hack the city’s infrastructure – jamming cellphones, accessing private information of citizens, controlling the traffics lights, etc.

  • Alien: Isolation – Seventh generation Alien games were mostly action oriented, with none of them performing particularly well outside the 2011 side-scrolling DS game, Aliens: Infestation. Isolation was designed to be more like the original film and emphasize the survival horror elements. The story centered around Amanda Ripley, the daughter of the protagonist from the original film, 15 years after the events of that film.

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Call of Duty went into the far future with this title, introducing a number of changes to the formula. It was the first Call of Duty game to be developed solely by Sledgehammer Games (though they co-developed Modern Warfare 3 along with Infinity War). This was the same year Activision announced Call of Duty would go from two year development cycles to three years, to ensure high quality games.

  • Assassin’s Creed Unity – Taking place during the French Revolution in Paris and being billed as a four player co-op “next gen” exclusive, Unity saw a lot of hype leading up to its release. Previous Assassin’s Creed games had PvP multiplayer, but this was the first entry with cooperative missions, though there were still some story missions that were single player only. Black Flag from the previous year had seen high praise, but Unity was criticized for its plethora of technical issues, weak story, and inability to play some missions solo. To this day Unity is still the lowest rated Assassin’s Creed game on consoles (not counting re-releases).

  • Assassin’s Creed Rogue – Rogue was a sequel to Black Flag, which released the year prior. As Unity was released on the PS4/XBO/PC, Rogue was released the same day on PS3 and X360, before later being ported to PC, PS4, XBO, and Switch. Despite being the less anticipated of the two, Rogue received slightly more favorable review scores.

  • Wolfenstein: The New Order – The New Order was the first game from MachineGames. The developer was formed in 2009 and originally set out to make their own IP. However, MachineGames owner ZeniMax Media acquired id Software around the same time and acquired its IPs, including Doom, Quake, Rage, Wolfenstein, and more. ZeniMax Media suggested MachineGames choose an existing id Software IP, and with id Software’s blessing, MachineGames went to work on developing a new Wolfenstein game in 2010. As the name suggests, the beginning of The New Order was set in an alternative 1946 where the Axis powers won World War II, and later flashing to 1960 in a resistance effort against these powers.

  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – Taking place between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Shadow of Mordor was an open world action adventure game. The plot was a revenge story against the forces of Sauron, following a ranger named Talion. A core feature of the game was the Nemsesis system, which had enemy AI remembering the prior actions against the protagonist and react accordingly. The game’s 2017 sequel expanded on this system.

  • South Park: The Stick of Truth – In 2009, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone contacted Obsidian Entertainment with the desire to make a South Park RPG. Both men were fans of Obsidian games and RPGs in general. The pair wanted to be more involved in the development of the game, as previous South Park games had received subpar performance from critics and fans alike. The Stick of Truth adhered to the show’s art style and was inspired by other popular RPGs, namely The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Earthbound. Some of its more controversial subject matters were censored in certain markets, with Parker and Stone instead narrating what happens in the scene. The game released first on PS3, X360, and PC in 2014, and later came to PS4, XBO, and Switch in 2018.

  • The Evil Within – This was a survival horror action adventure game from Tango Gameworks. Tango Gameworks was formed by former Capcom designer Shinji Mikami, who directed many highly successful games, like Resident Evil 1 & 4, Dino Crisis, and Vanquish. The Evil Within played similarly to Resident Evil 4 and in many ways felt like more of a successor than Resident Evil 5 did. The game received pretty good reviews overall, but the technical issues, instant death traps, and convoluted plot were its main points of scrutiny among critics. The three DLCs that released the following year did make more sense of the base game’s story.

  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes – Not to be confused with 2015’s The Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes was marketed as a prologue chapter and sold at a budget price ($20-$40 USD depending on platform and distribution method), taking place nine years before The Phantom Pain. The main story could be completed in two hours, though the package as a whole had about 20 hours’ worth of content.

  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel – Originally released on PS3, X360, and PC before being ported to the PS4 and XBO in March 2015, The Pre-Sequel, as the name implies, was an interlude chapter between Borderlands 2 & 3, taking place immediately after the events of Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 3.

  • Lightning Returns – The final chapter in the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, released only for X360 and PS3 (and later PC).

  • The Walking Dead Season: Episodes 2-5 – A point and click adventure game from Telltale Games, who had worked on other games in the genre, like Sam & Max and Tales of Monkey Island. These games were said to follow the comics rather than the show. The episodes of Season 2 were periodically rolled out from December 2013 to August 2014. Telltale Games released episodes in four different series in 2014.

  • The Wolf Among Us: Episodes 2-5

  • Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 1

  • Game of Thrones: Episode 1

  • Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare

  • Disney Infinity 2.0

  • Thief

  • Lords of the Fallen

  • Just Dance 2015

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PC Exclusives

  • The Elder Scrolls Online – With the success of Skyrim, an MMORPG The Elder Scrolls game was given huge expectations. This Online iteration promised a large map spanning across various locations in the continent of Tamriel. Unlike the mainline games, it was developed by then new studio ZeniMax Online Studios. The game received mixed reviews and failed to live up to its high expectations, but development has regularly continued over the years, and the game is in a much better state now.

  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft – A free to play online digital card game received high praise, scoring an 88% on PC. The game was praised for its simple rules but complex interactions, polished presentation and attention to detail, and balanced gameplay. The game is also available on iOS and Android, and it has since dropped the subtitle.

  • Divinity: Original Sin – Original Sin was crowdfunded on Kickstarter and received praise in all areas an RPG should excel in. This was the last game in the Divinity series (2002) featuring composer Kirill Pokrovsky, who sadly passed away the following year – he had been the composer for all Divinity games up to that point. An enhanced edition and console ports were released in 2015.

  • Elite: Dangerous – This is the fourth entry in the Elite series and the first sequel in 19 years, as well as the first game to include MMO gameplay. Players would explore a realistic open-world representation of the Milky Way Galaxy. The game was brought to consoles in later years.

  • SMITE

  • Age of Wonders III

  • Galactic Civilizations III

  • Wasteland 2

  • Assetto Corsa

  • Black Desert Online

  • WildStar

  • Out of the Park Baseball 15


PlayStation 3/4 Exclusives

Sony usually has a pretty sizable offering of games each year, but 2014 was one of their off years. Among the games that did release in 2014, none of them were massive hits like The Last of Us from the year prior or Bloodborne from the year after.

2014 was the Open Beta launch of PlayStation Now in North America on PS3, PS Vita, and PS TV, which wouldn’t come to other markets until years later (2017 in Japan). PS Now later arrived on PS4 in early January 2015. Initially the service was $19.99 a month, only featured games on older PlayStation systems, had a much smaller selection of games, and users were unable to download any of the games and instead had to stream all of them. Sony has since gotten more competitive with their offering on PlayStation Now.

  • inFamous: Second Son – Designed from the ground-up for the PS4, Second Son was the third mainline game in the series (fourth when counting the small-scale standalone title Festival of Blood). Second Son takes place after the second game’s good ending and features a new playable protagonist, Delsin Rowe. The decision to follow the good ending from the second game came from trophy data, which found that 78% chose the good ending. Second Son was set in Seattle, which is near where developer Sucker Punch is located. Sucker Punch worked directly with Sony and lead system architect Mark Cerny on Second Son, and pitched suggestions on what they wanted to see in the hardware of the console and the DualShock 4’s touchpad.

  • inFamous: First Light – A standalone title released just five months after Second Son and following Fetch, a supporting character from the previous game. Director Nate Fox said it was an easy decision to make First Light, since everyone knew what to do development-wise and the tools were already in place. Although the game didn’t perform quite as well as Second Son, many critics praised the character of Fetch and preferred her over Delsin.

  • LittleBigPlanet 3 – Media Molecule, the developer of the first two mainline games, went on to create Tearaway and Dreams, and development of LittleBigPlanet 3 was handed over to Sumo Digital. At launch, this was the buggiest game I had ever played – the game had a myriad of problems that soured the game and put many fans off the game. While the game has its problems even today, it’s in a much better place than it was before, although its legacy is tarnished by its poor state at launch. That said, LittleBigPlanet 3 did introduce some cool things to the series: 16 layers instead of three, three new playable characters, and new tools like the grappling hook. Just like with LittleBigPlanet 2, levels, outfits, stickers, and items were all ported over from the previous mainline games.

  • Driveclub – From now defunct developer Evolution Studios, who had previously worked on MotorStorm and the early WRC games, Driveclub was a racing game with greater emphasis on online play and customization options, allowing players to modify their car, club, and driver. The game surpassed 2 million copies only nine months after its initial launch – however the online servers were shutdown on March 31, 2020.

  • *MLB 14: The Show * – Also on PS Vita.

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Xbox 360/One Exclusives

The PS4 and XBO probably shared more games than any previous generation, but Microsoft’s positioning of the system at E3 2013 led to a lot of animosity around the brand. Anyone on Reddit in 2013 knows what I’m talking about. Some of these unpopular features included: Internet required to play offline games, no traditional sharing of used games, and Kinect 2.0 bundled with every console, driving up the cost of the system and causing privacy concerns for users. Microsoft did backdown from these changes later on, but the brand still suffered a lot of damage. One of the biggest perks over the PS4 at the time was the (limited) backwards compatibility with both original Xbox and Xbox 360 games. In addition, Microsoft enabled external hard drive support for expanded storage options in June 2014, while the PS4 did not see this update until March 2017.

The idea behind bundling the Kinect 2.0 with every console was wider implementation of the Kinect capabilities into games – if everyone had it, developers would feel more incentivized to use the hardware. However, only six months after the console’s launch, Microsoft announced they would start selling the Xbox One without the Kinect for $400 USD – a $100 less than it launched at, which put the XBO at the same price as the PS4. Microsoft no longer officially supports the Kinect and even rolled out updates that removed Kinect-related features for the system. Like the X360 generation, the XBO was mostly front-loaded with its offering of console exclusives, with a few, like Titanfall, simultaneously releasing on PC.

  • Forza Horizon 2 – While 2013’s Forza Motorsport 5 was an Xbox One exclusive, Horizon 2 actually came to both XBO and X360. Horizon took place in a fictional racing competition set within Southern France and Northern Italy and featured three times more drivable area than its predecessor. Horizon 2 would receive a standalone expansion pack to promote the release of the movie Furious 7 in February 2015, titled Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious.

  • Sunset Overdrive – Developed by Insomniac Games, who had created games like Ratchet & Clank and Resistance for Sony platforms, Sunset Overdrive was a new IP set in a fictional, cartoony dystopian world. Players would explore an open world and engage in parkour, acrobatics, rail grinding, wall running, etc., with fast-paced combat encounters.

  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection – Featuring Halo 1, 2, 3, and 4 (and more later on), The Master Chief Collection was a huge value for the series that had defined the Xbox platform. The package also included updated audio and visuals. The release was plagued with server-side connectivity issues for online play at launch, though the campaigns worked as intended.

  • Kinect Sports Rivals – The third game in the Kinect Sports series, Rivals was the first game in the series developed for the Kinect 2.0.

  • Fantasia: Music Evolved – A Kinect-based rhythm game.

  • Dance Central Spotlight – A Kinect-based rhythm game.

  • D4


Wii U Exclusives

Nintendo was struggling to gain an audience with the Wii U, and 2013 was the first year in the company’s history that they posted a loss. A lot of people weren’t even aware of the Wii U’s existence. However, on the gaming side, the Wii U had a great quality and quantity of first and second party games releasing in 2014. That said, the third party support was weak, and third party developers began to realize this wasn’t a system worth investing in. For example, the Cold, Cold Heart DLC for Batman: Arkham Origins (2013) was originally meant to release on all four platforms the base game had been on: PS3, X360, PC, and Wii U, but “due to lack of demand” the Wii U did not receive this DLC.

Amiibos were also introduced in 2014 and sold like gangbusters – many stores were out of stock of Amiibos. There were 18 separate Amiibo figurines at the end of 2014 – this number has grown to 182 at the time of this writing.

  • Super Smash Bros. for Wii U – The fourth console entry in the series, the Wii U iteration was the largest package to date and featured more modes than even Ultimate had at launch. In addition to the large cast of characters, stages, and modes, the game featured eight player battles for the first time, Amiibo support, and post-release downloadable content. Perhaps best of all, Smash 4 eliminated tripping. Like the 3DS version, the Wii U version had its set of version-exclusive stages. Smash 4 also allowed players to customize their fighters with different moves that could be earned through playing the various modes. Custom characters could be transferred between the 3DS and Wii U. This feature did not return in Ultimate.

  • Mario Kart 8 – Mario Kart 8 introduced anti-gravity racing that allowed racers to drive on walls and ceilings. Although all Mario Kart games have performed well, #8 received exceptionally high praise, though one point of contention was its downgraded battle mode. Instead of traditional battle courses seen in earlier games, battles in this game were instead done on the race tracks, though the Switch version released three years later addressed this issue and implemented specifically designed battle tracks. Two DLC packs were released in late 2014/early 2015 and brought with them a lot of Nintendo characters from other series, including The Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing, and F-Zero (such a tease).

  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze – Tropical Freeze was the second Donkey Kong Country game from Retro Studios. This new title added two new characters, Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong (and later Funky Kong in the Switch version), water levels (seen in the original trilogy but not Returns), and online leaderboards for the time attack mode.

  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker – Captain Toad had been featured as a side character in Mario games since 2007’s Super Mario Galaxy. 2013’s Super Mario 3D World was the first time gamers could play as the character, through a handful of slower-paced puzzle-focused diorama-like levels not connected to the main quest. Captain Toad was chosen as the character for these levels due to the idea of his heavy backup preventing him to jump, allowing the team to develop levels that would fit on a single screen. The concept of the Captain Toad levels in 3D World reminded Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto of one of his earlier gameplay ideas inspired by the Rubik’s Cube, and so he suggested the 3D World team make a separate Captain Toad game in late 2013. Captain Toad took many of the assets from 3D World and repurposed them. The game retailed for $39.99 USD.

  • Hyrule Warriors – A hack and slash title that played similarly to studio Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors series.

  • NES Remix 2 – Along with the original, this was one of the few Wii U games that wasn’t ported to the Switch. The concept of the NES Remix games were to take old NES games and add new challenges to them. For example, in Stage 1-4 of Super Mario Bros. 3 you are tasked with collecting 10 coins as you descend in the tanuki suit. NES Remix 2 featured 12 NES games and 169 challenges. The sequel is widely considered to have better games featured, but not necessarily better remixes.

  • Pushmo World – Developed by Fire Emblem/Advance Wars/Paper Mario developer Intelligent Systems and known as a Pullblox World in Europe, this game was the third of four entries in the “’mo” series of games, along with Pushmo, Crashmo, and Stretchmo. It was also the only title on a console. Players would navigate a single screen puzzle, pushing and pulling blocks to make their way to the exit. The game featured 250 levels, a level editor, and a Miiverse online service.

  • Bayonetta 2 – The original Bayonetta was published by Sega, with the development team headed by PlatinumGames and directed by Hideki Kamiya, who previously directed Devil May Cry, Bayonetta’s most obvious inspiration, and other well-received titles like Resident Evil 2, Viewtiful Joe, and Okami. While the original Bayonetta did sell millions of copies, it failed to meet sales expectations. Nintendo stepped in with funding to make Bayonetta 2 a reality when Sega refused to do so, and so Bayonetta 2 became a Wii U exclusive. Since the original was not available for any Nintendo platform previously, the original Bayonetta was packaged in with every retail copy of Bayonetta 2.

  • Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric – In May 2013, an exclusive partnership between Sega and Nintendo was announced, with the intention to bring three new Sonic games to the Wii U – this seemed like a big announcement for a system that didn’t receive a lot of third party support. However, these three games ranged from mediocre to awful, with Sonic Boom being the worst of the three, and possibly the worst Sonic game ever, averaging a 32%. This title was actually developed by Big Red Button and aimed at Western audiences, and it served as a prequel to the TV series of the same name. The game was panned for its repetitive level design, bad camera, dull combat, poor frame-rate, and numerous bugs.

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3DS Games

  • Bravely Default – Bravely Default began as a sequel to 2009’s Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, a retro-inspired throwback title inspired by the NES and SNES Final Fantasy games. Producer Yomoya Asano instead decided he wanted to try something new, but would still stick close to the traditional style JRPG like The 4 Heroes of Light. The game was highly praised as a throwback JRPG, though criticism was aimed at the large grind seen in the later stages of the game.

  • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS – This was the first Super Smash Bros. game on a handheld device, and it featured much of the same content seen in the Wii U version, though with downgraded visuals. The 3DS version featured version-exclusive stages and a version-exclusive modes – Smash Run and Street Smash (the Wii U version instead had Smash Tour). The 3DS version sold almost twice as much as the Wii U version, on account of the 3DS selling way more units than the Wii U in general. For many players unwilling to fork over another $300 USD, the 3DS version was the only place to play the new Super Smash Bros.

  • Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire – A remake of the 2003 (2002 in Japan) third generation games, Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire retained the 3D visuals introduced in Pokemon X/Y and introduced content not seen in the original games, most notably the post-game Delta Episode, though many fans were upset that the game failed to include the Battle Frontier first seen in the enhanced remaster, Pokemon Emerald.

  • Pokemon Art Academy – A Pokemon-themed educational drawing game and a spin-off of the Art Academy series.

  • Pokemon Battle Trozei – A Pokemon-themed puzzle game and a sequel to the 2005 DS game Pokemon Trozei!

  • Mario Golf: World Tour – This was the first Mario Golf game in a decade, with the 2004 one releasing on the GameBoy Advance. This new Mario Golf game featured a single player campaign and an online multiplayer mode, the first in the series’ history.

  • Yoshi’s New Island – The development of this game was handled by Arzest (though I have to believe Nintendo came up with the title), who would later go on to create Balan Wonderworld. The game averaged a 64% and was criticized for its visuals, soundtrack, and pacing. New Island also featured a tacked-on multiplayer mode, with six short-lived time-based score mini-games.

  • Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy – The sixth entry in the series and the final part of the prequel trilogy.

  • Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney – This crossover features the court room cases seen in the Ace Attorney games and the puzzle solving from the Layton games.

  • Kirby: Triple Deluxe

  • Kirby Fighters Deluxe

  • Dede’s Drum Dash Deluxe

  • Steel Diver: Sub Wars

  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call

  • Tomodachi Life

  • Fantasy Life

  • Azure Striker Gunvolt

  • Mighty Gunvolt

  • Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse


PlayStation Vita Games

  • Velocity 2X – A hybrid between a vertical shoot ‘em up and a side scrolling action platformer. The developers, FuturLab, signed with Sony to create more titles for the PS Vita after the success of the first game, Velocity. It was the highest rated PS Vita game of 2014 with a 90%.

  • Hohokum – Also on PS3/PS4. Described as an art game, the player controls a snakelike creature to explore 17 whimsical worlds. Developer Honeyslug Games collaborated with Richard Hogg (illustrator and designer) and Santa Monica Studio (God of War) for this title.

  • Tales of Heart R – A complete remake of the 2008 Japan-exclusive DS game, featuring full voice acting for the main scenario, new playable characters, 3D graphics, and 10 new cut-scenes.

  • TxK

  • Freedom Wars

  • Toukiden: The Age of Demons


Indie/Small Scale Games

  • Shovel Knight – Shovel Knight was an early Kickstarter success and is seen as one of the primary faces of indie gaming. Channeling the nostalgia of the NES era, Shovel Knight takes inspiration from classics like Duck Tales, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Mega Man, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, and Super Mario Bros. 3. Shovel Knight would see many updates through the next six years, including three new campaigns similar in length to the base game, a Super Smash Bros.-style mode, additional challenges, and local co-op support for the Shovel Knight campaign.

  • Five Nights at Freddy’s 1 & 2 – The developer behind Five Nights at Freddy’s, Scott Cawthon, released a large number of games in the years prior to Five Nights at Freddy’s. In the early 2010s, Cawthon submitted several games to Steam Greenlight. Some games, most notably Chipper and Sons Lumber Co., received heavy criticism for having characters that moved and interacted like animatronics. Although initially discourage, Cawthon eventually decided to make a game themed around animatronics, and thus Five Nights At Freddy’s was born, with a sequel releasing later that same year. Five Nights at Freddy’s as a series may have more games than any other indie series – if not, it’s definitely still up there.

  • The Vanishing of Ethan Carter – A first person exploration game taking place in 1973 that follows a paranormal investigator in a search for a missing boy named Ethan Carter. The studio behind the game, The Astronauts, was formed in October 2012 by three former People Can Fly employees, the developers behind Painkiller and Bulletstorm. The team decided early on that they wanted to make a story-heavy game rather than another a first person shooter.

  • Transistor – From developer Supergiant Games, who eventually went on to create Hades, Transistor was the second of now four games from the studio. Like all its other games, Transistor is played from an isometric view with real-time combat, with a strong emphasis on story. The game would go on to sell over a million copies a year and a half after its initial launch.

  • Child of Light – A small scale side scrolling RPG following Princess Aurora, who grows from 5 to 10 to 15 to 20 throughout the course of the game. The game came from Ubisoft Montreal, with its presentation inspired by games like Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy VIII, and Limbo, and its art style inspired by Studio Ghibli and Yoshitaka Amano. Its battle system uses an active-time system similar to the Final Fantasy and Grandia series.

  • Crawl – A local 3v1 dungeon crawler, where three players possess traps and enemies in an effort to defeat and take control of the human player. Each run is about 30 minutes long and allows players to upgrade their chosen monsters and weapons and skills as the human character. The match ends with a boss fight, allowing the three non-human players to possess different parts of the boss. There’s also some single player content that tasks you with defeating waves of enemies. To this day it’s still one of the most unique PvP games I’ve played.

  • Duck Game – A local, online, and combo multiplayer arena fighter featuring tons of maps, weapons, and quacking.

  • Trials Fusion – A 2D physics-based platform racing game, featuring online and local multiplayer support and a track editor, developed by RedLynx in collaboration with Ubisoft Shangai and Ubisoft Kyiv.

  • Kero Blaster – From the developer of Cave Story, Kero Blaster was a linear run & gun drawing inspiration from NES classics like Mega Man and Contra.

  • Never Alone – Never Alone was a local co-op-focused side scroller. With one player controlling the girl and the other the fox, the two players worked in tandem to overcome the icy and treacherous Alaskan climate. Never Alone is based on Inupiat folktales and was developed by Inupiat people.

  • Freedom Planet – A 2D platformer heavily inspired by the Sonic the Hedgehog games.

  • The Banner Saga

  • Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

  • Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris

  • This War of Mine

  • Valiant Hearts: The Great War

  • Super Mega Baseball

  • Legend of Grimrock II

  • The Talos Principle

  • Nidhogg

  • Octodad: Dadliest Catch

  • Knight Squad

  • Cannon Brawl

  • Lethal League

  • Kalimba

  • Crypt of the Necrodancer

  • Kentucky Route Zero – Act II

  • Year Walk

  • Goat Simulator

  • OlliOlli

  • The Swapper

  • Race the Sun

  • Broken Age: Part 1

  • Sportsfriends

  • Chariot

  • Mercenary Kings

  • Luftrausers

  • Mini Metro

  • Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones

  • 1001 Spikes

  • Kalimba

  • Pix the Cat

  • Toybox Turbos


Closing

2014 may not have had quite as many blockbusters as others years, but it saw a lot of indie games, the introduction of PlayStation Now, new, successful takes in existing series like Alien, The Lord of The Rings, and South Park, and a plethora of open world action adventure/RPGs that would define the generation.

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