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Nintendo Game(s) of the Year:

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Simple really. We're getting to that time of year where we all reflect on the past 12 months of gaming bliss and draw up lists.

So what has been your fav game(s) from 2014?

 

Here are my top three (haven't played much this year!)

 

1). Mario Kart 8

 

I've bought every Mario kart and have 'enjoyed' them to a point. But the mainline titles have felt very lacklustre in execution since Double Dash and even the handheld titles have felt a little dialled in recently. Yet Mario Kart 8 was a return to form beyond my expectations. Sumptuous graphics, the best music in any kart game (live/jazz/funk joy!) and peerless, nuanced control. The lack of classic battle modes is an offensive move but the package as a whole, coupled with the wonderful, consumer friendly DLC proved that Mario Kart was given centre stage to turn around WiiU's fortunes.

 

2). Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

 

As a DKC nut, this could place on the stunning David Wise soundtrack alone - but it's the gorgeous, perfectly-crafted levels that make it one of the best 2D platformers in recent years. Whether it's for survival, exploration, slow-paced co-op gaming or just all-out speed-runs - the design in DKC:TF is glorious. The challenge is in spades, the nods to the RARE games exist and the chance to play as Cranky and Dixie were great additions.

To me, DKC:TF proved Retro could live up to the Rare legacy.

 

3). Smash Bros. WiiU/3DS

 

I've put them together as they impressed me equally, the 3DS version redeemed my faith in how impressive the 'new' smash dev team was, and the depth of content and slickness of the package blew me away. The WiiU version, whilst building on its predecessors is that rare genuine celebration of gaming heritage in the industry. Hundreds of tunes from games past and present, wonderful, consistent art-design in HD with up to 8 players (!) and additional modes that surprise and mix up the smash formula. And...Amiibo's - a nice love-in and celebration of all things Nintendo. Smash Bros. is as much 'about' video games as it is one. Thankfully this felt like a celebration in a somewhat stale industry. Glad it's done big numbers too.

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1). A Link Between Worlds. I know this came out in November last year but my game time obviously carried on to the start of this year. It was a fantastic game and really felt like classic Zelda to me despite it having a new item mechanic to it. It would have been nice to have a new overworld rather than one based on A Link To The Past but ultimately it didn't detract from the gameplay. If handheld Zelda titles can continue to progress in this way it would be a good thing.

 

2). Mariokart 8. Although I've bought every game in the Mario Kart series without fail, I had been doubting whether or not to get MK8. Since double dash I've felt that the home console versions have been in serious decline but the online options and the N-E league tempted me back again. The game itself is actually great. I've never been a fan of bikes and custom karts but typically it doesn't matter what you're driving as you can beat the AI in anything. Online is a slightly different matter but for the most part I could use a vehicle that still had a classic kart look to it. The league nights (although I only took part in a few) were great and kept me interested in the game but I soon got too busy to take part so I stopped playing altogether. It's still one of the best games I've played this year and it'll always be there if I have company round or have time for league nights again.

 

3) Smash Bros Wii U/3DS. I wasn't going to get the 3DS version initially but I caved and bought it anyway. In retrospect I feel like it was a good demo for the Wii U version. Smash is great but I don't think it's greatly suited to the small screen and small controller of a handheld device. I had some good games with it but I've not touched it once since the Wii U version came out. The Wii U version is such an improvement on Brawl - the only game in the series I've not enjoyed. Melee is still, in my opinion, the epitome of Smash but I'm still very happy with Smash Bros U. The online is brilliant and it's pretty much all I do when I play now.

 

For next year I would love it if Nintendo can continue to embrace online. Without online I don't think I'd still be playing Smash Bros and I don't think I would've bought MK8 at all. It's so important to have online functionality with games now and I'm glad Nintendo are finally including it. It just needs to feel more like part of the vision of the game rather than something tacked on at the end. It needs to be integrated into the console OS better I think but that's something for their next console (hopefully).

 

The gamepad is basically dead to me now as well. It would be nice to see more games with it but at this point I really feel like they should just be cutting it out altogether.

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