Well, it’s that time for me to look back on my year in gaming. Personally, it has been a real busy calendar, as it was the first time in what’s felt like a while that there was a bunch of games coming out that I really wanted to play. And some that I wanted to play less, preferring rather to try to recite Slovakian poetry blindfolded while in the middle of on-coming traffic on the 405 in SoCal.
2014’S MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE
When this game first hit shelves, it was decent, but outside of being in 1080p, was a very bare-bones Mario Kart that didn’t feel revolutionary or all that fast. I was disappointed in the roster of palette-swap characters (Gold and Metal versions of Mario and Peach, for example) and the kart, bike, and ATV attributes didn’t feel all too different. Well, several updates and gameplay tweaks later, Mario Kart 8 feels like the game it could become! It’s the first time since tuner versions existed that I felt a complete overhaul in the game engine. The rubber band A.I. has been toned down in favor of some pretty aggressive competition from the CPU without them launching weapons at a nonstop pace, and drifting has been tightened up so I don’t go careening off the road every time I attempt to cut corners. The DLC bundle packs have been promising and the addition of the Amiibos can extend the life span of Mario Kart for a significant period of time!
Akiba’s Trip Undead & Undressed (PS3) – I enjoyed this goofy game way more than I thought , and I am partially ashamed.
Arcana Heart Love Max (PS3) – Is it messed up that enjoyed playing this more than BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma?
2014’S BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT
Just when I thought that a new hat was going to be thrown into the competition to challenge the (aging) top dog Resident Evil comes a game that borrows way too much from the former to establish its own identity. The Evil Within relies more on having a bunch of gushy blood splattered all over the place and attempting to gross you out, and any time the game offers to establish any kind of mood, it yanks you around in a transition that gets tired once I realized the story doesn’t go anywhere. Top that off with clunky controls, a stubborn camera, a paint-by-numbers cache of weapons, monsters that are more boring than disturbing, and the worst safe room I’ve ever encountered in my entire life (4 rooms total, just to save your fucking game!), The Evil Within offers NOTHING I haven’t seen before and fails to anything better with any of it.
Destiny (PS4) – So you want me to give you $60.00 so you can withhold extra content that I can buy later, even after already dropping $20 extra on a useless Season Pass? How about I just set my wallet on fire instead? Or try to make a game console out of actual money!!?
Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric (Wii U) – I said in my E3 post earlier this year that I hoped this was the Sonic reboot that could jump-start the Blue Bomber back to relevance. Boy was I wrong. The autopsy should just be cutting it open and the forensics finding, in big blue letters, the word RUSHED. At least the cartoon is amusing.
MULTIPLAYER OF THE YEAR
Whether it’s online or at home with about 5 other people, it’s the most accessible and user friendly fighting game every time a new one comes out. I purposefully own more than several Wii Remotes for this game alone!
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare (PS4) – I’m a long time Battlefield fan, but the tide has finally shifted for me as to what series has become more fun. Hardline might be awesome, but Advanced Warfare outclasses the more recent Battlefield game by a country mile. Not to mention EA’s server kept kicking me out. Seriously, screw you, Electronic Arts. Get your shit together.
WORST MULTIPLAYER OF THE YEAR
The only thing holding this title back is the lack of Battle Courses. I thought this would’ve been the first thing they would’ve fixed. Like when Dominoes, after 22 years, finally realized their pizza tasted like half-melted rubber isotope gloves and molded dry wall. At least Dominoes upgraded their pizza to taste like old socks and cat hair. #AddBattleCourses
VOICE ACTOR OF THE YEAR
Cindy Robinson as Amy Rose
Yeah, this wasn’t easy for me, since I thought both Kevin Spacey and Troy Baker are great in Advanced Warfare, but I am really happy with the not only the voice, but the persona of Amy Rose. It’s one of the few bright spots about the Sonic Boom reboot and I hope it is retained.
Jackie Earl Haley as Ruvic (The Evil Within) – Despite the fact that he was given crap to read as far as that script goes, he delivers his lines with a great deal of gravitas for this game’s forgettable antagonist. Completely wasted talent.
Patrick Stewart as Zobek (Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2) – Pretty much the same deal as Haley.
WORST VOICE ACTOR OF THE YEAR
Roger Craig Smith as Sonic (Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric)
All the attitude from the original “Animal with Attitude” has been wiped Clorox clean as Roger Craig Smith phones his efforts in, reciting paltry catchphrases with very little inflection in his voice and just making Sonic sound like a complete douchebag. Good luck determining if he’s supposed to get serious or if he is making another horrible joke.
Bill DeMott (WWE 2K15) – You what I needed in my wrestling video game? Hugh Morrus berating me over and over throughout an exhibition with the same lines over and over again. Shut the hell up!!
MALE CHARACTER OF THE YEAR
Solid Snake – Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes
You may not get much characterization from the new Snake, portrayed by Keifer Sutherland, but I was shocked when I heard David Hayter was not reprising the role, I was interested to see what the man who voiced Ross Sylibus in Armitage III (Yeah, that’s the fresh, topical Keifer Sutherland reference I go to; an obscure, terrible anime movie from 1995) was going to provide. And I really like it! He sounds more like a real human (not saying Hayter’s was bad) while still retaining the gritty toughness that makes Snake so intimidating.
Strider Hiryu (PS3) – Alright!!! Strider is back and I coul…FUCK, I died again!!!! Why is this so hard!!?
WORST MALE CHARACTER OF THE YEAR
Detective Sebastian Castellanos – The Evil Within (PS4)
“I’m being thrown around weird, disturbing locations, fighting hordes of indescribable monsters and freaks of nature. But I’m not really going to react to any of it. You wanna learn about me? I’m not going to tell you. You can read all of that in journals at every save point. And why am I a cop and yet am about as agile as a coffee table and I throw punches like a seven-year-old boy?”
Knuckles (Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric) – Big Red Button sought to destroy everyone’s beloved echidna (ironically teaching everyone just what the hell an echidna was) by turning him into an unrepentant, muscle-bound doofus. If you don’t mind me being frank, and seriously the game portrays him as having a learning disorder! It’s played up for laughs and it isn’t funny. Maybe he should hang out with the Chaotix Crew again…
Gabriel Belmont (Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2) – Having Dracula attached to his credentials kept Gabe from being out-blanded by Detective Name-that-Sounds-Guy-Who-Voices-Homer-Simpson. Just as expressionless and boring, there’s no reason to care about his plight as he blindly listens to everything the clearly evil Zobek (whom betrayed him in the first game) has to say.
BEST FEMALE CHARACTER OF THE YEAR
Bayonetta (Bayonetta 2 Wii U)
Bayonetta continues to be my favorite video game character, not just heroine. She’s fun, charming, beautiful, and is perfectly susceptible to kick ass when needed. She beat Dante at his own game so badly, he went into obscurity almost immediately after the first Bayonetta game.
Shield Knight (Shovel Knight) – I really, really wanted to rescue her. She was shown to be valiant and very brave, throwing caution to the wind TWICE to protect her good friend.
Amy Rose (Sonic Boom Rise Of Lyric) – As said before, I like that she has become more than a one-dimensional, Sonic-crazed fangirl. Competing very close was Sticks The Badger, but she isn’t playable in Rise of Lyric and her great moments are in the TV series.
WORST FEMALE OF THE YEAR
Lana – Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)
She isn’t a terrible character from a personality stand point. Aesthetically speaking, I think she is completely out-of-place in a game labeled Zelda! I’m expecting her to sing Cat Food or come out with a Beach Queen statue. Probably worst of all, SHE’S TOO STRONG!!! Her magic barrier walls can be spammed over and over again to keep juggling enemies, making an already mundane combat engine even more boring!
Midna (Hyrule Warriors) – She was only reason I wanted to play this game, and her attacks are absolutely horrendous. Her combos are slow, her area-affecting attack range is very spotty, and the items needed to boost her abilities are dropped by enemies so late into the game, it was a hollow victory by the time I did it.
BEST VIDEO GAME STORY
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze (Wii U)
Ough, oogh, AACCKK AACKK AACCKKK!!!! (Translation) “You ruined my birthday and then you decided to freeze my home and my entire island? It’s on now!!!”
WORST STORY OF THE YEAR
If travelling to the right and hitting things with a whip is too stupid try this out: Do favors for an evil guy, find your son and do favors for him. Satan might be in the game somewhere. Dracula Errand Runner: The Video Game!!
The Evil Within (PS4) – The plot is none of your business, told very poorly, and when I did find out what was going on, the only thing that held my interest was how Julie Kidman crammed her butt into those visibly uncomfortable tight jeans.
Destiny (PS4) – Give me $19.99 and I’ll tell you what happens later…probably.
PIONEER TITLE (MOST INNOVATIVE NEXT GEN TITLE)
A living and unpredictable A.I. makes this game stand out from anything that I have played in years. Sometimes your problems are better solved by NOT blasting things into oblivion with an assault rifle.
Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes (PS3) – Konami and Hideo Kojima freshens up a time-tested formula by adding interrogation methods and omitting dragging corpses in favor of a more reasonable fireman’s carry. It feels really cool and the mission concepts were a blast! I don’t understand why some of the gamer guys didn’t like this. Because its short? Games aren’t made to go on forever.
I’LL BE THERE IN A MINUTE (LEAST INNOVATION IN A NEXT GEN TITLE)
The first WWE game I bought in 4 years still suffers from the same problems I had with it the last time I played it. I applaud the efforts to keep matches from being a clothesline-fest until you hit your finisher, but the chain wrestling serves about as much purpose as an actual wrestling match. A monotonous MyCareer mode, terrible loading times, gutted Create-A-Wrestler features, a bland roster, crap soundtrack, and the new counter attack system makes this a nearly unplayable game.
NHL 15, no forget it. ALL sports games. Take a year off and fine tune your game, or go take a running leap off a cliff. Charging people $60 a year for roster updates and minor gameplay tweaks are the gaming equivalent of paying for extra cheese on a Filet’O’Fish! In a day and age of DLC, 2K and EA Sports shows that they are in it for money alone and only care when enough people realize their games suck! Offer tuned and refined updates as necessary, drop the year counter, and…who am kidding? That will never happen. Why do I even bother? I hate modern-day sports games!!
WORST GAME OF 2014
A solid combat engine is lost in a game that has no direction, made by people who have no respect for the name or the material. You want a great Castlevania experience? Hook up your NES and play the first game.
Destiny (PS4) – Should be renamed Next Time on Dragonball Z…!!!
Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric (Wii U) – Just barely more fun than having your nipples shaved off with a cheese grater.
MY GAME OF THE YEAR
It’s everything I ask for in a game. It’s fast, fun, addictive. It sounds great, looks great, and it came with the first game in case people missed out the first time around. I really can’t think of a thing that I didn’t like. The first Bayonetta was my favorite game of all of the last generation, and this one is a strong contender, even though it’s very early. I might sound like a total Nintendo mark (which I am, so I’ll own it) sheer narcissism and resentment for Sega kept Microsoft and Sony from wanting this on their platforms, and this being a Wii U exclusive makes its glowing praise that much sweeter. How the fuck did Dragon Age Inquisition beat this for Game of the Year!!?! That’s a bucket of bullshit! You can call it sour grapes, I call it bullshit!
MY 2015 WATCHLIST
A short list of things I will keep an eye out for in the next year of gaming.
1. StarFox – Officially clarified by Miyamoto himself. My favorite N64 title finally returns!
2. Shigeru Miyamoto’s Project Games – Titles like Project Guard and Project Robot both do two things I really like: Utilize the Wii U Gamepad, and implement the simplicity of gaming that can make for a fun and exhilarating video game experience. I emphasize video game, because today’s AAA games are cash cows with bloated budgets and marketing demand overshadows innovation. Miyamoto understands that, that’s why these games look like so much fun.
3. Dark Cloud 3 – This is getting sad for me. It’s one of the main reasons I keep buying Playstation consoles, despite my growing disappointment with each one. My favorite PS2 game of all time has yet to sniff even rumors of a new game. I won’t cave in. The Goonies Never Say Die!!
4. Let Me Customize My PS4 Theme! – Please, let me add my own picture or something! I hate your generic ethereal music and those ugly freebies! I hope they’re reading this
5. The Return of Some Legendary Sega Saturn Titles
Really? Are we really going to continue with virtual arcades and digital download games, and completely pretend that the Sega Saturn didn’t make exclusives that totally rocked the PlayStation and Nintendo 64’s balls back in the 90’s!?! Panzer Dragoon, Fighting Vipers, Mr. Bones, Burning Rangers, Clockwork Night, Darius Gaiden and Fighters Megamix, just to name a few! Sonic Team, Sega, AM2! If haven’t figured out how to salvage Sonic the Hedgehog, then by all means, show some love to these dark horses and show the world what they missed!
Well, that about wraps my annual gigantic rant to close out the year. I’ll be back in 2015 with some more retro reviews, Fail Lists, cartoon editorials and some videos, I’m trying to get that launched soon. Thank you for reading and supporting us here at S.I.M.O.N.. You all have a great New Year and stay safe! Adios