Welcome, one and all, to the now third annual installant of Those Games What Released This Year That I Think Were Alright. It's been a slow year here on Jeo.me, with a whopping TWO previous posts in 2014. I had plenty of posts I was planning on putting up this year, but I kind of got lazy and they fell through. Mostly because I was probably too busy playing Street Fighter. Enough of that though, apologising about lack of posts is pretty much a trope round these parts at this point, so on to talking about games from this year that I liked.
You should know the format by now; these games are in no particular order, and being released in 2014 is the only requirement needed to be eligible.
Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster
I've mentioned it before and I'll mention it again: Final Fantasy X is my favourite game of all time. Is it objectively the greatest game ever made? Of course not, but it's my favourite. It had probably the greatest impact on my taste in video games that I can think of, and I immensely enjoy all the time that I spend with it. So to be able to play a game that is now almost 15 years old at this point on a somewhat modern console, with somewhat modern looking graphics, is an utmost pleasure. Me being me, I'll probably also end up double-dipping when it comes to PS4 next year.
Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire
I've always been a total sucker for the mainline Pokemon games. Ever since the original Blue and Red versions, I've always invested a fair amount of time into every major Pokemon release since then. The original Gen III games were probably around the time a lot of people started to write them off, citing "badly designed pokémon" or whatever (even though they often gloss over some of the terrible Gen I designs with their rose glasses). I've a particular fondness for each generation of Pokémon, and Ruby and Sapphire were no different. Being able to adventure through Hoenn again, with all that water and all those trumpets, only this time in 3D and with all the gameplay up-grades you'd expect, has been a treat.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
Do you like Final Fantasy music? Do you like rhythm games? Then there is almost nothing to not like about Theatrhythm. Curtain Call improves on the first game mostly by just having a metric fucktonne of music, as well as a whole bunch more characters available to build your party with. There's also a whole new quest system, which is enjoyable to play and provides a little more meat than some of the content of the first game. There's also a new multiplayer mode, which is... eh, not great, but can be a fun distraction. But the main draw has always been the simple, but fun rhythm gameplay and the swaths of Uematsu-san and company's music spanning two decades.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Considering I paid the extravagant amount of £0 for Isaac (well, minus my PS+ sub fee of course), the money-per-hour ratio of this game is probably the highest on the list. If you played the original Isaac, you'll know what to expect here. It's basically the same game built again from scratch, so it's no longer a flash game, which is good. Very good. Content wise, I believe it contains everything from BoI plus the Wrath of Lamb expansion, as well as some other new content sprinkled throughout. I never got very heavily into the original, but I've played enough of Rebirth to cause my PS4's left thumbstick to start falling apart. Also, Azazel is hella OP.
Ultra Street Fighter IV
For a brief second, I considered making this entire post just "Street Fighter is rad, peeeeace" and leave it at that. Definitely wins the award for most amount of time I've spent with a game this year. This latest version of Street Fighter IV, as well as introducing five "new" characters (four from Street Fighter X Tekken and one literal Cammy clone) also introduces a few new system mechanics to help move the game away from the very set-play heavy state the previous version was. It's still very much Street Fighter IV and I love me some Street Fighter IV.
The Wolf Among Us
While I feel that the story took somewhat of a dive towards the end, and an episodic format is probably not the best for a murder mystery story, I found myself nevertheless enjoying The Wolf Among Us immensely. As someone who wasn't familiar with Fables going in, I found the premise incredibly interesting, and the game itself is just... stylish. Killer soundtrack and 80s-inspired neon visuals, the game is a treat for the senses.
Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax
Thankfully, the wait here in Europe this time around for the next Persona 4 Arena game wasn't quite as painful as it was last time. Ultimax is basically the... well, ultimate version of P4A. The story I felt was a lot weaker this time around compared to the last game, but from a pure gameplay side, there's a lot to like. An expanded roster, now featuring pretty much every conceivable character from Persona 3 and 4 that makes sense, "shadow" versions of every character who play differently and have different tools, and a whole host of incremental improvements, including a very cool and robust lobby system for online play. I'll never get into it quite the way I did Street Fighter, because fundamental things about the way anime fighting games play don't jive well with me, but Ultimax is a great fighter worth checking out if you're into the genre, or simply just a Persona fan.
The Last of Us: Left Behind
I could put The Last of Us Remastered on here, since that game is still as incredible as it was when it first came out, but I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to put Left Behind, the story DLC that released earlier this year. There was a lot to love about The Last of Us, and Ellie is at, or close to, the top of that list. So to get the chance to learn a lot more about her backstory is something I just couldn't pass up. The story aspects of Left Behind are top-notch as you'd expect, but so is the gameplay. They use a lot of the game's combat mechanics in interesting and novel, non-combat scenarios and it also features the only combat encounters in the entirety of The Last of Us that feature both human and infected enemies, something that should've been present in the original game. If you enjoyed The Last of Us, you owe it to yourself to play the Left Behind.
Remember Titanfall? Released way back in, what, March? Man, that game didn't set the world on fire quite like a lot of people expected it to, but it was still a pretty solid first outing from Respawn. It definitely has some key flaws, but it's the sort of thing that makes you excited for what could be in Titanfall 2. Plus, the core gameplay is a blast. It's interesting to see games like Halo 5 and this year's Call of Duty already seemingly taking influence from the way Titanfall does movement and mobility.
Threes! is a mobile game, and mobile games are generally not something I give much of a fuck about. It's a number game, where you have cards on a grid, and have to move them in 4 directions to combine identical cards, similar to, but not as insane as something like 2048. It also has a great style, with fantastic music, silly voiceovers, and a nice clean aesthetic. There's even a snappable Xbox One version now, which is cool. It deserves a spot here solely based on the amount of time I spent with it this year. Mobile games tend to have a very "flavour of the week" thing going on, where big games come and go really quickly, but Threes! had a constant presence on my phone throughout the majority of the year.
Honourable Mentions and Games That Would've Been on this List had I Played (More of) Them
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is probably the best CoD game in years, and the only one since MW3 that I've bothered to finish the campaign of. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a collection of 4 games, each great in their own right, but isn't on the list because... well, that game was, and still is, broken as fuck. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes gets me real excited for The Phantom Pain, but as a standalone product, there just isn't enough of what I want out of a Metal Gear game. Destiny is the worst game that I spent the most amount of time playing. I could probably write an entire post about everything that game did wrong, yet for some reason, for a good chunk of time, I couldn't stop playing it. Fantasy Life is an adorable RPG for the 3DS by the Professor Layton people, that seems like it has a bunch of stuff to do in it, but I simply haven't been able to put that much time into it yet. Lethal League is an awesome take on the fighting game genre that I definitely need to play more of. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Wolfenstein: The New Order are the two big standout non-Wii U games this year, that are the kind of games I enjoy, but I simply haven't played.
There are also a multitude of indie games this year that either passed me by, or that I simply didn't manage to play. This year was also probably the best year yet for the Wii U, with games like Bayonetta 2, Mario Kart 8, and Super Smash Bros. putting up a strong argument that, maybe, I should think about getting a Wii U at some point soon.
Looking back, 2014 has been a somewhat lackluster year. The new consoles are out, and have been for over a year now, but are stuggling to make a strong footing with games convincing you to throw down the money for them. Most of the big games for them have been either remasters and rereleases of old games, or big marquee titles that were mostly broken messes at launch.
But tomorrow is 2015, and if Back to the Future taught us anything, it's that we're all going to be flying about on hoverboards and flying cars, and that sounds way cooler than any of this video game shit.