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.

So, a little while ago, way back in 2011, Square Enix announced that they were going to be putting out an HD version of Final Fantasy X for the PlayStation 3 and Vita. They announced that, and since then, we’ve had pretty much nothing in terms of details since. That was, until very recently, where the publisher launched an official site over at the aptly titled finalfantasyxhd.com. The site has the first official screenshots as well as confirming the rumour that the sequel, Final Fantasy X-2 is also getting the HD treatment, and both will come on the same disk on the PS3, as “Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster”. The screenshots show some fairly significant work on the textures, meaning Square are putting a little more effort into this than simply upressing the game to HD resolutions.

So why am I writing a blog post about this? Well, it’s rather simple: Final Fantasy X is my favourite video game. Ever.

There are a handful of games that I consider to be my favourites of all time, but organising them all into an ordered top 10, top 5 or even a top 3 is something I’ll probably never be able to achieve. The one thing that’s become abundantly clear to me over the past few years though, is that Final Fantasy X will always top that list. It and most, if not all, of my other favourite games all share one thing in common: they were released, or I played them, during my formative years. That time, around the ages of 7-15, where a great experience will stick with you much longer than most things would during adulthood. FFX released over here in May 2002, and I thoroughly played it well before the sequel’s release in February 2004, meaning I would’ve only been 12 or 13 at the time. Playing a Final Fantasy game at that age, games that dedicate a lot of time to world building, character arcs and epic plots, it’s no surprise it would stick with you. I would say FFX almost single-handedly influenced my tastes in games to come: a preference for those with a heavy focus on the story. Final Fantasy VII is similar, another game that I consider one of my favourite of all time.

Final Fantasy X released here on May 24th, 2002, five months after the North American release and ten months after the original Japanese release (because LOL EUROPE). The game was Square’s first foray onto the PlayStation 2 with Final Fantasy, as well as (if I remember correctly) one of their last major releases before the eventual merger with Enix. Being the first game on a new generation of hardware, there were understandably high expectations, especially after the well-received Final Fantasy IX only a year prior. X is the first in the series to feature voice acting of any kind, as well as just generally better looking graphics than its predecessors, including some, at the time, very impressive facial animation. The game was absolutely stunning at the time of its release, and still holds up fairly well to this day. Or at least, significantly better than the PSX games. Looking at you, Final Fantasy VII and your LEGO-like character models.

The iconic intro to the game,

The iconic intro to the game,

You play as Tidus, a star Blitzball (a sort of soccer-like game played in an underwater dome) player hailing from the massive and technologically advanced city of Zanarkand, the “city that never sleeps”. At the start of the game, Tidus is in the middle of playing a match when the city is attacked, and ultimately destroyed by, a huge monster known only as “Sin”. Tidus then finds himself transported and lost in a strange world known as Spira, with the eventual revelation that his city of Zanarkand was apparently destroyed a thousand years ago. Spira is a world ravaged by Sin, who destroys any city that grows too large, which results in a world that isn’t that advanced technologically, especially when compared to Tidus’s Zanarkand. Tidus quickly finds himself in the company of Yuna, a young summoner about to set off on her pilgrimage, the ultimate goal of which is to defeat Sin and bring about the Calm, a peaceful time that only lasts until Sin’s eventual rebirth.

I’m not going to go into much more detail about the story, even for a decade-old game, but Square’s strength in storytelling from previous entries in the series was as strong as ever, with a rich and detailed story, with some fantastic and truly heartbreaking twists and revelations. Compounded by the addition of a set of fully-acted characters, something not really feasible in previous games, there’s a reason why people consider Final Fantasy X to be the last great Final Fantasy game. Indeed, my only real flaw with the game’s storytelling was the decision to make Tidus a nameable character, meaning he is only ever referred to via pronouns during voiced dialogue, something that becomes even more painfully apparent during the game’s sequel, X-2.

The quality of the voice acting is surprisingly strong, given that it was Square’s first attempt at it in a major release. The English cast features some well known names including James Arnold-Taylor as Tidus, Tara Strong and Futurama’s own John DiMaggio. People in particular like to point out and laugh at the infamous “laughing scene“, something people love to take out of context and provide as an example of the “terrible” voice acting. While I’m not saying the scene should be held up as a fantastic example of quality voice acting, it’s not even close to being as bad as people like to make out, especially considering the apparently awfulness of the laughing is completely contextualised previously in the exact same scene. The laughter is intentionally forced, as Yuna asks Tidus to do it. She wants her journey to be full of smiles and laughter, to keep things positive during a tough and hard pilgrimage. After the characters themselves realise just how fucking stupid they sound, they eventually break into genuine laughter. As we all know though, the Internet loves to takes things and present them completely without context, so it’s not hard to see why in that sense, it seems like poor VA.

Auron, badass incarnate.

Auron, badass incarnate.

The game isn’t completely without some examples of poor voice acting though, with Hedy Burress’s performance of Yuna probably being the weakest link. While not terrible, she, for whatever reason, seemed to make a lot of attempts to try and sync her performance to the game character’s mouth movements… which are based off the original Japanese performances. This results in a lot of reads with a really weird and awkward cadence to them, though is something that thankfully doesn’t plague her entire performance, and Yuna’s VA is for the most part noticeably better in the sequel. For examples of great voice acting in the game, look no further than the character of Auron, the game’s resident badass, who spews well delivered, quotable lines like there’s no tomorrow.

Gameplay wise, if you’re familiar with Final Fantasy, or even just JRPGS in general, you should know what to expect. The battle system in FFX is purely turn-based however, the “Conditional Turn-Based Battle” (CTB) differing from the “Active Time Battle” (or ATB) system the series is well known for, which incorporated realtime elements into a turn-based system. X does away with that though, opting for pure turn-based shenanigans, even going so far as to include a HUD element that shows the exact order of the turns for the current battle. Different actions affect the turn of battle, and you can see how the current move changes the flow in the aforementioned HUD element without even confirming your turn, which allows for a great deal more strategy and planning than previous games would necessarily allow. The effects of time-altering magic such as Haste, which causes a character to speed up his or her actions, is now something you could directly see the benefits of instantly, due to that character’s face now showing up much more frequently in the turn order. Not only that, but the turn-based system allows you to play completely at your own pace, without having to worry about being at a disadvantage for taking your time with your moves, or having to mess around with the arbitrary speed settings that previous games would have.

X's battle system, with the turn indicator on the right.

X’s battle system, with the turn indicator on the right.

The game does away with a traditional overworld, something that would possibly lead to people’s criticisms of the later Final Fantasy games being too linear, something that people were very vocal about in Final Fantasy XIII. I’m not very familiar with the games pre-Final Fantasy VII, but the PSOne games in particular, when you really look at them, aren’t any less linear than X is. Sure, those games had an overworld, a world map where you could seemingly go wherever you wanted and do whatever you wanted, but that wasn’t the case. Remember when you finally left Midgar in Final Fantasy VII and were presented with the huge open map, letting you go anywhere? Except, the only place you could really go was to the small town of Kalm to the north-east, a place you where required to go to advance the plot. This holds true for the majority of the game, with the only time you’re really free to go as you please is at the end of the game, and even then, you can only do sidequests outside of finishing the game. I’m not terribly familiar with Final Fantasy VIII, but I seem to remember this mostly being the case for IX as well. Those games weren’t really any less linear than X and even XII were, they just gave the illusion of it. In fact, by stripping out the traversable overworld completely and just creating a bunch of well-designed, interconnected areas, I would argue this has a large benefit on the overall pace and structure of the game. Late in the game, you gain access to an airship, allowing you backtrack to anywhere in the game easily, but rather than manually piloting it throughout the world as in the previous games, you just select where you want to go from a menu, and are instantly warped there. X-2 turns this up to eleven by giving you access to most of the major areas in the game right from the get-go, and during the times you have multiple objectives to accomplish, the game lets you tackle them in any order you wish.

As for my opinions on Final Fantasy X-2? It’s a fairly stellar game that probably get a somewhat unfair rep due to the abundant fanservice and somewhat Charlie’s Angels-esque tone, something that largely takes a backseat after the first third or so of the game, before delving into more serious storytelling (though still a damn sight more upbeat than it’s predecessor). Regardless, the game overall is a fairly drastic shift in tone from it’s predecessor. Final Fantasy X opens with the annihilation of a city. X-2 opens with… a pop concert. It’s definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and had I not been such a huge fan of the first game, I’m not sure how I would’ve taken to it. For me at the time, just having more time to spend in that world with those characters was more than enough. The battle system is also pretty great, and one of the things that people consistently praise the game for, moving away from the previous game’s turn-based affair to something more closely resembling the ATB system that series veterans would be familar with, along with a job-switching system reminiscent of Final Fantasy… V? Like I said, I’m not terribly familiar with the Nintendo-era games. The battle system in X-2 however definitely places a lot more emphasis on the realtime aspect of battling than previous games that shared similar systems, with the game rewarding you when you manage to properly time and chain together attacks from multiple party members. It definitely makes for a more fast-paced and hectic playing game than X, stopping the sequel from just being more of the same. X-2 also has a pretty interesting soundtrack, with a fairly heavy J-Pop influence, for better or worse. It’s a far cry from the superb OST in the previous game composed by series veteran Nobuo Uematsu, but X-2’s music does a reasonably good job at setting the tone of the game, and features some genuinely fantastic standout pieces, the final battle music and the title-screen music being particular favourites of mine.

Probably about time I wrap this up a bit. I apologise for the somewhat ramble-y and not particularly well-structured post. I just really wanted to talk about FFX in light of the recent developments on the HD re-release front, as well as the fact it’s been almost a couple months since my last post. So if you made it this far, thanks for reading.