RecSpec's Game of the Year 2014

This year was fun! I bought an Xbox One and a WiiU, the Vita and 3DS were strong, and there were a ton of great games. I am not one of those who would say that this year was a weak year for games, but maybe I'm just easily amused. Every time I figure out what my Game of the Year is, I'm happy. Remembering all of the good games I played and why I loved them is awesome. Japanese games that got released this year count if I didn't play them at Japanese launch.

10. Hyrule Warriors

Bow-wow!
Bow-wow!

I’m not really that big of a Zelda fan, but I do love Dynasty Warriors. This game was a brilliant combination of the two, fusing the Warriors gameplay everyone loves to hate with the Zelda universe. The best thing about the whole thing was the amount of detail in here. From the awesome character/boss intros to the chimera of a soundtrack that merges signature styles together, if you even have a small appreciation for Zelda, you will be highly entertained. But what cements it on this list for me is the Chain Chomp being a weapon. Link’s Awakening is my first and favorite Zelda game, and I’m happy to see it represented.

9. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

It is really hard to find pictures that don't spoil anything from this game.
It is really hard to find pictures that don't spoil anything from this game.

“It’s Zero Escape meets Persona meets Ace Attorney!” That is all I heard about this game. Being hyped to death by people who only watched a let’s play instead of playing it. People had their favorite characters and couldn’t stop talking about it. No way it could live up to that hype when it finally came out here right? Well, it did. An amazing set of characters, a brilliant premise that makes ANY spoiler potentially devastating, and a gorgeous soundtrack from the mind that gave us No More Heroes’ awesome soundtrack. I met people, grew close to them, found them dead, found out they were murderers. What a cool game.

8. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

This is all dust.
This is all dust.

I will never play World of Warcraft, or regular Warcraft for that matter, but turn it into a card game and I’m there. The best thing about Hearthstone is the way I got attached to my Shaman and the creatures in my deck. Once I finished the tutorial and unlocked all of the basic cards, I never touched another class unless it was to do a daily mission, and I eventually stopped that too. I was only playing as the Shaman, with my Mana Tides and Overloads and it was really engrossing for a while. Never did get the Golden Shaman, maybe one day.

7. Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare

Slowing down an enemy and then eating it with the Chomper is extremely satisfying.
Slowing down an enemy and then eating it with the Chomper is extremely satisfying.

Two EA shooters tried to win my heart, this one succeeded. I never really played Plants vs Zombies (at this point I realize that this is a recurring theme of this list, and I apologize), but I love the classes and the costumes. There are a lot of different ways to play, and it’s a slower paced game, which is a nice change of pace from every other shooter in the history of games. The co-op is neat, but I spent most of my time in the competitive modes. Calling an airstrike on a base and then picking off the survivors with the Cactus is a blast, but so is kicking a bomb into a crowded area and then rushing in as the All Star. The colorful world and characters make this one a lot of fun to come back to.

6. Sunset Overdrive

The Fizzie boss battle looks amazing as you're playing it. Even better, it plays as good as it looks.
The Fizzie boss battle looks amazing as you're playing it. Even better, it plays as good as it looks.

So imagine a game set in the world of Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 without skateboarding. One that replaces the Jackass humor with a constant barrage of smart self-aware jokes. It feels like it hits the balance of references and jokes that Borderlands never does. Getting around the world is exciting when you learn the right abilities and figure out how to tie them together. The combat is also pretty neat with the right combinations of powerups and weapons, but the traversal is the star here. The game has some of the best bosses of the year, using the mechanics in new and cool ways. All of this aside, it’s the writing that will make me remember this game. Fizzie, you’re the real asshole.

5. Freedom Planet

Hard to tell from a screenshot but the game looks gorgeous in motion. Some of the boss battles are stunning.
Hard to tell from a screenshot but the game looks gorgeous in motion. Some of the boss battles are stunning.

Freedom Planet is probably the best Sonic game to come out in a long time, and it’s not even a Sega game. What started as a Sonic fangame eventually turned into a love letter to platformers of the 90s. It pulls a lot of elements from some of the best games in the 90s, you have the speed of Sonic, the boss fights of Gunstar Heroes, and sometimes it’s a little like Ristar. Some of the boss battles and platforming are tough at first, but once you know what to do you can skillfully cruise through them extremely fast. I had fun replaying a lot of the stages in the game. There is even a story that is overall pretty well done, even if it’s a bit cheesy at times. The different characters played very differently, and it was fun finding new ways to go through stages. One of the best platformers of the year for sure.

4. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle

Come for the David Bowie look-alikes, stay for the music references (the thing in the back is Killer Queen)
Come for the David Bowie look-alikes, stay for the music references (the thing in the back is Killer Queen)

I got into Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure this year. I watched all 52 episodes of the current anime run and read the entire manga series up to the current point. The manga started in 1986! The demo of this game was the main reason I got into it. I mean, I had the Capcom game, but never paid much attention. This game caused me to get into the whole series. It’s your typical anime fighter (Think Naruto and Dragonball Z anime fighters, not Guilty Gear and Persona). The gameplay isn’t Street Fighter, but the references and stuff for the fans of the series is top notch. The presentation is amazing, and has the proper respect for the source material. Even if you’re not into Jojo, the sheer spectacle of it all is enough to warrant a look. This was made by the team behind Asura's Wrath, and if anyone knows sheer spectacle it’s them. One character can use his super to cause you to fight in space, while another uses the American flag to teleport you to another dimension and cause a paradox with your alternate self. Even if you never plan to watch an episode or read a chapter of Jojo, the game stands up well enough on it’s own for a fun multiplayer session, even if the fighting isn’t the centerpiece

3. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

Again, really hard to post screenshots of these games.
Again, really hard to post screenshots of these games.

As much as I loved the first game, the second one completely blew it out of the water. The same similar scenario, people trapped on an island and being forced to kill each other to escape. In this game though, the characters are much better and some of the murders are absolutely brilliant. This game is always a step ahead of you, you may find something wrong or off about it, but trust me, that’s intentional. Like the first game, because of the premise, it’s hard to talk about much because of spoilers, but I have to say the 5th Trial/Investigation is one of my favorite things I have ever played. From the build up to the murder, to the actual murder and investigation to the trial, everything about it is nearly perfect. That alone would put this game on my list, but everything else surrounding it is great as well.

2. Destiny

In all seriousness, Destiny has been talked to death. It hooked me, what can I say? I have one character, my level 29 Hunter. I have only done one nightfall, and zero raids. I don’t like playing with people, and I just play solo. Mainly, I like playing to find new stuff and level up my Dead Orbit reputation, and I enjoy Destiny’s multiplayer more than Call of Duty and Titanfall. I’m not going to defend Destiny’s questionable choices, but I liked it a lot.

1. Puyo Puyo Tetris

Fuck Tetris. I never liked that game. Growing up, I’d always try to get back into it only to go back to my mindset. I even bought the absolutely brilliant Tetris DS, which I appreciate as a well put-together game, and until this year it was the best Tetris experience out there, but once again, yeah. I didn’t like the lines thing, I didn’t like how a missed block can block a perfectly good Tetris opportunity.

I begrudgingly learned concepts like Perfect Clear patterns and T-spin triples because of this game, despite my previous hatred towards Tetris.
I begrudgingly learned concepts like Perfect Clear patterns and T-spin triples because of this game, despite my previous hatred towards Tetris.

What does this have to do with Puyo Puyo Tetris? The game is a crossover between Tetris and Puyo Puyo (popular puzzle game in Japan that most Americans only know as Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine). There is a story mode, and to get to the end you have to play through various stages and rulesets. Now, based on the name of the game, one would assume it’s half Tetris and half Puyopuyo right? So for one to finish the game you’re going to have to play Tetris. Now you see my problem. So I thought to myself, I’m going to just bullshit these Tetris stages and get to the good stuff, much to my chagrin, I had to learn how to play Tetris to advance. I should have just said goodbye and left, but I really, REALLY like Puyo Puyo, so I had to finish the game. So...I learned how to play Tetris. Even worse, I started to enjoy Tetris just a bit. I learned T-spins, learned the best way to clear a lot of lines at once, and so on. I’m 27 years old and have hated Tetris my whole life and Puyo Puyo Tetris finally got me to end my vendetta.

Try PuyoTetMix once and then run away before your brain melts.
Try PuyoTetMix once and then run away before your brain melts.

Personal history aside, PPT is a beautiful puzzle game. The Puyo stuff is amazing as always, but adding Tetris allowed Sega to go crazy and make some insane modes. There is a swap mode that has you playing Tetris for awhile and then switching to Puyo, like a puzzle version of chessboxing. A mode that has powerups like Mario Kart which can cause your opponent to mess up. And I’m not even going to start talking about PuyoTetMix, which is something best locked away in a laboratory (It’s Puyopuyo and Tetris on the same board, and it’s crazy and indecipherable). Having Puyo Puyo vs Tetris matches actually work really well.

It’s import only and will probably stay that way because Ubisoft can’t stop mucking up the Tetris license over here, but if you like puzzle games, this is mandatory. This game single handedly caused my vita to get as much playtime as any of my consoles this year. This was my Game of the Year shortly after it came out in February, and nothing came close to dethroning it. Puyo Puyo Tetris is my game of the year.

Congratulations to Puyo Puyo Tetris, my Game of the Year!
Congratulations to Puyo Puyo Tetris, my Game of the Year!

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