Top 5 Games of 2014

Mario Kart

As the start of 2015 comes to a close, Nerve Online looks at the best games of last year to beat those winter blues.

Edited by Rebecca Pates

2014 has been a rather peculiar year for games. Youtuber ‘Superbunnyhop’ noted that, while last year was all about narrative innovations in gaming with games like Brothers and The Last of Us, 2014 was the year where gaming got silly again. While there were still some games that really pushed the envelope in terms of what games can accomplish, a majority of releases instead focused on delivering more bombastic and rehashed experiences of what we have come to expect.

Being silly isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, as many games on this list encapsulate experiences that offer pure joy and entertaining game-play without any pretentiousness getting in the way. The games on this list honour the best of a just plain fun year.

NOTE: I do not own an Xbox One or Playstation 4, I play a majority of my games on the PC and the Wii U. I also have not had a chance to check out many of the ‘newer’ games of this year like Far Cry 4 or The Evil Within as they are a little too pricey right now for my student wallet. With that said, let’s dive right into the list:

5. SHOVEL KNIGHT

Shovel Knight

It’s strange to think that a game modeled on software from the 1980’s would appear on a top ten list in 2014, but Shovel Knight is just irresistibly excellent. Everything about this game just evokes pure nostalgia, thanks to several nods to games from our childhoods. Everything it borrows gives back so much more through its stellar music, stages, boss fights and tone. Playing as the titular knight is responsive and intuitive and you are on his side the entire way as he battles towards his long lost love. His journey also lends itself to one of the best and most unique after-level mini-games of all time, as you are forced to hopelessly forced to fend off waves of enemies to catch your falling beloved, all while blending narrative and gameplay seamlessly. Just experiencing this sequence alone is worth the price of admission.

4. BINDING OF ISAAC: REBIRTH

Isaac Rebirth

The original Binding of Issac was a game I picked up on a whim for £1, I expected to enjoy its gimmick briefly and then forget about it. Instead I ended up racking over 70 hours of gameplay on it. Now that this new and updated version has come out, I have little reason to go back to the old game since Rebirth improves on every single aspect of the game. The controls are tight, the art-style is equal parts hideous and mesmerising, but it is the difficulty and random elements that makes this game more addictive than any mobile app and more satisfying than many other releases this year.

3. MARIO KART 8

Mario Kart 8

I still can’t believe just how pretty this game looks and how well it plays. It is apparent from the moment you start your engines that a lot of love went into the craft of this latest entry in the Mario Kart franchise. While it doesn’t re-invent the reward wheel, it is still a blast to knock out your opponents while travelling up a waterfall or hanging upside-down. With the second additional content package due to be released in May, there is more than enough reason to keep coming back to the most complete Mario Kart experience to date.

2. TOWERFALL ACSENTION 

Towerfall Ascension

If Mario Kart makes you horribly competitive, then steer clear of Towerfall Acsention. The game pits 2-4 archers head-to-head in a battle to the death. A series of inventive and fun to abuse power-ups like exploding and ricocheting arrows are thrown into the mix to keep players on their toes and the core mechanics are simple to pick-up,. but have a lot of depth to them. It’s laughably cheap as well compared to other games on this list. Once you invite a couple of friends over to play ‘this cheap little indie game I picked up’, it becomes clear that your money was well spent on this cracking game that will make you and your friends scream ‘One more game!’

1. SUPER SMASH BROS

Smash Bros

The number one spot was very heated this year in my mind, like a phoenix from the ashes, the local multiplayer genre made a comeback this year and in that category no game boasts the sheer content and fun factor of Super Smash Bros for Wii U. The roster is expansive and balanced featuring characters spanning all of Nintendo’s most popular games and even including some great outsiders as well. It’s exhilarating seeing all these characters fight one another in a way that so beautifully uncharacteristic it’s hard not to smile when you see Mario unleashing destruction on Princess Peach. The fighting feels tighter than ever, and while you can’t take advantage of the wave-dashing mechanics seen in Melee, everything feels responsive. This is a game that is begging to be played on a sofa with friends in yelling distance. Landing that one killer blow on a friend you never thought you could beat provides a rush you will tell you grand-kids about. Plus there is an absolute shed-load of collectible trophies, music tracks and special moves ensuring that OCD types will always be coming back for more.

In a year full of slightly silly, maybe less respectable games, Smash Brothers at least gives us the chance to share the best of that sillyness with friends.

See the extended top 10 list on my personal blog here