Best Games of 2014 Awardson January 7, 2015 by I love Japanese games
And so begins the new year. I have pulled down my Christmas decorations, put out the recycling – which makes me look like the sad lonely alcoholic I’m fast becoming – and I’ve finally r̶e̶m̶o̶v̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶o̶r̶p̶s̶e̶s̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶m̶ ̶u̶n̶d̶e̶r̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶s̶t̶a̶i̶r̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶b̶u̶r̶i̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶m̶ ̶u̶n̶d̶e̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶p̶a̶t̶i̶o̶ written all my thank you notes and sent them to my lovely family. Now, only ONE THING remains to be done.
And that’s to count the votes of our Best Games of 2014 poll.
Some of the winner are deserved. Some of the winners reflect VERY BADLY on all of you – making it clear what a miserable bunch of fools you really are. I mean HONESTLY, how can Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!! not win fighting game of the year? What’s WRONG with you people? You’re not entitled to an opinion if this is the kind of shit you’re going to pull. This is proof positive that democracy simply. doesn’t. work.
I despair, I really do. Lets get this bloody shambles over with shall we.
While we all know that the PlayStation Vita is really the best console of 2014 – even I have to admit that this was a pretty close call. Bravely Default and Persona Q have been worth the price of entry alone and us Europeans FINALLY got our ShinMegamni Tensei IV. I’m really pleased for Ninteno that the 3DS has blossomed into a console with a superb catalogue of ‘proper’ hardcore titles. I think it’s interesting that ‘gamers’ games have been the ones to ‘save’ the platform – rather than all that Dr Kawashima and Sudoku nonsense. Bring on the New 3DS and Xenoblade, that’s what I say.
RUNNER UP: Vita
Some of my more ‘casual’ gaming friends like to say things like ‘the PS Vita is dead’ – but the fact is, for fans of Japanese games, there really is no better console right now. There’s a steady stream of releases, very reasonably priced titles to download – either indie or Japanese – and there’s ALWAYS something to buy in the sale. I love my Vita – I love it A LOT – and if I had to total hours played on any console in 2014, Vita would win hands down.
THE LIFE AND HOMETOWN JAPANESE GAMES INDUSTRY LEGEND AWARD 2014 FOR SERVICES TO BOOB BASED VIDEOGAMING EXCELLENCE AND ALL ROUND AWESOMENESS AWARD
WINNER: Kenichiro Takaki
I love the fact that this guy knows what he likes and knows how to deliver it in style. He makes no apologies, he’s not ashamed, he’s proud of his love for the Moe – and he will continue to make the games he loves for the people who love them. Well done to him, and I hope Senran Kagura is a series that endures. Personally, I feel it’s misunderstood – and I’ve written an awful lot about it. If you’ve never sampled it, then you should buy it. You can get it for a great price, right HERE.
RUNNER UP: Kenichiro Takaki
Because he’s so awesome, he’s winning TWICE.
BEST MOBILE GAME
WINNER: Dragon Quest VIII
I was actually rooting for School Idol Festival but Dragon Quest won by a SINGLE VOTE! Amazing.
Anyway, I can’t really begrudge this as the winner. Dragon Quest VIII was one of my favourite PS2 JRPGs, which is saying something on a platform with such strong competition. The ability to play it on a smart phone is kind of mind blowing. Obvious concessions have been made in this port, of course – the sound is not as great as I remember it, and the framerate takes a hit at times – and playing portrait-style takes some of the grandure out of it, but there’s no denying, this is a console quality JRPG on your phone. Newcomers to the game should definitely check it out – even if it is a bit pricey for a mobile game.
RUNNER UP: School Idol Festival
This tickles every part of my gaming personality – the moe, the collecting of girls as if they’re Pokemon (yeah… that didn’t come over all creepy-sounding at all) and some rhythm-action and story bits thrown in too. I’m all about this kind of mobile game – and you should be too, what with it being FREE.
UNDER-APPRECIATED GEM 2014
WINNER: Freedom Wars
In the absence of any kind of Gods Eater 2 western release announcement, it fell to Sony to take key members from the original’s dev team and make a game that’s a little bit like it, sort of.
A game set in the far future, where criminals have a ludicrous prison sentence that they have to work off by doing really dangerous things in a Huntery-type-of-way. The result wasn’t quite what everyone was expecting – and disgruntled noises abound from those initially playing – but anyone who stuck with it found a really satisfying Vita hunter that proved ultimately rewarding. It had some nice new mechanic ideas too – namely the ‘Thorn’, a grappley rope that you could imbue with different properties.
What really did it for me though was the excellent art and character design – and the overall presentation and production values are top notch. Of all of this year’s Hunter-style games, this was the winner for me – just about edging it over the (also excellent) Toukiden.
RUNNER UP: Witch and Hundred Knight
Nice to see lots of you didn’t miss out on this! It’s a little moe, a little Diablo-like and, interestnigly, had a script and dialogue which was, frankly, filthy at times. Amazing scenes – check our review for the full story!
THE 2014 HIDEO BABA AWARD FOR BEING HIDEO BABA
WINNER: Hideo Baba
There was a time when I used to see Tales games and think to myself – ‘nope, we’ll never see THAT over here’. All that’s changing now thanks to this man – Mr Hideo Baba. I emailed Posh Alligator, who has actually SPOKEN TO HIM, to tell me a little more about his personality. The Alligator told me he was ‘tired, but seemed playful when asked a question about cats’. Apparently he also ‘likes this T-Shirt’ on the Rice Digital store.
RUNNER UP: Hideo Baba
FUN FACT: Although I haven’t spoken to Hideo Baba at length, I did meet him at MCM Expo once, where he signed a poster for me. I said ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ – I also touched his hand briefly and I can confirm that it was ‘warm’.
BEST MUSIC GAME
WINNER: Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd
Ooooooh, what a SURPRISE! Of course, it’s not a surprise. Everyone likes Hatsune Miku – even those who say they don’t. Actually, not everyone like Hatsune Miku. My Dad for example – he doesn’t like her – mainly because he has no active knowledge of her existence – but if he DID, he’d probably say something like ‘no’ when quizzed on whether or not he likes her.
Still, this game, which has got her in, is rather good – in a pressing buttons in time to the music kind of way. What I like most about Hatsune Miku Project Diva F Second other than the fact that its title takes forever to type out is that, when I start playing it, I’m utterly, utterly dreadful at it – but within a week, almost without noticing it, brain and hands synchronise so well, I feel like a goddamned cyborg.
RUNNER UP: Senran Akgura: Bon Appetit
TRUE CHRISTMAS 2014 STORY ALERT!
My dad: “can I look at your Vita?”
He scrolls through the pebbles, alphabetically arranged.
He reaches his finger towards Senran Kagura: Bon Appetite.
I feel my buttocks involuntarily clench for a second.
My dad: *Clicks Sonic Racing*
GO! GO! HYPER MOE AWARD
WINNER: HyperdimensionNeptunia Re;birth
Hooray for Hyperdimension! I’m glad this won an award this year because it’s that rarest of beasts – where a developer takes a game that, lets face it, really wasn’t that great in the first place – and gives it a port and freshen up that makes it perfectly relevant now, thank you. You can find my review of this Vita remake right here – but to surmise, it’s a colourful, whimiscal, often funny sunday-drive of a JRPG. What it lacks in high-end polish and production values it makes up for with a light-hearted story full of otaku culture humour and, well, is just very ‘nice’ to play.
RUNNER UP: Shinovi Versus
While I do like Senran Kagura Burst I think it really came to life with Shinvoi Versus on Vita – battles felt that much more dynamic, it benefited from not being in 3DS 3D and being in proper playable 3D – if you know what I mean. It was also nice to have a stable framerate so my eyeballs would function properly after playing. What really seals the deal for me though is that it’s an AMAZINGLY colourful game of sexy ninja dress up – and that’s basically all I ever really want from life…
After having enough money to eat and stay warm.
And having a soul mate who wants to spend the rest of their lives with me and bare my children.
And a job that I like.
And discovering what that awful smell is that comes from the vent out of my next door neighbours’ kitchen.
And to have my garden patio redone, because it’s quite badly frost damaged.
So yeah, basically, it’s like the sixth thing I ever really want out of life.
BEST VISUAL NOVEL
WINNER: Phoenix Wright Ace Attourney Trilogy
I think it’s fair to say that Ace Attourney is single handedly responsible for making The West start looking at Visual Novels as being anything other than really un-interactive games that only perverts play. It paved the way for companies to seriously consider releasing the likes of 999, Virtues Last Reward and Danganropa 1 and 2 (which frankly, I’m amazed didn’t win this category).
The original trilogy released some time ago now which means there will be plenty of you out there yet to read these. If you’re a Visual Novel newcomer who’s only really got to grips with the ‘Ronpas – then I would strongly suggest you pick his up. Like immediately.
RUNNER UP: Steins;Gate
Glad to see this make the cut. It’s no secret that I absolutely LOVE Steins;Gate. It’s a story about a bunch of young friends who find a way to send text messages into the past, and then have to deal with the consequences of their meddling. Personally, I feel it’s the best Visual Novel ever made. The best news of all is that it’s coming to PS Vita and PS3 this year – so there’s no excuse not to play it! If you want to get a physical copy of the game then apparently THIS is the best place to make sure you secure one.
BEST ACTION GAME
Personally, I would give this game a 7/10 because I am so thoroughly disgusted by some of the sexy bits in it. Sometimes, when the carmera zooms in on her boob and crotch areas, I have to go into the bathroom and wash my hands. When my mum sees me play it – she gives me ‘The Stare’ and won’t speak to me, or brush my hair tenderly, or hold my hand when I try to sleep at night. It’s awful. Really really awful.
What’s worse, is that it has given me a completely unrealistic expectation of what real girls are like. Apparently they don’t have gunlegs. Some of them aren’t even that sexy. Or wear glasses. Or even fight demons. I know this because my mother has told me what it’s like in the world outside the house. I hope to find out myself some day, because when I peek though the letterbox in our front door – I often see some real life girls walk past our driveway.
Some of them look quite nice, like they’d be a nice friend to talk to, or maybe watch Polar Express with, where Tom Hanks plays the Conductor? He seems like a swell guy that a girl might also like, and want to talk to me about. I like Tom Hanks. Although the real Tom Hanks looks like a bad version of the one in Polar Express. I don’t really know how to feel about that.
Unfortunately, those plans will have to wait as there are loads of locks on our door, so when my parents leave the house I’m kinda trapped inside. They’ve even glued the windows shut.
On the plus side, when they’re out of the house I CAN play Beyonetta 2 – which I can confirm is better than the original Bayonetta in ever conceivable way – which is pretty impressive, when the original was already one of the finest action games of all time.
RUNNER UP: Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed
Another of the games I reviewed this year. For a game that revolves around ripping people’s clothes off, it’s surprisingly unsexy – or rather, any sexiness isn’t that gratuitous and is pretty fleeting anyway. What you do have with Akiba’s Trip is a really solid brawler (with slight RPG elements), that’s nicely re-playable and steeped in otaku and gaming references. Personally, I think this is Acquire’s finest game to date – and a must for anyone with a Vita. Buy it here.
WINNER: Persona Q
Basically, someone, somewhere went – ‘what Etrian Odyssey needs is to have all the Persona 3 and 4 people in it, made kinda chibi-ish and then put into a game where you select your best Wifus or Bros – or Husbandos and Sis-es’ and then some other genius piped up with ‘yeah then like, lets jurrpg the hell out of it in a mappy, dungeoney game of exploring and giggling at Persona in jokes’.
And then they actually went ahead and made it!
This is the best idea anyone’s ever had, since they removed my shoelaces that time when there was that unfortunate misunderstanding, and I had to stay inside a whitewashed room for 24 hours for my ‘own protection’. Check out the review here.
RUNNER UP: Bravely Default
I think what really does it for me is Akihiko Yoshida’s amazing artwork. The character designs are nice, feeling very familiar, like an earthier, tea-soaked Final Fantasy – but it’s the world, the backdrops, the atmosphere that are real stars here. Mercifully, it’s backed up by a superb battle system too – with a great Risk-Reward and Job system that has amazing flexibility. Personally, it’s one of my favourite JRPGs this year.
BEST DOUJIN RELEASE
WINNER: Hatoful Boyfriend
Did everyone here vote for this in an ironic way? Basically, this is a dating Visual Novel where the entire cast are birds. It sounds ludicrous – and it is.
To be fair, the writing and localisation in this is pretty damn good – but I struggled to really put the time in, once the novelty of a visual novel based around birds had worn off. No matter how good the writing is, or how funny the concept, I just don’t have the hours in the day to dedicate to it. Lots of you seemed to enjoy it though – so well done to you – but how many of you ‘finished’ it? Honestly?
RUNNER UP: Magical Battle Festa
I want to say something constructive about this game, but I can’t. I really like the look of it – but I haven’t actually played it. So… er… I can’t really make any decent comment on it. Looks nice though – why don’t you google it and take a look. That’s what I did.
WINNER: Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax Suplex Hold
Persona 4 Arena was already an excellent fighter – what would you expect from Arc after all – but this one really refined it.
More characters certainly helped – because the original was kinda slight, but the tighter presentation, the continuation of the story and the addition of the shadows really helps beef it all up in terms of content. While Arcana Heart 2 LOVE MAX!!!!! is STILL the best fighting game of this year (as the wiser 4% of our readers will testify) you can’t argue that Arc have made a great fighter. Will it be the last purely sprite-based fighter Arc make – ‘Phantasma Extend notwithstanding? I hope not.
You can get the exclusive Fan Edition (Free Junes and Adachi Tees!) – as well as the cheapest Ultimax on the internet EVER, right here!
RUNNER UP: BlazBlue: Chronophantasma
Another deserving title and, honestly, the same applies to this as P4A Ultimax. As the old generation dies, these fighters represent Arcs tweaking and refinement coming to a head after many years of tinkering. Chronophantasma is a sublime piece of 2D fighting. Fast, colourful, gorgeous – not exactly accessible, but so rewarding. Few companies have the capacity to make fighting games where the roster feels truly unique from character to character. In this respect I think Arc System Works stand head and shoulders above the competition.
Never played BlazBlue? There are currently loads of BlazBlue’s going super-cheap over on the store here.
Can’t believe Atlus won this. I guess it’s my fault for adding them to the voting list in the first place. Fact is Atlus didn’t really develop much this year outside Etrian Odyssey II and Persona Q – and you could argue they’re kinda the same – so the question is WHAT THE HELL DID YOU PEOPLE VOTE FOR?! Did Atlus develop some secret games I’ve not even heard of?
I’m blaming this on the insane anticipation levels for Persona 5 – but more on that later.
RUNNER UP: Nintendo
Now here’s a worthy winner. Smash Bros? Amazing! Mario Kart? Awesome! Oh Nintendo – no one’s buying your Wii U, but you sure as hell know how to make a game polish until it shines. Unless that game is Captain Toads Treasure Tracker.
STEAM RELEASE 2014
WINNER: Valkyria Chronicles
This baby came out of nowhere. One minute I’m minding my own business – workin’ those spreadsheets, listening to the insufferable douchebags I call my work colleagues and browsing for Asuka Langley cosplays when she’s not in her plug suit – and the next thing I know, BOOM! The world goes all – ‘Valkyria Chronicles on Steam!’
It was like some kind of sexy, SEXY dream!
Outside Shenmue 3, a western release of Phantasy Star Online 2 and Sonic being shipped to Switzerland to be legally euthanised, this is literally the best news Sega could have come up with. Ever. To cut a long story short, it’s a brilliant, gorgeous SRPG with a lovely WW2 anime hybrid look and a great story. But then you know this already because practically everyone on Steam bought it, which almost makes up for the fact that it totally bombed on PS3.
RUNNER UP: Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes
I’ve made loads of jokes about how short this game is, but fact is, it’s supremely replayable – and shows off just how good Hideo Kojima and his Fox Engine really are. It’s great on PS4 and Xbox One – but it’s ever greaterererererererer on the PC thanks to the fact it looks better than anything else currently in existence. It’s also super-cheap, which is nice.
Would you like to hear a story about the sexual encounter which inspired Phantom Pain to be cut back to just 5 minutes in length? No? Don’t click on THIS then.
DAT GOTY 2014 THO’
WINNER: Super Smash Bros for Wii U
FALCON PUNCH! SHOW ME YOUR MOVES! YOU’RE TOO SLOW! HEEEEEYYYYAAAAAAAA! (ALSO: The terrifying muteness of Wii Fit lady). This is what my living room sounds like when my nephew’ is around. That and his whimpering cries as I give him a ‘friendly’ dead arms. What else do you need to know? Nintendo (and other) characters fighting each other? Is it legit? Is it more party game than serious fighter? Should I really spend more time arguing about the rule-set than actually PLAYING?
Fuck you Nintendo. I want to hate you sometimes – but when you’re this good, when you show this much love? I just can’t do it. You always have me crawling back.
RUNNER-UP: Persona Q
I’ve already talked about this one – you can’t possibly expect me to type anything else, surely. You do realise I’m writing this in work time and could totally get fired?
MOST WANTED 2015
You want it. I want it. We all want it.
That guy, with the hair? And the glasses? Boys want to be him. Girls want to date him. Hell, I’d be happy to be him and date him at the same time. Which is effectively what I’m doing with myself, in my actual life, right now. I can SO relate.
This game was meant for me! Persona 5 baby! WOOOOOO! Turtle Neck sweater ACTIVATE!
This is all I have to say about this right now because, seriously – 3000 words? It was never meant to be this long. You had better have enjoyed what I’ve written, because in all honestly, I’ve hated every minute pouring out my private life into this sordid little awards ceremony.
You still reading?
Gettoutta here before I call the police.
RUNNER UP: Final Fantasy XV
Otherwise known as Grease 3: Boys on patrol. Looks nice though, and will definitely raise the bar for digital hair cuts well into 2017.
I’m SO done. See the full breakdown of the voting right here!