Published on January 2nd, 2015 | by Ricardo
GOTY 2014 — Ricardo: Super Smash Bros. for 3DS
2014 was an interesting year in the lifecycle of video games. The seeds of consumers’ discontent were sewn by disappointing offerings by big publishers this year, and though it might not be in 2015 where said publishers learn their lesson, that figurative crop is going to be reaped sooner rather than later.
Honestly, I take it as an encouraging sign, not a negative, that so many big games were received so poorly. A lot of that comes from a selfish standpoint—me fighting my own inability to juggle the obligations of being an adult. Thus, I end up resenting games that demands hours upon hours of my time with little emotional or physical payoff.
Before I go too far down this introspective road, I guess I should say that my game of the year is Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. I could laud the game for its sharp presentation, highlighting its high production values and amazing soundtrack. I could heap praise on its tight controls and gameplay that strike the perfect balance of accessibility and depth. I could mention how robust its suite of features is impressive for a handheld title.
All that is really inconsequential, though. The reason I love Super Smash Bros., particularly the Nintendo 3DS version over the overall superior Wii U version, is because, well, it helped remind me what it was like to really PLAY a game.
See, more and more I find myself looking to finish games, which leads me to NOT finish them. What I mean by that is I’ll sit down to play a game in the precious free time that I have, play it for a bit, identify (read: assume to understand) all the game has to offer and simultaneously identify whether it’s something I want to waste even MORE of my precious free time on.
Don’t get me wrong. I played a lot of games this year. I just revisited very few after this initial toe-dip.
That’s where the differences lay with my past and present gaming habits and what SSB made me realize. I used to play a game until I was finished with it; whether that was forever or not was up to how much I liked the game. Now I play games until they’re finished with me. A veritable, “are we done here?” posed at every credits screen I reach.
With Smash Bros., I regressed to a previous video gaming life stage (in a good way!). I became that kid again whose only video game choices on a weekday consisted of what carts he had lying around for his Gameboy. I returned to the kid who realized that a video game sans the need for a TV was probably the best thing he’d heard of.
And the kid who didn’t want to stop playing that game.
Runner Up: The Wolf Among Us
Now, my runner-up for my game of the year has nothing to do with all that, but it does embody the best of what my mature mind can process from video game storytelling. That game is The Wolf Among Us, an exemplary game which shows just how good the folks at Telltale are at weaving a tale.
But more to the point, it is also a masterclass in pacing. Much of that is due to its episodic content, but it’’s also a lost art in gaming today. Maybe that’s just it, and 2014 was a year of me running out of precious time for gaming. Only a few games affected me on an impactful level this year, and maybe that’s because… I’m growing up?
I hope that’s not the case, but that’s why both these games are so significant to me. A simple game that’s just fun– one that puts so much love and effort into being a game that just wants you to play? And to play ANYWHERE? A game you bring over to your friends house, sit on the couch and just play?
That’s a game worth something, and a game worth staying a kid for.