Retronaissance’s Most Anticipated Games of 2014

2013’s come to an end and it’s time to look forward to the glory waiting for us this year. I’m Professor Icepick and welcome to Retronaissance’s Most Anticipated Games of 2014. I asked each of my fellow writers for the Retronaissance blog to come up with a top 10 list of the games they’re most looking forward to seeing this year. So, without further ado, here are the lists:

Shellshock

10. South Park: The Stick of Truth (PC/360/PS3)

I was always a South Park fan, and I’ll be honest, I never got to play any of the video games back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. When I first saw footage of this game in 2012, I was surprised at how good it looked, considering it looked exactly like an episode of the show. The gameplay looks similar to that of the Paper Mario series, which is cool, since that series is awesome. After switching publishers and constant delays, it’s still not stopping me from picking this game up. Whenever it comes out, I’m ready to play Stick of Truth!

9. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (Wii U/PS3/PS4/etc.)

This was one of the games that I backed money on a Kickstarter campaign. The Shantae series is pretty cool, and from how good Half-Genie Hero looks, it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to. Also, WayForward knows how to put a lot of time and effort into their games when given the opportunity to, so I definitely know they’ll prove to everyone that this game will be as fun as it can be.

8. Shantae and The Pirate’s Curse (3DS)

After two games, WayForward announced a third game in 2012. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is the direct sequel to Shantae: Risky’s Revenge for DSiWare, and I couldn’t ask for more from WayForward than a new 3DS Shantae game. It still has the Metroid-esque style settings in terms of hidden paths and a map, but it also has the same level style and gameplay from the other games that anyone can enjoy.

7. Bravely Default (3DS)

I like some old school RPG’s when I was a kid, especially the Final Fantasy games from Squaresoft (Before they were Square Enix). Square Enix released Final Fantasy: Four Warriors of Light for the Nintendo DS in 2010, and Bravely Default looks like a spiritual successor to that game. This game goes back to the old school RPG route, with such features as a turn-Based Combat and Multi-Hit combos, as well as a job system. I was hyped for this when I first saw it on a Japanese 3DS Conference back in 2011, and I couldn’t wait for this game to come out.

6. Shovel Knight (Wii U/3DS/PC)

What do you get when you have a game that takes elements from Metroid, Castlevania, Mega Man, and Ducktales put together? You would get a game like Shovel Knight. Shovel Knight is an 8-bit Adventure/Platformer from Yacht Club Games, a team of former WayForward Technologies employees, which captures an 8-bit style to resemble NES games. It was another game that was part of a Kickstarter campaign, where it reached past its goal and raised over $300,000. In this game, you control a blue knight that has a shovel as a weapon, which you can use to dig up treasures, destroy barriers, and attack enemies. I got to try this game out at New York Comic Con 2013 at the Nintendo Lounge, and this game justified my Kickstarter backing.

5. Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

For every new generation Nintendo console or handheld, there is a guarantee that there will be a new Mario Kart game. I was always a fan of the Mario Kart games, and I enjoyed DS and 7 the most in the series, and I got to try out Mario Kart 8 at Nintendo World during E3 week, and the gamepad controls are natural for me, since I am used to the DS/3DS style. The visuals were outstanding, from every detail of the characters and setting, to the lighting, were all top notch. It is definitely one game on the Wii U that will keep me busy for a while, at least until when Smash Bros. comes out.

4. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U)

When the Wii U was announced, I was long hoping for a sequel to Donkey Kong Country Returns on the platform, as I loved that game very much. When Nintendo announced Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, I was ecstatic, and couldn’t wait to play it during E3 week. When I gave the game a try, I really liked what they did with this game, and loved how big the levels were. I expected Dixie Kong to make her return in this game, but Cranky Kong as a playable character took me by surprise. Tropical Freeze looks promising, and I’m ready and waiting for my time to play this game!

3. Monolith Soft’s X (Wii U)

I’ll be very honest here, as of this writing, I have yet to start Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii. I know, I know, I will eventually get to it, but in spite of that, Monolith Soft’s X looks visually stunning, and also looks like I will get a lot out of this game. I really liked the landscapes within the game, and make no mistake about it, I really want to play an adventure as epic as this.

2. Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)

Platinum Games is one of my favorite developers, and I enjoyed Bayonetta (I still have to beat it though, but I will this year), but Bayonetta 2 surprised me when it was revealed back at the 2012 September conference. I got to play the demo at New York Comic Con 2013, and it instantly sold me the minute I started the game. They really improved on every aspect of the original, and I must say, this is definitely worth buying a Wii U for.

1. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS & Wii U (3DS/Wii U)

If there is any reason to be hyped for a Nintendo home console, it’s the fact that a Super Smash Bros. game is guaranteed to appear. This time, however, there is a handheld version of the game on the Nintendo 3DS, with its own unique stages based on the handheld Nintendo games, while the Wii U version will have stages based on the console games. What made me really excited for this game the most was that Mega Man is in this game as one of the guest characters. Watching the match between Mario vs. Mega Man at E3 2013, I witnessed the game being a lot faster than Brawl, which is a step up, as well as the characters getting knocked down/knocked out easily in comparison. I am definitely getting both games and play nonstop Smash Bros. for as long as I can.

SNES Master KI

10.  “Yarn Yoshi” (Wii U)

As minimal as the information surrounding this game is, Good Feel has not only proven themselves capable of making great platformers, the ones they’ve made have felt more like Yoshi’s Island than the franchises they were using.  Whether Year of Yoshi is real or not, I will definitely get Yarn Yoshi when it arrives

9.  Professor Layton X Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (3DS)

While I haven’t sought much information on this game (it was announced during the heartbreak over Ace Attorney Investigations 2 time period), I love both series and will definitely be picking it up whenever Nintendo of America gets around to releasing it

8.  Infamous: Second Son (PS4)

While I sadly will not be able to play this at launch, maybe not even in 2014 (Sony, you can rectify this if you have Naughty Dog make a platformer), Second Son still looks great.  The Infamous series does everything about sandbox games perfectly, and this one even lets me explore my home city.  If I wasn’t purposefully not focusing on it due to not having a PS4 in the near future, it might be even higher.

7.  Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

With great looking levels (that SMG stage…) and what will probably be the best online support in a Mario Kart to date, Mario Kart 8 may not be radically different from previous entries.  That doesn’t matter though, MK8 is both a great technical showcase for Wii U and sure to give hours of racing chaos and fun.

6.  Kirby Triple Deluxe (3DS)

After 15 years of unsuccessful attempts, Nintendo finally captured the magic of Kirby Super Star in the Wii’s Kirby’s Return to Dreamland.  Kirby Triple Deluxe seems to have the same deep power system and lively level design that Kirby was missing for quite a while, as well as some great looking mini-games.  With Nintendo’s far stronger first party quality on 3DS than previous portables, I have high expectation for Triple Deluxe.

5.  Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (PS3/360/PC)

Even if it played like God of War (and copying another franchise is something the METROIDvanias would clearly NEVER do), Lords of Shadow was the best console Castlevania in generations and a reasonably faithful vision of how the classic series would work in 3D.  Arguably the best part was the trailer for the sequel at the end, however, and in 2014 we will finally get it.  It isn’t clear how much of the game will be the futuristic playable Dracula versus Satan battle we were teased with, but either way it should be a great action game.

4.  Monolith Soft’s “X” (Wii U)

Xenoblade somehow managed to live up to the hype it was given when it wasn’t confirmed for a North American release, and it was successful enough to get a sequel which was immediately confirmed for worldwide release.  While not much is known about X, Monolith Soft has definitely earned trust that it will be fantastic and fill a gap not only in Nintendo’s library, but home consoles in general.

3.  Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)

One of the most unexpected and awesome things Nintendo has done recently is saving the Bayonetta franchise.  Filling a gap Nintendo desperately needs while giving Platinum the funding they need, Bayonetta 2 is a win for everybody.  But most of all it is a win for gamers, a sequel to one of the best action games of all time given the attention it deserves even if a lot of that is from disgruntled Nintendo haters.

2.  Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze (Wii U)

After the amazing Donkey Kong Country Returns, no one but EAD Tokyo can make a platformer that excites me as much as Retro.  With some of the aesthetics people wouldn’t shut up about DKCR missing, Tropical Freeze should make February feel as warm as Christmas.

1.  Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS (Wii U/3DS)

Even with so many things we don’t know about it, there are two factors that skyrocket my hype.  One is Mega Man, my holy grail of desired characters ever since Snake was announced for Brawl.  After all he’s been through, Mega Man being invited to a tournament of Nintendo legends could not have come at a better time for maximum emotional impact.

The second is online play.  Smash Bros. with a competent online system has been one of my most desired games for over a decade, and the time seems to have finally come.

Honorable Mentions

  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS3/PS4/360/XBO): The Metal Gear series hasn’t been the same for me since Metal Gear Solid 3, but I’ll always hold out hope that something (besides the completely different Revengeance) will return it to what I loved.  At only $30, Ground Zeroes will be a fairly painless risk.
  • Shovel Knight (Wii U/3DS/PC): While I have trouble getting excited about download games until we have an exact date (I still hate the Meat Boy developers), Shovel Knight looks great as a tribute to old-school platformers.
  • Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z (PS3/360/PC): As confusing as this game’s announcement was, an Inafune-led action game is definitely something I’m willing to look into.

Negative Hippie

10. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (3DS)/Half-Genie Hero (PC/Wii U/etc.)

It’s so nice to see Shantae going from a constantly limboed series to a rather healthy one. After a rather good show with Risky’s Revenge for the Nintendo DS, WayForward is working on Half-Genie Hero and the Pirate’s Curse, both of which look rather fantastic.

9. South Park: The Stick of Truth (PS3/360/PC)

I wasn’t really paying attention to this title up until just recently when I saw a gameplay trailer, which hooked me almost instantly. The animation was spot-on, the writing was funny, and it reminded me of Paper Mario. Plus, Princess Kenny.

8. Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS)

Icepick may decry Kirby Super Star sequels, but quite frankly, duck him in the butt (it’s where put a duckbill in between his butt cheeks). The reason why Kirby games often emulate this one is because to this day it still has the best of everything. Despite this, Triple Deluxe perhaps does a better job of being a Super Star sequel while also having enough new ideas to spare.

7. The Witness (PC/PS4/iOS)

Icepick may decry art games, but quite frankly he needs to go bear his butt (it’s where you get mauled only in the butt, but not necessarily by a bear). After the solid puzzle-solving game that Braid was and still is, I have nothing but utter anticipation for this game. Plus, there’s like more than 1000 different foot step sound effects!

6. A Hat in Time (PC/WiiU?)

Icepick m– *smack* sorry. Anyway, A Hat in Time is not only an indie title – and I’ll admit to bias toward supporting fresh indie faces – especially when they make a game visually inspired by The Wind Waker and mechanically by Banjo-Kazooie. All I’ve seen of A Hat in Time makes me think that it will be a real return to form in an industry where a collection-based adventure platform game is a dinosaur.

5. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PC/PS4/Vita)

Now we’re getting into the big leagues. Before this entry, the games – all of which I’m sure I’ll love and all of which will probably be great – pale in comparison to the top five here. Hotline Miami was one of my favourite games from last year. Literally everything about it was a positive for me (aside from the fact that I couldn’t play it at max settings), and I’m sure that this one is going to excite me just as much.

4. The Walking Dead: Season 2 – Episodes 2-4 (PC/360/PS3/etc.)

While the first episode was released in 2013, I couldn’t justify considering it as a game of that year as only a fifth of the actual game had come out this year. I was also originally going to feature The Wolf Among Us’ remaining episodes, but to fit more games, I chose this only. Anyway, Episode 1 made a pretty strong impression on me, so I suppose it’s almost unfair to give it inclusion since it has such a good advantage against its competitors. Clementine is a dear, and I just want to make sure that she’s all safe and sound. Unfortunately this is a zombie game famous for inducing feels, so…

3. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (Wii U/3DS)

Really, unless you really hate Smash Bros. and/or Nintendo, I can’t see why you would not have this somewhere on your list. The characters revealed so far have been great, and there’s very little that can be done to dampen my interests. Even if it’s as disappointing as Brawl was, I’m sure we’ll get a Project Project M! The only thing that could kill my interest would be if they didn’t include Little Mac. Sakurai wouldn’t do anything like that… right? Right?

2. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (PC/PS4/Vita)

The Binding of Isaac is probably in my top 10 most-played games ever. It’s super addictive and encourages constant replays. Unfortunately, it’s held back by a pretty faulty engine. Tons of bugs, weird mechanics, and unbalanced characters (looking at you Samson, you weak piece of shit). Most importantly, it’s a huge pain to find a computer that something that seems so imple can run on. Not only is Rebirth going to fix all of that, it’s adding tons of new content and an awesome 16-bit art style. Hopefully the people who were wary of its flaws will pick this one up.

1. Professor Layton X Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (3DS)

This is a bit of a fanboy entry. It’s probably not legitimately this high – even for me – but I simply cannot put it anywhere else but number one. The puzzles of Professor Layton, the trials of Ace Attorney, and most importantly, Maya’s first appearance in the series in the past seven years! I absolutely can’t wait for this awesome game.

Professor Icepick

10. Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (3DS)

Even though they’ve been done to death in everything from movies and video games, I still love a good crossover.  When they first announced this game, I was incredibly excited, as I’m a huge fan of both the Professor Layton and the Ace Attorney series. At the same time, however, I was a bit skeptical over the game getting a North American release. Nevertheless, after a few years of waiting, it’s finally hitting North America and Europe. Unfortunately, the fact that it took so long is what puts it at number 10.

9. Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z (360/PS3/PC)

What happens when you take Ninja Gaiden, zombies and Keiji Inafune and mix them all together into one project? You get Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, a spinoff from the modern hack-and-slash incarnation of the Ninja Gaiden which also borrows a few aspects from Inafune’s earlier work, Dead Rising. Factor in the extra throwback mode which turns the game into an old-school arcade beat-‘em-up, some unlockable costumes (including Beck, from another Inafune project Mighty No. 9), a storyline that doesn’t take itself too seriously and stylish designs, and you’ve got a prime contender for best action game of 2014.

8. Ultra Street Fighter 4 (360/PS3/PC)

Sure, it’s just another update to 2008’s Street Fighter 4, but this looks to be an even bigger game changer than the original Super update. Adding in entirely new fighting mechanics, new modes like online training and an enhanced team battle mode, and throwing in 5 “new characters”: Hugo, Poison, Elena and Rolento from Street Fighter X Tekken and an as of yet unknown 5th challenger who is said to be making their first playable appearance in a fighting game, USF4 is a far bigger expansion than the previous Arcade Edition and AE ver. 2012 updates. Better still, it’s going to be available as both a digital update and a physical package.

7.  Cryamore (PC/Wii U/PS3/360)

The first independent game on my list, Cryamore is an action-RPG that takes inspiration from games like The Legend of Zelda, MegaMan Legends and Brave Fencer Musashi and it’s a game I personally helped crowdfund. With beautiful 2D animation, endearing characters, an amazing soundtrack and truly interesting combat and puzzle mechanics relying on the titular material, Cryamore is really shaping up to be something special.

6. Blazblue Chronophantasma (PS3)

I’ll be completely honest here: Blazblue was the first fighting game Arc System Works made that I actually enjoyed (let’s just say I had some bad first experiences with the Guilty Gear series). So I’m really looking to the next entry in the series, due to the continuation of the storyline and the new fighting game mechanics. Most importantly, my favorite NPC in the entire series is finally becoming a playable character: the perpetually-cranky scientist catgirl, Kokonoe.

5. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (PC/Wii U/etc.)

I’ve known about the Shantae series from the beginning, and although I’ve only played a bit of the first, I’ve fallen in love with the series. Effectively one of the best “Metroid-like” exploration games out there, WayForward is finally bringing Shantae to consoles and with gorgeous high-definition graphics. It’s another game I contributed to on Kickstarter, and they’re still taking pledges via PayPal in order to make for an even bigger, better game.

4. Shovel Knight (PC/Wii U/3DS)

Yet another of my Kickstarter darlings and made by some ex-WayForward developers, Shovel Knight is a blast from the past, inspired by classics like MegaMan, Castlevania and Ducktales. I’m really looking forward to this, especially since it was originally intended to drop this year. Still, Yacht Club Games clearly realizes that a delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad, and given all the game’s additional content, I’m sure it will be worth the wait.

3. Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)

The original Bayonetta was one of the best action games I played last generation. With an interesting story, endearing characters and extremely solid gameplay, it was the total package and made me fall in love with Platinum Games as a developer. So when Nintendo announced that they were financing a sequel as a Wii U exclusive, I was ecstatic, though many fans did not share my enthusiasm. While 2014 is a speculative date, it’s the only real one I’ve seen regarding Bayo2. Here’s hoping it’s real.

2. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze (Wii U)

The Donkey Kong Country games on the Super Nintendo are among my favorite old-school games from the 16-bit era, so when they finally returned on the Wii, courtesy of Retro Studios back in 2010, I was ecstatic. Finding out at E3 2013 that Retro was working on a sequel just made me that much happier. So many aspects from the old games that I missed are returning: David Wise providing the soundtrack, water levels and Dixie Kong. Better yet is the new stuff, the ability to attack while swimming, throwing mechanics akin to those from SMB2 (well, the game’s producer did work on Doki Doki Panic) and Cranky Kong makes his playable debut in a mainline DKC game with pogo cane skills that would even make Scrooge McDuck jealous. There’s only one thing dampening my excitement for this game, and it was the fact that it originally set to be released back in November.

1.  “Super Smash Bros. 4” (Wii U/3DS)

Oh come on, it was obvious. I mean, they put MegaMan on the roster, they brought back Sonic and Sakurai has promised a balance between the tournament-friendly style of Melee and the fun of Brawl. Not to mention the fact that this time around, Nintendo has a far better handle on online multiplayer, so we’ll finally be getting a Smash Bros. with real online, instead of the laggy abomination that was Brawl.  Namco Bandai and Masahiro Sakurai are teaming up to bring us this game and frankly I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Did I mention MegaMan and Sonic were in it?

Honorable Mentions

  • Strider (PS3/360/PC): This game just barely missed out on the list, but considering how well the latest Killer Instinct was received, this could end up being the game that puts Double Helix on the map.
  • A Hat in Time (PC): A collect-a-thon that evokes classics like Banjo-Kazooie and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and yet another game I supported on Kickstarter.
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth (360/PS3/PC): I love South Park and I love the Paper Mario series. So of course I’m gonna love it when you mix the two of them together. I just think I would’ve loved it more if it had come out this year like it was supposed to.
  • Watch_Dogs (PC/XBO/etc.): Well, it’s a new IP and a sandbox game that actually looks pretty interesting. Of course, it was originally supposed to be out this year, but it got delayed due to some issues with the next-gen versions.
  • Freedom Planet (PC): This is probably the most obscure game I’ll mention, but it’s another indie game I helped to crowdfund. Long story short: it’s Sonic the Hedgehog meets Gunstar Heroes. Fun, fun stuff.
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