Tuesday, December 30, 2014

SuperPhillip Central Best of 2014 Awards - Top Five Biggest Surprises

Plenty of times I've hyped myself up on a game in dramatic, frenzied fashion only to have a cloud of disappointment blow up in my face. Then there are the times that are much better-- when I don't think much about a game (if I think about it at all) and when I finally play, I'm floored by how good it is. These five games on this list were games that either weren't looking so hot initially, were completely overlooked by me until I played them, or had quality that was so much higher than what I was expecting. Here are my top five biggest surprises of 2014.

5) Armillo (Wii U eShop)

I'm a lover of 3D platformers, so Armillo seems like it would be an easy game to see coming, right? However, Fuzzy Wuzzy Games was a studio I hadn't heard of or knew of their past work. What Armillo ended up being was not just a fantastic game in its own right, but one of my favorite indie games of the year on any platform. It plays so well, is full of wonderful ideas, and it made me smile on a number of occasions. Definitely a title I'm glad I tried despite not thinking much of the developer at first.

4) Fantasy Life (3DS)

I had loosely followed this next game on my list prior to its release, and this was back when the game had more of a cel-shaded art style. Fantasy Life managed to blow me away with its immense amount of content, things to do, places to go, creatures to defeat, materials to acquire, crafts to make, and a story that brought with it lots of humor and well-written dialogue. It's not hard to be astonished when you go into a game not knowing much about it, but it's hard to be as impressed with Fantasy Life as I ended up being.

3) Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)

The only Dynasty Warriors-styled game I enjoyed (and that was just a little bit) was Dynasty Warriors Gundam. That game was mighty repetitive, despite the premise of thousands of mobile suit mechs fighting one another on one battlefield. Thus, I didn't think I'd like Hyrule Warriors as much, even as a fan of the source material. It wasn't as repetitive as I thought it would be. It was, dare I say, actually fun to grind in, whether it be character experience levels, rupees, or materials. Hyrule Warriors became one of my favorite games of 2014, and here I thought it'd be just another rote Dynasty Warriors experience.

2) Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 (Wii U, PS3, 360)

Here comes a game that I had low expectations set, and they were more than met and exceeded! While Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 doesn't do a lot that is new, it's a massively well made, cleverly designed, and polished game. After the original last year, I wasn't too sure how a sequel would pan out, but the more streamlined approach, better level design, and just plain greater amount of fun overall. It's for these reasons that Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 is one of the games that surprised me most this past year.

1) Shovel Knight (Wii U and 3DS eShop)

Coming to PlayStation platforms next year, Shovel Knight dug his way onto the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS this past year with critical acclaim and great sales to boot. I expected some Mega Man wannabe whose only merit was tugging on the nostalgia heartstrings of 8-bit gamers of old. Boy, did my ignorance blind me! Shovel Knight isn't a marvelous Mega Man wannabe-- it's its own beast, and it's quite a mighty one, too. One that I've played through more times than I care to admit just because the game is so polished, well put together, and hits all the right notes throughout its campaign.

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