Before we get started, I want to clarify to anyone who has stumbled upon our GOTY awards that we are a Nintendo-focused site, and our awards reflect that. This doesn’t mean that we don’t love and play games on other platforms, but for the sake of our GOTY awards, we stick to games that appear on Nintendo platforms only.
This year we have divided our awards into two basic categories, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Wii U. However, we decided to have a single Virtual Console category that combines VC games on both platforms this year, and that award will appear with the Wii U awards.
For the sake of these awards we define eShop as anything that appears in North America as a digital download only (IE cannot be bought at a store as a retail product in North America), while our regular awards apply to anything that can be bought in North America as a retail product. In the future this distinguishment will probably disappear as the lines between retail and digital become more and more blurred, but for now, this is how we divide it up.
In my opinion, the Wii U had a pretty solid 2014. It is true that there weren't a whole lot of notable retail games, especially from 3rd parties, but the games that we saw from Nintendo (both as a publisher and developer) were all pretty high class. Furthermore, 2014 was the year that the Wii U eShop exploded, with a whole bunch of key indie games making their way to the platform. The Virtual Console also brought a solid handful of great titles, many of which were handheld games that have never been available on a home console before. It's a shame that "AAA" 3rd party support on the Wii U is basically non-existent at this point, but my Wii U is still keeping me busy.
I could ramble on and on, but the reality is that no one is here for my opinions. Let's go to those awards!
As stated above, we decided to combine the Wii U and 3DS Virtual Consoles into a single award this year. With that said, we had a pretty solid list of titles to choose from here, from handheld classics to rare SNES games.
And the winner is…
(TIE) Fire Emblem / Advance Wars (57 points)
Runner-up: The Mysterious Murasame Castle (34 points)
Not quite: Mega Man X3 (23 points) Demon's Crest (21 points) Mega Man V (20 points)
This is probably one of the most interesting battles that I have seen in my many years of doing GOTY awards. Two GameBoy Advance titles, both from Intelligent Systems, both turn-based strategy games, going head to head in an epic contest. Advance Wars versus Fire Emblem, who will win? No one! No clear victor emerges, but instead a tie! Of course, you are only seeing the results, but I was checking the numbers behind the scenes every day and man this one was a nail-biter!
The Mysterious Murasame Castle, never before seen in North America, evens out the top 3, while a pair of Mega Man games and Demon's Crest can't quite make it in.
Wii U eShop Most Wanted
2014 was a great year for the Wii U eShop, but that doesn't mean that 2015 isn't looking excellent as well. A nice mix of sequels and brand new games is on our horizon.
Not quite: Mario vs. Donkey Kong Wii U (42 points) Hyper Light Drifter (30 points) Gone Home (18 points)
Not really a huge surprise, our Wii U eShop most wanted game from last year, Mighty No. 9, is still our most wanted game this year. Inafune better release this one soon! Shantae: Half-Genie Hero takes a solid second, while SteamWorld Heist just barely edges out Mario vs. Donkey Kong Wii U for the number 3 spot.
The Link to the Past inspired Hyper Light Drifter puts up an ok showing, while Gone Home takes dead last. Is this because it is the only port on the list, or are Nintendo fans just not that interested? (PS. It was my number 1 pick...)
Wii U eShop GOTY
I truly believe that 2014 was the year of the Wii U eShop, although many of the best games were ports / expanded ports, so perhaps many people have played them already. However, if you haven't played these games yet, now is the time! And the Wii U is a great platform to play them on.
And the winner is…
Shovel Knight (134 points)
Runner-ups: Guacamelee!: Super Turbo Championship Edition (46 points) NES Remix 2 (39 points)
Not quite: SteamWorld Dig (29 points) Child of Light (26 points) Pushmo World (13 points)
I'm sure we're all shocked at this one, huh? Yacht Club Games' excellent ode to Mega Man, DuckTales and Demon's Souls blew away the competition, more than tripling the points of our number 2 Wii U eShop game, Guacamelee!: Super Turbo Championship Edition.
NES Remix 2 nabs the number 3 spot, with SteamWorld Dig and Child of Light close behind. Pushmo World doesn't fare very well, despite the original game decidedly winning our Handheld eShop GOTY award in 2011, and its sequel Crashmo winning again in 2012. I suppose people weren't in the mood for more Pushmo?
Wii U Most Wanted
The Wii U 3rd party situation is pretty dire, as may be evident by the fact that all of our most wanted Wii U games in 2015 are Nintendo published titles. Or maybe it just means that Nintendo is awesome and we have great things to look forward to? Either way there are some pretty solid looking titles coming soon.
And the winner is…
The Legend of Zelda Wii U (152 points)
Runner-ups: Xenoblade Chronicles X (83 points) Splatoon (47 points)
Not quite: Star Fox Wii U (46 points) Yoshi's Woolly World (25 points) Mario Maker (19 points)
We haven't seen a whole lot of it yet, but what we have seen of The Legend of Zelda Wii U is enough to propel it to our most wanted Wii U game. The sequel to a much loved Wii RPG, Xenoblade Chronicles X puts up an X-cellent (sorry) showing as well. And newcomer Splatoon, with its fresh new take on the arena shooter genre, just barely edges out Star Fox Wii U by a single point to make the runner-up list.
Yoshi's Woolly World and Mario Maker both look pretty neat as well, but they didn't quite pull in the votes.
Wii U GOTY
The Wii U had a rough year at retail, with 3rd parties essentially dropping all major support for the platform. Thank god Nintendo is still killing it, bringing in a variety of titles well worth experiencing. Nintendo may be going alone yet again, but they are doing it in style.
And the winner is…
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (133 points)
Runner-ups: Mario Kart 8 (72 points) Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (60 points)
Well, I'm sure we all knew this was coming. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U easily takes the Wii U GOTY, with Mario Kart 8 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze making otherwise respectable showings that just can't stand in the face of Smash.
Bayonetta 2, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Hyrule Warriors all put up some decent numbers as well. Not a bad year!
@ploot It'd make sense if Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze won.
I don't think the "wrong" games won or anything, just that the way we do things with a popular vote can make it pretty predictable at times. Looking back on it now, we have NEVER had a close battle for console GOTY. Handheld GOTY... a few times. Including this...
Winner: Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (74 points) 1st Runner-up: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (73 points)
That was an interesting one.
I wonder if there will ever be a good battle for console GOTY?
Well, if we all agreed Captain Toad was the best, that'd make sense. But of course we didn't because, while it's a charming game, it wasn't seriously a contender.
Like I said, I don't dispute the results. Smash is a great game. Problem is just that I could probably have written these results down before they were announced and gotten it 100 percent correct. I'm pretty sure most of us could have. That's not a flaw in the results or how we vote or anything, but it is boring and predictable.
Or maybe I'm just grousing because Tropical Freeze didn't win. Could be that.
Not really. If there's a group of games that almost everyone considers excellent, that qualifies as an excellent year for software even if almost everyone also agrees that one of those games is superior to even those other excellent games. I think that's clearly the case here. Smash Bros. being a game of the generation type candidate doesn't diminish Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong:TF, and Bayonetta 2 in any way.
@Jargon I guess it depends how you define an excellent year. I feel like the aura around MK and DKC is that they are both great but sort of not really Nintendo pushing it to the max? Although I personally think DKC:TF is probably one of the best 2D platformers ever. Can't really speak on Bayonetta 2 yet, obviously a lot of people love it.
Still, it'd be nice to have a year where there were two utterly killer pieces of software that blew us all away. In truth I'm not sure if we have had that on Nintendo consoles in awhile. For me Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3 in 2007 was a pretty great combo. Before that I dunno... Majora's Mask and Perfect Dark in 2000? Never got into PD myself though.
Looking way back, holy F... did Yoshi's Island, Chrono Trigger, Donkey Kong Country 2 and Earthbound really all release in 1995?! And Super Metroid, Final Fantasy III (NA), Donkey Kong Country and Mega Man x all in 1994?! Would have been some interesting GOTY battles there, I think.
...though of course Chrono Trigger and Super Metroid would have won their years. Probably? Then again Final Fantasy III...
I think Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros. qualify, but obviously this all going to depend on individual tastes. But for your example, Metroid Prime 3 probably would have fallen far behind Mario Galaxy. That doesn't reflect poorly on Metroid Prime 3 or 2007 as a year for Nintendo games, it just means Mario Galaxy is amazing.
Yeah but that is why I qualified it with "for me". I don't think most others around here are *quite* as big of fans of the Prime trilogy as I am. Even with it being my least favorite of the three I still scored it a 9.7 here.
I guess I'm just saying that it is possible that two really killer games hit in the same year that make it an interesting battle... just hasn't happened since we started doing GOTY back in 2008. Not on consoles anyway. And maybe not on handhelds either if you consider that there is rarely a handheld title that everyone thinks is killer... it's usually just a variety of titles everyone thinks are pretty darn good.
Incidentally this is why I never bother doing overall GOTY, I'm pretty sure the console GOTY would win overall most every year since people rarely seem to get "blown away" in the same way with handheld games as they do console games. Though I do think Link Between Worlds would have had a good chance in 2013.
@Jargon Is it really soooooooooooooo good? I'm enjoying it, but it kind of just feels like more Smash to me, and only a few of the new stages have impressed me much. I voted for DKC:TF for GOTY myself.
I do think the character roster is awesome though. For the first time in a long time I have more than just 2 or 3 characters that I enjoy playing as. Toon Link, Robin, Mega Man, Samus...
I said it was sooo good, not soooooooooooooo good. But yes, the functional online makes it soooooooooooooo good. Some of the sessions I've had with people here have been about as good as an hour or two of playing video games can possibly be (the only way they'd be better was if we were all together).
@kriswright BUT WOULD YOU HAVE PREDICTED THE ADVANCE WARS / FIRE EMBLEM TIE?
I would have predicted that Fire Emblem trounced Advanced Wars and then you lied to us and told us it was a tie. Yes.
Nah, that was one legitimate surprise, so there's that. I realize, now, I'm sounding like I'm poo pooing the GOTY awards, which I really do think is worthwhile. I'm glad I get to participate in it. So I should add, good work everyone. One of the best aspects of Negative World is the way we do stuff as a community like this. So whether the results seem predictable or not, it's cool to get to participate and see what we enjoyed the most.
I'd add that Smash U is good, but I don't think it's soooooooo good. It basically tweaks a few things Brawl got wrong and adds some cool new fighters and also adds perfectly reasonable online, which was a huge flaw in the series until now. It's really great - possibly the best in the series - but it's standing on the shoulders of giants at this point. Despite my love for Smash U, I found Tropical Freeze to be far more original and interesting of a spin on an older formula, with MK8 more of a distant 3rd. But that's just my taste. I don't expect or demand the community to share it.