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!
@Anand I know the feeling, I don't even have reason to visit multi-platform sites. I think the only number one I voted for in either of these was Advance Wars, and even that was a tie. And I think overall, the only one out of everything that I voted as number two or three was Zelda.
Oh, I didn't say all that, but there were spans early on where I was playing long enough where I had to plug in the GamePad MULTIPLE times. Like, I'm talking 10+ hour sessions. Legit.
And yeah, hella-awesome FanService and callbacks. I won't mention them specifically if you're still playing, but egad -- also, its the most supportive of DLC we've seen so far (right??). I can't recall otherwise.
Yeah, I'd give Hyrule Warriors a bit more credit than its gotten here. I think it's a better package than MK8, personally, although judging from the poll results, I'm in the minority there. And this is coming from someone who was kind of unimpressed with it at E3.
I know the feeling, I don't even have reason to visit multi-platform sites. I think the only number one I voted for in either of these was Advance Wars, and even that was a tie. And I think overall, the only one out of everything that I voted as number two or three was Zelda.
We should start a club, we're not alone!
Let's start a forum, or something.
But, for reals, Nintendo is pretty much the only gaming company that is still relevant to me. Which could NOT be further from general public perception. Throw in the ever-declining state of pop music, the continued popularity of spectator sports, and the world has become a tremendously cognitively dissonant place for me. It's like a never-ending episode of the Twilight Zone! (Or, for the even more nerdily-inclined, Bizarro World.)