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 games.
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.
I wish that I could speak more firsthand about the 3DS and its performance in 2014, but unfortunately my 3DS died around summertime and I've been waiting for the New 3DS to release before I get myself a replacement. I still managed to play a lot of key titles, including the first ever handheld Smash Bros. game, which was easily one of the biggest 3DS games yet. It's my impression that the 3DS had a pretty good year for both retail and eShop games, and unlike the Wii U, 3rd parties hit with some big titles as well. It is difficult to complain as a 3DS owner. Now when is that New 3DS going to get here so I can catch up?!
Well, much like with the Wii U, no one is here for my opinions. Award time!
3DS eShop Most Wanted
A lot of the games we are looking forward to on the 3DS eShop are sequels or ports, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. A few original titles worked their way into our nominations as well.
Much like on the Wii U, for the second year in a row our most wanted 3DS eShop winner is Inafune's upcoming Mega Man inspired game Mighty No. 9. SteamWorld Heist and Gunman Clive 2 also make pretty solid showings as runner-ups.
Mutant Mudds 2 can't quite pull in the votes, and Treasurenauts, perhaps due to the long wait, didn't score very well. OlliOlli rounds out the nominations as the only port; perhaps many have already played it?
3DS eShop GOTY
I missed out a lot by having a dead 3DS for half the year, including many eShop games that I have been anticipating for awhile now. It was definitely a nice year for the 3DS eShop.
And the winner is…
Shovel Knight (98 points)
Runner-ups: Azure Striker Gunvolt (36 points) Shantae and the Pirate's Curse (30 points)
Not quite: (TIE) Rusty's Real Deal Baseball / Yumi's Odd Odyssey (28 points) Woah Dave! (11 points)
Shovel Knight took our Wii U eShop GOTY by a wide margin, and wins our 3DS eShop GOTY by a pretty wide margin as well! Hard to beat such an excellent take on the classic NES game style. Azure Striker Gunvolt, related to the upcoming Mighty No. 9, edges out Shantae and the Pirate's Curse for second place.
Right outside of the winner's circle are Rusty's Real Deal Baseball and Yumi's Odd Odyssey in another tie, while Woah Dave! didn't quite have what it takes to compete.
3DS Most Wanted
The upcoming release list for the 3DS is a bit sparse at the moment, but there are still some pretty solid games coming that we know of. Hopefully more will be announced soon?
And the winner is…
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D (99 points)
Runner-ups: Code Name S.T.E.A.M. (89 points) Xenoblade Chronicles New 3DS (54 points)
Not quite: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (48 points) Bravely Second (29 points) Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker (1 point)
The 3D upgraded port / remake / whatever you want to call it of one of my favorite Zelda games, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D, beats out the competition to win our most wanted award, although the brand new Intelligent Systems action / strategy game Code Name S.T.E.A.M. is not far behind. Xenoblade Chronicles New 3DS takes third, and I have to imagine it would be higher up if many of us hadn't already played it on the Wii.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate scores pretty well, with the not exactly confirmed for a Western release yet JRPG Bravely Second not very far behind. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker, an upgraded port of the DS game, scores only a single point. It may not be heavily anticipated, but it is a great game, and one that 3DS owners should check out if they have not already.
The 3DS is continuing strongly, and we had to cut many titles from our original nomination list. We ended up with a pretty good mix, I think.
Not quite: Fantasy Life (35 points) Mario Golf: World Tour (27 points) Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (18 points)
I'm sure this surprised no one, but the very first handheld Smash Bros. game ever, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, runs away with a commanding victory, beating the second place JRPG Bravely Default: Flying Fairy by a full 91 points. Kirby: Triple Deluxe is just a single point behind Bravely Default in third.
The RPG sim Fantasy Life puts up a good showing as well, with Mario Golf: World Tour not too far behind. Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy takes dead last, a far cry from the DS GOTY award that the first Professor Layton game won at Negative World way back in 2008. Are we finally burnt out on Layton's adventures?
PS. Thanks again to the members of the Negative World for an excellent 2014! Sorry I wasn't around as much as in the past, game dev is serious business! If you're reading this and not a member yet, get yourself signed up, ok? You can sign up right now for free in less than a minute. Go for it!
It's definitely on my want list. I'm a little bummed there's yet more DLC for it, since the whole reason I waited for Curtain Call was to get the definitive pack with all the songs from the first game (and more). That probably will never come though and this one seems to have more than enough content, so whenever it's on sale on the eShop or retail I will grab it.
Smash 3DS is an excellent game - I couldn't have wished for a more faithful transition to handhelds for this beloved series. And Layton had a damn good series finale with Azran Legacies, I hope everyone gets to play it, eventually.
The lack of hype for Monster Hunter 4 surprises me.
Even though I'll put many more hours into Super Smash Brothers for Wii U opposed to Super Smash Brothers for 3DS this year, I can't deny the handheld version's quality. I think the signature gameplay and appeal of Smash translated to the system with much success. Combined with some unique features and content of its own, SSB for 3DS is well worth playing in tandem with its console counterpart.
2015 already looks like a promising year for the 3DS. I'm really looking forward to Codename S.T.E.A.M. as I've enjoyed many of the games that Intelligent Systems has been putting out lately.
@TriforceBun That's what I meant by "held back" yeah. I liked the dynamics of Ice Climbers and the Zelda/Sheik combo and all that fun stuff. It's understandable that the 3DS couldn't handle that stuff, but the Wii U can.
We might still see Ice Climbers as DLC though. Here's hoping!