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!
@Jargon Ha, I didn't even notice that. Though I guess it was to be expected, there was no chance that Shovel Knight and Smash would get dethroned on either platform. And MN9 is definitely the highest profile upcoming downloadable on either system.
@nate38 I wonder when all is said and done if Mighty No 9 will live up to Shovel Knight, despite winning our most wanted last year over Shovel Knight. Then again the whole point of most wanted is it isn't out yet so we really don't know...
Not that I have any reason to think it won't be awesome.
On a semi-related note I was curious and looked back over our old GOTY to see if anything ever won a "Most Wanted" award and then scored poorly after it actually released. The two I came up with are "Golden Sun DS" which won our DS Most Wanted in 2009 and then wasn't even nominated for GOTY in 2010, and MadWorld which won Wii Most Wanted in 2008 and then wasn't even nominated in 2009. Big disappointments for a lot of people, I suppose.
It's also seeing Punch-Out!! Wii get barely any Most Wanted votes in 2008. It didn't win in 2009, but it did much, much better (took 3rd.)
Super Smash Bros. winning was a known factor, and Mario Kart 8 coming in second was fairly predictable too. (were people voting for that game as it was released in May, or did they take the DLC into account?)
I was a little surprised Bayonetta 2 didn't rank higher. Though I suppose it's tough to beat Tropical Freeze. I actually still need to finish that game, now that I think about it!
2015 is going to be a great year for Wii U. Personally, I am most excited for Yoshi's Wooly World, that art style just makes me feel warm and fuzzy like no other. Zelda is looking stellar, and here's to hoping Splatoon and Star Fox knock one out of the park, as they have the potential to spice up the Wii U library to a large degree. If Xenoblade is anywhere close to the original, it will be an RPG worth sinking countless hours into. Finally, Mario Maker has me excited for the first Mario platformer to include a community level-sharing option.
It's almost too good to be true. Basically any of those games could be my most wanted in a normal year, so if they all come out as planned and deliver in the way I think they can, it could be a historic year. I'm expecting some delays, but there's also sure to be some surprises so things are looking really, really good on the Wii U front.
There were some great additions to the Wii U library in 2014. I'll be playing Super Smash Brothers for Wii U as well as Mario Kart 8 well into 2015, and I still have to finish some of the other games that were nominated.
The Most Wanted list is mostly interchangeable for me, but I might just be a bit more excited about Star Fox than the rest of the pack. I can't wait to see what Nintendo had planned for this series that has largely been dragging its feet for the past decade. Here's to another year of awesome Wii U experiences!
I think Bayonetta 2 deserves an award of some type because it honestly shook the ground when it released and gave WiiU more cred for quality 3rd party games among hardcore (Sony, Microsoft, PC) gamers which Nintendo hasn't really done in a while. It made everyone take notice of the WiiU who were maybe on the fence about it and made them interested to try at least that one game everybody is talking about. I love the WiiU and all of it's games, but Bayonetta 2 definitely made skeptics take more notice.
Everything is just about in my predicted order, even the runner-ups.
Is Advance Wars really a strategy RPG? I don't see anything RPG about it, I thought it was just a straight-up strategy game. In fact, I thought the whole point of it was to be Fire Emblem without the RPG elements.
@TriforceBun Yeah, as someone who owns both a Wii U and 3DS, I'm not so sure they're quite unique enough from each other to fully justify themselves. As the line between console and handheld games gets more and more blurred as time goes on, I hope Nintendo continue to take more and more steps towards unifying the two. There are signs that point to this being the case though, so I'm hopeful.