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Nick's Top Five Games of 2014

5. Mario Kart 8

Of course Mario Kart 8 is on my list. It’s fantastic.

There’s a reason MK8 isn’t number one; I knew it was going to be great. Mario Kart games have always been great. However, this one is definitely one of the best in the series.

Visually, the game is beautiful. It’s clear Nintendo entering the world of 1080p is a really good idea. The game also controls extremely well, probably the best it ever has. Online multiplayer is super fun and the new, more dynamic levels are just pure bliss to both see and play on.

Mario Kart 8 is also proof that Nintendo is ready to do DLC and do it right. Getting the chance to play as Link and Villager and get a ton of extra content for like 12 bucks was awesome and really enhanced my enjoyment of the game. I would have played and liked it without the DLC, but Nintendo giving me the opportunity to get some new content for cheap really sold me on my love.

Also Lemmy Koopa is in this game and he’s just the best.

4. Shovel Knight

I’d seen Shovel Knight played for weeks before I bought it. It wasn’t until I was prodded by Jake to actually play it was so shocked at how good the game is.

Shovel Knight is nice for me because I grew up post-SNES. I’d gotten some base experience with it, but the N64 was my truly my first console. I’d always felt like I missed out on a whole generation of games and Shovel Knight helps to fill that gap.

Shovel Knight obviously has some modern development techniques behind it, but it feels like a game I could’ve played in the 80s. It’s got everything I want in a game. Solid story? Check. Smooth gameplay? Check. Amazing music? Huge check. Everything about this game just works and the game deserves to have everyone play and enjoy it.

3. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

I’ve been a fan of the Borderlands series from the start. Borderlands 2 is still one of my favorite games of all time. I went into The Pre-Sequel knowing it would not be Borderlands 2. Even if it was advertised as something comparable to Borderlands 2, it would be hard to live up to the sheer force that it was.

Luckily The Pre-Sequel shattered my low expectations. The game was somewhat short for my liking and the jokes were more Australian than drop bears and kangaroos, but the game also retained the same charm that has always existed within the series. In terms of gameplay the characters were some of the best in the series and the low gravity added a whole new sense of exploration. Plus the True Vault Hunter Mode has the story being told by Tina and Brick and that’s all I can really ask for out of a game.

2. Tales from the Borderlands

I had completely forgotten that Tales from the Borderlands was going to be a thing until I bought it on release day. The hype was real when I downloaded it, and I was massively saddened when I couldn’t play right away (thanks, college).

But when I did play, I felt pure joy.

Tales from the Borderlands is exactly what the Borderlands franchise needed. While the past characters in the series are humorously overpowered, the ones in Tales aren’t. They’re just ordinary (in Borderlands terms) people who fell into an adventure way over their heads. The story in the first episode made me want to throw my computer against a wall in the way that good games do when you know things are going to get good. And while I might be giving a game that hasn’t completely released too much praise, I don’t care. I know that I’ll enjoy it when it’s all complete.

1. Hyrule Warriors

Hyrule Warriors is one of those games I didn’t realize I always wanted until it was announced. There was no need for it and nobody really asked for it, but hot dang am I happy it came into existence.
I knew the moment the game was announced that I would buy it. It could have been terrible but I didn’t care because it just looked like so much fun.

But I don’t think I could have dreamt about how solid of a game it would be. The story mode was entertaining and great for introducing you to new characters. The design is beautiful and the soundtrack is stellar. The adventure and challenge modes added hours of new content to entertain me, and there's DLC on the way to add even more content (like a Majora's Mask pack with playable characters from MM). Everything about this game created infinite happiness, which is what a game should do.
Nick Dowell is the News Editor for BYTE