By Jeff Neuenschwander / January 29th, 2015
If you missed Part 1 of the oprainfall Awards, click here. And as always with things that deal with us picking something, spoilers abound.
It’s Day 2 of the oprainfall Awards. And if you’ve been with us over the years, you know that means it is Aesthetic Day. Today, we celebrate all the little things that come together to make a game like visuals, gameplay, music, story, and the extras that come after the release. And the day is wrapped up with a surprising Readers’ Game of the Year. More on that later. For now, let’s get started with our favorite gameplay and multiplayer gaming. For that, we bring in Contributor Karli Winata and Assistant Review Manager Tyler Lubben.
2012: Xenoblade Chronicles
2013: The Wonderful 101
KARLI: Game stories are great. They can take you to different places, different eras, or just places and situations you’d never even thought about going to. But there’s a problem with them though. They never explain the strange little things you do in them. Why are we obsessed with making lines of ten blocks disappear? Scratch that, why do they even disappear in the first place? Why does Cloud and company stand perfectly still in a line while monsters pummel them? Why does punching a guy in the face save you from certain death? Interestingly enough all of them has one simple explanation: Because it’s fun! Every illogical, nonsensical behavior we’ve seen in games is in service of that three-lettered master, reason be damned. So here then are our favorite games from 2014 that threw logic out the window. Because, you know. For fun
Because your feet can totally shoot guns
When David Jaffe felt that the games in the action genre just aren’t crazy enough, he made one that’s ultra violent. When Hideki Kamiya saw the same problem, he made one where you can summon massive demons with your hair in between bouts of shooting monstrous angels in the face with guns attached to your feet. Ultraviolence only gets you so far before it becomes boring and repetitive — and also kind of guilt inducing — but if you do it in style, then you have something special. Bayonetta 2 expands on what made the first one so special, namely the deep combat and the outright joy of watching Bayonetta kick ass and look good doing it.
Because having multiple jobs is super fun! Right guys?
While the Final Fantasy series continues to find a new direction in the realm of role-playing games, gamers pine for that classic, turn-based RPG fun that Final Fantasy originally popularized. As it turns out, so did the developers of Bravely Default. And that’s how we got one of the best not-Final-Fantasy-except-it-totally-is-games in recent memory. It helps that it also has a rather unique combat system and a deep, mix-and-match job system.
Because what’s the point of having kids if you can’t use them to murder some monsters
Double entendres are always fun. Especially when it’s laid on thick like they did in Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars. In the world of Conception II, the main character is special because he has so much “ether” than most. He teams up with a girl to fight monsters in dungeons. They’re not alone, though. Through a ritual of “Classmating,” wherein the male “pours” his ether into the female’s “Star Womb,” the duo magically creates several children to fight alongside them. Also, they can make stronger kids by getting to know each other better while they’re outside the dungeons. If it works for the Persona series…
Because chucking turtle shells is just way more satisfying than a Gattling gun
Make a bunch of wacky courses, sprinkle some boost pads and power-ups, and put Mario’s, and company’s, face all over it. That’s it. That’s the Mario Kart formula. Or is it? Eight iterations in, not only is Mario Kart 8 still fun, it may very well be among the best in the series. Clearly there’s more to Nintendo’s magic formula for Mario Kart. Is it a lengthy and comprehensive development cycle? A superb Q and A department? Faustian bargains with the horned ones of the underworld? We’ll never know.
Because everybody knows shovels and pogo sticks are interchangeable
For most neophyte gamers, the 2D trappings and pixel art of Shovel Knight is unlikely to win over their polygonal, normal mapped hearts. The graphics are most certainly not meant to appeal to them, but its gameplay should. Harkening back to the days of NES 2D platformers like Mega Man and Ducktales, Shovel Knight demands mastery of the controls in a lot of places. The developers have designed each level to fully use the titular Shovel Knight’s fairly limited capabilities in creative and fun ways. The end result is a satisfying and fun adventure through and through.
AND THE WINNER IS…
The 2D platformer genre has never really gone away. If anything, it too has been evolving through games like Limbo, Braid, and Super Time Force. So it seems only fitting that within a genre that can wholly be considered as retro that there would be retro styled games. Shovel Knight turns the clock back to the NES era of 2D platformers and incorporates the best aspects of the platformers of that era. But if that was all it did, it really wouldn’t be worthy of oprainfall’s coveted Best Gameplay Award. Shovel Knight did it without abandoning modern conveniences, like a more tolerable checkpoint system. This marriage of the best of the old with the lessons we’ve learned since then elevates Shovel Knight’s to win our prestigious award.
2013: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
TYLER: We here at oprainfall love a good single player experience, as evident by our predilection towards RPGs, but, hey, we have friends! And we like playing games with them, too! 2014 had no shortage of great multiplayer titles, with Nintendo finally busting out two of their most beloved franchises for an amazing twofer of great games. However, from AAA to more niche titles, there were memorable multiplayer experiences to find all around. With that, let’s take a look at the games we felt were best played with others.
With the fast-paced action inherent to the Senran Kagura franchise, it should come as no surprise that a multiplayer mode would be included to complement the great single player mode. There’s a fair amount of variety in the modes that players can experience online, ensuring that it’ll be quite some time before they get bored with it. A classic death match mode allows combatants to simply fight each other until all but the victor has lost all their HP. The Strip Battle, in classic Senran Kagura fashion, tasks players with, not so much simply beating their opponents, but using powerful attacks to destroy their clothing. The most un-naked player is the victor! And the Understorm match has players race around the arena, collecting as much underwear as possible. Clearly, the multiplayer modes are as quirky as the game series itself, and we all appreciate it.
- Mario Kart 8
A fantastic series since its debut on the SNES back in 1992, Nintendo has had to do little to make Mario Kart one of the quintessential multiplayer experiences on almost all of their platforms. Whether players are looking to play the Grand Prix, race one-on-one or blowing each other away in the Battle Mode, there were plenty of options for a great time. With the advent of four-player competition starting in Mario Kart 64 and online play in Mario Kart Wii, players were able to take their skills to the world at large. While the Battle Mode may have been foregone in the latest venture on Wii U, Mario Kart 8’s racing is still top-notch. Whether racing competitively or one a team, with a friend or your whole crew, locally or online, you’re sure to have a good time. Until someone whips out a Blue Shell…
- Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Another series that has proven itself over and over again in the multiplayer department, the Super Smash Bros. franchise has changed little since the N64 days. Aside from an ever-growing roster and minor tweaks to the gameplay, the core combat remains much the same as it’s always been. Super Smash Bros. has always featured some great rosters chock full of beloved Nintendo mascots and items to pummel each other with. Now, with glorious HD graphics, a bigger roster than ever and (mostly) better online mechanics, there’s an even better reason than ever duke it out with your pals (or rivals) for hours on end.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Having already conquered the real-time strategy and massively-multiplayer online genres, what was the most likely place for the Warcraft franchise to set its sights next? Why, the collectible card gaming racket, obviously. With characters and monsters based on the long-running franchise, as well as interesting strategic gameplay, fans of the series or just CCGs in general are sure to love Hearthstone. And, if you’re looking for a great multiplayer experience, you’re sure to find it here. Putting opponents on a (fairly) equal playing field, quick-thinking and strategy are what will win the battle. Plus, since the game is free to play, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t jump in and start building the perfect deck.
While the Souls series has always been chiefly known to offering fantastic single-player experiences, there’s always been a strangely engaging multiplayer mechanic chugging along in the background. Aside from seeing the ghostly images of other warriors wandering around as you play the game, you can also receive hints in the form of glyphs left by other players. The most interesting feature, though, is that, at any given time, another player can invade your game as a Phantom, in an effort to hinder your progress. In a game that already does just about anything to try to horribly murder the player, having someone else invade your game is just about the last thing you’d want. However, this is balanced by the ability to summon friendly players to help you beat particularly tough bosses. It’s an interesting take on multiplayer, to be sure. I’m interested to see what From Software might do with it in Bloodborne.
AND THE WINNER IS…
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
In a result that absolutely no one saw coming, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U handily takes the top spot for the best multiplayer game of 2014. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U took the best parts of the series and made them bigger and better. With a huge roster, plenty of game modes and the promise of online tournaments and at least one DLC character on the way, it’s very possible that this may be the best multiplayer game well into 2015, as well. Little may have changed since the series’ inception, but it’s obvious that Nintendo has a winning strategy here, and they’re running with it.
Bayonetta 2Bravely DefaultChronicles of a Dark Lord - Episode II War of the AbyssDragon Age: InquisitionGame of the YearHatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2ndHyrule WarriorsMario Kart 8Persona Q: Shadow of the LabyrinthShovel KnightSlinkiSuper Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii UThe Walking DeadThe Wolf Among Us