2014: Our Year of Gaming

2014 was a year accented with the beeps and boops of video games. Even more so than usual. While we’ve always enjoyed gaming together, recent events such as moving to Honolulu have made it difficult to stay current with gaming trends. Luckily, this past year served as the harbinger of of digital bliss that is modern gaming. Let’s take a look back at some of the things that defined our year of gaming. Fair warning, there may be some spoilers that accompany this one.

Nintendo broke back into our living room in a big way.

After holding out from buying new consoles for what seemed like an eternity, we finally took the plunge and bought a Wii U for our apartment. Six months and a whole lot of gaming later and we couldn’t be happier with the decision. Nintendo’s new home console, despite a rocky launch, seems to have solidified its place in current era of gaming with a consumer friendly price-point, a solid library of games, and plenty of potential for future success. The resurgence of our relationship with Nintendo didn’t end with the Wii U either.

After years of being out of the handheld gaming loop I found the inspiration to pick up a 3DS. Before the 3DS I was skeptical that I could find enough “on-the-go” opportunities to justify a commitment to handheld gaming, since then however I have certainly changed my tune. Games like Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, and Pokemon: Ruby are incredibly easy to pick up and play, so much so that my 3DS has seen equal use to our Wii U.

New Super Mario Bros. for Wii U tested our patience…

Our Wii U came bundled with New Super Mario Bros. We thought it’d be the perfect type of game to break in the new console. We were young, we were naive, and New Super Mario Bros. nearly broke us. Let me be clear, NSMB for Wii U is a well made and fun game, but it is quite possibly the most difficult Mario game I have ever played. The simple to learn, difficult to master controls lure you in, only to be crushed by the harrowing and unique challenges of each stage. It’s the kind of game that leaves your nightmares haunted by the sounds of Mario and Luigi’s demise. Fortunately, such a difficulty leaves behind such a sense of satisfaction when its completed that it’s all worth it in the end.

and Super Mario Bros. 3D World tested our sanity.

I cannot say how impressed I am with this game. The controls are intuitive, the level design is creative, and the visuals are at times awe-inspiring. It’s no wonder why Aspen and I tore through this game like Kirby on a buffet bender. The best part? It just. kept. going. Every time we thought we were approaching the end we found a new set of levels open up. Playing a game with so much content and replayability was incredibly refreshing in a time when so many games seem to end all too soon.

Then Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker made everything ok.

This game was quite possibly the most pleasant surprise of 2014. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker does an excellent job of expanding on the Toad levels originally found in Super Mario 3D World. It’s not the most challenging puzzle game out there, but its 70 levels are so well designed and the visuals are so engaging you’ll find plenty of justification in the $40 title. For Aspen and I it was the perfect type of game to take turns and unwind with after a long day. Expect a more thorough review of this one soon.

To wrap-up 2014…

This post only scratches the surface of what made the year so great for gaming for Aspen and me. Super Smash Bros. also released on 3DS, and Wii U. Mario Kart 8 released and saw the addition of some fantastic DLC, not to mention all of the backlog progress made on games such as The Last of Us, The Walking Dead, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and Kirby’s Epic Yarn. 2014 may have been a year of drama for much of the gaming industry, but for Aspen and I it was just plain fun to game together. Hopefully 2015 provides plenty of the same.

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