It has been an interesting year for SEGA games. During the first few months of 2014, Western SEGA fans had very little when it came to new games, while those in Japan enjoyed the puzzle mashup Puyo Puyo Tetris and the Yakuza spinoff Ryu ga Gotoku: Ishin!. Thankfully, those in the West had Alien: Isolation and Platinum Games’ Bayonetta 2 to look forward to, and in early February it was revealed that Sonic Boom would be releasing to the Wii U and 3DS. Another reveal came, much to the delight of the Hatsune Miku fanbase, with the announcement that Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd was set for a Western release in November. Meanwhile, fans of Relic Entertainment and The Creative Assembly’s real time strategy PC titles were treated to Total War: Rome II DLC and Company of Heroes 2 standalone expansions Ardennes Assault and The Western Front Armies.
Suffice it to say, the year has been mixed but not a disappointment. While certain blue hedgehogs failed to give us a good game, fans who step outside their comfort zone of Sonic and traditional SEGA games will find several great titles from SEGA. What are these great games? Read on to find out what our favorite SEGA games of 2014 were in our annual year end round table!
GEORGE: VALKYRIA CHRONICLES (PC)
I actually had a bit of trouble picking what game I wanted to be my Game of the Year. SEGA didn’t make it easy releasing highly rated titles like Alien: Isolation, Company of Heroes 2‘s stand-alone expansion Western Front Armies, Valkyria Chronicles, and even Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd. We can even dive into big games released in Japan only like Phantasy Star Nova, Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax, and Shining Resonance. Hell, we can even add publisher Atlus’ games which are now owned by SEGA. But since this is a SEGA site, I’ll keep it strictly SEGA for my Game of the Year.
But what game did I pick? Valkyria Chronicles. I know a lot of people will consider it a cheap pick since the game is a PC port of the 2008 Playstation 3 game. So what? Its a good port of a great game that totally deserves more attention than it received. The game the fun and addictive SRPG formula and took a more unique twist on the formula, making it more engaging game while learning from past past titles such as Fire Emblem series and Shining Force series. The game has a cast of charming characters, variety of objects in single player, dozens of hours of content, a unique artstyle and its developed by key developers behind Skies of Arcadia. Vyse and Akia from Skies of Arcadia are even playable in the game! If you haven’t played Valkyria Chronicles before, I suggest you rectify your dumbass mistake and pick up a copy on either the PC or Playstation 3. You’ll thank me later.
Its funny because my last year’s game of the year was also a port. Maybe I’m just an asshole that dislikes anything created after 2008?
Runner-up: Alien: Isolation, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
BARRY: ALIEN: ISOLATION (Multi-Platform)
Alien: Isolation is a solid game that succeeds in just about everything that it set out to do. The Creative Assembly washed the bad taste of Aliens: Colonial Marines out of gamer’s mouths and created a scary, atmospheric game that does the Alien license justice. Survival horror is a genre that I am not well versed in, mainly due to Resident Evil Code: Veronica frustrating the hell out of me on the SEGA Dreamcast with limited save points and annoying camera angles. That isn’t to say I dislike Code: Veronica or the survival horror genre, but it would have to take a lot to get me back into playing a modern survival horror game. While I’ll admit, I’ll play just about anything with SEGA on the box, Alien: Isolation also drew me in with amazing graphics and creative gameplay that relied on the less is more approach.
The release of Alien: Isolation gives me hope for future internally developed Western SEGA titles which embraces the classic SEGA pillars of “Advanced Design”, “Technical Power”, “Various Genres” and a “Unique Sense” of game design. [Note: These pillars can be found in Famitsu’s “SEGA Consumer History” book]
Runner-Ups: Valkyria Chronicles (PC), Bayonetta 2 (Wii U), Crazy Taxi: City Rush (Mobile)
AKI-AT: ALIEN: ISOLATION (Multi-Platform)
When SEGA announced they had acquired the Alien license those many years ago, most thought that the caliber of developers SEGA signed up would finally produce a worthy video game title to grace the universe. From Gearbox to Rebellion, there were many reasons why those games failed but it wasn’t until one of SEGA’s own inhouse developers finally got their hands on the license that at long last did we have a title that was finally able to do justice to the franchise and, in particular, the first film.
Alien: Isolation is a terrifying experience, the set pieces all ooze with atmosphere, the scenery helps to not only elevate the tension but firmly makes the player believe that they really are in the Alien universe. The game is relenting in it’s task at making poor Amanda Ripley meet a gruesome fate, yet at the same time the title still manages to be fair. In my playthrough not once did I think the game was cheating, that it using some under handed trick to punish me, if I ever was caught by the Alien it would be down to me not taking in my surrounding. Infact the sound design for this game must have been one of the best in the industry, the audio cue’s the game gives you are sometimes more helpful than the motion tracker you’re supplied with!
But the thing that cemented it’s place was that after completing Alien: Isolation I had no urge to return to the doomed Sevastopol station, not because this game wasn’t fun, I loved the cat and mouse game I was entertained. Not because of some broken segment where I felt the gameplay was hindered severely, I felt the game was perfectly paced. No it was because the game broke me, the experience was too stressful, the setting to bleak, as a player it really did test my resolve, should I power on and evade the Alien with my wits, or should I cower under the table for a little while longer? In the end I thoroughly enjoyed the game but it might just be one title that I’ll never wish to play again, the experience far too testing for me to go through again.
Runner-Ups: Ryu Ga Gotoku: Ishin! (PS3/PS4), Chain Chronicle (Mobile)
TIM: BAYONETTA 2 (Wii U)
Unlike last year where a lot of SEGA’s games were somewhat disappointing, I can’t really think of anything bad SEGA put out outside of the few mediocre Sonic games. Especially if you include the games Atlus’ put out. Out of all the games, Bayonetta 2 is probably the best one. It does seem like SEGA’s name is mostly on it out of necessity as they own the franchise, seeing how Nintendo had to save it from being cancelled by further funding and publishing it. But it still is my favorite game this year with a SEGA logo on the box, if not just plain the best game of the year overall.
Aside from the story, which has one of the most annoying kid characters I’ve ever seen in a video game, the game is just amazing throughout with the madness being stepped up each chapter. The game’s prologue is the most over the top sequence in any game released so far in this console generation if you didn’t count the rest of the game, and that says a lot about how much Bayonetta 2 still manages to top it multiple times. The combat isn’t that different from the first game, but it’s still a lot of fun to use in all of the situations the game presents. Add to that the challenge in getting the best rankings, beating the game on higher difficulty modes and the unlockable and you have one incredibly fun and replayable game. I could have bought a Wii U just for this game and still be satisfied with having paid multiple hundreds of euros for it.
I think that Persona Q also deserves to get mentioned though. I’m a big fan of Persona 3 and 4 (especially the latter), and this is an excellent cross-over of those two games. I’ve never played the Etrian Odyssey games, so I don’t know which mechanics are carried over from those aside from the map drawing, but it all seems to mesh well with the Persona/Megami Tensei style of gameplay. There’s a lot more to the dungeons here than in Persona 3 or 4, in which they were a lot more simple and repetitive. And while there are no social links, there’s still plenty of fun dialogue between the characters. The addition of more side quests involving these characters is especially fun. I’m not sure if I’d recommend it to anyone who hasn’t played either of the aforementioned, but as a fan of both I really enjoyed it.
Runner-Ups: Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (PS3/Xbox 360), Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd (PS3/VITA)
KORI-MARU: DENGEKI BUNKO FIGHTING CLIMAX (PS3/VITA)
While there were several SEGA titles released in the West, my pick for 2014 would have to be Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax. Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax, developed by Ecole Software and French Bread known for their work on the Melty Blood series and published by SEGA, is a crossover fighting game which features light novel characters from ASCII_Media_Works’ Dengeki Bunko imprint and is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary in Japan. Not only it is a crossover of light novel characters, the game also features various SEGA franchises from stages and characters. As a fan of anime and fighting games, Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax has caught my attention since it’s announcement. Even though I didn’t know half the characters other than ones from Sword Art Online & Durarara!, each character has their own unique traits.
The gameplay and graphics really stands out as well. The gameplay for me felt really simple and was easy for me to get use to the mechanics such as performing an air combo, summoning a support character, combo to the air again and canceling out with a Combo Blast into a Climax Art. The sprites and animations are well drawn in hi-resolution as well as the backgrounds based on various SEGA IPs such as Shinobi and Border Break. My personal favorite battlegrounds to fight in would have to be Sonic the Hedgehog’s Sea-Side B-Field and NiGHTS Twin Seeds. Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax was also featured in our Sonic & SEGA Fan Jam event and was the second most signed up tournament event behind Sonic Adventure 2.
What really caught my attention about Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax was being able to play as Akira Yuki from Virtua Fighter and Selveria Bles from Vakyria Chronicles after unlocking them in Story Mode in under certain conditions. Their movesets transtioned pretty well in Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax. From my experience, Akira is a lot more simplier to maneuver his specials attacks while Selveria is more advanced to use as she has tons of combo and mind game set ups with the use of her teleport specials. Not only them two were featured as fan service, you can also unlock colors for every fighter which a few happens to have colors matching other SEGA characters that are not available in Fighting Climax.
Overall, if your into fighting games with anime style graphics and SEGA fan service, I recommend importing this game. Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax is availbile on PS3 and PS Vita. The game is region free for anyone to play. I hope to see this game to be popular enough to receive DLC for more Dengeki and SEGA characters.
Runner-Ups: Bayonetta 2 (Wii U), Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd (PS3/VITA)
WILL: HATSUNE MIKU PROJECT DIVA F 2ND (PS3/VITA) & ALIEN: ISOLATION (Multi-Platform)
My personal favorite SEGA game of 2014 is Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd. The thing is though, there isn’t much to say about the game. It’s just more of the same crazy rhythm game action with various improvements and you know if you like it or not. I just felt it’d be wrong to not mention it, since it’s technically my favorite game of the year. So instead, I will talk about my second favorite SEGA game of the year; Alien: Isolation.
Everything about Alien: Isolation is amazing. Creative Assembly and SEGA really nailed it with this game. What really makes Alien: Isolation stand out is the atmosphere and environment that Creative Assembly have crafted with this game. You can really tell that there was a lot of attention to detail put into the game. The graphics are amazing and you really feel like you are inside of the movies. Everything looks identical for the most part. The background OST and sound effects that play only further add to the very tense feeling atmosphere.
Of course, walking around Sevastopol is a very scary experience in itself. On top of that though there is a big alien lurking around in the vents just waiting to bite your face off. This alien is also very smart, it learns from your play style so you can’t keep using the same strategy over and over again. It is also possible to piss off the alien which will make it more relentless as it tries to hunt you down. Not to mention countless other threats you will encounter while on Sevastopol, you have to be very careful and plan accordingly with the limited resources you manage to collect. This game is all about surviving, you’ll never be very powerful. If you are a fan of horror games you need to play this game. It won’t let you down.
BEN: BAYONETTA 2 (Wii U)
The original Bayonetta was a game I’d played a little of back in its days on the Xbox 360, and though I’d been able to understand some of the appeal of the combat system and the crazy atmosphere, something about the game didn’t click with me, and I never got more than a couple hours into it.
Bayonetta 2 looked better to me in almost every possible way, and despite my experience with the first one, I eagerly awaited its release. Sure enough, the latest from Platinum Games didn’t disappoint. Bayonetta 2 features a far more vibrant and colorful graphics style than the original had, the result allowing Platinum Games’ excellent art direction to really shine. The game also runs beautifully, which is an incredible achievement given how much action’s typically on screen at once. The camera system’s been majorly improved as well, the load times shorter, and the QTEs made less obtrusive.
But mainly, Bayonetta 2 is just plain, ridiculous fun. It portrays the title character in, I feel, the way she should have been portrayed in the original, and while the story’s just as convoluted and the cutscenes still tend to ramble, it’s the incredibly fun combat, epic action scenes and bosses, cool music, and the excellent visuals which kept me interested all throughout.
With a great port of the original Bayonetta packed in as well, Bayonetta 2 is an incredible value, and it’s given me the chance to try the first game out again, something I’m having a lot of fun doing and liking far better than I did back then, even if it now exists in the shadow of its sequel.
Definitely recommended to all fans of action games and one of my favorite games of this year, period.
AJ: ALIEN: ISOLATION (Multi-Platform)
I’m sure must be pretty obvious to those that follow My Life with SEGA. Just in case you’ve been missin’ out all these years, my favorite game of 2014 is Alien: Isolation.
When it was first announced I was tad skeptical, thanks to the abomination that was Aliens: Colonial Marines. I couldn’t take another slapdash shooter featuring my favorite xenomorphs. The Alien franchise was in dire need of a fresh coat of creativity. That’s exactly what the good folks at Creative Assembly provided. Unlike so many developers before, they decided to recreate the ambiance, anxiety and – well, isolation – of Ridley Scott’s first film. They crafted a thrilling game of hide-and-seek that made my heart palpitate with every step I took forward. The last game that left me a nervous wreck was called Silent Hill. Yeah, way back in 1999.
Alien: Isolation is a beautifully rendered fright fest where terror and stealth take center stage; not action. This is a game where you’ll be hiding out in a locker, peering through the slats in the door, praying that “thing” didn’t see you. Hoping against all probability that it didn’t hear you. Then you hear a thud echo through the room, followed by another, and another. The main door opens and, like a snake hissing in the dark, your predator makes its presence known. Your heart starts pounding against your chest demanding freedom, then BAM! The locker door is ripped from its hinges and you see it, screaming in your face before its tongue devours your face!
It’s more than just a game; it’s an experience. Creative Assembly did an incredible job. Trust me, it’s no an easy feat breathing new life into a tired franchise while paying great respect to the film that created it. Many filmmakers, and game developers, have tried in the past; very few have succeeded.
TRACKERTD: HATSUNE MIKU PROJECT DIVA F 2ND (PS3/VITA)
In retrospect, I only played two of SEGA’s releases this year. I wasn’t exactly keen on having Sonic Jump Fever as my vote however, so it’s probably a good thing that Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd is now installed on my PS3. Having already played Extend, it’s effectively more of what I loved there: fun rhythm action with a killer soundtrack and lovely visuals. Using the PS3 pad as opposed to the PSP’s controls is taking some getting used to, and it’s true that a lot of the songs return from earlier games (including a considerable number from Extend); but this doesn’t bother me so much, as I loved Extend’s soundtrack and I’ll likely get used to the controls eventually.
The new tracklist is also pretty solid from the already considerable amount I’ve played, and the amount of content such as costumes, accessories, plus a vast edit mode, a fun photo studio, and of course the 40+ songs themselves: and that’s not counting the crazy amount of DLC on the way, over $400 worth!
I didn’t think I’d ever live in a world where I was more hyped for a game about a group of virtual Japanese singers than a Sonic the Hedgehog game, but alas, here we are. Miku’s latest effort is damn good (and damn tough, too!) and I can’t recommend it enough.
SHIGS: BAYONETTA 2 (Wii U)
I choose Bayonetta 2. A great successor to the original, this sequel amps up the action with a few new moves while keeping to the fighting style of the original. The main difference outside of her new haircut, is just how much more colorful the sequel is over the drab colors of it’s predecessor. Because of this, the backdrops and scenery look more beautiful than before. With crisp graphics running at 60FPS and over the top set pieces that would make any God of War fan envious. Despite being a Nintendo game this time, it also doesn’t shy away from the violence and gore. Not only that, you get the original Bayonetta included in the boxed version with new, Nintendo-inspired outfits. While the first Bayonetta was a critical darling, it didn’t quite do the big numbers fans were hoping for. Thankfully, Nintendo helped give this series the second chance it deserved and I couldn’t be happier with the results.
Runner-Up: Crazy Taxi: City Rush (Mobile)
NUCKLES87: BAYONETTA 2 (Wii U)
Bayonetta 2 is hands down the best game of the year. Not just best SEGA game, but best game on any console, from any company, period. While I’m sure there will be argument in the comments whether this game even qualifies for this list, I don’t care. It has SEGA’s name on it and that’s good enough for me.
The most surprising thing about Bayonetta 2 is that it took what made the last game so great and made it even better. The level design smartly focuses on the battle system, the original games strong point, at the expense of actual traversal. The pacing has been honed to perfection, giving the player just enough time to breath between battles without giving them enough time to grow bored. The battling itself largely operates the same way, with a focus on combos and last minute dodges, which in turn activate the awesome “Witch Time” effect and fuel the magic gauge. Bayo 2’s big contribution lies in the infernal weaves, which allow Bayonetta to power-up middle and unleash some huge, satisfying attacks.
The game is also gorgeous to look at, with a tad more color infused into the world, higher poly models, better effects and textures, and stronger character design than the previous game. Even the storyline has been improved, though you may still need some serious background with the previous game to understand and appreciate it. The music is as great as it was in the original. Though I will be the first to admit “Tomorrow is Mine” has nothing on “Fly Me to the Moon”, something everyone needs to keep in mind is that the latter is an American songbook classic sung by the likes of Frank Sinatra and played during the first mission to the Moon, while the former was composed specifically for this game. Not an all-time classic, but still a great piece of gaming music. You have to play this game. It’s an action gaming experience that cannot be missed, regardless of console allegiance.
OUR FAVORITE SEGA GAMES OF 2014: A LOOK BACK AND A LOOK AHEAD
As evidenced by our long list of praised titles, there was a lot to love when it came to SEGA developed and published games in 2014. Both Alien: Isolation and Valkyria Chronicles won the coveted 2014 Editor’s Choice Award [note: no physical statue exists, only a high resolution photoshop file] while our writers gave the most votes for Platinum Games’ Bayonetta 2. Runner-ups for the 2014 Writer’s Choice Award were Alien: Isolation and Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd, while Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax and Atlus’s Persona Q also received nods.
What can we expect in 2015? For confirmed titles, we have The Creative Assembly’s Total War: ATTILA and Total War: Arena for PC, Total War Battles: Kingdom for PC and mobile, the second wave of SEGA 3D Classics for the Nintendo 3DS, the localization (finally!) of Yakuza 5 for PS3, and Hatsune Miku: Project MIRAI 2 is set for a Western 3DS release.
Japanese developed Sonic the Hedgehog games are returning by way of Sonic Runners for mobile, and possibly a rumored 2015 multi-platform console title. We also have the long rumored and long awaited rereleases of Shenmue and Skies of Arcadia and a rumored Virtua Fighter 6. Then, of course, the continual need for a Shenmue 3 and a Western release of Phantasy Star Online 2.
In the comments below, let us know your favorite SEGA games of 2014 and what you are most looking forward to in 2015!