2015 – just another year?

2014 has just closed up for good and now we begin the whole process all over again. Hours into days, days into weeks, and weeks into months. Obviously things do change, but as part of a process, not suddenly because it is a new year and therefore a new start is required.

New Year’s Eve is a hyped up event; for some an excuse to to go over the top because soon it will be a new year, for others a reason why an otherwise normal get together between friends has to suddenly become something more. I’m not saying NYE can’t be fun, I’ve had some great times in the past, but essentially these were just parties that happened to take place on a certain date that coincided with other people partying.

Really all that the New Year brings is people going on about their plan for the new them, one which will be annoying throughout January and then fizzle out shortly thereafter. And don’t get me started on those going “dry” for January. Either give up for good or just cut back a bit, otherwise it is a wasted gesture and no one cares if you succeed.

Aside from this the most notable change is the new round of god awful pop songs that will grate throughout the year. The songs that accompanied the London fireworks display a reminder just how terrible some of the songs were that came out during the year. Like me you might hate what’s in the charts now, but it can always get worse.

Now onto videogames, the topic I’m meant to focus on. 2014, as I mentioned before Christmas, had its fair share of problems in regards to the titles released towards the end of the year, with many of the problems still afflicting players as I write this. Will this trend continue into 2015, quite possibly. I don’t think (I hope) it won’t be to the same extent it ended up being in 2014, the publishers surely have quickly realised the ramifications of doing so. When it does happen again it will likely be similar to Driveclub where the game itself isn’t broken, but the back end servers (or in this case the underlying netcode) are at fault. Hopefully publishers will take up Shigeru Miyamoto’s advice that ‘a delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad’. Patching it after release doesn’t count.

Whilst I haven’t been too fussed over the whole 1080p 60fps argument, I do at least understand people’s frustration that the current consoles have struggled to meet this target. However now that developers have had more time to familiarise with the consoles this target should be more realistic for them. Although this does not mean that it should be the sole goal. There are many games that do not go for the 60fps target and the games play perfectly fine, as stability is more important. However this does not mean that the excuse of it being more “cinematic” can be used.

The big issue to come out of 2014 was, unfortunately, Gamergate. Not because feminists were supposedly trying to take away videogames (because they’re not) but because of entitled heterosexual white males who are so adverse to any kind of change that when people try to bring about more equality that they think their past time will end. The good news is that gamergate didn’t win, and even mainstream media is criticising it. Unfortunately it hasn’t completely imploded into obscurity just yet, but hopefully it will not drag out into 2015 and will be a footnote of the journey towards greater equality and the strengthening of the medium.

2014 did however end up being a great year for Nintendo, seeing a resurgence of the much loved company. In its home country of Japan the 3DS handheld is dominating with exclusive titles selling over a million copies. This year will also see the New 3DS (so that’s new New 3DS) coming to the West, whilst not an essential purchase if you already have a 3DS, does add notable extras such as improved 3D, NFC support, faster processor, extra shoulder buttons, and a C-Stick.

The WiiU has failed to retain the momentum that the Wii once had, but when Nintendo’s home consoles struggle they tend to create some of their best games. This year has seen the release of Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros for WiiU which many consider both to be the best in their respective series’. In addition have been more unique titles to appear on a Nintendo console, such as the Zelda themed Hyrule Warriors (based around the Dynasty Warriors series) and taking up the publishing duties for Platinum Games Bayonetta with the sequel now an exclusive for the system. Closing off the year (or starting off the year if you waited for the official EU release date) is Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, a wonderful little game expanding on the side puzzles original found in 2013’s Super Mario 3D World.

Then of course there are the amiibo. Nintendo finally decided to put the NFC hardware that is inbuilt in the WiiU Gamepad to use and release its own series of figures. So far the Smash Bros is the only game to actually take full advantage of them, but already I have two further titles that make some use of them, and given that I can now drive as Captain Falcon in Mario Kart 8 because of it makes them a worthwhile purchase. Also the more you have the cooler they look, but then you also have a problem, as you wake up one day to realise that you are someone in their early twenties with a growing toy collection for the first time in a decade.

Sorry, I just came to the realisation that my initial cynicism has completely dissipated. I got distracted thinking about Nintendo. That seems to often be the case though, for the bad things that took place regarding videogames (or just life) this year, Nintendo were always there with a working game that was just fun, a console that knows what its intended purpose is, and didn’t go sick over Christmas. 2015 will likely have similar faults to 2014, but likewise will have its standout moments, and many of those will come from Nintendo. So as we transition into another year, be thankful that we still have Nintendo around.

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