2014 was, for the most part, an uninspiring time for this pastime of mine.
The GamerGate hate movement represented a new low point for cultural circles primarily interested in gaming. I am loathe to use the word "gamer": one because it homogenises the diverse range of people that love them some video games, and secondly, as a few commentators have pointed out, the gamer is a dying breed. A dying, irrelevant group of dipshits thrashing about and moaning about "ethics in journalism" whilst attacking women developers and critics almost exclusively.
I tried engaging with those that responded to my GamerGate related tweets. They argued there was some good at the heart of this torrent of hate speech, but when they inevitably and passive-aggressively responded with ad hominem attacks, I had the privilege of using Twitter's block button, and not having to worry about having my details spread all over the interwebs. Being a white man, it seems, is an incredibly effective means of dodging misogyny, racism, and horrifying personal attacks.
This year I attended PAX and had the great pleasure of meeting people I'd interacted with via Twitter and other forums, and the response was unanimous: GamerGate is something that we were all ashamed of. Something that we all wished would go away. Quickly.
Gaming culture can lead to some wonderful things (image credit: http://indiegamemag.com/pax-aus-highlights-the-great-the-gorgeous-and-the-groovy-part-1/)
Still, I can't nominate GamerGate as the most disappointing game of 2014. Sure, it was the most disappointing aspect of gaming culture that crawled out of some shit-infested tunnel this year, but that's not the point of this post.
2014 will go down as the year of the re-release. With new hardware, publishers are showing their courage by taking as few risks as possible. Any half decent game that came out in the last two years is sure to be fingered for a fresh coat of paint. A couple of weeks ago it was DmC: Devil May Cry, a few months ago it was Sleeping Dogs, at the dawn of the new generation of consoles it was Tomb Raider. If you're looking for innovation and the unknown, you'd best read a book.
I'm part of the problem. I'm a sucker for nostalgia, for games that I enjoyed as recently as September last year. I bought Grand Theft Auto V again. I bought Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition. I'm encouraging this bullshit through my own silly purchasing habits.
That being said, the most disappointing game of 2014 played on feelings of nostalgia, but it wasn't a rerelease, or a reboot. It was a sequel. A sequel to a game my wife and I played religiously.
The most disappointing game of 2014 was Mario Golf: World Tour.
Under the ZZZZZs
The last instalment in the series that we played was Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour on the GameCube. Its course design went from whimsical to just plain fiendish. Some holes would require you to smash the ball from tiny platform to tiny platform. You needed to use boost to reach far away, and spin to stop the ball on a dime. Expert play didn't take strokes off your game, it allowed you to make par. It was hilariously difficult, and one of the best sports games I've ever played.
Mario Golf: World Tour's course design by comparison is so uninspired that even looking at the game's icon on my 3DS menu is enough to put me to sleep. The visuals are technically proficient, but gone are the seemingly impossible assemblages of surfaces that inspired hours of practice.
World Tour is clean and soulless. It speaks volumes to me that I couldn't stick with it for more than a few hours. Carly and I invested months into its predecessor, and we still fondly recall its cruelty and question why we traded it in to afford a Wii. I'm not taking the piss.