I did a bit of a Google search to try and come up with some interesting and fun fact to put at this blurb, but I’m finding that doing things like that make you remember how much of a mess the world has been for some time. I mean, that was the year that ISIS became a thing, a huge Ebola outbreak, and A Million Ways to Die in the West was released in theaters (two of those are worse than the others, but at least we got an Ebola vaccine out of it).
On the other hand, One World Trade Center finally opened, JAXA launched Hayabusa2, Sia would release Chandelier, and we got Baby Groot. Does the bad outweigh the good? Probably not, but it’s always important to keep some perspective that there’s always going to be bad in the world, just like there is going to be good. The world will keep on spinning, pop culture will keep on popping, and memes will outstay their welcome almost immediately. This is the way.
For this series, we’re going to walk through the years and go through some of the touchpoints that we’ve been through in the big focuses of our site… movies, video game, and of course… LEGO.
Ace’s Pick: No contest:
I used my 3DS a LOT. It was easy to carry around in my back pocket or thrown in a bag. Playing Smash is fun. Playing Smash while on the go is even funner. It’s an amazing feat of engineering to put that game on a portable device. The features were near-parity with the Wii U release and while I enjoyed the home console version just as much, nothing can beat one you can take with you. I poured a lot of time into this game. Runner-up: Last of Us Remastered for Playstation 4.
Eric’s Pick: In 2011, I went pretty hard about how much Dark Souls impacted me. And, in 2014, From Software released a second Dark Souls with some interesting behind-the-scenes development. Miyazaki, the director behind the first Dark Souls (and 2009’s Demon’s Souls, which not enough people talk about), was working on a little game that became 2015’s Bloodborne, so a second division was set up for Dark Souls II. Miyazaki instead took a back seat to supervise, and, according to plenty of Internet opinions, did not supervise enough.
(Yeah, I know this is Scholar of the First Sin. We’ll get there.)
While Dark Souls 2 had great ratings by critics – 9’s and 10’s across the board – it had several issues for Souls veterans. Bad hitboxes and laggy PvP, for two, but the bigger problem was that the game didn’t feel right. 2011 Dark Souls was a masterclass (the first half, at least) in great level design that couples perfectly with its gameplay. Dark Souls 2, on the other hand, well…at one point you take an elevator up from the top of a windmill to the bottom of a volcano. Yeah, up, I said. It seems like the team thought “wow, this would be cool, let’s throw this in” without thinking of how it exactly fits within the world.
But, honestly, Dark Souls 2 is my favorite of the Soulsborne games for one reason – it relaxes me. The other games are extremely hard for me, and require my full attention. But Dark Souls 2? I can beat it without dying. No problem.
I should note that all of the gameplay issues from the original Dark Souls 2 were entirely fixed with Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin, which is really the only way to experience the game.
Not to mention, Dark Souls 2 has three incredible DLCs – Crown of the Sunken King, Crown of the Old Ivory King, and Crown of the Old Iron King.
2011’s Dark Souls is an experience. But Dark Souls 2 is just a great game.
Nick’s Pick: You know, Hearthstone came out back in 2014, and it depresses me to see how far it’s fallen as a game and Blizzard has as a company. I’ve given up on it, though my daughter still asks to play it from time to time… but Magic the Gathering: Arena is my card game of choice. This was a pretty tough year, all things considered… I think most of my game playing was around MMOs and console titles. If anything, 2014 was marked by games I was excited for but ultimately disappointed by: Elder Scrolls Online, Civilization Beyond Earth, Titanfall, and Assassin’s Creed Unity were all games that could have been so much more. There was one title, a sequel, that really did latch on for me and my friends, though…
I’m not a huge car guy, and not that big into racing games. I used to play Gran Turismo 3 on my PS2, and liked the Forza games, but it was more like a diversion. Horizon, with its mix of arcade racing and an open world, scratch an itch I didn’t even realize I had. We had all sorts of “house rules” where we would tune up specific cars to specific classes and hit races with them. You haven’t seen the nature of this game until you get five other players in a King game using ludicrously over-tuned Wiley Jeeps.
Ace’s Pick: Without a doubt, for 2014, The LEGO Movie gets my pick:
I had serious doubts about this movie, but the script, style, and execution were so refreshing. The messages in the movie worked at both the micro level contained with the confines of the script, but also worked on a broader macro level beyond just what the average AFOL can understand, but regular people too albeit in a different context. Even though they worked on my previous favorite pick, 21 Jump Street, this was the movie that really cemented the names of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller into my mind. They were able to make a great movie about LEGO and because of that I looked forward to anything else they got their hands on.
Eric’s Pick: I’m edgy, so I’m gonna refer to this movie by it’s European title:
Staring my favorite Scientologist, LDR has everything I love in a sci-fi movie – awesome alien design, Tom Cruise acting confused and terrified, and Emily Blunt using a helicopter blade as a sword.
Oh, and time travel. Lots of time travel. It’s the best movie about video game speedrunning that has nothing to do with video games.
Nick’s Pick: I was tempted to pick the movie that ties in to my LEGO pick, Guardians of the Galaxy, in this spot. It marks a turning point for the Marvel Cinematic Universe after a couple of week entries (and one of the best, in Winter Soldier), where color became important and they started to lean into the silliness inherent to movies based on comic characters in tights.
But in 2014, there was a movie that holds a bit more sentimentality for me, and it is shockingly on topic for this site…
It’s weird to think that before The LEGO Movie came out, LEGO animated entertainment would be what one would call… not good. At first glance, this movie should have been awful… I mean, we all love (or have loved) LEGO here, but it’s a kid’s toy. It had the markings of a shameless two-hour long commercial. What we got, obviously, was so much more than that.
But, for sentimental reasons, this was a special movie because it was the first one I took my daughter to. She doesn’t remember it, because she was only one and a half, but she discovered popcorn that day and clapped at the bright stuff and songs. We’ve watched it since, and has enjoyed it… but it will always have a special place in my heart for it being what we watched together.
Fun side story… my son’s first movie was the LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, and he was just about the same age my daughter was when she saw the first one.
Ace’s Pick: Right along with the The LEGO Movie being my pick for best movie, it should come as no surprise that this is my favorite set:
Coming in at the climax of the movie, Benny is finally unleashed in building a spaceship and what a spaceship it is. A modernized entry in Classic Space with its signature blue coloring and yellow canopies, it’s large and quite a treat for the eyes. I picked mine up towards the end of the line for half-off, so it was a doubly nice set for me.
Eric’s Pick: I got literally one Lego set this year, in my Christmas stocking. So, by default, my pick is:
Yeah, I guess it’s cool. I was pretty checked out about Lego at this point.
Nick’s Pick: I don’t remember how much LEGO I bought back in 2014… I was probably still recovering from all the stuff I got the year before. Of course, in 2014, we finally got to see the Marvel Super Heroes line start to shine after the shlock that was the Iron Man 3 sets, and it didn’t get any better than 76021 The Milano Spaceship Rescue.
I reviewed the original set, and later the re-release for Vol. 2 (spoiler alert, I didn’t like the second one) – in fact, that second set was the one that just broke me for collecting LEGO, and was the last set I bought for myself for a couple of years. The first one, even with it’s weird color choices, remains the best jet/spaceship that the Super Heroes line has made, and is another entry on my “all-time favorites” list.