Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Best Everything of 2014

This is it, folks. The last day of 2014. A day when we sit back and reflect on all of the awesome things we saw and did this year. We hope it was as awesome for you as it was for us, and thanks for tuning in each and every day to the Ace of Geeks. We couldn't be doing this without you, and we appreciate every since one of you guys. Next year, look for brand new content, new shows, more articles, and more coverage of conventions around the world. But for now, let's look back and reflect on the best of this year. Here, by popular vote, are our staff's picks for the best of 2014:


Guardians of the Galaxy
As if anyone was surprised by this choice. The number one grossing movie in America is also our number one pick for the best movie this year. James Gunn took the film that everyone was convinced would be Marvel's first big failure, and instead turned out an space opera adventure filled with heart and soul. He made you care about a talking raccoon, and weep for a walking tree. Stellar performances by a breakout cast including Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista and Zoe Saldana made us believe in a world that included the floating head of a Celestial and a Infinity Gem. With this film, Marvel proved they could make a blockbuster as nerdy as they wanted, and still have a massive hit. 
Close Runners Up: Big Hero 6, How to Train Your Dragon 2
Other Staff Favorites: The Lego Movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Raid 2, Gone Girl, Maleficent


Our favorite series about Chicago's own private eye/wizard came back strong this year, with a heist story that's not to be missed. Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden is (as always) in over his head as the new Winter Knight, and Queen Mab forces him to join with one of his worst enemies to steal from a god. What follows is a roaringly fun story with tons of twists and turns, and one or two final surprises that will have fans of the series jumping out of their seats for joy. If you haven't checked out this series yet, now's the right time to go grab a copy of the first book and read them all.


If there was an award for "most improved", Agents of Shield would win that, too. After a tepid first season, struggling to find filler material, Agents of Shield finally hit its stride with the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the destruction of the very organization that's in the show's title. The formerly unbearable Grant Ward turned evil in a spectacular fashion, and the team developed tons of new problems that turned them from cookie cutter characters into a real, breathing group of human beings. This season has been non-stop full of blows to each of the characters, while tying in yet another super-nerdy part of the Marvel Universe. If you gave up on Shield, go catch up. It finally feels like a Whedon show.
Close Runners Up: Game of Thrones, Sleepy Hollow, Flash, Selfie
Other Staff Favorites: Person of Interest, The Librarians


I promised myself I wouldn't cry. Because this is an Avatar show, I of course failed. Korra went out in one of the best finales in cartoon history this year, building their characters and giving each of them one final moment of utter badassery. We never knew we'd miss this show as much as we already do, but we spend every day wishing there'd be just one more season. Bryan Konietzko and Dante Demartino, we tip our hats to you, thank you for the eight wonderful seasons of the best cartoon storytelling we could ask for. We cannot wait to see what you do next.
Close Runner Ups: Star Wars Rebels, Sword Art Online 2, Over the Garden Wall
Other Staff Favorites: Young Justice (ok, it's old, but it hit Netflix this year), Bojack Horseman, Hajime no Ippo: Fighting, Bee and Puppycat


The Crow: Curare is an amazing and triumphant return from series creator James O'Barr, and represents so much about what we loved about the original comic. The story, loosely based on a true Detroit murder case, follows retired police officer Joe Stalk. After years of obsessing over an unsolved murder of an unidentifiable little girl, his life is ruined. His wife left him, he lives off his meager pension and tries to drown his obsession with alcohol. But when the spirit of the little girl finally catches up with him, accompanied by The Crow, they endeavor to solve her murder together to get the closure they both so desperately need.

O'barr, true to his form, makes you feel the pain of his protagonists, while the art work and color pallet of Antoine Dode, though cartoony, bring an extreme sense of unease and sorrow with every frame. An excellent work if you are a fan of the series or not.
Other Staff Favorites: Loki: Agent of Asgard, Vattu, Original Sin, TMNT: City Fall, Rat Queens, Earth 2: World's End, Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rift, Tooth and Claw


After the disappointment to many fans of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, anticipation was high for a return to form in the newest Super Smash Bros. game. And boy did Sakurai and co. deliver. One of the best rosters in years, and the best mechanics since Melee make for a game that's a ton of fun at parties and at tournaments. The joy of having Link beat up Samus, or using anyone to beat up that damned Dog from Duck Hunt never gets old. The game's suffering from a little over-use of Diddy Kong right now, but we're confident players will find a way to defeat the banana throwing pest and find a whole new character to call broken. 
Closer Runner Up: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Other Staff Favorites: Dragon Age: Inquisition, Transistor, Five Nights at Freddie's, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Dark Souls 2, Persona Q, Monument Valley, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix


Allright, we know, King of Tokyo came out in 2012. But board games are a little different than movies and TV - sometimes, you discover them at just the right time. And nothing has dominated our play sessions like this game right here. On the surface, it's a simple, Yahtzee style game of press your luck dice rolling. But the addition of wonderfully designed Kaiju characters battling for control of the city of Tokyo really draws everyone in, and the consequences of each turn of the dice make what would be a simple party game a real nailbiter. The sequel, King of New York, is out now and we can't wait to try it.
Other Staff Favorites: Betrayal at the House on the Hill, Tokaido, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Slash


It's been the year of Dungeons and Dragons. We admit, we were a little concerned by the first beta tests of the game over the last few years - the game seemed like it was throwing out too many of the lessons learned by modern gaming to please the hardcore Pathfinder set. But when the final edition was in our hands, all of that was gone. In it's place was a game that magically managed to balance the crunchiness of 3.5, the fun of battles in 4th, and the roleplaying innovations of modern games like Fate. While it doesn't get all of it perfect, it's the best version of D&D we've played in a long, long time. And even more importantly, the book took the time to make sure everyone felt included, with sections on gender inclusiveness and art that heavily featured minority characters. Bravo, Wizards.
Other Staff Favorites: Robotech RPG Tactics, Magic: the Gathering 2014

So that's our list for the year. What about you folks - what were your favorite things or 2014, and what did you think we missed? Sound off in the comments.

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