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To me, 2015 was a so-so year of games. We got some big releases like every other year, but 2015 reminded me that the games with the biggest marketing wins. For every hit that deserves it like Fallout 4, Splatoon or Bloodborne, we got a Battlefield Hardline or Rainbow Six Siege or Star Wars Battlefront that didn’t, yet people scrambled for them because it’s a common denominator. Heck, of the biggest announcements was the Final Fantasy VII Remake, and even that’s going to be bogged down with the game releasing episodically. With less gaming publishers nowadays, gamers have been left with no choice but to ignore some of the glitz and glamour of AAA games and go indie with games like Undertale and Rocket League. While that’s great, we tend to forget that we still need some fun, great AAA games to keep the entire industry running.
But enough of that, it’s time to celebrate. I’m content knowing that my list is pretty unique. Not because I want to be unique for the sake of being unique, but because I want games that some would have never touched be seen. I’m really happy to see Super Mario Maker make the list of my peers, but nostalgia does nothing for me. Yes, the Nintendo guy here isn’t nostalgic, and my GotY proves it. Even with a remake on my list, it’s only because it’s better and on a newer system makes it playable for me again.
I do wish I had time with other games I played slightly this year because they could have been on this list, but these are here because in one way or another, I dropped everything to play them. Games like Stella Glow, Etrian Odyssey Untold 2, Rare Replay, Monster Hunter 4, Final Fantasy Type-0, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Rise of the Tomb Raider or hell, Devil’s Third may have had a chance if I spent more time on them. Hell, I could have opened my PlayStation TV to play Earth Defense Force 2 and probably enjoyed it, but I know myself and I know that day’s never happening. So screw it, here’s my 2015 Games of the Year.
Games never have to be about saving the world or obliterating someone else, they can be peaceful and Zen-like. And that’s what Happy Home Designer did in spades. It was my favorite game this year to dump a couple minutes here and there to late at night to just wind down and get ready for bed.
For Animal Crossing fans, this was a godsend to see how your favorite characters spend their time outside of towns. It was funny hearing them spill gossip about mayors of towns or things that annoyed them while they were at work.
So I didn’t like Dragon Quest Heroes nearly as much as other hack-n-slash games like Hyrule Warriors or Samurai Warriors 2, but it didn’t stop me from dumping dozens of hours wailing on enemies with the diverse cast of the various Dragon Quest games. Many of which were never voiced or rendered in 3D before!
Picross is the best puzzle game ever created, and Pokémon Picross makes no exception. This free to start game is like many others, where I’m supposed to dump cash into it to continue. While that’s true, it still makes it the cheapest Picross game I ever bought. This installment is the best Picross to start off on since it allows for cheating with abilities from your Pokémon team.
While Pokémon Picross is a lot like Happy Home Designer, in which I’m supposed to put small amounts of time into it, but I tend to go on with it, saying “one more puzzle!” in the meantime. Hell, even while writing this, a mythical Pokémon popped up (allowing only so much time until it disappears), so I dropped this and went at it.
This one is a huge guilty pleasure, as it’s not a very good game. It’s ugly, has barren same-y environments, the dungeons aren’t at all mind-bending, had lame multiplayer (it was primed for co-op!) and it loosely follows the anime. On top of that, Namco didn’t bother dubbing it and still decided to charge $60 for it on PS4, and yet it’s on this list.
That’s because the combat and flight mechanics are amazing. Its hack-n-slash gameplay isn’t truly innovative per se, but the combat was engaging enough to allow it to work in the air, in full three dimensions. It’s gameplay is so much better than many other flying games I’ve ever played (I’m looking at you Star Fox Zero), that it’s a total shame that its stuck in a mediocre game. But I was able to play and fly around as any popular avatar in SAO’s ALO arcs, including my favorite Cait Sith Alicia Rue. I was legitimately upset when I beat it knowing there was nothing left to do in it, and I think there no better thing to say about a linear game like this.
Sadly the next SAO game isn’t taking place in ALO, so that amazing feel of flight mechanics and combat mechanics cannot be strengthened in a better game.
Nintendo spent three times as long making the remake of Majora’s Mask than its original version. It’s an incredible factoid knowing that Nintendo made it to mainly ride off the success of the legendary Ocarina of Time. What they made though was one of the darkest, innovative and compelling Zelda titles in the franchise’s long and prestigious history. There is still no Zelda like it.
In the end, Majora’s Mask 3D is only the same game, just greatly improved to take advantage of modern hardware… but it felt good replaying this. It’s also heartwarming to see it outpace the N64 version instantly, meaning most of the people playing it is their first time, allowing the misunderstood title gain the appreciation it deserved.
Rocksteady’s (hopeful) conclusion to the Arkham series ends on a very high note. The addition of the Batmobile was a long time coming, and it’s thanks to the next-gen hardware. I can actually say “yeah, that couldn’t have been done on 360 and PS3 without some drastic, gameplay-altering cuts.” Combat was the same, which is good, and the world was bigger and more crammed with nifty things to find and do. The narrative still blows my mind with Batman movie-quality production at every moment of the story. It’s still the bar to reach for licensed games.
The game is far from perfect, but it was one a hell of an adventure. Sad the season pass was a straight-out failure or else it would have been a nice way to come back to it.
I’m glad I’m a Metal Gear fan, because this amazing game can only be understood, appreciated and enjoyed if you played the rest of the Big Boss-starring games. That’s also the biggest downside to the same, because that’s an incredibly high perquisite.
As a Metal Gear fan, players should be able to love and take in the gameplay as well as the sight and sounds of Metal Gear Solid V (After the annoyingly slow prologue), but it’s only after you call in a chopper while you and Quiet are both taking out baddies around you with tanks making everything harder, and using said chopper as backup as well as your escape for you and your target and shooting out of it once you board and getting back to your base… is where it clicks and you realize you’re playing the most intense Metal Gear Solid we will probably ever see.
The first good Yoshi game in twenty years… TWENTY YEARS.
This game was a long time coming, to say the least. After the duds that were Yoshi’s Story, Yoshi’s Island DS and Yoshi’s New Island (and the awful GBA port of the original Yoshi’s Island), we finally got a great Yoshi platformer since the SNES.
Made by the folks who made the amazing Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Yoshi’s Wooly World blends adorableness with tight and accurate gameplay. The best thing is that the difficulty is all determined by you, because if you need help, there’s co-op and badged that help you cheat the system a bit; while going it alone and no help can be quite the challenge.
Nintendo and Monolithsoft’s magnum opus JRPG for the Wii U was, like Yoshi, announced soon after the Wii U’s launch, and we finally get it in late 2015. I can see why Xenoblade Chronciles X got it though, the world is MASSIVE, full of three-dimensional, fully explorable landscapes and a million-and-one concepts executed within it.
My review is still ongoing as the game is pretty much a Japanese-made Fallout (and in some cases, more so), but the combat, exploration and production is more advanced than its predecessor while sporting an epic soundtrack, and I don’t use that word lightly.
The moment I saw Splatoon get announced, I thought, “oh. This looks to be a big, cool thing.” The moment I started playing it, I realized that this quite possibly is the biggest thing Nintendo has released since the revolutionary Wii.
Many people may think that Splatoon isn’t a big deal, but it is the Wii U’s killer app and no one saw it coming. It’s an online-centric shooter starring kids, yet it’s the most innovative shooter akin to Halo, Half-Life and Goldeneye 007.
From the non-lethal methods to win, to the unique way to traverse the map to the parties Nintendo throws every month to the fashion aspect to the weekly drops of content to the music and characters, everything in Splatoon just clicks, and works. Each match is so perfectly timed that like a potato chip, you can’t just have one. Even the controller mapping is great: the moment you realize that running, crouching and reloading were all on one button, you get how crazy smart its gameplay really is.
Wii U’s are selling at a better pace thanks to Splatoon. The game, in a mere six months, has sold more copies and captured more hearts then any one title (if not combined) from some of Nintendo’s longest running franchises like Mother (Earthbound), Fire Emblem, Pikmin and F-Zero, and is pacing to outdo the best selling installments of the Star Fox and Metroid series on Nintendo’s worst-selling console. It’s all thanks to amazing gameplay, a fresh new concept, correct marketing and brilliant post-launch support. Welcome the biggest Nintendo IP since Pokémon.