2015 certainly surprised me. For starters, I was almost certain that Batman: Arkham Knight would be on this list, but I guess things don“t always work out the way you think.
That“s not to say there were only bad surprises this year; in fact, I“d like to think that many of the games on my list were pleasant surprises. Games I didn“t expect to love or respect as much as I do. Heck, there are even a couple I probably would never have played if friends hadn“t motivated (read: forced) me to try them. Oh, and spoiler alert -- Undertale ain“t here so don“t go looking for it!
A side note: Where“s Fallout 4? Don“t get me wrong, I love the game. It“s a great game. But it“s not really that much different from Fallout 3 or New Vegas. Sure, plenty of things work much better in Fallout 4, but there“s very little that“s actually new. For a game that had so much time pass between it and it“s previous franchise installment, I expected more. I dunno, call me crazy. So Fallout 4 gets my honorable mention, but alas, nothing more this year.
A quirky, fun little title from Kirby“s developers, Hal Labs, BoxBoy has become a very unlikely favorite of mine this year. Initially, the visual presentation really turned me off, but due to the (incessant) insistence of Jon I gave it a whirl. Puzzle platforming with a simple premise, but very quickly becoming a test of box management, for the lack of a better word. The further you go, the more creative you have to get if you want to complete each level, even more so to collect all those crowns! Thanks, Jon.
9. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D
While Majora“s Mask has always been one of my favorite Zelda titles, Grezzo“s 3DS port takes it a step further, allowing players all the benefits of the original, with some of the enhancements that made Ocarina of Time 3D better, and new ones that make the game more accessible for newcomers (those wussies!). The town of Termina and the people who live in it are really the stars of this off-kilter Zelda title, which each side quest bringing you closer to the people in Link“s world than ever before.
8. Persona 4: Dancing All Night
A surprisingly good follow up to Persona 4 Golden... set in a rhythm game? Well, as it turns out that“s exactly what this is. Solid as a rhythm game in general, Dancing All Night impressed me further with it“s highly-uncharacteristic-for-the-genre fully scripted plot that acts as a commentary on idol/pop star culture. The songs are a mix of great ditties from Persona 4 and remixes that are just as amazing in their own right. Visually, the game is near-seizure inducing, with full 3D models inside of a 3D environment and the ability to even watch a â€œchoreography modeâ€ that will show you just the character without all the fancy camera angles so you too can drop it like it“s hot (or whatever it is the kids are dancing to these days).
7. Yoshi's Woolly World
I got this a bit late, but the wife and I were looking for something to play together. The cute, crafty world of Kirby“s Epic Yarn had been one of our favorite co-op experiences on the Wii, so naturally this Good-Feel game and spiritual successor was a no brainer. We were not disappointed. This game has a tad more challenge in the level design, plenty of amiibo support, collectathon goodness, great co-op, and best of all, an extreme dedication to the crocheted theme. The way the ground crinkles like fabric, unweaving parts of the stage to find hidden paths, even the slight fraying of the yarn the yoshis and other stuff in the game are made out of screams massive attention to detail that does not go unnoticed. I promise you, this much cuteness is nearly lethal.
6. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
It“s strange to say this now, but I wasn't always a fan of Monster Hunter. I used to complain about the tank controls, complicated control scheme, and hard-for-the-sake-of-hard boss fights that make up the vast majority of the game. And even though I still do, playing with friends has allowed me to see the good things that make those criticisms far less severe. There's an intricacy to the controls that allows for some seriously complex player tactics. The weapon variety is impressive. Online play is surprisingly stable. And MH4U in particular has a variety of Nintendo and other publisher crossover DLC, all of which that has been entirely free and updated regularly. Thanks Char!
5. Xenoblade Chronicles X
Not without its problems, sure, but Monolith Soft has done something right when the world of Mira is more interesting than most other open world games 2015 has offered us. The game“s passive online elements, along with the 4-person online quests definitely offer what other open world games have notâ€¦ the feeling of never being alone. Xenoblade Chronicles X asks a lot of people who would explore it, but it rewards in kind with a rich battle system and seemingly endless treasures to seek out. Oh, and who else hasn“t wanted to pilot a huge transforming mech and beat the snot out of a monster that is 10-stories tall? Surely no one.
4. SteamWorld Heist
Image & Form made this game called SteamWorld Dig a while ago, which was cool. It was like a Steampunk western version of Dig Dug -- you know, the thing you never knew you needed. So when they turned their attention to making a new game in the same world, but this time with turn-based strategy RPG gameplay -- well, you could say I was instantly on board. The game revolves around the very Firefly-esque crew of Captain Piper Faraday and their no-good (but somehow still good) pirating of robo-jerks at the edge of space. I mean really, what more do you need in a game?
I“ve been a fan of this series since the original Pushmo game dropped early in the 3DS“s lifespan. The calming atmosphere and clever puzzle mechanics have earned it a spot in the upper echelon of modern puzzle games in my opinion, but Stretchmo in particular really stands out among them. Of course, the 3D puzzles are fun, but the multitude of added puzzle elements and even the structure of this game“s free-to-start model are all incredibly well-thought out. I guess you could say that this game stretches your dollar pretty far... I“ll see myself out.
Are you a kid, or are you a squid? This is a question that has kept me up late at night as my ink-stained clothes messed up my sheets in a way that would even make Billy Mays cringe. An primarily online competitive shooter game from Nintendo. A shooter. Let that sink in. Or don“t, 'cause the stain will set. Ok, I“ll stop, I promise. The game is worth it by itself, but the immense list of post-release (free!) DLC and regular Splatfest competitions have helped the game stay fresh. No, that was not a Squid Sisters pun. Well, okay... I guess now it is.
1. Destiny: The Taken King
I started playing Destiny pretty late into its first year, but early enough to understand people“s criticisms of it. The Taken King aimed to change those and I believe it succeeded on almost every point. Crafting more interesting stories, with the use of their you-never-knew-just-how-interesting-they-actually-are characters, improved loot systems, fewer complicated item level increasing sidequests, better PVP, better quest and bounty systems, more content crammed into existing areas, and impressive new areas with loads to do.
Sure, it“s just a shooter, but one that rewards players for their time spent fighting the darkness (alone or with friends!), impressive boss design, and plenty of cool new dance emotes too. Yup. It“s a dance off bro.