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Found 23 results

  1. Jason Clement

    Splatoon GOTY

    From the album: Editor's Gallery

  2. Jason Clement

    Game of the Year 2015: Jason's Picks

    2015 will forever live on in my memory as a year of gaming regrets. Not because it was a terrible year or anything, but because there were so many great games I didn't get to play due to a lack of time. There's no doubt in my mind that if I had been able to play games such as Grow Home, Axiom Verge, Tales of the Borderlands, and Yoshi's Woolly World, they would all probably share a place on this list. But alas, we can't play everything at once! There are also a number of games I'd like to give honorable mentions to. BoxBoy! is a fantastic, smart puzzle game and an extreme value. Stretchmo is also one of the best puzzle games in recent history. Airscape: The Fall of Gravity is a wonderfully whimsical physics-based platformer that was woefully underlooked. Pokemon Shuffle is an evil, evil -- but super addicting -- free-to-play game. And Etrian Mystery Dungeon nearly made the list for successfully infusing the roguelike with Etrian's fantastic quest-driven formula. In any case, the games I did play and love were still quite memorable indeed. So without further ado, here are my top 10 games of 2015. 10. Star Wars Battlefront Haters gonna hate. The truth is, I don't know what all the fuss is about with people being angry and upset with Battlefront. And frankly, I don't really care either, because Battlefront delivers on the most important point -- it's a fantastic visual representation of Star Wars and pretty dang fun to boot as well. Although I haven't put in nearly as much time with it as I would have liked before making this list, I had a blast taking down AT-AT's, playing capture the flag mode (or whatever its equivalent is called), and generally just being enveloped in the Star Wars universe. Battlefront probably doesn't come anywhere close to being a Call of Duty killer, but as an authentic Star Wars experience, it exceeds on every level and then some. 9. Super Mario Maker When it was first announced, Super Mario Maker didn't excite me much. It was an intriguing idea, but would making your own levels actually be as much fun as people think? Could anyone even approach the type of game design Nintendo came up with, anyhow? Surprisingly, the answer was 'yes.' Don't get me wrong; there are swaths of user-created levels that are absolute garbage, but the great ones really make the experience all worth it, and playing through your own deviously- and meticulously-created levels is one of the best feelings ever. 8. Evoland 2 Many games have attempted to incorporate the natural progression of video game visuals into their story without much success, but Evoland 2 is the first I've played that uses it in a unique way and succeeds. The base game is Zelda-like and the story is fairly generic at first, but the plot quickly evolves and is revealed to be something much larger and -- dare I say it -- approaches Chrono Trigger quantities of plot twists thanks to its time travel story. With four different visual styles to represent each age (Game Boy, NES, SNES/PlayStation, and PS2-era), Evoland 2 also successfully pays homage to most major game genres out there while remaining fresh and original at the same time. 7. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. This title might've been an epic sales flop, but Intelligent Systems made a legit game that borrows some of the best elements from X-Com and Valkyria Chronicles and creates some high tension, strategic shootouts. And though the overall alien invasion plot isn't anything to write home about, the Steampunk world within is actually a pretty neat one. There's just something unbelievably cool about an Abraham Lincoln that not only leads his own Men In Black-esque taskforce, but also pilots a giant mecha called A.B.E. that's modeled after himself as well. Seriously, please buy this so there's an inkling of hope that we might get a sequel at some point. 6. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D "Wait... where's Xenoblade Chronicles X?" is probably your first reaction to this. While X looks to be an amazing game, I only got to spend a few hours with it so far, which just isn't enough time to land it definitively on this list. However, I did play Xenoblade Chronicles 3D and had a blast with it, especially since I was able to play about 95% of the way through this time before getting stuck on a boss at the end (I'll go back and beat it at some point). Sure, it doesn't look quite as good as the Wii version does, but the ability to play this game on a handheld does all the favors in the world for it and is actually part of the reason why I was able to make real progress this time around. Really though, Xenoblade's story is fantastic and one of those few JRPGs that really get to you with all of its moments throughout. While I do think it goes slightly off the rails near the end, everything up to that point is pretty fantastic and it'll definitely remain on my top RPGs list for some time to come. 5. Splatoon Splatoon was definitely that zeitgeist game of the year, in addition to that other indie one (you know which one I'm talking about, *wink*); you were either in on the fun, or you didn't play it and were wondering what the fuss was all about. A number of things really make the game stand out, not the least bit being the whimsically weird Inklings and sea creature-inspired cast, but it's the addictive gameplay that really ties it all together. Playing multiplayer with friends was the icing on the cake to what is a great new IP. 4. Undertale Speaking of zeitgeists, here's a funny story for you: I actually haven't finished Undertale yet (this year is killing me, I'm tell you!), but the two hours I have played are something else. And much like Journey, Undertale is quite literally unlike anything I've experienced before. The only other game I've played that has this much heart is probably Mother 3, but even then, that game didn't let you choose to be a pacifist at every turn. Pacifism aside, though, the game is amazingly well-designed and well-written; I don't laugh out loud a whole lot when playing games, but there are some great moments in comedy here. I even admit to laughing at some of the skeleton puns (hey, don't judge). Since I can only reference half the game with any real authority here, what really struck me during my experience playing was Toriel (the goat mom). The kindness and motherliness she shows right from the beginning in taking your hand and getting you through the tutorial area is pretty touching. But what really got me is when you get to her house and she's basically resigned herself on the spot to taking care of you from now on, even going so far as to give you your own bedroom and DEVELOP A SCHOOL CURRICULUM FOR YOUR EDUCATION. WHAT. I know it's "just a game" but deep down I actually felt something at that point that no other game had made me feel before. Bravo, Undertale. 3. Fast Racing Neo I can't say I've loved every game Shin'en Multimedia has developed, but more often than not they are fairly good. That said, Fast Racing Neo is the first game they've completely knocked out of the park. Are you sick and tired of waiting for a new F-Zero? Boom, you've got it; Shin'en went out and did what Nintendo wouldn't in the last 10 years. All I can say is that this game fires on all cylinders; it's visually stunning, sounds great, and is ridiculously fast and fun. If we never get another F-Zero game ever again, I might just be okay with that, because now we have the Fast Racing series. 2. StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Ever since the end of Heart of the Swarm's campaign, I thought Legacy of the Void would probably play out to be a pretty predictable ending. Instead, LotV goes out with a bang, and a few surprises to boot. The Protoss and their culture, traditions, and different sects are really explored like never before here, and several great new characters are introduced as well. What really stuck with me the most was that, as great as the gameplay was, the story and themes it developed inbetween missions were equally as fantastic, if not better. This is StarCraft's finest hour, and I can't wait to see what's next for the series. 1. SteamWorld Heist Official GP Review There was a moment in SteamWorld Heist where it suddenly "clicked" for me as to just how good it actually was. My entire crew of steam-powered robots was being gunned down one by one. I only had two left to work with, and we were completely surrounded by enemies who were rapidly closing in on our position. And wouldn't you know it, through a series of amazingly calculated shots and pure luck, I managed to take out multiple enemies at once and turn the tide. If a strategy game can take you to the brink of destruction and despair, only for you to come back and win it all through sheer strategy, that's a great game, my friends. Interestingly enough, I had a similar moment with Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., so what makes this better? Not only is Heist the more original game between the two (in regards to its setting, characters, and even the plot), but it's a much more expansive game as well, giving you extensive options when it comes to assembling your crew, choosing a loadout for each Steambot, and exploring branching paths that lead to new missions and more. SteamWorld Heist has it all, and Image & Form didn't skimp on anything. It looks, plays, and sounds fantastic, and the fact that it's on 3DS (at least to start) still completely blows me away. For all of these reasons and more, SteamWorld Heist is my Game of the Year for 2015.
  3. Jason Clement

    Splatoon Plaza

    From the album: Editor's Gallery

  4. Gaming-wise, 2015 encapsulated a wide range of emotions from myself. Whether or not it came from reviewing lesser known games... that should remain lesser known, witnessing shocking announcements (I can no longer say the FFVII: Remake and Shenmue 3 are impossible?!), or just the generally consistent great heavy-hitters that sprouted in 2015. More than anything else, however, 2015 was a strong reminder of my own mortality in that I could not even come close to playing/finishing everything I wanted to this year. I made an effort to play quite a bit, but alas, my efforts were not nearly enough. Even so, here are my top 10 games of the year. 10. Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn did the impossible. It made me play an MMO... and like it. Not only like it, but be invested in it enough to expedite a PS4 purchase in order to play it on much stronger hardware (Playing late-game content on PS3 = bad times.). Then came along the first full-fledged expansion pack to the title with Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward. Heavensward added fun new dungeons, abnormally cool boss fights, a few new classes (Astrologian ftw), a soundtrack to brag about, but the most pleasant surprise is probably its intriguing storytelling. The narrative that takes place across Ishgard from its Ivalice-styled political intrigue, or themes like the damaging effects of unchallenged traditions, with the fairly sharp writing to accompany it more than convinced me that the world of FFXIV is the best thing to bear the name in a very long time, some MMO-jankiness aside. 9. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain For the longest time, following Metal Gear Solid V felt like an unobtainable myth. A white whale if you will. It seemed like a fever dream until... BOOM, we wake up with shrapnel lodged into our forehead and the realization that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is actually a real thing. Now, I could make fun of the storytelling, and it noticeably missing an entire third act all day, but for what it sacrifices in storytelling it more than makes up with incredibly rock-solid gameplay. The huge open world, smooth controls, and many buried gameplay nuances that allow one to tackle seemingly simple missions in a multitude of ways makes it easily far surpass its predecessors in gameplay alone. Also, D-Dog 4 lyfe. 8. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance Official GP Review Even after five main entries, Disgaea feels anything but normal. Sure, they have a similar appeal game by game but their inherent absurdity and gameplay depth keeps rising to the point where their 9999 level caps and a damage counts that reaches past a trillion seems normal in contrast. In spite of it, Disgaea 5 finds a common ground in being a great SRPG. Disgaea 5 boasts many smart refinements of gameplay systems as well as entirely new ones outright that I enjoyed uncovering even as it betrayed my free time. I only wish that an enhanced version formed an alliance with my Vita one day... 7. Splatoon I made a fairly big 180 on Splatoon in general. I was rather annoyed by excessive fandom and was pretty unimpressed by the early "testfire" beta as well. After a couple months of actively ignoring it, and an impulse purchase later, I completely turned around on it. Frankly, Splatoon is a whole lot of fun in multiplayer, more so with a steady group of online victims friends to play with (thanks, GP). The title has only gotten better over time from fixing key criticisms at launch to regularly adding new weapons and maps -- all for free. 6. Divinity: Original Sin: Enhanced Edition Official GP Review I usually avoid adding games to GOTY lists that technically debuted last year (or earlier) but... the Enhanced Edition itself (plus my hypocrisy of adding FFXIV prior to this) gives me just enough of an excuse to include Divinity: Original Sin to forego any such thinking. While I found this year's Pillars of Eternity more on the safer side of a classic feeling computer-RPG in the modern era, Divinity: Original Sin felt both progressive and oddly nostalgic for my former PC gaming self. It forced my creativity to go into overdrive with its fantastic, and flexible, gameplay systems and also had an unapologetic depth to it that can easily run the risk of drowning most people that I highly enjoyed... well, after several early hours of immense confusion about character builds. 5. Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea Official GP Review I feel like I have gradually been associated with the Atelier series. Now, I have no idea why people would get that idea. I mean, it's not like I've reviewed at least five games in the series or have a fascination with barrels or anything. False accusations aside, it has been several years since I've even considered an Atelier game to be anywhere near a GOTY list. That said, even after being disappointed by the prior two entries of the Dusk trilogy I definitely was not disappointed with the gameplay of Atelier Shallie (story/characters is another matter...). As someone who tends to judge how much I like a game by how absorbed I am while playing it I'll just say that I was pretty addicted to Atelier Shallie's deceptively addictive and actively rewarding gameplay structure to say the least. Also, I'm easily impressed by "Barrel!" shouts. (Editor's note: Yep... *looks at article image*) 4. Xenoblade Chronicles X With the original Xenoblade Chronicles, I liked the setting despite my contention with the so-so gameplay. In Xenoblade Chronicles X, I really enjoy the gameplay despite my contention with its so-so main story. What I mean to say is that even though it is a surprisingly significant departure from the well-respected original Wii title it manages to carve out its own distinctly different appeal. The art direction for its massive open-world is top-class, new online features oddly immersive, but, most importantly, its compelling and fairly deep moment to moment gameplay makes me want to keep going back for more. Plus, the mecha Skells are pretty dang cool and anybody who says otherwise I'll just quote the hub theme by saying: "I CAN'T HEAR YOU! I CAN'T SEE YOU!". 3. Undertale Undertale is very clearly the indie darling of this year. You are either swept alongside the fandom hype or find it quite obnoxious for possibly ruining the holy integrity of Gamefaqs polls. Usually I brush off such indie fanfare *cough* Gone Home *cough* but I was actually quite charmed by Undertale. I can certainly nitpick several facets, most from a gameplay standpoint, but what Undertale has in spades are moments. Moments that are only very memorable, from characters to clever gameplay gimmicks, but also show an incredible amount of foresight and heartfelt touches from the modest indie developer Toby Fox. Passionate fandom may have blown it out of proportion by this point, yet it is also telling that Undertale manages to be so memorable and charming in a time where so many games can easily blur together. 2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Official GP Review I honestly anticipated The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt to be my game of the year before it even started, and I'm surprised it's not. I mean, I know why. The Witcher 3 played quite poorly at launch and I stick by my criticisms of it at the time. However, CD Projekt Red has more than gone the extra mile supporting it with their incredibly respectable work ethic by adding hugely significant patches (granted, many of which should've been implemented day 1) and great DLC in addition (most free). Plus, the game that is there is more than excellent. The incredibly sharp writing and well-developed characters alone outclasses most in the medium but the attention with its world-building and divergent, and unpredictable, quest design sets it head and shoulders above any other RPG this generation. 1. Bloodborne Compared to most other titles on this list, I probably could not tell you much about the setting or story of Bloodborne. I mean, there is an obsession with hunters, dreams, and most obviously blood but... like hell if I can tell you many nuances beyond its powerful and basically nightmare fuel imagery for its enemy designs -- even after two playthroughs. What I can say is that I was very utterly engrossed during both runs by playing and seeing content very differently each time, which was more apparent after playing the downright fantastic and shockingly worth it The Older Hunters expansion pack. People tend to be fixated on the difficulty Bloodborne and prior -Souls games have, which is obviously there, but I care far more about its immensely satisfying gameplay, disturbingly imaginative world design, awesome and versatile weapons, and very creative online features integrated within Bloodborne. Prior -Souls titles rewarded much more passive play and Bloodborne tells you to get over such habits in favor of a much faster and more aggressive, but smart, playstyle that makes it far more fun to play because of it. If you are patient enough to stick with it even as you are learning the ropes, Bloodborne showcases its rightful place as the PS4's best exclusive title. But seriously, I can't tell you much about the convoluted story. Awesome game, though.
  5. Jordan Haygood

    Game of the Year 2015: Jordan's Picks

    It“s that time of the year again, kiddos! That“s right, time for my annual eye exam. But while I await my appointment, I“ve got something else on my mind… Video games. They“re what this great Podunk of ours is named after. Every year we see a countless number of the things make their way onto store shelves, whether actual store shelves or the digital kind. Some are outright terrible. Others are so good that ya just gotta make a “best of†list at the end of the year to showcase the ones you“ve enjoyed the most. Hey, that“s not a bad idea… You know what? Forget the original idea I had for this article. Instead, allow me to share with you my picks for the 2015 games of the year. The Game Most Like EarthBound Undertale When I first heard about Undertale, I was told that it was a lot like EarthBound. Needless to say, I was immediately interested in trying it out. And boy am I glad I did. Undertale is not just similar to EarthBound, even though its similarities are huge pluses in my book, but in general it“s just a fantastic game. It doesn“t take all that long to get through, but with various different endings that depend on the choices you make throughout, you will likely end up playing over and over again until you“ve seen them all. I know I did. The Steampunkiest Strategy Game SteamWorld Heist Official GP Review If you“ve played SteamWorld Dig, you“ll know just how awesome it is. Because it is. No objections. So naturally, the next game set in the SteamWorld universe is also awesome. In fact, SteamWorld Heist might even be better. Especially since Steam Powered Giraffe did the music (and even make a cameo). Hey, I like steampunk stuff, alright? Can we move on now? SteamWorld Heist is a completely different game than SteamWorld Dig, being a strategy game and all, so don“t expect it to be a straight-up sequel. They“re both great, though, and totally worth playing. The Woolliest Platformer Yoshi's Woolly World Official GP Review I freaking adored the incredibly clever Wii game Kirby“s Epic Yarn. Wait, did I use past tense? Silly me. I still adore it. I also adore the latest craft-based Good-Feel title – Yoshi“s Woolly World. Not only is it a quality Yoshi game, and the first home console game featuring the lovable dinosaur we“ve been given in a very, very long time (the last one was Yoshi“s Story, which was released waaaaaaaaaay back in 1997), but it also has perhaps the coolest aesthetics I“ve seen since, well, Kirby“s Epic Yarn. And just like Epic Yarn, Woolly World“s yarn focus also allows for some really clever mechanics. And that“s not even all I love about this game. Like I said, I adore it. The PS4 Exclusive Bloodborne There weren“t exactly a whole lot of PS4 exclusives released in 2015, when you think about it. But who really needs a lot when you have Bloodborne? Not only is it arguably the best PlayStation 4 exclusive to come out of 2015, but it“s also one of the best games to be released for the console thus far. It“s also a new IP, and one that I hope has a pretty long future ahead of it. It“s a bit like the games in the Souls series and has a big H.P. Lovecraft inspiration behind it, which in my opinion is a rather awesome combination. If you have a PS4, buy this game. The Most Ink-redible Shooter Splatoon I“m gonna refrain from making the usual Splatoon joke. You know the one. Instead, I“m just going to praise this Wii U shooter for the awesome game that it is. Nintendo“s newest IP is a lot of fun, whether you“re playing online or enjoying the story in single-player mode. It“s such a creative and enjoyable experience that you can just tell that it“ll go down in history among the ranks of such iconic Nintendo franchises as Mario and Zelda. Or at least, it totally should. I usually don“t enjoy shooters as much as some people, but Splatoon is a blast (of ink). The "Dude, It's Fallout 4" Award Fallout 4 I was waiting for Fallout 4 for quite some time. I know I“m not alone. I mean, as good as Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are, it“s only natural that I“d be a little impatient. But was it worth the wait? Is…that a serious question? Oh wait, I“m the one who wrote that question… Anyway, Fallout 4 is fantastic. It“s not without its problems, but many of those problems are bound to be fixed via patches, if history repeats itself. I have plenty of hours sunk into this game, and I“ll be sinking plenty more hours after this article. The "Going Out with a Bang" Award Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain In light of the recent dispute between developer and publisher, Hideo Kojima“s final game with the, erm, nice folks over at Konami was quite possibly his best game so far – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. And really, while I would have loved it if Kojima could stay with the company and make even more Metal Gear Solid games (and perhaps a certain Silent Hill title), it“s nice to be able to go out with a bang. Seriously, The Phantom Pain is so good that all I can really say about it is GO PLAY IT. Check out the review scores if you don“t believe me. Thank you for making such an amazing game, Kojima-san, and good luck with your new company. The Best Level Creation Tool Super Mario Maker Anyone who knows me knows that I love to create stuff. And ever since I played my first (and possibly still my favorite) Mario game, Super Mario World, I“ve entertained the thought of creating my own Mario levels. Especially after seeing ROM hacks upon being introduced to this little thing called “the internet.†But I honestly wasn“t sure if that would ever happen without learning the art of ROM hacking myself or creating a fan game or whatever. Anyway, Super Mario Maker exists now, and I much prefer that option. It“s a pretty in-depth level creation tool that also allows you to play other people“s levels worldwide. Whether you like playing Mario games or like the idea of making your own levels for others to play, Super Mario Maker is a must-have. The Game with the Wildest Hunts The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Official GP Review With so much awesomeness packed into The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, it“s no wonder so many people have it on their game of the year lists. Obviously, I“m one of those people. If you haven“t played it yet because you“ve never played the first two, then… Well, play ”em. They“re all great games, so it“s not like it“ll be a chore to play them. But while The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings are both fantastic, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is hands down the best entry into the series. The story, the gameplay, extra stuff you can do; pretty much everything about this game is just another reason to play it. And hopefully one day they'll make another one. Game of the Year X Xenoblade Chronicles X I“ve enjoyed quite a few games in 2015, but none quite as much as Monolith Soft“s newest game – Xenoblade Chronicles X. If you recall, I really, REALLY enjoyed the first Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii (I even gave it a 9.5 out of 10 in my review and named it Game of the Year for 2012). I“m not sure yet if I like X better, but it“s certainly a close call. Once I eventually beat the game, I“ll know for sure. On that note, I really am not that far in Xenoblade Chronicles X, even though I“m almost at a 40-hour playtime. Simply put, this game is freaking massive. Not only is the world of Mira massive, but the number of missions you can get addicted to completing can really make you lose track of time. I haven“t even gotten into a Skell yet, though I am really looking forward to it. In any case, while I still have a ways to go, I am already quite confident that Xenoblade Chronicles X is my favorite game to come out of 2015. If you disagree with my choice, or any other choice on this list, there is a complaint box up front. Just write your complaint and I will be sure to not read it. Cheers~ Do you agree with any of the games in this list? What games are you thankful for this year?
  6. gaiages

    Game of the Year 2015: Liz's Picks

    Editor's Note: In case you missed it, this list was authored by Liz "Gaiages" Henges; not Elizabeth "Liz" Atkins (aka TheLiztress), who has contributed in years' past. This is the first year we're using her real name, so hopefully there won't be any confusion going forward! ___________________________________________________________________ Man, it's December already? Where did 2015 go? Then again, I can't say I'm not excited for 2016... it's the 'Year In Which Every Gamer's Dreams Come True,' after all. But then again, that's doing a bit of a disservice to this year -- it was a pretty good year, after all! Lots of ups and downs in terms of releases, but overall there were a lot of great video games. Let's get right into my somewhat unorthodox list of the best games of 2015, shall we? 10. Bloodborne Consider this the 'honorable mention' position for me. It's not that I think Bloodborne is better or worse that any of the other games on this list, but I've simply not been able to really to dig deep into what Bloodborne has to offer this year, so it's hard to properly grade it... but even with the little I played, I could see why the fanbase loves it so much. Bloodborne, like the Dark Souls games that came before it, is hard. Very hard. But it's also fair. The game forces you to really learn how to fight, when to push the advantage and when to fall back, when to parry and when to dodge. It's frustrating at times, but it's also so rewarding when you finally take down a boss or get through an area. If nothing else, Bloodborne makes you 'git gud.' 9. You Must Build a Boat Putting a mobile game on the list?! Obviously I'm a filthy causal gamer now. But honestly, You Must Build a Boat is the perfect example of what a mobile game should be. It's simple to learn but requires skill to see the end; it can easily be played in short bursts while idling on your phone for whatever reason; and there are no microtransactions, just the cheap entry fee of $3 to jump in and enjoy. You Must Build a Boat is a puzzle game, with light RPG elements. Kinda like Puzzle Quest, but better. It's one of those 'easy to learn, hard to master'-type games, but you'll always be making decent progress, and always unlocking new features and stuff. It's absolutely perfect for the mobile environment, though it's also available on Steam. 8. Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Official GP Review I didn't really think I'd be throwing a visual novel on my GOTY list this year, but here I am, prepared for any minor controversies this will bring. But you can throw all the accusations of 'this isn't a real game' and 'all you do is romance men' all you want; I don't care, because Code: Realize is a legitimately good game. Code: Realize follows a young woman named Cardia, who has a mysterious power (or possibly curse) that melts everything she touches . She is one resigned to her fate of isolation, but events lead her to hold the company of famous fictional characters in a steampunk version of London. Despite all the oddities, though, this is a compelling story that is worth spending the 30 or so odd hours to read through. 7. Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below Dragon Quest Heroes is one nostalgia-laden trip. While the Action RPG with Dynasty Warriors flavor can technically be played by any gamer interested, without the Dragon Quest memories, this doesn't amount to much. Of course, I'm a huge Dragon Quest fan, and to me, this game was an absolute blast. The musical and character throwbacks are great, the gameplay is solid if a bit repetitive, and everything about it simply oozes the series' style. It is by no means perfect, but it warmed my cold, jaded game reviewer heart, and I can only hope that the sequel can improve on some of this title's weaker points. 6. Westernado: Double Barreled The Red Dead series is more or less runs the Wild Wild West, but I wish it really wasn't that way. There's a dearth of Western titles available, and there's plenty of content there for developers to work with. Thankfully, Westernado is there to help fill that gap. In Westernado, your family is murdered by a wandering psychopath, and it's up to you to get revenge. By helping the townspeople and exploring, you'll learn clues of the murderer, which is randomized each time. There's multiple solutions and choices to each quest, too -- including the choice to pull your gun on anyone and everyone (of course, they all have guns too). It's a short adventure, but quite fun and worth the entry fee. 5. Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows What is this, DLC on a GOTY list? Madness! But even though it's the same stages as the original Shovel Knight, there's enough new stuff in Plague of Shadows to justify it getting recognized in its own way. And Plague of Shadows is all about the little touches, like the new 'town' and story, and all the cute little changes that happen from the original Shovel Knight campaign to keep Plague of Shadows' continuity in check. Of course, Plague Knight's control scheme allows for a new play style too, making the old levels feel new again. It's amazing how much work went into this free update, and it's well worth booting that copy of last year's beloved indie games again. 4. Splatoon So, I only got Splatoon on Black Friday. It was one of those titles I've always meant to pick up, but never had time to play, so I didn't. Eventually though, I bought it and finally put it in my Wii U, and... quite frankly, I was blown away by how great it was. After I learned to turn off gyro controls, that is. Splatoon isn't a typical shooter -- instead of sheer kill counts, gaining turf is name of the game here, and you do so by spreading your ink everywhere. I'm not particularly great at shooters because I'm bad at aiming, so running around and shooting with little care in the world while still doing something productive is a lot of fun to me. And, there's a lot to do that really gives you a sense of progression, from weapon unlocks to other neat things. Oh, I guess there's a single player mode, but that's not really important. 3. Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker Official GP Review In my few years of reviewing games, I've only given a perfect score to a single game, and that game would be Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker. That might lead you to wonder why it's only number three on this list, but GOTY lists are inherently subjective things that shouldn't take review scores into account. Anyway... Devil Survivor 2 on the DS was a pretty great game, but there were a few problems that plagued the original version of the title, the most notably of which was the unreasonably hard difficulty. Record Breaker takes complaints into account and offers an easier difficulty, as well as a whole other 30 hour story to play on top the lengthy main game... not to mention that the SRPG gameplay, plot, and music itself are all fantastic. Record Breaker is certainly worth the 'Atlus tax' price of entry 2. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengence Official GP Review Disgaea 5 surprised me. I had really loved Disgaea 4, but I knew the fifth entry was going to be handled by a different team, and I loved Disgaea 4 because of the twists it pulled on the regular Disgaea formula. Imagine my surprise by how downright good Disgaea 5 is. First off, Disgaea 5 actually has a good plot, which I haven't been able to say since I've played the original title. On top of that, Disgaea 5 takes all the good from the many previous entries to the series and gets rid of (most) of the bad, leading to tons of stuff to do without most of the tedious work to go along with it. It certainly has a few downsides (that song that plays in the Netherworld is horrid), but Disgaea 5 is just a ton of fun and probably the best game in the series yet. 1. Undertale My favorite games aren't always the objectively the best; instead, they are the ones that affect me, stay with me after the credit roll. Last year, that title was Danganronpa 2, and this year, that title is of course Undertale. It's such an unassuming little game. It looks like some kind of Earthbound mod -- a bit bland and low key. The game kicks RPG tropes to the curb and encourages you to not fight -- something that won't appeal to everyone. Everyone that plays the game seems to clam up whenever the game's story is mentioned... that is, aside from a big boned jokester skeleton. But Undertale is so much more than what's on the surface. The plot is an emotional ride, one that's best to go into unsullied. It's also a programming marvel, with so many Easter eggs and tricks that even though it can 'run on a toaster', no console could handle it. Oh, and the humor is great, and I hate most humor in games. Undertale is an experience. It's not perfect, of course, but something every gamer should at least try. I haven't played such a charming video game in years. That about wraps up my Game of the Year list, which is completely objective and no one can disagree about. But, if you just want to go into the comments below and gush about my infinite wisdom, you are free to do so.
  7. Jason Clement

    Splatoon 03

    From the album: Editor's Gallery

  8. HAIL 9000

    Game of the Year 2015: Hailee's Picks

    Editor's Note: Today's list is from our second guest writer, Hailee Kenney! Like Justin, she's also a friend of some of us on the staff and is also a video game enthusiast who works as a software developer. You can follow her on Twitter @HAIL_9000 ___________________________________________________________________ I have to admit, when I set out to write a list of my favorite games for this year, I was worried I wouldn“t be able to fill ten slots. I“ve found myself more and more frequently reaching back into older games that I haven“t played before, because I haven“t been all that dazzled with the AAA titles coming out in recent years (I know I“m ten years late, but if you want to talk to me about how Knights of the Old Republic 2 is a really interesting exploration of the Star Wars universe let me know). I was pretty pleasantly surprised, though, that when I sat down to make this list I had way more than ten games I wanted to include. I also realized that my list includes a pretty wide variety of games from publishers of all sizes, and even from crowdfunding. I“m excited how many avenues are now available to deliver unique and interesting games, and this year renewed my excitement a little for what the future has in store. Before we dive into the list, I just wanted to give an honorable mention to Tri Force Heroes and Until Dawn. Both games made it on my list at some point, but I ultimately decided to exclude them because I realized it was the people I played them with that really made those games enjoyable. But if you“re looking for a good time with some friends, Tri Force Heroes is incredibly fun, and Until Dawn is great with a room full of people shouting over each other to make decisions. But enough of that -- let“s send off 2015 in style. 10. Ori and the Blind Forest Of all the games I played this year, Ori and the Blind Forest was one of the most beautiful. A Metroidvania with mechanics polished to a perfect mirror sheen, Ori managed to remain fresh and challenging throughout its running time. There are some incredible acrobatic gameplay challenges, especially during some of the timed “race†segments. The game also had incredibly beautiful art, which made the world a joy to explore. Best of all, though, it married its mechanics and art with a simple yet powerful story. Ori doesn“t have dialogue, and none of its characters speak (aside from the narrator), yet the game affected me on a deep level. The fact that it achieved so much in terms of story with so little is a marvel, and that combined with its sharp mechanics and amazing art make Ori one of my favorite games this year. 9. Tales from the Borderlands I“ll be the first to admit that I (like many) have grown a little weary of the five episode Telltale formula ever since season two of The Walking Dead. I wasn“t even planning to play Tales from the Borderlands until I started to hear a lot of positive buzz about the first two episodes. I decided to give it a shot and I“m glad I did. The game is charming, and has a dorky sense of humor that really drew me in. I found that I really liked the characters, and I liked the lighter mood Tales from the Borderlands had compared to some of the other recent Telltale games. And to top it all off, the episodes were much closer to the length I would expect (2 to 3 hours), as opposed to the 40-60 minute episodes Telltale has been putting out. So even if the new Telltale adventure game formula isn“t my favorite, Tales from the Borderlands proved to be a fun game with great characters. 8. Technobabylon Speaking of adventure game formulas, here“s one that follows the old school formula that I do like. Technobabylon was a lot of fun, and was a return to the puzzle focused adventure games that I love. On top of having good puzzles, it pretty much had good everything else too: an interesting (cyberpunk!) setting, a compelling plot, and great characters. It was a really nice example of both cyberpunk and classic adventure games, two things I feel have faded away in recent years (although cyberpunk seems to be making a bit of a comeback in the gaming world). And while we got another cyberpunk adventure game this year, Read Only Memories (which I did enjoy), I found Technobabylon to be a bit more carefully written and interesting. 7. Splatoon Splatoon filled a really important role for me this year in that it was the game that I could sit down and play for as little or as long as I wanted. As someone who tends to seek out strong narrative experiences, I find myself drawn to long, involved games that I don“t always have time for. Sitting down for one or two (or sometimes twenty) short matches of Splatoon was awesome, and on top of that the game was just a lot of fun. I found the gameplay mechanics to be enjoyable and well tuned, the character customization was great, and I was pretty into the game“s “90s punk aesthetic. And of course the inklings were super cute. Plus the Miiverse integration, the Splatfests, the ability to easily play with friends, and the lack of voice chat made the community feel really vibrant and welcoming. It was also really nice to see some of my friends who had avoided competitive online multiplayer get really into Splatoon. 6. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain I could definitely write a novel about all the things I didn“t like about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but since it“s on my top ten list obviously I loved a lot of things about it. It“s true that when I finished the game I said I never wanted to talk about the Metal Gear series again, but once I calmed down a little bit, I realized how much fun I had and how amazing the gameplay was. There were so many options when it came to stealth, and so many cool details like guards getting helmets if you relied on headshots and the player being able to take advantage of patrol schedules. It was also a pleasant surprise to see a game that took advantage of it“s open world to enhance the core gameplay, instead of just to be an Assasin“s Creed clone. And the game did have a lot of the Kojima silliness that I know and love (who doesn“t enjoy running in guns blazing on a pink D-Walker while blaring Friday I“m in Love?). And while I was ultimately disappointed with the game“s narrative, I was impressed that Kojima managed to reel himself in and present some much more subtle storytelling. Was it the way I wanted to say goodbye to the series I love? I“m not sure. But was it a pretty good game? Definitely. 5. Pillars of Eternity Back around the turn of the millennium, Bioware and Black Isle made some incredible RPGs filled with sharp writing and tactical, RTS-like combat. As Bioware moved towards a more modern cinematic style, the rest of the RPG genre followed. Pillars of Eternity was pitched as a return to this style, and it definitely followed through. The game truly felt like a modern successor to the cRPGs of old, and was absolutely packed to the brim with lore. Obsidian“s writers clearly spent a lot of time fleshing out the world of Eoras, and explored the world“s pantheon of gods in unique and interesting ways, picking up the torch from Baldur“s Gate and Planescape. It also had a great combat system that, while occasionally clunky, was challenging and strategic. Really, though, it was the characters that made Pillars. Obsidian crafted an interesting world, and added in some exceptionally written companions. I hope to see Obsidian return to explore more of Eoras in a sequel further down the line. 4. Fallout 4 I doubt there“s ever been a Bethesda RPG that didn“t make my top ten list the year it came out, and Fallout 4 is no exception. Even though I did have some issues with it (my two chief complaints being the stripped down roleplaying mechanics and a shortage of interesting quests), I really enjoyed the time I spent with it. As always with Bethesda games, exploring the world was incredibly fun and provided hours of entertainment, and I love the environmental storytelling of the Fallout series. Even if the main plot fell a little flatter than usual, Fallout 4 still had some great world building, and for the first time in a Bethesda game, I found the characters to be very memorable. It was a nice addition, and it made me want to bring my companions along to get to know them. So even if it wasn“t my dream Fallout game, all the important elements were there, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Also, my character looks badass in aviators and road leathers. 3. SOMA Before I talk about SOMA, for the sake of full disclosure I have to say that I really hate scary games. Jump scares, suspenseful chases, all the other usual elements make most horror games unplayable for me. However, I found those to be quite minimal in SOMA, to the point where even I was able to play it. The real horror in the game is much more existential. It asks some really important and interesting questions that you“ll be thinking about for hours after you stop playing, and explores some fascinating philosophical concepts in the way that only the best science fiction can. It“s carefully written, and the story really drew me in. In addition to that, it excels with its atmosphere, exploration, and setting. Even though I would normally have written SOMA off as “not my thingâ€, I“m glad I gave it a shot. 2. Everybody“s Gone to the Rapture I can guarantee that Everybody“s Gone to the Rapture is not a game for everyone, but it“s definitely the game for me. It“s long, meandering, and absolutely beautiful. I loved exploring the carefully crafted English countryside, and the storytelling is done in such a unique way. I liked slowly discovering not only what had happened, but also getting to know the people who lived in the village through their memories, which are scattered about the game. I also found the plot incredibly intriguing, and was hooked by the mystery almost immediately. I love games that leave me thinking about them long after I turn them off, and Everybody“s Gone to the Rapture was very much that kind of game for me. It“s calm, beautiful storytelling leads to some very poignant moments, and I really appreciated that it had a much more concrete plot to discover than Dear Esther, a similar game by the same studio. So ultimately I“d say that if you“re patient, and you love being forced to think, it“s definitely worth checking out. 1. Undertale Even though I had a tough time narrowing my list down, there was never a question of what my game of the year would be. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about Undertale, most of which I haven“t shared because I“m not sure I could do the game justice. Undertale is so amazing and unique in many ways, from its save system to its gameplay mechanics to its writing and characters. But ultimately the thing I love about Undertale the most is its focus on kindness, and how it questions the fundamental mechanic of violence at the center of most games. Undertale has so much heart, and it gives the player so many chances to be compassionate. Even better, you“re rewarded for it. Befriending your enemies and showing them compassion leads to one of the best and most meaningful game endings I“ve ever experienced. I wish that more games would take a page out of Undertale“s book and explore kindness and friendship as a mechanic, and encourage the player to take that extra step and get to know an enemy instead of fighting it. And that“s why Undertale is my game of the year for 2015, and why it has probably earned a spot as one of my favorite games of all time.
  9. Jason Clement

    Splatoon 03

    From the album: Editor's Gallery

  10. WildCardCorsair

    Game of the Year 2015: WildCardCorsair's Picks

    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. 10. BOXBOY! Official GP Review 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 Official GP Review 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 “choreography mode” 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 Official GP Review 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 not… 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 Official GP Review 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? 3. Stretchmo 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. 2. Splatoon 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.
  11. Jason Clement

    Splatoon

    From the album: Editor's Gallery

  12. Editor's note: This year we'll be having several guest writers contributing their Game of the Year lists. First up is Justin Graham, a former Operation Rainfall writer, fellow video game enthusiast, and mutual friend of some of us on the staff. You can follow him on Twitter @Hailinel __________________________________________________________________ Looking back, 2015 was a really solid, satisfying year for me when it came to video games. A lot of great games that suited my tastes hit throughout the year, and I never felt wanting for one that could draw me in. There were, of course, a few unfortunate games that I would have loved to have played more of to give their fair shake (Sorry, Codename: S.T.E.A.M. and Type-0 HD!), but that there were so many games that demanded my attention this year really shows how great of a year in gaming it was. 10. Until Dawn/Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water I put two games in the number ten slot because I felt that they were both really strong horror titles, so why not include them both? Until Dawn is a cinematic adventure game of the sort that David Cage might make, but with a script that“s coherent, entertaining, and revels in the fact that it is, in essence, a playable horror movie. Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water, by contrast, is a tense Wii U game that makes incredible use of the GamePad controller as the Camera Obscura. Both offer entertaining, spooky experiences backed by different themes and ideas, and both work in their own ways. 9. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain The Phantom Pain is a weird, weird game. Weird because of the usual meta reasons that Metal Gear Solid is known for. Weird for not being a traditional Metal Gear Solid game with its open world. Weird for having Kiefer Sutherland as the voice of Snake instead of David Hayter (and it works!). Weird for all of the Konami-related drama surrounding its development. Weird for the fact that it“s the last game Hideo Kojima ever made for Konami. Weird that the game“s final mission was never finished. It“s weird. And it“s flawed. But it still works, and it for all of the things that it does, it does most of them incredibly well. 8. Undertale I really debated where to put Undertale on my list. It“s well-written and, the music is superb, and when it pays other games homage, it wears it on its sleeve without being cloying. Its charming, heartwarming, dark (potentially incredibly so if you play it a certain way), and frequently ludicrous. Take EarthBound, sprinkle in a little Shin Megami Tensei, add a dash of bullet hell, and this is the game you get. All that being said, I“m not as enamored with it as many others are. It“s a fantastic, original game that feels like a very personal vision. It deserves incredible praise and I“d love to see what its creator does next. But as far as the actual act of playing Undertale goes, that“s where it fell short for me and why it“s only in eighth place. (Tumblr, please don“t kill me.) 7. Samurai Warriors 4-II Official GP Review I like me some Musou. Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, Warriors Orochi, Hyrule Warriors -- if there“s an Omega Force hack-and-slash, I will be there, cutting through thousands of dudes. Of the various branches of Musou, Samurai Warriors has always been one of my favorites, and a big reason for that is the survival modes that the series has often included. And they brought back the Survival Castle in Samurai Warriors 4-II. I could easily spend dozens of hours playing that mode alone. (Story Mode? What“s that?) 6. Nobunaga“s Ambition: Sphere of Influence From one style of Koei Tecmo“s historical madness to another, the latest Nobunaga“s Ambition is has a staggering level of complexity of the sort that appeals to the hardcore strategy fan in me that doesn“t emerge as much as it used to. But it“s still really satisfying to build a tiny faction up from almost nothing into a powerful force vying for control of all of Japan, with all of the resource gathering, diplomacy, and warfare that demands. 5. Super Mario Maker The early 2D Mario games were a major part of my childhood, and one of the reasons why I“ve stuck with gaming well into my thirties. I never did beat the original Super Mario Bros. (I suck, I know), but Super Mario Maker lets me live out my childhood dreams of building actual, playable Super Mario courses. While I haven“t built any stages that are full-blown Kaizo insanity (I actually have to beat the stage to upload it, after all), it“s still spurred my creativity in ways that few games have in recent memory. 4. Splatoon Leave it to Nintendo to surprise everyone with an online shooter that single-handedly revitalized online shooters. Just when everything was blending together into a gray/brown mess of indistinct iron sights and military people shooting terrorists, or possibly other military people, Splatoon came along with its incredible, colorful style, sense of humor, and systems that are inviting to anyone. I have never, ever stuck it out in an online shooter for any real length of time, mostly what they had come to represent. But Splatoon, with its “Ink everything!” approach, refusal to take itself seriously, and fresh style made me stick around and have fun for far longer than any shooter I“ve ever played outside of GoldenEye. And the lack of voice chat doesn“t hurt it at all, either. 3. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D A few years ago, it was questionable as to whether or not North America would ever see an official release of Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii. And here we are in 2015, with not just a Wii release behind us, but a full-fledged port of the game on the New 3DS. Everything I love about the game is still present, from its wide, beautiful world and colorful characters to its engaging story and combat. And while the graphics aren“t as sharp as they are on the Wii, they really pop on the 3D display. The fact that the game is for a handheld makes it all the easier to recommend. Honestly, they took a game that was amazing on every level and managed to put it on a handheld without losing anything that mattered. That is absolutely incredible. 2. Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX Official GP Review Ever since its western launch in September, Project Mirai DX has rarely been removed from the game card slot in my 3DS. It“s super-cute, with dozens of catchy songs by Miku and her fellow Crypton Vocaloids, and a ton of extras on the side that make it a soothing, adorable experience. It“s very easy for me to start playing with the intent to just try a few songs for fifteen minutes, only to lose myself in it and it“s suddenly dinner time. Or bed time. Or the middle of the night. In short, it“s a fantastic little rhythm game and one of the best 3DS experiences this year. 1. Xenoblade Chronicles X Xenoblade Chronicles X is the best game I“ve played all year. Everything I like about the gameplay in the original Xenoblade Chronicles is back, but deeper and more refined, with an absolutely massive, gorgeous world to explore, and the addition of mechs to help explore it. There“s never anything not to do, and the game rewards you for just about everything you can do. And while the story isn“t as character-driven as the original“s, the game still has plenty of character in it that shines across the game“s many and numerous missions that cover everything from simply gathering materials for people in need to resolving violent racial conflicts. It“s a game teeming with life and that encourages the player“s sense of adventure and the desire to explore off the beaten path. But for as open as the game is, it“s still a Xeno-game at heart in its themes and storytelling -- one that spells a bright future for the crazy ride that producer Tetsuya Takahashi has been on since the original Xenogears. Heck, the game even has sly references to Xenogears scattered in its character creator. For me, Xenoblade Chronicles X is not just the best RPG of 2015, but the best game of 2015. And it was a very easy win.
  13. Jason Clement

    Splatoon 02

    From the album: Editor's Gallery

  14. Jordan Haygood

    Thanksgiving 2015: 13 Games to be Thankful For

    God bless America! Land of the free, home of the glazed turkey that“s about to make its way into my belly on this great, fattening holiday known as Thanksgiving. But before we all go stuffing our pie holes with stuffing and pie, let“s take a moment to give thanks to all the things that make our lives worthwhile… Did I say “things?†I meant “games.†Because let“s face it, that“s all we REALLY should be thankful for, right? Or maybe I“m just an ungrateful nerd. Either way, there are certainly loads of video games to be thankful for, many of which came out this year. Whether a series you love finally got that sequel you were waiting for, a new IP was introduced that blew away your expectations, or a game is just really, really good, it“s a fine year to be a gamer. So join me as we give our thanks to these 13 games that 2015 had to offer. Note: This list is in no particular order. They“re still numbered, though, because SHUT UP AND JUST GO WITH IT. #13 Story of Seasons First up is probably the only game that has an actual Thanksgiving. Well, okay, so it“s technically a “cooking exhibition,†but it“s on the 25th of Fall and is the only cooking festival in the game, so it“s pretty obvious that it“s this game“s version of Thanksgiving. Anyway, after Natsume decided to no longer work with Marvelous to produce new entries into the Harvest Moon franchise but still hold onto the license, leading the publisher to develop the worst Harvest Moon yet, Marvelous decided to create a new series called Story of Seasons. It“s basically the developer“s way of giving fans the game they REALLY wanted. Thank you, Marvelous. You really are quite marvelous. ​ #12 Yoshi's Woolly World Read our review Do you know how long it“s been since we last got a home console game starring Yoshi? I“ll give you a hint: Yoshi“s Story was the last one, and that game came out way back in 1997. Do the math. Yeah, it“s been a while. True, there HAVE been handheld iterations of Yoshi“s Island, but it“s nice to finally get a new Yoshi game that I can play on my TV. And boy is Yoshi“s Woolly World a “new†Yoshi game. As its name implies, Yoshi“s Woolly World is…well, very woolly. Seriously, just about everything is made of yarn. And in high-definition on the Wii U, it“s just plain gorgeous. Not only that, but several other factors make this a really great game in general. Thank you, Yoshi, for bringing me so much joy this year. ​ #11 Dragon Ball XenoVerse Dragon Ball Z is undoubtedly one of the most popular anime series of all time. And if you are a DBZ fan like I certainly am, then you“d probably enjoy Dragon Ball XenoVerse quite a bit. It“s basically a love letter to fans, allowing you to create your own character and traverse the DBZ timeline as you fight all sorts of notable villains, from Raditz to Beerus and even some GT baddies, granted you go get the GT DLC. Now, in no way is Dragon Ball XenoVerse a masterpiece of a game or anything. It should be said that on its own, it“s really not a game you need to go out of your way to play. However, as a fan of Dragon Ball Z, there is plenty to love about this game. It“s wonderfully entertaining for people who like the series, and for that I am very thankful. ​ #10 Rare Replay It“s pretty much unanimous at this point that Rare – the formerly legendary developer of some of gaming“s most beloved games, such as Donkey Kong Country, Banjo-Kazooie, and the Nintendo 64 adaptation of GoldenEye 007 – has fallen from grace in recent years. And it certainly doesn“t help that most of the team responsible for such gems have since left to start their own companies, with one of those companies working on a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, which goes by the totally different name of Yooka-Laylee. Of course, Rare certainly does realize that their best years are behind them. And as their way of celebrating their 30th anniversary, the developer has blessed us with Rare Replay. It“s an Xbox One game that combines 30 of Rare“s greatest creations (though there are a few stinkers in the mix) into one, incredibly solid compilation. It also costs a measly $30 (okay, we get it, you“re 30 years old). I“m happy buying just one of your games for $30, Rare. Giving me 30 for that price? Well, thanks for that. ​ #9 Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water When Nintendo first unveiled the Wii U back at E3 2011, anyone who was aware of the Fatal Frame series likely thought the same thing: “A Fatal Frame game would be PERFECT for this console!†And why shouldn“t people think that? If you know of the series, you know what I mean. So then it finally happens. About three years after the console“s release, we finally get that Fatal Frame game we were expecting, known in the states as Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water. Of course, considering how obvious a choice a series such as this being on a console such as the Wii U is, the fact that it was made isn“t really the surprising part of Maiden of Black Water“s release. It“s the fact that it was localized at all that was unexpected, since it“s not exactly all that popular over here. But alas, we got an English version (albeit a digital-only one), and I am quite thankful for that. ​ #8 Bloodborne Every console deserves a badass, exclusive new IP to call its home. For the PlayStation 4, that game is Bloodborne. It was originally going to be the launch title Knack, but… Meh, that game wasn“t very good. Bloodborne, however, is fantastic. Not only is it a must-have for the PS4, but I might even go so far as to say that it“s a pretty valid reason by itself to get the console. For those of you unfamiliar with Bloodborne, let“s just say that if you like any of the Souls games, then this game is right up your alley. And if you don“t, then you“ll still like it SO GO PLAY IT ALREADY. Seriously though, Bloodborne has a lot to like about it, its H.P. Lovecraft inspiration only being one of them. It“s a masterfully crafted game, and I am so very thankful that it exists. ​ #7 Xenoblade Chronicles X In case you weren“t aware, I REALLY enjoyed my time with Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii. Naturally, I was ecstatic when I first saw the reveal trailer for its sequel (known simply as “X†at the time). Xenoblade Chronicles X looks fantastic, and the more I see of it, the more excited I get for its release next month. Okay, yeah, I know, it“s not out yet so it“s not fair to have it on this list and blah blah blah. Look, as much as I like Xenoblade Chronicles, I have faith that Monolith Soft can deliver yet another awesome entry into the series. It certainly looks like it“ll be awesome, at least. Plus, this is my list, so shut up. Anyway, I still think it“s crazy that another Xenoblade was even made. But I“m not complaining. In fact, playing Xenoblade Chronicles X will probably be all I do in December. Thank you, Monolith Soft, for giving me that option. ​ #6 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Read our review To put it simply, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of 2015“s best games. Many people will agree with me on that. But wait, you“re saying you haven“t played the first two? Well good news! Turns out The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings are both really good too. So, like, go play ”em. Of course, neither can quite match the awesomeness of the third game in the series, which is currently the series“ best. What makes The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt so great doesn“t narrow down to just one aspect, as it“s a fantastic package all around. Great gameplay, great music, a great story; it“s a pretty top-notch work of art. It“d be nice if the series continues, but whether it does or not, I“m thankful that I had the opportunity to play through not only The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but the other two as well. ​ #5 Splatoon Whether you are a kid or a squid at this particular moment in time, you“ve probably heard of the inkredible shooter known as Splatoon. After all, it“s Nintendo“s newest IP. But is it any good? Will it be able to join the ranks of Nintendo“s top dogs like Mario and Zelda? Is it worth buying a Wii U over? The answer to all those questions is a resounding YES. Seriously, Splatoon is one of the most creative games I“ve played in a while, and definitely the most creative shooter I“ve ever played, which complements quite nicely with the insanely fun gameplay, both in multiplayer and single-player modes. Splatoon“s fun factor and creativity also help this game, along with the massive level of charm the game exudes, stand out as, in my opinion, the start of Nintendo“s next hit series. And I must give The Big N my thanks for letting a game like this out into the wild. ​ #4 StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void It“s been a fun ride for StarCraft fans since StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty was released five years ago. That game was definitely a worthy sequel to the original, even though you couldn“t yet play as the Zerg or Protoss. Thankfully, Blizzard didn“t stop there. In 2013, we got StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm – the second part of the StarCraft II trilogy, which gave us a Zerg campaign. And now, in 2015, we have at last been given the Protoss, thanks to the final piece of the trilogy known as StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void. Much like the base game and its Zerg expansion, Legacy of the Void is fantastic. As far as strategy games go, StarCraft II is probably among the best. And I am very thankful to Blizzard for allowing me to complete the full experience at last. #3 Super Mario Maker I have been a fan of Mario games ever since I was old enough to hold a controller and comprehend how it works. Super Mario World was my first, but I also had Super Mario All-Stars, which allowed me to play the ones that came before it without needing an NES. And growing up playing every entry into the main Mario series, I always admired the fantastic level designs. There were even times when I myself thought about how I would design levels. Enter: Super Mario Maker for the Wii U. Finally, designing Mario levels was no longer just a passing thought. Here is a game that is all about making levels. Not just one style either, but the styles of four different Mario games. And not only that, but you can even share your levels with the world, as well as play levels from other level creators. Super Mario Maker is a game I never even considered as something I would see released. But it exists, and it“s awesome. Thank you, Nintendo. ​ #2 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain If you haven“t heard the disheartening news yet, Hideo Kojima – father of the Metal Gear series and the would-be director of the ill-fated Silent Hills (the game P.T. would have become) – was let go by Konami. It sucks like a black hole, but at least the man was able to go out with a “bang.†In fact, his last game was quite possibly his best, and not only in the Metal Gear series, but of his entire career. That game is, of course, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. And I“m not exaggerating either. Just go check out the review scores. It“s a really, really, really good game. Hideo Kojima and his team are masters of their craft, and simply put, Konami is incredibly stupid for letting such amazing people get away. You will be missed, Hideo Kojima. Thank you for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and everything else you“ve ever given us. ​ #1 Fallout 4 It“s no Half-Life 3, but Fallout 4 is one of those sequels fans were hoping to hear news about year after year following the release of Fallout 3. I mean, sure, we did get Fallout: New Vegas, but it simply wasn“t enough. I dunno, I guess there“s just something about numbers that ups the hype factor for people. Sure enough, though, we got it. And Fallout 4 is every bit as awesome as we all hoped it would be (though it could use some patches here and there). Hell, news even broke out that a certain porno site lost a lot of traffic the day the game was released. So yeah, Fallout 4 is some serious business. And I can“t thank Bethesda enough for bringing the game into my life. Now if you will all excuse me, I need to go find Shaun… ​ Do you agree with any of the games on this list? What games are you thankful for this year?
  15. In a surprising move, Nintendo has announced that it is teaming up with Hasbro to bring a Transformers-themed Splatfest to Splatoon very soon. During this special Splatfest, Players will get to decide if they want to be on Team Autobot or Team Decepticon, and they'll get to wear a special shirt that displays their Transformers allegiance. This development is an interesting one since it marks the first time Nintendo has licensed a popular a franchise to be a part of one of their games (an temporary online event, no less). It's unknown if Hasbro is being compensated for this in any way, but it's not entirely farfetched to think that they could be doing this for free in exchange for free advertising. The Transformers-themed Splatfest is scheduled to run from 9pm PST on August 28 through 9pm PST on August 29 and is open to all Splatoon players with an internet connection. Source: Press Release What are your thoughts on this? Are you surprised to see Nintendo teaming up with Hasbro to bring Transformers to Splatoon in this way?
  16. Since it's Summertime now and a lot of us are experiencing some high heat (I think I might actually die from today's temperature alone), I thought it would make for an interesting topic to ask what your favorite Summer-related games are. What exactly does that mean? Well, when you think of Summer, you think of clear/blue skies, high heat, water, staying cool, and such, so... games that are somewhat associated with that, I suppose. Splatoon would probably be a quick and easy one to go to given the nature of the game is similar to water guns and such. Super Mario Sunshine is another one, where the emphasis is on water and the levels are all on the tropical-themed Delfino Island. Can anyone think of any other games that Summer gets you in the mood to play?
  17. Jason Clement

    How are you liking Splatoon?

    I actually got Splatoon in the mail on Friday but admittedly, I haven't played it just yet; hoping to get a chance to do so later today, so I'll fill you in on my thoughts soon! Anyhow, if you've played it, what do you think of it so far? Is the single-player and what's there of the multiplayer all that you hoped for?
  18. Jason Clement

    You're a Kid Now, You're A Squid Now!

    I dare you not to get this song stuck in your head. It'll happen, just watch... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjPOSKnOftA
  19. Nintendo already confirmed that Lucas, the Miiverse Stage, and Splatoon costumes for Mii Fighters were all coming as Downloadable Content for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U on June 14th last week via Social Media. But today, they announced that Sakurai will be hosting a special Smash Bros-centric video presentation on that same day, at 7:40 AM PT, 10:40 ET. That“s...interesting. Will the broadcast offer more surprises beyond what we already know? I“m guessing yes. Methinks this broadcast is designed to take up a good twenty minutes or so that would have otherwise been reserved for the big Digital Event coming next Tuesday during E3 2015. What do you think will be announced? Will we see long-rumored stuff like Ryu and Roy come to light? And it begs the question: with the Nintendo Direct Micro and now this Smash Bros. Broadcast--will the Digital Event suffer from all this information already happening, or will we see more new content from Nintendo than ever? Be sure to let us know how you feel below!
  20. Nintendo of America decided to follow Japan“s lead yesterday by revealing a surprise Nintendo Direct Micro just moments ago. It“s best to just watch the presentation to see everything for yourself (including English variants of some of the trailers I mentioned yesterday, like Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon). But for those who don“t have seventeen minutes to spare, here“s a quick recap: Chibi Robo: Zip Lash, the new Chibi Robo game I mentioned yesterday that comes with a brand new Chibi Robo amiibo, is coming to North America this October. The amiibo will be packaged in an exclusive Chibi Robo: Zip Lash bundle. Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure is a brand new Dr. Mario game for Nintendo 3DS. It has plenty of new gameplay options to make multiplayer modes more interesting than ever before. It“s coming on June 11th, 2015. You can pre-purchase it right now! As aforementioned, the first trailer for Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon has an English variant now. You can choose from twenty starter Pokémon to be, and to be your partner. And all known Pokémon are indeed in the game. Trinen called it “the ultimate version of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series” and said “there will always be an adventure waiting for you every time you play”. He again confirmed the game for a Winter release in North America. Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was announced after that. For the first time in 112 years, Golf has been reintroduced as an olympic sport. Wonder who has the longer drive between Mario and Sonic. Next up: the NES Zapper, seen in pamphlets since the game“s release, is coming to Splatoon. Along with it comes a new multiplayer map and Rankled Battles. The best part? That“s all coming tonight, at 7 PM PT, 10 PM ET. Art Academy: Home Studio was announced after that. You can do stuff like upload a time-lapsed video of your art“s creation on YouTube. It“s available for pre-purchase now, and will be out on June 25th. Project Treasure“s debut trailer is….right here! So, remember the Nintendo World Championships 2015? They“re still happening. But more noteworthy: Bill Trinen said one of the games involved in the competition is...a secret to everybody. That“s a Zelda reference. I“m guessing we“ll either see Zelda Wii U at the event, or a brand new Zelda game that somehow involves competitive play? Who knows, but I guess we“ll find out on June 14th! Little Battlers Experience was announced, too. It“s coming on August 21st, 2015. New content was announced for Puzzle & Dragons Z + Super Mario Bros. Edition after that. Check here for more. And last, but certainly not least? Remember that trademark from earlier? Bravely Second is now officially confirmed for the West--both North America and Europe, mind you--in 2016. That's a wrap! Here's the full presentation! Plenty of surprises this morning. Which announcement from this Nintendo Direct Micro has you the most excited? Be sure to let us know!
  21. While this week“s Nintendo Download arrived later than usual, it“s still pretty packed with content. First and foremost: Tomorrow is a day many have been waiting for: the release of Splatoon for Wii U (as well as Wave 4 amiibos, hey)! You can grab a Splatoon theme on your 3DS to celebrate, too. For those who“ve kept on reading instead of immediately closing their tab to lie in wait: also new to Wii U this week is Don“t Starve: Giant Edition. And it comes with a giant incentive: if you purchase the game, you also get one free code for the full game to share with a friend. Check out the trailer . This week“s Virtual Console releases help wrap up Mega May with a surprise, and even offer a little something extra. First off: Mega Man Battle Network 4 Blue Moon & Red Sun arrive today. And (surprise!) Mega Man Zero 3 is also coming this week. Check out the full Mega May lineup here. Last but not least, the little something extra...an eclectic NES beat-“em-up also hits the Wii U Virtual Console this week: It“s Rival Turf! Do check out the box-art for this very 90s game; it“s rather...incredible. As mentioned on their Twitter yesterday, Nicalis is having sale that lasts until June 18th. Every single one of their games available on the eShop (that“s 1,001 Spikes on Wii U, plus Cave Story, VVVVVV, NightSky and more on 3DS) are 50% off their regular price. A major update is now available for Pokémon Shuffle players that makes Pokémon much easier to catch than before, and adds welcome features and new levels to the game. Read more here. And speaking of Pokémon stuff--that“s what many of the new themes this week involve. You can grab Pokémon Shuffle, Mega Charizard X, and Eevee Collection themes to give your 3DS some extra flair. Before I go, there“s even more to mention. Best Buys in North America are having a StreetPass Event this weekend to coincide with the Nintendo World Championship stuff, the Miiverse is having a Splatoon-centric contest (so head there for more info), and Codename S.T.E.A.M. is having an “amiibo Agent” tournament (which you can learn about here). That about does it. Are you excited for Splatoon? What else will you get from this week“s Download? Be sure to let us know!
  22. Marcus Estrada

    E3 2014: Hands-On with Splatoon

    Splatoon was one of Nintendo“s Wii U surprises this year. The brand new franchise got many people hyped with its unique take on 4 versus 4 gameplay. The Splatoon booth was huge, running two of these 8 player matches at a time and showed that the game can be a lot of fun even with a team of strangers. So what is Splatoon? There are two teams of four players and they are both armed with paint-spewing guns. The goal is not to shoot up enemies but instead paint as much of the stage as possible with your team“s color. Of course, spewing lots of paint helps too. If the concept isn“t unique enough, the characters also happen to be part squid and can transform into one at will. This helps them soak up additional paint (like reloading) as well as move about the stage much quicker. All of our stations were decked out with GamePads. On its screen was a map of the entire arena that also displayed where paint was applied. Most of the time I saw no need to look at it. The character“s movement was controlled with one analog stick while the other could manipulate the camera. However, the GamePad could also be tilted up/down and left/right to reposition it. With that said, that feature seems mostly silly as you“ll want quick and precise camera motion while playing. Despite the weirdness, or because of it, gameplay moves quickly and is quite entertaining. I had to learn to stop focusing on coating every square inch of the stage because perfectionism is not the point. In keeping with the speed of Splatoon, you“ll do fine as long as the majority of the landscape is covered. You also always need to keep moving forward down the hallway-styled stage to nab as much territory before the opponents can. Of the two matches I played, both eventually turned into a fight for the central area. Once two teams meet, everyone is attempting to push the other back. Loading up enemies with too much paint will “KO” them, granting you more time to paint the landscape rather than enemies. Of course, if you turn your back, you“ll likely be the next one painted. These final battles for the central area were fun but hopefully larger stages are also being implemented. That way, players will need to learn more strategies than simply how best to reach the middle section and defend. Splatoon is set to bring its odd brand of 4-vs-4 fun to Wii U owners in 2015.
  23. One of the biggest criticisms lobbied against Nintendo is that they recycle their IPs so often with new games, and thus don't release games based on a new IP that often. Fortunately, that wasn't true today, as a new IP was announced in the form of Splatoon, a four-on-four multiplayer action game. The objective in this title is for each team to spray their uniquely colored ink and cover as much of the arena as possible, with the team with the highest percentage of coverage winning at the end of the match. What makes the game unique compared to other games of the same sort is that each player can turn into a squid to travel fast and jump through the ink that their team has already sprayed, lending to some fast and furious matches and increased need for strategy. Also unique is the use of the Gamepad, which is used to help look around the map as well as also displaying a full-screen map of the whole area. So far, the title has made a big splash on the floor at E3, and we'll continue to get more information on it as the week progresses. Splatoon is currently scheduled for release during the first half of 2015. You can check out a trailer for the game below. Source: Nintendo Digital Event Are you interested in playing Splatoon?
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