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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.
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 worthwhileâ€¦ Did I say â€œthings?â€ I meant â€œgames.â€ 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 â€œcooking exhibition,â€ 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. â€‹ #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 â€œnewâ€ Yoshi game. As its name implies, Yoshi“s Woolly World isâ€¦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. â€‹ #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. â€‹ #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. â€‹ #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: â€œA Fatal Frame game would be PERFECT for this console!â€ 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. â€‹ #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, butâ€¦ 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. â€‹ #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 â€œXâ€ 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. â€‹ #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. â€‹ #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. â€‹ #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. â€‹ #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 â€œbang.â€ 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. â€‹ #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 Shaunâ€¦ â€‹ Do you agree with any of the games on this list? What games are you thankful for this year?