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Found 5 results

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. This week“s Nintendo Download...has Xenoblade Chronicles 3D in it! That“s all you need to know, right?! ...No? All right. I guess I can keep going. I“m not kidding, though. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is coming to the Nintendo eShop tomorrow, April 10th, and is exclusive to those who own the New Nintendo 3DS XL in North America. Two new themes have been released this week to celebrate Xenoblade; they are “Xenoblade Chronicles 3D: Mechonis” and “Xenoblade Chronicles 3D: Monado” respectively. Have you read our review of the original Xenoblade Chronicles to see what all the hype is about? Fans of the Pokémon Rumble spin-off series should appreciate the free-to-start Pokémon Rumble World; that“s also been highlighted this week. With over 700 Pokémon available to collect, there“s certainly a lot of content to be had. Speaking of Pokémon spin-off games, there“s new content being promoted within Pokémon Shuffle as well. You can check here to learn more about special events featuring Blastoise and Rayquaza. ATLUS also gets some love this week, as Etrian Mystery Dungeon has been in stores and on the Nintendo eShop for a few days now. If you picked up the game, are you enjoying it? Be sure to let us know! And last but certainly not least, in the indie scene, Affordable Space Adventures releases on the Wii U eShop this week! This week“s Virtual Console releases continue to deliver on what was revealed during last week“s Nintendo Direct. North America gets Yoshi Touch & Go, as well as WarioWare: Touched via the Virtual Console on Wii U. And last but not least, there are two noteworthy sales (as well as even more price reductions) starting soon. Nintendo is advertising a Super Spring Sale; you can check here when the eShop update goes live for more information. And Watch_Dogs on the Wii U eShop has been reduced to $29.99 from $59.99. Will you be picking up Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, New Nintendo 3DS XL owners? Have you already tried Pokémon Rumble World? Interested in the new Virtual Console stuff? Be sure to let us know!
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