Since it’s the end the year, it’s only natural to come together and reflect on the past year. Today, the Source Gaming team reflects upon their favorite game of the year. Since some of us have incredible backlogs and various tastes, we decided to separate it into 2015-specific (a game that was released in 2015) and general pick (their favorite game of that year, regardless of when it was released). Let us know in the comments what your favorite games of the year were!
2015 and General Pick – Triforce Heroes
I’ll be honest, I didn’t have a lot of time to game this year. Working 40 hours, and then running Source Gaming means I have very little free time to actually play. I’ve recently picked up a capture device so I could actually convince myself to play more video games. So please check me out!
Triforce Heroes is the game I couldn’t stop playing. It’s charming, fun and addictive. I wrote a review about it here. I love the characters, the style, the humor…it’s all very well put together. The DLC has only improved the experience, and I look forward to the add-on content for the game.
Honorable mentions: Splatoon and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Splatoon adds a lot to the shooting genre, and a game I’m glad that exists. I was very close to choosing Splatoon, but in the end I’ve enjoyed my time with Triforce Heroes slightly more.
2015 Pick: Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
When the Wii U was first revealed, I instantly thought, ”I want a Kirby Canvas Curse successor on this!”. When my wish was actually revealed last E3, I was filled with endless hype. Kirby Canvas Curse is one of my favorite Kirby-Games, so of course a successor to this game would became my GOTY instantly. But is it better than Kirby Canvas Curse? Yeeeea…nnno, not really. It’s a very good game and faithful to its predecessor, but doesn’t have the fine-tuned touchscreen-mechanics like Canvas Curse. Where you can interact with almost everything in Canvas Curse, Rainbow Curse doesn’t give you that much of ‘touchscreen interactivity’. Furthermore, Kirby’s iconic copy-abilities were extremely watered down in this one. The game’s levels are a bit too big, but it still brings some very cool ideas. It’s still an amazingly good game with an even more amazing look. Yoshi took his Yarn look, so Kirby used a new unique clay-look. I love it! You can argue that this kind of game would be more suited for a handheld-experience and…yeah, I kinda agree, since you won’t look on the TV and if it wasn’t for that amazing look and multiplayer, it wouldn’t really have a reason to be on Wii U. But who cares about stuff like that, when the game itself is creative and fun? Fans of Canvas Curse should definitely grab that gem and anyone interested in an action game with an creative take on touchscreen gaming, they should give Rainbow Curse a try. Or at least its predecessor for Wii U Virtual Console, since this game belongs to every good game collection in my opinion. Give it a chance and catch that rainbow!
Honorable Mention: New Style Boutique 2, Super Mario Maker, Yoshi’s Woolly World
General Pick: Suikoden II
I was really happy with Kirby and the Rainbow Curse but I must admit: Even with a Kirby game, this year was a bit plain and I felt that 2015 was just the ultimate filler-year for gaming fans (except MGSV). So I took the chance to play games, I never could before. So yeah, I spend this year catching up to some older games likes Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze or Professor Layton VS. Phoenix Wright, which I almost picked for this spot. But there was a game, I was invested more this year and it was only pure coincidence. I got 3€ left on my PSN-Account and didn’t knew what to do with that money. Then I saw Suikoden II for 3€ in PSN-Sale and since heard lots of praise for this game, I thought “Why not?”. Dear god, that’s way too cheap for such an amazing RPG, I’m embarrassed. It has a great story without focusing on the “saving the day” trope, every character was so lovable, Battle System was fast-paced and fun and the graphic-style reminded me so much of good old SNES RPGs. It has everything a good JRPG should have and even more. Suikoden II is such a diverse game, which even had a Fire Emblem-Part. And mini games were hilarious and fun. I never played a JRPG with so many fun features and everything feels 100% right in its place. Nothing in Suikoden II feels like a forced and it makes its world so rich and engaging to explore. And don’t let me start talking about the amazing soundtrack. Even for its time, it’s beyond amazing and it always brings me tears of joy, when I’m listening to it.
I couldn’t stopped playing it and even after I finished my first run, I played it again. You definitely should try out Suikoden II, if you can. It’s by far one of the best RPGs and has aged better than other RPGs on PSone. I usually hesitate saying stuff like this but…Suikoden II is one of those game I couldn’t find any problems at all, even if I try analyse everything. Maybe I’m praising it too much and some people won’t agree at me at all, but it took me so off-guard and I’m still amazed how great this game is. Suikoden II really feels like THE perfect RPG of all time.
2015 pick: Witcher 3
Arguably this is simply because it’s the 2015 release I played the most of, but I thought Witcher 3 was a fantastic game. A compelling world that actually made me want to pursue sidequests (looking at you, Xenoblade) with great characters and an engaging storyline, Witcher 3 sucked dozens of hours of my time (and I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve hardly gotten started). The combat was mechanically solid, and altogether the entire game features multiple improvements over its predecessor.
Honorable mention: Bloodborne, which is certainly better from a micro-mechanical perspective, but I only played a few hours of it, so it’s hard for me to judge.
General pick: Super Smash Bros. Melee
The game I played the most of this year, the game I enjoyed the most this year, so…it’s my game of the year (that was redundant). 14 years and still the greatest.
Honorable mentions: Wolfenstein: The New Order, which was surprisingly engaging, especially from a story perspective, Shadowrun: Hong Kong, more of a great classic RPG world, Fallout: New Vegas, which, between 3, 4, and NV, I think NV is the best, Tales from the Borderlands, which meanders off a bit towards the middle but has a great finale, The Wolf Among Us, to be honest I’m a bit tired of stories about dead prostitutes, but it’s a great game and that ending, man…Dishonorable mention to Killer is dead, which I couldn’t play 90 minutes of.
2015 Pick: Undertale
I would not waiver in saying Undertale is one of the best games in, at least, the last few years. There have not been many games that make you wanting more and coming back to them, but Undertale does that. Moral choices have been an element of modern videogames for a while, but they would usually end up being picking Choice A or Choice B, and how good or evil you were was based on the aggregate of all your choices. Undertale makes this a part of the game, as you have the choice to kill enemies in typical RPG fashion or try and work it out. The system was powerful enough that when I tried to play another RPG (Xenoblade Chronicles X). I tried to avoid killing enemies where I could. Battles are intense and you have to actually dodge attacks, similar to a shooting game, which makes battles even more intense. Beyond that, the music is amazing and the game has one of the greatest cast of characters in video game history. Undertale does everything amazingly and the only real complaint I have is the game is a bit short. But for 10 bucks, it is definitely worth it. Go buy it right now!!
2015 Pick: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Forget about Konami’s self-induced idiocy controversy surrounding the whole game for a moment and take a moment to see that the game as a whole is superbly designed and plays wonderfully, even on a past system like the PS3(the version I own). It’s of the same quality as the prior games without question even with it’s new mechanics, and personally, it’s now my second favorite Metal Gear game behind Peace Walker. Shame it’s probably the last good MG game we’re getting. At least we can take solace in the fact that Kojima has officially left Konami and is now partnered with Sony.
Honorable Mention: Undertale
I get it, Undertale is a good game with it’s borderline frighteningly meta subject matter and unique quirks, but honestly, it’s not the second coming of indie games or even RPGs some fans make it out to be. Hype backlash is a thing. I don’t think it’s a bad game or even anything less than great, mind you, but the overrating is certainly visible, and while it didn’t mar my enjoyment of Undertale as a whole, it becomes easier to see the game’s flaws(which in turn become more glaring) when it’s hyped to be this amazing piece of gaming.
General Pick: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Nevermind that it’s one of the only games I own for the system, I just never grow bored of it ever since I got my Wii U in June(I had the game itself since January as a raffle prize from SmashBoards, props to AlphaZealot). And when I do, that’s what Metroid Prime Trilogy and Splatoon are for.
Game of the Year: Super Mario Maker
I didn’t play many games that came out in 2015, but I just couldn’t ignore this one. When it was revealed in 2014, I was “cautiously optimistic” about Mario Maker (the Super was added later), though not without concerns. After all, there have been illegal ROM hacks and level editors for Mario for over a decade by this point. The one thing that really excited me – and thankfully, became the cornerstone of the game’s ethos – was the idea that it wasn’t just a level editor, but a subconscious teaching tool that helps players understand the (pardon the pun) building blocks of game design. However, as much as I respect the creation tools in the game, what makes it most exciting for me is players others’ levels. Almost none of them carry the polish that defines Nintendo’s best outings, and several can be all but unplayable or obnoxious, but it’s this element of almost pure creative energy that makes them great. It’s manic and full of brilliant details and tremendously fun, and seeing one of your levels go from half-baked idea to something enjoyed by players the world over is wonderful.
Favorite New Game I Played: Xenoblade Chronicles (Honorable mentions: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, the Swapper)
But for my general favorite game I discovered, I’d have to go with Monolith Soft’s Xenoblade. Technically, this is a bit of a cheat; I tried the game out a few hours before Smash Wii U was released, but I didn’t get far. This fall, I returned to it because I wanted to play bloated RPGs with giant, expansive worlds – this was right after a replay of Skyrim. And Xenoblade fit the bill perfectly: a grandiose adventure comfortable balancing dramatic storytelling with camp. Its characters don’t transcend their archetypes, but the localization from Nintendo UK (something we rarely get to experience) elevates them. And the score is just incredible, an almost pure example of classic RPG music. I have a number of issues with JRPGs and this specifically, but so many individual parts, from its gameplay to storytelling, are exciting responses to the genre.
2015 Pick: Undertale
Undertale is by far the most unique game I have played this year, both in the style of gameplay and how I came to learn about it.In today’s gaming culture I am so used to knowing everything about a game before I play it but with Undertale, I knew nothing. No story or gameplay details. Absolutely nothing. Everyone was just talking about it out of nowhere and it received nothing but praise so I felt like i had to check it out, and I have no regrets. This game deserves all the praise that it receives. Not only is the story amazing and the writing tight, but the gameplay is very unique for a turn-based RPG. I don’t want to say any more because you should go into this game as spoiler-free as I did. Just remember that in this game, no one has to die.
Honorable Mention: Yoshi’s Wolly World
I should preface this by saying that I am a huge Yoshi fan. Always have and always will be. I really enjoyed the first Yoshi’s Island game and also enjoyed Yoshi’s Story and Yoshi’s Island DS while growing up. So, I had a lot of high hopes for Yoshi’s Wolly World. Being a Yoshi fan has been a bit difficult recently, dealing with mediocre titles like Yoshi’s New Island that fail to bring anything new to the table and really left a bad impression. So I was really glad that Wolly World surpassed my expectations. It truly felt like a Yoshi game that could live up to the standard of the original. The music was good, it looked beautiful and was 100% adorable. It only misses my mark for game of the year because it is not perfect. The boss fights get repeated and are fairly unoriginal. And the level design does get a bit sloppy towards the end. But, this game was a charming return to form for the franchise and another outstanding platformer for Good Feel. Inc. that makes excited for whatever franchise they will tackle next. Having done Wario and Yoshi so far, maybe they will tackle Donkey Kong next? We will have to wait and see!
General Pick: Mario Party 3/Chu Chu Rocket
For my general pick i had a hard time deciding between these two games. They are both on here for the exact same reason. It had been years since I played them and only recently did I try the multiplayer. I am no stranger to the series: I own Chu Chu Rocket for the Dreamcast and Game Boy Advance. As for Mario Party I own all the home console games except for 3, 9 and 10. So, when meeting I finally sat down and played these games with friends I had a blast. Mario Party 3 may very well be my favourite Mario Party ever and I was tempted to buy the game in japanese because the English version is so expensive. Chu Chu Rocket’s multiplayer was incredibly chaotic but so fun. We had an absolute blast yelling at each other and setting each other up to fall. It was such a fun experience and has inspired me to try and fix my old dreamcast so I can play it whenever I want. Both of these old games stuck out in my mind this year and I urge everyone to get some friends and try them out. You won’t regret it.
Game of 2015: Xenoblade Chronicles (3DS)
I’ve somehow managed to play through a ridiculous amount of games this year, both old and new releases. However none of my new ventures have captivated me the way that Xenoblade Chronicles has. Xenoblade in fact defined the year 2015 in terms of gaming for me. Well when you consider that I spent a total of 5 months playing this game, it couldn’t be any other way. While I’ll admit it had some flaws, the story was quite simply enthralling, and the music, bone-chilling. There are so many examples of games not living up to the hype or the praise that people install on it, but this truly did. It’s one of those experiences that will quite simply stay with me forever.
Honourable Mentions: Mario Maker, Splatoon, Majora’s Mask 3D.
General Pick: Banjo-Tooie (XBOX One)
Just a short time ago I decided to do something I’ve never before done. That was to play each game in the Banjo-Kazooie franchise in their chronological order. See, Banjo & Kazooie have been the favourite of mine since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, and while I’ve played the N64 games many times before, I’d never played Grunty’s Revenge. I also like to make sure I play these games once every couple of years to keep myself connected to the characters. (For the record I also feel that Nuts and Bolts gets an unnecessary amount of hate, but that’s a topic for a different day). I think this run through of Banjo games has solidified something in my mind that I’ve been unsure of for far too long now. Is my favourite game of all time, Banjo-Kazooie or is it Banjo-Tooie?
I’ve long considered Banjo-Kazooie to be a breezy game. It’s fairly cookie cutter. Bar one exception (in Freezeezy Peak), you can enter a world, obtain every collectible, and head into the next world. However, Banjo-Tooie involved you having to chop and change between worlds, in fact they were even connected and often involved performing tasks in one world to be able to complete puzzles in one of the other worlds. Banjo-Tooie takes everything great from Banjo-Kazooie, and it builds upon it spectacularly. New moves, new ways to play, new worlds, bigger worlds, new characters, boss battles, more playable characters and more challenging puzzles.
The real winner here is Rare Replay, boasting 30 games throughout Rare’s history, I’ve barely even scratched the surface of it. I would have listed it above, but really this is 30 games, not just one game!
Honourable Mentions: Donkey Kong 64, Grabbed by the Ghoulies.
Game of 2015: Xenoblade Chronicles X
Not much to say about this one: The world is absolutely incredible to explore and look at. I’m still wondering how they pulled it off on the Wii U. Yeah, there are some graphical issues like textures not loading in time or pop-in, but those can be solved by downloading the free data-packs. The battle system is even better than ever before. I didn’t like it in Xenoblade Chronicles for the 3DS, because it felt like you had next to no control over battles. But they finally fixed all the issues I had with it. Visions felt luck-based, chain-attacks got boring after a while and you get most of the arts near the beginning of the game. Xenoblade X completely removes the random visions and replaces them with Soul Voices which can boost your attacks. Chain-attacks get replaced by the countdown-meter, which when activated can boost your attack-power a lot. It also introduced different classes for your avatar, which you can change to get new arts and special perks.
Oh, did I mention that this game basically feels like a Collect-A-Thon-Action-JRPG? Really, you get experience for discovering new areas and landmarks, you can collect these little crystals all over the map to find new items and there are little pieces of debris scattered across the world that you can find as well. Let’s not forget that the map can update when you talk to NPCs, revealing even more things to collect. There’s much more to do, but talking about that would really make this part way longer than it should be. Truly the Banjo-Kazooie of the RPG-format.
Honourable Mention: Undertale
Feels like indie-Mother mixed with Cave Story and Touhou. I like it a lot. If you don’t have time to play it, at least check out the amazing soundtrack!
General Pick: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Do I even need to explain why this game is here? There is so much to do, so much to see. The multiplayer has expanded my playtime so much. I’m sitting at 800 hours right now, not counting the 3DS-version. If you haven’t bought this game already… What are you waiting for?!
I’ve never been a big fan of the shooter genre, and generally speaking, a shooter needs to have a unique approach, interesting gameplay hook, and fun aesthetic for me to pay any attention to it. Luckily for me, Splatoon has all three. Moreover, Splatoon is a breath of fresh air in Nintendo’s somewhat stagnant IP pool, and those lovable Inklings are Nintendo’s biggest stars in over a decade.
I’ve sunk dozens of hours into the games multiplayer mode, largely due to the vast number of unlocks and Nintendo’s regular updates. The actual fast and frantic gameplay doesn’t hurt, either. On top of that, the actual inking mechanic allows for so many different strategies and ensures that players that may not be the best at actually shooting can still be valuable members of their team. That’s not to say the game is easy; achieving anything above a B rank requires real skills. This might be the factor that makes Splatoon my game of the year. It has something for almost every type of gamer.
Honorable Mention: Rocket League (PC)
I honestly haven’t played too much of this game, but what I have I loved. Much like with Splatoon, I appreciate any attempt at unique multiplayer experiences.
General Pick: Phantasy Star (SEGA Master System)
I’ve been a fan of the 16-bit Phantasy Star games since the time when the SEGA Genesis was a current gen system. I had never actually given the original game in the series, Phantasy Star on the SEGA Master System, any serious play time until earlier this year. I’m very glad I finally did. The game holds up so well for an 8-bit JRPG, so much so that I would actually suggest it over Earthbound Beginnings or the original Final Fantasy to newer gamers.
It’s the first JRPG I can remember that included heavy Sci-Fi elements and also the first that I recall starring a female protagonist. As the game originally released just one month after Final Fantasy did on the NES, it is also a fairly significant game historically. The game does have its flaws, and I would recommend using a guide due to its obtuse objectives and confusing dungeons. Still, I cannot endorse this game enough. Pick it up on the Wii Virtual Console if you have some extra holiday cash!