2015 Year in Review

Handsomely Unmasked Top 10 Games of 2015

Looks like this is my inaugural end of year top 10 list. When I was asked to look back on what I’ve played over the past year, I was worried that I would ONLY have 10 games to put on the list. Fortunately, it seems I’ll be able to actually make >1 decision about what makes the cut for my list.

Since this is my first time posting to the site, allow me to create a small profile for my lovely readers:

Name: Jason Rivera

Age: 29

Race: Jedi

Blood Type: O

Likes: Puzzle, Action, RPG, adventure, long walks on the beach

Sign: Cancer

I would also like readers to note that I, like Shannon, typically get games when they are on bargain. That means my playlist typically lags behind what’s ‘new’ by a number of months. Also, I suffer from a disease called GONOTT (Got No Time For This) syndrome. Side effects include: Buying games on sale and shelving them for many months (curse you Steam sales!), putting a game down after I’ve put about 20-30 hours into it, and not really being in the mood for that genre at the moment. Thankfully, I’ve been doing well with physical therapy by taking tiny baby steps and I feel like I’m on my way to a full recovery.

But enough about me. Let’s get to the meat of this pie. Yum… meat pies…  With ranch!

  1. The Fall – Wii UMushrooms

I was first introduced to this game by way of a 2 Best Friends playcast. After watching one episode, I knew this was a game I wanted to play so I quit watching so as not to spoil any of the plot or puzzles. This game has been described as “Super Metroid meets Monkey Island.” Sadly, I’ve never played monkey island. Happily, I’ve played Super Metroid. I can see how the atmosphere is reminiscent of Super Metroid, but that’s where the similarities end. This is a puzzler about you, an AI controlling a robotic suit, trying to save the life of the unconscious human residing within your suit.


Though most of the puzzles are rather straightforward (except that stupid baby puzzle!) the atmosphere and story kept me going. There is a bit of action in the game, but it felt out of place to me. Though a lot of the story was predictable, it was still fun to see it through to the end. I did not realize the game would end on a cliffhanger and it wasn’t until afterwards that I found out it is part 1 of a planned trilogy. Here’s to hoping the second game enhances the story and that it actually sees the light of day.


  1. Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix: Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep Final Mix + – Playstation 3Kingdom_Hearts_HD_2_5_Remix_Debut_Trailer_mp4

Okay, I’ll admit, part of me wanted to throw this game on the list just to type the name out the long way. If you’ve played any of the Kingdom Hearts games, you know the story can get a little… nonsensical. Almost like a Metal Gear plot for children. Luckily, this isn’t one of the entries in the franchise that really requires a lot of backstory because it’s set as a prequel. The original game came out on the PSP, but this is the remastered version that came out as part of the Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix. I’d played part of this game on the PSP but never really got far enough to become invested in it.


I’ve always enjoyed the lighthearted story of the Kingdom Hearts games. The combat system for this one is enjoyable enough to keep me going and it at least feels like the game requires skill to master the battle system (when it’s not being cheap). Though I did enjoy seeing the story unfold, it felt a little repetitive at times as you battle a few of the same bosses and visited a lot of the same worlds… I guess it is a small world after all. I also wasn’t too pleased with some of the technical aspects of the game’s targeting as it felt like it wasn’t very responsive at times (why does the game keep think I want to target the enemy behind me when I’m totally looking at the one in front of me!). That being said, it’s still one of the better installments in the franchise and I do recommend it.


  1. Attack of the Friday Monsters – Nintendo DSfriday_monsters_thumb

What if you could take a Hayao Miyazaki movie and turn it into a video game? That’s exactly the vibe I got from this game. This game is all story driven so there’s not much skill involved, but man… the story is sooooo charming! You follow a kid around as he goes on an adventure to try to find out the secret of the giant monsters that seem to go on a rampage every Friday just outside of town. This game caught me completely by surprise as everything about it is done so well. The graphics, combined with the sound effects and music made it feel like I was playing an animated Studio Ghibli film. If you like Hayao Miyazaki movies at all, you need to do yourself the favor of purchasing this game on the e-shop and giving it a go. It’s a very short game (think it took me about 3 hours to beat) but it’s only $8. That’s a cheaper deal than you’ll find most Ghibli movies going for.


  1. Chrono Trigger DS – Nintendo DSchrono-trigger-ds

Why is this game on here? I played it forever ago as a kid on the SNES, but I never did beat it. Also, I got this game as a gift for my birthday this year and I was really in the mood to play it. Honestly… I’m surprised I beat it because my resolve for games tends to waver after the 20 hour mark, but boy was it worth it. The story for this game is so well-paced. Being able to stop the battle timers while I was making menu choices made battles much less hectic and more manageable for me. It’s a well-known game so I won’t go into detail, but I got a few endings (true ending among them) before stopping. I will note that the extra area they added with the lizard people got REALLY old REALLY fast as you backtracked a lot to get up that mountain on multiple occasions and there were no shortcuts available. That really did feel like a chore.


  1. Yakuza 4 – Playstation 321592HeatAction_Akiyama_01

So Micah LOVES to talk about this series. It’s almost as if he were secretly a Yakuza himself… It finally came out as one of the monthly free PS+ games so I decided I’d give the series a try. This game takes itself so seriously. At times this can make it very cool and other times it makes it very comical.


I think the real allure of the game is the sheer variety of things you can do in it; it’s like a video game smorgasbord. There’s the main story which is compelling in its own ways. TONS of minigames ranging from arcade shooters all the way to rhythm-based karaoke. There’s also a lot of side quests that help to add more depth to each character. The atmosphere is really well done and the overall game is diversified enough that I can overlook most of the qualms I have with it.


  1. Undertale – PCxscreen3

This game has been so hyped in my twitter feed that I’m now afraid to look at anything mentioning it for fear of spoilers. Ethan’s been the driving force in getting me to play this game and boy am I glad he did. This game’s storyline is very straightforward, but it’s got so much wit and humor in it that I’m totally enjoying being taken on this ride.


I really enjoy the way battles are fought in this game. There is skill involved in avoiding enemy attacks and it makes me feel like I’m playing a schmup. This game might have placed higher on the list if I’d had time to beat it, unfortunately time constraints have prevented this from happening… Remember, I suffer GONOTT syndrome.


  1. Mother 3 – Gameboy Advance

    GBA--Mother 3 english translation_Nov12 18_28_01

    Negative Man has it right. He’ll never see the light of day over here.

So I went to this gaming convention in Ohio and some guys were selling homebrewed cartridges with the official Mother 3 translation patch installed. I consider myself a patient man. I’ve given Nintendo almost 10 years to release this stateside, but year after year they disappoint me. Well, I’ve had enough disappointment so I bought this homebrew game in order to cash in on all those years of compounded interest.


It plays very similar to the Earthbound game, but more episodic. I enjoy the rhythm-based mechanics to the battle system and the storyline is unpredictable. I’ve put in about 15 hours and I still haven’t beat it because I’m a terrible person and I should be ashamed of myself, but GONOTT is very debilitating. I hope it’s not terminal…


Also, before anyone accuses me of piracy, note that I do own a boxed copy of the Japanese release. I did support the official release!


  1. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – Playstation 3Ni-No-Kuni-Review-01

I like RPGs with a good story. I absolutely adore Studio Ghibli (please refer to #8). What happens when you put them together? THIS!


Amazingly colorful artwork, orchestral music and a grand adventure are what you can expect from this game. It reminds me of pokemon with taming monsters to battle alongside you and leveling them up. Unforunately, I had a flare-up of GONOTT once I’d put 20 hours into this game. Let me tell you what, in those 20 hours it felt like I barely progressed because of the sheer amount of side-quests and side-objectives you can do in this game. I only wish the battle music was a bit more enjoyable.


  1. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – Playstation 3get

Platinum games is really good about making epic fight scenes. Add a cyborg ninja and a Metal Gear plot to the mix and you’ve got yourself a prescription for awesome. Seriously, all of the boss battles in this game keep trying to outdo each other. The music really gets your blood flowing and the over-the-top animations that accompany each battle will have you sweeping your jaw off the floor (I’m not cleaning up after you anymore).


You really don’t need to know much about the Metal Gear storyline to get into this one. Also, this game is frequently found cheap enough that you need to do yourself the favor of trying it out… Like, right now. What are you doing? Oh yeah, you’re reading my important list. Well, hurry up and finish already!


  1. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate – Nintendo DS


    It’s always more fun to cook… I mean, hunt with friends!

It’s not often that I’m ever able to put in more than 20-30 hours into a game and still be able to keep going. The Monster Hunter series is the only one that I’ve yet to get bored of quite so quickly. I was able to put 100+ hours into this game and I STILL didn’t finish all of the main storyline missions (though I believe I stopped at the last one). I finally ran out of steam after many, many, many hours of this game and I’ve been on cooldown for a while, but maybe I’ll be recharged by the time Monster Hunter X is out.

The sheer amount of weaponry you can master and the numerous monsters you can hunt gives this game so much replayability it’s unbelievable. The ability to play with friends is really what makes this game so good. If you don’t play well with others and plan to play this game solo, I’m actually inclined to dissuade you from this series. Sure, you might find some enjoyment out of the single-player storyline (and this entry actually has a better story than some of the others) but you will likely grow bored or find it hard to progress at times. Also, there’s many monsters at the upper tiers that will almost necessitate having backup in order to come out on top.

I also highly recommend checking out some of the online tutorials that are posted by pro hunters as the game doesn’t necessarily teach you many of the higher-level skills required to fully master your weapon. The game is highly community-driven and there is an underestimated depth to the combat system that the game – perhaps purposefully – forgets to teach you.



So there you have it. That’s my list. The list to end all lists. Feel free to debate. Know that you will be wrong, but I will never tell someone not to exercise their First Amendment rights (or whatever rights the Queen – God save her! – has bestowed for our UK readers).


Categories: 2015 Year in Review

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