Well, they saved the best for last, right? I don’t think there will be too many surprises here…
As usual, I wasn’t able to play everything I wanted to this year, but here are my favorite games from 2015!
Happy New Year, everyone!
10. Yoshi’s Woolly World (Wii U) – I didn’t have high expectations for Yoshi’s Wooly World, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun it was to play cooperatively. We haven’t played too much of it yet, but I really look forward to diving back in as soon as possible. Grab some blankets and cocoa before you settle down for this one. It’s about to get cozy.
9. Rocket League (PS4) – In the early days of PlayStation Network, my friends and I played and enjoyed Psyonix’s Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, but I would have never expected this highly-tuned, high-octane sequel to explode into such a phenomenon seven years later! Rocket League is a perfect example of easy-to-learn-but-difficult-to-master gameplay that will keep you coming back to improve your skills.
8. Rhythm Games from 2015 (Vita, 3DS, NTSC-J Wii U)- Superbeat: XONiC, Taiko no Tatsujin V Version, Taiko no Tatsujin: Atsumete Tomodachi Daisakusen!, Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX, IA/VT Colorful, Persona 4: Dancing All Night, The IdolM@ster: Must Songs, Miracle Girls Festival. Whatever. Just deal with it.
7. Yo-Kai Watch (3DS) – Level-5 is quickly becoming one of my favorite developers. I find their charming characters and whimsical worlds very appealing, and Yo-Kai Watch is no exception. For me, Yo-Kai Watch is a mix of Pokémon, Ni no Kuni, and Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale wrapped up in a polished, well-produced package. I’ve really enjoyed the characters, dialogue, and world they’ve built here, and I hope we see future entries in the series.
6. Galak-Z: The Dimensional (PS4) – Remember the old adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, Galak-Z, more than any game in recent memory, has taught me that I shouldn’t judge a game by its screenshots or trailers. At first glance, I thought I knew what this game was, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I mistakenly assumed this game was another indie dual-stick space shooter, but I was thrilled to discover it was a demanding, rewarding, well-designed rogue-like in space with an 80’s anime-inspired “episodic” storyline. I’ve never played a “Souls” game or Bloodborne, but I’d like to imagine that the feeling of accomplishment “Souls” fans get from those games is what I earned from Galak-Z.
5. Splatoon (Wii U) – For many of us, Splatoon’s 2014 E3 unveiling felt like we were peering into the future of Nintendo, a future where Nintendo’s next generation design protegés would ultimately be running the beloved company. When tasked with developing an original title, these talented individuals delivered one of the most stylish, fun, and exciting games of the year. Throughout 2015, I’ve enjoyed seeing Splatoon evolve, not only in terms of the new content that was strategically trickled out throughout the tear, but also as a fandom. I’ve enjoyed seeing the passionate online community for this game deliver fan art, comics, crafts and more. When Splatoon was released, the core gameplay was really fun, but I was a bit concerned about the 1.0 version of the game. However, over the course of the year, Splatoon has become a much more feature-rich title that I can see myself returning to as long as the servers are up! Also, if that music doesn’t get you hyped to splat for your cause in the next weekend Splatfest, I don’t know what will. Team Dog represent!
4. Lego Dimensions (PS4) – Lego Dimensions was my first real attempt at a “toys to life” game because, well, amiibo doesn’t count. When I first saw how the portal’s building instructions were integrated into the game’s story, I knew we were in for something special. Lego Dimensions is a well-written trek through a variety of different franchises that somehow makes sense. While I know most youngsters will enjoy this game, I can’t help but feel that it wasn’t designed for them-or their budgets. Ghostbusters, Back to the Future…Midway Arcade? Do kids know this stuff? If so, nice work, parent, but I’d like to imagine this game was designed for…kids in their 20’s and 30’s.
3. Transformers Devastation (PS4) – I might be a bit too young for the original Transformers generation, but I can still absolutely appreciate the stellar style and authenticity behind Platinum Games’ representation of the G1 crew. It’s no secret that I adore Platinum Games’ formula for action games, and Activision and Platinum Games showed great care and respect for the Transformers with this game. Transformers fans will find a lot to appreciate including banter between the Autobots, collectible Kremzeeks, original voice crew, and more, but if you’re a fan of action games, don’t let this one fall off your radar.
2. Super Mario Maker (Wii U) – 30 years ago, if you told me I’d be able to make my own levels in the Mario game I was playing by using a Nintendo system “from the future”, I would have never believed you. I also wouldn’t have understood you because I was an infant, but that’s besides the point. What a wonderful dream come true, right? Like Splatoon, I’ve enjoyed seeing Mario Maker evolve over the last few months. When it was first unveiled, none of us were sure how far Nintendo would take it, but even out of the gate, it was more than I expected. Nevertheless, we wanted more, and Nintendo continues to improve the game to suit the growing community of fans. Let’s just figure out a way to fight the inevitable future and keep this online and alive forever. Deal?
1. Yakuza 5 (PS3) – So, I have a paragraph to tell you why I love Yakuza 5? Well, that can’t happen in a paragraph, but I’ll say that Yakuza 5, and the Yakuza series in general, does a phenomenal job of making you care about the stories it wants to tell. I feel like it succeeds because the game’s creators have such a high level of respect for their characters and you, the player. The real-world cities are so rich and the narratives are so compelling that I can’t help but want to spend time in the universe they’ve created. We often talk about Yakuza 5 as the “Every Game” and the “Japan Simulator”, but simply doing that would undermine the overall amazing experience that Yakuza 5 can bring. For 2015, I’m proud to give Yakuza 5 my highest recommendation of the year.