Let's Go(tY) 2015!

You know what? I'd like to get in on the fun(?) of game of the year lists so here's my first go at that. And you? You my friend are along for the ride so strap yourself in and pray. Certain games ended up taking so much of my time this year (top two I see you) that I cheated. Consider slots eight through ten as 2015 game of the previous years.

This is me
This is me

Increasingly rare footage of me defeating a Waldstein player
Increasingly rare footage of me defeating a Waldstein player

List items

  • With 471 hours played at the time of writing it seems unfair not to give Splatoon my game of the year. Nintendo delivered an original albeit fairly basic shooter at launch with one multiplayer mode, a few hours of single player, and several guns to play with. However, over the course of the year we've been treated to 14 maps, 3 new game modes, custom lobbies, 9 splatfests, 70 weapon variants, and more clothing items than I want to count.

    The core conceit of Splatoon is turf war: a 4v4 team battle where teams try to ink up as much of the map as possible over the course of three minutes. What's kept me coming back to Splatoon day after day though is the ranked mode. Ranked features three variants: splat zones where teams control and hold small areas of the map to win, tower control where teams ride a tower from the center of the map to their opponents' base, and rain maker where teams vie for control of the rainmaker weapon then attempt to rush it to the opponents' base like a ball and DUNK that sucker. I managed to get A+ rank in the early days of ranked before the S and S+ ranks were added. Since then I've gotten frustratingly close to S+, but remain at S at this time.

    At the competitive level Splatoon offers surprising depth with weapon and gear choices made based on both personal affinity and map rotations. Voice communication plays a key role in set team games. Splatoon itself has no voice chat, but Skype and more recently Discord have filled the void. The individual player ranked queue offers what is at times a welcome quiet though losses can also be that much more infuriating as you yell at your team fruitlessly through the TV.

    Splatoon truly shines - an example of what Nintendo can do with a new franchise as well as online play when it brings the A game.

  • Easily my game of 2014, UNIEL technically hit North America this year in February for those who hadn't imported. I love UNIEL for its unique GRD gameplay system, fresh character styles, and city at night aesthetic.

    UNIEL has been my fighter of choice, both casually and competitively since its release. It helps that I live in the San Francisco bay area where we have an active tournament community for the game. As a niche fighter it can be harder to find online lobbies if you don't have a group of friends that's already into the game. That said if you can find people to play with I hold that UNIEL continues to be one of the best "Anime" fighting games ever made.

    I have high hopes for the new version UNIEL[ST] coming in 2016. Remember, as they say "Thousand night, Recurrence night, Reverie end Invite. and...[7days Immortal] Unreal BLACK THINGS."

  • Play Undertale twitter screams. Check out this fan art twitter adds. Frankly it's amazing I managed to avoid major spoilers before playing Undertale.

    As vocal to the point of obnoxiousness as fans of the game have been at times they are basically right on. Undertale is amazing. The art and dialogue drip with charm. The battle system is novel and a plus for someone who's already a fan of SHMUPS like myself. The story while slow to get rolling is filled with unexpected twists that come together surprisingly well. The soundtrack is wonderful and at the right moments in the story moving.

    Apparently the game takes some cues from Earthbound, but as someone who hasn't played that game I can't say if that would add or subtract from the experience for Mother series fans.

  • For those who consider F-Zero GX the height of futuristic racing the series' absence since 2003 has been harsh. FAST Racing Neo is not the next F-Zero, but it is a great game in its own right. Combining elements of F-Zero, Wipeout, and Ikaruga, FAST creates a racing experience that is both familiar and new. Featuring four cups in GP mode for 16 tracks, online races, and four player split screen FAST is also a great value at $15, though it doesn't reach the insane content bar set by F-Zero GX. Racing fans will be happy to know FAST is technically impressive running at 60fps while maintaining splendid lighting and motion effects. If you're a Wii U owner looking for some solid racing that's less kart and more ship then FAST has your number.

  • If I had to choose a word for Axiom Verge it would be slick. Leaning way more Metroid than Castlevania on the metroidvania scale Axiom verge distinguishes itself with a glitch and un-glitch mechanic which calls back to memory corruption on 8 and 16 bit consoles. Everything about the game feels rock solid from the controls to the distortion effects of your weapons on the game's pixel graphics. I'm honestly not too far into this one yet, but my initial impression is enough for me to feel comfortable putting it on the list.

  • I'm a huge fan of CAVE shooters so it was a pleasant surprise to see Mushihimesama coming to Steam this year. While these games shine the brightest for those who like one credit clears and high scores they're plenty fun for more casual SHMUP fans (like myself) who want some kicking tunes, flashy visuals, and zen like purple bullet dodging. With most of CAVE's arcade/360 fare relegated to the domain of imports I can only hope that this steam release is indicative of things to come.

  • Originally released in 2014, but coming to Steam with additional content this year Kero Blaster is from “Pixel” of Cave Story fame. Pixel's latest eschews metroidvania style exploration in favor of linear levels with upgrades gained through boss fights and bought with currency obtained from enemies. This makes Kero Blaster a short and sweet romp. Still I had a great time platforming and shooting my way through its quirky world.

  • (GAME OF NOT THIS YEAR) Still the king of snowboarding in my heart.

  • (GAME OF NOT THIS YEAR) Wow. I wish I had given this game try earlier, it's a lot of dumb fun.

  • (GAME OF NOT THIS YEAR) Don't ride a jet-ski in Antarctica? Miles Jeter will have none of that!