Just like it was for glorious metal, 2015 was an outstanding year for gamers. Tons of new and exciting games big and small which pushed the boundries of the medium were released this year. And while I didn’t get to play everything that 2015 had to offer, what I did play were some top quality experiences that I will be playing for many years to come. My main gaming machines are the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS as well as a PC that needs to be upgraded before I can play most games from the current gen (ie. PS4), so while things like Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3 seem like obvious choices for my list, I won’t be able to play them till I upgrade to a PS4 or better PC.
Also worth noting that while I’d drop the remaster of Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask for the 3DS at a high spot, I’m not including remakes/remasters here. Though, it is easily one of the best remasters ever and it’s a remaster of my all time favorite game. If you got a 3DS, it is an essential purchase, even worth buying the console for! I’m also omitting games that were released in Europe in 2015 but not US until 2016 (and vice-versa), so you’ll see them on my 2016 list (namely Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam).
So, without further ado, here’s my ten favorite games released in 2015.
Today it was announced that Nintendo president Satoru Iwata had passed away on July 11th, 2015 due to a bile duct complication. To say that myself and the rest of the gaming community were shocked and saddened by this would be an understatement. What Iwata-san has done for video games is immeasurable. Starting in the 80’s as a programmer for NES games such as Kirby and the almighty Earthbound. He worked his way up the ladder eventually being named Nintendo’s president in 2002 spearheading the development and launch of the revolutionary Nintendo Wii. Along with the visionary Shigeru Miyamoto and Reggie “My Body is Ready” Fils-Amie he put his face out there and became a very public face for the company. Focused on transparency, making personal connections with Nintendo fans, and delivering high quality and above all, fun experiences, us fans looked forward to each installment of Iwata Asks and the Nintendo Directs. In a gaming scene that was veering towards homogenization he took the wheel and steered the climate of Nintendo into one of innovation and genuine personality. Even just a few weeks ago he responding and commenting on the feedback he had gotten from Nintendo’s E3 showing.
From my first NES console at age at 7 to last night spreading ink all over the place in Spatoon on the Wii U, Nintendo has been and always will be a huge part of my life. From helping create and grow friendships over some rounds of Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros to easing my sadness with the bright and colorful Mushroom Kingdom and Dreamland to waxing philosophical and adventuring into the unknown with The Legend of Zelda series and Earthbound, Iwata-san has either directly or indirectly influenced some of the most joyous moments in my life. The photo below is a shot of a bit of my current Nintendo collection (unfortunately things get lost and broken when one moves around a lot) and each piece there is more than just a game or character. Each is a memory of a good time and good times to still be had.
When someone dies I feel it is better to celebrate their life than mourn our loss. So, in honor of Satoru Iwata I would like to make a Top Ten of my all time favorite Nintendo games. Many will be obvious and maybe a couple out of left field will pop up and a looooooooot have been left out (I could have easily made this a Top Twenty or Thirty list). All are among the best games I have ever played and have returned to countless times. To put it simply, each game is fun. Quoting Iwata-san “Video games are meant to be one thing. Fun. Fun for everyone.” And with that quote he sums up why I love Nintendo and look into the future with nothing but positive vibes for the house he helped build.
R.I.P. Satoru Iwata. Thank You!!!
Ever since the release of the Nintendo Gameboy I have had a Nintendo handheld in my home (or car, on the plane, train, bus, etc). And with every release of a new handheld console from Nintendo they find a way to outdo themselves and crush the competition with their device which always has boasted a lot less graphical power than the other options on the market. But with some kind of gimmick and insanely superior libraries of games, the big N always comes out on top. After nearly a decade a proud owner of the Nintendo DS Lite I decided it was finally time to upgrade and find out what all the hub-bub about the 3DS was.
Well, first off, from the console’s name you can deduce that the big gimmick of the current handheld is that it displays games in 3D. What makes this really special is that special 3D glasses are not needed at all. Something I wished that the movies did as I wear glasses all the time and having to put another pair over my own is quite cumbersome.
The 3D effect is something that really does need to be seen first hand to believe, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s cool as all hell, albeit with some drawbacks. The 3D effect isn’t really things popping out of the screen, but what it does is give an incredible amount of depth that really sucks you into the game world. That is, when it is developed for properly. I own 4 games (Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Super Mario 3D Land, Bravely Default, and Fire Emblem: Awakening) for my 3DS and to see more of what the 3DS library had to offer I downloaded a bunch of demos. The quality of the 3D effect really varied from game to game with Nintendo first party games really doing amazing things with it and others just giving me an immediate headache (namely Castlevania and Monster Hunter). On the plus sided, there is a slider on the side of the console where you can adjust the intensity of the 3D effect or turn it off completely. No game suffers from playing in 2D as the 3D just really adds to the ‘wow factor’.
You also need to keep the console somewhat aligned with your direct eyesight for the 3D to work properly which wasn’t a problem for me until I tried out some action games where I’m hitting buttons like crazy and knocking my 3DS all over the place. Mario was about the max in action I was able to play without jarring things around, but games like Castlevania became unplayable in 3D mode.
As far as design goes, I opted for the XL model of the 3DS since I’m a 30-something adult with big man hands and deteriorating eyesight. The design is outstanding for me. Buttons fall comfortably where my thumbs would land and the console rests in my palms comfortably with its nice rounded edges. The analog circle pad controls wonderfully for precision controls and the d-pad is extremely responsive. I really liked how the abxy buttons have a clicky feel to them and the l and r triggers feel good to press.
The best part about the XL model is the larger screens which are 90% larger than the standard 3DS and DS Lite models. Coming from a DS Lite, these screens are amazing and really help me see my games much better. Add in the 3D effect, they really help immerse me into the game I’m playing by pretty much consuming all of my focal points real estate. I love ’em and really see why one would settle for the other 3DS models unless they really need the smaller form factor.
The weight is also very nice with a tad bit of heft, but not enough to make my wrists ache during longer play sessions. I also like the matte finish which prevents the scratches that the glossy finishes are notorious for. And the sound! Wow, I was really surprised how good the stock sound system in the console is. At mid volume it produces a rich and detailed level of sound very rarely heard on portable gaming systems and rivals the quality of my earphones. Which brings me to my only big gripe, the position of the earphone jack. It’s located on the bottom left of the console and since my earphone input jack is rather large, it really gets in the way of my left palm. I have a pair of earphones with a smaller jack I’ve been using exclusively with the 3DS, but while not as annoying as the larger one of my better earphones, it still is annoying. Placing the input port on the top or bottom center would have been the optimum design choice in my opinion.
As far as the available library of games for the 3DS goes, I’m more than impressed. My first 4 games have left me very happy with their quality and variety. Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a sequel to my favorite game of all time, A Link to the Past, and is just nothing but pure classic Zelda joy to play; Super Mario 3D Land is one of the best Mario games I’ve played since Mario 64; Fire Emblem: Awakening is hardcore turn-based small encounter strategy at it’s finest; and Bravely Default is just a really badly named Final Fantasy games (seriously, it’s Final Fantasy in everything but name, phoenix downs, 4 crystals, turn based combat, cheeky and cheesy characters, epic quest, it’s all there). Then there’s a ton of games that are high on my radar all boasting an incredible amount of diversity and critical and public renown. Plus it’s backwards compatible with my old DS games so I can continue playing my Tetris cart on the crapper, now without fear that the top half of the console is going to finally break off and fall into the toilet.
If I did notice one thing from the demos I played though, is that if it wasn’t designed for the 3DS specifically, it’s not going to be too hot. Metal Gear 3 3D had some serious frame rate issues and Rayman Origins simply looked like shit compared to its console/PC counterparts. So if a game is available on another platform, that may be your best choice.
All in all, I’m extremely happy with my new 3DS XL and highly recommend one if you are in the market for a new handheld console. A strong game library has something to play for all ages (even a nice and super bloody REAL Resident Evil game) and the design makes it optimum for adults with big hands and bad eyesight.
PS, Screenshots of the games on the internet really don’t do much justice to how good the games look. I recommend going to your local game store and playing one for yourself to see what I mean.
After doing several “best of” lists centered on music, it’s time to turn attention to my favorite videogames. Coming up with a best 25 was hard to do since I have been twiddling my joystick for quite some time now…since Atari – get your minds out of the gutter! I can bet with quite certainty that some of my favorite games are long forgotten and left off this list, but for the sake of picking 25 games I looked at the ensemble of consoles and PC games I played over the years. I think I captured the breadth of my favorite games across a spectrum of genres. To put them in order was another task all-together since each game provided a different experience at a different point in my life. So, I would place less emphasis on where the game is on my list and pay more attention to the fact that it made my list at all. Of all the games I played in my life narrowing my favorites down to 25 speaks volumes of the game’s impact on me. Enough rambling, let’s get on with the list!
Here’s a bunch of quick video game reviews for a bunch of games that I have on my X-Box 360 and Wii that I have not already written about. Hope you enjoy and let us know you’re thoughts on any of the games if you have played them. Almost all the games on this list can easily be found for less than 20 bucks, so if you are a gamer on a budget or are looking to play some games you missed hopefully this list can help you out. Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
When it comes to iconic video games, next to Mario, no other game has endeared more hearts both young and old more than the Legend of Zelda series. Whether you got hooked on this series 25 years ago when The Legend of Zelda hit the NES and revolutionized gaming or when The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time pushed 3D gaming to new and unheard of heights, there is a game in this series that undoubtedly holds a special place in almost every gamers heart. For me, I started my Zelda obsession when the NES classic came out, but it was when I got my hands on the SNES powerhouse The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past when my undying love for these games really came to fruition. It improved on everything that was set up by its predecessors and with the newfound power of the SNES it delivered a game bigger and more magical than anything I could have imagined. For years I have lauded A Link to the Past as the quintessential Zelda game. Now it’s 20 years since the release of that masterpiece, times have changed, and having just finished up the latest entry in the series, I feel that I can safely and wholeheartedly say that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is without a doubt the best game in the series and one of the best games I have ever had the joy to play.
Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii is the complete package for any fan of old-school side-scrolling platformers. Its got highly diverse level structures, crisp and colorful graphics, great upbeat music, and great charm. It also has a level of difficulty that has been forgotten for a long time. Nintendo doesn’t pull any punches to ease the difficulty of this game at all, you will lose many balloons(lives) playing through this game. On quite a few levels I went through 40-50 lives(DKCR is quite generous with the 1ups) just to reach the end. But the great thing of the challenging nature of Donkey Kong doesn’t come from bad controls or cheap enemy shots, it’s from the amazing level design that Nintendo and Retro Studios created. Never once does a lost life feel cheap, you fell into that pit or got hit by that enemy because it was your fault(ie. mistiming a jump, running too fast, ect.). And no matter how many balloons I was popping, I never stopped playing because the levels are just that fun and engaging that you will want to keep playing through them. If you lose enough lives on a level a little pig shows up and offers to show you how to play through the level, but I never used this feature.