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!!!
Haven’t written about any video games here in a while, so while I got a bit of free time on my hands figured I’d drop some game suggestions to some games I’ve played recently. All of these are available on Steam and most likely also available on consoles as well. Each, of course, is worth looking into if something about it catches your eye. So, here are a bunch of random games that are pretty great and stuff.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
This is the first game in the Call of Juarez series I’ve played and it is the most recent offering from, going by reviews, a very hit or miss series. If anything, you don’t need to have played any of the other games in the series to enjoy this one. And if you are a shooter fan and don’t enjoy this, you probably don’t like fun.
Basically, take the scoring system from Bulletstorm, the graphic style of Borderlands, and the narration of Bastion and you get Gunslinger. Seriously, this is the most fun I’ve had with a FPS in a while (barring the next game on this list). I love how as you run around the map the narration of an old bounty hunters tale gets told to you and some cool effects when he decides he told something wrong.
Bonus modes include a New Game + mode as well as a super-fun arcade mode where the cool combo chaining system from the campaign gets beefed out and you get to go for runs for high score and best times. There’s also a shootout mode which focuses on the 1v1 shootout portions of the campaign, but I didn’t spend much time with it as I thought the shootouts were the weakest part of the game. For the price tag you are getting a lot of quality and content to play with and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
I quite enjoyed Far Cry 3 regardless of the fact I really didn’t care for any of the other games in the series. I think it is a bit over-rated, but then again, how many other games let you use a tiger to wipe out your enemies? Well, Blood Dragon, a stand-alone DLC (Far Cry 3 is not required to play this one), does FC3 one up and lets you use a fucking dragon to kill your enemies. And you rip your enemies hearts out to make bait to direct where dragons go and make murderous mayhem. Sounds fun, right? It is. IMO, Blood Dragon outdoes it’s core game in every way.
And that’s just one small piece. If you grew up in the ’80 with heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Van Damme, etc. you’d be pleased to know the over the top 80’s sci-fi neon cheese is capped off with THE Michael Beihn voicing all the quips and one-liners of the lead character, Rex Power Colt. Everything about this game is a love letter to that bygone era (complete with a great Krull reference that made me squee with glee) and besides being a nostalgia trip, some fun gameplay is underneath. Well worth your time and credits.
Speaking of nostalgia romps, Shovel Knight is also a love letter to 80/early 90s gaming. Pretty much equal parts Mega Man, Zelda 2, Castlevania, and the NES version of Ducktales, Shovel Knight is a retro gamers dream. The level designs are outstanding and devilishly difficult (not punishing though 😉 ), the characters are charming, the retro graphics are stunning, and the music is some of the best chiptunes you can get this side of Mega Man. You also beat shit out of everything with a shovel, if that’s not enough to sell you, maybe you were smacked with one as a child.
Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death
Best $1 game I’ve ever bought (though it was on sale, so it may be a couple bucks more now). Basically, it’s Bro of War. That is, God of War with some bro instead of Kratos and a tad smaller budget. Equally as fun though. Lots of explosions, big combos, and cheesy dialogue, that’s about it. Good fun.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
I’m a huuuuuge South Park fan. I have been literally watching the show ever since the dude from the local rock and roll memorabilia shop pulled me to the side and made me watch a VHS tape with The Spirit of Christmas on it (wow, now I feel old). I’ve seen every episode multiple times, can quote more than enough of them, have a good amount of merch, and etc. all that other fanboy stuff. If there’s been one area that South Park has ever let me down in, it’s been their video games. The Stick of Truth changes that. This game is everything a South Park fan ever wanted; a chance to play an episode of the show. Seriously, if you didn’t have a controller in your hand, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
Presented as a turn-based RPG, you take on the role of the new kid in town and engage in a Lord of the Rings style quest filled with poop, tampons, aliens, magic, and Lemmywinks. Every character from the show at least makes a cameo and since series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone worked very closely with the dev team, everything is undeniably South Park. As with anything SP, this isn’t for kids. There was one part where I shoved a kid up a man’s ass while exploring a man’s ass…
Seriously, if you like South Park and haven’t given this a go yet, you’re really missing out on some great SP cannon. Euro buyers beware, because of of shitty laws, the console versions of the European versions of the games needed to be censored, get the PC version on Steam and you’ll be good to go (I got mine in Italy, and no censoring whatsoever).
2013 has been one hell of a great year for gamers. New consoles (which I probably won’t buy for quite some time, long live the PC master race!), the continued rise of independent games, and a ton of AAA publishers releasing quality titles that broke ground in what can and should be done in big budget games. Seriously, right now is such a great time to be a gamer. Of all the great games I played this year, the following ten stood above the rest not only in quality, but also in creativity, refinement of their respective genres, or just were flat-out fun. A couple of entries on this list were games released during 2012, but since I wasn’t able to get into them until 2013 I’m qualifying them for my list. So, enjoy reading and let me know what were some of your favorite games that you played this year.
Two years ago a tiny indie game developed by a Swedish game development company called Frictional Games unwittingly created a game that took the gaming scene by storm. That little game is called Amnesia: The Dark Descent and not to long after its release became hailed as one of, if not the, scariest games of all time. Gamers long pining for a true return to survival horror gaming rejoiced with glee and Youtubers were quick to start a trend of creating videos of themselves being scared shitless by the game. Even myself, who has extremely tough skin for all things horror, found beads of sweat forming on my brow as I explored Brennenburg Castle and was genuinely unsettled and nervous while playing. To call the game anything other than a massive success would be a gross understatement.
After spending nearly a century building a solid relationship with my Mayan neighbors it all pays off as they inform me that their spies have discovered that Napoleon and the French empire are planning on staging a surprise attack on my coastal city of Seoul. This bit of information couldn’t have come at a better time as I have been guiding my people down the path of culture and science commissioning the building many world wonders and using my funds to search out great scientists. My military is somewhat of a laughing-stock and as I have ignored the words of my military advisory telling me that the French wield an army that could wipe us off the planet. Luckily I have been following the path of rationalism and those wonderful rationalists have discovered that through commerce and building trading posts I can also enhance my scientific resources, so let’s just say, the Korean empire has a few coins to rub together. Which I do and build an instant modest army just strong enough to defend my land from a strong military push and then, since I have already denounced Napoleon a few times in the past for bullying my diplomatic buddies, declare war on the French. And they fall into my trap. Filled with the hubris that a massive army brings they go through with their set plan to attack Seoul seeing as that I have just a small defensive army. What they didn’t know was that I had timed the production in my cities to release a bevy of high-powered units to eradicate them even before they hit my shores. I wipe out more than a quarter of the French army on their first push taking minimal casualties due to my superior battle tactics and positioning and then push production to one more wave of military units composed of submarines and high-powered ballistas from my superior scientific advantage and then push back to the French shores accosting them of one of their major cultural cities and then south to liberate the French occupied city-state of Milan who will now provide me with and endless supply of cultural artifacts to keep my hard-working scientists happy as I move focus into winning the space race. Ya, I must be playing a Civilization game.