2015 Game of the Year

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Now I present my 2015 Game of the Year award winner. If you want to see the nominee list, check out my previous blog post.

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For my best game of 2015 that I played that year I had to go with Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. It had a lot of the same elements that made Far Cry 3 itself enjoyable, but also streamlined the whole upgrade progress. The graphics and ridiculous nature of the story made for a very entertaining time.

For my runner-up I went with TRON: Evolution. I played it at the end of the year because I needed some classic Prince of Persia wall running action with a distinctive art style. The disc based combat was challenging at first, but eventually it became quite simple as long as the rarely available upgrades chosen were done so wisely.

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Game of the Year 2015 Nominees

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My thoughts on a personal 2015 Game of the Year for myself will be brief. I will be foregoing the usual series of gaming award blog posts that I’ve done in recent years. I’m going to present a single Game of the Year award to my top pick like I did the last time for 2010.

Until I figure out what the winner will be I’ll give you my list of nominees.

Tomb Raider (PS3, 2013)
Far Cry 3 (PS3, 2012)
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (PS3, 2010)
Fighter’s History (SNES, 1994)
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (PSN, 2013)
TRON: Evolution (PS3, 2010)

Game of the Year 2014

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I had a lot of fun throughout 2014, but the five games which stuck with me the most was Wild Guns, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Hotline Miami, Ratchet: Deadlocked, and Yakuza 3.

Natsume’s Wild Guns is a great game in the style of Cabal and Nam-1975. However, where those games were more plain, Wild Guns kicks up the action a notch with a meter that builds when enemy bullets are shot. Once full your character pulls out the Vulcan gun and is invincible. Is a great reward for such a risk taking measure to get there.

I’d already talked about Hotline Miami in my 2014 Biggest Surprise award, which it won, so check that out.

Ratchet: Deadlocked was the first of three Ratchet & Clank games I played last November and it was more fun than it was for me back in 2010. It had less mini-games to bother with and boxes to smash for bolts which I found to be a good thing. It made for a much more focused adventure. One for which I appreciated.

I love me some beat-’em-ups and, as usual, Yakuza 3 delivered. And while I feel it deserved a spot on this list of nominees for my Game of the Year, there was just too much of finding things for and tending to the kids in the game made it more tedious than I’d had liked. Still the combat portion of the game, once you get to them, is great as always.

Finally, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, a game I played for the first time in 2014, earned its way into my top three Castlevania games of the series. This is the conclusion I came to on episode 52 of the Hart & Usagi Podcast. Also, as you can see by the image at the top of this awards post, SotN has also earned my top award for 2014. At the time in 1997 it was a brand new experience for series veterans, but the game also remembered where it came from with nods to past titles like Simon’s Quest and Dracula’s Cruse. Just as I said then after playing it I say it now: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is rightfully an all-time classic.

Thanks for reading and make sure to check out the rest of my awards if you haven’t done so already.

Game of the Year 2014 – Worst Game

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For the worst game I played all of last year it’d be too easy to give it to a game which I utterly hated playing. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II is the perfect example of this. I didn’t enjoy that game at all, but anybody who knows me already knows I have rarely if ever enjoyed my time with a Sonic the Hedgehog game.

Two other contenders for worst game are Crime Fighters and Assassin’s Creed III. The former is an old Konami arcade beat-’em-up. It definitely isn’t their best brawler by a long shot. Their two sequels, Vendetta and Violent Storm, are much better. The latter game is the typical Ubisoft glitchfest that we’re very used to seeing these days. It’s not a big shock it isn’t good.

The winner is Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. I played this last January and I wasn’t impressed by the simplistic storytelling or the idea that I’m supposed to care for these characters more than I actually do. The attempt to have a heart-warming story was laughable at best. Also the fact this game was developed by Starbreeze Studios is surprising because they’ve worked on better games already. Go back to those titles and leave this pretentious work in the forgotten past.

Game of the Year 2014 – Best Podcast

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Unlike last year the number of podcast I subscribe to has increased to 18 and I think that’s been paired down from a few months ago. Regardless the stand out program I started listening to was Back in my Play.

I went back through their older episodes initially and listened to most, if not all, of the ones with a topic either on the Castlevania series or the beat-’em-up genre. All were fun to listen to, but none were more interesting and informative than those episode featuring game developer Mike Mika.

Other top podcasts of 2014 were old favorites Giant Bombcast, No More Whoppers, and Retronauts.

What’s your favorite podcast you listen to? Is it one of those I mentioned above? Let me know below and share this award blog post!

Shameless plug: Hart & Usagi Podcast | Space Suplex

Game of the Year 2014 – Biggest Surprise

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Surprises can come in a variety of forms. Sometimes it can be a game with an easier challenge than one would expect. Castlevania: Dracula X is a good example of this for me. It still has its moments of higher difficulty with expert enemy placement to trip the player up. However, seeing many opportunities to fall into a bottomless pit during the fight with Dracula can be intimidating. Surprisingly, as the award is titled, it was much less of a problem than it seemed at first glance.

Another surprise was the online co-op mode for 2012’s Syndicate. In single player the game is very by-the-numbers in design, but the co-op makes for a much more exciting and fun experience. When I teamed up with friends, which I enjoy doing anyway, the teamwork needed to finish a level was very satisfying.

Despite those two games above being a fun surprise, no game surprised me more than Hotline Miami. I’m not one to jump to quickly purchase a digital download version of a game even when praised as much as this one was. It’s a good thing I didn’t because I was given a free code to download the game on Steam. I played a bunch of games I’d had sitting on the Steam service and not touched in 2014. Hotline Miami was surprisingly much more fun than I was expecting. I even did a speed run of the game in 1 hour and 49 minutes.

The weapons and masks for certain abilities are all fun to use. The hospital level I could’ve done without, but at least it served its storyline purpose. A very brutal game which would also win the Most Viscerally Satisfying Game award from 2011 if I was offering it up this year.

Hotline Miami comes highly recommended and I don’t say that lightly.

Game of the Year 2014 – Best Beat-‘Em-Up

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When it comes to the beat-’em-up genre there’s rarely a video game I can’t get through. From the old school belt scrollers like Super Double Dragon to the more combo heavy games like Bayonetta, I love them all. Well most of them at any rate.

P.O.W.: Prisoners of War, the winner of my Best Retro Game category, was a surprisingly more fun game than I expected, but not the best.

Konami’s arcade game Metamorphic Force is another one of their 4-player machines like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons. It has the fluid combat of other hits of their’s like X-Men. The only real problem is the Crime Fighters style of health meter. It constantly and slowly drains over time.

I went back to Sega’s Yakuza series with Yakuza 3 and while fantastic as always, it spent a little too much time on mundane tasks and chores surrounding the children in Kazuma’s care. Less of that and more busting faces in would’ve been a better beat-’em-up meal.

Finally we come to the winner of the award for my 2014 Best Beat-‘Em-Up. This selection probably shocks me more than anybody else. A game for the original PlayStation released only in Japan in 1997. Thanks to Usagi704 I was able to play co-op with him in Panzer Bandit. The quick and simple way to explain how this game plays is that it’s essentially a clone of Guardian Heroes of the Saturn. It’s a very fun chain combo experience that I’d love to play again!