By Jeff Neuenschwander / February 7th, 2016
Here we go. It’s the final day of the 2015 oprainfall Gaming Awards. That means that we celebrate the best of each console as well as name our Game of the Year. The rules are simple: all games that are exclusive or are multiplatforms that are universally better on one console are eligible for each console’s award. If a game is on one company’s set of consoles, it can qualify for one or the other. All multiplatform games must compete in the Mutliplatform category. Winners of each category, as well as Download-Only, are eligible for Game of the Year.
Got it? Good, because it’s time to start award spots in the grand finale. First up is our top translator Will Whitehurst with the best of the Wii U.
BEST WII U GAME
2013: The Wonderful 101
2014: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
WILL: While the Wii U’s eventual fate may not have turned around as much as some hoped, 2015 brought even more enticing new games to Nintendo’s overlooked and underrated console. Here are the nominees for Best Wii U Game.
It’s still hard to believe that one of the most compelling Wii U games is almost the stereotypical antithesis of Nintendo, in the eyes of some, for two reasons: It’s a completely new IP, and it’s an online shooter. Yet, just one Turf War, Ranked Battle or single-player level in Splatoon should silence the naysayers. What we have here is a fresh, innovative, and hardcore game that is unapologetically Nintendo in terms of its playability, replayability, style, and extras — not to mention the promise of more extras after its release, which was more than fulfilled with the steady release of new maps, modes and weapons up until just a couple of weeks before writing this. Plus, the resulting huge array of content offers something for everyone. And let’s not forget that Miiverse graffiti!
Leave it to Nintendo to, well, leave luck to heaven with a concept and make it into something wholly unique. Of course, you can make levels in Super Mario Maker. It’s in the name. But there’s the fact that any levels you upload must be played through beforehand. Not to mention the numerous event courses, unlockable content aplenty, four different level styles to choose from, a ridiculous amount of Easter eggs and hidden challenges, and levels that run the spectrum from “super easy” to “OH MY GOD! WHAT KIND OF SADIST MADE THIS?!” in difficulty. Try playing a round or several of 100-Man Mario, where you go through a randomly generated series of user-made courses in true Mario fashion with 100 lives, and you’ll see why Super Mario Maker puts just about any ROM hack level editor before it to shame.
- Xenoblade Chronicles X
Monolith Soft follows up the RPG so epic that it formed the campaign at the roots of this website, became one of the Wii’s most critically acclaimed and highly regarded titles, and ended up getting a Smash representative and a New 3DS remake. Xenoblade Chronicles X takes the ambition, combat and even the name from its groundbreaking predecessor and creates an adventure that is, at once, familiar and intimidating in scope. You cannot fathom just how huge Mira is until you really explore it on your own. The customization in Xenoblade Chronicles X is practically boundless, and although it occasionally takes a long time to get everything you need, the payoff is incredible. In short, Xenoblade Chronicles X is everything its already fantastic predecessor was and then some, with lush visuals, a great soundtrack, memorable characters, superb combat, and a vast world for you to explore.
A long-awaited platformer from the developer of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Yoshi’s Woolly World takes a similarly relaxing spin on the Yoshi’s Island formula. This hand-woven adventure pits Yoshi against the usual fearsome foes, Kamek and Bowser Jr., but in a world made of yarn. While Yoshi’s usual ground pound, flutter jump, and l-o-n-g tongue are all here too, he makes yarn balls instead of eggs. These can be used not only to trap enemies, but also to uncover secrets, open doors, create new platforms, you name it. Add the adorable amiibo skins to unlock, a mode called Mellow Mode for the kids and casual Yoshi fans in the house, and the fun co-op mode, and Yoshi’s Woolly World is another great Wii U platformer.
AND THE WINNER IS…
Xenoblade Chronicles X
The fact that this is the spiritual successor to the game that started it all makes this award come as no surprise. And yet, there’s much more to it than that. Rarely does a game improve on its namesake in pretty much every conceivable fashion and leave you hungry for more in its sheer spectacle. Well, here it is, in its seamless glory. Xenoblade Chronicles X is, to put it quite simply, excellent and then some. The game’s blend of old and new, Eastern and Western RPG styles, fantasy and science fiction, and so on is enchanting and thrilling. When speaking of Xenoblade Chronicles X, director Tetsuya Takahashi said that he finally achieved a long-held dream of his by creating a game where humans and robots coexist. With its award for Best Wii U Game, we here at oprainfall can say, without a doubt, that he has not only done that, but has made one of the Wii U’s crowning achievements in the process.
Up next are the top games on PlayStation home consoles. Here to present this award is contributor Tom Tolios.
BEST PSconsole GAME
2013: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
2014: Tales of Xillia 2
2014: AKIBA’S TRIP
TOM: From Software’s spiritual successor to the Dark Souls series traded in the methodical and patient fighting style of its forebears for more quick paced and aggressive fighting that rewarded offensive gameplay. They took our shields away and gave us a gun and the setting changed from bleak landscapes, gloomy forests and majestic palaces to the maudlin city of Yarnham with its gothic spires, paved roads, broken down coaches and roving mobs of citizens possessed of evil intentions. It’s an adventure of soul crushing proportions that is equal parts relief and exultation when you finally triumph over the challenges before you.
The irrepressible and comical strategy RPG returned in 2015 and it looked and played better than ever. Fans of the series know how deep the gameplay in Disgaea can be, and the fifth entry is no surprise in this regard. With colorful graphics, amusing characters, an absurdly entertaining story and nearly unlimited customization options, Disgaea 5 is the kind of game you could confidently sink hundreds of hours into and never lose your engagement with it. The tale of Killia’s revenge against the powerful conqueror Void Dark is compelling enough that you want to see how it all turns out, and with new gameplay features like Maougis, the revenge system, the fusion skills and all the new classes, Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is a pure delight to play.
A strategy RPG with an irresistible cast, this dark horse emerged from the pack to capture our hearts and attention in one fell swoop. On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be anything special about it, but once you start playing, it’s a delight to the senses and, hey, there’s actually a pretty darn good RPG here as well. The gameplay is something that most fans of Japanese games will be familiar with, but it’s all done in such a lively way, with bright colors, adorable characters and a simple interface that we can’t help but appreciate it for all the little things it does right.
Kirito and company are at it again, engaging in online adventures, battling monsters together and growing stronger as they face yet another challenge to their skills. The game manages to capture the essence of the light novel series upon which it’s based. It’s not an MMO but successfully simulates many of the social aspects of massively multiplayer online games that SAO is so good at examining. Features include offering the ability to recruit others to join your cause, MMO-style realtime combat and leveling and even dating simulation aspects because, well, you know that Kirito is popular with the ladies for reasons. RE: Hollow Fragment offers four player multiplayer via ad hoc, and while it’s an enhanced remake of a game from 2014, we feel it’s strong enough to merit consideration as the first game in the series to appear on the PlayStation 4.
AND THE WINNER IS…
There’s something to be said for a game that could very easily have been classified as Dark Souls Redux, given how much it has in common with that legendary series’ basic concepts and themes. All the more reason to give this game the award, as it captured the attention of PS4 owners worldwide, gave us gameplay that felt different enough that we can see Dark Souls’ DNA in it without feeling derivative, and an environment that is more claustrophobic, confining and intense while at the same time feeling so empty and isolated. And, in stark contrast to what we might have expected, actually managing to establish a feeling of empowerment due to its focus on speed, hit and run technique, dodging and scoring in as much offense in as short a time as possible, especially after taking damage when it’s imperative to recover valuable HP threshold.
The game also establishes itself as its own entity by putting you in a city that has just fell over the precipice and has tumbled into a dystopian collapse. The world design is nothing short of breathtaking, immediately evoking sympathy from players for having all the cathedral-like perfection of a gothic paradise that should have lasted for eternity but has gone horribly wrong. The story of Yharnam’s fall is happening around you, and you’re in the moment every step of the way. There’s an attention to detail in every object, every element, that has an almost visceral texture to it which pops off the display. And the best way to face it is straight on, with a nearly reckless degree of desperation, a markedly different thematic approach to what director Hidetaka Miyazaki established with the Dark Souls series. And somehow, he and the talented folks at From Software pull it off in grand fashion. So grand, in fact, that Bloodborne distinguishes itself as not only the best PlayStation game of 2015, but one of the best games on any platform in the last year. It’s a game good enough to buy a console for, a recommendation we don’t make lightly.
BloodborneClannadDisgaea 5: Alliance of VengeanceDungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Sealeiyuu senkiFinal Fantasy Type-0 HDGame of the YearGuilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-Halo 5: GuardiansHatsune Miku Project Mirai DXHer StoryHyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black HeartHyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 3: V GenerationMoe ChronicleMonster Hunter 4 UltimatePersona 4: Dancing All NightRare ReplayRise of the Tomb RaiderSenran Kagura 2: Deep CrimsonSplatoonSteins;GateStella GlowSuper Mario MakerSword Art Online RE: Hollow FragmentTales of ZestiriaThe Fruit of Grisaiathe legend of heroes trails in the sky scThe Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3DThe Witcher 3: Wild HuntUndertaleXenoblade Chronicles XYoshi's Woolly World