By Steve Baltimore / January 27th, 2017
2012: Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)
2013: Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)
2014: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
2015: Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)
2016 was another incredible year in gaming. If you’ve been following our awards this far you know that each nominee was well deserving, and with so many great games to choose from picking winners was a challenge in and of itself. This is why when it came time choose our “Game of the Year” it was a real struggle for all of our staff, but there can only be one winner. Let’s find out which title came out on top!
Megadimenson Neptunia V-II
NA Release Date: February 2, 2016
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Steam
This is by far the best entry into the Neptunia franchise and this shows just how far the series has come in such a short time. It is a credit to Idea Factory that they have listened to player feedback over the years and have created a truly magical franchise. Megadimension Neptunia V-II shines with its over-the-top storytelling, great characters, and amazing gameplay. While this one may not ever be popular with mainstream critics this series has certainly found its way into the hearts of our staff and tons of fans from around the world.
Final Fantasy XV
NA Release Date: November 29, 2016
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One
It may have taken Square Enix a long time to cook up Final Fantasy XV but it was worth the wait it seems. The fast-paced combat and more open world seem to be a welcome addition to the series based on fan reaction. While some were disappointed Square Enix moved away from a traditional JRPG, I don’t think anyone can argue that Final Fantasy XV isn’t a well-designed game with an incredible world to explore. Throw in some interesting characters and a bad ass car, and this is one road trip worth taking.
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse
NA Release Date: September 20, 2016
A follow up to the amazing Shin Megami Tensei IV this title not only expands on its predecessor’s already amazing story and setting but it actually improves it. Featuring an all new cast of witty teens out to save the world, a revamped combat system, and yet another 100 hours of JRPG goodness there’s no wonder our staff picked this as one of our best games of 2016.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II
Best PlayStation Exclusive
NA Release Date: September 6, 2016
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, PlayStation TV, PlayStation Vita
The direct follow-up to last year’s amazing JRPG The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. This 2nd chapter only makes this gaming masterpiece even better. This series has won extremely high acclaim from critics and fans alike for its amazing storytelling, solid gameplay, and a fantastic soundtrack. I mean it’s a Falcom OST, so you know its top tier. XSEED Games has done a wonderful job localizing this series, and their hard work is a win for JRPG fans in West!
BlazBlue Central Fiction
NA Release Date: November 1, 2016
Platform(s): Arcade, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
The BlazBlue series is known for its amazing fighting engine and sometimes confusing yet epic story. With this entry, Ranga’s story arc has finally come to a close and it was one hell of a journey. The game is packed with tons of story content and tons of other extras for the player to explore. They say sometimes you save the best for last, and that is certainly true for the BlazBlue series as this is the best entry in the series to date, and one of the best fighting games of this generation
Best Nintendo Exclusive
NA Release Date: November 18, 2016
Pokemon fans have been asking for more story in these games for quite a while now. Nintendo listened to the fans and that is exactly what they got in Pokemon Sun and Moon. Not only was the story more fleshed out, the characters and villains were given a major upgrade as well. Add in a whole new region with new Pokemon, new evolutions, and special moves and it’s no wonder fans and our staff alike consider this a test of island courage worth taking.
VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action
NA Release Date: June 21, 2016
A very unique Bartender simulator set in a Cyberpunk world. What makes this game so unique is that the story changes based on what drinks you serve certain characters. This encourages you to learn more about them in order to get the most out of this very creative indie title. It may require a little trial and error and some creative thinking but this is a one of a kind experience that shouldn’t be missed by anyone.
Best Story & Best Design
NA Release Date: July 14, 2016
Platform(s): PC, Steam
Despite having been released originally in 2003, Muv-Luv, like most good Visual Novels, has stood the test time and was beloved by our staff. While many of the tropes it uses are commonplace these days, there’s still something quite satisfying about watching the story unfold. In Muv-Luv Extra, we see Takeru dealing with the craziness that Meiya’s arrival brings to his everyday life and we see how he grows close to this group of girls he inevitably finds himself surrounded by. These happy slice-of-life moments are then contrasted in Muv-Luv Unlimited where Takeru now has to fight not only to survive but to help save the human race, all while trying to figure out his place among alternate universe versions of his friends who don’t know him. Yes, it might be more than 10 years old, but much like the current renaissance occurring with Sailor Moon, many of us are discovering Muv-Luv for the first time and learning to “Save in the Name of True Love”.
And the winner of oprainfall’s Game of the Year for 2016 is:
Megadimension Neptunia V-II!
Picking a “Game of the Year” is no easy feat. That title means different things to different people. Is it the most technically sound game? The one that improved the most? The one that told the best story? Or the one that was the most memorable? No two people will internally judge something the same way, which makes trying to get a group of people to agree on what one title out of eight was the best, a monumental task. And yet somehow we did it on the first vote… just barely.
In what would be by the thinnest of margins, BlazBlue Central Fiction, Muv-Luv, Pokemon Sun & Moon, and VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action ended up in a four-way tie for fifth. Final Fantasy XV, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocolypse, and The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II all tied for second place. Megadimension Neptunia V-II took the crown by a single vote. It just goes to show you how many good titles came out last year and how diverse our tastes as gamers are. But why did Neptunia pull it off and even beat out the titans that were Final Fantasy, Shin Megami Tensei, and The Legend of Heroes? If I had to take a guess, it comes down to those questions I posed at the start of this summary. Megadimension Neptunia V-II has an answer to each.
The game took advantage of the PlayStation 4’s hardware to produce a technically sound game. It improved and greatly expanded upon Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory and the other Neptunia games that had come before it. It told its story through three separate arcs which were essentially smaller games themselves. And finally, it was a game that stuck with you due to its memorable cast and story.
Megadimension Neptunia V-II was the game that introduced us to Uzume Tennouboshi. The last remaining CPU of the Zero Dimension who stood alone against the evil that destroyed her entire world in the “Z” arc. It introduced the Gold Third, who challenged the CPU’s… and won. Necessitating our heroes to split up and reclaim their lands as part of the “G” arc. This all leads into the final third of the game where Neptune and the other CPUs must band together to try and uncover the truth behind the Zero Dimension and decide the fate of two worlds in the “H” arc. While certainly a more serious tale than previous Neptunia entries (the conquest ending of MK2 notwithstanding) it’s still aided by the franchise’s usual sense of humor and lightheartedness to ease the tension and prevent it from being just another dark JRPG. Which is where a lot of the franchise’s charm lies. For these reasons, Megadimension Neptunia V-II is worthy of the title “Game of the Year”.
Regardless of whether Megadimension Neptunia V-II was your game of the year or not, I think we can all agree that 2016 was an amazingly diverse year for the niche gamer. Here’s to 2017 hopefully being even better.
Muv-Luv and Winner’s section contributed by Benny Carrillo
20172017 AwardsBlazblue: Central FictionFinal FantasyMegadimension Neptunia VIImuv-luvOperation RainfalloprainfallOpRainfall AwardsOprainfall game awardsPokémonShin Megami TenseiVA-11 Hall-A