By Jeff Neuenschwander / February 7th, 2016
The 3DS and PS Vita categories consistently bring out some of the best quality in these awards, with winners not only beating out tough fields for an award but being legitimate top games of the year. To present these categories, we have Managers Josh Speer and Justin Guillou.
BEST 3DS GAME
2012: Kid Icarus: Uprising
2013: Fire Emblem: Awakening
2014: Bravely Default
JOSH: It’s a heady sensation going into the oprainfall Awards, as there is usually no small amount of passionate debate over what should and shouldn’t win. We’re a diverse bunch here, so it stands to reason that sometimes unexpected games take the gold, usually by an incredibly small percentile. Though there are just as many categories this year as the last, I tried to stick to one where I had played or was familiar with the vast majority of contenders. Thus, I am writing up the category of Best 3DS game. I spent a lot of time playing my 3DS this year (at least when my Vita allowed me to) and there were a lot of great games released. Our contenders this year range the gamut from remake to sequel to completely new IP, and there’s truly something for everyone. I will list them in alphabetical order, followed by the big winner for 2015!
I honestly am not sure why I haven’t gotten into this franchise yet. I love music rhythm games, find anime style entertaining, and am constantly looking for new time sinks to play. Despite all that, I have yet to play any of the Hatsune Miku games, though I do own the first one thanks to a PSN Flash sale. I was very surprised to find a 3DS exclusive version of the game in Project Mirai DX, but based off our review, it looks like a very solid and fun entry. I’m honestly surprised it made it as a nominee, but am glad it serves to round out the other choices. The question is, was this adorable rhythm game capable of taking first place?
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D
Oh Majora’s Mask. There’s something compelling about you, even though I hate the time-based mechanic you introduced to the series. Maybe it’s the dark and sinister vibe or the cool mask transformations, but Majora’s Mask has always caused great conflict in me. I want to get into it, and fully intended to play the 3DS remake, but inexplicably decided to wait for a sale. I’m still waiting, mind you, but I’ve seen enough videos and read enough about the game that I’m 99% convinced I’ll eventually bite the bullet and see what all the hype is about. I’ve certainly enjoyed most of the other Legend of Zelda games, and feel I might truly love Majora after getting past my misgivings. But will Skull Kid be able to draw the Zelda fandom at oprainfall to winning it all?
- Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
While Majora’s Mask is a game I have every intention of finally getting into, the Monster Hunter series has very little appeal for me. Sure, I like giant monsters as much as the next guy, but I also like having some motivation for why I’m rushing out to murder them, turn their carcass into items and rinsing and repeating. Luckily for Capcom, many other gamers absolutely adore this series, and the fanbase has only grown after they brought it over to the West. Maybe I’m just missing out, but the way I see it, I’m saving money. We’ll just have to wait and see if the rest of the voters felt the same way…
If there is one new series I have grown to absolutely love in the past couple years, it’s definitely the Senran Kagura series. Once you get past any silly aversion to the life and hometown focus, there’s actually a really well thought up plot in each game, full of complex, funny and crazy characters. I certainly loved the original 3DS outing for the series, but was a bit thrown off by the control switch to 3D once they made their move to Vita and PS4. Luckily, Deep Crimson brought things a bit more back to basics, as well as introducing fun new mechanics and characters. Frankly, I’d be shocked if this doesn’t win, given how much love oprainfall has for this fantastic series.
Stella Glow was the most pleasant surprise I got on the 3DS this year. While typically most RPGs make their way to non-Nintendo consoles, Stella Glow was an exclusive. Not only that, but it was the last game made by Imageepoch, who I still love for the fantastic Luminous Arc series. This was a fantastic swan song for them, and had everything I want from RPGs — great characters, good humor, an intriguing battle system and great replay value. If it was just up to me, this probably would have won for Best 3DS game, but alas, democracy must say it.
AND THE THREE DIMENSIONAL WINNER IS…
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
…I’m not entirely sure how this happened, but the numbers don’t lie! Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate reigns supreme. Maybe one of those giant beasts ate all the competition and pooped it out? I’m not sure, but the Monster Hunter fandom must be stronger at oprainfall than I thought. Regardless, lots of great games were nominated this year, and next year should be even crazier, with games like Fire Emblem: Fates, Project X Zone 2 and Bravely Second stepping into the ring. It’s sure to be a fun 3DS final.
BEST PS VITA GAME
2012: Persona 4 Golden
2014: Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus
JUSTIN: 2015 was an interesting year. Some complained that there were not enough quality AAA titles out there, while others will argue that there were plenty. It is safe to say that there were a lot of polarizing sequels to popular games coming out, but if you were adventurous and looked beyond the so called “Mainstream” hits you will find that there were a great amount of hidden gems released last year. The PlayStation Vita is a goldmine when it comes to this stuff and there are a lot of titles here that are not the typical stuff people play. It’s not a matter of whether or not a game is niche, but whether or not these games achieve the kind of quality that we are craving for on handhelds. So let’s kick this off! First we need some music:
Project Diva + Shogi Meguro music + Persona 4 = good game. Persona 4: Dancing All night was insanely addicting with several characters a solid selection of songs and remixes and lots of voice acting. I spent a lot of hours playing this once and got the Platinum trophy. This was time well spent!
- Moe Chronicle
This is a cool dungeon crawler that unfortunately did not get a physical release over here, but those of you willing to import are enjoying your nice Asian copies. In case you didn’t know these copies have English text in them. So this is a dungeon crawler through and through. Lots of cool artwork, grinding and looting to be done here.
The Neptunia series has really evolved into something else. Quite frankly I don’t think too many people expected it after how the first game came out. Noire is a spin-off featuring the titular character and an all new cast. This time, the game plays like an SRPG so now you and your new friends can go on all sorts of crazy schenanigans. Also, lots of kissing….on the cheek. Do not get too excited, they are just friends!
This is yet another dungeon crawler because the Vita sure loves those kind of games. And you know what? A lot of us like them too. Be on your toes as you start playing this game, though. Seriously, even the very first encounter can be a legitimate threat to you. And do not be off put by the sometimes cutesy monster designs as they will truly tear you a new one if you are not careful…though I’m sure some of you like that.
El PSY GONGROO. If you know what that phrase means you don’t need to read any more of this as you already know what’s up. To the rest of you, this is a fantastic visual novel with memorable characters and a really touching story. Of course I won’t spoil it, but it is a title you should definitely experience. At the very least check out the Anime.
AND THE WINNER…
…OF THE BEST PS VITA GAME CATEGORY…
Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Seal
Atlus has given us a truly hardcore dungeon crawler that will test your skills as soon as you start. Truly deserving of our Best PS Vita Game award.
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