It’s finally starting to feel as though the newest generation is getting a decent library, and with the renewed emphasis on obtaining console exclusives, the choice in console is becoming more important. The Xbox One finally saw its real Halo game and the Wii U had a great year in exclusive games from a wide variety of genres. Whatever your choice of console may be, 2015 should have been a pretty good year. Here’s what we believe were the best of the year.
This category sees our one and only tie for first place among our awards, with other games not too far behind either. It was a pretty good year for exclusives. Here’s a reminder of what our nominees were (find out how we chose our nominees here):
- Xenoblade Chronicles X
- Halo 5
- Super Mario Maker
- Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
3rd Place – Splatoon
By Robert Grosso
Nintendo has finally opened a door to multiplayer, and in true Nintendo style, it is stylish, addicting and an absolute blast to play. Coming in as a small fish in a pond filled with sharks, Splatoon had a lot riding on it being the new kid on the Nintendo block. When your family history includes some of the most famous characters in video games, many were concerned that Splatoon would simply not have what it takes to be a success, but it certainly was able to live up to its reputation as being one of the best multiplayer games around this year, even if it was only on the Wii U.
That goodwill will make Splatoon go far, and credit where its due for Nintendo going out of their comfort zone a bit in making something unique. A multiplayer game that can stand up against the Call of Duty crowd is notable indeed; and for Wii U players, it is probably one of the few multiplayer outlets they have, outside of Smash Bros at least.
What makes Splatoon so notable, though, is how it showcases Nintendo’s strengths as a major developer: the ability to innovate. Multiplayer deathmatch is a dime a dozen now a days, but Nintendo was able to find a way to take that concept and not only make it fresh again, but innovate it further through gameplay and presentation. That is no easy task, as Splatoon has a lot of competition, mostly on other consoles and PC rigs, but to even surpass many of those multiplayer-focused titles in terms of sheer enjoyment is a great achievement.
(Tie) Winner – Super Mario Maker
By Alex Santa Maria
I tend to shake my head at most things Nintendo produces in the gaming sphere, especially considering how much their virtual output has been overshadowed by their growing toy business and their mobile dealings. However, Nintendo still has that magic, and every once and a while they remind you of the powerhouse they still are. Mario Maker made me buy a Wii U, and I haven’t regretted it one bit despite having no interest in most other games on the system. The promise of infinite Mario levels to play and an easy to use level editor to toy around with was fulfilled.
Not only did Nintendo recreate the majority of gameplay elements from three of the best platformers of all time in this editor, they had fun with it in a very un-Nintendo fashion. Enemies show up in games they were not designed for, new background music accompanies and sprites accompany weird level combinations like Mario 1 airships and Mario 3 ghost houses. Even better, Nintendo has kept updating the game with new content, including a few elements created specifically for Mario Maker. This is a dream come true for someone who grew up with this stuff, and the fact that kids today will gain an appreciation for Mario Bros. in its classic form is just icing on the cake.
(Tie) Winner – Bloodborne
By Matthew Byrd
At a time when the cost of video games makes exclusives that much more elusive, Sony pulled one of the greatest coups of the current console generation by convincing developer FromSoftware to work their magic on something just for the PS4. Of course, considering that the team’s previous efforts had generated quite the cult following, the pressure was on FromSoftware to create something that not only lived up to their legacy, but would have their loyal fan base buying the PS4 in droves.
In Bloodborne, that is just what we got. While the basic elements that made FromSoftware’s Dark Souls series a global hit are all in play in Bloodborne, it would be purely cynical to call the game derivative. Instead, Bloodborne bears all the qualities of a passion project. Its gothic environment was clearly the work of a designer that grew up fawning over the Hammer horror films of the 60s, and the gameplay feels like something the team wanted to do in the Dark Souls series, but perhaps feared it would deviate too much from that game’s formula.
Even those that never considered themselves fans of FromSoftware’s particular style found that the near universal acclaim for Bloodborne, along with its stunning beauty, made the temptation of owning a PS4 difficult to ignore in 2015. In the industry, that’s what we call a system seller.
Readers’ Choice – Bloodborne
The only real shame about Bloodborne, and any other game mentioned for that matter, is the fact that it is exclusive to one console. Such great games should be celebrated by all! In any case, our readers who own a Playstation 4, as well as our staff members, were very impressed by FromSoftware’s newest game.
What are some other exclusives out there that missed out on a mention? Would you give the award to Bloodborne?