It was the best of years, it was the worst of years, it was the epoch of fanboys, it was the epoch of haters, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the summer of despair—in short, 2016 was pretty good and pretty bad. KekRaptor had a wild ride through it all, and now it is with my great pleasure to announce the winners of the 23rd Annual Kekkies Awards!

As you can see, this year was okay. There should be some good awards, some bad awards. As always, you can expect some surprises, like Final Fantasy VII somehow stealing the Best Final Fantasy Game Award in the 4th Annual Kekkies from Final Fantasy VI, who took away that unique award in the first ever Kekkies in 1995 (and, I mean, how did Final Fantasy IX not take it later?), or the fact that Electronic Arts now has some competition as the Worst Video Game Company with the rise of Ubisoft.  Then there’s the not so much surprises, like Half-Life 2: Episode Two taking home the Can’t Wait for the Sequel Award in the 14th Annual Kekkies (and every subsequent year) and Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) taking home the Most Influential Game of All Time Award in the 13th Annual Kekkies.

Will this year be full of surprises or full of not so much surprises? That’s for you to judge.

Without further ado, here are the awards!

The Triple H Award (for exceptional ability to ignore one’s own shortcomings and flaws) – Valve

Valve Logo

By Shaun Joy

While it may be unusual to see a wrestler being the figurehead for a gaming award, there is no better symbol for the ability to bury his/her competition then the man known as Hunter Hurst Helmsley. Symbolized by a golden shovel, it’s given to the company that exemplifies the ability to ignore its own shortcomings and flaws and help pass over really talented individuals in the process. And this year, there was no better company at doing that than Valve, who reached record numbers in games released. In fact, it set records, with a whopping 40% of its available library coming out in 2016. It takes sheer determination and will to allow everything on your platform. And it played a huge part in burying the great games such as VA-11 HALL-A, Furi, and Enigma among the asset flips, games that literally can’t run when they release, and of course, Farnham Fables. And don’t expect that to change any time soon, as Valve has taken a firm stance on their platform allowing as much choice for the consumer as possible via Reddit AMAs, even if the user can’t see the shining diamonds among the shit … So, rest assured, you’ll probably see them back here in 2017 as well; what else are they going to do? Make a game? Ha. You’re funny.

Best Experimental Game Award (the best game that bucked trends and expectations) – Battleborn


By Alex Santa Maria

Gearbox is a successful developer of video games, reaching the current peak of their success with the Borderlands franchise. Having reached the top of the mountain, the team decided that their future success had to come from plumbing new depths in game marketing. So it was that Battleborn was created, an experiment in just how small a game’s profile can be despite a AAA budget and a decent marketing push. By expertly timing every beta and press release to be overshadowed by other events and competitor’s games, Battleborn stayed under the radar. It failed to gain an audience despite having trendy hobby-grade mechanics and the same amazing humor that made Borderlands such a hit with gamers worldwide. It snuffed out interest in the title by refusing to go free to play after launch despite rumors that were gaining positive buzz. It even found a way to subvert Rule 34 to its own twisted means via suspicious Reddit posts.

Truly, the team at Gearbox deserve praise for their efforts. Battleborn is living proof that hidden gems aren’t just the realm of indie games. Despite being a well-received game critically and having all the pieces for success, Gearbox snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with this one.

Can’t Wait for the Sequel Award – Half-Life 2: Episode 2

half life 2 episode 2

We hope that if we list this as the third award it will help.

Please Valve, we even listed your real award first.

Game That Could Benefit the Most From More Kanye West on the Soundtrack Award – All of Them

kanye west

By Samuel Googliuglielmo

When it comes to musical geniuses in the world there’s only two: Mamoru Samuragochi and Kanye West. Unfortunately, while Kanye has graced many genres with his music, video games still need more Kanye. Ever since that year at E3 when both Saints Row: The Third and Forza Motorsport 4 used Power in their trailers I realized that Kanye made everything better.

Just imagine it. If Uncharted 4 had a soundtrack full of Kanye, it would be so much better. Gone would be the annoying strings and in its place would be Kanye’s master hit Gold Digger while Nathan Drake literally digs for gold. It’s such a fantastic fit that I can’t believe Naughty Dog didn’t think of it themselves.

Or what about if I Am a God played on loop in Civilization VI? It would perfectly capture the player’s mood as they command their various troops around the world. The second half of the song, when Kanye starts screaming endlessly, perfectly echos the player when Gandhi starts launching nukes.

Even artsy fartsy indie games like Night in the Woods could benefit from this Kanye Best idea. Gregg should be rocking out to Kanye’s classic hit No Church in the Wild. It’d even serve as a great point of irony as the game clearly takes place in the wild since all the characters are animals and there’s a church in the game. Just hit me up now indie developers, all this symbolism could be yours for free.

Every game needs more Kanye. When an FPS puts you to the Kanye Test, then the banging drums of Black Skinhead can accompany your fight. Every time you level up in an RPG, then a sample of Stronger should play to accompany this. When you finally go back to your Kanye Nest to rest and relax, then we should be greeted with Real Friends as you need some real friends at your pad to relax at.

What I’m saying is we need more Kanye West, not Kanye Less.

Best Addition to an Established Franchise Award (for excellence in improving pre-existing design and themes) – Metroid Prime: Federation Force

metroid prime federation force

By Shaun Joy

Look, let’s be honest, everyone was sick of the Metroid formula at this point. It’s not like there has been fans claiming for another game of the Super Metroid era or even a new game in the Prime series. It’s not like the fans have been showing their support via fan projects that really did a great job of capturing the essence of the genre. And look, you play Zero Suit Samus once in a while in Super Smash Brothers for the Wii U, so Nintendo realized that its got to do something to keep her relevant. So Nintendo did the next best thing: make a game that took the franchise and completely removed the elements that made it unique in the first place. It’s a bold move by Nintendo not using Samus as the main protagonist, as having a game that has generic soldiers having nothing to do with the bounty hunter in any way would be called a cash-in on the name of the franchise for no good reason. But Nintendo wasn’t afraid of that and posted a bold new future for the Metroid franchise: generic space marines. Because hey, people already worship Master Chief and Samus anyway, so why not just go the space marine route going forward?

Golden Dunce Cap Award of Smartness

golden dunce cap award smartness

By Anson Chan

They say that there are no new ideas under the sun, but in the gaming industry, that’s not necessarily true. Occasionally, someone, somewhere, somehow gets a really good idea and decides to act on it, common sense be damned. It is this apparent impulsiveness that gave birth to many of the most memorable features of gaming, dating all the way back to the founding of video games with Halo CE’s “God Pistol.” Today, developers and publishers from around the world stretch their creative juices in an attempt to outdo each other, and we here at TechRaptor strive to honor the most creative of them all with the Golden Dunce Cap award of Smartness.

With 2016 being as eventful as it was however, we can’t possibly mention all of the moments where someone had a wonderful idea and implemented it, so here are the most memorable of the bunch:

  • Polygon decides to release their MLG speedrun tier review footage of DOOM
  • Ubisoft enters their Golden Age with the release of The Division, thanks to their ability to listen to their community
  • Digital Homicide sues everyone on the planet to create a planetary safe space 

While it is hard to find a winner among such excellent contenders, only one will get the coveted Golden Dunce Cap award of Smartness for their ingenuity and creativity in the advancement of video games, so without further ado, the winner of the award is:

Digital Homicide, for standing up to the Man (i.e. Steam) and suing them out of existence

There are good developers, there are creative developers, but no other developer out there is as courageous as Digital Homicide for suing the pants off of Gabe Newell and the Internet itself. Everyone thought that Valve would win, given their infinite legal funds, but Digital Homicide sure showed them with an incredible legal move known as “committing corporate suicide.” In just a matter of months, Steam went from effectively cornering the PC gaming market to still cornering the PC gaming market as Digital Homicide won what might be the most historical court case since that one time where someone tried to sue a dry cleaning business for $67 million over a pair of pants. To this day, Digital Homicide’s legal tactics are considered legendary, obliterating not only Steam’s grasp over their business, but also the public’s ability to make fun of them and their “games.”

Best Community Game Award (for exceptional ability to create and foster a community) – No Man’s Sky

No Mans Sky Logo

By Don Parsons

No Man’s Sky wins the award because no game got people as involved in examining everything about it. It even got a lot of people who didn’t own the game to talk and complain about it. Players spent hours working through the deep meta-narrative of No Man’s Sky and what was in the game, talking and working things out on what was actually in the game and what Sean Murray had promised. Players worked hours upon hours to discover they couldn’t actually meet in-game, and then worked in feverish fashion to create high-quality videos discussing what was and was not in the game. They discussed the deeper meaning of it all. Was No Man’s Sky just a metaphor for life? Whatever you keep on searching for is actually nothing and you just have to start again? Was the tedium and repetitiveness (and disappointment) just a reflection of daily life? Much discussion was had and continues to grow. There’s no doubt we can say that No Man’s Sky was truly a community building and multiplayer activity.

Best Augmented Reality Experience Award (for exceptional immersion design in AR) – Pokemon GO

Pokemon Go

By Robert N Adams

Pokemon GO was the game that Pokemon fans had been waiting for since they were kids. Not only does it succeed at the level of game mechanics, it succeeds on a meta level. Niantic had a difficult task ahead of them; how could they possibly capture the brutally capitalistic and often dangerous experience of traveling around the world hunting for adorable monsters to brutalize? And yet they managed it. Charging money for Poke Balls was a stroke of genius that really makes players feel like they are being shaken down for money at your local Poke Mart. The placement of Poke Stops in seemingly random locations also adds a lot of immersion to the game; at any moment, you could find yourself in a bad neighborhood assailed by the real-life equivalent of Team Rocket! Legendary Pokemon are but whispers in the darkness, so much so that people wonder if they even exist—yet another element of the series that they’ve nailed perfectly. The upcoming trade feature will be sure to let people experience the real world equivalent of Wonder Trade where everyone wants your Mewtwo for their Level 17 Rattata. And, of course, the threat of Team Rocket will loom once again as vulnerable kids are sure to have their entire collection cleared out by the school bully in no time flat. My only contention is the lack of an in-app purchase for a bicycle, but I’m sure that Niantic is working on a partnership with a biking company as we speak. Truly, Niantic have done an excellent job of capturing what it is like to live in the world of Pokemon.

Best Solid Snake Impression Award (for exceptional ability to hide from the masses) – Sean Murray

sean murray colbert

One minute on national television … vanished the next.

By Shaun Joy

Sometimes it takes a real master to be able to hide from the masses for so long, after getting the attention of hundreds of thousands of angry people. After the release of No Man’s Sky to a very active and vocal community (and award-winning!), there was growing concern that the masters of the No Man’s Sky universe would give into pressure and finally answer questions about the game they had worked so long and hard on. But like the infamous Solid Snake, Sean Murray showed his ability to disappear into the night without clarifying anything to the world, disappearing for well over three months without being detected by the gaming community at large. Legends have been told about his exploits in the offices and the skill he had dodging the simplest of questions, and there’s an infamous copy box that he has rumored to have walked around in over the mantle of Hello Games Entrance.

Best Series Reboot (for excellence in bringing an existing game to the modern era) – RollerCoaster Tycoon World

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By Don Parsons

The necromancy experts at Atari have done it again with RollerCoaster Tycoon World. Much like 2015’s Alone in the Dark: Illumination, Atari found a team of developers willing to work on a classic IP to create a different spin on the game for people to try out. While Alone in the Dark: Illumination took its IP to co-op shooting, RollerCoaster Tycoon World took its IP to avant-garde storytelling on the insanity of the world and mankind. Few games are willing to make the brave choice to show how unsettling and unreliable the world is like RollerCoaster Tycoon World in a way that doesn’t just scream horror; instead, the unnerving feeling descended into the player slowly, horror creeping into their senses until it was too late.

Golden Hindenburg Award of Incredible Potential

golden hindenburg award

By Anson Chan

Every once in a while, a game or some other piece of hardware comes out, promising to revolutionize entertainment as we know it. Of course, such promises tend to be exaggerations made up by some marketing guy somewhere, but occasionally, it is actually true. Games like E.T. and Superman 64 pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible for a video game, while devices like the Power Glove and 3D TV have transcended into legend for their innovative, consumer-friendly features.

With the annual Golden Hindenburg Award of Incredible Potential, we here at TechRaptor seek to honor the bestest of these games and devices, highlighting the ways in which they have changed not only the lives of couch potatoes around the world today, but also the ways that they will continue to do so in the future. And so, without further ado, here are the nominees for the 2016 Golden Hindenburg Award of Incredible Potential:

  • Pokemon Go – for spawning a whole industry of Pokemon Go related services
  • The Oculus Rift and Virtual Reality gaming – for making $1000 breadboxes the next big fashion accesory
  • No Man’s Sky – for creating such an immersive virtual galaxy that it inspired the creation of NASA

As is the case every year, finding a winner among such a sea of winners was difficult, but ultimately, the Golden Hindenburg Award of Incredible Potential goes to:

Pokemon Go

While No Man’s Sky will be immortalized for being the video game that perfectly simulated the vast emptiness of space long before man reached the stars themselves and the Oculus Rift will forever be remembered as the thing that led to VR headsets replacing TVs across the world overnight, the rise of Pokemon Go led to a veritable Golden Age for the video game industry. People started to leave their houses and see the sun for the first time in forever (and willingly too) to play a game, which led to an endless torrent of social media posts about meeting new people and seeing new places and whatnot; that people above the age of 40 heard of the game is proof of Pokemon Go’s incredible success.

Soon after, business based some of their advertising around their location’s usefulness in Pokemon Go; the game became so influential that it was even featured in Apple’s historic “Courage” presentation, being shown off alongside such affordable things as Airpods and the Apple Watch 2. Needless to say, with such a strong following and a whole host of fan made websites and apps revolving around Pokemon Go that Niantic would totally never shut down, Pokemon Go may very well be the game to end all games, finally bridging the gap between real and virtual life in a way that even the Witcher 3, for all of its greatness, could not accomplish.

Most Objectively Best Game of All Time Award (for the most objectively best game of all time) – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

the witcher 3 blood and wine

By Sam Gugliooglielmo

Who cares about all the other games that came out in 2016? An expansion for The Witcher 3 came out, which means it still qualifies for objectively best game of all time. No other game was even objectively good in 2016. No Man’s Sky? More like No Man’s Buy because no one should buy that when there’s Witcher 3, and only idiots would enjoy No Man’s Sky. Uncharted 4? More like Unfarted 4 because Nathan Drake isn’t even as cool as Geralt of Rivia who is the only hero in any video game who’s deep and well-crafted. Doom? More like Doomed because Witcher 3 provided the best gameplay that video games have ever seen, and it made a real world with the best side quests and characters. No other game can ever be objectively as good as Witcher 3, and those developers in Poland are the only true gamers in the game industry left. It’s not art, its better than art because not even art is as good as The Witcher 3. Oh god I love Witcher 3 so much; it’s so objectively good; no video game can ever be this good; why doesn’t Geralt love me back; why doesn’t CD Perfect Red respond to my e-mails; oh god where is my wife; who are these people coming to take my house; what has my life become.

What did we get right? What did we get wrong?

Andrew Otton

Editor in Chief

Editor in Chief at TechRaptor. Lover of some things, a not so much lover of other things.