So this list will probably look weird to anyone who plays actual, legitimate video games, but this is my list and that makes it special, I suppose. To explain why my list is so unusual, I don’t own a PS4, Xbox One, or a viable gaming PC. Even though I missed out on a bunch of great games on those systems, and despite being the two worst selling video game consoles of this generation, the PS Vita and the Wii U had a bunch of good offerings in terms of the niche and the (relatively) mainstream market, making 2015 an exceptionally enjoyable of gaming for me.
Here are my 5 favorite games of 2015.
5. Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows (PS Vita)
While technically an expansion to an already excellent video game, anyone who has played Plague of Shadows will tell you that this adventure starring the pointy-beaked alchemist stands alone as a full, unique platforming experience. Yacht Club Games really went the extra mile with a reworked story and rearranged soundtrack centering around Plague Knight’s theme by composer Jake Kaufman.
Playing as Plague Knight completely changes how you play the game and running through the same stages that you had once mastered as Shovel Knight feels challenging, as you now zip through the halls using little chemical explosions and carpet bomb the poor enemies below.
4. Persona 4: Dancing All Night (PS Vita)
Atlus’s latest cash grab with the Persona 4 moniker (because the company has found a way to make one game into its own franchise) has me eating right out of their hands with Persona 4: Dancing All Night. Luckily, this game is jam-packed with songs both original and remixed, a surprisingly meaty story mode, and most importantly a plethora of costumes to unlock for our favorite investigators from Inaba.
The way the game incorporates the face buttons and the analog sticks to hit and flick to the beat, as well as various levels of difficulty with options to ramp it up if you so desire, proved challenging, but I definitely made sure to put the time in to add Persona 4: Dancing All Night to my platinum collection.
3. Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Seal (PS Vita)
Out of all of the games on this list, this was, oddly enough, the game I was excited for throughout the year as I counted the days leading up to its eventual release on August 18th. Beneath the veneer of fanservice lies an extraordinary dungeon crawler with an impressive class customization system.
Unlike a lot of dungeon RPGs with similar character variation and skill trees, the characters in Dungeon Travelers 2 all have unique personalities, are fully voiced, and contribute in different ways to the story. The plot may not be anything special, but these personal touches go a long way for me in creating an interesting world that feels lived in, which is important to me when I pour quite literally over a hundred hours into a game like Dungeon Travelers 2.
2. Super Mario Maker (Wii U)
While I was searching for a screenshot of this game to place into this article, every single image I came across looked engaging, interesting, and dynamic, and I think that’s very telling about the kind of game that Super Mario Maker aims to be. When I was little, I used to love drawing mazes on pieces of paper, complete with branching paths, the occasional pitfall, little critters, and Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions, and Super Mario Maker brings me back to relive those creative days gone by.
The ease of use with the Wii U’s gamepad, the unmatched quality of 2D Mario physics, and the sheer volume of level elements available make creating levels a breeze and playing them a blast, allowing imaginative (and sometimes diabolical) worlds to come to life. With a near infinite supply of 2D Mario levels at your fingertips in Super Mario Maker, I’d say that Mario’s 30th anniversary was a rousing success.
1. Splatoon (Wii U)
Out of every major video game genre, shooters have one of the highest barriers of entrance, and I’ve never really gotten into any of them, until now. Splatoon changes the rules to the playbook that so many games of the genre have relied on for well over a decade, focusing its efforts on making a game in which locomotion is not only its most important element but lends the game a slick feel that I personally have not experienced in any other similar game.
I can easily praise the fun game modes and how duck, reload, and sprint are all accomplished with the same button, but what really elevates Splatoon for me is the unparalleled control of its vibe. Everything from the vibrant color scheme, the jet-set teen attitude, and the uproarious music construct a world in which I can truly believe that there are squid kids who participate in inky turf wars, and with Splatoon‘s recent worldwide success, I can’t wait to see to what new heights Nintendo will take our new Inkling friends in the future.
Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (PS Vita)