End-of-year review/awards, 2015 edition!

Just like last year's awards this is more of a round-up of what I’ve been playing this year than a silly attempt to crown a single game better than all others within the past twelve-ish months, so expect some rambling and some rather, um, “informal” categories below. The main things to remember are that a game can only appear once, and that I have absolutely forgotten to include some incredible games.

With that out of the way, let’s get cracking!

RPG of the year: Shining Force CD. I’d waited a very long time to play this game and after all that time I was delighted to find the game was exactly what I wanted, which was more top-quality 16-bit Shining Force.

Also considered: Vagrant Story, Gu Jian Qi Tan 2. Both of these two are incredible RPGs that you could rightly argue were better games than Shining Force CD, the only sticking point is that Team Sonic’s SRPG is a game that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish, whereas the other two have “They’re amazing but…[Snowfly Forest, ridiculous system requirements]” caveats attached. I know in my heart it’s a rather simplistic SRPG but there was no “It’s fun but…” with Shining Force CD.

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Not-RPG of the year: Alien Soldier. Not even the bloody controls are straightforward, but once you’ve got the hang of things it really does set your [68000] heart on fire.

Also considered: Sin and Punishment 2. Absolutely beautiful to look at and filled with the sort of action people keep insisting doesn’t exist any more, the only thing that stopped it being Not-RPG of the Year was that it was up against one of the greatest games of all time.

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Actual 2015 release GOTY: Resident Evil Revelations 2. This deserved to be Resident Evil 6 really – a brilliant fusion of the old and the new that manages to be both nostalgic and inventive all at once. It’s also a massively “feminist” game too, and I’m shocked that it hasn’t been discussed in that light all year.

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Disappointment of the year:Nanashi no Game series. As this “award” suggests, they’re not the worst games I’ve played in 2015 (that would be Blue Stinger), but they’re definitely the ones that had the potential to be really good and somehow still managed to stuff it all up.

Also considered: Corpse Party: Book of Shadows. Resident Evil 0. Both of these can be filed under “Substandard games that ignore everything that made the previous ones so good”, with Book of Shadows doing a “better” job of screwing things up than RE0.

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Life-changing realisations of 2015: Metal Gear Solid 2 is the best Metal Gear Solid game. I really did beat Alien Soldier without dying. That’s a bit weird.

Best things to have happened this year: You lot being so lovely and supportive. I know it sounds terribly corny and insincere but honestly; the way you all take an interest in what I’m doing here and help me run this place makes a huge difference to me and I hope I show enough gratitude for the things you do for me.

Games that made me think “Bloody hell, I love this hobby”: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, Dino Crisis 3. Heavensward had the unenviable task of following up what is probably the greatest turnaround in human history, and it’s incredible that they pulled it off with such style and confidence. It’s also so very “Final Fantasy” it’s a crying shame some RPG fans can’t or won’t touch it due to the always-online bit of the game. Dino Crisis 3 has a space zombie T-Rex made by a nutty computer called Mother that shoots lightning.

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Overall  game of the year: Here’s the big one! It’s… Lost Planet 2. No, E.X. Troopers. Wait – it has to be Dino Crisis 2. E.X. Crisis 2? They’re all three sides of the same coin, really. One of them has you fighting a giant alien spacesandworm (any resemblance to anything from Dune is entirely coincidental) on a giant train. Another has a tank battle against a one-eyed T-Rex. The other has possibly the most exciting and uplifting final boss battle ever. What binds them together is that they’re all completely insane in the best 80’s-arcade-intro-text kind of way, and that all they really want is for you to have a brilliant time playing a fine action title. The good news here is that two out of the three are available in English, and all of them are pretty cheap and easy to find!

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For me 2015’s been a great year for getting through a lot of classics I’d always meant to play but hadn’t found the time to, and beating into submission a few that I never thought I could (oh and inflicting completely nutty Resident Evil manhua on everybody!). Here’s hoping the next twelve months are just as exciting as the last!