2016 has been a great year for gaming… if you were a Nintendo fan. We got nothing but fantastic titles all year, save for one very notable disappointment. Despite owning an Xbox One since the beginning of the year, I really haven’t played it much at all in comparison to my Wii U and 3DS, which saw near constant action.
I wanted to wait until Shantae came out to make the list, but Amazon just let me know that the game isn’t getting to my place until the 29th. Due to all the delays I’ve had to endure, I’ve decided to disqualify it outright. After all, I can’t praise a game I haven’t played, and it’s coming out so late in the year that I won’t have time to finish it before the year ends.
Also, from what I understand, it’s not as good as the last one anyway, which is very disappointing. I imagine I won’t be happy with the game even when I do get around to playing it.
Speaking of other disqualified titles, NO REMAKES OR REMASTERS. As much as I loved TPHD, Dead Rising, and Dragon Quest VII, I could have easily gotten those on other platforms. In the case of Twilight Princess, I already owned it. Although 100% that game was an absolute treat, it’s not GOTY material for that reason alone.
So what games did make the cut?
10. Project X Zone 2
Never in my life have I felt so conflicted over a game.
On one hand, HOLY SHIT. Look at all these famous (And obscure!) characters interacting with each other! … But the gameplay is repetitive and boring. BUT LOOK, PHOENIX WRIGHT! … But he’s just a support character… THAT JOKE WAS HILARIOUS… But now I have to get through another level to see the next bit of dialogue.
When the game is at it’s best, it’s using ridiculous exposition to justify how all of these characters can coexist and fight together. The game is at it’s absolute WORST when you actually have to play it.
I don’t understand how such a game can exist. Clearly a lot of effort was put into researching these characters and coming up with all these crazy scenarios revolving around their collective history, but the game itself is just not all that fun to play. Despite that, I’m enough of an enthusiast of these characters to have an absolute BLAST playing through the game in spite of it’s very serious gameplay problems.
It’s certainly not for everyone, and generally I would say that Fire Emblem Fates probably did deserve more interest from general audiences, but I personally vastly preferred Project X Zone because of it’s incredibly fascinating cast spanning decades of quality. It introduced me to my beloved Yakuza, and that is something special indeed.
9. Super Mario Run
It may seem a bit strange to put a mobile game on the list, but Mario Run has kept me invested since it came out due to a number of interesting features that I have never seen before in a Mario game, including RPG mechanics (Killing enough enemies ‘levels up’ how many coins you get from killing them) Kingdom building mechanics (The castle slowly gets bigger as you progress, and you can decorate the surrounding area) and a competitive online mode with other players. There’s a lot of quality here, and I see myself playing this game a ton for the next few months or so. It’s tailor made for people who are out and about a lot, and that is something that I very much appreciate.
8. Metroid Prime: Federation Force
Despite the blustering from non Nintendo fans, actual fans of the franchise like myself have been wanting a Metroid spin off like this for years now. The game itself did not disappoint. It perfectly meshed together what made Metroid Prime fun while making enough adjustments for it to be a great co-op experience. The game is an absolute treat for real Metroid fans who were itching for a more in depth look as to what the wider Metroid universe was really like. It would likely have gotten higher on the list if it weren’t for the fact that trying to play the game single player is an absolute nightmare. I felt the same way about last year’s Triforce Heroes, and I hope Nintendo figures out a way to fix the problem with future entries focusing on online play.
7. Kirby: Planet Robobot
Although I admittedly much preferred the last entry in the series, Triple Deluxe, over this one, it was still a relatively joyful experience to blast through. It was just simple fun.
6. Paper Mario: Color Splash
If there ever was a game that proved that Nintendo knows how to fix problems with a game, it was Color Splash. The last Paper Mario game was generally panned for having a lack of personality (Which, coincidentally, isn’t actually true) so Nintendo decided to give this game an incredibly silly tone, which leads to some truly impressive and inspired sequences.
Certain individuals like to claim that the combat isn’t fun at all, but I assure you that this is a lie. The game overall is a blast to play and probably the game I would pick out for a kid this year. It’s bursting with personality and playing through the game feels like a real adventure. I’m anxious to see what Nintendo does next with the series.
5. Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam
Although panned on release due to angry Paper Mario fans not liking the fact that there were no TTYD characters present, the game has since actually come out and, in many ways, vastly improved on the problems with Dream Team while maintaining what made the game fun to play in the first place.
It was, in my mind, generally what a budget sequel should be, and was an absolute blast to play from start to finish. My one gripe is that I feel that the Paper Craft battles aren’t anywhere NEAR as good as what we’ve gotten in the past, but if you are willing to overlook that, the game is still an absolute joy to play.
4. Pokemon Sun and Moon
After the massive disappointment that was Pokemon X and Y, I was really anxious about the direction the series was going in. This had been the worst generation of Pokemon ever, in my opinion, and I was worried that from this point forward that it would be nothing but a downward spiral.
Thankfully, that turned out to NOT be the case. Sun and Moon in many ways is the best entry in years, and although I think it’s not quite on the level of my personal favorite gens, 1 and 5, this is probably a strong third. Alolan Forms, to me, are a far more interesting concept than those idiotic Mega Evolutions, which thankfully got sidelined this gen. The quality is back up to a standard that I can personally say that I’m very happy with. There’s a lot of stuff to do in these games, and in many ways I feel like I’ve only just gotten started.
3. Tokyo Mirage Sessions
I was expecting Fire Emblem Fates to be GOTY, but to my surprise that release turned out to be lackluster and the spin off game featuring idols turned out to be the much better game. I’ve talked about why I don’t Fates at length before, but in general the entire experience feels like a mess, at least if you’re like me and really care about the stories and characters in these kinds of games.
TMS, in spite of the bizarre premise and gameplay shift, somehow managed to be a sixty hour long joyride that NEVER stopped being fun or interesting. I loved the characters, I loved seeing them grow as performers in their chose fields, I loved the use of the FE characters to build the world’s mythology, I loved the Tokyo setting, I loved the combat, I loved the silly tone, and the final encounter was simply perfect.
I would LOVE to see a TMS two, and a part of me is optimistic that they’re already working on it, because this is easily the best JRPG on the Wii U and I would love to see Fire Emblem continue to branch out into other genres like this.
And yes, Kiria is best girl.
2. Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice
It’s interesting to see how the series is evolving without direct input from it’s creator. I feel as if certain things are being taken in directions different than what I would expect from the original team. And amazingly, if this game is any indication, this is a case that shows that this kind of situation can work out wonderfully.
This team managed to take a character no one cared for initially, Apollo, and made him into a surprisingly engaging protagonist in his own right, without having to follow the same exact path that Phoenix took. Apollo now, with this release, has an focus on him, even if it is ridiculously convoluted if you take into account certain other aspects about his background.
The cases are all incredibly engaging, save perhaps the resolution to case 4 and the DLC case. The villains are all great, the new gimmick is actually challenging to use and it just feels like an improvement over all over what DD brought to the table.
I never felt like I knew where the story was going, and there were lots of really clever red herrings that made me feel like I had figured out the case only for some new information to come forward that changed everything. This game very well might have one of the greatest plot twists I’ve ever seen in a game. It’s so good, I couldn’t possibly explain it to you.
And that reminds me of the final entry.
- Star Fox Zero
What about Star Fox Zero makes it up and away the best game this year?
The control scheme.
I am not joking. The control scheme, when used by a skilled player, can be utilized in ways that would be completely impossible for more traditional control schemes to blow through the levels with incredible skill. Due to these unique controls, the game has an incredibly high skill ceiling that isn’t obvious to observers, or even casual players.
It’s not until you really dive into the game’s control scheme that you really start to understand how deep mechanically this game is, and it’s that realization that propelled this title specifically into the top spot. Now that I know just how fun improving your skill in this game can be… I feel as if I will never stop playing it.
That, I think, makes it up and away the best game released this year.