Our Favourite Games of 2015: Wii U Edition
With the end of 2015 fast approaching, we thought we would try a different tact to the standard ‘Game of the Year’ awards we do. Instead of the team picking the ‘best’ game and award just one award we’re going to run through the team and see what we all liked – our favourites.
There’s literally no point for a site as small as us giving a game of the year award and no one ever truly agrees – especially when the year contains so many great games. So starting with the Wii U here is our list of our favourite games on the year and why.
Wayne’s Wii U Favourite for 2015 – Super Mario Maker
This year Nintendo went looking through the hopes, wants and dreams of my childhood and bestowed upon me the game I always longed for. Actually that’s not quite right. What I always wanted was a true sequel to Super Mario Bros. 3, with the same power-ups, sprite set and all.
Super Mario Maker, more or less, is that game. By the way, the emphasis of that sentence is on “more”. Nintendo took my juicy brain images and mixed them with four different styles of Mario. Not just that they added new features to keep it a little fresh.
At launch the game was certainly missing a few key ingredients but thanks to updates they included the two things that I, and many people said were an absolute requirement and it still annoys me a little when I play a course that is lacking checkpoints and context sensitive power-ups.
I find great joy in making my own stages and sometimes haven’t realised just how much time has passed while creating. I couldn’t even guess how long I spent just tinkering for the Evolution of a Stage video series. (Shamless plug: Watch it here!)
The only real issue I have with the game is that sometimes the quality of user created courses just isn’t up to par. Either they are too easy or insanely difficult. And don’t get me started on those “Dun tutch anyfiiiing!!!!!!!!!!!!1!1!!111!” stages. They are the worst.
This may sound a little uppity, but I can’t help but feel my own creations are better than most of the random stages I play. It is a true regret that I can’t have my memory wiped of all knowledge of my creations so I can enjoy and experience true genius, just like the rest of the Super Mario Maker community.
Runner up – Splatoon: I feel terrible saying that Splatoon is a runner up to anything. It is an amazing game that deserves to be know as the best. If Super Mario Maker didn’t come out this year Splatoon would certainly be my number one.
Michael’s Wii U Favourite for 2015 – Splatoon
Since when does Nintendo produce A grade competitive multi-player arena shooters? 2015 is when! When ever a game play style is put through the creative minds (Nutri-bullet?) in Kyoto – it is always amazing to see the incredible twists and innovations they come up with all in the name of fun. Splatoon is original, every part of it is lovingly creative and handled with near perfection. In an industry that is constantly filled with an apparent desire for the gritty or at the very least the appearance of “more mature” it is great to see that something more light hearted and fresh make some real in roads.
From the entire concept of the paint base dynamics though to the brilliant team based tactics that result from its unique nature of traversing the environments as Squid based a paint rollers! … this is proof that Nintendo can not only deliver their usual A grade efforts but do it in a style that feels fresh in an industry that is scrounging for new ideas.
With a game like this, I am very excited to see what fresh concepts will be unleashed on to us players with not only the Wii U but whatever the NX turns out to be. If it just a sequel I will still be happy.
Runner up – Yoshi’s Wooly World
Yoshi rarely gets much attention in the Mario universe, usually reserved to being just a side character in a variety of party games such as Mario kart etc. Yoshi is if anything the somewhat fogotten middle child in a family of 12 bothers and sister. The fact that Yoshi is the main star in a whole new game should always be celebrated, the fact that this is a really good traditional styled platforming game should also be celebrated.
Yes, it wasn’t very original or exceptionally challenging but it is always good fun to take Yoshi out for another floating, egg (yarn) throwing, vehicle morphing adventure.
Troy’s Wii U Favourite for 2015 – Xenoblade Chronicles X
Now, I was never truly hyped for this game. I’ve barely played the original Xenoblade when the 3DS port came out. But what I did play, I enjoyed, and it all made sense to me (despite being incredibly complicated, yet… intuitive? How…?). So I was originally set to skip this one entirely.
Then I watched some trailers, stumbled upon some images. It started to look cooler and cooler. The environments looked gorgeous, massive, immersive. And it’s all running on the Wii U? Sign me up! I love games that are as much about being an awesome experience as they are about pushing the hardware to the limits, squeezing out that last drop of processing power to make something truly amazing.
And up until the release, Splatoon was by far my favourite game of the year, also on Wii U (duh). This was just meant to be a cool, on-the-side lark. But then it sucked me in whole. Experiencing this game for myself, is a whole different barrel of monkeys. It’s massive and beautiful, sure, but it’s an entire game based on exploring. The story is effectively “explore this world, make sure we can live on it”. So your context for playing is also the best part of the game. As of writing this, I still haven’t got my Skell (mech robo-suit transformer kazoo). I think I’m roughly halfway through the story, sitting at about 19 hours played. Just… if you have a Wii U, play this game. If you don’t have a Wii U, buy one, and play this game.
Runner up – Splatoon:
I feel really, really bad for pushing this down to runner up. Splatoon is an amazing multiplayer experience like no other, and I normally hate playing multiplayer. And after reading about the development process, it’s crazy how well this game came together. A definite must own for any Wii U owner.
Steven’s Wii U Favourite for 2015 – Splatoon
Splatoon had me intrigued from the moment it was announced. People had clamoured for a shooter game from Nintendo. It’s one of the genres the company traditionally didn’t cater to, and with very few third parties bringing their games to the system there was very little for shooter fans to play on the Wii U. Enter Splatoon. Splatoon merges shooting and movement systems in a way where each system compliments the other, and they both affect the outcome of the game.
The genius of laying down ink by shooting and ‘splatting’ opposing players, and then being able to move quickly through the ink laid down by shooting in order to push your team forward makes for an exhilarating game with an incredible feeling of momentum to each match.
It launched with a lot fewer game modes and maps than what it has today, which led to reviewers feeling a little disappointed in the amount of content, but Splatoon has been updated with so many free weapons, game modes and maps since launch that those concerns have all but washed away. Using the base Splatoon game as a platform on which to expand has meant that early adopters had time to learn each map and game mode before being introduced to new ones, and it has made sure that the game has stayed FRESH for longer than I honestly expected.
Having all maps available from the outset and selectable can often lead to some maps being forgotten about (see: any map that is not de_dust2 or cs_office in Counter Strike), while rotating through maps has meant I have grown to appreciate and learn the intricacies of each map. Splatoon is just wonderful.
Runner up – Mario Party 10
Yes, Mario Party 10 is a shallow game. The board game mechanics have changed from the older Mario Party games we know and love, and luck plays a major factor in deciding the ultimate winner of each game. I really don’t mind. Mario Party 10 led to some of the most fun evenings I had with my Wii U in 2015. Nobody really cared who won in the end when we had so much fun on the way.
Daniel W’s Wii U Favourite for 2015 – Splatoon
When Splatoon was first unvield at e3 2014 I was exactly wowed by it, I mean it looked cool and interesting but I wasn’t sure if it was something I would love. I’m one for multiplayer focused shooters and the ones I do like, usually need something more than run around and shoot everyone else to win. Even coming up to launch I still wasn’t as gaga on it as everyone else was. That all changed the minute I got my hands on the game. As soon as I got into playing a few games online I completely understood it. I think the biggest hook for me is in how your characters move and how controlling the stage helps you move around better. Quickly spraying the area ahead of you with ink and then quickly moving up to do repeat is an absolute joy.
There is something incredbly satisfying about playing a battle and just owning the stage, moving around, splatting other players and covering as much territory as you can. Once it all syncs together for you its almost feels like a great mix of Tony Hawks Pro Skater for movement & Mario Sunshine with an online multiplayer focus if that at all makes sense. The matches are quick and even if you are getting owned you’ll be back on your feet and playing through another round in a few short minutes. If I have one gripe about the online its the stage cycling, they need to at the very least let you be able to play through more than 2 stages per cycle, even 3 would be fine.
This isn’t even to mention how fun the single player mode is, something which I’m sure many overlooked. Something that could have come across as just a side mode if incredibly well thought out, each stage feels unique and builds apon the last. Also some of the best boss battles seen in a Nintendo platformer ever, that final boss is just amazing. Add on the amiibo stages and there is lots here to keep you happy even if you don’t like online games. Hands down the freshest game in years.
Runner up: Xenoblade Chronicles X
Ultimately this may end up being my Wii U game of the year, however its come out soo late I haven’t had a chance to really play it properly to fairly say it is. However its an amazing game, a beautifully designed world with the best graphics on the system, its awesome for just being able to explore and soak in everything about this world. I can’t wait to get more into this and really sink my teeth into it.
Lachlan’s Wii U Favourite for 2015 – Splatoon
It has been many years since a shooter grabbed my attention like Splatoon did, and I’m glad it did! It’s interesting, unique mechanics, fun gameplay, and interesting maps made this a highlight of my year for sure. Throughout the year, Splatoon has been the one game I can keep returning to over and over and never get sick of it. The different weapons always mean teach play session was a different experience, and the amazing design principles meant that individualising your Kid-Squid didn’t detract or distract from the gameplay.
That, right there? That’s pure design skill. Sure, it had it’s balance issues, but credit to the Big N for responding to the community and listening to their thoughts. The new maps have meant I never tire of it, and I can’t recommend it enough (but I figure at this point pretty much every Wii U owner has a copy now). If you somehow don’t have a copy of Splatoon sitting in your collection, go get it, right now. Like all the best games, it’s worth every cent, and you’ll not regret the purchase for a second.
Runner up – Mario Party 10
I had lots of fun with Mario Party 10 at a bunch of times throughout the year. It really pushed the mechanics nicely, and never felt unfair, which is a nice change from earlier titles in the series. I honestly haven’t had as much fun with a title since Mario Party DS, so props for also making it a game I can play with any of my friends, regardless of skill level.
Daniel V’s Wii U Favourite for 2015 – Splatoon
If there was any game that best showed where Nintendo is going in 2015 it’s Splatoon. Sure it may be awkwardly Nintendo in some ways but the entire games post launch roll out of content and events has been absolutely game changing for the company. It just proves how out of day review scores can be because the game Splatoon is now, isn’t the same one that launched.
Splatoon though isn’t just some test bed of ideas for Nintendo, there’s an actual amazingly fun game in there as well. Splatoon is a third-person shooter but it doesn’t play like anything else on the market and that’s awesome. The unique squid/kid and ink gameplay has made a tired genre shine once again.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Splatoon will go forward and be one of Nintendo’s future top tier franchise, its success not only in sales but also in capturing the zeitgeist in 2015 has been missing from Nintendo for some time. Sure Nintendo release big games, but there hasn’t been a game like Splatoon which has made even non-Nintendo fans take notice of what the company is doing.
Nintendo’s just announced they’re ending the rollout of content for Splatoon in January, that’s fair – the team better be working on something just as awesome and as fresh next.
Runner up – Super Mario Maker
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I this game would be here. I was not all hyped for Super Mario Maker before its release, I usually don’t like UGC games and I said so right up until I got it. See the thing is Super Mario Maker, you don’t need to be good at making levels to enjoy it, you know what makes a good Mario level because you’ve played the game for 25 years of your life – making them is just one step more.
James’ Wii U Favourite for 2015 – Splatoon
Splatoon was a concept that I wasn’t sure could quite work but also a niche that I was surprised Nintendo hadn’t tried to aggressively fill previously. It’s a pastiche of what seemed like incompatible components – a shooter that is meant to be somewhat serious with a visual presentation that is bright, colourful and childish. Then I realized – isn’t this what Nintendo is, in some aspects? Needless to say I was somewhat right. Splatoon released and despite being light on content it was a fantastic base to work with.
What really made Splatoon for me was just how committed Nintendo’s teams have been to provide post launch support for the game. New modes, new maps, new weapons and new gear were all provided following the release of the game for free. The community is vibrant and active. The potential for this becoming a major Nintendo franchise is huge. Everything about Splatoon was a breath of fresh air and quite honestly probably Nintendo at their best in this troubled generation. The last franchise I can think of that Nintendo created from scratch was Pikmin – and while it’s fantastic its appeal is hardly anywhere as universal as Splatoons is. Splatoon is too good to leave on the Wii U, and I’m extremely excited to see where Nintendo takes it next.
Another title that had me a bit worried when it first released. Was it going to just be Kirby’s Epic Yarn, but with Yoshi swapped in? Was it going to just be a typical Yoshi game but with the lowered difficulty and cutesy aesthetic more akin to the Kirby games? Thankfully, Good-Feel and their production team managed to convince me otherwise. Yoshi’s Woolly World is aesthetically a bit of a retread, but it makes up for that with the way it manages to retread (in a good way) all the things that made Yoshi’s Island so great.
The Amiibo were a great touch too, if a slightly superficial thing to praise. But ever since Kirby’s Epic Yarn was released I figured Nintendo had to capitalize on this unique art style in some way shape or form. Nintendo brought it with Yoshi’s Woolly World and despite its brilliance it’s just not as exciting or as new as Splatoon was. For that it’s easily my runner up.
Josh’s Wii U Favourite for 2015 – Splatoon
For all the flak Nintendo gets for their approaches to online systems and multiplayer, Splatoon really showed up the competition this year. It took an incredibly unique approach to the shooter genre, making a game that is appropriate for all ages and makes you rethink how to play these sorts of games. The mechanics and stage design open up a variety of strategies and movement options, allowing you to interact with your environment in totally different ways to the usual.
The game features a few different modes, all revolving around different objectives – and not a single one of them is a deathmatch! It makes for a much fresher (sorry) experience. On top of this, Nintendo have kept updating the game with new content every few weeks for free. A shooter originally criticised for being low on content being beefed up with free content instead of a costly season pass, what a novel idea. My biggest criticism of the game would be its rotation system, as it means you have to wait hours and hours if the maps or modes you want to play aren’t currently active, which is frustrating when you only have a few hours to play each day.
Runner up – Yoshi’s Wooly World
This incredibly adorable game is impossible to play without a smile on your face. Between the cute Yoshi costumes and the engaging stage design this is a great exclusive to pick up.