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The Cheap Ferret Verdict: 2015 in Review

December 24, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

What a year for gaming. It’s been an absolutely amazing year with a ton of selection, and some of the best games ever made. This has been possibly the best year ever to be a gamer.

Or at least that’s what I’m seeing a lot of people say about 2015, but sadly I find it hard to agree. In fact, I’d love to talk about my favourite games of the year in one post and then talk about my most-anticipated games of next year in a separate follow-up, but I haven’t got enough material for the former.

Many of the year’s big releases have failed to command my attention. It’s been the year of the po-faced open world adventure, and I’ve rolled my eyes at basically everything. Bloodborne, The Witcher 3, Fallout 4, Batman: Arkham Knight, etc. all looked dull to me and lacked the fun factor that I generally want from my games. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate almost got me back into the Assassin’s Creed series due to its Victorian setting but ultimately I passed on it due to microtransactions. MGSV was the first Metal Gear that failed to capture my interest because it looked like all the personality of the series had been surgically removed. And the less said about the initially promising yet ultimately worthless The Order: 1886, the better.

On top of that, I was so disappointed with Rise of the Tomb Raider and the politics surrounding it I wrote a full post on it – that game could have been my Game of the Year based on the comments I’ve seen, but since I’ve been unable to play it at all, it gets listed as my biggest disappointment instead. Good job, Squeenix!

And then, of course, CoD was never my scene and I don’t like Star Wars.

Was there anything that caught my interest at all this year? I liked the look of Ori & the Blind Forest, since it had a nice aesthetic. Undertale has captured people’s imaginations and I’m fascinated by the idea of an Earthbound-style RPG where you can avoid battles with everyone. Until Dawn keeps popping up on my radar but I’m still reluctant due to Heavy Rain being a terrible game, but people say it’s amazing, so maybe? And then there’s Life is Strange, which narratively got me interested through watching others’ streams, but mechanically didn’t appeal to me at all.

Nintendo have had the best of the year in my opinion. Super Mario Maker looks fun, and Xenoblade Chronicles X seems to be winning people over and I’m looking forward to hopefully playing it myself soon. Yoshi’s Woolly World looks cute but I’ve not played it enough to pass judgement.

But what is my Game of the Year?

To prove that Nintendo had the best lineup of the year for me, the best game for me this year is a Wii U exclusive, and nothing else has matched it for the sheer amount of joy it’s brought me. No other game has captured the wonder of being a squid now and then a kid now in quite the same way. Or even at all. My Game of the Year, largely due to a lack of competition but also because it’s a fantastic game, is of course, Splatoon.

I’ve had a blast with Splatoon from the moment it was released. A brand new IP from Nintendo at a time when I felt Nintendo needed to do something new. It’s a multiplayer game that I can dip in and out of without feeling like I need to make it a full-time job to not be destroyed all the time. It’s a shooter that’s impossible to call a mixture of dull grey and brown largely because everything is usually covered in splatters of the brightest colours known to humanity. The character designs are cute without being overbearingly so, and the customisation options are varied and interesting and give a nice balance between boosting stats and lookin’ mighty fine – if I want to wear the Squid Vader cap for eternity (in-game and in real life) then I can wear it and not be at a tactical disadvantage (in-game and in real life).

Pictured: my IRL Squid Vader hat

What’s more, it’s managed to keep the game going by adding new weapons and stages and holding fairly regular Splatfests that help settle some of those silly arguments we all have (and uh…North Pole vs. South Pole…), and best of all, it’s managed to do this WITHOUT being exploitative and demanding obscene amounts of money from you after release. In a year where microtransactions, season passes and overpriced DLC (£25 for a level boost, Destiny, are you serious?), Splatoon has been a welcome breath of fresh air that I can just play without needing to open my finance spreadsheet at the same time. Splatoon proves that the games employing these tactics don’t actually NEED to do them, they do them because they get away with them. Splatoon’s currency is all in-game, where it should be, and it’s a stronger game for it in my opinion. It’s the antithesis of everything I’ve disliked about gaming in 2015, and that’s another major reason to hold it in high esteem.

Oh, and the single player’s pretty nice, and the final boss music is one of the catchiest things known to man.

So basically, Splatoon is The Cheap Ferret Game of the Year 2015. Thanks, Nintendo! Stay fresh!

So with 2015 being a massive disappointment, let’s look forwards. Will 2016 be any better?

Based on confirmed release dates, the first five months of 2016 will bring four games that I’m looking forward to, which is three more games than I entered 2015 with (yes, Splatoon was the one game).

Uncharted 4, despite me getting a little bored of Sony covering it at length at every single conference, is still looking interesting enough for me to want to rejoin Nathan Drake on his adventures. The demo at E3, where Nate and Sully smash their way through a village in a jeep, is proof enough that this game hasn’t lost its charm and ridiculousness that make me love the series, so I’m hoping that this live up to expectations.

Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst is the somewhat unexpected follow-up to 2008’s Mirror’s Edge, a game that divided some people but I loved due to its focus on doing something different in first-person, as well as its stark, memorable art design. I’ve put many hours into trying to pass the speedruns and time trials (and still haven’t cleared them all), and the thought of entering a more open and experimental Mirror’s Edge has me excited. Playing it at EGX has shown me that it’s playing like a slicker version of its predecessor, and I enjoyed what I played. Just a shame it’s been delayed to May.

Star Fox Zero is shaping up to be another excellent Wii U exclusive. Say what you want about Nintendo’s strategies in the last few years, they’ve really picked up the pace on their first-party output, and hopefully Star Fox is another excellent addition to this.

Ratchet & Clank is looking very interesting. It definitely appears to be a return to form for the Lombax/backpack-robot duo, and the fact that the initial plans to remake the original game have apparently gone off into strange directions has me very interested indeed.

2016

And assuming they all come out next year, Gravity Rush 2, Persona 5, Unravel, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Ni No Kuni 2, Wild, and possibly, maybe, The Last Guardian and the new Zelda all mean that 2016 looks like next year I may be saying the same things others have said about this one. I just hope that it all holds up.

So, while I’m disappointed with 2015 overall in gaming, I have high hopes for 2016. Don’t let me down, 2016!

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  1. JTinRealLife
    December 24, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    I loved Bloodborne, but you are right that it’s not about fun, it’s structurd more like a survival horror with tension release cycles. There’ve been some really fun indie games this year, a ton of great visual novels getting localisations, and an amazing Nintendo year (we’ll ignore Ultra Smash and Devil’s Third because they’ve got so much great stuff otherwise, especially with the 3DS rocking out game after game (Monster Hunter 4 is the highlight for me, but there’ve been so many)… but the other consoles, and the Triple A space in general aren’t impressing… not that they impressed me much last gen either, but they had their moments.

    Next year is looking better, but I fully expect things to get muddier as we get closer (I mean they managed to muddy Total War: Warhammer before it even got to the release year, I’m past giving triple A the benefit of the doubt)… just keep Microtransactions away from XCOM 2 or I will probably cry.

    • December 30, 2015 at 7:27 pm

      I’m just not into any of the Souls stuff in general. The aesthetic doesn’t appeal to me, and the repeated selling point of “it’s really hard” just makes me feel like I won’t enjoy it in any way. Nintendo’s had a great year, but we should also ignore Animal Crossing: Amiibo Selling Device too, because that was absurd.

      I agree with the risk of things getting muddier. Mirror’s Edge is my most-anticipated game because it’s been so long since the first one, which I loved, but…it’s EA, so…

  2. December 29, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Having finally gotten access to wiiu, I’m excited to finally start into that library. Splatoon is one I have my eye on

    • December 30, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      Splatoon is fantastic. Fantastic art design, incredibly responsive and enjoyable gameplay, catchy soundtrack, and loses all the stuff about online multiplayer that I hate. Let me know what you think when you get a chance to play it!

      • December 31, 2015 at 12:01 am

        I’ve heard alot about the soundtrack, will definitely let you know

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