And so we’ve come to our final award. All this week, the Nintendojo staff has been offering their picks for the finest Wii U, 3DS, Wii U eShop, 3DS eShop, and Virtual Console games of 2015, and there have been a number of instant classics among the selections. But which game did the staff feel was the year’s very best release? You’re only moments away from finding out!
BEST GAME OF 2015
There were a number of strong contenders for the Best Game of 2015, but in the end, it was Splatoon that took home the top honor, and for good reason. Despite the common misconception, Nintendo has created plenty of new properties over the years, but none were as high-profile (or as immediately beloved) as Splatoon and its cast of marine-inspired misfits. The part-kid, part-squid Inklings in particular resonated strongly with gamers, so much so that many fans were disappointed that they weren’t announced as downloadable fighters for the latest Super Smash Bros. games, despite the fact that they only debuted a few months ago!
Of course, Splatoon wouldn’t have become the hit that it is if its gameplay wasn’t as compelling as its characters, and in that regard the game is a rousing success. Outside of titles like Metroid Prime, Nintendo rarely ventures into the territory of shooters, let alone online, competitive ones. And yet, Splatoon feels so fluid and balanced that you’d think Nintendo had been creating this type of game for years. That the title has seen a steady stream of new, free content in the wake of its launch has only made the whole package even sweeter, and is just another in the litany of reasons why Splatoon deserves to be crowned Nintendojo’s Game of 2015.
BEST GAME OF 2015 RUNNERS-UP
Super Mario Maker
Level editors aren’t a new invention, particularly in this day and age, but few are as flexible and easy to use as Super Mario Maker, our first runner-up for Game of 2015. Ever since Mario burst from the confines of a single screen to explore the rolling, Goomba-studded hills of the Mushroom Kingdom in the first Super Mario Bros., fans have been dreaming up their own devious courses for the plumber to tackle. Now, it’s entirely possible to turn those dreams into reality. Offering a suite of classic Mario elements, from music and donut blocks to some of the plumber’s most iconic enemies like Koopas, Hammer Bros., and even Bowser himself, Mario Maker gives players an unprecedented level of freedom to create their own Super Mario courses. Best of all, the GamePad’s touchscreen interface made designing levels simple and intuitive, opening the creation process to everyone. And with a never-ending supply of other user-created levels to try, Super Mario Maker is one game that Wii U owners will be playing for a long time to come.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D
It might seem like a cop-out to choose a remake as one of our favorite titles of the year, but when that remake is the definitive version of one of Link’s darkest and most original adventures, it’s easy to see why it earned a runner-up spot for our final award. To this day, there still isn’t a game quite like The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and its 3DS re-release only improved what was already one of Nintendo’s finest titles. The touched up visuals breathed new life into the doomed world of Termina, a strange facsimile of Hyrule that is destined to be crushed by the moon in three days unless Link is able to harness the power of time and halt its decent. Other refinements, like the improved Bombers’ Notebook, made the game more manageable for newcomers without diluting its challenge, but it’s the story that lends the game its enduring appeal. Touching, poignant, and oftentimes heartrending, Majora’s Mask is a masterwork of storytelling and gameplay, and its 3DS remake only made the classic even better.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Grandiose, stunning, and more than a little daunting– Monolith Soft’s sprawling role-playing adventure Xenoblade Chronicles X is a true epic in every sense of the word. Few games can match the sheer scale and imagination of planet Mira’s environments, from the rugged, prehistoric beauty of Primordia to the bioluminescent overgrowth of Noctilum’s lush forests. But it was the gameplay that solidified Xenoblade Chronicles X as one of the very best titles of the year, expanding on the combat system of the first Xenoblade Chronicles with a wealth of new classes, Arts, and other customization options. It may be a little obtuse at times, but Xenoblade Chronicles X is hands down one of the finest titles to ever come from Nintendo and a must-own for every Wii U owner.
That wraps up Nintendojo’s Game of the Year awards! Did you agree with our picks, or did you have a different title in mind for Best Game of 2015? Cast your vote in our poll below, and be sure to sound off in the comments!