So we’re close enough to the end of the year…how about some of that dumb listy goodness? I’ve echoed the fact that I think making Top 10 lists or whatever is dumb, almost as often as I’ve said how much fun I have making them. Quantifying things against each other is a waste of time blah blah blah, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying doing it, and having a nice snapshot to look back on as the year as a whole. As always, I could totally fall in love with something not in my Top 10 years down the line, or regret the placement of some of these within minutes of making the decisions. That’s all part of the game, baby. People change, opinions sway back and forth, and nobody stays in the same mindset forever. Like…I used to say Zelda: Wind Waker was my favorite game of all time. Is it now? Probably not! Maybe! Who knows? Who cares?
Anyway, here are the big boys that made it really, really close to being in my Top 10 Games of 2015, but just missed making the cut. These are all great games and not being in my “10 favorites” doesn’t mean they’re bad. I just either feel like they’re not quite as strong as some of the others, or have been represented better in the past, etc etc. I mean, you get how these things work by now, right? Subjectivity and all that? Cool.
So this is the big one. I’ve debated on whether or not this was on of my ten favorite games of the year since it came out. I’m not sure that it is. Fallout 3 is one of my favorite games of all time, and I’ve been super stoked about Fallout 4 ever since. New Vegas was a cool, different thing, and Fallout 4 looked like it would be the best of all possible worlds. It might be, but that doesn’t mean it feel that radically different from what came before. As I sink hours into Fallout 4, I feel like I’m playing more of Fallout 3. But just more Fallout 3, nothing mindblowing, and something I’ve done plenty of in the past. Even if it were just a slightly upgraded version of one of my favorite things in the past, it doesn’t feel different enough to make itself unique. As it stands, I don’t know if I like Fallout 4, New Vegas, or Fallout 3 more, as they’re all really, really good games. But Fallout 4 strips down some of what I enjoyed about those, even if it does play and feel better than anything Bethesda’s ever done before. But, for me, more of the same does not a Game of the Year make, and that’s why you shouldn’t expect it to take a number 1 (or number 10) spot this year. I mean, they couldn’t even change the lockpicking mini game a little bit? Come on, man.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
I got way more into this series this year than I expected to. I spent hours watching videos about how to combo attacks, learning secrets about the maps, finding new monsters…all that kind of stuff. But it didn’t exactly stick with me in the way my favorite games do. I love this game, and I’ll definitely be playing more of them in the future, but there’s just a bit too much grinding and repeating of tasks than I’d like. This one’s a fantastic game for me sink a bunch of hours into with some friends, and maybe pick up a few more times throughout the year without dedicating hundreds of hours to it.
CRAWLIES IS SO GOOD. It’s got the creature collecting of Animal Crossing and Pokemon Snap with the humor and awareness of something like Earthbound. It’s a great way to spend thirty minutes with, and is still one of the most memorable game experiences I had this year, even though I spent one night with it and never touched it again. Do yourself the favor and set aside part of your next evening for this one.
A Mini Falafel Adventure
It’s a Microvania! This itty bitty Metroid/Mega Man riff is filled with clever boss fights, some excellent tunes, and a whole bunch of food jokes. It’s a fantastic little mix of everything you love about platforming, with enough twists to never feel stale. Imagine a 2 hour long version of Hubol’s 2… with fewer dicks.
You probably didn’t play BoxBoy this year, and that’s okay. It was in the public consciousness for maaaaybe a week and was pretty much never talked about again. Surprise! Now you can go play the best 3DS game released this year. In a mix between Portal and Braid, BoxBoy is a tiny project from HAL about solving puzzles with a surprisingly powerful ability: Being a box who can make new boxes. It stretches your power to its logical limits by the end, always coming up with new creative ways to use the same power you’ve had since the start. Seriously, it’s $5 and one of my favorite puzzle games ever, but nobody played it. Go have fun!
Life Is Strange
Riffing pretty hard on Telltale’s M.O., Life Is Strange is the follow up to Remember Me, except with mostly just the cool parts. Steer a teen high school drama with rewind powers, make decisions and live with the effects. And sometimes just chill in your dorm and play guitar. It’s sitting pretty tightly at #11 for me this year, and I wish there was room in the top 10 for it. It’s very, very good. Not great, not perfect, but it’s admirable and mature in ways most games don’t try to be.
Annnnnd…that’s it. There’s still a ton of deserving games from this year: Titan Souls, Guitar Hero Live, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Help Me I’m Drowning, Lara Croft GO, Dropsy, Metal Gear Solid V, and plenty of others. (I promise I’ll play The Witcher 3 someday.) But those above are the ones that came closest to breaking into my ten favorites this year, but barely missed making it in for whatever reason. Now let’s move onto the best of the best of 2015…in the next post!