Ah, yes, it’s that time again – 2015 has shuffled off into the history books, and the majority of 2016 lies untold before us! Which means it’s also time for a now-annual Gaming.moe tradition – the Gaming.moe Waifu Awards.
In case you’re wondering – no, we’re not awarding awards to our favorite game waifus,
because I’d have the same winner every year. It’s a name we adopted in the general spirit of the site for non-traditional year-end awards. Rather than doing typical categories like “Best Graphics,” “Best Fighting Game,” and the ever-argued-over GOTY, we give awards based on weird, arbitrary categories based on noteworthy happenings of the previous year. (You might want to check last year’s awards to get a better idea, as I explain the concept a little more in-depth there.)
2015 was a very good year for gaming as a whole. We got lots of fantastic new releases, juicy industry drama, and promising new projects. Of course, not all noteworthy happenings were the stuff of major hashtags and gaming news site headlines. Let’s celebrate the best (and worst) Waifus of 2015!
Worst Timing of 2015
Sega put some really nice localization effort into Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax. All of the round starting and ending quotes are properly subtitled, story scenes and amusing references remain intact, and the text itself is very well rendered in English. It’s a very solid anime fighting game, to boot, featuring some nice gameplay systems that aren’t quite as daunting to beginning or less-heavily-involved fighting game players.
So what’s the problem then? Well, it released a mere two months before its upgraded version, Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax IGNITION, released for PS3, PS4 and PS Vita in Japan. And since those platforms are all region-free, the serious players immediately went the import route, rendering the English North American version almost immediately outdated from a competitive standpoint. The question remains, “Well, why not just localize the upgraded version if the release windows were that close?” We’ll never get an answer, of course, but it’s an incredibly unfortunate situation all around.
The Death Crimson Award for Inexplicably Expensive Garbage
It’s really obvious that Nintendo of America didn’t want to release the long-in-the-making fiasco Devil’s Third. In fact, it seemed like they weren’t going to for a while, until Twitter rumors of them dumping the game forced their hand. (Rumor has it that XSEED was eyeing the game and was eager to snap it up after Nintendo of America got ready to drop it, and NoA’s sudden change of heart left them pretty peeved – of course, that’s just hearsay, so take it with a serious grain of salt.)
The game released first in Europe, where reviews absolutely savaged the title – it’s sitting on a 43 Metacritic from mostly European reviews. NoA, knowing they had a steaming turd on their hands, did all of jack shit to promote the game, giving it next to no promotion, not giving North American journalists review code, and dumping it into retail mere days before Christmas. And when I say “dumped into retail,” I’m not trying to imply that the game even showed up on many store shelves: NoA seemed to print the barest minimum of copies they could to satisfy the few preorders floating around. Nobody knows how many are available, but the number seems to be in the low thousands.
Of course, as soon as it became known that the game was hard to find, the collectors and scalpers swooped on in because, hey, low print run means instant collectible! Never mind that the game is awful, it’s ***RARE***!
So for a while, you had some absurd Amazon reseller and Ebay auction prices for Devil’s Third, often in the $100 range. Things seem to have calmed down a bit – the game looks to be going for about $85 or so right now – but somehow I get a feeling that the sheer notoriety of this title is going to make it a valuable piece down the line. Unfortunately.
Anime Isn’t Real After All Award
Remember when we thought Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem was vaporware on the same level as Tekken x Street Fighter? Man, Nintendo sure surprised the heck out of us by actually proving it was real! And not only did it exist, it was anime as all hell.
Upon seeing the trailers for Genei Ibun Roku #FE, however, a lot of SMT and Fire Emblem fans really didn’t know what to think – this game didn’t really resemble… well, anything from those titles. By embracing a weird J-pop fantasy-hero-summoning RPG concept, the game immediately turns off people who like the high fantasy strategy and relationship-building of Fire Emblem, while also alienating SMT fans who like the dark sci-fi/fantasy stories and demon collecting of that series. Despite being seemingly catered to a Japanese market – which had warmed greatly to the Wii U thanks to hits like Splatoon and Super Mario Maker – Genei Ibun Roku #FE didn’t do much at retail, selling only 30,000 copies in its debut week and leaving stores with a fair bit of leftover discs. It remains to see if it’ll fare better internationally. Given how in-your-face ANIME it is, I have my doubts.
2015’s Most Abused Fanbase
I don’t play them myself, but I know a lot of folks who are pretty into the Gundam Extreme Versus. 2-on-2 mech battlers. They’re exceptionally popular in Japanese arcades, and they hold a small but devoted fanbase Stateside. While we’re all aware that Sunrise doesn’t really have any clue how to handle the Gundam franchise and its licensing outside of Asia, the fact that some Gundam games have seen US release while Gundam Extreme Versus hasn’t is one of those things that makes no sense whatsoever. Most folks have assumed that it’s some strange rights issue that’s the stumbling block.
So then, why not simply release Gundam Extreme Versus without the Gundams? After all, it’s more about the gameplay than the mechs, right? Well, that’s what Bandai-Namco figures when they whipped up Rise of Incarnates, a free-to-play PC 2-on-2 battler modeled heavily after the Extreme Versus engine, only with original humanoid fighters instead of mechs.
Rise of Incarnates was announced and went into beta testing during 2014, and had its full release this year. And for the three months the game was officially running… well, I didn’t really hear much about it. I assume that’s why it shut down so fast – nobody seemed to be playing it. Devoted Gundam Extreme Versus fans took issue with some key gameplay alterations, and there wasn’t much in the way of marketing to a larger, mass-market audience beyond a Marvel Comics tie-in (which, in a bit of hilarious irony, lasted longer than the game did).
After it was announced that Rise was being buried, Extreme Versus fans lamented that the series would never get its chance to shine overseas. That is, until Bandai Namco shocked everyone by announcing that Gundam Extreme Versus was finally, finally coming to the west!
… on the PS Vita. The handheld Sony is barely supporting and that nobody likes to play on for competitive gaming.
If you know a Gundam Extreme Versus fan, give them a hug. They need it.
Most Tsundere Relationship Between a Developer and Fans 2015 Edition
If Smash fans aren’t mad at 2015’s Most Beautiful Man in the Game Industry Waifu Award winner… oh, right, I forgot to give that out, one sec
Most Beautiful Man in the Game Industry 2015
Smash players both love and hate Sakurai for various reasons: he gives them the series and all the fanservice they could ever want, but also makes games that don’t play like Melee and would probably just add in every Fire Emblem character ever if time, budget, and workload weren’t considerations. There’s a reason why he pretty much ignores every @ he gets on Twitter and is a bit of a recluse.
This year, however, even the Smash players who had called for Sakurai’s head on a platter at points in the lifetime of Brawl and Melee were coming back to him with doe-eyed admiration. Not only did he and the Smash 4 team manage the seemingly impossible task of getting Cloud in the Smash roster (something even Sony couldn’t swing for PlayStation All-Stars), they also actually read all of those no doubt soul-crushing fan ballot entries, took notes, and worked to get Bayonetta in the game. Sure, you had to endure tripping and Meta Knight before things were all good again, but I think the Smash fandom’s relationship with Sakurai is once again filled with admiration.
Of course, it’s not like we really WANTED to play Bayonetta or anything. We asked for Goku, but this will have to do. Stupid Sakurai!
Best Gaming Moment of 2015
god damn I should have woken up at 8AM for this >:/
(This is made even more amusing by the recent revelation (or is that Revelator? ahaha sorry) that Woshige is actually a staff member working on Street Fighter V. Hence the shirt.)
2015’s Biggest Non-troversy
2015 was the year of people making mountains out of molehills regarding whatever their pet gaming controversy was. In many cases, people were encouraged to monetarily support sites, stores, and releases that rallied for/against whatever cause they’d taken up the banner for, often as a knee-jerk reaction while knowing very little about what they were supporting. There’s no bigger example of this sort of reactionary bullshit than the “””success””” of Hatred, a terrible isometric PC shooter that folks rallied behind out of a need to “fight political correctness” and “stick it to the SJWs.”
I say “””success””” because there are still a handful of idiots trying to claim that because the game sold howevermany numbers compared to something else they’ve branded a “SJW game,” it was proof of… something. Well, it’s proof, alright – proof that the sort of people who buy this “WAR AGAINST THE POLITICAL CORRECTNESS POLICE” marketing are easily separated from their cash to support shitty games, which they’ll then grasp at straws to defend.
My pals from Laser Time played Hatred on stream, and the resulting video is very much worth watching if you’re curious about why this game sucks.
Maybe Hatred will be remembered years down the line, but probably in the same way we remember dreck like Bloodstorm: awful games with poor production values that attempted an easy grab at success on the back of a manufactured controversy. It’s an ugly, uninteresting, uninspired mess of code that’s the equivalent of a 2edgy4u teen’s notebook scribblings that should have been rightfully ignored.
Best Megaman Inspired Game That Will Probably be Better than Mighty No. 9 When it Actually Releases but Came Out This Year
With Mighty No. 9 having come under fire for not really looking like the original concept art and getting sidetracked with a bunch of marketing endeavors before actually getting the game finished and released, and with Capcom continuing to not really do anything Megaman related besides re-release older games and sell merch, things might seem a bit rough for fans of this venerable game series. What they might not know is that there’s a fantastic Megaman-inspired title out there called Majin Shoujo made by devs who are clearly series fans.
Haven’t heard of it? Not terribly surprising – the English releases of the two Majin Shoujo games so far (under the fairly uninspiring title The Legend of Dark Witch) have been under-the-radar affairs on the 3DS eShop, PS Vita, and Steam. There’s not a big budget to really push these titles, so they’ve got to rely on word of mouth – so my word of mouth is “these games are GREAT and you should buy them!”
Honestly, I don’t want to start blathering too much here about what I feel these games do so well – that’s probably the subject of a more in-depth future piece – but these titles double as my “best overlooked games of 2015” pick. Go buy them on your preferred platform of choice – you won’t likely regret it.
a big poop award 2015
and this Waifu (award) really is shit tier, ohoho
Most Dangerous Kusoge of 2015
There are numerous ways a game can be considered kusoge, but one of the strongest is “how did they think that the game was releasable in this condition?” There were plenty of games like that this year: Batman Arkham Knight on PC is still unplayable on certain systems, Fallout 4 had those inexplicable game-breaking bugs that teach you the hard way to rotate saves in Bethesda games, but I still feel like nothing quite reaches the heights of consumer disrespect as Tony Hawk 5 does.
It’s not just that the game is very clearly rushed to market to beat an expiring contract and chock-full of hilarious bugs, though. Activision shipped the absolute bare minimum of content they possibly could on a disc to count as a retail game. Players who bought Tony Hawk 5 on launch day had to download a patch that weighed in at almost eight gigabytes to get something that resembled the game they just paid $60 for. Don’t have an online connection? Enjoy the tutorial levels, because that’s pretty much all you’re getting!
The game was “fixed” in November, over a month after launch, with another patch that was also almost eight gigabytes. That’s a whole lotta repair to do! Strangely, I can’t find many reports on if it actually makes the game significantly better – Tony Hawk 5 blew its chance at a good first impression so hard that people won’t even touch a patched version. Perhaps not too little, but definitely too late.
For releasing a game in once-beloved franchise in a state where it was very clearly unreleaseable, thus dooming its chances of ever seeing success, Activision wins this year’s kusoge Waifu honors. Please never touch any game involving skateboards ever again.
Crowdfunding Trainwreck of the Year
In a year where Project Phoenix finally got a programmer (after what, two years?), Unsung Story completely changed its focus and pissed off all of its backers, and Red Ash set its expectations so high that it was downright embarrassing, there’s still one Kickstarter that really stands out to me as a primo example of game crowdfunding hubris: Beast’s Fury.
Oh boy, where to even begin with this thing?
Well, Beast’s Fury is a furry-themed fighting game1 with a legacy of multiple crowdfunding rounds, some of which are rather suspicious (the 2014 Kickstarter jumped over 50% on its last day, which is like hmmmmmmmm). A demo released earlier in the year, which showcased one character and some really rough gameplay – fighting game people who downloaded it were pointing out issues almost immediately.
Around the middle of the year, hey, guess what? That last Kickstarter was only enough for the demo, and the people we were shopping the game around to weren’t biting, so give us $250,000 on IndieGoGo yet again to finish it ourselves! To which most folks answered: haha, no, we’ve already done this twice before.
Despite some promises to continue on (and attempts to raise money by selling background characters, only four hundred bucks a pop!) , it was clear this game was dead in the water after the final IndieGoGo flopped – which was confirmed on January 7 when numerous social media accounts were deactivated. After this happened, a pile of angry revelations emerged from former Beast’s Fury staff on Twitter: tales of non-payment to key staffers, tremendous wastes of time and backers’ money, and Ryhan’s general shadiness and incompetence. There are a lot of tweets involved, so I made a big ol’ Storify out of them to try and explain things. Go read that, then come back here.
So a few days later, Ryhan made a Facebook post and did an interview with a rando on furry community hub FurAffinity about why things turned out the way they did, basically trying as hard as possible to make himself seem as much of a victim (of… himself, I guess) as possible. There’s a lot of poor-me talk in there about how hard it is to make a game, and how he had no idea what he was getting into, which anyone who saw the numerous Beast’s Fury threads on the Skullheart forums can attest is a load of bunk – Mike Z and company were trying to give him the harsh advice he needed to succeed, which he seemed very eager to rebuff with claims of success. (Seriously, read those threads if you have a few hours to spare – it’s amazing just how thickheaded these people come across as.)
Technically, though, Ryhan’s not wrong about what people funded from the Kickstarter: He said they were paying for a demo to shop around, and that’s what they got (mostly, because only one character was truly finished). But you can see how nicely he weaseled out of giving people their perks: many of them only qualify towards the finished game, and since the game wasn’t finished… well, guess he’s off the hook!
Moral of the story: do your research on Kickstarters and their feasibility, don’t back people just because they’re “in the fandom,” and if you want to make a fighting game, make sure what you really want to make is a “good competitive fighting game” rather than “a fighting game catering to a certain nerd group.”
Does it still count since all the big fallout happened in 2016, though? Well, given that pretty much everyone saw the writing on the wall last year, definitely yes.
The Most Interesting Game of 2015
Jeez, at this point, I feel if I say “Undertale” everyone’s gonna pitch a fit about bandwagons and tumblr and how it’s not really the first game to have element X and/or Y and so on. But I feel like it’s hard to deny the sheer impact Undertale’s had on the current gaming climate – everyone who plays it comes away having an opinion about it. Most importantly, Undertale is leading us to have discussions about things beyond “is this game problematic y/n” or “how is the framerate.” We’re now seeing far more players discuss things like “how does mechanic X in Undertale affect the way we feel when we encounter it?”, which is a hell of a lot more interesting. Anything that gets people to really think harder about game design and our reactions as players is wonderful in my book.
Yet I wouldn’t say that it’s the outright best choice for this particular award. There’s Splatoon, which manages to be one of the most enjoyable online experiences out there by not doing what so many games of its ilk do, which makes the whole experience so much more fun and inviting. I’d also peg it for having the best art and sound style out of any game this year: 2014’s Sunset Overdrive tried to go for a similar pop-punk audiovisual aesthetic, but Splatoon manages to outclass it in pretty much every way imaginable. It’s been a while since Nintendo’s released a new IP that’s managed to capture peoples’ hearts and imaginations in the way Splatoon has, and the game’s resounding global success shows that no matter what anyone says, Nintendo can still do things their way and find success in doing so.
But you know what? I think I’m going to give the nod to Super Mario Maker. “But it doesn’t do anything a lot of romhack editors don’t already do!” you might say. Yeah, but is any romhack editor you can think of as delightfully fun to use as Super Mario Maker’s course creator? Somebody finally made a level editor that’s not only intuitive, but incredibly entertaining by itself, which is pretty amazing!
Yes, there’s a whole lot of shitty courses out there. Yes, finding good courses still sucks, even with the new website. But Super Mario Maker truly delivers on the promise of infinite entertainment, be it making levels, racing courses with your friends, or even just watching a guy on Twitch bang his head against a ridiculously difficult course for hours on end until he finally clears it. I can think of no better way to celebrate 30 years of Super Mario than by completely giving him over to the players who’ve loved him for so long.
- And let’s get this straight: I couldn’t give less of a shit about the “furry” part – animal people or no, this is just a real bad crowdfund project on so many levels. ↩