Another year has come and gone, and 2016 was quite a year for gaming. We saw multiple serious contenders for Game of The Year, some excellent games that seemed to come out of no where, as well as some games that ended up not living up to their hype. As we do every year, the Controller Crusade staff selected their choices for multiple categories, and here are the results:
Console Game Of The Year
Josh’s Pick: Uncharted 4
Every time an Uncharted title is released you just know that at the end of the year it will be in discussion for GOTY. A Thief’s End was no different, as Naughty Dog knocked it out of the park once again with a perfect ending to one of the greatest modern game franchises. The icing on the cake was some pretty solid multiplayer action, which was recently expanded with Survival Mode earlier this month. Uncharted 4 was the final game that Nathan Drake deserved, which is why it is my choice for 2016’s Game of the Year.
Justin’s Pick: DOOM
In a generation where reboots and remaster abound, I’ve somewhat shielded myself from getting too excited about any of them. After all, it seems that most modern reboots are at best disappointments compared to their original incarnations, or a completely cynical cash-grab at worst. Somehow, DOOM avoided both of those things and ended being the best game released this year. It took what we loved about the original – it’s lightning fast ultra-violence set to a pumping soundtrack – and re-imagined it with modern bells and whistles. DOOM‘s gunplay is second to none, and it’s level and encounter design hearken back to the original DOOM, with maze-like layouts and enemies coming at you from all directions. Even the puzzles and challenge rooms and brilliantly designed. It’s for all these reason that I have chosen DOOM as my Game of the Year 2016.
Handheld Game Of The Year
Josh’s Pick: Pokemon Sun/Moon
It was somewhat of a down year for handheld games this year, and Pokemon Sun & Moon stood head and shoulders above the rest of the pack in my mind. Game Freak decided to mix it up and stray away from the formula that has been producing hit titles for the last 20 years, and it paid off in a major way. Pokemon Sun & Moon were a fresh experience, but still managed to keep the same charm that has made us all fall in love with the franchise.
Justin’s Pick: Kirby: Planet Robobot
Kirby is Nintendo’s secret weapon. They’ve been quietly pumping out the games for years with seemingly little fanfare, but always of exceptional quality. Planet Robobot may just be the best Kirby game yet, at least as far as the traditional games in the series are concerned. It takes what worked in 2013’s Kirby Triple Deluxe and simply makes it bigger. The biggest addition is that of the robot suits, powerful armor that Kirby can ride and gets his ability to absorb powers from enemies. Not to mention that Planet Robobot is packed in with some of the best mini games the series has ever seen – namely, a 3D Kirby game that looks similar to Super Mario 3D Land. Throw in some clever level design, plenty of collectibles, and the series staple of having the best music in the industry (you know it’s true) and you have the best handheld game I’ve played all year.
Indie Game Of The Year
Josh’s Pick: Stardew Valley
Not only was Stardew Valley the best Indie game of 2016, but it was also in the running for Game of the Year for me. Stardew Valley managed to capture the same charm of the Harvest Moon games of old, while adding a ton of its own features and mechanics to make it its own. With its recent port to Xbox One and Playstation 4, Stardew Valley is a must play for anyone looking to fill the void of a solid farming sim on consoles or PC.
Justin’s Pick: Hyper Light Drifter
Hyper Light Drifter is an old-school game in more than just artstyle. It’s wears it’s retro sensibilities on it’s sleeve with frantic, tight, pixel-perfect action inspired by The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Hyper Light Drifter succeeds in it’s goal of bringing players back to the 16-bit era, and if we didn’t know any better we’d swear we were playing a SNES game. My favorite part of Hyper Light Drifter, however, is just how lonely and strange it feels. The haunting music and lack of any voiced dialogue allows your imagination to take over and deliver an experience the likes of which we haven’t seen in years.
Strategy Game Of The Year
Ben’s Pick: XCOM 2
XCOM 2 is my choice because it perfectly represents what a great sequel should be. As expected, it is much prettier and has procedural maps for added variety. However, the way it forces you to play differently from Enemy Unknown is what makes it stand out. Nearly every battle has a set turn limit, which prevents the old strategy of moving very slowly, overwatching every turn to ensure your team is safe. Instead, you’re given a stealth-like state when missions start. This allows you to plan ambushes to swing the battle in your favor. These new mechanics were clearly meant to shake up the play styles players got comfortable with in Enemy Unknown, and that’s why XCOM 2 is my choice.
Justin’s Pick: Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
Sid Meier’s Civilization series has been reliably consuming our lives for nearly 30 years now. The last few Civilization games have been good at launch, but took an expansion or two before being able to eclipse the previous game. Not so with Civ VI, which is the most feature complete base game to date. It takes everything we loved about Civ V and it’s expansions and improves it, while at the same time shaking up the fundamentals of the game we love so much. The new Civics system as some much needed complexity to building your civilizations government, and the all new District system changes the way you build cities, transforming them from single-tile towns to sprawling, multi-tile metropolises. Some AI glitches aside, Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is the ultimate in “Just one more turn”.
Biggest Surprise Of The Year
Josh’s Pick: DOOM
After dabbling into the survival horror genre with mediocre results in Doom 3, Doom went back to its roots in 2016 with an insanely chaotic and entertaining reboot. It had all the gore, weapons, and grotesque creatures we’ve all grown to love over the years playing the Doom franchise, while also having a pretty intriguing story to go along with it. Top that off with the addicting Snap Map feature, and you’ll have endless hours of Doom action playing and creating your very own Doom levels.
Ben’s Pick: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
This is a game I feel never got the credit it deserved. Being a WiiU exclusive and a unusual crossover, its not a surprise that it didn’t appeal to a lot of people. What we got was a Persona-like RPG with a surprisingly strong, if subtle Fire Emblem twist. The main plot may have been simple, but the side stories really expanded on each important character. Both narrative developments as characters, as well as mechanical developments as party members. A excellent OST and overall charming style make Tokyo Mirage Sessions a very memorable experience.
Biggest Disappointment Of The Year
Josh’s Pick: Mighty No. 9
While I think No Man’s Sky is the no brainer pick here, I settled on Mighty No. 9 for one sole reason: it was made with thousands of hopeful players’ money. The Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter campaign was launched back in September 2013, being promised as a Mega Man spiritual successor with the project lead being Keiji Inafune. The campaign raised almost $4,000,000 with over 67,000 backers, and showed some promise for most of its development. Multiple delays and pushed release dates angered Kickstarter backers, and the end result was just an all-around awful game.
Ben’s Pick: Street Fighter V
Street Fighter 5 launched without several long-standing features, which made its single player side very shallow. This felt like a slap in the face to a lot of the more casual fanbase, as you would need fight-ready friends available to get the real value out of it. A lot of its characters are DLC, which admittedly, you can unlock with in-game currency. While I have no issue with unlockable characters, this feels like a grind from a Free-to-play game, which has no business in games that cost $80.
Justin’s Pick: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan
What a weird game to have on this list, right? I mean, no one actually expects licensed games to be good and it’s considered a rare treat if one is anything better than awful. I only put this on the list because of the developer’s pedigree: Platinum Games, creator of the best action games in gaming history. Even licensing properties and short development times can’t stop them, as last year’s Transformers: Devastation showed. Unfortunately for everyone, it looks like lightning didn’t strike twice and even the game design wizards at Platinum couldn’t work their magic twice. What should have been the best damn crossover ever (Platinum Games and TMNT) instead turned into a poorly performing mess of repetitive and mind-numbing combat. What makes it even worse is that there’s just so much potential here and it’s utterly wasted.
What were your picks for 2016’s top games? Were there any games that stood out or failed miserably for you? Let us know in the comments below!