Welcome to SnapThirty’s inaugural ‘Japanese Video Game of the Year Awards’ for the Year of 2015. It has been a hell of a year for Japanese video game fans with long awaited games hitting our shelves and some doing what they do best and remaining unreleased (I’m looking at you Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III). We have been enchanted by the wonderful worlds we have visited and the incredible journeys these games have taken us on. So in honor of this year in Japanese video games we present the awards for the best of the best and even a look at some of the most memorable moments in gaming this year. Without further adieu, these are the winners for SnapThirty’s 2015 ‘Japanese Video Game of the Year Awards’:
Japanese Video Game of the Year 2015 – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
In an era where open world epics have become almost commonplace for both role playing games and action games, none rose to the occasion quite like Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain as a fully open-ended stealth masterpiece of game design and action. We still don’t know what happened between Konami and Kojima Productions, but we do know it was messier than a divorce. Which is probably the right analogy as Kojima Productions has now become its own studio… without Metal Gear. With that said, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the final release by its original creators and visionaries. What Konami does with the franchise is anyone’s guess (*cough* erotic pachinko *cough*) but at least we can say Hideo Kojima and his team created quite possibly the greatest action game of the decade in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
Reader’s Vote: Japanese Video Game of the Year 2015 – Yo-Kai Watch
After several weeks of voting the readers of SnapThirty.com have voted Level-5’s Nintendo 3DS monster taming RPG game Yo-Kai Watch as their winner for Japanese Video Game of the Year 2015. For what it is worth it was a close contender for the same award as decided by the SnapThirty team.
Best Gameplay of 2015 – Yo-Kai Watch
When Yo-Kai Watch was first announced for a Western release many decried the game before it even hit shelves as yet another Pokemon knock-off. The criticism proved to be only taken on face value as diving into the game would go to show that Yo-Kai Watch reinvents the wheel with innovative gameplay that challenges gamers to think rather than just tap A repeatedly.
From the very first battle of Yo-Kai Watch it becomes abundantly clear that this is not your standard monster taming RPG. The game utilizes a real time battle system with the Yo-Kai creatures attacking of their own accord. The player is tasked with managing a team of Yo-Kai, charging their special abilities, rotating them in and out of combat on the fly, boosting their stats and healing when necessary. These actions are all performed in real time with simple yet intuitive commands on the 3DS’ touch screen. Ultimately this passive yet not so passive experience can make for frantic strategic battles the likes of which are utterly unheard of.
It is a rarity in this modern gaming environment to see genuinely new gameplay mechanics that not only work but also challenge all your preconceptions on what games should or could be. Not only does Yo-Kai Watch’s battle mechanics innovate the game also takes the idea of discovery to new heights with players able to search nearly every single nook and cranny of the world map for Yo-Kai. The game rewards you for exploration and the thrill of discovery is worlds apart in comparison to others in the same genre. Are you sick of running back and forth in the same old patch of grass? Well Yo-Kai Watch lets you discover the magic world beneath its surface in every inch of its map.
Yo-Kai Watch could really easily have been another monster taming game in the same vein as Pokemon but instead Level-5 chose to create something completely and utterly unique and what results is easily some of the best new gameplay ideas and mechanics in years.
Best Visuals of 2015 – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Regardless of what platform you choose there is no question that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a technical ecstasy, one of the few games that dares to push the boundaries of incredibly powerful technology that most developers barely scratch the surface of. Metal Gear has always excelled in sheer hyper realism, especially with its character models, but with The Phantom Pain they add an amazing amount of realism into the game world. No longer does it need to create an illusion of a living breathing world, instead the game thrusts you right into a living breathing world filled with breathtaking attention to detail, not to mention you explore three major continents. Afghanistan may not be the nicest place in the world, but Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain somehow turned it into a beautiful and unforgettable game world.
Best Soundtrack of 2015 – Xenoblade Chronicles X
What makes a great video game? Is it visuals? Is it gameplay? Is it the story? Sure, those elements all make a GOOD video game…but I didn’t say anything about a “good” video game. A GREAT video game is one that features, granted, all of the previously-listed elements, but there’s one that I left out for the sake of proving a point, and that of which I’m referring to is…the soundtrack.
Yes, you’re right; every single video game has a soundtrack, this is completely true, but I’d bet my bottom dollar you can only remember songs from certain games you’ve played as opposed to all. It is soundtracks like THAT in which I’m referring to. Sega’s Madworld has a fantastic soundtrack, Square Enix’s The World Ends With You has a fantastic soundtrack, Konami’s Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has a fantastic soundtrack…and so does Nintendo’s latest Triple A title Xenoblade Chronicles X.
What makes for a memorable science-fiction video game soundtrack? Booming orchestral pieces, the electrifying shredding of a masterfully-wielded guitar, the smooth sounds of contemporary urban beats, all this and so much more features on the soundtrack of Xenoblade Chronicles X, and although it sounds like one incredible jumble of genres, it fits the game to an absolute tee! The soundtrack is perfectly composed, allowing players to gain the utmost of any given scenario. Whether you’re fighting a boss monster, running around New Los Angeles, or exploring the outer reaches of the planet Mira, the soundtrack has been made to perfectly suit.
Writing about music in anything is hard simply because I feel as though I’m not skilled enough to properly explain just why it is that a soundtrack is so hard-hitting…that’s why I’ve attached one of the songs for your listening pleasure. Not quite convinced that Xenoblade Chronicles X deserves the award for Best Soundtrack? You soon will be!
And now for something a little bit different…
Character Most Likely To Get Whissed Off – Whisper (Yo-Kai Watch)
Most Unreleased Game of 2015 – Final Fantasy XV
Most Obviously Villainous Character Who Turned Out To Not Actually Be A Villain – Aitor Cazador (Inazuma Eleven GO: Light and Shadow)
Least Thought Put Into Naming of Animals In A Series – The Diamond Pets Of Metal Gear Solid
Best Use Of David Bowie Song That Was Later Covered By Grunge Band Nirvana – ‘The Man Who Sold The World” in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Well that wraps things up for SnapThirty’s inaugural Japanese Video Game of the Year Awards for the year of 2015. To see how the SnapThirty team came to their tough decisions check out the SnapThirty decision podcast for a look into the decision making process. Be sure to leave a comment below with your thoughts on the year of 2015 in games and what you think of our choices. This has been SnapThirty’s Japanese Video Game of the Year Awards, you now know the what is good and what is not, because we know that kind of information and now so do you. You’re welcome!