OK, so it's technically almost the end of January. What can we say - we're a little bit slow off the mark. But with so many options to choose from, and so many cool games coming our way over the next
12 11 months, it was always going to be hard to pick just three each. But much head scratching later, and after many late night deliberations and difficult choices, we've finally managed to come up with a list - a list that spans genres, platforms and pretty much every other category you can imagine.
These may not go on to be the biggest selling games of 2015 - but they're sure as heck the ones you should be excited about. Here's our staff picks.
Splatoon (Wii U)
I'm not a huge fan of shooting games. Games with guns. Often the dull colour scheme that goes with them. But the brightly coloured ink shooting Splatoon looks incredible. Instead of using guns to kill, here you're using guns that fire ink, with the idea being to cover the playing field in your team's colour of ink. Better yet, at the touch of a button, you can turn into a squid (why not, eh?), letting you swim very through areas of team coloured-ink - and gain access to new vantage points, or simply evade attack. In the most recent Nintendo Direct, it was also shown that there'll be character customisation which I'm really looking forward to exploring. I think Splatoon is just what the Wii U needs right now. It's new, different, exciting, and will almost certainly have that Nintendo magic when playing with others.
The Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask 3D (3DS)
OK, so it's technically not a brand new game - but it's the Zelda remake fans have been waiting a very long time for. The first 3DS remake of an N64 Zelda, Ocarina of Time 3D proved massively popular amongst fans and newcomers alike, giving a whole new generation chance to find out for themselves what made Zelda the gigantic series it is today - so The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the other N64 Zelda classic, has us excited. As one of the people who didn't play the N64 original, I'm really looking forward to trying out the 3D remake, and sinking myself into exploring the fantasy world, and weird time-travel concept. I'll be completely honest, I've not got the greatest track record for completing Zelda games - but this time, this time I will see it through until the end! Honest!
Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition (3DS)
A very recent addition to my 2015 wish list is Puzzle & Dragons on the Nintendo 3DS. Puzzle & Dragons is a hugely popular mobile title in Japan, so it was only a matter of time before it broke onto the console market. A match-3 gem game with RPG and story elements to it, it's a game that adds an extra layer to the match 3 fun, letting you collect new companions and level them up in battle. Kind of like Pokémon.
As an added bonus, this 3DS package contains not one, but two Puzzle and Dragon games - the dragon heavy Puzzle & Dragons Z, and the new Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros Edition - a familiar take on the match 3 game, only this time, with Mario characters and items. I get really into gem matching games, so I'm really keen to play Puzzle & Dragons. With Doctor Who Legacy taking up a lot of time on my iPad, Pokémon Link Battle, and the soon to be released free to play 3DS title Pokémon Shuffle, it's going to be a busy year for match 3 fans...
Zelda U (Wii U)
Anyone who isn't excited for a new Legend of Zelda game must be mad, especially one as ambitious looking as the Wii U version. All it took was one, gorgeous, expansive, cel shaded screenshot to make jaws across the world drop - and with plans for an enormous open world the likes of which Hyrule has never seen, I can't wait to hop on Epona once more and see what the world has to offer. Whether that be secret dungeons or a cast of quirky characters, I'm sure to love it all. This one can't come soon enough.
Final Fantasy XV (PS4/Xbone)
Now, in terms of Final Fantasy games, I'm somewhat late to the party. Embarrassing admission time: I've never actually played ANY Final Fantasy game. I'm new to the PlayStation, only just having purchased a PS4 this year as my first every Sony console, so Final Fantasy XV will be my first ever chance to experience the role playing series I've so long admired from afar. It looks beyond beautiful, the world and the story seem rich, and I'm looking forward to finally entering the fanbase.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (XBone)
I absolutely loved Tomb Raider 2013 (heathen! - Ed). The game play was fun, the world was enjoyable, the new Lara was far more relatable; I simply liked everything that it did with the reboot and can't wait to see how they'll take it further in the sequel. The story of the first instalment came to a quite firm end [warning: SPOILERS], the Sun Goddess was killed and Lara returned home triumphant, so it's not as if they can continue onward from it, so I'm interested to see what kind of narrative the next will offer.
new Fire Emblem (3DS)
While there's very little information on this only-just-announced title, if the next Fire Emblem is anywhere near as mind-blowingly epic as the last instalment (Fire Emblem Awakening) it could well end up as 3DS game of the year. Maintaining the same beautiful graphical style as its predecessor, with the familiar, incredible turn-based strategic gameplay we've come to know and love (despite Nintendo's mention that "it'll play differently than the last one"), this is right at the top of my most wanted games. We can only hope it's as excellent as Awakening - and so far, based on the trailer, it's shaping up to be. Even if it doesn't have a name yet.
Yoshi's Woolly World (Wii U)
Combining the graphical style of Kirby's Epic Yarn and the platforming gameplay of Yoshi's Island, Yoshi's Woolly World Wii U is a cutesy platformer starring Nintendo's most adorable dinosaur. Bringing with it the same two player co-op that made Kirby's Epic Yarn great, Yoshi retains all his special powers in woollen form, with the ability to swallow enemies to make eggs, which he can then throw to defeat enemies and trigger switches. Interestingly, we also understand Yoshi will come complete with a range of new "wool-powers", much of which are yet to be seen.
Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS)
A portable, free-to-play (no subscription necessary! yay!) real-time action Final Fantasy MMORPG... 'nuff said. Reminiscent of the Crystal Chronicles saga, Explorers features a fleshed out job system, character customisation and the ability to fight epic monstrosities amongst a party of allies in real-time. Released in Japan last year, trademarking in the US and UK suggests Explorers could see a localisation sometime this year in both regions.
Kirby & The Rainbow Curse (Wii U)
It's more Kirby - what's not to get excited about?! In his brand new Wii U adventure, the Kirbster takes the ultimate lazy route - instead of walking and jumping, he just rolls around all the levels, guided by the paths you draw on the Touch Screen. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to the pink puffball's first DS outing, Kirby: Power Paintbrush, Kirby & The Rainbow Curse adds an adorable claymation style, oodles of collectables and drop-in/drop-out multiplayer, with friends playing as Waddle Dees, who can carry the idle Kirby to the goal when the going gets tough. It may not be another Kirby's Epic Yarn, but we're sure Kirby & The Rainbow Curse will be almost as good.
Tales of Zestiria (PS3)
Anyone who knows me probably saw this one coming, given that I've been a huge fan of the Tales of series of role-playing games ever since I picked up Tales of Graces f on a whim from the local CEX. Tales of Zestiria promises more of a return to the series' role playing roots, with a more fantasy-like setting, alongside the staple fast-paced battles, light-hearted humour and an epic story the series is known for, this time revolving around the fight against the 'Hellion', beings created from humanity's negative emotions. Marking the series' 20th anniversary in Japan, Tales of Zestiria was supposed to be launching simultaneously around the world - but given that it was out in Japan a few days ago, we imagine that's not the case any more. Still - sometime in 2015 would be nice...
Hatoful Boyfriend (PS Vita/PS4)
Generally speaking, I'm quite partial to a good visual novel - epic stories with lots of reading, and minimum chance of me cocking up with my less-than-stellar reactions. I also have a penchant for anything that's a bit out of the ordinary, funny or weird. Therefore, Hatoful Boyfriend, an avian dating sim in which you try to woo (or should that be coo?!) various eligible pigeons, playing as the only human in a school full of birds. Taking the form of everything from narcoleptic teachers to pidgeon biker gangs to creepy doctors, there's a lovebird for every taste - but it's not all as benign as it seems, with a deep, dark secret lurking around the corner, that may just end in you being murdered in your bed... It may have technically hit the PC last year, but the fact it's coming to the PS Vita (and PS4) later this year means it still counts - especially as my Stone Age computer probably couldn't run it anyway.
Danganronpa: Another Episode (PS Vita)
For me, 2014 will forever be remembered as the year I first played Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. A totally bizarre visual novel that sees a group of high school students trapped inside a school at the behest of a cuddly teddy bear headmaster, and forced to kill to each other to survive, it was a real breath of fresh air, with a story that was second to none, some fantastically memorable characters, a mean sense of humour, and more twists and turns than spaghetti junction in the ice. While last year also saw a slightly disappointing sequel, 2015 should hopefully see the release of a third game in the series - and one that takes in it a kind of different direction.
With a story set in between Danganronpa 1 and 2, and with the visual novel gameplay ditched in favour of a third person "shouter", which sees you yelling at the dastardly Monokuma with a megaphone to damage him (although sadly, you don't have to really yell at your Vita), this is right at the top of my most wanted list.
Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4/Xbox One)
Ever partial to a bit of swords and sorcery, the Witcher 3 ticks all the boxes to make me excited. With viking longboats, beards, and magic, and a story that promises to take you from the darkest of taverns to the whitest of snow kissed mountaintops, this is a game that looks amazing in trailers - and even better when you see it running. While we have a few reservations that the size of the world may end up making the game feel a little bit empty, we have every faith in the dev team to deliver a role playing game of epic proportions - and the fact it's recently been delayed, again, until May, is proof of the effort being put into getting it right.
Quantum Break (Xbox One)
While it seems to have disappeared off the radar as of late, Quantum Break has me excited. Not because of the potentially slightly strange narrative combination of linking the events of the game in with its very own TV series - but because it's from the studio that brought us one of the Xbox 360's finest games - and finest stories - in Alan Wake.
With a time bending storyline that revolves around time itself - time that keeps stopping - and a storyline that promises to change depending on the decisions you make, this will be a game with epic set pieces, plenty of spectacle - and perhaps most importantly, a gripping story tying it all together. With any luck, we might get a new theme song from the Poets of the Fall, too. Here's hoping it makes 2015.
Evolve (PC/Xbox One/PS4)
Now, Evolve may only be out within the next couple of weeks, but it just happens to be one of the games I'm most looking forward to this year. You might know developer Turtle Rock as being the team behind the similar classic zombie slaying title Left 4 Dead, a game that I clocked more hours with than any other on the Xbox 360.
Evolve takes some of the best parts of L4D and morphs them into an asymmetrical 4v1 game of Hunters vs Monster, playing drastically differently depending on the side and class you choose, as each have their own strengths and weaknesses.
While predominantly a multiplayer title, it's nice to know this won't be skimping on single player content for the the solo maestros amongst us either, allowing players access to all the same characters, maps and modes as the multiplayer component. You can even unlock the additional hunters and monsters. And while its surprisingly easy to pick up and play the opportunity to implement very different tactics per game can make for a very tense and exciting experience.
Mario Maker (Wii U)
Originally designed as a course making tool for internal Nintendo staff, Mario Maker is a Wii U exclusive that will allow players to build their own custom Mario levels with elements of classic SNES title Mario Paint thrown in for good measure.
If it wasn't enough that Nintendo are finally giving players an official tool to do this (as after all there are several unofficial ways of building levels), what sets this particular title apart is the game's ability to instantly switch the game's assets and art to between various versions of the Mario Bros. game series, from a selection of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and the New Super Mario Bros. series. It's also more than just a palette swap, as changing the theme will also change the mechanics, physics and behaviours of Mario and his enemies to that of their respective games.
Even if your not a fan of DIY level making, there's a lot here to look forward to. Nintendo are implementing an online sharing function for players to upload their creations and share them with the rest of the world, offering a open door to the online Mario level making community - and as anyone who's ever played anything like 'Cat Mario' (Google it) can tell you, this is a very good thing. If it takes off like we hope, expect to be playing a never ending amount of impossible and fun Mario levels. You'll never need another Mario game.
Heart Forth Alicia (PC, PS4, PS Vita, Wii U)
Heart Forth Alicia is a side scrolling 90's inspired "Metroidvania" style RPG platformer. You play as a Alicia, a wizard girl on a journey to save her floating island home of Auster from a Spirit that threatens to destroy it.
This one is my personal wild card. Having stumbled across this indie game on Kickstarter I ultimately decided to 'back it', and it's now become one of the games I'm most looking forward to this year.
Drawing on classic 16 and 32-bit era games such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Xenogears and the Zelda series the game combining classic style platforming gameplay, modern weapon & magic based battle mechanics and a rich story. The most exciting aspect of the game is a return to Metroidvania mechanics, meaning that as you progress though the game, you'll be able to upgrade your abilities and unlock new ones that will help you progress and unlock hidden areas. You'll start as underpowered novice but by the end of the game end up as a magic wielding god.
Considering that Nintendo has no known plans to release any new 2D Metroid games any time soon, this is the next best thing. A must buy for anyone with a love of retro titles.