With another year of gaming in the books, it's time to look back on some of the great experiences that 2015 had to offer. My five favorite games of 2015 may surprise you, or they may not. Either way, these are the titles that I enjoyed most this year, in no particular order.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Batman: Arkham Knight marks the final chapter in what is the greatest comic-book-themed video game franchise of all time, bar none. Despite some minor frustration I experienced with the Batmobile's vehicular combat, I absolutely loved this game. Arkham Knight hit all the right buttons, providing everything I've come to expect from a Rocksteady-developed Batman game. The story, the voice talent, and the dozens of side missions (combined with a massive, explorable Gotham City) all contribute to a fitting end to the Batman: Arkham saga.
Super Mario Maker
Super Mario Maker is the game I never knew I always wanted. Anyone who has ever held a video game controller has most likely played a Mario game. Nintendo's mustachioed plumber has been a staple in gaming for over three decades, but this marks the first time Mario fans have had the opportunity to create the Mushroom Kingdom experience they've always dreamed of. With intuitive level-building tools that are perfectly suited to the Wii U Gamepad, and an endless supply of user-generated content from fellow Mario fans, Super Mario Maker is a must-buy title for Wii U owners.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Coming in just under the wire for 2015 is the spiritual successor to one of the best JRPGs of the Wii generation. After spending many hours with the 3DS port of the original Xenoblade Chronicles (which was also a contender for this list), I was extremely hyped to see what this new installment had to offer. So far, I am pleasantly surprised. Xenoblade Chronicles X takes all of the best ingredients from the original game and stirs them up in a much bigger pot. The game world is absolutely massive. As you explore the planet Mira, you will encounter hundreds of unique creatures — some docile and some ferocious. There is a seemingly endless supply of side quests and things to keep you busy, not to mention the fact that this is one of the best looking games on Wii U. The size, scope, and depth of this game is almost overwhelming, and I'm loving every minute of it.
Anyone who knows me can tell you that I'm not a fan of sports or sports-based games in general. So, when I first saw Rocket League, I wasn't sure if it would be for me. Within minutes of starting my first match, I was sold. The game is incredibly fun to play. Apparently, soccer becomes infinitely more interesting when you add customizable cars and turbo boosts into the mix (no offense to soccer fans or the rest of the world). Nothing beats hitting the perfect shot or making an epic save, especially if you can manage to do it with style, by flipping, spinning, or boosting across the field. Seriously, Rocket League is an absolute blast to play, even if you lose the match!
I was completely ignorant of Broken Age — the crowd-funded adventure game created by Tim Schafer — until it was released on PlayStation 4 earlier this year. I became very intrigued by the game when I learned more about it and caught a glimpse of its unique art style. I've always loved point-and-click adventure games for their humor and elements of puzzle solving. Broken Age definitely scratches that itch, but it also offers an amazing story featuring unique characters. Said characters are brought to life by means of a superb voice cast, featuring the likes of Elijah Wood, Masasa Moyo, Jack Black, Wil Wheaton, and Pendleton Ward (creator of Adventure Time). By the end of the game, I only wanted more. Here's hoping Mr. Schafer will eventually grace us with a sequel, after he's finished with all those sweet remasters he's been working on.
Honorable Mention - Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
Since the Nathan Drake Collection is comprised of previously released games, it didn't feel right to include it on my list of my five favorite games of 2015, but it definitely deserves a special shoutout here. Bluepoint Studios did a great job bringing one of gaming's greatest trilogies to a new generation of PlayStation fans, and these games have never looked better. The saga of Nathan Drake as told by Naughty Dog features nonstop action, cool characters, excellent voice acting, and great storytelling. Each one is better than the last. (Yes, I am one of those guys who likes Uncharted 3 better than Uncharted 2. Sue me.) If you own a PS4 and have never played these games, then this is a package you should not pass up. Replaying these classics is also getting me hyped up for Uncharted 4 in 2016. But, I'll discuss that in a different list...
So, there you have it: my favorite games of 2015! What were your favorites? Let us know in the comments!