Every year the game industry prides itself on its big name, big budget AAA titles. These titles are announced usually months or years beforehand and help gamers determine how they are to spend their money and time going into the future based on internet hype and publisher marketing. While these AAA games will receive their fair share of time in the spotlight, the beauty of each year comes in the surprise hits that no one sees coming or at the very least don’t have this sort of expectation attached to them. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at four games that really made an impact on the video game scene despite having to contend with the AAA hype trains ruling over the 2015 industry.
Splatoon – Wii U – May 29, 2015
When everyone is focusing on when the next big Mario or Zelda will release on the Wii U, eccentric and kid-friendly multiplayer games often become swept under the rug, especially if they belong to a new franchise that no one has played before. Splatoon might have been completely forgotten if it wasn’t for Nintendo’s utmost confidence in the new I.P. Because of the vigorous marketing placed upon the game by Nintendo, people actually gave the game a chance and found it to be one of the most charming and light-hearted multiplayer experiences of the year.
Splatoon pits you and three other players in a territorial based competitive battle that will have you trying to splat ink on as much of the arena as possible before the time runs out. A simple concept but with so many imaginative weapons, customizable gear to earn, and hip and fresh clothing to buy, it’s hard not to fall in love with Splatoon.
Splatoon became the fastest selling new franchise for the Wii U which is a much needed breath of fresh air for Nintendo’s under-performing console. You also have to admire the dedication Nintendo had for the fledgling franchise as it is still being supported, seven months after release, with free DLC that includes new gear, clothing, weapons and even entire game modes.
Undertale – PC -September 15, 2015
Prior to Undertale‘s critically acclaimed release, the quirky indie RPG remained known mainly to only the 2,500 people who successfully backed the project in 2013. But after an exclusively word-of-mouth viral campaign, it quickly grew a huge and dedicated fanbase rivaling even that of Toby Fox’s previously related project, Homestuck, as well as Scott Cawthon’s Five Nights at Freddy’s.
The game blended a unique bullet-hell combat system with turn-based RPG style battling. But even with a stellar combat system, Undertale‘s key to success had to be the humor stemming from its well written and lovable characters. Each and every character in Undertale is embedded with so much humor and heart, something most AAA games couldn’t dream of undertaking. Vibrant characters and quick-thinking puzzle style combat mixed together to make one hell of an indie RPG concoction and earned it several perfect ratings as well as multiple nominations at the 2015 Game Awards.
Super Mario Maker – Wii U – September 11, 2015
Even though Nintendo have pushed Super Mario Maker hard since its reveal at E3 2014, the game seemed like a hard pill to justifiably swallow. After all, there were plenty of free Super Mario level creators on the internet and with a $60 price tag, Super Mario Maker just didn’t sit well with some people. Fortunately for Nintendo, Super Mario Maker was a play-and-see experience. Not only did the level creator offer four different Mario game engines with which to toy around but it offered an abundance of customizable items and enemies, making the possibilities of each custom level virtually endless, something no other Mario level creator had done.
Nintendo might not have had that major hit they needed for a big 2015 lineup for the Wii U but Super Mario Maker added something completely original and intuitive, becoming a must have for any Nintendo lover in the process.
Rocket League – PC, PS4 – July 7, 2015
Rocket League answers the question that has been burning in your head for ages. “What if race cars could play soccer?” Wait, you weren’t actually wondering how that would be like? Well you are in luck because the people at Psyonix have made you care by creating a sports/racing hybrid that is executed so well it earned the award for Best Indie Game at the 2015 Game Awards.
Rocket League‘s concept as a whole seemed out of the ordinary, but seeing it in action, the whole experience couldn’t be more natural. The developers have to, not only, pin down the movement and feeling of driving but also perfect the physics of hitting a giant soccer ball around the arena. Needless to say they were able to accomplish both of these feats making the core game feel just as it should.
Because of its addicting and cooperative/competitive online multiplayer, Rocket League snagged two trophies at The Game Awards as well as the adoration of millions of fans.