Before we get started, I want to clarify to anyone who has stumbled upon our GOTY awards that we are a Nintendo-focused site, and our awards reflect that. This doesn’t mean that we don’t love and play games on other platforms, but for the sake of our GOTY awards, we stick to games that appear on Nintendo platforms only.
This year we have divided our awards into two categories, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Wii U, each of which have 4 awards; eShop Most Wanted, eShop GOTY, Most Wanted, and GOTY. For the sake of these awards we define eShop as anything that appears in North America as a digital download only (IE cannot be bought at a store as a retail product), while our regular awards apply to anything that can be bought in North America as a retail product.
It wasn’t the biggest year for the 3DS, but a pair of Zelda games, some key RPGs and a few solid eShop titles kept players busy throughout the year.
3DS eShop Most Wanted
While the 3DS is certainly slowing down, the eShop still has some solid titles on the way, albeit a full 5/6 of our most wanted nominations came from just 2 studios.
Not quite: Treasurenauts (11 points) Mutant Mudds: Super Challenge (5 points) Dementium II: Remastered (3 points)
BOXBOY! Was a surprise hit from Nintendo's Hal Laboratory in 2015, and apparently NWers want more, as the recently announced sequel is our 3DS eShop most wanted game for 2016 and beyond. Might No. 9's 2 year most wanted winning streak was ended as it slipped until second, with a sequel to another Mega Man clone right behind it! Renegade Studio's trio of upcoming games just didn't quite hit the mark, but at least they're still supporting the 3DS!
3DS eShop GOTY
It might not have been the busiest year for the 3DS eShop, but we definitely got some gems, many of which were surprise announcements that we didn't know about last year.
Not quite: Stretchmo (24 points) Mario vs Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars (18 points)
Image & Form's SteamWorld Dig was a big game at Negative World, which only missed its chance at an award in 2013 because a new Phoenix Wright game released on the eShop the same year. Heist may be a brand new concept, but we loved it just the same, and it edged out newcomer BOXBOY! for our 3DS eShop GOTY. The Gunman Clive sequel and the not really even a game Nintendo Badge Arcade tie for third, while Stretchmo sits just a point behind and Mario vs Donkey Kong not far behind that. Close race for third place!
3DS Most Wanted
Whether the NX handheld hits in 2016 as rumored or not, there are still plenty of 3DS games to play on the way, including many RPGs and point & click adventures.
And the winner is…
Fire Emblem Fates (75 points)
Runner-ups: Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (69 points) Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma (40 points)
Not quite: Ace Attorney 6 (26 points) Bravely Second: End Layer (25 points) Dragon Quest XI: In Search of Departed Time (19 points)
It's tough to beat a new Fire Emblem, especially one that looks as stunning as Fates, though the already out and playable as of this posting Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam sure came close! The third Zero Escape game took the number 3 spot, but Ace Attorney 6, Bravely Second and Dragon Quest XI all put up solid numbers as well.
A pair of Zelda games, a bunch of RPGs and more were in the mix for our best 3DS game of 2016.
And the winner is…
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (58 points)
Runner-ups: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D (33 points) Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (23 points)
Not quite: Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (22 points) Code Name S.T.E.A.M. (21 points) The Legend of Legacy (2 points)
It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that the new multiplayer Zelda game Tri Force Heroes takes our 3DS GOTY award, though the remake of a Zero personal favorite Majora's Mask put up an ok fight. Monster Hunter 4, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D and Code Name S.T.E.A.M. all finished within mere points of each other, while The Legend of Legacy barely got any votes at all.
PS. Thanks again to the members of the Negative World for an excellent 2015! Sorry I wasn't around as much as in the past, game dev is serious business! If you're reading this and not a member yet, get yourself signed up, ok? You can sign up right now for free in less than a minute. Go for it!
New faces like BOXBOY! and Code Name S.T.E.A.M. combined with stellar sequels like Tri-Force Heroes and Stretchmo made 2015 one of my favorite years for the 3DS. The New 3DS XL also made me a fan of old favorites all over again.
2016 is looking great so far. Fans of RPGs are going to have their hands full this year!
3DS didn't have any mega-hits for me this year, but the little surprises made it worthwhile. Going for Free Plays in Nintendo Badge Arcade is a surprisingly fun little ritual each day. Tri Force Heroes didn't quite live up to my lofty expectations, but it was a fun romp when I could get friends together to play. And man, BOXBOY! That came out of nowhere to snag my 3DS GOTY.
Nintendo Badge Arcade was a nice freebie. Getting to personalize my 3DS menu with those badges was another fun thing about 2015 for the 3DS.
Looking back at the results of Negative World's 2013 GOTY Awards for the 3DS reminded me how spectacular that year was for the system. 2015 made a valiant effort, but I think 2013 is still the year to beat.
Yeah, 2013 was pretty much all-around stellar for 3DS. It's doubtful that will ever be topped.
2015 was still pretty great, though. Monster Hunter 4 was a surprise hit for me, and it was great to finally get Majora's Mask 3D. Code Name S.T.E.A.M. is a great new IP, as well as Yo-Kai Watch. Getting "spiritual successors" to Luminous Arc and Final Fantasy Legend with Stella Glow and The Legend of Legacy respectively was really great. Nintendo rounded things out with new entries in the Animal Crossing and The Legend of Zelda franchises.
Even the "smaller" stuff 2015 gave us was pretty great...Pokémon Shuffle, Nintendo Badge Arcade...and of course Shovel Knight's "Plague of Shadows" DLC.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is really good, isn't it? Maybe it should have gotten more attention during the voting process? Though make no mistake; Tri Force Heroes is....just...so good. So good. There's a level of absurdity and playfulness (not to mention not nearly as intimidating) that Monster Hunter can't touch.
Plus it's easier to play Zelda with others, thanks to single-card download play. That goes a LONG way for multiplayer opportunities!
I don't think I touched my 3DS at all in 2015. BOXBOY! looks great (as does the second installment to come), and hope to give it a chance soon. I'm also quite interested in about Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 (thought the first was quite good) and Treasurnauts. Here's hoping I can get back into 3DS gaming in 2016.
Gave up on gaming last year, eh? Hey, it happens to the best of us sometimes. Once in a while, it's good to take a step back and pursue other interests for a while, then come back with a renewed freshness afterwards.
Maybe you can join us for some Final Fantasy Explorers soon?
Yup! Local multiplayer was a breeze to set up, thanks to the "built-in" availability of nearby players in my life, haha. Played a bit with local buddies as well. I'm like, super-rich with those Friendly Tokens!
@Zero Yeah, the stuff I mean is niche games like Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, Puzzle 'n Dragons, etc. I'd also rather vote for known entities in Most Wanted like Dragon Quest VII rather than a complete mystery like Dragon Quest XI. I'm not saying I expected those games to be on the ballot, simply saying it doesn't represent me, and also that there are more good games than what we see here.
@GameDadGrant Are we though? I mean, if we had like 2 or 3 people decide on the GOTY games perhaps, but once you open it up to general voting it's almost always going to be the more mainstream stuff that performs the best, because that is what the most people have played. Our mainstream might be slightly different than the mainstream mainstream, but it's still a given that, for instance, a lot more people here will have played a game with "Zelda" in its title than something like Monster Hunter.
I do think it is a bit of a shame because it means a lot of great titles just simply will never have a chance at winning GOTY here. But I'd have to completely change how we vote to change that.
I'm not so sure there is a way to make GOTY awards, even on smaller sites, be more than just mostly a popularity contest. Unless you have only one person do them, or only allow people to vote who have played everything on the ballot.
That said, I still think some of the results here differ from the "big" sites. For example, I'm pretty sure Tri Force Heroes did not win any GOTY awards anywhere else. I haven't actually looked, but the game did not review well, so it's hard to imagine it would win awards after that.
@Anand Both. What I said about MH4U holds true for the series for me: it's just not that good, but my friends are into it so they got me into it. Not that I think it's bad or anything, I wouldn't play a bad game even if my friends did. I just don't think they're great games, and the enjoyment I get is mostly sourced from the people I play with.