In the coming days we're going to be turning our attention to 2016, so this seems like a good time to reflect on the year that has just passed. In the first of our articles to do just that some of our writers have picked out their stand-out moments or thoughts on the year.
Take a look below and then share your own thoughts in the comments.
The biggest standout moment to me this year was easily Splatoon, and all the hype leading up to its release. To me, Splatoon embodied far more than just a major new shooter for Nintendo, its release was a sign that summer was just over the horizon. I remember thinking to myself when I first saw the release date that I would be in the final stretch of my high school career when it came out. My first experience with Splatoon came via the global testfire ahead of its release, and I happened to be in California at the time for my sister's graduation. Considering how much change was going on around the time of its release, it's become a 'summer' game in my mind, and the memories and positive feelings of that period come rushing back to me every time I play it.
Another standout moment for me this year was Nintendo's E3 presentation, but not necessarily in a good way. I felt like last year, Nintendo absolutely knocked it out of the park and 'won' E3, so I was hoping that they could find some way to top that with this year's presentation. It was decent, and the games announced were interesting, but the implicit message that I was overwhelmingly getting from it was, "We're winding down Wii U development". I love my Wii U and think it's a console with a solid library of games, but there's no denying that it's the weakest link in Nintendo's chain. Third parties avoid it like the plague and I don't think it makes much sense to continue dumping water into a bathtub that has a massive hole in the bottom. I'm filled with a lot of hope for whatever the NX is, though, and I believe that Nintendo is going to come out guns blazing at this year's E3.
Nintendo's 2015 E3 presentation may have left fans rather wanting when it came to new title announcements, but the Muppet-centric opening was Nintendo at its kooky, unexpected best. You can't help but wonder how these things go down. Was everyone involved at a big brainstorming session, or did Reggie get just get a script with notes like "[The Reggie Muppet grows a beak]"?
It's a bittersweet moment to think this was the last way Mr. Iwata communicated with fans on a widespread scale, but also feels strangely right. He was always much more than a meme or caricature of himself, but never above letting himself become one for our amusement.
Looking back on 2015, this year for me has been a celebration of Satoru Iwata's life. His contribution to both Nintendo and the video game industry in general will not be forgotten.
Iwata's involvement with HAL Laboratory and series such as Kirby & Earthbound originally cemented his place within the industry and eventually saw him go on to lead Nintendo as president during the successful DS and Wii generation.
What is most heartening about Satoru Iwata is the fact he touched many peoples' lives by sharing his passion and enthusiasm for video games and morphing them into the fans that they are today.
So whenever you play a game by yourself or with others, just remember, this is Iwata's legacy. Playing and enjoying video games, and most of all, sharing these experiences with the people in your life.
2015 wasn't the greatest year for Nintendo here in the U.S., but it wasn't the worst either. It seems increasingly like the end is near for the Wii U as the NX casts a larger shadow. We only saw a handful of first-party releases on the system, but they were almost universally excellent titles.
Splatoon taught me I could still enjoy shooters, even after Call of Duty ruined them for me. Super Mario Maker was absolutely everything I hoped it would be; especially after the update that introduced some Nintendo-made courses to the mix. Yoshi's Woolly World was my favourite game on the Wii U this year and of all time.
Nothing for me was more impactful and hype-inducing than Nintendo's leftfield Smash DLC announcements. I'm not a big Smash Bros. fan (sorry), but when Ryu was announced I couldn't throw my money at the screen fast enough. It was a huge reveal, and yet Sakurai and company managed to overshadow it with Cloud Strife. There was never any chance of that happening in my mind, but it did. I firmly believe this was the MEGATON announcement Famitsu was talking about back in 2002.
For me, a big fan of Nintendo's quirkiest products, my greatest moment of 2015 had to be the release of the compact New 3DS model in the states. I had imported the more diminutive New 3DS model during its Japanese launch, but wanted that goodness for my domestic games. Finally having it here and being able to enjoy its faceplated goodness has made me a happy camper.
It's been an off year for Nintendo in many respects, but an off year for Nintendo is like playing the worst Zelda or Mario game— It's still really, really fun.
There was something that felt really special about playing a level my friend had made in Super Mario Maker. He'd built a few quick, goofy stages to get a feel for the experience, and then really committed to making a quality level, spending hours on making it just right to a theme he had in his head. After that, I got to hop in and experience something he'd crafted, poking around for secrets as I worked my way to the end.
I felt this odd connection with him while playing the game. With painting or writing, you get a sense of who the creator is through their creation, and while Mario Maker might not jump to mind as an artistic, creative outlet, it draws on those same places in people. It's about taking an empty space and filling it with something you want someone to experience and feel. Maybe that feeling you want people to experience is frustration, but it's still a creation that stirs up an emotion.
I got to see a good friend's creativity at play through Mario Maker. I got to interact with something they had made through an easy-to-understand system of controls. We all laughed as I blundered my way through it, but there were also these happy details as I played. Every trap was crafted with care. Every little visual cue was painstakingly put in to give the level the right feeling. And my friend had done that. Not some artist or developer I would never meet. My good friend.
Connection and creativity meet in Mario Maker. It may be just a game about making silly (viciously difficult) levels, but it puts some wonderful creative tools in the hands of ordinary people. This is why I love Nintendo. They make special, incredible games that bring us all closer together.
It's hard not to choose the moment that we learned of Satoru Iwata's passing. It's interesting how we tend not to appreciate things or people until we've lost them, and I know that for myself personally, it wasn't until I reflected on the life and achievements of Iwata that I came to understand just how great of a person he was.
One need only watch a few sessions of Iwata Asks to understand. His knowledge, experience, and sense of understanding immediately stick out, and it's hard not to smile while you watch the magic unfold. How many other corporate professionals can you find engaging in the informative yet humorous antics that Iwata employed on a regular basis?
In my own career path, watching the tributes of Iwata made me realize what draws me back to video games after all these years. Above all, Iwata was about making people happy, and there's something to be said for that. After experiencing some slight snags in my plan to eventually transition to working in the games industry, Iwata's death ironically helped cement my desire to enter this field. Even in passing Iwata is helping create more happiness and joy, and we truly owe him a debt for his work.