Before I dive into my Best of and Worst of 2015 Lists over the next few days, I wanted to take an entry to highlight some Miscellaneous awards of this year. Inclusion on this list does not preclude an appearance on a later list; these are just some random things I wanted to call out from this year that exist outside of the Best Of Lists.
Best Twitch Game - #IDARB
Shortly after #IDARB launched on Xbox One and PC, I wrote a piece on my old IGN Blog about How #IDARB Became the Most "Next-Gen" Game I've Seen. If you don't feel like reading through the list, the thesis is essentially that the game's ability to tie into Twitch chats and allow the audience to affect the game did more to define what the true next generation of gaming will be. It's not about incrementally better graphics and bigger worlds; it's about utilizing the way gamers and spectators can interact. That's why I think #IDARB is the best game out there for the Twitch platform.
Best One-Man Show - Axiom Verge
Up front, I'll admit that by all accounts Undertale would be a worthy candidate for this award as well. But I haven't gotten around to Toby Fox's Undertale yet so I'm awarding this to Tom Happ for his exquisite work on Axiom Verge. The story of Axiom Verge was one of the most fascinating indie game stories this year. One man spent about five years of his life developing every aspect of the game, creating not only an impressive homage to Super Metroid, but a phenomenal game in its own right and one of the best 2D Metroidvania games in years.
Best Original Soundtrack - Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
The follow-up to 2012's Hotline Miami, Hotline Miami 2 was bigger in nearly every way: story, level design, and (maybe most importantly) music. While I took issue (alongside many a player) with the larger levels meaning more death by enemies off-screen that you didn't even know were there, this had the (perhaps) unintended side effect of giving the player more time with the game's trippy, techno-fused soundtrack. The week I spent with this game was hell on my thumbs, but heaven on my ears.
Best Earthbound Homage - Citizens of Earth
Nearly every aspect I encountered in my time with Citizens of Earth was a delightful homage of the Super Nintendo cult classic Earthbound. Your brother is a Delivery Man (just like Ness' sister was a Delivery Girl), the battle screens and enemies in both games are similar, and it oozes the Americana style of the Earthbound, just to highlight a few. If you're a fan of Earthbound, you owe it to yourself to pick up Citizens of Earth.
Best Daily Distraction - Final Fantasy Record Keeper
As I touched on in early November, Final Fantasy Record Keeper, even with it's simplistic casual mobile gameplay has managed to become my favorite Final Fantasy game in quite some time. Square Enix and DeNA have put out a steady stream of new content and updates for the game that have given me something new to play nearly every day since launch. I'm not playing the game in long stretches but I have sat down with it for probably an average of 10-20 minutes per day since launch. That's nearly 2-4 full days of playing in 2015. So I spent more time with this game than almost every other game I played this year and it's certainly the one that has had the most longevity.