5. TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan (Platinum Games, Playstation 3/Playstation 4/Xbox 360/XBox One/PC)
4. No Man's Sky (Hello Games, Playstation 4/PC)
First, let me say that I never bought into the hype about the game or paid attention to it at all during its development, so I had no unfulfilled developer promises to be let down by or even really much of a frame of reference for what to expect from its gameplay. That said, at a first impression, No Man's Sky certainly has a lot of good things going for it - randomly generated planets with densely detailed environments, intuitive and fluid controls both on foot and in ships, a gorgeous visual style and a lot of content to explore with a plethora of upgrades and unlockable items. But without a decent motivating factor for the player, I really just have to ask "why should I keep playing once the initial novelty wears off"? The exploration aspect is fun for a time, but the worlds begin to feel very samey after a while, and the very limited inventory and sheer sparsity of some resources needed to create essential upgrades and recharge your suit (which seems to burn through batteries every 90 seconds or so) soon makes for a very frustrating experience full of unavoidable deaths. The game also presents what would appear to be an interesting narrative... but forces you to agonizingly uncover it one word at a time through finding monoliths and "knowledge stones" scattered randomly across worlds, which is just about the worst way I can think of to add "intrigue" and "mystery" to a game. Because, again, it just gets frustrating and more than a little boring when you've unlocked 150+ words and half the text you see is still gibberish. I sunk a solid 30 hours into No Man's Sky hoping for something to make it worthwhile, but it just felt much more like drawn-out busywork than the grand adventure the developers seemingly intended it to be.
Note from the future: I tried the game again in 2020, and the game is a much better experience after a number of subsequent patches and upgrades. There are now multiple games modes, many more story beats, the ability to build you own bases, raise animals, craft upgrades for your suit, multitool and ship, reshape the terrain on planets you've inhabited, and a proper multiplayer mode among numerous others. Granted, I would have much preferred they pushed the game back and included that stuff in the first place instead of releasing it in a threadbare state with a promise to "fix it later", but at least all of these updates are free, and there's no microtransactions or other dumb bullshit either (COUGHEliteDangerous). So if you wrote off No Man's Sky before, give it another try now; I think you'll have a lot more fun with it.
3. Metroid Prime: Federation Force (Next Level Games, Nintendo 3DS)
2. Star Fox Zero (Platinum Games, Wii U)
1. Mighty No. 9 (Comcept, Wii U/Vita/Playstation 3/Playstation 4/PC/Xbox One*)
memes. After all that - and as much as I hate to say it - the speculation about Mighty No. 9 not getting its due attention was entirely correct. The game looks very low-budget, comprised of garish colors with minimal shading and low-poly models that don't even move their mouths or change facial expressions in cutscenes. The music is entirely forgettable, the sound effects are flaccid and the constantly-repeated voice samples get grating in a hurry. The camera is frequently awkward and collision detection is often spotty, making platforming messy and unintuitive. Weapon changing is also puzzling, requiring the player to toggle between weapons with the shoulder buttons and then complete the switch by pressing Triangle, rather than simply letting them pause and select from a menu or quick-switch via shoulder buttons. All of these things contribute to an experience which, while it superficially resembles classic Mega Man, comes across as an amateurish imitation of the formula much more than it does a spiritual successor. If you really want the classic Mega Man experience, then do the right thing and save your money for the Legacy Collections instead. Because no matter what problems the classic Mega Man games had, none of them qualified their developers for a one-way trip to Kickscammed!
* Allegedly there are also Linux, Android, Vita, OS X and 3DS ports on the way, but there are still no launch dates announced for any of them...