Tokyo Game Show just closed the gates on its 2016 edition, and it was a great show. While it was a bit short on groundbreaking announcements, it had a very solid showing, with many games that will delight us in the next year or so, and most of them were playable on the show floor.
With the fourth and final day gone, it’s time to name our winners for the year.
As usual, keep in mind that the list below (or at least most of it) represents our personal feelings and taste. It’s perfectly ok to disagree, and you can and should feel free to express your own winners in the comments.
Speaking of taste, this Tokyo Game Show marks the beginning of our Reader’s Choice Award, voted directly by you. The response was much stronger than we anticipated, and you can expect to be able to express your preference like this at every edition of the DualShockers awards from now on. And since we’re keeping the best thing for last, you can find the winner out at the bottom of the post.
But i have rambled enough, so without further ado, I leave you with our winners.
Game of the Show: Final Fantasy XV (Business Division 2 – Square Enix)
Best PS4 Game
Best Xbox One Game
Final Fantasy XV has been a long way coming, but with just a couple of months to go before release, it finally seems ready to delight those who had the patience to wait.
The latest build of the game, playable at Tokyo Game Show, felt smooth and solid, with absolutely gorgeous visuals, engaging gameplay, and a powerful emotional impact felt from the first minute (but you haven’t seen that part yet, unless you played the demo in person).
Competition for all the awards won by Final Fantasy XV was extremely strong, but if the whole game is as good as the first 40 minutes we played, we’re in for a treat that we’ll remember for a long, long time.
Biggest Shocker!!!: NieR: Automata (PlatinumGames – Square Enix)
Best PC Game
NieR: Automata was not playable at the show, but what was was showcased on stage was plenty to make it up for that. The return of beloved characters from the first game was great, but when we saw actual gameplay, many jaws dropped.
While our “Biggest Shocker!!!” special prize is basically a honorable mention, this time around the name is quite appropriate (even more so to the adorably quirky nature of the game’s creator Yoko Taro). The crazy action and the drastic perspective changes that were showcased during a stage event. literally made me shout “What the F…!” (in a very good way) in the middle of the press room where I was recording the show, with the obvious amusement of a few tens of mostly Japanese journalists.
Best Wii U Game: To the memory of the Wii U
Nintendo traditionally doesn’t participate to Tokyo Game Show, for reasons that have yet to be fully understood. This means that the first party lineup was missing. That said, there were plenty of good 3DS games, but there were only eleven Wii U titles (many of which already released, making them ineligible for an award).
Funnily, while spending a significant time searching, I couldn’t even find one, which says all about how low third party support for the console has dropped in its own Japanese home arena.
Which is why this award is dedicated to the memory of the Wii U, a console with some really good ideas sent to die on the line of duty, because (among other reasons) Nintendo thought that it didn’t need the support of third parties to succeed. Hopefully, the lesson has been learned and will be applied to full effect to the NX.
Press X to pay respects.
Best PS Vita Game: World of Final Fantasy (Square Enix)
World of Final Fantasy might very well be the cutest thing ever created by mankind. Yet, its inherent cuteness is far from being all it has to offer.
The title’s gameplay is most definitely very solid, and will offer a lot of solace to those turn-based fans who feel abandoned by the mainline series.
Best 3DS Game: Monster Hunter Stories (Capcom)
Monster Hunter Stories leads the franchise into a very fresh direction, leaning more towards the full-fledged RPG, which might very well be the breath of fresh air that it needed for a while.
On top of that, it looks gorgeous for a 3DS game, even thanks to the clean anime-ish graphics that really depict monsters and characters in a charming way. Now we only have to wait for the announcement of a western release.
Best Mobile Game: STARLY GIRLS -Episode Starsia- (Kadokawa Games – Aeria Games)
It’s always difficult to choose a clear winner in the ocean of mobile games releasing every year in Japan, yet, Starly Girls stands out among other things due to the absolutely charming character design.
Kadokawa Games brought the addictive concept of the ship girls to overwhelming success with Kantai Collection, and Starly Girls seems to have the full potential to translate that concept to mecha battles, creating another successful franchise.
Best Adventure Game: Gravity Rush 2 (SCE Japan Studio – Sony Interactive Entertainment)
Best First Party Game
Often sequels end up failing to be as charming as their predecessors, but this definitely not the case with Gravity Rush 2. The game improves on Gravity Rush in basically every aspect, and not just by a little.
The competition for these awards was fierce, with extremely strong entries in the genre and from Sony itself, but the moment we saw Keiichro Toyama fly around in the most three-dimensional open world we have ever seen, topped by graphics and colors that just give us a visual overflow, we knew where our hearts were.
Best Shooter Game: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (Infinity Ward – Activision)
It feels almost strange to give a first-person shooter an award mostly for its story, but this is exactly the case. Infinity Ward seems to have put great effort and creative juice into this Call of Duty‘s narrative, going as far as hiring talent from Naughty Dog, and it really shows.
Personally, I can’t wait to get more time with the cast, that this time around seems to be genuinely enjoyable, and not just “along for the ride,” like in previous installments of the series.
Best Racing Game: Gran Turismo Sport (Polyphony Digital – Sony Interactive Entertainment)
Gran Turismo Sport is definitely a polarizing game. Many might find it cold and impersonal, but that makes it feel like a perfectly engineered piece of precision machinery exactly like the cars it simulates.
When you actually put your hands on the wheel, it feels definitely like Gran Turismo, but it also feels closer a simulator than ever before.
There are plenty of racing games that feel “warmer,” but racing sim aficionados will probably find that passion doesn’t always need to be expressed by pure spectacle.
Best Fighting Game: Tekken 7 (Bandai Namco)
Fighting game fans have been on a bit of a roller coaster lately, but Tekken 7 definitely appears to be a super-solid entry in the genre.
The fact that it has been out in the arcades for quite a while helped Bandai Namco to tighten up the gameplay to the extreme like this kind of game really requires, but the visual doesn’t look at all outdated. Tekken is back baby!
Best Strategy Game: God Wars: Future Past (Kadokawa Games)
While it’s a strategy RPG, God Wars definitely qualifies as the best strategy game at Tokyo Game show. While visuals aren’t exactly its strong point (besides the high quality art and character design), the game appears to be an extremely solid entrance in the genre, and it does so coming very much from the left field.
Add to that a charming setting that delightfully pulls from both famous and obscure parts of Japanese folk tales, and you get plenty of potential for a winner.
Best Indie Game: Code: HARDCORE (Rocket Punch)
Recently launched on Kickstarter, Code: HARDCORE is one of the best games I have seen at Tokyo Game Show, period.
It looks slick, it plays great, and the mecha design is just fantastic, which is pretty much all a mecha game needs.
It really looks like Super Robot Wars suddenly broke free of its turn-based constraints, and jumped into a dynamic and fast side-scrolling platformer environment. Why didn’t Bandai Namco ever think of this?
And last, but definitely not least…
Readers’ Choice Award: Final Fantasy XV (Business Division 2 – Square Enix)
Our DualShockers awards have always felt incomplete without a reader-voted prize, so we decided to finally launch our Reader’s Choice Award.
We weren’t sure what the response would be like, but many more votes than we expected poured in, and the results were clear, with a landslide win for Final Fantasy XV. There is no doubt that the hard work by Hajime Tabata and his team connected with many of our readers like it did with us, and the results clearly show in the chart below.
Final Fantasy XV truly feels like a labor of love by an extremely dedicated development team, that spared no effort to deliver the best experience possible. We really can’t wait to see the results on November 29th.
Incidentally, NieR: Automata came out as the clear runner-up, sealing a very strong one-two punch for Square Enix.
And that’s it for this year’s Tokyo Game Show. As usual, it was a ton of fun, with 49,536 steps walked on a bruised ankle (because some genius decided that it was fun to bump on me at full speed with an overloaded luggage cart at the airport). That said, the show doesn’t end just yet on DualShockers, as we still have a metric ton of content to deliver. Look forward to it over the next few days.