Tomorrow, the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2016 Awards will crown the site's Game of the Year. Until then, however, we cap off the year of posts on SuperPhillip Central with two things: a new review and one more awards category. We're doing the latter right now, focusing on the top five downloadable games that I enjoyed the most this year. Like other categories of the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2016 Awards, limiting this list to just five entries really does a disservice to all the great, satisfying games that came out digitally. Regardless, here are SuperPhillip Central's five picks for top downloadable releases.
5) Super Mario Run (iOS)
Mario meets mobile with much success! Super Mario Run may not have met the lofty expectations of investors (who just want Nintendo to nickle and dime consumers anyway for easy money), but for players who took the plunge on this premium priced mobile game, they would find a successful transplant of 2D Mario made with mobile in mind. This auto-runner is easy enough to beat, but the true fun comes from both collecting all the pink, purple, and black coins in each level-- something that takes a lot of mastery to do-- and playing the enjoyable Toad Rally mode. Nintendo and DeNA should be congratulated for a nice take on 2D Mario to fit mobile.
4) Ittle Dew 2 (PS4, XB1, PC)
We may have to wait until next year to get our next taste of The Legend of Zelda series, but this year indie dev Ludosity brought a Zelda-like experience to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam with Ittle Dew 2. This game presents a wide open world to explore where hidden caves house glorious new items to help Ittle on her quest, dungeons that can be played in any order that are full of devious puzzles and challenging enemies, and a level of self-aware humor that makes for an immensely charming game. The level of care and consideration put into Ittle Dew 2 by Ludosity makes it a marked improvement over the game's predecessor and makes for one Zelda-like game that does its inspiration well.
3) Aqua Moto Racing Utopia (PS4, PC)
I have gushed about Zordix's Aqua Moto Racing Utopia a lot already on the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2016 Awards, and I don't think I'm quite finished. If you've been waiting for a water-racing experience that rivals what I consider the best of the bunch in Wave Race 64, then you absolutely need to download Aqua Moto Racing Utopia. A lot of thought was put into how each craft handles, and the physics of the wave are satisfyingly realistic. The ten venues each sport a variety of races, and the solo and multiplayer options are full of things to do. Those looking for a tight Wave Race-like experience will find a superb one with Aqua Moto Racing Utopia.
2) Adventures of Mana (iOS, Android, Vita)
A remake of Final Fantasy Adventure, a game that originally released on the OG Game Boy, Adventures of Mana is a splendid update. A lot of old school design decisions and sensibilities are still present, making for a journey that seldom holds your hand, so when you successfully figure out what to do next, you get a really rewarding feeling. From the pleasant visuals to the lovely music, interesting puzzle and combat-filled dungeons, and the expansive world map, Adventures of Mana is a 10-hour quest that will make you continually want to come back for more. At least that was the case with me.
1) Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 (3DS)
The Mega Man series is one of my favorites in gaming. There is just something special about running, jumping, and shooting through levels. Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, developed by the same crew behind the Mega Man Zero games, fills that same niche splendidly with intense, pulse-pounding action. The game allows for players to take on the stories of one of two playable characters, each with distinctive play styles, both a lot of fun. Levels don't linger around too long, making for repeated play-throughs as blast to do, and the bosses are as challenging and entertaining as one would expect from a game that takes the mantle of the Mega Man series. Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 is a brilliant game, a serious improvement over the original, and should give most action-platforming fans something to enjoy for hours to come.