We’ve been through this year’s biggest disappointments and best surprises, plus recommended 23 games you might have missed this year while you were playing The Witcher 3 for 200 hours – but this is the video games industry, and video games are ridiculous, so there was no shortage of absurdity in 2015 either. In a long year of reporting on the gaming world, it’s often these things that we remember most clearly.
Confused man framed in Mario wanking scandal
It was a classic oddball British tabloid story: man buys Happy Meal for his children, is appalled that the toy within appears to be making an obscene gesture, contacts newspapers about this moral outrage. But what made this story so entertaining was that the man in question was actually being pranked by a mate who contacted the tabloids over “wanking Mario” under his name. The dude had no idea what was going on, and was mortified to discover himself at the centre of this total non-scandal. The toy doesn’t even look REMOTELY like it’s wanking:
While we’re on this topic, remember the chap who got thrown out of a shop for pleasuring himself over the PS4 display? What a year.
Valve implements paid mods, then pulls them after less than a week
In what surely one of the quickest and most impressive turnarounds in any games company’s history, Valve decided that it would be a great idea to implement paid mods on Steam this year, only to pull them a week later after it turned out that everyone hated the idea. The most successful paid mod was itself actually a protest about paid mods. The reasons why it failed are many and various, but it was a fun week watching the catastrophe unfold.
Man finds one of the rarest gaming artefacts in existence in his dad’s attic
We’ve all heard similar stories in the playground as kids: “my dad works for Nintendo and he has a special prototype console at home that’s SUPER RARE and he never shows it to anyone in case he gets in trouble”. Remarkably, this year, it turned out not to be bullshit.
Dan Diebold really did find a priceless piece of gaming history in his dad’s house: a fabled SNES PlayStation. Like all sensible people, we were a bit sceptical when the story emerged, but later in the year Diebold and his dad took it to a convention and turned it over to Engadget to prove it was real. We could hardly believe it.
Everything that happened at Sony’s E3 conference
Sony’s E3 announcements this year beggared belief. The Last Guardian!? A Final Fantasy 7 remake!? SHENMUE 3? We felt like someone must have slipped something into our tea. Keza kind of lost it completely halfway through (“wait, SHENMUE FUCKING 3? SHENMUE 3 IS A REAL GAME? What is this conference? What's next, Half-Life 3? Silent Hills? WHAT IS HAPPENING”), which was equalled in ridiculousness perhaps by 2006’s infamous “giant enemy crab” Sony conference.
Cristiano Ronaldo stars in a mobile skateboarding game with a cartoon troll
WTF was going on with this? We many never know. One of the weirdest cash-grabs of the year.
Nintendo acts out most of its E3 conference with puppets
Nintendo has eschewed the usual E3 showing for some time now, but it still takes balls to almost your entire E3 conference with puppets. Brilliantly, the puppets even turned out to have been made by The Henson Company.
Watching this back actually makes me quite sad now, after Satoru Iwata’s untimely passing. Nintendo’s E3 also gave us our first inkling of just how good Mario Maker was going to be, with an amazing hell-course at the Nintendo World Championships.
Konami’s lawyers allegedly prevented Hideo Kojima from collecting an award
The entire Kojima/Konami saga this year has been pretty ridiculous, especially the decision to cancel Silent Hills, but perhaps the peak of it all – mere weeks before Kojima finally announced officially that he had left Konami and was going independent – was when Kojima was prevented from attending The Game Awards to pick up an award for Metal Gear Solid. Host Geoff Keighley decided not to remain silent about it.
This guy at Square Enix’s E3 conference
An amusing moment in an otherwise quite dull hour.
That time Microsoft strapped people to a billboard and attacked them with snow machines
All to promote the new Tomb Raider. Of course.
The doctor who found himself at the centre of a Metal Gear Solid conspiracy
This is Dr Sergio Canavero, the man who wants to perform the world’s first head transplant. Due to some wild conspiracy theories, he found himself the centre of attention of the more insane part of the Metal Gear Solid fanbase for a few weeks in April, after some people convinced themselves that he was somehow working with Kojima on The Phantom Pain due to his resemblance to a character in a trailer. He wasn’t of course, but the story was amazing.
Boris Johnson was extremely confused by VR
He gave it a good go, but Boris Johnson did not quite get the point of VR.
Bethesda went full Inception and embargoed the embargo for Fallout 4 reviews
So, most major video games have review embargoes that prevent reviewers from talking about the game until a specified time. But Fallout 4 had an embargo preventing reviewers from talking about the embargo until a specified time. Oh, Bethesda.
Elite Dangerous goat protest succeeds
This ridiculous happening gave us one of the best headlines of the year. Elite Dangerous players, upset that they could no longer ram each other with impunity in the game’s no-fire zones, adopted the humble goat as their mascot for a meme-based protest. And it worked: developer Frontier changed the rules so they could ram away to their hearts’ content.
Twitch actually finished Dark Souls
Last year, via Twitch, we watched some fish play Street Fighter and a whole collection of people engage in the collective madness that was Twitch Plays Pokémon. This year, Twitch took on Dark Souls, and spent several days trying to get up a ladder. They had to modify the game pretty heavily, but eventually they actually finished it, which is more than a lot of people can say for themselves. It feels like crowdplay has conquered its stiffest ever challenge.