Falcom is a developer who, despite a 35 year back catalogue of strong RPGs, never really got their dues. That's finally changed with the Trails of Cold Steel duology, the latest entries in the spin-off-of-a-spin-off Trails series. Cold Steel improves on the systems introduced in Trails in the Sky, building on that game's excellent battle system along with a much needed speed boost while also maintaining the series' penchant for in-depth sidequests. Set in Thors Military Academy, Part I cribs from Persona for its school year set up, interspersed with field trips that prove this is a Legend of Heroes game through and through. Part II shakes up the status quo, when armed conflict breaks out and the students of Thors find themselves scattered across the land. The two-game journey from transfer student to guerrilla fighter is a well-paced and excellently written narrative filled with lovable characters that you won't soon forget.
Note: Due to its late release on December 22, 2015, we were unable to include the first Trails of Cold Steel in last year's awards and still post them in a timely manner. Given that the two games are two halves of one story, we opted to combine them both for 2016's nominations.
Read our review of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel
Read our review of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II
When word first broke that the mysterious Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem crossover title would be a colorful romp through the Japanese music industry, many were rightfully skeptical. Fortunately, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (that's a "sharp," not a hashtag) ended up being a pretty excellent turn-based RPG. Its combat system is an elegant mix of the Press Turn/Once More systems from recent MegaTen and Persona titles and the Weapon Triangle from Fire Emblem, requiring players to hit enemy weaknesses to create lengthy, flashy chain attacks called "Sessions" that are enormously satisfying to execute. Add in a cast of likable characters and a killer soundtrack (fitting for a game so ingrained in Japanese pop culture), and you have a recipe for success.
Read our review of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
The term "landslide victory" may as well have been created for this category: The Cold Steel duology scored more than triple the votes of the latest Pokémon titles, firmly cementing it as your winner.