Rice Digital Reader’s Choice Awards 2017 Winners Announced

We asked our dear readers to vote for their favourite games of various categories — reader’s choice awards, if you will. Some great games made the cut — some savagely, and others very close. You can view the votes here. Read on to take a look at some of the best games of 2017… according to you!


Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash: Moe Game of the Year


Senran Kagura was obviously a shoe in for moe anything. As a series, it constantly treads the line between moe and ecchi. This year’s spin-off saw an all-star group of the ninja girls fighting one another using water guns, and it was both a load of fun, and as hot and sticky as you’d expect. No wonder you picked this.


Sonic Mania: Sonic Game of the Year


Even though Sonic Mania didn’t have great competition, it is in fact a great game in its own right. A perfect follow-up to the classic Sonic game series, balancing both nostalgic throwbacks to the stages we’ve known and loved for many years, but also pushing the series forward. A truly stunning mixture of old and new that rightfully earned full marks in our review.


NieR: Automata: JRPG of the Year


Well, if you take a look at all the awards you’ll see NieR: Automata cleaned up this year. And for good reason. With a twisting, turning, and smart narrative like no other, that takes you through various perspectives to see the whole story, it’s a smart tale that actually does interesting things with “robot humanity” type stories.


Paired with an excellent combat system that mixes stylish hack and slash action with bullet hell shmup, it’s a gripping JRPG that doesn’t really feel like anything else.


Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash: Lewdest Game of the Year


Ah, the game that won Moe Game of the Year also won Lewdest Game of the Year. That’s the thing with Senran Kagura, it straddles (!) both of those lines pretty well, and pleases both camps.


Danganronpa V3: Visual Novel of the Year


Danganronpa V3 is at once a lovely portion of more of that Danganronpa we all know and love, but also very different from its two predecessors. It offers a really great story with a cast of characters who you can’t help but be intrigued by, and also some excellent detective and courtroom sequences that really test your logic solving prowess at times.


A great new feature is the “lie” system that lets you lie your way through some deductions, and even allows you to find shortcuts if you’re smart enough!


Fire Emblem Heroes: Mobile App of the Year


While it’s a far cry from being a true Fire Emblem game, Heroes does a great job at taking the soul of the series and distilling it into mobile-perfect bite-sized chunks. These little strategy conundrums are perhaps the Fire Emblem version of chess puzzles, giving you a tight and tiny morsel of thinking to do with stricter rules and less room for chance.


Not to mention, a tonne of content has been steadily released, and more than enough orbs to do quite a bit of gacha for your favourite Fire Emblem character for free.


Tekken 7: Fighting Game of the Year


Everyone probably voted for this one as it introduced Lucky Chloe to the series, who is now the best Tekken character. Even if that’s not why, Tekken 7 is still a fantastic game. Polished to the max, few fighting games feel as chunky and as satisfying as a match on Tekken 7. It’s still as deep as you’d expect, but a lot of elements have been stripped back and simplified to make it much easier to get into, especially for those put off by the lighting speed of many anime fighters.


Kirby’s Air Ride (Belated Consideration): Racing Game of the Year


We might be a bit late to the party with nominating Kirby Air Ride, but the little guy sure does deserve it. Not to mention he hasn’t really had any super great games recently, so why not throw back to the only Kirby racing game? A high octane GameCube exclusive, Kirby Air Ride is one of the simplest to pick up and play racing games ever made, which is where its true genius lies.


Hatsune Miku Project DIVA Future Tone: Rhythm Game of the Year


Hatsune Miku is the rhythm game queen, and you just need to accept that. Which you all did, because you all voted for her latest game, Future Tone. A console port of the arcade game of the same name, Future Tone is filled to the brim with excellent Miku tracks, and the refined rhythm gameplay we all expect from the series.


Fire Emblem Warriors: Warriors Game of the Year


In a year packed with Warriors games, one stood tall. Another Nintendo-based Warriors release, following on from Hyrule Warriors, Fire Emblem Warriors fittingly takes the soldiers of Fire Emblem into a fully-action orientated game for the first time.


There’s still some light strategy elements, but really it’s all about getting hands on with some of your favourite characters, and mowing down hundreds of enemies. While the character selection was somewhat disappointingly modern-era focused, what’s here is still great, and there’s even more coming with DLC.


Yakuza Kiwami: Remaster of the Year


Yakuza Kiwami is one of those remasters that just adds a tonne to the original game. Cleverly reworking elements to follow-on from its chronological prequel Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami manages to make the very first Yakuza game feel like the next step forward.


Still keeping the amazing four-style combat of Yakuza 0, almost everything you loved about the first Yakuza has been remade, with lots of improvements, and even more side-stories. Most of all, the Majima-everywhere system sees the eye-patched favourite confronting Kiryu in many hilarious situations. It’s just a must-play.


Yoko Taro: Industry Icon of the Year


Considering Yoko Taro’s latest game, NieR: Automata, sweeped our reader’s choice awards this year, it’s only fitting that the mysterious man behind them should too. Despite the man behind the mask remaining an enigma, he’s been a strong and vocal force in the games industry for many years, always ready with humorous ambivalence, cutting wit, and some very smart dives into game design theory.


The stories and experiences he wishes to bring to players through his games are always outside of the norm, and his creations go outside of the black box in a way we always need to innovate and move the industry forward.


NieR: Automata: Action Game of the Year


While the first NieR had some action based gameplay, it wasn’t really all that. Thankfully, Yoko Taro and Square Enix teamed up with Platinum games to refine that gameplay for its sequel, and it really adds to the game. Masters of stylish action, they really added something special to this JRPG.


In its best moments, it’s sort of a simplified mix between Metal Gear Rising, and Bayonetta in how it plays. It rarely gets too complicated or too challenging, but that allows both traditional JRPG fans to enjoy this action-orientated approach, and for stylish action fans to enjoy a more stripped back JRPG-orientated experience. It’s the best of both worlds.


Sonic Forces: Horror Game of the Year


Sometimes true fear doesn’t come from a deliberately scary or spooky game. While 2017 wasn’t short of stellar releases of traditional horror games, especially in the truly superb Resident Evil VII, one game stood out from the pack in a different way.


Despite being a fast-paced platforming game, the latest entry in the Sonic series was so rough around the edges it filled us with existential dread, which is probably why you readers picked it too. From our review of the game: “Playing Sonic Forces fills you with the same fear as hearing one of your roommates going at it with their other half in the next room over.”


Cuphead: Hardest Game for Hardcore Games of the Year


Only just beating out Mario Party: The Top 100, Cuphead is a truly magnificent game that hearkens back to some of the great shmup games of old like Gunstar Heroes, Contra, and most importantly, Gunstar Heroes. In some respects tough as overcooked nails, it always feels fair enough to urge you to keep replaying, and is tonnes of fun in co-op.


Fire Emblem Echoes: Strategy Game of the Year


Fire Emblem certainly got a lot of odd ducks this year, didn’t it? But all of them good ducks, it seems, as each one has won some kind of reader’s choice award here. Fire Emblem Echoes is a remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden, the second Fire Emblem game. In a similar way to Zelda II, Fire Emblem Gaiden has become quite atypical of the route the series as a whole has taken. The way units work is quite different, and the game even has dungeons and random encounters.


This Echoes version adds some more innovations on top, including the quick fan favourite Mila’s Turnwheel, that allows you to turn the clock back on moves at a cost, rather than accept the death of your characters or simply start over from scratch, which gives some great risk/reward, and is the perfect middle-ground for those who don’t want Fire Emblem to be too easy, but also don’t want to deal with having to restart if permadeath is too harrowing.


Super Mario Odyssey: Platformy Jumpy Running Around Fun or Something of the Year


A tough category to explain, but you all know what we meant, right? “Family game”, which is sort of what some other places went with for a similar category, just didn’t feel quite right. Nevertheless, Super Mario Odyssey is definitely one of the greatest games of the year, and a true benchmark for 3D platformers and “collectathons”.


Every world was a joy to explore, and gave you the tools in its amazing moveset to explore however you liked. And each of those worlds was absolutely dense in collectibles that rewarded you for both devious challenges and the little things. This is how the genre moves forward.


Star Fox 2: Shooter of the Year


Despite being a super old game, Star Fox 2 only just released this year on the SNES Mini. It’s not often developers have a chance to go back and finish cancelled games, but that’s just what happened with this one, which for many years had become a cultural touchstone when it came to big cancelled game releases, with unfinished ROMs even being readily available.


It does still feel quite old, but this is the sort of release that can only happen once in a lifetime. Revisiting the past like this is just so special, that it’s no wonder you all picked this one as your shooter release.


PlayStation 4: Console of the Year


Even in a year where the Nintendo Switch released, setting sales records and redefining how we interact with “console” games and “handheld” games, y’all still picked PlayStation 4. Which is fair enough. 2017 has been a truly legendary year for game releases, and Japanese games have been massively integral to that.


And a whole bunch of those great games have been PS4 console exclusives. With even more games coming west these days than we would have though possible a few years back, the PS4 has been a vital home for all sorts of Japanese gaming this year.


Monster Hunter World: Most Anticipated Game of 2018 of the Year


It certainly helps that the Monster Hunter World beta has been whipping up storm during the voting process for this one. And rightly so. Monster Hunter World is taking the series to current generation console hardware for the first time, and it’s a stunning step up from what we’re used to.


Not only does it look visually amazing, but the environments feel more alive than ever, and are now seamlessly connected. World is truly going to take Monster Hunter to the next level.


NieR: Automata: Game of the Year


We already waxed lyrical for NieR: Automata in the sections where it won both JRPG of the Year and Action Game of the Year. And I think that explains a lot as to just why the game is so special. It’s an impressively original story that blends together so many different gameplay elements that it’s truly a unique package.


It’s not too “JRPG”-y, and it’s not too “action”-y. The story will stick with you, and the different perspectives and characters caught up in the game’s events will keep you thinking over everything. A well deserved Game of the Year award from our readers!


It should be noted that NieR: Automata just edged out Persona 5 by like 4 votes, and that’s a very good game too!


We hope you get the chance to play some of these gems, and stick with us for even more amazing games in 2018!

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