2020 Game of the Year
2020 was a terrible year for the world. But at least video games didn't totally suck! And at the tail-end of the year we got new consoles. Surprisingly, most of the top of my list comes from the PS5. But that's not just because I was excited about the new machines - they really crushed it with the limited amount of launch games. So without further ado...
10. Streets of Rage 4
I was a Genesis kid growing up, and I remember playing Streets of Rage 2 with me sister for hours on end. Recently I loaded it onto a SNES Classic and played it with a friend in the hotel room of PAX East. So to say I was thrilled when they announced a new one is an understatement. The new art style took a little bit to get used to, but I had fun playing this online. I do wish it felt a little more like the original, but it's still a solid game with some fun unlocks.
I love most of what Harmonix puts out, so it's no surprise their latest game makes the list. I was a sucker and went deep into Dropmix, but it was hard to get other people to want to play. So to take the idea, make it mostly single player, and making the songs digital downloads versus physical card packs were all really smart decisions when making Fuser. My most fun with this game was hopping into co-op lobbies with friends and trying to make really silly mixes. My main issue with the game though is that it's more of a sandbox/toy than a game. But it's a really fun sandbox!
8. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
My time with Fall Guys was brief, but I went really hard during that time. The concept of a battle royal involving colorful beans competing in obstacle courses was right up my alley, but the biggest problem with the game is the lack of variety, the weird feel of the controls, and the lack of party features with friends. I'm sure if they continue to improve mechanics and add things to the game that I could easily get back into it, but for now I'm happy with looking back at my time with it. And that I have a really dumb looking Sonic the Hedgehog outfit.
7. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2
This is another nostalgia pick on my list. Many summers were spent upstairs at my shore house with my Dreamcast hitting the halfpipes and collecting S-K-A-T-E. And doing so terribly, because I'm not good at these games. But dammit if I still didn't have fun, both then and in 2020! This game absolutely nailed everything it needed to - it feels exactly as I remember the games (although they added later mechanics - which is a good thing) and the soundtrack is all there. I think the biggest takeaway I have from this new remaster is it's getting my friends to stream this game, and they are WAY better at this than me. And it's fascinating to watch.
6. Picross S4
It wouldn't be one of my Game of the Year lists without a Picross game on the Switch. They actually released S5 at the tail-end of the year, but I'm going with S4 on the list because it introduced a really neat new feature that made playing all the previous games worth it. If you own S1-3, the game unlocks three bonus puzzles that are GIGANTIC! They each took well over an hour to complete, but it was a new kind of Picross challenge that I really enjoyed. Picross is great, y'all.
It had been a while since I got into Trackmania. I skipped the last one because it was lacking all the dumb add-ons and customizations that fans of Giant Bomb know all about thanks to Jeff Gerstmann. This new game in the series brought it all back, and it was great to constantly crash into falls as terrible dubstep was blaring in my headphones. It takes a really sick mind to actually enjoy the Giant Bomb Unofficial Classic server in Trackmania, and it is extremely my jam.
Initially while making this list I had Bugsnax near the bottom of my list since I had only played a little bit of it. It's a cute, simple game of using traps to collect creatures that are both bug and snack. But over the holiday break I decided to actually go deep into the game and 100% finish it. Seeing the variety of silly creatures in the game and learning the stories behind all the characters was a fascinating journey, and I started falling in love with the game outside of the meme that is the theme song. And then the final act of the game happened. I'm not going to spoil it, but it takes a HUGE swing and I instantly knew this was jumping up high on my list. I recommend giving this game a shot, and doing all the side quests. It's worth it.
3. Astro's Playroom
Astro's Playroom is more than just a tech demo for the DualSense controller. This is an extremely solid platformer that uses all the features of the controller in fun and creative ways to benefit the gameplay. The level designs and physics all just felt really good, and makes me hopeful they make more Astro games (I need to go back and play more of the VR game). The celebration of Playstation hardware was also a really nice touch, as someone who has owned almost all of it throughout the years. Overall, I had a great time with the game and was smiling throughout.
2. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Anyone who knows me has heard me mention that Animal Crossing is my favorite Nintendo franchise. It's a relaxing game where you can set your own goals and just live a fun life on an island in real time. And it's one of the only video games I can play with my mom, and seeing her figure out all the mechanics and accomplish things on her own is a wonderful experience. When 2020 decided to just be the worst, Animal Crossing game out at the perfect time to get me (and everyone else) through some really rough times. I'm really glad so many more people jumped in on the series this year, especially when this is easily the best one.
1. Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
What a surprise. When the first game was released it was my game of the year then, so now an improved version is out and it's once again my game of the year. The Insomniac Spider-Man games capture the swinging of Spider-Man perfectly and makes traveling around New York fun rather than tedious. Combine that with the Batman stealth/combat systems and a riveting story and I am all in. Speaking of the story, Miles' story in this game of growing out of the shadow of Peter Parker and coming to grips with the identity of the villain were captured so well with the visual and vocal performances. As a collectathon fan, I also really enjoyed all the side missions as a relaxing way to just swing around to do things between the intensity of the story missions. The game may have been short overall, but every second of my time with the game was the most fun in gaming I've had in 2020. Oh, and then I played the game a second time with Spider-Cat. Hell yeah, Spider-Cat!