The finale to the 2020 year in review is here! For once, I managed to get a project on the site all finished on time, woo-hoo! And now for a good note to end a bad year: (though not the worst year) The Best Games of 2020! This one was a very hard list to make, but a lot of good games came out and I tried a lot of new stuff too: So, per usual, no games from 2019, and ports are only counted if the ports released this year and that was the version I first played. Onto the list!
10: Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 (Series X)- A sequel to a puzzle game that didn’t really need one, PPT2 is more of the same… But improved in mostly every way. With a better story mode with more entertaining challenges, refined scoring and mechanics, and just a fun game to play in general, this was a great puzzler to end the year on: the only bummers come from the lack of crossplay, (meaning that I couldn’t touch online due to it being fully dead on Series X) and the fact that matchmaking is determined by your rank with no way to change this option, meaning that you could run out of matches if you’re unable to play with someone of your skill level, furthering the issues with this game’s community. Still, it’s an addictive puzzler well worth the buy.
9: Smilebasic 4 (Switch)- The sequel to one of my favorite 3DS apps, I loved Smilebasic 4 when it launched earlier this year, and I still do now! With online downloading, finding cool games and apps is incredibly enjoyable even now, and it helps to give the game a seemingly endless amount of content to enjoy! With lots of ways to mess around for yourself or play other creations, this is easily my favorite of the creator apps on the entire system, and is a must own for BASIC fans or those who love custom content!
8: Shantae and the Seven Sirens (Switch)- After a rocky bump with Half-Genie Hero, Shantae does a decent redemption with this really engaging Metroidvania! While still not containing all the polish of Pirate’s Curse, this is a fantastic game in its own right, with a connected world and tons of secrets to find: so much in fact, that they’re really darn hidden compared to other entries in the series! Still, this is a fantastic step in the right direction and well worth the asking price, and should be great metroidvania action.
7: Double Dragon and Kunio Kun: Retro Brawler Bundle (Switch)- One of the biggest surprises that came out of nowhere: A translated version of a JP only compilation, where EVERY Japanese version got full english text, even the super text heavy ones! The definitive Technos NES compilation, this is a godlike collection that sets a hopeful standard for future compilations, with my only big gripe here being the fact that the translators are uncredited! What the heck is up with that?!? Especially when they’re practically heroes for doing such great work with a compilation of 8-bit games, you think that crediting them would be key!
Either way, this is a must own for the translated games alone, and is the game on this list I hope gets a Limited Run release the absolute most.
6: Langrisser I/II (Switch) – Wait, what? You may be thinking “Connor, stop it, this is just a mobile-ass looking weird compilation of strategy games based off that dumb mobile game.” Well, no, I seriously did enjoy Langrisser I/II on Switch a TON, and it’s just such a fun compilation of two strategy classics! Yeah, the visual presentation may be unfortunately generic, too close to the mobile game for my liking, but the option to pick the original 90’s character portraits is really neat, and with DLC, you can buy the ultimate versions of these games’ OSTs: the PC Engine Super CD and PC-FX. Playing the game with these two options make Langrisser I/II feel like an exceptionally awesome retro compilation even with the drawbacks, and thus it’s absolutely a strategy compilation worth your time, especially with the first western release of Langrisser II.
5: The Yakuza Remastered Collection (PS4)- This is a bit of a spoiler for my very imminent review of Yakuza 3, (which technically launched on PS4 last year, but this compilation came out this year and my review copy alongside it, so thus it counts barely!) but this compilation of three great action games is a really, really good value that feels criminal for what you get.
Yakuza 3, a really fun action game that, while lacking the more indepth side stuff 5 and onward would get, is still worth your time for a great chapter in the story. Yakuza 4, an interesting game with multiple protagonists i’m looking to try in the new year, and Yakuza 5, the big behemoth that paved the way for the western revival of Yakuza as a whole, and being the game that added a bunch of great series staples. Just 3 alone is enough to get on this list, but with 4 and 5 being included, with 5 being the most grand of the bunch? That makes this a must own for any Yakuza fan, especially if you’re a PC/Xbox gamer hoping to catch up on the rest of the franchise.
4: MEDAROTS CLASSIC COLLECTION + (JP, Switch)– A Japanese only compilation that nobody off the street would be able to get enjoyment out of unless you grew up with the GBA Medabots games, and even then that’s 2 of the 8 games included. But for Japanese readers like myself, this is an excellent compilation of Game boy RPG classics with all sorts of great QOL features: Speeding up the games by 8 times, making the tedious battles no-longer such, the ability to just end any battle with an autowin thanks to a button press, if you’re stuck on a boss or just want to play for the story, and save states that are designed to not accidentally get loaded hours late in the game, this is a truly great collection for Medafighter fans alike, and maybe a Kunio-like miracle will happen to bring this whole compilation over in english: it’s pretty near impossible, but who knows what could happen? It also has local multplayer for all the games, something that outperforms even the 3DS Virtual Console in that regard! If a Pokemon compilation ever launched of this quality, it would be the ultimate dream, so having one for a nicher franchise that’s equally as good, is just really awesome.
3: Alwa’s Legacy (PC)- Following up on a metroidvania that stunned me in quality is pretty darn hard to do. So how can such a thing be done? By just murdering the first game in every possible way, and making it grander than before: This one was close to the wire, but I’m so glad I managed to fit this game into my year, as this was easily the second best metroidvania of the entire year! It’s just really enjoyable and so much fun, and the fact that a lot of speedrun strats were purposefully re-made to work in this sequel, just shows how awesome the developers are, making Alwa’s Legacy a metroidvania that you can play literally however you please: Definitely a must own, and if you have a switch, it’s out on that, too!
2: Streets of Rage 4 (PC)- Here’s a surprise: when it launched earlier this year, I really liked this game a lot, and found the extreme amount of retro fanservice and unlocks to be super excellent means of spending your time! But the game had two major problems: the slow pace of unlocks (Requiring a crapton of beating the game over and over”, and the enemies feeling a bit spongey and the game having just a bit of missing oomph… Well, thanks to a balance update, that latter problem is COMPLETELY eliminated, and SOR4 is just a godlike belt scroller that surpasses the quality of the entire trilogy for me, with the original SOR1 coming in a close second. Everything now feels perfectly balanced, perfectly fine-tuned, so that anyone can jump in the game and have a fun time beating up some enemies, and unlocking cool retro characters: The first issue still remains, but when the core game is sooooo much fun, and insanely replayable in all kinds of ways, is it really an issue anymore? I say no, and that’s why SOR4 jumped from not even being considered for this list, to making it to the second spot! So what is the best game of 2020? Well…
Collection of SAGA: Final Fantasy Legend (Switch)- A VERY late game in 2020, and one I’ve barely managed to play, there’s a ton I like about Collection of Saga: the fact it exists at all is amazing, and the QOL features are just well made! But it’s lacking in features and while the RPGs have been updated well, there’s not much else, and I still need time to form opinions on these three games despite wanting them ported for so long, solely so I can play them.
Darius Cosmic Collections (PS4)- Two compilations from Taito came west this year, both of which are excellent shooting collections from a great series: The Console collection has a few great games like Sagaia on SMS and Darius Alpha on PC Engine, but a lot of it are really just the duller console entries in the series with only really good emulation as a benefit.
The Arcade compilation on the other hand? Godly, godly, godly stuff. Four arcade classics beautifully compiled with so many QOL features and options that you can go nuts all day, two of the games being some of my favorites in the genre, (Sagaia and Darius Gaiden) and online leaderboards, replays, and lots of replay value make this the must-buy of the two. The problem? The games are obscenely expensive, and a physical version from Strictly Limited are really the only practical ways to buy the game. You don’t want to pay nearly $60 for two good console games now, do you?
Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection (Switch)- This one came so, so close to making the list: it was my life saver during most of early 2020, and I enjoyed the QOL features to the Zero series so, so much, that I fully beat the four games for the first time ever. (after being too bored by the third game) Sadly, that didn’t stop ZX from being a disjointed metroidvania, and ZX Advent was even more convoluted that it makes you wonder how that series even got a sequel to begin with: plus it ends on a cliffhanger that will never get resolved with Capcom and Inti’s falling out, which just makes the ZX half feel pointless save for the excellent Z chaser mode, where you can mess around with the mechanics of those games without all the bloat.
And finally, the Seafoam Gaming, Game of the Year, 2020, is…
1: La Mulana 2 (Switch)- The upgraded port of the original game is the only game that got a perfect score this year, and thus, would have been the GOTY winner if it wasn’t for the fact I played prior ports before. So thus, the super good sequel will have to do for this spot! While not nearly as godly as the original, going for a more drawn-out opening and a differing feel that’ll take some time to adjust to, La Mulana 2 is still one of the best metroidvanias you could possibly get, following up on the first game remarkably well.
The fact that the game is part of a bundle with the godly original, means that bundle would win the GOTY hands-down if it wasn’t for my aforementioned familiarity with LM1. But LM2 is just so much fun to play, so replayable with the sequence breaking fans know and love, (even if it kicks in later than I’d like) that I just can’t help but find tons to love about this game! The secrets, the references, the combat, the improved exploration… Pretty much every detail has been refined in some way, and the only negatives come from how it feels harder to get used to after you play the first one so many times. If you don’t own any games from this list, please pick up the La-Mulana 1/2 bundle, or either game individually: they’re the essential metroidvania to enjoy.
And that’s a wrap on this year in review! This was honestly a very grueling pick for me, since usually I have a clearcut GOTY thanks to Nintendo first party games, yet… They pretty much gave up and went home for a year, so there wasn’t really anything I could play. Super Mario 3D All Stars would have gotten an honorable mention for great ports of 64 and Sunshine, but Galaxy relying too much on gimmicks and being a weird oddball compared to the superior sequel, which wasn’t included. But besides that, you pretty much have what I found the best games to pick up and play this year, and hopefully 2021 delivers even more goodies.
This year was very hard due to stressors from COVID worries and having to job hunt: yet, last year hurt me so hard to the point this year I was still picking up the pieces. I still have that process to go in 2021, but hopefully if I keep safe and things improve, I’ll be back at full speed with videos and reviews! Take care everyone… And be safe.