If you made it through to February, congratulations, we’ve all been through a bit together. The last year or so has been not great. Couple of cool things here and there, but overall, let’s just call that one a bummer. During my bummer year, I decided to sink hundreds of hours into MMOs I’d never tried, which was good at making hundreds of depression hours pass while spending time with friends, but less good for trying to accomplish anything productive. But hey, I can tell you a whole, whole lot about Final Fantasy XIV and Dauntless now.
So what actually about 2020? I played some stuff! As usual, here’s the prediction list for 2020’s GOTY from an innocent babe I can barely recall, me from 2019:
1. Elden Ring – (lol nope not yet)
2. Doom Eternal – (didn’t like it)
3. Animal Crossing New Horizons – (got bored really fast, it’s cute tho)
4. The Binding of Isaac: Repentance – (didn’t come out yet, understandable)
5. Cyberpunk 2077 – (played for an hour, crashed my ps4)
6. Super Meat Boy Forever – (downloaded it two days ago and it seems not great)
7. The Last of Us Part II – (haven’t played it yet because of time and the devs being bad but soon)
8. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 – (lol not happening)
9. Knuckle Sandwich – (still being made, understandable)
10. Hollow Knight: Silksong – (again… 2020 happened, no rush)
So those were very bad predictions, and I can’t wait to make some more. But first, what does the HippoChippies’ Top 10 of 2020 actually look like? Different.
Since bad year and depression and all that, I have a list of dozens and dozens of games from 2020 that seemed cool. I would love to play through the new Ori, see more of Spiritfarer, find out what The Pathless even is because the trailer seemed neat, and catch up with many, many more games I missed last year. But since I can’t spend forever just catching up, I’ve gotta throw something out there right? My biggest disappointment about this is that I’m 100% sure that there’s some incredible things that snuck under my radar that I would have absolutely adored. Happens every year. So to whatever 2020’s Mibibli’s Quest or Supraland is, hat’s off to you, and I hope somebody thought you were great. Maybe you’ll turn up for me someday.
Though I missed a huge swath in comparison to the 400 or whatever games I usually play, here’s a list of my favorites that I was able to spend some time with.
…An unordered list of my favorites. I don’t have the willpower for that stuff anymore. Paper Mario’s the GOTY though!
Paper Mario: The Origami King
If you remember much about the Summer of 2020, it’s that things were Not Good. But for a measly little weekend in July I was able to have one fucking moment of goodness to myself, and that was Paper Mario: The Origami King. No, the game isn’t the return to Thousand Year Door-form that some of the fan base pines for. I love Thousand Year Door, but I don’t love it because it’s an RPG (and the new combat is actually pretty good!). I love it because it’s a vehicle for the Paper Mario developers to make fun however they can. Whether it’s having best-in-class writing and localization to place it alongside some CRPGs and the Yakuza team, or being able to come up with a million silly ways to scavenger hunt Toads, Origami King is first-party Nintendo doing work. I’m sad it didn’t get the attention it deserved. Also Olivia is probably the best partner in the series and I want her to hang out in every video game. Good vibes all around here.
Kind of a minigame collection of action escape rooms? I love it very much. At first glance just an enemy avoidance game with a couple twists, Disc Room locks you in a bunch of rooms with a bunch of discs. Mostly sawblades. They fly around the room and you survive for 5 seconds. Then the door opens and you move into the next room and survive for 20. Then maybe the next one is 30 seconds without dashing. Things progress like that for a bit, and that’s what I was on board with from the trailers. Already cool, right? Then oops surprise it’s also secretly a puzzle game with really clever solutions. There’s a ton of variety here for a game that you can finish in an afternoon. Gameplay stays spicy the whole time between the unique world mechanics (like the disco floor levels which rule), the speedruns you can choose to do on each screen, and the active abilities you collect and swap through (Ex. cloning yourself for puzzles across multiple rooms!). Just an absolute treat if you’re looking for something with a Meat Boy sense of quick iteration and pacing.
I wrote quite a bit about it here… and then promptly never played it again! Covid and depression intensified and I never slapped that headset back on. One of these days though. Kinda wish I could just play it on my tv.
The coolest game of the year no doubt, and the one that feels like it wraps up 2020 pretty well for me. In the limited capacity I was able to see anyone over the past year, I still felt the need to make sure my friends saw Umurangi Generation. You’re given a camera and a sheet of things to take pictures of, and sent off on a series of five to ten minute levels filled to the brim with detail and life. It’s a photography scavenger hunt game! And it came out in the same year that the Pokemon Snap sequel was announced! Separating itself from Snap, though, not being on rails allows for platforming to come into play (you have a generous double jump so no worries) to line up special photos from specific places. All of this good gameplay takes place over a dozen or so courses that paint a picture of a world where things are bad and getting worse, thanks to a lackluster government response to an avoidable tragedy. Yeah, this is probably the one I’ll take with me.
My favorite roguelike of the year! Even though I think Hades is super neat, it didn’t stack up to how effortlessly smooth it feels to slash and shoot monsties in Scourgebringer. Everything about this game is fast fast fast. Dodge, jump, slash, shoot, leave room, repeat. You pop in the room and do some light platforming to cut up 15 dudes in 5 seconds over and over again. Though it may lack some of the staying power of an Isaac or a Gungeon, it’s hard to say that either of those games feel better in moment to moment play than this one. I haven’t played much of it since I plowed through its early access content early last year, but every time I hear about the updates with new perks and skills and bosses and stuff I get real pumped for when I’m able to hop back in. If you like this, try out the similarly underappreciated roguelite, Monolith!
Super Mario Maker 2 3.0
This is that real shit we’ve been wanting all along!!!! You thought it was cool that we could make Mario levels? Now we can make Mario games! The world map feature introduced in the giant 3.0 update may feel a bit slight once you’ve found its limits, but wow oh wow is it fun to string your levels together on a map you hand-crafted yourself. Some of the most fun I had in a video game all year, actually. Sadly, the features kind of fall apart once you finish your first masterpiece, as each player can only make one World at a time. But hey, the first week everybody doing nothing but making worlds and playing everybody else’s can’t be undersold. Super Mario Maker 3 has the potential to absolutely knock it out of the park now that they’ve set the stage for entire Mario Game Making. But it’s Nintendo, so we’ll see.
Now you too can experience Media Molocule’s Wild Ride without interacting with bad LittleBigPlanet platforming. Hooray! Surf through some of the dumbest content made by the randos of the internet, all on the couch with your PS4. If you can get behind a novelty, you need to treat yourself with this one.
Once I played a game about a scary toilet, then I played a game where I had to do some of the worst 3D platforming I’ve ever seen just to get to Shrek’s outhouse. Then All-Star played and Donkey showed up. I would have paid $100 for this.
If you don’t intend on creating (like me), it’s pretty much just PlayStation itch.io which is pretty rad. Also somebody made a Dreams Marble Madness game and it’s the best marble game I’ve ever played. People are doing legit good work in this thing.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission
Asobi Team is rushing its tiny robot legs towards the modern platforming throne. Astro Bot only sticks around for a few hours this time, but it’s a delightful couple of afternoons you’ll cherish. I would play an entire game around the gyro-control bow and arrow combat section in the forest. Let these people make a full big game with all the money they want Sony!!!!!
Immortals Fenyx Rising
Did you like Breath of the Wild? These folks liked it so much they made another one, to mostly positive results! Cool shrines. Still wish it was called Gods and Monsters.
And those were some brief moments of respite throughout last year. Pretty good ones!
Disco Elysium was actually the best game I played in 2020 by a country mile… totally should’ve finished that one in 2019. I’ll never forget it. Control was still a very solid GOTY though.
But what about now? What about the future? Let’s make bold predictions. Have I done that one before? Probably.
HippoChippies (Probably Not) Game of the Year 2021:
- New Pokemon Snap – what am I gonna do, not put this here? It’s me, the Pokemon Snap liker.
- Ghostwire Tokyo – looks like a cyber superhero Silent Hill SCP thing from The Evil Within team. Uh, I’m in!
- Hollow Knight: Silksong – a sequel to the best Metroidvania ever made. How in the world will it hold up?
- God of War: Ragnorok – Remember when Baldur punched Kratos over his house? This series rules.
- Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart – I enjoyed these goofy 3d platformers years ago but haven’t played one in ages. Now’s the time!
- Bowser’s Fury – This looks like one giant Mario Odyssey kingdom dlc and I will love it.
- Hitman 3 – Some of the most talented people in the industry making immersive sim maps… these look legit.
- The Binding of Isaac: Repentance – stop making cards edmund and let me fight bigger satans or whatever
- Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course – I had a whole lot of fun with Cuphead. I’ll take another helping!
- Some incredible thing nobody plays that I yell about for the next decade – happens every time.
Also, shout out to WordPress for only letting me bold the numbers in the first list but not the second one. Good website!
Breath of the Wild 2 – maybe not happening this year.
Resident Evil: Village – I really enjoyed 7 but I think maybe these just spook me too much these days!!!!
Maquette – good trailer and neat puzzle mechanic, I wanna see more.
Elden Ring – who knows when on this one.
Monster Hunter Rise – I love these games, but it would take a lot after how much World shook things up.
BioMutant – hope it actually comes out! looks good!
Praey for the Gods – it’s actually been out in early access for like two years so maybe it’s already great idk.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits – sure looks pretty but we don’t know a ton else about it. cautiously optimistic!
Weird West – top down rpg from the Dishonored devs. odd blend of immersive sim elements here.
Knuckle Sandwich – no solid date at the moment. still looks amazing.
Astalon: Tears of the Earth – do we need more indie metroidvanias with pixel art? no. do i like em? yes.
NieR Replicant – didn’t super care for the first Nier, loved Automata. need to see more of this one.
Back 4 Blood – I remember Left 4 Dead, but I also remember Evolve.
And I guess that’s it? Check back soon (for real this time I promise) for some good stuff. Did you know that there’s a new Celeste game that came out this year? And that it’s maybe not the best platformer released in 2021 already? Stay tuned! Thank you very very very much for reading any of this and sticking with me. Whether you’ve followed the site since 2009 or this is the first thing of mine you’ve ever read… you’re amazing!
Thanks again and take care of yourselves. (thumbs up emoji) (i do not have access to emojis on this computer) (good bye)