Unlike many of you, I did not suddenly have too much free time for the Games in 2020. I have already worked from home, and my children are still young and require a lot of attention. So I set a rule that I established last year that I would not spend much time in any game that I could not stop. In fact, this rule is more like I won’t have time for games that I can’t play on the switch or use the Steam Link app on my phone. Despite those restrictions, I still have too many games to keep on my list. Here’s what I ended up with.
10. Roads of Wrath 4
I love playing in Streets of Rage 2. I and my wife do this once a year. The best thing I can say about Streets of Rage 4, which I reviewed, is that I intend to go back and play it more often in the future.
9. Microsoft Flight Simulator
I knocked out Animal Crossing: New Horizons dropped my top 10 for this, but that’s right. I like Animal Crossing a lot, but this fall holds a place with friends and other internal social games that are more about my relationships with other people. And I don’t want to think about putting those games on a list – they aren’t even competing in my mind. The flight simulator is a technological marvel that realizes that it is opening up the genre to more people than ever with its great difficulty. This is also one of the rare games that I took out of a flight stick and turned into an event.
8. Paper Mario: The Origami King
Nintendo and Intelligent Systems named many of the important aspects of Paper Mario: Origami King. It is funny with tons of great characters, and is diverse in both its mechanics and atmosphere. Its only drawback is its combat system, which is boring at best. Thankfully, you can survive many battles, and this leaves you with good stuff.
7. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
As I wrote in my review, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is the Platonic ideal of 1 + 2 gaming. Skateboarding and video games are solatum. After all these years, the games are still no better than this.
6. Pickin 3: Deluxe
Pikmin 3: Deluxe is still mostly Pikmin 3 since 2013, but it is also the best Pikmin game ever. This adds Wii U games to the Switch for easy play. And this means that you should round up the fruit and expand your Picamine army to enjoy the satisfying fruit of working with your younger crewmates.
5. Astro Playroom
Here I have to say about the game of astro:
Back to my shit pic.twitter.com/l80WuVHmcN
– Jeff Grubb (@jfegherb) 19 December 2020
4. Orient and the Will of the Whips
The Orient and Will of the Wisps have the best position in a 2D game. Combine thrilling boss fights, characters, and great music with fun exploration, and it’s easy to see why this is GameBeat of the Year game. This is one of my favorites and games I’m already going to.
Sometimes a studio pulls it off completely to feel like a miracle. This is what happened with Supergiant Games and Heads. This masterpiece plays and looks better than almost any other game. It does Greek mythology better than any other game, and it is saying something about how many games go to that source material. And if it only did those things, it would be enough. But then Supergiant went ahead and solved the Roguelite barrier by creating a linear narrative that starts when you have to start.
In five years, prepare to play a lot of games from indies and big-budget studios that all hide as a significant influence.
2. Heardspace: Shipbreaker
Games where you build things get a lot of attention and credit. Minecraft is endlessly popular, and Roblox is probably one of the biggest IPOs of 2021. But we should not forget that games are really great at empowering us to tear things down. And Herdspace: Shipbreaker is better than almost anything. It is satisfying to use a laser gun to slowly peel off the shuttle at different location. But it is also exciting when you forget to depressurize the cabin and before the ship’s atom explodes into space. That was one of my favorite moments of the year.
I said “whoops” pic.twitter.com/LRvEHXdjDW
– Jeff Grubb (@JefeGarb) June 20, 2020
1. Snow Runner
I could spend dozens of hours in Snow Runner, trying to move a truck up to 50 feet. This is what I consider a good time. And the game encourages my bizarre behavior. Fighting for every inch feels like real progress. So I think that for many people, a game about being stuck in mud or snow seems baffling or boring. But the reality is that it is a game about taking ownership of your choice. If I find a truck stuck in mud, Snow Runner wants me to do all that it takes to get it moving again, so I don’t lose the progress I already made.
Developer Saber Interactive also improves Snow Runner as a game relative to MudRunner. It comes in the form of shortcuts and bridges that offer a solid reward for completing missions.
There will be nothing more satisfying in a video game this year than pulling this truck out of the mud. pic.twitter.com/p7yyP6cVdS
– Jeff Grubb (@JefeGarb) April 28, 2020
But actually I am here for physics and terrain distortion. Realistic behavior of the area makes every problem feel analog and tangential. You’re not going to suddenly find your wheels on good dirt – you really have to pull your leak through every inch. So when you finally reach your destination, you achieved that achievement by overcoming your failures. What a hell of a game.
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