GBAtemp's 2020 games retrospective - Demon's Souls, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Hades, and others
Though many of us might not remember 2020 fondly, there were plenty of fantastic games that released throughout the year, bringing gamers new and exciting experiences that brightened us up, or at least distracted us from the bleak reality of the outside world. Our Magazine Staff at GBAtemp covered lots of amazing and awful games last year by reviewing them, but it's impossible to stay ahead of the deluge of releases. That's why we wanted to give a collective roundup of some of the year's most popular or standout hits; experiences we wanted to share with you, our dear members. So, as our final send-off to 2020, here are our favorite games that the year brought us.
For those interested in skimming, the games we cover here include:
- Demon's Souls Remake
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- Baby Labor
- Baldur's Gate 3
- Among Us
- Little Busters!
- Disc Room
- Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
- Super Mario Bros. 35
- Astro's Playroom
- Before I Forget
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
- Genshin Impact
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales
- Gunlord X
- Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics
@Tom Bombadildo Demon’s Souls Remake
I’m going to start this section off with a couple hard truths about one of my favorite Souls games: Demon’s Souls “Remake” is not a Remake, it’s a Remaster. This game is not remotely worth $70; it’s a $40 game at most. But goddamn it, I love me some Souls. Demon’s Souls was the first Souls game I ever played, way back in the yesteryear of ~2010 when I got my first PS3. At the time, I wasn’t impressed with the game at all, from its clunky combat and gimmicky boss fights to its “difficult gameplay” and “revolutionary online” mechanics, nothing really clicked with me on it at the time and I quickly abandoned it in favor of other games. A couple of years later, Dark Souls came out on PC, and it scratched an itch I didn’t know I had and turned me into a Soulsborne freak of nature. Replaying Demon’s Souls after finishing Dark Souls, I finally understood what From Software was trying to do with the game, and it quickly climbed the list of my favorites in the Soulsborne series. But what about the remake? Does Bluepoint Game’s attempt at bringing a Souls game from 2009 into the next gen era of consoles make the game any better?
No, because they didn’t do anything to improve what matters most in a Souls game: they made zero changes to the clunky gameplay mechanics. They made zero changes to the 11 year old enemy AI. They made zero changes to any of the gimmicky boss fights. They didn’t change the same ol’ poor 11 year old netcode (although some updates helped fix the massive latency I was experiencing at launch during invasions). They made the game very pretty, there’s no doubt about that, but they didn’t make the game play any different from its PS3 descendant whatsoever, and that was very disappointing to me.
So why am I writing about this disappointment in our 2020 retrospective? Because goddamn it, I love me some Souls. Despite the aging, clunky gameplay I still love me some Demon’s Souls, and the Remake rekindled the multiplayer community which allows me to enjoy those lovely laggy chain backstab invasions once again. Don’t spend $70 on this game, but definitely pick it up the second it hits $40, because even though it’s still the same old PS3 game from 2009 with some makeup and instagram filters, it’s still a Souls game.
@Chary Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Around the start of 2020, I would have been certain that there had never been a game, nor would there be a game that I’ve ever wanted more than Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I had been waiting for years to see the release of a new Animal Crossing game, even buying the Wii U solely for what at the time felt like an inevitable Wii U Animal Crossing entry. The series is the reason why I love Nintendo--it’s why I still find myself caring about the company no matter what they do, and it’s why I counted the seconds down to the midnight digital launch of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. While I had loved New Leaf, there was something extra magical about an Animal Crossing game that could be played on console; being able to play on the TV with both my parents has become a family tradition, and I’d argue that they were even more excited than I was for New Horizons.
And when the clock struck midnight, it was pure magic. Building up an island, being able to craft your own tools, the absolute freedom that New Horizons offered was mind-blowing. It was easy to put 100 hours into the game without noticing the time slip by--but for a good 95 of those hours, I couldn’t help but think there was something missing. As each in-game and real-life day ticked by, the flaws only made themself more and more apparent: New Horizons treats you with the kiddie gloves. It almost feels like Nintendo is so afraid of players possibly missing something--be it dialogue, special items, anything--that they’ve taken so many of the beloved elements of Animal Crossing and stripped them down. Villagers no longer offer weird dialogue, which helped serve as flavor text that spiced up your conversations with them. Their personalities hardly matter, and you’re driven to even avoid them, lest you hear for the 100000th time about how you caught a lot of fish today, wow! In older games, you could start up a conversation and never be able to guess where it was going. Were you going to be pranked, hear the latest town gossip, or be chastised about just how awful your fashion sense was? Even after hundreds of hours, it always felt like there were new things to talk about, and reason to keep coming back to your animal friends.
New Horizons is such a difficult game to judge. It does so many things right--there are so many changes made in the right direction, yet there’s a lack of soul, of charm, that makes the experience feel so bland...vapid, even boring at points. With events being patched in on the fly, it almost feels like an early access game. Even so, I thoroughly enjoyed it; I’m happy I played so many hours of it, but I can’t bring myself to disregard the many criticisms I have for the game. It merely exists as an amalgamation of everything I’ve ever wanted, and my most feared disappointments.
While on the topic of early access, there’s another game worth talking about here; Hades, the latest indie darling to take the gaming scene by storm. You take on the role of the young Greek god and son of Hades, Zagreus, as he hacks, slashes, and fights his way out of the pits of the Underworld. Hades began life in early access in December of 2018, and was given a full release in September of this year. Upon release, it quickly became the talk of the town so to speak, getting near-universal praise from reviewers, critics, and everyday gamers alike. It’s even getting a nod for “Game of the Year” from The Game Awards, just to add to the accolades for the game. I won’t sit here and pretend that I’ve been following Hades since its inception, in fact I’d never even heard of it until it was released in full. Once It was on my radar, though, the rogue-lite, hack and slash dungeon crawler caught my attention immediately with its gorgeous art style and captivating gameplay videos. So naturally, I had to check it out and see what all of the hype was about.
What I was greeted to was one of my favorite gaming experiences of the year. The gameplay is one of the most fluid, addictive systems I’ve ever seen in a hack and slash game, mixing skill and strategy with the RNG of temporary upgrades beautifully. The ever-changing halls of the Underworld keeps every single run of the game feeling fresh and different, a necessity when dying means starting from the very beginning every single time. The game’s god mode even rewards you for dying by increasing your damage resistance every time the forces of Hades cut you down, though even without this optional setting death rarely ever feels cheap or unfair. These great gameplay mechanics are married with a shockingly emotional story, great voice acting for all characters, and excellent sound design in every level and encounter.
On every level, Hades truly is an experience I would wholeheartedly recommend to every single gamer, even if dungeon crawlers and roguelikes aren’t generally your cup of tea. While nothing here is necessarily “unique,” Hades manages to stand out amidst a river of dungeon crawlers and roguelites. It’s one of the finest examples of the genre I can think of, and easily my top game of 2020.
@relauby Baby Labor
One of the great things about video games is they can make short stories more engaging. Something like Baby Labor wouldn't work as a short film, because it's too visually static and short to leave an impact on the audience. It wouldn't work as a song because it's too reliant on character design and non-melodic mood music to establish a tone. But as a game, it works. The interactivity helps engage the player, even if it's only simple dialogue selection, and placing us in the shoes of one of the characters gives some immediate emotional connection, however small, to the story.
Baby Labor is a short (roughly ten minutes) interactive story chronicling the rise of an articulate baby in a corporate environment. While the subjects it tackles — like nepotism or corporate abuse, among others — aren’t exactly the most novel, and there isn’t enough time to provide more than a surface-level look, the surreal premise and absurd sense of humour makes the satire work. Out of the mouths of babes oft times come gems.
@RyRyIV Baldur's Gate 3
Getting locked in during a pandemic, I spent a lot of time buried in movies and video games. Sure I spent half of the time as an essential employee, but I still had nothing to do for the other 16 hours of the day. But of all the games I played this year, none could even come close to how excited I was for Baldur’s Gate 3. Finally, the classic PC RPG series would be getting a new installment, updated to reflect a game design more reminiscent of the modern Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition ruleset. It’s what I’d been craving for a while now, and on paper seemed like it could be the perfect D&D simulator-type game. Of course, that’s sadly not how it turned out. I’ve made my disappointment with Baldur’s Gate 3 no secret, and in fact wrote an official GBAtemp review on the game. It, effectively, boils down to there just being too much that’s so clearly unfinished with the game that it’s hard to recommend folks shell out the full retail price for the privilege of dealing with all of the early access faults; glitches, bugs, game crashes, and filing error reports in a desperate hope that the next update makes things just a bit better.
Despite all of this, though, I still found myself spending more time in this new version of Faerûn than I did in any other new game this year. There was still more I wanted to see, different classes and races I wanted to try, and in general just different decisions I wanted to make. For all of the negatives, there are enough positives that keep this game at the top of my mind and continuing to return to it. The branching paths and options available for the primary story makes sure you have the opportunity to make every playthrough feel at least a little different, the combat while not perfect is fun, immersive, and interactive.
All things considered, it truly does manage to capture a bit of that D&D magic in a computer game form. Larian Studios was also quick to release some early fixes to a few issues that I had with the day one version of the game and make things a bit more immersive and playable, and have been a really transparent developer as far as progress goes both through Steam but also on social media. The attitude of the developer makes all the difference, and makes me feel a bit better about their decision to charge so much for early access.
As of the writing of this retrospective, the committed and excited Baldur’s Gate 3 community is just receiving Patch 3, the first major patch for the game that promises significant enough changes to be the first instance of not being able to transfer your save data between patch versions. There’s a whole slew of balance fixes and bug squishes, as well as a few quality of life updates that just makes the whole experience better. While it’s not the update that’s going to save the game, it’s definitely a welcomed patch. It’s an exciting time to be a Baldur’s Gate 3 fan, and I couldn’t be more excited to continue following the development of this game.
@Ericzander Among Us
Pretty sus that I’m using one of my 2020 retrospective spaces to review a game that officially released in 2018, isn’t it? Well, quite frankly, Among Us didn’t have anywhere close to the appeal in 2018 that it has today. Due to the game’s explosive growth in popularity this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essentially a 2020 game. You all know what this game’s about: it’s an extremely user-friendly game of betrayal. You and a group of friends (or strangers over the internet) are astronauts who are given the important task of running around doing silly mini-games to repair your ship. However, there’s always at least one imposter among you, running around trying to kill as many others as possible. The goal of the game is to eject all of the imposters by force (and democracy) before they kill enough innocents.
My first experience with this game was around September when I was told by some friends that I didn’t actually have to buy the same on Steam… I could just play it from my phone for free. We got on a 10-person Discord call and played the game for hours and hours on end, completely sweeping me in.
What I found most interesting about the game is that it is so simple and easy to pick up, it’s cross-platform, there are no pay-to-win elements, and it’s engaging enough when you’re playing with the right group that you’ll always stay entertained.
Since that day, I’ve played the game several times with randos on the internet but the experience is never quite like how it is when communicating with friends while playing. That’s the great thing about Among Us, it’s a fun little game to play with strangers but it’s taken to a whole other level when playing with people you care about. We used it as an excuse to hang out and chat and—as the saying goes—I learned that the real treasure was the imposters I exposed along the way.
@Chary Little Busters!
If Ericzander gets to talk about a 2018 game that gained popularity in 2020, I'm taking it as fair game to talk about a game from 2007 that wasn't officially translated until 2017, and was ported to the Nintendo Switch in 2020. It's convoluted--both my reasoning for picking it, and the game's localization history, but I can't help but want to tell others more about it.
Little Busters! is a visual novel--that means it's a game that under normal circumstances would be written off as little more than a novel with pretty pictures and music, and while you're going to be doing a lot of reading, this is a visual novel that makes the most of its medium. Prior to playing this game, there was never a time where I'd finished reading a visual novel and wanted to pick the game back up from the start, just to experience it all again. Coming from Key and Jun Maeda, anime nerds might know that Little Busters! has quite the pedigree, given the studio's previous works of Clannad, Angel Beats, and more, but I feel that this game is criminally overlooked compared to them.
Which is a horrible shame, because if I'm being honest, Little Busters! is Key's best work, bar none. If you're looking for an incredibly well-written narrative about the sadness of growing up, dealing with trauma, making friends, and cute cats, then this is the perfect game for you. It's approachable for those new to the genre, and experienced VN fans will appreciate just how much it twists tropes that you've seen time and time again. There are few games that have affected me on a personal level, but I can say with certainty that Little Busters! is one of them, and was a game that helped me get through 2020's ups and downs.
@relauby Disc Room
The further we move from the arcade era, the easier games have been getting overall. In retaliation against this, there's a subgenre of games that embrace brutal difficulty and revel in killing players. From Software's titles have cornered this market in the AAA space, but this trend can be seen in the indie space as far as back as early 2000s Flash games. Disc Room at first looks like just another indie in that style, but it does a few clever things that make it memorable.
Disc Room plays like a survival, bullet hell version of Super Smash T.V. You are thrown into a series of connected, perfectly square rooms with an absurd number of deadly blades, and must try to accomplish a special task before being killed. While some tasks are straightforward and expected, like survive ten seconds or more in a particular room, but there are others that require more effort, like being killed by every type of disc in a room. This could mean having to survive the ten or fifteen seconds for the disc to appear, and then navigating through the deadly maze to impale yourself on that specific one. You also get a number special abilities throughout, some of which are practical for survival, like dashing or slowing time, and some which are meant to help you solve puzzles, like the ability to absorb a disc and release it later, even in a further level. This was helpful, for example, when one level had the task to die with four or more discs in the room, but this level only had two in it at a time, so I had to release a disc from another level that produces more discs. Some of the puzzles are arguably a bit too obtuse, but if you enjoy banging your head against the wall trying to find solutions as much as banging your head against the wall to beat a tough level, it's appropriate.
While these little puzzle-solving elements help Disc Room stand out from similar games, vitally, it nails all the basics of being tough-but-fair. The controls are simple and responsive. You're thrown back in almost instantaneously after death. There's a great variety in the attack patterns of the discs. Your best times are recorded so you can challenge yourself, and the dev team's best times are also displayed if you want a goal to strive for. All this makes it easier to enjoy Disc Room on the surface as a test of reflex and endurance if you need a break from puzzle-solving, or vice-versa. While this style of game is renowned for encouraging that "just one more run" pattern of play, the versatility of Disc Room makes it even easier to get caught in that cycle.
@Ericzander Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
Let’s get one thing out of the way, I’m almost as big of a fan of the generic Shonen anime called Dragon Ball as I am of the generic Shonen anime called One Piece. Fight me about it. That’s why I was so excited for Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot to come out, even after the initial trailers made it seem that the entire game concluded at the end of the Frieza arc. From a storytelling perspective, I have one issue with the game… This should have been an RPG following the original Dragon Ball story and not following Z. The original Dragon Ball story really lends itself to an open-world RPG, far more than Dragon Ball Z. That said, once I was able to push aside the fact that I was going to replay the same story that I’ve experienced dozens of times in dozens of types of media, I have to say that this is the greatest DBZ RPG since The Legacy of Goku series for the Gameboy Advance.
While the game recaps the story of Z, it does so in a way that’s unique to most DBZ games. Kakarot focuses on character interactions and slice of life scenes that are often left out of other DBZ games. Xenoverse did an okay job of having characters talk to each other and FighterZ did even better with its unique and original story that I think takes place between the Return of Frieza and Zamasu arcs in Dragon Ball Super. But a lot happens in Kakarot during the intermissions in the story where you see exactly what the characters were up to during these gaps in time and how events actually unfold. You get extended universe material from the mind of Toriyama that never appeared in the anime or mange, such as the story behind Android 16’s appearance.
I enjoyed all of the RPG elements to the game, which are set up in a way that you can focus on them meticulously or just ignore them completely and smash your way through the game. I think that this game can be enjoyed by both fans of DBZ and newcomers alike.
@Chary Super Mario Bros. 35
I could not have been more skeptical, when it came to the announcement of Super Mario Bros. 35. Its first gimmick already sounded dubious at best; taking the original Super Mario Bros. game and turning it into some battle royale mess? The concept alone sounded like a terrible idea, compounded with the fact that it would only be around for a limited time--set to be delisted less than a year after launch.
But sometimes, you just have to trust Nintendo. Super Mario Bros. 35 manages to take the played-out age-old king of platformers and turn it into a brand new innovative experience. Upon my first playthrough, I tried to speed through 1-1, and play the game like I normally would have, which is exactly what you're not supposed to do. Instead of asking you to re-tread the same ground you always have, Mario 35 makes you consider the actions of 34 other players, who are all playing the same level as you, and all trying to methodically mess with you. Each Goomba or Koopa that you stomp will be sent to another player's screen, as you race through each of the levels of Super Mario Bros. 1 trying to keep your timer from hitting zero. This mix-up to the formula is delightfully chaotic and requires actual strategy to survive to the end. Plus, there's all sorts of possibilities--what if we got a Super Mario World variant? The possibilities are endless...
...At least they would be, if the game wasn't going to be taken down in March...
@KiiWii Astro's Playroom
It's inevitable that when we finally manage to bag the latest console, we want to check out all the updated features, bells and whistles, and be utterly wowed by the experience. Upon firing up my shiny fresh PlayStation 5 I found Astro's Playroom preinstalled as a day one freebie and, not expecting much, I dove in hoping for an experience similar to Astro Bot: Rescue Mission on PS4 before it. To my utter adulation, this wasn't just a rehash, a reskin, or even a sequel: this was a full-on interactive demonstration of the internal workings of the PS5 hardware! From the GPU Jungle to the NVME Highway, each of the four main zones within this family-friendly escapade is lovingly crafted to explain and simplify the hardware within the console. Utilizing the DualSense controller you feel the struggle pulling against adaptive triggers, you can use motion controls and touch inputs to immerse yourself in this exhibition of truly enthralling video games mastery.
Not only this but ASOBI team has really struck gold by way of including a plethora of retro treasures for you to seek out and collect, spanning every generation of PlayStation to date, and including some amusingly obscure historic references! This attention to detail alone drew me deeper into the game than I was ever expecting and really played with my feels in an utterly glorious way. Be sure to Platinum this one, its a blinding demo, which keeps me in sheer wonder over what delights could be coming from this studio in the near future.
Though it's been in the works for many moons as an Early Access title, Noita came somewhat out of nowhere for me. Recommended to me by a friend as "that sandbox flash game, but it's a roguelike", I was suitably intrigued, and rightly so. Noita is a marvelous experience through and through. At its core, you have a satisfying rogue-lite platforming challenge, where you collect wands and spells. At the end of each level, you have a chance to mix up your arsenal by swapping the spells attached to them around, allowing you to create strange and unique weapons that suit how you want to play. Where it all comes together though is in the environments; they're fully destructible. And they're not just destructible, every pixel has physics. It's wild. You can punch holes through a container of acid and watch it rain on both yourselves and enemies, you can cause seismic activity and get crushed by the boulders of your own creation, you can set fire to pretty much everything. Add to this Twitch integration that you can use with friends and you have a game so wonderfully hectic that you don't even mind being stuck in the first three levels for hours on end. Despite only having played for around ten hours up to now, and not even beating the game (it's hard!), it remains a huge standout, and one I genuinely hope more people stumble across. There is no doubt in my mind that anybody playing will have a great time.
@relauby Before I Forget
Walking simulators, despite being such a young genre, still have a setup that’s become so commonplace that it’s hard not to be suspicious when you see it come up. Popularized by Gone Home and What Remains of Edith Finch, exploring a deserted home to piece together the story of whatever family used to live there is kind of the default for a lot of walking simulators. It can work well, but without care to the level design, they can become off-putting. It’s easy to get lost or feel directionless while you wander around what should be a familiar environment.
Before I Forget takes the worst tendencies in lesser walking simulators and cleverly implements them without falling in to their actual pitfalls. You play as an old woman succumbing to dementia, looking around her house, trying to find where her husband has gone. Many walking simulators have a weird disconnect between the player and the story, as you often don’t know who you’re playing as or why they’re there. Here, once you realize what’s happening, you feel an immediate connection to your character. You experience her confusion as she tries to remember details, or her anxiety as you try to remember which room is the bathroom before you have an accident. It’s the kind of storytelling that only works in a video game.
In addition to being a smart subversion of walking simulator tropes, Before I Forget stands on its own as a heartbreaking story about dementia. The focus is tight enough to have some real substance in such a short runtime, but also knows when to pull back to give the story a little breathing room, and there’s some terrifically haunting imagery that’ll stay with me for quite some time.
@relauby Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War represents Activision’s attempt to keep annualizing Call of Duty sequels while also maintaining a live service trend on the previous title, by combining the three major CoD games active right now into one ecosystem: this game, last year’s Modern Warfare, and the free-to-play Warzone. Your battle pass and experience are now consistent between all three games, and your loadout from either game can be used in Warzone. Treyarch’s Zombies mode has also been reworked to incorporate your multiplayer level. It’s an interesting experiment to keep players even more invested in the Call of Duty franchise, but some strange choices stop it from reaching its full potential.
Most of the issues rest with Warzone, which is frustrating since it’s the one most people will likely be mixing with their purchased CoD of choice. Warzone now includes weapons from both Modern Warfare and Cold War, which creates a significant amount of redundancy. Warzone is fairly cluttered and off-putting to its F2P players anyway, so having repeats of nearly every weapon is only going to cause more confusion. Especially when certain Cold War weapons don’t work properly in the Modern Warfare engine, causing issues like this. As much as people rag on Call of Duty for being the same every year, these two games were made by different developers and there are some important, if still minor, differences. Different terms are used to describe the same thing. The way attachments are placed and limited is different. You can't just shove them all together and expect the pieces to fit.
There are a host of other small issues as well. The interface is even more cluttered now than before. Certain attributes equip differently depending on the game. The battle pass content for Modern Warfare seems to be lacking now as Activision has shifted their focus to Cold War, leaving Modern Warfare players feeling burned, as they thought this merger would keep Modern Warfare relevant for longer.
On its own, Cold War is a fine game. I prefer the classic Zombies style, but the changes made here are interesting and worth checking out. The multiplayer and campaign are basically what you expect, but it’s still a reliably good time. But its main defining feature, the integration into Warzone and the previous CoD release, appears to have been completely bungled by oversights.
@Chary Genshin Impact
It feels like every time I think of titles that came out this year, my mind drifts towards ports; games that were released in 2020, but aren’t from 2020 originally. However, there was one game that was without a doubt a product of what modern gaming is like in 2020: Genshin Impact. A weird marriage of open-world exploration ala Breath of the Wild and mobile gacha game elements. This is a game that wouldn’t exist without the popularity of microtransactions and the post-2017 fervor that was sparked when it came to gamers clamoring for more open-world cell-shaded fantasy adventures.
Yet, Genshin Impact is anything but a clone--it definitely takes a lot of elements from Breath of the Wild, but the gameplay is different enough to let Genshin’s own strengths shine. The wide variety of characters and their weapon types, a surprisingly intriguing (if not horribly slow-paced) story, fun missions and quests, co-op, and more are all reasons why I keep coming back to the game each day, just to make sure I check-in and collect rewards.
Genshin Impact has hooked me in exactly the way that developer MiHoYo has hoped. And I couldn’t be happier. There are obviously moments where the game seems to slowly dry up and become stingy with “premium” currency, but so long as you don’t let yourself be enraptured by the fancy shiny nice things, you can experience the best the game has to offer without having to ever spend a single cent.
@relauby Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2
The Tony Hawk series was always gonna have a hard time growing up. The original games worked because of their simplicity, but future titles would have to add new features so they didn’t grow stale. The additions they came up were met with varying responses, but by the time Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 came out, the series’ reputation was about as low as it could go. This meant it was the perfect time to release Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2, a remake of the first two games that can not only cash in on nostalgia, but the simplicity that launched the series would be welcomed back.
THPS 1+2 hits the perfect sweet spot for a remake, which is that it plays how you remember the originals playing, rather than how they actually did. The new engine allows a level of speed and precision that wasn’t possible for the originals, and the crucial revert that wasn’t introduced until 3 is now included. The original maps are faithfully recreated with some additional challenges thrown in to give Tony Hawk diehards something new to chew on.
All this is to say that if you enjoyed the originals, or have ever had any interest in them, you should get Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2. The simplicity of these games—drop into a map, complete as many objectives as you can in two minutes, then retry or move on—makes it so easy to get addicted, to keep telling yourself “one more run.” Every single thing you do keeps you moving, trying to get as much speed as possible, so each run ends up so high-octane and intense that it’s even harder to walk away. The design here is so single-minded and pure, with hardly a wasted second anywhere in the experience, it’s impossible not to respect it.
@KiiWii Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Spider-Man has fast become hot property for PlayStation since Insomniac took up the mantle and essentially evolved their own franchise, Infamous, rebranding it with the titular web-slingers look and feel. Who knew this move would create one of the most cinematic experiences on modern consoles and snowball into the incredibly popular spin-off Marvels Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Why do I dare say spin-off instead of sequel or DLC? This is because unfortunately, though it is a relatively short game to finish, it is amazingly rich and diverse with a truly captivating story that is quite literally an emotional roller-coaster that simply I cannot praise highly enough. From thwarting evil super villains, to infiltrating enemy bases stealthily, enjoying sight-seeing treasure hunts, and rescuing lost pets: Spider-Man Miles Morales has swathes of variety in the narrative and plenty to discover by way of side missions and collectibles. Most notably the suits and power-ups are particularly fun to unlock and upgrade along the way, augmenting your experience at every turn and changing up the way you play depending on what you uncover in what order. Once you think you're done: don't forget there's a new game plus!
Having 100%'d MM I can confidently say that PS5 gamers have a bright future ahead of them as this title alone effortlessly demonstrates a variety of next-gen features including an intricate yet intuitive control scheme which adds immersion through the adaptive triggers, increased lighting, particle, explosive and water effects, and a sprawling, densely detailed, fully populated city to scour! With next to no load times throughout and all of this, and flowing beautifully at full 4k resolution, 60fps, with ray tracing reflections: what more could you desire? For a launch title this is impressive stuff, to say the least, and knowing how developers like to squeeze more and more out of the newest platforms over the coming years, as they become familiar with the architecture, we can be sure to expect big things from Insomniac going forward!
@Ericzander Gunlord X
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of indies and spiritual successors to classic games like Metroid, Contra, and Turrican. That's why I was excited to try Gunlord X and was elated to find out that it met and exceeded my expectations at only $10. Originally released for the Neo Geo and Sega Dreamcast in 2012 (at which point the Neo Geo was 22 years old and the Wii U was already out) Gunlord was clearly the king of spiritual successors to Turrican. In December 2019 NG: DEV.TEAM released an improved version of the game titled Gunlord X for Switch and PS4.
I loved the game's set pieces and soundtrack that keep me hyped throughout the short experience. When I play Run N' Gun games, I require two pieces of criteria to be met: there has to be lots of running and there has to be lots of gunning. Gunlord X passes the test. Do yourself a favor and spend the $10 to play this game all afternoon.
@Scarlet Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics
Now 51 Worldwide Games is the kind of game you can genuinely recommend to anybody. Regardless of age, experience, or friend count, there really is something to find in this package of games you both have and haven't heard of. Initially captivating me for its clean hanafuda gameplay in a market where there really is little representation for the game, I quite excitedly grabbed it at launch, and have been coming back to it fairly regularly since. Sometimes I'm in the mood for shogi, other times it's chess, others I just want to race slot cars. Every game is polished to the point where I'd be comfortable paying £5 for them individually on the eShop, and while that doesn't sound like much on its own, it does give the game £255 worth of content for me. I will say there are a few hits and a few misses though, the notable downfall being the inclusion of gomoku, essentially Connect 4 on a go board, in oppose to traditional go. The toy games, baseball in particular, stood out to me far more than I was expecting. Despite their simplicity, there's some surprising depth.
While the Switch never really had its Wii Sports, 51 Worldwide Games fills the hole well as that pick up and play title you can endlessly revisit alone or with friends. It's great.
And that wraps it up! Did you agree with any of our takes? We know there are all sorts of other games that we missed, so feel free to share your own opinions on games you’d like to share with other GBAtemp members!