Noah W.org

My Games of the Year 2020

I've always moved in and out of video games over the years. I never considered myself a capital-G "Gamer" though. Two main reasons, or rather excuses, I give myself are that 1. I'm not very good at games (I play on easy or normal, don't judge), and 2. I don't like multiplayer games very much because of the first reason.

Getting that out of the way, I wanted to put out a brief post with my 2020 games of the year. I spent more time playing video games in 2020 than in years past. I built a new PC in 2019 and still use my Xbox One and Nintendo Switch frequently. Maybe my list will inspire people. May it will just be my way of remembering 2020 five or ten years from now. Either way here are my top five (plus one honorable mention) games of 2020. Note that not all of these games necessarily came out in 2020, but games I played most and enjoyed most in 2020.

Honerable Mention: Fitness Boxing

This gets an honorable mention, but doesn't make the list. Let me be clear: this is not a fun game. It's hardly a game at all. It's basically DDR but with boxing. The music is cheesy MIDI-esque covers, the trainers are lame, and there's not much to "accumulate" except for new songs and outfits for trainers.

Jab!

I canceled my gym membership early on in 2020 for pandemic reasons and didn't have an exercise outlet aside from running outside. Ring Fit was sold out everywhere and this you only need the joy-cons to play. You get out of Fitness Boxing what you put in. If you try, really try, it is a hell of a workout. I leave sweating and, according to my Garmin watch, having burned ~500 calories over the ~50 minute workout.

It gets an honorable mention because I play it a lot, but I don't play it, I treat it as a workout and I like it for that.

Five: Anno 1800

Anno 1800 was my love of the first three or four months of 2020. I've never played any of the Anno games in the past; that was a mistake. This is my kind of game. I loved dealing with the unions, striking up trade deals with allies, trying to get more soap production up an running, forging for new territory, and dealing with pirates on the high seas.

As my city grew there were more and more issues to worry about and soon enough my first attempt at leading a civilization ended in bankruptcy and citizen outrage. Oh well, let's start over.

The campaign is a great introduction as well and gives you a good sense of what mechanics are available to you. The first time I blasted through the mountains to get access to iron mines was satisfying indeed.

Four: Open RCT2

Roller Coaster Tycoon was one of my favorite games as a child. The isometric graphics, the sounds of screaming as the trains from Wooden Roller Coaster 1 fly down a drop, and the chants of "Dora, Dora, Dora." Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 was essentially the same game with more content. 3 was a totally different 3D game.

My Island Park was small, but I like to think it's cozy

The Open RCT2 project takes RCT2 and adds some enhancements on top of it. You do still need a copy of RCT2 to play it (luckily I still had my CD-ROM), however. I spent a few months grinding through some parks and had a blast remembering this game. It really is such a perfect simulation game. I spent a lot of time this year perfecting some of my parks and really trying to create cool coasters that were exciting but not too intense for my guests. Also the cheats that exist in Open RCT2 are very helpful for when I just want to mess around and have fun, which was most of the time.

Three: The Last of Us

Over the Summer, I really got back into my HiFi and listening to music (I promise this is going somewhere). One media format I always was fascinated with was Super Audio CD (SACD). It's a niche high-end audio format that encodes audio as DSD rather than PCM, which every other format (including almost all computer audio) uses. The tech is cool and the better possible fidelity it a bonus. One thing you can't do with an SACD is rip them. Unless you have one of the early generation PS3 models that could playback SACDs.

I ended up buying one of eBay so I could rip my SACDs and I've always been interested in playing The Last of Us based on multiple recommendations to do so. The game was a lot of fun for me. The immersive (and depressing) story and highly curious world and circumstance was interesting to me. It was fun to watch the character dynamic develop

The game itself was a really good story. It's very linear, but the character development was better than I expected. It was also a very heavy game, emotionally. It really stuck with me and I still think about it from time to time when I think my life is tough.

The thing that amazed me most was the graphics quality of this game in 2020. It's still amazing considering the PS3 hardware's age.

Two: Microsoft Flight Simulator

It's been a long time since I played a flight simulator. When I was younger, my uncle Tony gave me a Joystick and a copy of Sierra Pro Pilot 98. It my was first experience with a flight simulator and was a lot of fun. Obviously things have changed in the time since 1998 and Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is such an amazing feat of technology, integrating real-time map, weather, air traffic, and radio information into the game.

I travel[ed] a lot for work, so being grounded this year was a difference experience for me. In a weird way, being able to "fly" with flight simulator was a way to kind of relax and remember the flying experience from home. Being able to take off and land from Cleveland Hopkins with exquisite detail was a joy and I was able to see the real landmarks I actually see when landing in a real plane.

On approach into CLE at 3,000ft.

If you even have a cursory interest in a flight simulator, you won't be disappointed with the amount of aircraft and airports in this game. There's a lot of fun to be had in handling the plane from takeoff to landing entirely on your own without crashing.

One: Animal Crossing: New Horizons

I had the first Animal Crossing game to be released in North America for the Game Cube. This was my first experience with a real-time game and I remember actually turning it on at midnight on new years to watch virtual fireworks, and getting up and turning it on at 6:00am during the summer to do virtual workouts with my villagers. I loved the changing of the seasons, and picking up shells on the beach.

The 2020 Switch version in New Horizons got a lot of things right. I love the island theme and the ability to customize your island. I love the interactions with my villagers and the fun of collecting fish, bugs, and other items for my museum. I love buying the next super-detailed item for my home that I cannot use aside from it looking dope in my kitchen I don't eat from. I love making seasonal wreaths for my door. I love talking to Sable and learning her life story one conversation at a time. I love sitting with my villagers and enjoying the warm afternoon breeze together.

Enjoying the afternoon.

I played this game the most this year. Certainly the unique situation of 2020 helped promote this game into being such a popular game this year. Nintendo has also been good about pushing updates that add new features over time. It does get monotonous, but every season brings new things to do and things to see which keeps me coming back.

Published: 1/25/2021 9:11 PM in Games

Article by: Noah Wood