By Jenae R / January 19th, 2021
This past year, 2020, as far as gaming is concerned, was a much better year for me than 2019. In my 2019 top games I played article, I mentioned how it was a bare year and I didn’t even have a need for an honorable mentions section. Well this time around, I definitely had a lot more to play, and it honestly got a little overwhelming at times. I took on a bunch of reviews in the beginning of the year that took me about half of the year to get through. I also managed to play through and almost fully catch up on the Yakuza series. With that said, let’s discuss what exactly were my favorites among the games I played during 2020. Keep in mind, this is in no particular order of which was the absolute best and most of these games didn’t originally release this past year, I merely played them for the first time.
Yakuza Kiwami 2
Kiwami 2 ended up even better than the first Kiwami. Each new Yakuza entry I get to after the prior entry takes some getting used to. With Kiwami 2 being my first “Dragon Engine” game, it was definitely no different. Some stuff from the first two games I played was missing, such as bowling. Plus, I suddenly only had one fighting style to use. Regardless, as I got to around the middle of the game, I really started enjoying myself. Yet again, I had the chance to actually run a cabaret club, just like in Y0 (now my favorite minigame in the whole series). The story closer to the end of the game became significantly charming and sweet. There was a conclusion to some things that were left hanging with Majima in Yakuza 0, and the final boss of the game had awesome background music. Kiwami 2 was a joy to play, so much so that I continued to play it on the side when I should’ve been fully-focused on my reviews.
Now this is a Yakuza game that REALLY took me some time to get used to. Having thus far only played some extremely modern entries, Y3 was a huge step back. The character models looked clunky and outdated, the UI was a little clunky and blah, and the first boss was a serious pain to deal with. Fortunately, much like every Yakuza game I played before it, Yakuza 3 grew on me. It by far had the most charming story of all of the games. I loved relaxing on the beach and hanging out with the kids at Morning Glory Orphanage. Not to mention, you get to know Haruka a lot better in this one. Oh, and I can’t forget some of the sad stuff that happened near the end of Yakuza 3, it was one majorly heartfelt entry to the series, and the first boss was the only unfairly obnoxious one I came across.
Yes yes, I know, there’s a whole lot of Yakuza on this year’s list. Well I did play through from Kiwami 2 all the way to the middle of Judgment. I honestly contemplated cheating on this list a smidge by making a single Yakuza category. However, I decided there were at least three that were my favorite titles over the rest, and I’ve ended up putting them all on this list separately. Yakuza 5 is an entry I had heard was fantastic, and I knew it was supposed to be just as content-filled and large as Yakuza 0 was. I had high hopes going into Y5. Ultimately, I don’t think it topped Y0 and Kiwami 2, but it was another awesome Yakuza I had plenty of fun playing. Yakuza 4 was the one that didn’t grow on me. It was okay and I didn’t hate it or anything, just, I didn’t like how split up the story was among the different main characters. No one got enough time for their own story, and it never felt like there was much time to chill with what little story there was. I constantly wanted to keep moving on. Yakuza 5 on the other hand, did the split-up story much, much better. Each character, except for one, had their own large sidequest, much like the cabaret club and realty business in Yakuza 0, and everyone even had their own little town to hangout in and explore. While I decided that I prefer having only one or two protagonists tops in my Yakuza games (it feels better story wise), still, Yakuza 5 did things right and I was fond of all of the side stories/minigames each character had.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons being on this list should be no surprise. I already wrote two articles for the game in 2020, both a review and a follow-up opinion piece. I absolutely adored New Horizons. The game is oozing with charm and, to this day, I am still in love with it and checking in on my island numerous times a week, if not daily. There isn’t a lot more I can say about it that I haven’t already. Feel free to check out my original review and my follow-up article (linked above) if you want to know more about what I thought.
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout
Atelier Ryza was my very first main Atelier game. Before playing Ryza, I had only experienced a chunk of Mana Khemia, somewhat of a spin-off game from what I understand. What I loved about Atelier Ryza was the huge beautiful world to explore, in addition to a carefree, cute story and delightful characters (mainly Reisalin Stout herself). Actually, I am sort of cheating with this entry, but also not really. I technically started the game after receiving it for Christmas in 2019. However, the majority of my Atelier Ryza playtime was at the start of 2020. Anyways, I can’t wait to check out the sequel, I’m hoping it’s equally magical.
All in all, this past year was full of wonderful gaming experiences. Like I mentioned earlier, I actually found myself overwhelmed by all of the games I had to play, mostly the reviews I took on. Once again though, I’m not going to do an honorable mentions category. This time because I’ve already said so much and there’s no need to drag the article on. But, it looks like my prediction from my previous top games I played article was correct. 2020, while not a good year overall, was at least a good year for gaming. Hopefully, 2021 brings many more pleasing video game experiences.
Animal Crossing: New HorizonsAtelier RyzaEditorialsGustKoei TecmoNintendoRyu ga GotokuSegastaff picksyakuza 3Yakuza 5Yakuza Kiwami 2