The Games That Got Me Through 2020 by Razbuten on YouTube
If there is one more video you watch this year, I recommend it be this one.
The Games That Got Me Through 2020 by Razbuten on YouTube
If there is one more video you watch this year, I recommend it be this one.
The new year would not be complete without a healthy chunk of industry predictions. My second post ever on Max Frequency was my 2020 predictions. It is a sacred pastime and one I enjoy throughly. Before we recap my 2020 predictions and look into my crystal ball for 2021, here are the rules I have set for myself:
And that’s it. I do three predictions each for Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. I also close them all out with a “Kiefer”-level prediction. This is some outlandish, over-the-moon prediction inspired by the wackiness of having Kiefer Sutherland be the voice of Venom Snake in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
Let’s see how I fared in 2020.
No strictly new 3D Mario game was announced nor was released in 2021. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury was announced but is releasing on February 12, 2021. So some new 3D Mario content, but off by two months!
No new Switch model, despite earlier rumors. The Switch console most assuredly surpassed 70 million units sold though. The last official numbers were reported on November 5, 2020 with 68.3 million units. That specific quarter was 6.86 million consoles alone. Since this was before the traditional holiday shopping season, I feel safe claiming that the Switch has surpassed 70 million units by the end of 2020. We’ll find out officially on March 31, 2021 when the annual shareholders meeting occurs. Still doesn’t give me the point though.
Not quite what I had envisioned, but a new Mario Kart game was announced and released this year! If only I didn’t have carpet in half of the new apartment…One point locked for the Nintendo chunk!
So believably wrong. The reveal of the PS5 was whacky, cancelled E3 or not.
What is a launch window anyway? Completely subjective, I’m sure. The closest thing to a release date for Horizon Forbidden West is a window of the second half of 2021. While it possibly could happen within the first year of the PS5, I don’t think it counts as a launch window title. Wrong again.
While Sony didn’t talk about the PS VR 2 in the way that I had hoped for, they did talk about VR on the PS5 and the future of their VR plans.
“PlayStation believes in VR. Sony believes in VR, and we definitely believe at some point in the future, VR will represent a meaningful component of interactive entertainment. Will it be this year? No. Will it be next year? No. But will it come at some stage? We believe that…” – PlayStation CEO, Jim Ryan in an interview with The Washington Post on Oct. 29, 2020
Is that specifically mentioning PS VR 2? Who’s to say? No one is here to stop me. So I give myself the point.
I just did not believe the idea that Microsoft would launch two consoles simultaneously and undercut themselves in price, performance, and game design limitations. I do think that them launching two consoles and Sony launching two variants makes for a far more interesting, if not unprecedented, market.
My Halo prediction could still come true, except for the part about being a launch title.
All hail Geoff Keighley and The Game Awards. This was almost too close for comfort. I never played Perfect Dark on the N64, but this new game seems pretty dope. I am curious how building an entirely new studio from scratch to revive an old IP will pan out.
Lastly, there is the matter of last year’s Kiefer prediction:
The next 3D Mario game will be Super Mario Odyssey 2 and will launch this summer, while Nintendo’s big fall game will be the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Oh so very wrong. Well, maybe we could drop the “very.” Like I mentioned before, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is on the horizon. While Nintendo’s big Fall game wasn’t the sequel to Breath of the Wild, we did get the prequel to it with Age of Calamity. Maybe we can say I was “oh so close, yet so far away.”
Out of all the predictions, I nabbed 3/10. That is terrible. I hurt myself with some two-sentence predictions. Don’t worry, I’ve learned my lesson. I will fare much better in 2021.
2021 is a huge anniversary year for the Big N. The biggest by far is The Legend of Zelda. There was a huge celebration when Zelda had its 25th anniversary, most notably with the release of Skyward Sword. I can’t imagine a 2021 where Nintendo doesn’t celebrate Zelda’s 35th anniversary. It also happens to be Metroid’s 35th anniversary, but hoping for any major form of celebration is a fool’s hope.
The other notable anniversary is the launch of the GameCube, arguably my favorite Nintendo console of all time. Ideally (read as another fool’s hope) Nintendo would do some sort of GameCube library like they currently do for the NES and SNES on Switch Online. The GameCube is the second Nintendo home console (I see you Virtual Boy) to not have any sort of digital presence on Nintendo’s current consoles and shops. It’s time for the GameCube to get the respect it deserves.
Since the rumors were so prevalent heading into 2020, I’m deciding to swing the other way when it comes to the Switch Pro. I think Nintendo is happy riding out one more year before releasing the Switch Pro. That’s not to say they won’t announce it this year, but I don’t see it releasing in 2021.
Sony and Bluepoint Games have an incredibly tight second-party relationship. I think Sony will look to lock that in as a first party. Sony has an incredible library of games that would thrive off a full-blown remake from the best of the best. Demon’s Souls being a launch title for the PS5 continues to showcase the prowess of Bluepoint Games and Sony’s hardware. It’s time for Sony to lock Bluepoint down.
Historically, Naughty Dog doesn’t wait long to announce their next project. I say they pivot and fully embrace the silence that they took for the bulk of the development of The Last of Us Part II. Now, I could be proven wrong in January or February when they announce a PS5 port of The Last of Us Part II with some fully featured multiplayer game, but I’m thinking the Dogs may be quiet for awhile.
This is my vague way to say that Sony better let us play those digital PS1 and PS2 games we bought back in the day. Heck, go the way and figure out PS3 compatibility and bring along the PSP and the Vita. Make the PS5 the end-all-be-all PlayStation.
As much as it pains me to write it, I feel like Halo Infinite is going to slip again, likely to early 2022. Maybe 343 will release a multiplayer beta to soften the blow, but I think Chief slips one more time.
Which some what ties into my next prediction, I think this cross-generational support is going to slowly vanish from Xbox. I can’t see Halo Infinite making its way to Xbox One. Throw Fable, Forza, or whatever else in there too. It’s already begun with Microsoft Flight Simulator. After both Sony taking the “announce cross-gen titles as they come” approach and the utter debacle of Cyberpunk 2077’s console launch, I can’t imagine Microsoft will want their studios to support six different platforms.
And building upon the blow that would cause, I think Microsoft will announce that an xCloud app will come to Xbox One consoles. Most likely the One S and One X, since they both can output 4K video. If my phone can “run” The Master Chief Collection, I think the One S and One X can stream some games. Not only would this technically mean that you can play these games on your older hardware, but it also helps bolster Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions, which is what Microsoft and Xbox really want their customers to sign up for.
I’ve kept you waiting for my Big Boss Kiefer-level prediction, haven’t I? Well no longer! Behold!
Nintendo will release a 3D Zelda collection that includes an HD port of Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora’s Mask 3D, as well as Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD. The long-rumored HD port of Skyward Sword will be a standalone release.
I think what makes this “Kiefer”-levels is the versions of the 3D Zelda games I chose. The biggest shock would be porting the 3DS remakes of the N64 classics in HD. Nintendo could easily just use their N64 emulation from Super Mario 3D All-Stars and call it a day. I think they’ll go above and beyond for Zelda though and utilize those recent remakes. They already gave the GameCube Zelda games the HD treatment and have been porting Wii U games left and right. Releasing Skyward Sword alone would be inline with other decisions that Nintendo has made with new releases of older games.
2021 feels like it will be a banger of a year for video games to me. There’s just enough shrouded in fog that amps my excitement. Nintendo could really come out with all the pomp and circumstance for Zelda, Metroid, Super Nintendo World (the theme park, not the similarly named, theme park inspired Wii U game Nintendo Land). PlayStation can keep the train chugging along by making big purchases and popularly demanded features a reality. Xbox can continue their resurgence with a laser focus on playing their games on any screen that will have their app. There is plenty of potential, all that remains to be seen is if the industry goes for it.
2020 was a wonderful year for video games. The end of the generation always seems to show off developer’s ability to squeeze every ounce of power out of the older consoles and explore the new potential of the next generation of home console gaming.
It was also a year where folks could sink their teeth into their back catalogs and replay their favorite games. Needing to stay inside more than usual greatly lent itself to playing games. At least, that’s part of how I took advantage of being furloughed earlier this year (outside of writing 18,000 words about Naughty Dog).
So here are my ten favorite games I played in 2020 with a little bit on each one. They are listed in alphabetical order, although I’m sure you can guess what my favorite game was this year.
From a pack-in demo on the PS4 to a VR Platforming marvel to a full-blown launch game pack in, Astro has had quite the rise during the life of the PS4. Astro’s Playroom is a charming and engaging 3D platformer. It masterfully showcases the DualSense controller and its possibilities while making you all nostalgic for PlayStation consoles of year’s past.
This is certainly not the game I thought I’d come back to this year. Maybe it was because I had time on my hands. Or the fact my friends gave me an impossibly hard time for selling my Death Stranding PS4 Pro for the The Last of Us Part II variant. Kojima out of the shadow of Metal Gear is a sight to behold.
DKC never looked so good.
On a slightly more serious note, I never actually played the original SNES version of Donkey Kong Country. I only had the Game Boy Color version as a kid. DKC was one of my earlier pickups when I was given a Super Nintendo. I finally decided to play it when I bought a new wireless SNES controller from 8bitdo. No better way to test input lag than with a wireless controller. There is a clear reason why DKC, both the original game and the series as a whole, has stood the test of time as a pillar of platformers.
I’ve been aware of Hades since Noclip started their documentary series two years ago. I even tried to buy it on the Epic Games Store for my MacBook Pro, but it isn’t available for macOS. I snagged it late-ish November/early December on the eShop because it was on sale and I had points expiring.
What a rock solid action game. I love the constant tug of decision making to increase your chances of making it further in each run. I could see myself get better with each run.
I do wish the narrative sucked me in more. I “beat” the game twice and felt satisfied. I still have eight more runs to see credits roll apparently. I just don’t feel a pull to keep going though.
Furlough and quarantine presented the perfect opportunity to replay the Halo series with my pals. And ODST is the best campaign followed closely by Reach. Halo is at its best when the stories feel smaller in the sprawling conflict. The way the narrative is stitched together; chef kiss.
A Christmas present from last year, my playthrough ran into this year. The game is an absolute delight and a treasure for series fans. The animation and art direction will ensure that Luigi’s Mansion 3 will always look good. Just add another feather in Nintendo’s cap of timeless and charming art direction. The only real issue I had was the terrible final boss design. It was definitely a roadblock and totally crushed my pacing in the narrative.
Night Trap is utterly timeless thanks to its infamy. I had watched a documentary a few years ago and grabbed a copy for Nintendo Switch from Limited Run Games back in 2018. I had never played it and always thought it’d be a fun group game.
This summer I visited my parents and decided that one afternoon would be perfect for it. My wife, my parents, and my friend Logan were all there and we fumbled around the house as vampire ninjas abducted friends left and right.
We were captivated by the cheesiness of it all. After failing on our own a few times, Abby pulled up a guide and was shouting out rooms and timestamps. I bounced the cameras around the home while trying to watch teens dance and vampire ninja’s plot.
We were doing great until a poorly executed command on the final life or death scene; the final boss, if you will. It kicked us back to the half way point. I couldn’t convince the group to sit through another 13ish minutes. What a fun, goofy, unforgettable afternoon.
Ori is an absolute masterclass in fluidity of movement. I’d be hard presses to think of a game I’ve played in 2020 that had better movement.
The game’s soundtrack gave me Grant Kirkhope and David Wise undertones. The game world gave off both DKC and Hollow Knight vibes. Ori is definitely evocative and engrossing.
While the combat felt great, I wish I was more enticed to swap powers/weapons more. I kept the sword and the health recovery equipped always. I felt like the weapons I found and bought weren’t worth engaging with regularly.
Beyond that, I’d say Ori is an essential metroidvania game for any fan. And it got robbed at The Game Awards 2020.
A consistent theme I tried to adhere to this past year was playing one game at a time. This also was applied to books and TV shows. I have a bad habit of starting and stopping games.
Early on in the year, Super Metroid was one of my first “I’m gonna finish this” games. I had myself a FAQ from GameFaqs and would play in the morning.It happened to be after buying our new TV. I really started getting my money’s worth out of the Super NT this year.
There’s a reason that “metroidvania” is a term used for exploratory adventure games with upgrades. Super Metroid is part of the reason games like Ori, Hollow Knight, and Guacamelee soar.
It’s rare for a sequel to not only surpass the original, but to elevate it as well. Despite covering the game so closely, The Last of Us Part II surprised me continually. I played it three times. While this list may be in alphabetical order, this was far and away my favorite game of 2020.
For my spoiler-filled thoughts, check out my review. If you’re interested in the game’s history, check out Chasing the Stick: The History of Naughty Dog during the PS4 Era.
As a part of research for Chasing the Stick, I replayed all of the Naughty Dog Uncharted games. Not a bad way to research if you ask me. I think this was my fourth time playing the game and it continues to stand tall as my favorite in the series. Some didn’t care for the pivot to a more grounded Drake and adventure. For me, making it personal for Drake, Elena, and Sully was the only way to take Uncharted as a whole to the next level. It’s part of what makes Uncharted 3 better than Uncharted 2 in my book. Uncharted 4 has personal connection and consequences as a cornerstone of its design and it pays out in spades.
Nothing quite like a brand new MLiG video to kick off the weekend. Coury and Try go over every perceivable inch of the revised Nt mini Noir from Analogue, which no one can buy.
Maybe I should have gotten one of these instead of a PS5…Kidding aside, I always love MLiG’s videos and find them satisfying and oddly soothing. It is definitely worth the watch whether you copped a Nt mini Noir or passed.
Seeing the tech inside the Nt mini Noir reminds me that the Pocket is only supposed to be five months away. I am eagerly anticipating my own Pocket console and the newly announced Analogue Duo. I really should dig into that one soon.
My wife’s friend got a free Stadia Premium with her YouTube Premium membership. She graciously asked if I’d want it. I can’t refuse adding another controller to my collection. It also gave me a chance to try out Google’s foray into the world of dedicated gaming hardware.
It’s just a Chromecast Ultra. Or my laptop. Or my iPhone.
The iPhone support was just rolled out and is clunky given the fact Apple has a stance against game streaming services in the App Store. The workaround is a web app. To get proper full screen play, you have to save the URL as a shortcut on the home screen. Far from ideal.
The actual bulk of the box. I am happy the analog sticks are adjacent. All hail! The buttons are surprisingly clicky. They remind me of cell phone buttons, which actually makes a ton of sense. The D-Pad is good, much better than I expected for a first go from Google.
There are five buttons in the center of the controller; start, select, capture, Google Assistant, and the Stadia Home button. The first three make sense in this post PS4 share button world. The Google Assistant feels unnecessary, but extremely Google. I asked my controller what the weather was and it answered. Then I asked how much Cyberpunk 2077 cost and it started reading a GamesRadar+ article about how sweet and costly the $250 collector’s edition was for the game. Not quite what I expected or would have wanted. Unsurprisingly, the Google Assistant feature is not available on Chrome for macOS or the iPhone web app.
The trigger are easily the worst part. They are mushy. They remind me of the PS3 triggers and that is not a ringing endorsement.
You could also use on-screen controls, but I would stay away from those. It is pretty hard to tap four or five buttons at once.
When it comes to speed, the promise of Stadia isn’t the same as PS5 and Xbox Series consoles. It’s not so much load times as it is never having to install a patch or download a game again. It’s a different measurement of time, but still noticeable.
I was able to play the games I redeemed through Stadia Pro on my TV and my laptop without having to install squat. It’s impressive.
All of this game streaming comes at a cost of data though. I have played roughly 30-45 min of various games (mostly Celeste). According to my router, I have downloaded roughly 1.5GB during that playtime. Both my connections were wired and I was streaming in a max of 1080p resolution (the Chromecast is plugged into my monitor, not my 4K TV). Google claims that 4K gaming is roughly 20GB an hour.
While you may never have to download a game or patch with Stadia, eventually you will download more data than the game itself.
I did try Stadia on my iPhone over Wi-Fi and there was a noticeable difference in latency than through the wired connection. Not egregious, but noticeable nonetheless.
This should have been easy. Stadia should be plug and play, and it eventually is, but the initial set up did not go smoothly for me.
The controller and the Chromecast needed updates, which is par for the course. You have to use the Google Home app to start and manage these updates. Once the software is up to date, you have to connect the controller to the Chromecast through the Google Home app. This process failed for me and my controller was not connecting to any device. The help page that appeared after failed attempts was unclear. I had to Google around to figure out how to factory reset the controller. After that, I was able to successfully connect the devices.
This was a far more technical process than I had hoped for, making the initial barrier to playing higher.
After establishing a link between the controller, my account, and devices, the sync process has been solid. You enter a button combination on the screen you want to play on.
I took advantage of a one month trial of Stadia Pro and redeemed a couple games I was familiar with to test; Celeste, Into the Breach, and Hitman 1 and 2. I did the guide for Celeste over at IGN as well as the first three episodes of Hitman 1. I felt pretty confident that I could get a grasp on if Stadia was performing up to the standard of local hardware.
On a wired connection, they all felt rock solid. It’s no secret that I have been skeptical of game streaming’s ability to perform soundly. Color me impressed.
In a precision platformer like Celeste I didn’t notice any perceptible latency when using a wired connection. Over Wi-Fi on my iPhone, Celeste just off enough that I’d have to adapt to its off kilter timing. I would never want to play a platformer like that. I imagine that having the controller connect to the servers directly over Wi-Fi helps alleviate lag, more so when the picture/game is hardlined to the Internet.
Stadia is better than I thought. Game streaming impresses me just as much as it did when I played Just Cause 3 on my Vita for guide work while at my girlfriend’s (now wife) house. The technology is cool, convenient, and additive. It’s nowhere near replacing dedicated hardware for myself, but I am curious to see where it goes from here.
Now this is a cyber game I can get behind.
Yacht Club Games and Mechanical Head Studios just announced that Cyber Shadow is launching on January 26, 2021. I was fortunate enough to preview Cyber Shadow at PAX East 2019 for DualShockers. Here’s what I thought of it hot off its initial announcement:
If you had told me a month ago that the first game I’d play at Yacht Club Games’ booth wouldn’t be Shovel Knight: King of Cards, I’d probably would have been very confused. Yacht Club Games is one of my favorite developers in the business. I’ve bought Shovel Knight five times for myself, plus as a gift for friends. I’ve beaten it countless times, earned the Platinum on Vita, and snagged each vinyl of the killer soundtrack. But Yacht Club Games threw me a curve ball the day before PAX East 2019 and announced the next game they are publishing—Cyber Shadow.
I showed up at my appointment with my favorite developer at the show and booted up Cyber Shadow right off the bat. It did not disappoint. If there were more levels available in the demo, I easily would have played this for the entirety of my appointment, forgetting to check out Shovel Knight: King of Cards altogether, because Cyber Shadow is so good.
The new trailer is oh-so-slick and I cannot wait to play in just a little over a month’s time.
Cyberpunk 2077 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 Review by Destin Legaire for IGN
While I had just as much fun playing Cyberpunk 2077 on PC as Tom did playing for his review, on the base PlayStation 4 or Xbox One it is a different game entirely. It fails to hit even the lowest bar of technical quality one should expect even when playing on lower-end hardware. It performs so poorly that it makes combat, driving, and what is otherwise a master craft of storytelling legitimately difficult to look at. It is not an exaggeration to say that I’ve felt nauseated after playing because of the terrible frame rate. It really is that bad, and it’s very suspicious that CD Projekt Red refused to provide console review copies ahead of launch.
I’d say it is more than suspicious. It was downright intentional. They knew the state the console version of the game was in, deliberately showed PC-only footage, and took people’s money anyway. CD Projekt Red figured it would be easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.
This is the type of bottleneck I feared for cross-generational games. Cypberpunk 2077 “runs” on 11 different platforms (PS4, PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, PC, and Stadia). From a business perspective, I understand wanting to launch on last generation consoles. There are 165+ million PS4 and Xbox One consoles out in the world. I think it is safe to say the vast majority of purchases this past week were for those platforms. CD Projekt Red spent a lot of goodwill this past week.
Halo Infinite is supposed to run on nine different consoles. I think Xbox will slowly kill off their cross-generation support by running out the clock for the promised two years of support. Sony may have made the right call by not promising all their games will be cross-generational and instead announcing them as they see fit.
I bought Cyberpunk for a couple of my friends for Christmas and now I’m starting to think coal would’ve been a better present.
– Logan Moore via Twitter
I was one of the friends. If he bought me coal, at least it’d work as intended. Thankfully, I can wait until the proper PS5 version is released in 2077.
I wrote this two months ago on October 1, 2020. It never left the notes app on my phone, but I am finally nearing the end of this year’s rewatch, so I figured it would be a good time to actually post this.
Seven years ago today I started a 10 day binge of all of Breaking Bad. The finale had aired two days prior. I had tried the show previously, but wasn’t feeling it. People would just not stop talking about it though. I decided to give it another shot. I’ll never forget the rush of those 10 days.
Every year since, I rewatch Breaking Bad in October. Not in 10 days, I’m not a freshman in college who can afford to bomb an astronomy test anymore, but I still watch it all the same.
Of course, Breaking Bad has spawned some of the critically best television out there, not only within itself, but also in Better Call Saul and El Camino. It means more to me than some incredibly well written and shot TV though.
During the 10 day binge, my then ex-girlfriend and now wife, were rekindling our relationship. Her love of the show and my rapidly growing obsession became a point of connection for us. We’ve watched Better Call Saul with our dear friend Kevin every week it airs. We drove over an hour away to see El Camino in a movie theater. For better or worse, I see my own relationship dynamics with my brother in Saul and Chuck. All the Breaking Bad things are intrinsically tangled together with my own marriage and friendships (however healthy or unhealthy that may be).
So now that it is October once again, I dive back into the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico and watch a broken man build an empire. I am certainly not the biggest fan out there, but I’d wager I’m one of the more rigidly scheduled ones.
I am practically at my wits’ end. I just want to play three Apple IIGS games, two of which seem to be exclusive to that particular iteration of Apple’s famous computer. Search after search has led my to various apps and emulators that either run Apple IIe tier games, are not 64-bit compatible, or require odd web browsers and extensions.
Maybe I don’t know enough about older computing commands, coding, etc. I can’t even really figure out if something like the Raspberry Pi can emulate the Apple IIGS and its games. Maybe this kinda of emulation is easier on Windows PC (which would be ironic to say the least).
This strikes me as so odd for this sort of game emulation to be so convoluted. It is easier to jailbreak an iPhone, install emulators, and play Nintendo DS games on the phone. Why does this era of early home PC gaming have such a technological hurdle to even attempt? I’ve even looked into Amiga ports for the games I am looking at and the emulation doesn’t seem any more clear on that front. Maybe it is due to having to emulate an operating system underneath the game’s code?
These past two or so weeks have been incredible frustrating for this little side project. I just want to play a few obscure Apple IIGS games? Is that too much to ask for?