Nobody stranded on a desert island plucks their eyebrows. –Rating Pending
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What has been your favorite videogame of 2020? Least favorite?

-Ludicrous Whistler

A:

Dear friend,

My favorite was Stardew Valley. Not even a competition. If we're counting 2019, I also really enjoyed Detroit: Become Human. My least favorite was maybe King's Quest, but it's still a really fun game. I've just been stuck on a puzzle since December so I'm frustrated with it.

-Van Goff

A:

Dear Whistle,

I haven't played many new games this year. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is just about the only one I can think of. If we count the last half of last year, I also played Pokemon: Shield, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Cadence of Hyrule, all of which were very fun but imperfect games.

-The Entomophagist

A:

Dear Doctor,

Hands down, my game of 2020 has been Slay the Spire. According to my Switch stats, I played nearly every day January-April (we got it for Christmas with a Nintendo eShop gift card). Neither Spectre or I was super familiar with the game, but it was an unexpected hit. I like the replayability, and the multiple characters with different strengths adds more variety. I die a lot, but that's part of the game. It's normal to die on a regular basis. And you can play casually, or you can play with super intense strategies. (I'm very much the former. I just don't have the patience for the latter.)

Runners up:

Ring Fit Adventure for the Switch is quite amazing. It's actually a fitness game I enjoy, plus it has an "offline" mode where you can push/pull a Pilates ring up to 500 times in a day, and it'll reward you for doing so when you log back into the game. I've fallen out of the habit for various reasons, but I'm definitely wanting to pick it back up again. Plus, it adjusts to your own fitness level. Spectre and I can play the same game, but he can have it at a higher fitness level than I do; essentially, he does more reps of the exercises or holds things for longer.

Lego Harry Potter is also really fun. I think I got it in 2019, but I've still been playing it on and off. I love the Lego games (but only the ones where the characters don't talk; it's much more fun to see them communicate non-verbally), and I've been really into Harry Potter again lately.

What the Golf came out a couple of weeks ago, and it is the most entertainingly frustrating game I've ever played. Even the two player mode is wonderful. 

For The King is the unanticipated winner of 2019 for me. I played it almost daily as well after getting it in (I think) September. It's a dungeon crawler, which Spectre didn't expect me to love, but I did. I don't know why. Fun fact: since you play as three separate players, I usually name them Harry, Hermione, and Ron.

I've gotten much more into video games since marrying Spectre, and I don't actually mind it. Having a Switch has been really good as well, because I can play it while Lil' M. is watching something or playing in his play area. 

-Tally M.

A:

Dear Ludicrous Speed,

Final Fantasy VII Remake is my top game of 2020. I would consider myself somewhat experienced in Final Fantasy games. I've played FF IX, X, IV, V, XIII, and XV in that order and I really liked each of them (even XV with all the criticism that it got, I liked it). You'll notice that I never played the original FF VII. I have read plot summaries online but I honestly didn't remember anything from them when I played Remake. I. Loved. It. It's so good! The combat is super unique and very intuitive and dynamic. Each character plays differently which makes combat varied. The story was super compelling and had the signature confusing story of Tetsuya Nomura (the same guy who wrote the story for the Kingdom Hearts series) and I love it! I want more! I want to play the next game and play the original game and dive deep into the 4 other games that are in the FF VII series. 10/10.

Runners up:

  • Crypt of the Necrodancer (I bought this randomly and started playing it and was hooked. It's so hard but I love the music and the challenge.)
  • Kingdom Hearts III: Remind DLC (Not technically a separate game but the DLC came out 1 year after the release of KHIII which took 13 years to develop so I think it counts. It added more confusing story, which was great. It had the best boss battles in the series, which were stupid hard and I felt soooooo good when I beat them. Real good.)
  • Gris (Bought this randomly for $4. Really beautiful. Fun puzzles. Minimalist design.)
  • Octopath Traveller. (Produced by Square Enix, the people who make Final Fantasy so you know it's got some good quality gameplay. I really enjoy the story of this game and the fact that you have so many different characters you can play as. Some criticized the game for requiring too much level grinding but that hasn't been the case for me since I want to play through everyone's stories so I end up being a good level for each new story beat.)
  • What the Golf (I have played this and got 99% of all trophies but there's one stupidly hard challenge where you play golf as a crab and you have to save your crab friends before the water rises around your island but I don't know why that's bad because you are a crab so water does not mean death but whatever. I loved the rest of the game. I laughed out loud so much.)
  • Ring Fit Adventure (Tally explained reasons why this game is good. I just love that I can play this around my son since there's fun cartoony visuals to distract him from my controller and sometimes he does the exercises with me which is adorable.)

Games I didn't enjoy:

  • Control (I really wanted to and I was super invested in the story. I'm just not into horror games and floating, possessed zombie things that explode when they touch you is not something I can play around my family, which means playing by myself, which I really don't want to do, which means I'm not playing it.)

-Spectre 

A:

Dear you,

My brother introduced my sister and me to For the King and now all us siblings have found a game we can play together, even when we're living hours apart!

I also still love Assassin's Creed. It is a beautiful, beautiful game. 

-guppy of doom

A:

Dear LW,

I know it just barely came out, but Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is probably my favorite game of the year so far. I played half of the game on the 3DS years ago, and the entire sequel on the Switch a couple years ago. So it's exciting to see this epic RPG finally get some much-needed polish on a modern console. The gameplay is solid, the characters are great, and it's fun playing a game with such an involved story and a huge number of quality cutscenes.

Final Fantasy VII Remake is a solid runner-up. It's the better game in some ways but I wasn't sucked in for as long as I have been with Xenoblade. Once I've finished both games maybe I'll reevaluate.

I've also played a lot of hours online with my brother on a few games: Rocket League, Terraria, and Forza Horizon 4. Each of those have been great fun.

Oh, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons! That was a much needed escape from these stressful times. The first two weeks especially were wonderful.

Not that it was that bad, but if I had to pick a least favorite, I'll mention Tokyo Mirage Sessions. I pulled out my Wii U copy to see if I wanted to get the new Switch version, but I lost interest after a couple hours. If I'm in the mood for a game like that I'd rather finish Persona 5 or Fire Emblem: Three Houses instead.

-Kirito

A:

Dear Ludicrous ~

I have surprised everyone, and delighted Yellow, when I became addicted to Civilization VI.

~ Dragon Lady

A:

Dear LW,

I've only played one game released in 2020, so instead I'm going to give you a list of games, from least to most enjoyable, that I've played for the first time in the last year. I'm leaving out any new DLC for existing games.

  • Hearts of Iron III - I know it's only ten years old, but I've played older games that feel newer. Plus, unlike the rest of Paradox's grand strategy games, it's pretty much exclusively focused on war, and that's my least favorite part of the grand strategy experience. It's understandable for a WWII game, but I think I'll stick to playing Victoria II instead.
  • Imperator: Rome - I was promised more than Europa Universalis But In Ancient Times. It more or less delivered. But at their best, Paradox's games (Victoria II and Crusader Kings II) can honestly make me forget that I'm playing a game and feel like I'm playing a history simulator instead. So far, Imperator still feels very much like a game.
  • Rise of Flight - There aren't very many WWI flight simulators and there are even fewer free ones of decent quality. The graphics in this game are beautiful, or at least they would be if my laptop could handle them. If nothing else, it's given me a much greater appreciation of just how dangerous it was to fly into combat in just the second decade of aviation.
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Okay, so maybe I've been treating this as more of a fishing and aquarium-building game than it's intended to be. But I've found it does a really good job of being relaxing without feeling pointless.
  • Children of a Dead Earth - It's billed as the most thoroughly scientific space combat game ever created. I got about halfway through before taking a break, and during the break I forgot all the orbital mechanics I learned (yes you have to ACTUALLY LEARN ORBITAL MECHANICS in order to play) and haven't felt like dedicating the time to re-learn it ever since. I give it significant credit for actually thinking through what warfare would be like in space, both first-order things like what weapons work best in what situations (e.g. lasers vs unguided projectiles vs missiles) and second-order things like where combat would occur and what it would be like for crews and for strategic allocation of resources (e.g. projecting force from one planet or moon to another takes months, and then you have about five minutes of actual combat). And, once again, absolutely gorgeous visuals that I can't enjoy because my laptop was not built for this.
  • Cities: Skylines - For as much as I've enjoyed playing war games, what I really love is building things. Most of my games in Victoria II lately have involved little if any actual fighting, and I've mostly focused on transitioning from an absolute monarchy to a republic or trying to entice as many immigrants as possible or finding a way to completely dominate a narrow sector of the in-game economy. I love Cities: Skylines because it's the culmination of that experience. There's no in-game mechanic trying to railroad me towards destruction. It is purely a chance to build. And the buildings and cities that you can build are incredible. There are honestly few gaming experiences I've had in my life that are more satisfying than creating a city, bringing it into a self-sustaining equilibrium, and then just watching it live its life. It's beautiful. It's almost meditative.

I'm conflicted about gaming in general. I believe it's a legitimate art form and hobby. I also think it occupies an unhealthy place in my life and is getting in the way of other, much more important things. So thank you for giving me a chance to think critically about the games I've been consuming and understand a bit better how I do and should interact with them.

-yayfulness

A:

Dear Ludicrous Whistler,

Final Fantasy VII: Remake. The original FFVII is my favorite video game of all time, so I had very high expectations for this game, and I still loved it. Actually, I'm currently loving it since I haven't quite beaten it yet (very close!) even though I picked it up on opening day. 

I don't have a least favorite video game for this year since the only other one I've managed to play is Ori and the Will of the Wisps and that is also an excellent game. If it weren't for the nostalgia factor in FFVII: Remake, then Ori and the Will of the Wisps would be in my top slot. You should definitely check it out. 

-Sky Bones

A:

Dear Whistler,

Hyper Light Drifter did not come out in 2020, but I had a free copy from the Epic Games Store that I'd been waiting to play when I finally upgraded my computer. That happened last Christmas, so I played that a bunch during the beginning of Winter semester and found it to be very, very satisfying. (Also I'd heard that it was really hard but it was...not? I mean it was challenging at times but way easier than most stuff found in Hollow Knight, in my opinion at least.)

Vienna and I played through Unravel 2 together a bit after that, and I thought that was also pretty good (though some of the challenge levels are clearly designed for just one person and trying to get through them with the both of us was, uh, frustrating at times). In other Vienna co-op news, just last week we finally finished all of the main levels in all of Overcooked 2 and its various DLC's. There are secret levels we haven't unlocked, but we got through all the rest (admittedly, with some help from the developers, as they seem to have lowered the difficulty level of some of the Surf & Turf kitchens, which a quick Google search will tell you ARE REALLY, REALLY HARD for some reason).

And, of course, there's Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Building an island with Vienna has been fun, but I think the part I appreciate the most is the social aspect of meeting up with other players on their islands. I don't have friends who own ACNH, but a bunch of Vienna's childhood friends got it and I just think it's really fun when they all meet up in-game while chatting with each other over Zoom.

Lastly: I don't know if this question will post before it ends, but if you're reading this before June 16, 2020, I strongly encourage you to check out the Bundle for Racial Justice and Inequality from itch.io. They are offering over $9,000 worth of content (mostly in the form of games, but with some other things thrown in for game developers like music or art assets) for as little as $5; you donate whatever you want over $5 and you get the whole bundle. Included in this bundle are such indie game legends as Night In the Woods, Oxenfree, A Short Hike, and the 100 Hour Board-approved Celeste. But more importantly, buying the bundle will raise funds for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund. No, you probably won't ever get through all of the content in the bundle, but that shouldn't stop you. Right now I'm playing through Minit, and after that I'll probably go for Night In the Woods, since I've been interested in that game since before it came out but never really got around to buying it.

-Frère Rubik