Ivanir’s Top Five Video Games of 2020

2020 hasn’t been a good year for a whole bunch of reasons. Still, at least when gaming is concerned, it was a solid year with interesting experiences. Though the five games below are my favorite this year, I could just as well list at least another 20 that I really fell in love with. Without further ado, this is my personal list.

5. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

I’ve been following this game since its original announcement in 2015. My only previous contact with Vanillaware was Dragon’s Crown, but I knew of their other games, and just the concept art of the three girls and the robots alone was enough to get me really intrigued.

Some of my friends had even given up on the game being released, and even once it was available in Japan, it was all doom and gloom about how it wouldn’t come over despite how Atlus had already confirmed in 2017. After all those years of waiting, it actually ended up being much better than I expected.

I absolutely loved the changing perspectives and how the story beats had so many concepts mixed. It really made me think about what was going on, trying to connect the dots because of how fascinating it all was.

I also really enjoyed both sides of the gameplay. Walking around those gorgeous 2D environments and using the keyword system was nice, but who can say no to giant robot battles? Customizing the weapon loadout of the sentinels and the differences between the four models adds strategical variety when dealing with the enemies.

Shooting multiple missiles, using autonomous interceptor drones, sending an EMP wave to get the enemies down for the 1st-gunners. It’s really, really great, and I’m glad I had the chance to play it this year.

4. Mad Rat Dead

Mad Rat Dead 4

Combining platforming and rhythm, Mad Rat Dead is a game that has probably changed my way of playing forever. Whenever I play a platformer, I end up playing as if I were bound to its soundtrack rhythm. It ends up a little poorly sometimes…

Both the soundtrack and visuals are really colorful, and I really enjoyed the story as well. But this feeling of flow from how the platform and rhythm aspects are combined is really something extra special. Just typing about the game makes me remember the experience and want to hit “dash, jump, dash.”

Nippon Ichi Software’s smaller projects sure have come a long way. As someone who felt htoL#NiQ was a little clunky, I’m glad to see how they’ve improved. Both Mad Rat Dead and void tRrLM were highlights of the year for me.

3. Taisho x Alice -Episode II-

Taisho x Alice Episode II

Taisho x Alice has been a really awesome otome game to follow. The first episode was already special to me because of how engaging Molly’s translation is. All character dialogues shine so much that small quips become really memorable quotes filling my folder of out of context screenshots.

Episode II is much, much stronger, though, showing how dark the situations can be. Though that was already true for the previous two routes, it just can’t compare to what goes on in Kaguya’s and Gretel’s stories.

It also left me wishing for more, with a few special scenes that piqued my curiosity about the next two boys (Snow White and Wizard). And I’m absolutely 100% sure I’m not ready for it.

2. Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions

Captain Tsubasa Rise of New Champions 7

I haven’t actually had any contact with Captain Tsubasa before playing this game. I also don’t really like soccer. No, scratch that, I abhorred that sport since middle school when it became the only option for PE, ending my time with other activities I preferred like volleyball or some weird nonsense called crab football (in which everyone played soccer while they mimicked crabs on the floor).

Nonetheless, once upon a time, I found an RPG called Inazuma Eleven, and I had a perfect time with it on the DS. So I’m usually intrigued by sports games that can actually do something interesting with it instead of just trying to be more realistic.

Rise of New Champions was a fantastic experience, and I loved using its special powers and dealing with its jokenpo-esque tackle/dribble system. Not only that, but the story was just like a good sports anime, which is also something I appreciate, and I loved creating my own character who clearly stood out from the rest despite using that same characteristic face style.

1. Trials of Mana

trials of mana 5

I’ve been fond of RPGs for a long while now. Though I began with the likes of Final Fantasy V and Digimon World 3 on the PS1, I originally had no contact with RPGs on the SNES back in the day. I had the chance to play some of the classics from that era. Still, it always saddened me to know exciting ones that hadn’t come over, such as Live-A-Live, Bahamut Lagoon, Rudra no Hihou, and the really popular Seiken Densetsu 3.

Released originally in 1995 in Japan, this game’s first official release in the West would only come last year in the Collection of Mana. Under the title Trials of Mana, it would also get a 3D remake like its predecessors, Adventure of Mana and Secret of Mana.

Though I heard some people badmouthing the previous games, Trials seemed like a solid new version for a really fantastic adventure. And honestly, as a fan of action RPGs in general, it just might be one of my favorite games in the genre.

All six playable characters play really well, with interesting classes to choose from. Also, the graphics really managed to maintain the charm of the original while it also feels modern. I really appreciate the effort to make this game in a version that I honestly feel is even better than the original one.

Come back tomorrow as we share another staff writer’s top five video games of 2020.

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Ivanir Ignacchitti

Random Japanese games are my jam. Handhelds, RPGs, VNs and PC banzai.