The Top 10 there is just a placeholder for whatever minor SEO this site can procure. What this list represents is a cross-section of my 2020 with games. Move your eyes just a bit downward, I hated Horace! Most of these games didn’t come out in 2020, but I sure did play them. They held further forge my critical mind ever getting closer to expressing my feelings RE:media.
10. The Absolute Worst Game I Played in 2020: Horace (2019 – Epic Games Store)
Take this as a notice to slam on the wall. I got this game for free through Epic Game Store. If you also did I think it is worth experience if you like experiencing art you will passionately disagree with. It is a bonus to my heart that my specific criticisms of the game have faded in my mind. Truly the greatest art form is playing video games and arguing which Doctor Who is the best. The game’s overall goal being collect shit and experience references. Looking at my own words, “I hate this game’s jump emotionally.”
As I said the specifics have left me only the anger that this was considered good by any means. It made me furious enough to delete and curse it’s name after two hours. Then weeks later I shared that anger as I watched a friend play it. He also hated it so much that it had burned his psyche. It will stick with me for years. The audaciousness that “the things I like are the best because I like them and that makes me special.” Wow It’s almost like I’m going to eat my own words through the rest of this article.
9. A Game That Shocked Me With It’s Beauty: Gris (2018 – Xbox Game Pass)
Then it turns out to just be a mediocre platformer with exactly the story you thought it would have. But the opening, somehow, in my way, youtube didn’t capture it. I was astounded by Gris’s beauty for those first five minutes. The next three hours not so much.
9b. A Game I should Have Written About Instead of Gris: Ape Out (2019 – Xbox Game Pass)
I also got to play this for “free” via Gamepass and wow! I couldn’t convince my brain to buy this game, and yet I want to sing it’s praises. It is worth the price it was set at and yet I would say whatever that price was was too high. Do I buy it now to say “yeah that ruled?” Was playing it enough? Was the randomized action Ape-escape game with an on-the-fly soundtrack not enough for me? I loved it. Of course this Ape wants to get out, it’s prison sucks!
8. The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa (2018 – Switch)
Finally an entry in this list you can believe in. This is games as art. You are demanded by the developer to take this game at it’s pace. Yet, you set your own pace. You are free to engage with this world at your leisure. Marked by extremely confident beginning and ending, you are left to be a deliquent teenager in 80s Japan. This is what they wanted to make. This is the world they wanted you to inhabit. It is video game as a novel. You can pick it up and drop it off and be left to think about it.
7. Arrest of a Stone Buddha (2020 – Switch)
This is studio-yeo making a video game. The game is exactly as hard at the beginning and the end. In a cop-out critic way, if you gave up because the game was too hard: that is also the story of the game. It replaces depression of a teenager with depression of an aged assassin. You’ve done one too many jobs and now you have to do more. Maybe for the player filling this role, the first job is the last job. It was always going to end one way.
7b. Jak 2 (2003 – PS4)
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Jak 2 held a close place in my heart for years. It is this big clumsy GTA-like with an NES-style difficulty. You died dozens of times in each level. Then you get back in a stolen hovercar and fly to the otherside of this snake-roaded city to be told to fly to a third side. I think I’ve bought it on every platform it has been released. I finally sat down and re-played it. I kept thinking “Oh yeah this part sucks”. That thought continued for 8 hours. I had already past the high-light in my rose-colored memories. “Wow what part of this game DID I like?” I didn’t have answer.
6. Wheel of Fortune 64 (1997 – PC)
We all did things to survived this year. What I did was talk with online friends while playing game show video games. We have to say Wheel of Fortune 64 is the best video game WoF. You can play 3 players with one controller. The categories are enough that we didn’t exhaust them before we stopped playing. I wish there was better WoF out there. This is it folks.
5. Final Fantasy VII Remake (2020 – PS4)
We’ve done a whole podcast on how much I loved the gutsy ending of FF7R that has only grown more and more firm in my mind as the right one. I have gotten multiple inside jokes with different friend groups at the fan response to this game. It’s also a fantastic action game, which I could not have expected after the nonsense of Kingdom Hearts 3 or Final Fantasy XV. I’ve even played through it halfway in Hard Mode. For Fun!
4. Dangan Ronpa V3: Killing Harmony (2017 – Vita)
I bought this game at release and it sat on my shelf. And then this year I looked at it and went “I’m going to play that.” And I did. And I loved it. It gave me so much fun detective work to chew on each case. These games are meant to played and then put down and then come back to. The game is supposedly 30 hours long I think you are supposed to “play” it for 60 hours. More than Phoenix Wright and company this is a detective game. You’re supposed to let it rattle in your head. That it ended up paying off the mystery is even more incredible. It doubts itself in “what is a sequel to a sequel to Dangan Ronpa” and goes on to answer that. Play the games in order. Skip Ultra Despair Girls. They are video games with lots to say and I would feel bad to share those sayings here.
3. Every Game I Played for Super Nintendo Exploration Squad
Yes I am a guest and guest-host of another video game based podcast. They even have a format and segments. It would feel wrong to ignore The Salaryman Pentagram or Congo:The Movie The Lost City of Zinj for Sega Saturn. It is always rewarding to play a mediocre game and get together with that crew and squeeze and insightful, indepth conversation out of any game. They keep swearing a bad game is going to cause a 30 minute episode but it hasn’t happened yet.
-2. House Party (2020 continuing – PC)
Few games gave me the immense joy of watching friends engage with House Party. A weird horny game that was also a deliviously 90s style PC Adventure game just as complicated as those were so you could see upsetting 3D models have sex and see where their gentials attach to their models. It gets the position of MINUS TWO because after we had played they added peeing. I don’t know why a game that has a button to take out your penis at any time was okay with me but peeing on people is gross and wrong and I don’t like it. That’s me. But now the game of House Party is forever tainted by it. We’ll always have Frank, howsitgoingdude.
1. Sakuna of Rice and Ruin (2020 – PS4)
A week after I had started playing Sakuna, I was washing rice in my kitchen. I stopped and considered how much work the farmers and trucks and machines had done to bring me the rice. As I was typing that I considered the packaging and the bowl I had washed them in. I thought a bit more about the world I lived in because of a video game. Which by Hinge Problems Standards makes it the best game I played this year.
It’s also a good doujin style action game with a narrative about a group of folks coming together to make a family. It has one tremendous misstep in that story. After that the story goes forward to show you human bonds being strengthened by time and effort. In the mean times, season after season you are growing rice. You consider a fall day versus a spring shower versus the fierce coldness of night in the dead of winter. I dont know how you capture the humidity of a fall morning, but they did.
In a year where I spent it inside for my own and humanity’s good Sakuna hurt with me how well it capture seasons. It told me “everything comes from somewhere even rice”. I feel like I know something about rice farming now. I want to go to a rice field now. I want to see the heat of Japanese summer. I want to go outside. I won’t.
I am getting older and closer to figuring out what I want from media. I want media to be about something. I want it to be about characters I care about. I’ve already in 2021 gotten mad at video games for not being about anything. I can keep dreaming.
So That The World Might Be Mended
January 17th 2021