Before we get started, I want to clarify to anyone who has stumbled upon our GOTY awards that we are a Nintendo-focused site, and our awards reflect that. This doesn’t mean that we don’t love and play games on other platforms, but for the sake of these awards we stick to games that appear on Nintendo platforms only.
Also, for these awards we define eShop as anything that seems more focused on the eShop than retail (indies, etc.), while our regular awards apply to games that seem more focused on a retail release. There is no clear line between the two and we do the best we can to put games into the categories that make the most sense!
So let’s get to it!
There weren't too many big visual hitters on the AAA side of things, but indies picked up the slack nicely this year.
Not quite: Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit (15 points) Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (14 points) PixelJunk Eden 2 (7 points)
Static images don't quite do it justice, but A Short Hike is a truly beautiful game that does a lot with its single location, beating out Hades and Streets of Rage 4, which tied for second. Sometimes a simple but stylish art style is all that you need!
We had a nice mix of AAA and indie in the best audio category this year, and it ended up being a very close race.
And the winner is…
Hades (31 points)
Runner-ups: Animal Crossing: New Horizons (30 points) Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (26 points)
Not quite: Dicey Dungeons (12 points) (tie) Streets of Rage 4 (12 points) (tie) Paradise Killer (10 points)
Indie darling Hades just barely edges out Animal Crossing for our best audio of the year. An excellent and dynamic soundtrack helps set the pace for the near constant action. All of our nominations put up some decent points though, so it wasn't a bad year for audio.
It wasn't particularly a huge year for narrative games on the Switch, but we did have some solid contenders.
And the winner is…
Hades (42 points)
Runner-ups: Paper Mario: The Origami King (27 points) Horace (11 points)
Not quite: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (10 points) Paradise Killer (5 points) Wide Ocean Big Jacket (3 points)
Once again Hades takes the award, this time with a wider margin. Players loved the various characters and the way the story keeps building on itself with each new run. Paper Mario and Horace fill out the top three.
Switch eShop Most Wanted
We have a lot of great eShop games to anticipate, from the recently announced, to games we have known about for awhile now.
And the winner is…
Hollow Knight: Silksong (35 points)
Runner-ups: Disco Elysium (32 points) Spelunky 2 (23 points)
Not quite: Shovel Knight Dig (19 points) Sports Story (18 points) Ghost ‘n Goblins Resurrection (14 points)
It was another close one, but Hollow Knight: Silksong is our most anticipated eShop game for the second year in a row, though newcomer Disco Elysium is right there behind it, with Spelunky 2 not too far back. Hollow Knight was our 2018 eShop GOTY, and NWers are hyped for its sequel.
Switch eShop GOTY
We had a lot of nominations for the Switch eShop GOTY category this year, so it was tough to narrow down the list.
And the winner is…
Hades (41 points)
Runner-ups: Super Mario Bros. 35 (36 points) A Short Hike (35 points)
Not quite: Streets of Rage 4 (18 points) Bug Fables (13 points) Moon (0 points)
It was a much closer battle than I expected, but ultimately Hades took our Switch eShop GOTY award. The level of polish and replayability helped propel it to the top, though Super Mario Bros. 35 and A Short Hike gave it quite a run.
Switch Most Wanted
The nominations for Switch Most Wanted haven't changed much this year, but we do have a few newcomers added to the list.
And the winner is…
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 (75 points)
Runner-ups: Metroid Prime 4 (63 points) New Pokémon Snap (18 points)
Not quite: Bayonetta 3 (10 points) (tie) Monster Hunter Rise (10 points) (tie) No More Heroes 3 (10 points) (tie)
For the second year in a row, Breath of the Wild 2 and Metroid Prime 4 take the number one and two spots, with almost exactly the same amount of points as last year (75 / 63 to 75 / 65.) One of the new announcements, New Pokémon Snap, comes in a distant third.
It wasn't exactly the biggest year for AAA / Retail games on the Switch, but we definitely had some major contenders, including a game that became a bit of a global sensation.
And the winner is…
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (53 points)
Runner-ups: Paper Mario: The Origami King (25 points) Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit (17 points)
Not quite: Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics (16 points) Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (14 points) Trials of Mana (Remake) (6 points)
It will probably come as no surprise that Animal Crossing: New Horizons easily took our Switch GOTY award in 2020, more than doubling the second place Paper Mario. The chill island simulator became the perfect game to play in the midst of the chaos of a global pandemic, and it has recently been announced that it has already sold over 30 million copies worldwide. Nothing else could touch it!
@Mop it up I always find the eShop stuff more interesting because it's not as predictable. Though Hades was the obvious "front-runner" being that it was such a critically acclaimed game everywhere. But eShop GOTY was very close this year and Hades only really pulled ahead at the end. A Short Hike was leading for quite some time, and then Mario 35 pulled ahead, but then Hades closed out strong.
I was a little surprised? to see A Short Hike doing so well (and winning best visuals!), I knew a few people around here liked it but I didn't realized it was that beloved, outside of this forum I haven't really seen anyone talking about it. It's not my favorite game ever but it's a neat little game so I'm glad it won an award (and came close in another.)
nate38's top 31 games played in 2020! (that'd be all of them) Games released in 2020 have ***Asterisks Nintendo system games are in Red
31. ***The Supper -- A few points and clicks and this goopy little horror story is over. Not much to say. 30. Cosmic Star Heroine -- Played on Hard mode until I got stopped by an annoying fight about an hour in. Then I accidentally quit and there's no auto-save, so I lost all my progress. It was worth a shot for a buck fifty I guess. 29. Ethereal -- Played until I got bored, which was about 30 minutes. 28. Pikuniku -- I'm sure it gets better after the 30 minutes I played, but it's taking too long to get going. 27. Far From Noise -- Just an hour of chatting with a deer about life and nature and junk. 26. ***Super Mario Bros. 35 -- Played five games, won three of them. There doesn't seem to be all that much to it, sadly. Or if there is, it's taking too long to unlock... 25. Golf Peaks -- Finished the first four worlds in about 30 minutes. Not a bad little puzzle game. 24. Quadrilateral Cowboy -- Finished the game. Liked it for what it was, but I was expecting more of its hacking heists. 23. Mega Man Zero 3 -- Beat the game on Normal. Tops its predecessors, but still has their same fundamental flaws. 22. Mega Man Zero 4 -- Beat the game on Normal. Tops its predecessors, but still has their same fundamental flaws. 21. Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX -- Beat the game, got all the thingies, beat the boss rush. 20. Side Words -- Clever word/puzzle game, seems like it would be a fun time-waster for your phone. 19. ***Signs of the Sojourner -- Finished one run, mostly going circle and triangle. Dabbling in diamond didn't go well. 18. Micro Mages -- Played through the game on Normal (just the first loop or whatever). Very good for something that could be squeezed onto a launch NES cart. 17. ***Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics -- Tried out most of the games. Found a few new games I'd like to play in real life, or at least in less restrictive virtual formats... 16. ***Fall Guys -- Played for a few hours with a friend. Would have had a crown if I'd known you need to hold the grab button when you touch it... 15. Minit -- 76% completion. I dunno, just a solid little game with an okay gimmick. 14. ***Murder By Numbers -- Finished all puzzles. Okay story, I guess, but the Picross is definitely the main attraction. 13. Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince -- Beat the game in online coop. It's yet more Trine, which is still goofy fun. 12. Wild Guns -- Finished the game with liberal use of Switch-SNES's Rewind feature. I can see why it's a cult classic. 11. ***Wide Ocean Big Jacket -- A cute little story about camping. 10. Baba Is You -- Played until I got stumped in like, ten different levels. Fun mind-bending puzzles, and I'll probably come back to it periodically. 9. A Short Hike -- Got a lot of items, fetched a lot of quests. Fun and relaxing little game. 8. ***Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancer featuring The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Mask -- Finished the new story mode. Has one very clever dungeon and just enough new additions to feel worthwhile. 7. Killer Queen Black -- Played online with friends for a handful of hours. I can see why it's a cult hit in arcades. 6. Devil May Cry V -- Finished the game on Devil Hunter (normal) difficulty. Fun and stylish, but a bit repetitive and one-note. Probably the best DMC game? 5. Pyre -- Went undefeated, started a non-violent coup, stayed in the Downside with Jodariel, Pamitha, and Bertrude. 4. ***Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 -- Finished Episodes 1, 2, EX, Final, and Final again as solo Zangetsu. Just more solid NEStlevania knockoff goodness. 3. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana -- 100%-ish. No idea how its simplistic combat stays fun for so long, but it does. 2. Dicey Dungeons -- Beat all six episodes for all six characters, plus the final episode. Very clever from start to finish. (And I've got some extra-tough extra stuff left to do.) 1. ***Hades -- The most holistic roguelike ever made? I could probably keep right on playing for another hundred hours.
2020 Games I plan to play later Streets of Rage 4 Spelunky 2 Star Wars: Squadrons
2020 Games I wish I had the time / money / motivation / hardware for, but probably never will :( The Last of Us: Part II Half-Life: Alyx Final Fantasy VII Remake Telling Lies Astro's Playroom Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit Paradise Killer
I'm gonna jack Nate's idea and do my own list too. It's always fun to read and write these sorts of things. I only played 11 new games this year, which is much lower than usual. It's been a pretty dire year for new games. And Earth. So it's understandable. Anywayyyy
11. Super Mario Bros 35: I didn't really get Tetris 99 either, and this feels like a worse execution of the same idea. It's a bold idea and I'm glad Nintendo went through with it, but so much of the game boils down to just playing Mario 1, which I'm not a big fan of. 10. Fall Guys Ultimate Knockout: This was a fun meme for a couple of weeks, but fizzled out pretty quickly for me. I should probably jump back in to see if any new games have been added, since the idea of it is a lot of fun. But the F2P stuff puts me off. 9. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered: Tons of potential, all squandered. I don't know how they pulled it off, but they somehow managed to add online play while simultaneously making it less convenient to play with friends. That's supposed to be an oxymoron! There are more people to play with than ever before, but the game has never felt more isolated and lonely. 8. Picross S4: It's Picross, baby. The color boards were pretty fun. 7. Jackbox Party Pack 7: We might finally be hitting diminishing returns with these things. Quiplash 3 hammered that home for me in particular. It's a winning formula, but the prompts are pretty lousy. Talking points is super hit or miss. At least Blather Round is a highlight- a pretty big one at that. 6. Clubhouse Games 51: It was a treat to get to play some obscure games. I wish the multiplayer was better implemented, but it's still a good time for 2 players. It's definitely more convenient than building up a stockpile of classic board games. 5. Animal Crossing New Horizons: There's a lot I could critique about this game, but I won't lie. This game got me through the early stages of quarantine. I would have lost my mind if I didn't have this game as a meditative part of my morning routine. It served it's purpose and will always have a special place in my heart because of that. But I wouldn't be surprised if I never play it again. 4.&3. Hyrule Warriors Age of Calamity and One Piece Pirate Warriors 4: 2020 saw the Warriors series reach its apex with gameplay. It's no Devil May Cry, but the combat has never been as free or open in how it allows you string moves together. It's hard for me to pick favorite of the two. And both games might end up taking the number 2 spot, depending on the day. Age of Calamity probably plays better and has more depth. I enjoyed the little sidequest blurbs that serve as justification for character upgrades. It's a small thing, but goes a long way to flesh out the world- exactly what I wanted for Breath of the Wild. The fanservice has given me a whole new reverence for OG Breath of the Wild, its world, and its characters. Speaking of fan service, Pirate Warriors 4 really hits the spot. The character feel more diverse than ever and we finally get some long-awaited appearances from Big Mom and Kaido. It's wild to finally play as these characters after first learning about them 12+ years ago in the manga. 2. Resident Evil 3: This game is something entirely different from RE3, and I'm totally happy with that. It serves as an action-packed roller coaster ride, making the perfect chaser for REmake 2. I had a lot of fun replaying the game over and over, honing my skills and hunting down challenge run Trophies. 1. Doom Eternal: This game is crazy. It's like if you translated DMC or Bayonetta into an FPS. It's all about developing this flow as you string together different abilities and weapons to efficiently capitalize on their weaknesses and your own stregnths. There's a lot to get the hang of if you want to play as efficiently as possible, which is a fun process. The visual design is also fantastic. And the soundtrack is absolutely killer.
DMCV is definitely worth a replay if you're interested in taking things beyond button mashing. On the lower difficulties, there's not much reason to do more than button mash. But as you unlock more stuff in new game plus and chase after higher rankings, the real appeal starts to show itself.
@Hero_Of_Hyrule I did more than button mashing in my DMC V playthrough (well, not as V, I mostly just mashed buttons with him lol). But I didn't explore the combat to the depths I'm sure it has, either. I loaned the disc to a friend after finishing it, but if I ever get it back I'll probably pick up the Vergil DLC and play NG+ with the characters' abilities more fully built out.
Your thoughts on Mario 35, Clubhouse Games, and Fall Guys mirror mine to a large degree, though I haven't played or even thought about Fall Guys since September. Is it F2P now or something?
I will be very sad if BOTW2, Metroid Prime 4 and Bayonetta 3 are all still on the Switch Most Wanted list again next year. Please will one of them come out in 2021 (it won't be MP4, I know...)
I didn't play as many games as usual in 2020, new or old. Part of it is that a lot of time went into one game (AC:NH) and a few other 40+ hour games, part of it is that I did more outdoorsy stuff over the summer to make up for those months where I didn't go anywhere or do anything. Some of my most-wanted games disappointed me, too. RE3 and Deadly Premonition 2, especially.
HM. Manifold Garden, Amnesia: Rebirth (liked what I played but didn't finish it) 10. Call of the Sea 9. Doom Eternal 8. Ori and the Will of the Wisps 7. Final Fantasy VII Remake 6. Astro's Playroom 5. Paradise Killer 4. Cyberpunk 2077 3. Demon's Souls (remake) 2. Animal Crossing: New Horizons 1. The Last of Us Part II