This year, my #50 was particularly hard to decide. It felt like a real tossup between 10 games, and I could've picked any of them depending on my mood. So, while only one could make it into the list proper, I think the other nine definitely deserve an honorable mention.
Honorable Mention: Bully
So, Bully's five-year run in the top 50 comes to an end. This is one game from my teenage years I had mostly forgotten about, until I played it on an emulator for a brief spell in 2015 and remembered just how good it was - thus putting it in my list from that year, and quite high at that. Unfortunately, I got tired of it somewhat quickly after that and since then it had been nothing but a memory. Memories are good, and I do treasure this game, but it was time for it to move out of the list.
Honorable Mention: Castlevania
Possibly the last NES game that'll ever make my list. It's an inevitability for games this old to eventually be dropped by me, it's happened before with other titles too... I don't know, I can never feel a real connection to games from this generation, maybe because this is before the games I grew up with. That said, Castlevania was the last man standing exactly because of how much it impressed me, and it's an experience I still treasure a lot.
Honorable Mention: Catherine
I played through Catherine: Full Body earlier this year at a friend's place, and ended up liking it a lot more than I expected. I expected the game to be just an endless showcase of boobs, but what I actually got was a surprisingly mature story centered around relationship difficulties, and loads of amazing puzzles on top of that. Catherine's atmosphere, however, is probably its greatest asset - whether it was the nightmare world or the bar you hang out at, the mood was always so dense and real, it felt palpable. I know this game has like a million endings and I only saw one story outcome, but if I ever buy the game and play through different routes, it might actually make the top 50 cut in the future.
Honorable Mention: Crypt of the Necrodancer
This game was one of my jams last year, I played it for dozens of hours and got through many of its craziest challenges. It was just the kind of infuriantingly-but-still-somehow-very-fun kind of stuff I like, and the soundtrack was a blast. That said, I haven't touched the game since, and can't really see myself going back to it - as fun as it was, I guess I'm just not into roguelike dungeon crawlers enough for one to remain in my mind for too long after playing it, even if it has rhythm elements like Crypt of the Necrodancer does.
Honorable Mention: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth
Cyber Sleuth is the only game unfortunate enough to have been listed as an honorable mention both last year and this year. Last year, it didn't make the cut because I didn't finish the story in time for the event - this year, it doesn't make the cut because I've beaten the game long ago, and as good as it was back then, I can't say it was very memorable, because I really don't remember that much. It's a really average turn-based RPG just like you'd expect one to be: the gameplay is passable in-battle, but awful outside of it; it's aesthetically pleasing but not pushing any boundaries; it's got a really well-written, but horribly paced story; it's way longer than it has any right to be; and has a really good soundtrack that doesn't always fit the actual game. Unlike most of these average turn-based RPGs, though, it got a sequel.
Honorable Mention: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory
I started playing Hacker's Memory shortly after beating its predecessor, but unfortunately my playthrough of it took several months as I just never managed to get invested enough in it. In some ways, it was an improvement over Cyber Sleuth - the story and characters were very well made and engaged me more than in the previous game; the soundtrack was more enjoyable and felt more in line with what the game was trying to be; and some additions were made to the overworld exploration to make it slightly more bearable. However, at the end of the day Hacker's Memory still suffers from most of the issues that plagued Cyber Sleuth, but because I'm experiencing these problems for a second time, they're far less tolerable. At the end of the day, my opinion on both of these games is mostly the same - they're both flawed games that tell pretty good stories. They might've worked better as anime, but I suppose the Digimon anime teams are too busy rehashing the first season for the millionth time.
Honorable Mention: Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
Having never gone back to this game ever since playing through it over a year and a half ago, it's surprising how much I actually do remember about it. It's no secret to anyone how much I love Guardians of the Galaxy, and while this never had a shot at equalling the film masterpieces, it did a surprisingly good job at capturing the essence of the movies, while also keeping the style closer to the comics. I can't not criticize the game's story for taking some pretty generic turns at points, even if they work well enough, and at the end of the day, this was never going to stay in the list following its #50 inception last year. Still, I remember this one very fondly.
Honorable Mention: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Having debuted at #11 in last year's list, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has just completely destroyed my previous record for steepest year-on-year decline (out of the nine games here, it was the one closest to making it in, so we can consider this a -40), and it probably comes as a very major surprise to just about everyone here, and to some extent even myself. The truth is - and this is something I may have been in denial over ever since its release - I just don't enjoy this game. Smash is a game I play regularly, it's a big part of my life, yet I can't recall having had any fun with Ultimate since March. Every time I play this game, I get in a bad mood. If I'm playing locally with other people, everyone gets in a bad mood. I seriously cannot stand the sight of Smash Ultimate anymore, to the point that I've deleted it from my Switch and might never go back to competing in it. I don't know, maybe I'll rekindle my appreciation for it when local tournaments resume. I can't deny it is a fantastic game in many ways. But for how negatively I feel about it nowadays, I could not justify listing this anywhere in my top 50, never mind near the top like last year.
Honorable Mention: Tekken 5
Tekken 5 also sees its five-year run in the list come to an end. This was by far my favorite fighting game back in the 2000's, I had a lot of fun times playing it at home with my brother, or just rolling through the single-player modes by myself. This game was always loads of fun - well, except when I was getting my ass handed to me by that bullshit final boss, but I can't deny how memorable that was too. Moonlit Wilderness will always be the greatest fighting game stage. I really do remember Tekken 5 quite fondly, but unfortunately it feels like a distant memory at this point and that's why it was dropped.
Well, that's that for this year's long initial post. Next up, the actual top 50!
Last edited by mZuzek - on 11 November 2020