SwitchRPG Awards 2021 – Kierra’s Picks
2021 has truly been a whirlwind for me personally. Time feels as though it was on 4x speed and I barely had time to complete one game before five other games that I was looking forward to all released at the same time. So while I will be spending the next year catching up on this year’s releases, I wanted to take a look back at some of the games that I was able to complete.
As with the other writers, I will be following in their footsteps by showing you guys the games that caught my eye this year and that I think deserve to be talked about a bit. While there will be some mentions of bigger titles, a good chunk will revolve around some of the “smaller” releases that may have fallen to the wayside in some way or another.
As a final aside before moving into the article, this list is primarily RPGs that I’ve finished. With the exception of a few games, I haven’t really had the chance (or motivation, honestly) to play some of the longer RPGs that were released this year, which is why you may not see them represented in my main list.
Honorable Mention #1: Littlewood
If I’m being honest, I completely forgot about Littlewood until I went back through the games I’ve played this year. And yet, I remember investing many hours into this cute town builder RPG, bringing more and more people into my village and aggressively romancing Bubsy the bird. Eventually, Littlewood did end up on my list of shelved games, but not because it’s bad. In fact it’s quite a fun, relaxing game. But after a while, most of us did end up moving on to new pastures.
Honorable Mention #2: Henchman Story
Yes yes, a visual novel. I could have chosen to be truly chaotic and included some in my top 5 list, but I chose to not be that person for once. Instead, I decided to use my honorable mention to talk about a fun visual novel that was released in the latter half of the year. Henchman Story is the story of…well…a henchman. With an abundance of endings, CGs to unlock, and paths to take, it was fun to play as Stan the henchman as he made the best (or worst) choices of his life and seeing the consequences of said choices. The comic book inspiration is also a treat to take in.
5. Disgaea 6 (Best Progression System)
Truthfully, Disgaea 6 flip-flops in my mind. Some days, I wonder if I rated it too high. Other times, I feel that it deserves the ranking that it got. Visually, it’s not impressive in the least. It should have had a few months at least to polish the graphics and fix some of the performance issues. But in terms of gameplay? It sure is a Disgaea game. It’s satisfying to play, just as wacky as ever, but this time with a multiplier since levels have been increased to a point where it’s just ridiculous. Honestly, it was so easy to get into the mood of playing Disgaea. The story is about as standard as it comes for a game like this, which honestly, I’m not complaining about in the least. And the automated features, oh goodness the automated features. Just think about the fact that Disgaea 6 is at the top of the Most Played Switch games, purely because of the auto-battle feature (because let’s be honest: people invest a lot of time into Disgaea, but not that much time).
4. Fuga: Melodies of Steel (Game that brought a tear to my eye)
Fuga: Melodies of Steel is quite an interesting game to think about in retrospect. I remember the frustration of going against the latter bosses and losing over and over. I remember the sadness I felt not just at the end, but on and off throughout the game. While there are complaints I have with Fuga, it was one that I really wanted to see succeed. Frustrating though it may be, I did feel motivated to come back and try different strategies to overcome bosses. Being able to get over the hump of difficulty and come out on the other side was a great feeling. But of course, that happy feeling goes right back to sadness whenever I think about the main theme song. Such a beautiful theme…
3. Eastward (Best Visuals)
Eastward is still one of the most beautiful pixel art games that I’ve had the honor of looking at. The amount of detail in each area is mind-boggling to me. And while the story did end up coming up a bit short for me personally, my time with Eastward was still very enjoyable. John and Sama’s relationship was so cute and I felt myself wanting to see the both of them come out on top. And it sure was nice being able to spam the frying pan when all else fails.
2. Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars (Best Music)
This is a perfect example of a demo immediately selling me on a game. While the premise of defeating the evil dragon is nothing new to RPGs, the presentation was what really sold me on this game. I really felt as though I was playing a tabletop card game, watching as the world unfolded in front of my eyes. While the difficulty is very low up until the final boss, the ride is a fun one nonetheless. And of course, the music was a joy to listen to. As a fan of string instruments, the entire soundtrack was heaven for me.
1. Dodgeball Academia (RPG of the year)
Do you know what sport I was always excited to play in school, but we never got the chance to play after elementary school for some reason? Dodgeball. The intense moment when you lock eyes with an enemy, both with a ball in hand, is one that sends shivers down my spine. Being able to dodge or even better, catch your enemy’s ball before beaming it right back in their face brings a bubble of laughter from the darkest pits of my soul. Dodgeball Academia brought back those feelings, as well as mixing it together with my love for shonen anime and intense battle sequences.
Most Disappointing: Death end re;Quest
I’m not sure if there’s anything that brings a sadder feeling than investing hours into a game and slowly but surely finding yourself losing interest. And it wasn’t even because of all the anime nonsense. If I’m being honest, I tend to eat that stuff up, especially if it’s as shameless as Idea Factory games tend to be. But the dungeon crawling was just so boring and the combat felt so tedious to slog through. Towards the end, I just found myself wanting it to be over, but also wanting to see what happened next in the story because things were really starting to get intense.
Bonus: RPGs that would have been on my top 5 if I had actually finished them #1: Monster Hunter Stories 2
This one really hurts because I was slowly but consistently playing through this game and was really enjoying myself. But after a while, life got intense and I found myself putting the game on hold to try and deal with everything going on. Honestly, if I had finished Stories 2, I would have no doubt it probably would have been my RPG of the year. It was such a beautiful game, especially if you come from Monster Hunter Stories 1. Perhaps one day, I can commit the time that I didn’t have to finish this game.
Bonus: RPGs that would have been on my top 5 if I had actually finished them #2: Shin Megami Tensei V
My only excuse for putting this game on hold is that I got distracted with other game releases (and also my friend really wanted to play it so I let her borrow it). But the little bit that I was able to play before handing it off was great. I loved seeing all of the demons, from those that I’m very familiar with to those that I’m not. I would love to come back to this game soon, because I really enjoy the styling above all else. And while I’ve heard some rumblings here and there about the storytelling of the game, I’m still hopeful that I’ll enjoy what SMTV has laid out for me so far.
And that’s it for my picks! What did you think about my picks, and what games made your list this year?