SwitchRPG Staff Favorites of 2020
With 2020 (finally) behind us, and our own site award winners slowly being revealed, we wanted to take a look back at the year of gaming as a whole for Switch RPGs. After some thinking amongst the staff, we collected a few games that stuck out to us in one way or another. Some games have made their mark in the award nominations, while others weren’t afforded that chance. So, amongst the staff here at SwitchRPG, here are some of the games that left their mark on us throughout 2020!
In a sea of open world action RPGs, Ashen stood out to us when the developers decided to port the game to the Switch. In a world of darkness, you and other NPCs are tasked with protecting the land by going out and exploring the world. And whilst the game may wear its inspirations on its sleeves, it gives the player a rewarding experience nonetheless.
Trials of Mana
The Mana series has been through a strange journey. Seeing the first announcement of the Trials of Mana remake was exciting if not a bit worrisome after the release of the Secret of Mana remake. Thankfully, even with its quirks, Trials of Mana proved to be an enjoyable experience. With the choice of playing three of six different characters, the game allows for quite a bit of variety when it comes to what you experience during a gameplay session. But at the end of the day, Trials is truly a straightforward experience, which can be a nice change of pace from the meatier releases on the Switch.
As a strategy roguelike, Overland kind of fell under the radar during its release. Playing as a survivor of an apocalyptic event, your goal is to go from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coast. But the game isn’t just as simple as getting into a car and making the long drive. You have to deal with strange creatures, other survivors, and other dangerous obstacles that can get in your way. And since this game is a roguelike, you can expect some difficulty as you progress. Not all battles will be handled in combat and you have to figure out whether you’ll bite the bullet and fight, or cut your losses and run.
Collar x Malice
Dating sims and visual novels are coming in increasing waves to the Switch. And while the SwitchRPG site has dabbled in some dating sims in the past, there hasn’t been any attention paid to the otome (story based games targeted towards women) games in particular. Collar x Malice follows Ichika Hoshino as she deals with an incident with a criminal organization known as Adonis. As a result, she has to work alongside a ragtag team of current and former police officers (who are also some of her love interests in the game). With each love interest route, more of the overall story is revealed, which can make subsequent playthroughs exciting to watch unfold.
Paper Mario: The Origami King
While the gameplay for Paper Mario has continued down a path that leaves much to be desired, everything else about this game delivers. The aesthetics with the game are vibrant and charming, fully falling into the origami gimmick of this title installment. And we can’t forget the humor and charm that the story and characters display. While it is a shame that it appears that the team behind the Paper Mario team has worked themselves into a strange position when it comes to gameplay, at least they’re aware of what works when it comes to storytelling.
Wintermoor Tactics Club
Wintermoor Tactics Club has been a title that we’ve been following for quite a while now and the release of the game, it definitely lived up to the expectations laid out. Playing as Alicia, you go through her life as a student participating in the Tactics Club. But when the principal decides to hold a tournament where only the winner is allowed to keep their club, it sends the entire campus into a spiral.
Age of Calamity
Age of Calamity came out right in the middle of nominations for the SwitchRPG site, making it the prime example of a game that would have definitely made the nominations list in several of our categories, if it came out much earlier. Alas, that will have to wait until next year. Dubbing itself a prequel to Breath of the Wild, Age of Calamity aims to show the time before and during the Calamity took over Hyrule. Improving vastly on the original Hyrule Warriors game, both the gameplay and story left several of our staff members beyond pleased.
Banner of the Maid
Banner of the Maid is another in the long list of tactics games that flew under the radar this year due to other releases catching people’s interest. Taking place during the French Revolution, you play as Pauline Bonaparte (Napoleon’s sister) while you uncover the secrets that France is hiding in its dark underbelly. Part visual novel and part tactics game, Banner of the Maid fulfills both gameplay types very well. A compelling story and engaging gameplay leave for a fun experience all around!
Star Ocean: First Departure R
An honorable mention would be Star Ocean: First Departure R since it technically didn’t release this year, but could have easily been lost in the frenzy of the holidays in 2019. It is a great example of a remaster done right, and boasts some of the prettiest visuals of any pixel art-based game on the platform to date. While it does show its age given that it is a port (a port of a port to be exact), it is nonetheless a great addition to the Switch. A must-play for retro JRPG fans.
Boot Hill Heroes
The Wild West RPG, Boot Hill Heroes, is easily one of our favorite Switch RPGs from this year, and is likely to be glossed over due to being released around several other popular titles. However, that just means that you shouldn’t miss it! Taking place in the Wild West, a setting not often explored in RPGs, you play as Kid as you set off on a journey to save the family farm from foreclosure. This game is actually related to Boot Hill Bounties, which was also a fantastic experience.
Atelier Dusk Trilogy
Just like games released towards the end of the year tend to be forgotten, those released at the very start tend to have a similar disadvantage. However, the Atelier series is a fun experience that those interested in the crafting mechanics will find very satisfying. We’re constantly amazed at just how much enjoyment we get from these games. But with the recent release of Atelier Ryza (and soon Atelier Ryza 2), it can be hard to convince people to take a step back to the other games in the series. While the Dusk trilogy is older, it hosts a ton of content for those that enjoy solid characters, multiple endings, and deep, satisfying crafting systems.
Project Warlock infuses meaningful RPG elements into a run-and-gun, first-person framework akin to early FPSes, like DOOM, and is a blast to play. With 60 different levels, 38 weapons, and a whole lot of demons to kill, you will more than get your fill of gameplay when it comes to this title. And if you’re worried that the difficulty will leave you with something to be desired, worry not because it ramps up, albeit very awkwardly in the beginning and end of the game.
Ara Fell is a game with a colorful history that, like Earthlock before it, may have been set aside due to the precedent set by previous versions of the game. The “Definitive Edition” on Switch is not to be missed by retro JRPG fans, however, exuding comparable heart to many of the 16-bit classics we all know and love. This game does a great job of mixing retro and modern RPG mechanics, making for a fun experience that isn’t bogged down by old-school shortcomings.
To no one’s surprise, Hades has found its way onto this list. This roguelite perfected its gameplay loop of failing and succeeding, leaving the player feeling accomplished when reaching a point farther than the last run. That paired with ways to improve Zagreus’ skills, new weapon types to try, and new characters to get closer to, and this entire game is rewarding. Even its characters and storytelling is great, leaving an overall pleasing experience for players.
Collection of SaGa
The Collection of SaGa won’t be for everyone, but it certainly holds a special place in my heart. The Final Fantasy Legend trilogy was a huge part of my (Ben’s) childhood, and it was a joy to once again play through each of these on a modern console, and with some modern conveniences thrown in! While certainly dated in many ways, this Collection remains a nice way to not only experience the roots of the SaGa franchise, but also to warm yourself up to the more intricate, complex entries that would soon follow thereafter.
Between this article and our 2020 SwitchRPG Awards, we hope that we’ve adequately highlighted some of the great RPGs that have come out in 2020. What were YOUR favorite RPGs from 2020? Let us know!