The year of 2020 has been an emotional rollercoaster for a lot of people. For some, there was a craze to buy up toilet paper and gallons of sanitizer. A lot of people lost their jobs, and there were a lot of games to play with all the extra downtime while everyone was in lockdown. Some of these games might have been pretty great… While others might have been a monument to disappointment.
While Cyberpunk 2077 might be the punch line to the year 2020, it has been receiving a steady stream of fixes. In time, it may become a solid and polished product. It would be an obvious candidate for this feature, but if No Man’s Sky can redeem itself, than maybe there is some hope for Cyberpunk 2077.
Not every drunkard rehabilitates; some stay helpless and continue a downward spiral of self urination and barely form sentences. Some games exhibit these qualities. Others might have been designed by a soulless corporate committee or by out of touch charlatans who have no business making games.
If dreams do come true, then these games are a nightmare. These are Niche Gamer’s Worst Video Games of 2020.
Editor’s Note: You can find links to our full reviews for those games in the article as well.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Nintendo Gamecube, Android, iOS, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: August 8, 2003 (Nintendo Gamecube), August 27, 2020
The original Crystal Chronicles was an interesting but flawed concept that was ahead of its time. When Square Enix announced a remaster for modern platforms, everyone naturally assumed it would come with major enhancements.
A refined co-op experience that does not require multiple Gameboy Advances, higher frame rate, and tweaking combat to be made smoother were only a handful of adjustments people expected. Nobody got any of this at all, and Square Enix enforced strict parity across all versions for the sake of cross platform online play.
Fans got a worse multiplayer experience that required an online connection, and there would be no local co-op functions at all. Even if there was a group of masochists who could assemble together, they’d still have to endure the most soul crushing and tiresome gameplay loop that is stretched out to goatse levels of proportions.
Crystal Chronicles makes entire groups of people play the same levels over and over again, utterly disrespecting everyone’s time. If the gameplay was stimulating, the drawn out cycle might have been forgivable; but it is wasteful for not using the extra buttons on modern controllers.
Basic moves like block take up a slot on the player’s command list, when the forward thinking design would have been to remap the blocking action to a dedicated button. It is this lack of effort and sheer laziness that makes Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition such an insult.
It takes a lot of talent to take a flawed game and make it worse. The original Crystal Chronicles has its issues, but it can be played locally if you have the means. Remastered Edition will never have local co-op, and its worst qualities have been magnified due to parity for all platforms. It is an overpriced exploitation on nostalgia for the Gamecube original.
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Google Stadia
Release Date: September 4, 2020 (Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One), November 10, 2020 (Xbox Series X), Holiday 2020 (PlayStation 5
Marvel’s Avengers comes hot off the mass production conveyor belt and right into the Walmart bargain bin. It becomes impressive how Square Enix can produce the most expensive yet generic action game ever made. They tried to please everyone, please nobody in the process.
Rotten with the an annoying writing style that desperately tries to emulate Joss Whedon, Avengers is everything annoying about the movies but without the screen presence of the movie stars. Every Avenger looks like an off brand knock off due to the pursuit of realism. It might have fared better with an art style with some stroke of personality.
The online activity is as bustling as a movie theater in 2020. The completely braindead and buggy action failed to keep people playing after the first month. The PlayStation 4 version being the most popular, saw a 96% drop in activity. The peak was less than 1,000 people playing online.
It isn’t difficult to see why so many people dropped Marvel’s Avengers faster than Sony delisting Cyberpunk 2077. The mission design is repetitive and constantly recycles the same areas, making players do the same tasks for the lamest rewards.
The constant nudging and reminders from the game and NPCs in the game to buy currency with real money is sickening. Nobody likes mobile game design in their $60 game, and by implementing this model Square Enix crippled any long term appeal Avengers might have had.
Money can buy a lot of things, but it cannot buy heart. This is something Avengers has none of, because it was not made out of passion. It was made to be a filthy advertisement and “games as a service,” so the publisher could get their mitts inside the pockets of children and Marvel fanboys.
Developer: Dlala Studios, Rare
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios, Rare
Platforms: Windows PC, Xbox One
Release Date: August 20, 2020
Reviving Battletoads should have been the easiest concept to execute. Burly mutant toads in a gritty 2000 A.D. style sci-fi setting, varied action gameplay, and an emphasis on heavy metal and punk aesthetics is all they had to do. Dazzling 3D graphics that show off the morphing effects and animation of the toads seemed like the logical step after their appearance in the Killer Instinct reboot.
The best joke from Battletoads 2020 is the game itself. The idea of long enduring classic that completely betrays its roots is hilarious… For about three seconds. After that, what is left is a trend-chasing Rick and Morty wannabe with the most amateurish beat ’em up gameplay and tunnel chase stages that go on for way too long.
There is no variety at all, and the gameplay is spread so thinly that you can see through it. There are very few moves that can be done and the progression leaves no room for upgrades or character building. The few enemy types get constantly copy pasted everywhere, leading to very dull and boring encounters.
Much older beat ’em ups had so much more variety and style. Battletoads fails to revive what should have been a slam-dunk. It must be embarrassing when the original NES game is still referenced and replayed 30 years later, while the reboot has been forgotten the year it came out.
There are many other beat ’em ups to choose from that came out recently. Streets of Rage 4 was a much better example of the genre in 2020 and in 2019, there was The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors. Pretty much anything is a better option than Battletoads 2020.
Subverting something for the sake of subversion is not clever. It is just disdain for the player and robs them of any meaningful interaction they might have.
Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing In Disguise
Developer: Toybox Games
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: July 10, 2020
Deadly Premonition 2 is easily the most disappointing game of 2020. This game shouldn’t even exist, since it is a continuation to an already unusual and cult game that requires a bit of forgiveness of the excessive jankiness. It must have been a very hard sell, and yet here it is.
A Blessing in Disguise missed every chance it had to improve where Deadly Premonition came up short. It is buggier, jankier, uglier, cheaper, and worst of all; it has more technical issues. At launch, the frame rate was worse than anything released in 2020 (worse than Cyberpunk 2077), and even though patches have helped the frame rate rise a few digits, the load times never improved.
With load times that add hours to the play time, and compounded with a scheduling system for York and the NPCs, A Blessing in Disguise has no respect for the player’s time. Anyone with Buddha-like patience who might make it through the tedious ordeal of playing this will still have to deal with the possible crashes which further robs time.
Usually when adopting a stylized look for a game’s visuals, it’s to make them more appealing. A Blessing in Disguise found a way to make an even less appealing art style that also uses stock assets. The presentation is woefully cheap, and really harsh on the eyes.
It would be fair to cut some slack to the original Deadly Premonition, since it was ambitious and had a small team fully realize a town with a believable lay out. A Blessing in Disguise was made in Unity, which is free and so easy to use that children make games with it. It further has a much smaller scope, and fewer characters in the story.
This was supposedly made by professionals who have made games for years, but looks more like it was made by amateurs and built with cigarette butts and rotten coffee grounds. From most angles, A Blessing in Disguise resembles the Early Access version of the original Deadly Premonition; an uglier and less refined iteration of an already rough game.
Developer: Koei Tecmo Games
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games
Platforms: Windows PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4
Release Date: July 31st, 2020
Editor’s Note: The following entry is by Brandon Lyttle
Fairy Tail has the beginnings of an interesting combat mechanic, but squanders all of its potential. Combined with mediocre gameplay, and a lack of story exposition, Fairy Tail doesn’t offer anything to justify its cost.
Released earlier this year, Fairy Tail is a JRPG with a grid combat style that lets players tactically choose what attacks to use, and focus on power or AoE. The combat generally requires little thought however, and any combos are made irrelevant by grinding if the player chooses to do sidequests.
What could have been a fun and difficult tactical RPG became another slog of a grindfest. While fans of the series might be able to excuse the gameplay just to watch the story, it’s still disappointing for a fully priced game.
Even worse however, is how Fairy Tail made absolutely zero attempt to entice new fans to the series. No explanation at all is given for the events prior to the game.
Players are expected to already be fans of the anime and existing character relationships, and storylines are taken for granted. The story is utterly impossible to engage with if the player hasn’t already watched the series.
What we end up with is a mediocre JRPG that will only appeal to fans of the Fairy Tail anime. But even that appeal falls drastically short of justifying the game’s AAA price point. The censorship of panty-shots in a pretty fan-service heavy anime snuck in via a day one patch didn’t help much either.
So that was Niche Gamer’s Worst Games of 2020. You can expect our choices for Game of the Year 2020, and our community Game of the Year vote soon.
We are sure there is plenty of trash that never made this list. Triple A games that implode with a lack of vision and drained of all budget for advertising, indies hoping they can still make a quick buck without the skill, and microtransaction laden Skinner boxes that organized crime would say went too far.
What were some of your worst games of 2020? Sound off in the comments below!
Image: Square Enix, Fairy Tail official website, Marvel’s Avengers official website, Pixabay, Niche Gamer Review screenshots