Wednesday, December 30, 2020

SuperPhillip Central Best of 2020 Awards - Top Five Biggest Surprises

After doing the sole negative award category here at the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2020 Awards last night, let's wash the taste of bad and/or disappointing games out of our mouths with a more positive category! It's the Top Five Biggest Surprises of 2020. These are games that released this year that came out of nowhere or perhaps even were better games than they had any right to be. As you'll see by this countdown of games, these are most assuredly pleasant gaming surprises. Let's dig in and begin!

5) Bugsnax (PS5, PS4, PC)

We're going to start this countdown of the biggest surprises of 2020 with some talkin' 'bout Bugsnax--if you'll pardon the utterly overused phrase there. What many initially perceived as interest in Bugsnax purely as a joke and a meme, the final game ended up being rather competent and good. Dare I say, excellent in parts! And boy, does this lighthearted game do a 180 in the tone department by the end! Regardless, Bugsnax can best be described--at least by me--as having gameplay similar to a cross between Ape Escape and Pokémon. The goal is to capture various Bugsnax species--over 100 in-game--using a variety of methods, tools and resources. It's rather fun all said and done, and far more worthy as noted as a great game rather than meme material, putting it at the top spot of this list of biggest surprises of 2020.

4) Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (PS4, XB1, PC)

Dragon Ball Z isn't a stranger to RPG games. The Game Boy Advance saw three top-down action-RPGs with the Legacy of Goku series, and the Nintendo DS saw a full-fledged turn-based RPG from the makers of Xenoblade Chronicles, no less, with Attack of the Saiyans. That said, an enormous 3D action-RPG set in the world of Dragon Ball Z is a serious undertaking, and one that shouldn't have turned out as good as it did. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot was this game, and it brought fans an interactive and in-depth glimpse into the world of DBZ that had never been seen or fully realized before. Sure, the final game isn't perfect, but at the same time, it's by far my favorite non-fighting game the anime has had its license attached to, making for a big surprise all on its own.

3) Paper Mario: The Origami King (NSW)

After being a bit lukewarm to Nintendo and Intelligent Systems' redefining of the Paper Mario franchise with both Sticker Star and the improved Color Splash, I was cautiously optimistic to see how the latest entry in the series, Paper Mario: The Origami King would turn out. Well, it turns out that my cautious optimism only made the final experience that much more incredible. I LOVED Origami King, and most of my problems with past recent Paper Mario games was solved with the game. The exploration was absolutely fantastic, battles were more worthwhile and actually enjoyable, and coins served a major purpose this time around, rather than just being used to purchase more items for battle. Paper Mario: The Origami King isn't quite the return to form that older Paper Mario fanatics will adore, but for everyone else who gives the game a chance, you might be as pleasantly surprised with the game as I was.

2) Sackboy: A Big Adventure (PS5, PS4)

Similar to Paper Mario, I did not expect to enjoy Sumo Digital's Sackboy: A Big Adventure nearly as much as I did. Sumo's previous work with the series in LittleBigPlanet 3 didn't inspire much confidence overall with its numerous bugs and glitches at launch, but ultimately, Sackboy's Super Mario 3D World-style adventure was a blast to play. It was bursting with creativity from every crafty seam--from its ingenious and constantly clever level design to its world devised up of paper, cardboard and other crafts--and managed to become one of my favorite games of 2020. The addition of the promised online co-op means the fun doesn't have to stop for me and many other players, either. That said, despite Sackboy: A Big Adventure's quality, it isn't the game that surprised me the most this past year.

1) Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout (PS4, PC)

No, the biggest surprise of 2020 game-wise for SuperPhillip Central was none other than the game that defined the summer for many players, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. This massively multiplayer battle royale elimination game sees up to 60 players compete against one another and the obstacle courses and deviously difficult challenges themselves to survive and make it to the next round. As more and more players are pruned with each round's end, the challenges get more, well, challenging and the stakes get higher, but only one player can win the overall game. Between the chaos of seeing players run gauntlets and avoid falling into the gooey pits below, as well as the immense amount of joy the game unexpectedly brought in a year of equal chaos, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout stands alone as the game that came out in 2020 from nowhere to amuse millions. That makes it the top choice for the Biggest Game Surprise of 2020.


Tomorrow night is the final night of awards here at the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2020 Awards! We'll be counting down the Games of 2020 with a special top ten list, as is tradition here at SPC. In the meantime, maybe we'll see a new review or two on the site before the new year rolls in. Stick around to SuperPhillip Central for more gaming goodness!

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