2020 may have put most of us through the knob to a greater or lesser degree, but it has been a surprisingly strong year from a gaming perspective.
Of course, it’s become Nintendo’s MO in recent years to concentrate the discussion on projects it’s about to do for the current year, so while we’re all desperate to hear about great future games like Metroid Prime 4 and Breath of the Wild 2, we do not expect to get any tough details about these until they are a few months away.
While this quiet approach can be frustrating, it has also led to some wonderful surprises this year, with good games like Paper Mario: The Origami King and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity announced and released in relatively short order.
In the article below, we will summarize some of the most significant stories and games in 2020 covered by our top news and review teams, as well as highlight the most popular article and review about Nintendo Life from each month during this long period, long year. (You can check out longer readings from the last twelve months by reading our Best of 2020 feature selection).
So while you may be hesitant to take a trip down Recent Memory Lane, we promise that this summary from 2020 will include mostly positive memories. That said, there will also be a couple of unavoidable negatives to touch on ̵
So strap in and let’s look back on an eventful twelve months.
January – Pokémon Direct, Byleth Direct, but no ‘proper’ Direct
Looking at Nintendo’s 2020 slate, it was Brain training at the beginning of the year, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore in mid-January, the delayed Animal transition coming in March … and not much else on the horizon. While many were hungry for a full-fledged Nintendo Direct (something we actually do not end up seeing all year), in January Pokémon Direct revealed a wealth of details about the Sword & Shield Expansion Pass, Pokémon HOME, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX and more with over 200 old ‘mon coming back to the expanded Galar National Dex.
Elsewhere, Byleth was revealed to be the 5th DLC fighter for Smash Bros. Ultimate (as well as a brand new Fighter’s Pass), Bethesda’s retro DOOMs received an update that made them important purchases for rip-and-tearers, Masahiro Sakurai revealed that he had played an awful lot of Playstation games in 2019, suggested a productive leak we would see a Paper Mario games and a 2D Metroid game later in the year (we’re still waiting for the latter, of course), and Hideki Kamiya started the year in great shape with her opinion of the Switch Home Menu (and Switch fans took to mocking their own theme and folder ideas).
January games included the excellent Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition, the also excellent 198X, and the triple excellent To the moon.
Most popular news article: Remember that Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Clone That Killed A PS4? It’s going to change
Most Popular Review: SD Gundam G Generation Cross Rays – Brilliant Strategy RPG Action Exploding Action
February – Wonderful 101 returns while we wait for the big next month …
The same leak that mentioned a Paper Mario release made an oblique reference to a planned Holiday 2020 release with “tires” in – not exactly much to continue, but Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit ended up dropping in November. Platinum Games teased The Wonderful 101: Remastered just before the official announcement, Nintendo was preoccupied with upcoming competition from next-generation consoles, and Sakurai responded to accusations of too many Fire Emblem characters in Smash by pointing the finger in Nintendo’s direction.
Elsewhere, we wondered where in the world Pikmin 4 has come from, and NL readers voted for their favorite Pokémon appetizer ever (with somewhat predictable results!). More details about Animal Crossing bubbled up, people were antsy with the lack of Nintendo Direct, Witcher 3 on Switch got an impressive update, and a story about Nintendo Customer Support that went beyond an older Tetris fan gave us all the hot fuzzies.
Most popular News Article: Nintendo And The Pokémon Company launches joint statement on swords and shield leaks
Most popular review: Two Point Hospital – without a doubt the best version of a renowned modern classic
March – A dear old favorite reappears eventually
The seriousness of the global situation that would dominate the rest of the year began to become apparent when events were postponed, adjusted or canceled. We got an Indie World Showcase, Nintendo PlayStation sold at auction, Nintendo hit a legal roadblock in the ongoing Joy-Con operation failure, and everyone and their dog tried to get hold of Ring Fit Adventure in front of the lock and the gaming event calendar was given a significant blow when E3 2020 was canceled three months from the planned June slot machine.
It was not all bad news in the gaming world. March announced the significant and very welcome return of an old favorite around these parts: We refer, of course, to the resurrection of our beloved sister site, Pure Xbox. Nice to have you back, old friend.
In other news, Nintendo put out some random little life sims where you pot about doing nothing much. All eyes followed it, except those on other platforms that were on DOOM Eternal, and even they were occasionally distracted by the glorious Doomguy / Isabelle banner art and memes.
Yes, Animal Crossing: New Horizons would dominate the news cycle for a few months, driven in part by its amazing and in part by global circumstances that led millions to find comfort and escape to Nook’s getaway island. Islands filled with creatures, the opportunity to throw themselves, Isabelle and Doom Slayer in animated form – you name it, given Animal Crossing.
Most popular News Article: Fan-made website lets you create and share Animal Crossing Town Tunes
Most popular review: Animal Crossing: New Horizons – An accessible and addictive masterpiece
April – Lockdown, through bombing and return to Rage Streets of Rage
Animal Crossing fever took over and people were busy showcasing their talents with incredible island projects and custom designs (and sorry Bunny Day). The beginning of April was also filled with regular fun, Super Mario Maker 2 received its ‘final’ update, thousands of Nintendo accounts were reported to have been compromised, and Lord of the Rings star and versatile goodie Elijah Wood visited randoms on the internet to whip up their turnips.
A number of summer presentations online were announced to fill the vacuum after the E3 2020 cancellation. Japanese rating agency CERO temporarily shut down as the world reacted to COVID-19, although Nintendo’s biggest release of the year could not stop making headlines, with the game making the front page of the Financial Times amid all the sober pandemic-related news. articles.
In terms of play, Jupiter put out its 472nd place Picross title, Try Mana delivered a beloved and long-missed RPG classic to the West in a newly imagined 3D form, Sam Barlow continued to push the boundaries of the FMV detective genre with Tell lies, and Dotemu, Guard Crush Games and Lizardcube took us back to the 90’s in the glorious retro revival Streets of Rage 4.
Most popular News Article: One month later, Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ Review-Bombing only gets worse
Most Popular Review: Cooking Mama: Cookstar – Definitely Needed More Time In The Oven
May – Surprise announcements when Animal Crossing mania takes over the globe
Nintendo released some very healthy sales figures and also revealed Paper Mario: The Origami King scheduled release in July. The Nintendo Switch Online offering was expanded with four more titles, Pikmin 3 rumors bubbled away and the company also suffered a massive leak of development material.
However, the news was dominated by Animal Crossing as the game exceeded Nintendo’s lifetime forecasts for the first six weeks of sales. Toom Nook grabbed the spirit of the times and would not let go, with Gary Whittas Animal Talking chat show attracting huge celebrities, artists imagining characters as humans, players exploiting mistakes before they were patched out, and even the person who wrote the sea bass ghost . admits he got tired of it.
Elsewhere, Pac-Man turned 40, Indivisible sneaked out on the Switch eShop without the knowledge of the developer, and Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition launched at the end of the month.
Most popular News Article: Have you ever wondered why a villager left the island when crossing animals? This latest datamin reveals everything
Most Popular Review: The Elder Scrolls: Blades – A Grindy Free-to-Play Bastardization of Bethesda’s RPG Classic
June – Isle of Armor, Clubhouse Games, LEGO Mario and, yes, more Animal Crossing
A Pokémon Presents broadcast (the first of two, though the second was somewhat of a damp squib) followed the release of the first Isle of Armor DLC for Pokémon sword and shield and unveiled a number of new Pokémon-related games and products (including The Pokémon Snap). People were a little confused about which DLC to buy, but the expansion itself was pretty good.
In other news, Min Min was revealed as the next Smash fighter, the Joy-Con drift saga continued, the opening of Super Nintendo World was postponed to 2021, supply constraints that hindered Switch production eased a bit, and Nintendo and Lego lifted the lid on their Super Mario cooperation.
Fans took to making their own live presentation, Ori developer Moon Studios threw us off the scent of a Switch port of Wisps will, EarthBound turned 25 in the United States, and Sega unveiled the impossibly cute (and completely useless) Game Gear Micro. And Animal Crossing continued its ravages across news outlets, with a number of brands jumping on Nook’s bandwagon.
Nintendo Clubhouse games: 51 worldwide classics landed on Switch in June, as did the free downloadable title Jump Rope Challenge to help you stay active during locking. Other notable releases included XCOM 2, Bioshock: The Collection and Borderlands Legendary Collection.
Most popular News Article: Here are the seven EA games that are supposed to be replaced next year
Most popular review: The Outer Worlds – Obsidian’s Fallout-Style RPG is worth watching the switch