Thursday, December 31, 2020

Actual End of the Decade List (2011-2020)

With so many celebrations of the end of the decade, we at Trophy Unlocked decided we may as well throw our own hat into the ring with a list of our own. However, we noticed that pretty much every list we saw treated 2020 as the start of a new decade instead of the end of one, hence our declaration of the Actual End of the Decade. Unlike our previous Highlights lists, however, we went in with specific criteria in mind for each category:

  • Only one film per year per category (divided between live-action and animated)
  • Up to two games per year per category (based on different experiences)
  • Can only choose from films and games actually released in each year
  • Films and games are only eligible for their original release year
From this, we discussed our choices until we collectively created a final list we felt satisfied with. As with every list, our choices are based on films and games we actually watched or played, so take this into consideration if your personal favorite(s) didn't make the final cut. The lockdown induced by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic also greatly affected how many movies we were able to watch from that year, but we didn't let that stop us from representing 2020 material.

Without further ado, here are the best and worst films and games from the 2011-2020 decade.

2020 - The Highlights (EHeroFlareNeos)

Among the many industries affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, newer entertainment releases got hit hard. While plenty of video games still hit their projected dates, if they didn’t suffer a small delay, pretty much all of Hollywood pushed back their releases to sometime in 2021 or released some of their films onto streaming services. This means that we didn’t see nearly as many newer films as we would have liked, but we experienced enough new entertainment that we felt confident making our annual lists.

As always, this list is in no particular order and based entirely on what we were able to play or watch ourselves. 

Top Movies of 2020

Sonic the Hedgehog

Video game movies have steadily improved over the years and Sonic the Hedgehog shows that all it takes is having a team that respects the IP. The story may feel safe, but it incorporates elements of Sonic the Hedgehog pretty well into the setting and a surprisingly restrained Jim Carrey helps carry the film. I’m already looking forward to the sequel, especially with that exciting mid-credits sequence.


Compared to Onward, which released in the same year, Soul shows that Pixar still has that special spark that makes their catalog so captivating. Its message about appreciating life and finding your purpose is a universal one and the film finds a very mature way of delivering it. The incredible animation and likeable characters, not to mention the well-timed humor, also help make this a must-see film.

Top Games of 2020


Helltaker’s release took me by surprise, but I’m glad I checked it out. Its concept is simple, but the puzzle gameplay keeps you thinking and the pure passion that went into the project really shines through. Each of the sharply-dressed demon girls also have their own unique personality, so players can more easily find one they like the most (I personally like Justice). It’s fun to play, fun to speedrun and it’s free, so there’s no real excuse not to try it.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2

As someone who has played every Tony Hawk game, I found the latest entry, Pro Skater 1 + 2, the best representation of the original PS1 titles. Both games are faithfully recreated in stunning detail and modernized without forgetting what made the games fun in the first place. Unlike the previous attempt, Pro Skater HD, tricks have that signature weight to them and going for 100% completion is actually very fun and doable. The experience may not last very long, but it’s well worth it and I can’t wait to see what Vicarious Visions has in store for the series’ future.

Doom Eternal

Following the already strong Doom (2016), id Software played to their strengths with Doom Eternal and improved on the formula in several areas, including a flow-based combat approach and an absolutely fire soundtrack by Mick Gordon. It’s not completely flawless, with surprisingly unimpressive boss design and annoying purple goo that stops the momentum cold, but I still had fun killing demons with a catharsis that only the Doomslayer can provide.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

In an era where older games receive remakes that truly bring them into the modern day, Final Fantasy VII Remake stands out. While its story may not appeal to everyone, particularly the last act, the combat is very satisfying and keeps the game fun throughout. If you’re already familiar with the story or haven’t picked up the original game before, you’ll find something to like.

Top Disappointments of 2020

Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind

With the news that Kingdom Hearts III would not receive a Final Mix version and instead paid DLC, I hoped that the trade-off would be worth the money. Unfortunately, the amount of content in Re Mind feels $10 too expensive, with a new scenario that could easily have been a free add-on and a total of fourteen new superbosses that pad out the length with a huge difficulty spike. I’m still curious where the series will go from here, but Re Mind fell short of its true potential.

The Last of Us Part II

While a sequel to the original The Last of Us already felt unnecessary considering how perfectly it ended, I still had hope that The Last of Us Part II would live up to the original after a seven-year gap. Unfortunately, it failed so hard in the writing that not even its truly impressive technical achievements and accessibility options can make up for it. I’m not sure how many people will truly recognize its flaws in say ten years, but I’m already soured on supporting Naughty Dog in the future if they’ll end up making more games like this one.


With some great DTV films under Scooby-Doo’s belt, it’s amazing how none of the franchise’s big screen attempts have worked out. Scoob! feels cold and calculated, which results in rushed and unfocused writing that tries harder at establishing yet another cinematic universe than it does telling a good story. The only thing I really liked was the animation, but that alone is not worth the price of admission. Get your Scooby-Doo fix elsewhere.

2020 – The Highlights (Tetris_King)

Though we have been making these lists for the last 10 years, 2020 is a bit different as the closing of theaters by way of a global pandemic has resulted in us seeing far fewer new movies than in previous years and playing a lot more video games due in part to collective lockdown boredom. Nevertheless, we decided this would not stop us from presenting what we liked and disliked over the course of the year, though keep in mind that circumstances have resulted in something a bit lighter than usual.

Each list is presented in no particular order, with links to reviews where applicable.

Top Movies of 2020

Sonic the Hedgehog

Purely by circumstance, this was the last movie, and the only one from 2020, that I was able to watch in a theater before or since the entire world was devastated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as of this writing. My confidence going into this movie wasn’t high at first due to the infamous original design for Sonic, however this movie is a great example of how something as simple as a character redesign can do wonders for the finished product. While not exactly a masterclass of cinema, Sonic the Hedgehog is a big step in the right direction for video game movies as a whole and is a very enjoyable and funny movie in its own right.


Of the handful of animated movies I ended up seeing this year, Soul is easily the best. The story it tells is something I think most people can relate to on some level and the animation features some very interesting visual effects that I didn’t think possible in computer animation. Though so far it is only available on Disney+, I would highly recommend watching both it and its accompanying short Burrow if you are able.

Top Video Games of 2020

SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated

Whereas the original release of SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom proved to stand the test of time, the Rehydrated remake brings into the modern day with some much-needed quality of life changes. The game also reintroduces some content that was cut from the original release, however said content is relegated to a frankly lackluster multiplayer mode. Some additional shortcomings upon release, such as the inability to replay boss fights, have thankfully been ironed out through patches, making the game much easier to recommend for those who have not played the original version, unless you’re in it for ulterior speedrunning motives.

Ghost of Tsushima

Being familiar with Sucker Punch’s catalog to varying degrees, Ghost of Tsushima’s announcement was enough to catch my attention, as it was based on a major Japanese historical event. Not only does the final game capture ancient Japan beautifully on the visual front, it’s also highly respectful of the country’s history and culture. The gameplay itself is also great, with combat options that tie in well with the themes of the story as well as some relaxing side content that displays how the beauty of nature can be found even on a battlefield (plus you can pet foxes). I’d be curious to see what Sucker Punch does next, though as far as this IP goes, it seems like one that could easily be left alone after one installment.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2

After a five-year gap following the absolute disaster that is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, the Pro Skater series makes a huge comeback with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2. This game takes everything that made the first two games good and improves on them across the board (pun not intended), along with an expanded track list that features all but three tracks from both games as well as some new songs never heard in a Pro Skater game before. The overall quality of the game shows that there was true passion behind these remasters that both old and new fans can appreciate, and I would hope a similar level of effort is put into whatever comes next for the franchise.

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

As someone who got into Crash Bandicoot via the N. Sane Trilogy, I had wondered what the next step for the franchise would be after Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, which turned out to be a brand new game in the series. Crash Bandicoot 4 lives up to the gameplay style of the original trilogy while introducing some new twists of its own. Granted, the game does go a bit overboard in terms of its collectibles, however the game is still a must-play for even casual Crash Bandicoot fans.

Top Disappointment of 2020


Scoob! is an example of what happens when you try to start your own Cinematic Universe and not only forget to make sure the first installment is good on its own, but also misunderstand the source material in the process. The typical mystery formula that Scooby-Doo fans have come to expect is discarded nearly wholesale in favor of an action movie crossover with Blue Falcon, Wacky Races and Captain Caveman of all things, featuring lightning-fast pacing and several missed opportunities to truly tap into the emotional core of the story. Throw in a wholly unnecessary, and somehow plot-critical, cameo from American Idol’s Simon Cowell of all people and you get possibly one of the biggest missteps for any Hannah-Barbera property in recent memory.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Deformers (PS4)

When second-hand games retailer GameStop launched their GameTrust publishing arm, one of their earlier titles was Deformers, a multiplayer brawler by Ready At Dawn, in 2017, which attracted me to it due to the premise and visual style despite not being much of a "multiplayer" person. I will admit I never got around to actually playing the game for some time, only deciding to give it a try when I finally had the opportunity to do so during the global 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. However, I only learned upon starting the game that the servers had been shut down a little over a year after the game’s launch, with some evidence that the game didn’t have much of a community in the first place. Fortunately, the game features Local options as well, and so I was able to check it out that way. After playing a few rounds with another person, I can see why the game might have quickly died out despite its potential.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Ernest & Celestine

Note: This review contains spoilers for Ernest & Celestine.

While researching The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales, I learned more about an animated film called Ernest & Celestine (French: Ernest et Célestine), based on a series of Belgian children’s books by Gabrielle Vincent. The visuals and the premise of a mouse and bear becoming friends in spite of interspecies prejudice were enough to make me curious about seeing it, which became possible once I received the Blu-ray from GKIDS as a Christmas gift. Notably, while it originally premiered in 2012, its stateside release in 2013 made it eligible for the 2014 Academy Awards, where it was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film and ultimately lost to Disney’s Frozen. After finally watching Ernest & Celestine, I am honestly baffled as to how it even lost to Frozen in the first place.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Stubs - Wonder Woman 1984 - This Year We Need a Hero

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen. Directed by Patty Jenkins. Screenplay by Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, Dave Callaham. Based on Wonder Woman by William Moulton Marston. Produced by Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, Stephen Jones. USA. Color. Run Time: Superhero. Fantasy.

If ever there was a year that needed a superhero, 2020 was that year, and we had to wait until Christmas Day for them to arrive. No matter what you might think of Warner Bros.' decision to open all of their 2021 films in both theaters and on its streaming service HBO Max, the oft-delayed Wonder Woman 1984 was at least released this way with the consent of director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot. Now, the question is was the film worth the wait?

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Soul (+ Burrow)

Like Onward, I will admit that I wasn’t sure whether I would watch Pixar’s follow-up film Soul, if only because of how the story was presented in the initial trailers. Like many films this year, Soul became a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, initially pushing out the release date before finally being resigned to a Christmas release on Disney+. Since Soul was presented for free to subscribers rather than the premium model of the Mulan remake, I decided to give the movie a fair chance, finding it to be far better than what I initially expected and one of the best new films I have seen this year.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Stubs - The Thin Man

The Thin Man (1934) Starring: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan, Nat Pendleton, Minna Gombell. Directed by W. S. Van Dyke. Screenplay by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich. Based on the novel The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett (New York, 1934). Produced by Hunt Stromberg Run time: 91 minutes USA Black and White Comedy, Mystery, Detective, Christmas

Dashiell Hammett was a private detective turned writer. Using his real-life experiences, he wrote hard-boiled detective novels and short stories. He is responsible for creating such well-known characters as Sam Spade from the Maltese Falcon and Nick and Nora Charles from The Thin Man. The latter novel was first published in Redbook in December 1933 before being published in book form by Alfred A. Knopf the following month. It is said Hammett based Nick and Nora's banter upon his rocky on-again, off-again relationship with playwright Lillian Hellman.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Bridge Constructor Portal (Xbox One)

As someone who enjoyed Portal and Portal 2, the idea of Bridge Constructor Portal intrigued me, particularly the idea of putting Portal's unique brand of puzzle solving into a different genre. When the opportunity presented itself, I bought a physical Xbox One disc, but it wasn't until more recently that I found the time to sit down and play it. Though I enjoyed the few hours I spent with my first real crack at a bridge construction game, I did find my enthusiasm gradually tempered by the game’s idea of challenge.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Stubs - A Christmas Carol (1910)

A Christmas Carol (1910) Starring: Marc McDermott, Charles S. Ogle. Based on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Directed by J. Searle Dawley. Produced by J. Searle Dawley (uncredited). USA. Black and White. Run Time: 10 minutes. Silent, Christmas, Drama.

Films have been made based on Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, for almost as long as they’ve been making movies. The first was a short British film Scrooge, or Marley's Ghost (1901), and the latest, at least at this writing, was A Christmas Carol (2020), a film adaptation by David and Jacqui Morris. The story has been adapted in animated form, as television specials and some direct to DVD releases. It should therefore come as no surprise that Edison Studios would have also made a version.

Review Hub - A Christmas Carol

Though not his only Christmas-related work, A Christmas Story by Charles Dickens has become one of, if not the, most famous and celebrated Christmas stories of all time since its original publication in 1843. Owing to this, the book has never been out of print and its public domain status has seen it a number of adaptations over the years in just about any given medium, often (in the context of this blog) in cinema or as a stock plot for a Christmas episode or special in numerous television series, often animated. The countless interpretations of the story has led to some trying to find different ways to spin the story or, in the case of stories such as The Man Who Invented Christmas, exploring Dickens' writing process and backstory for the book, to varying results. With new adaptations of the story coming out on an annual basis, it appears that there is no stopping it any time soon.

Below is a list of links to every review of A Christmas Carol adaptations or related on this blog, listed in order of release.

Update (12/19/2020): Added A Christmas Carol (1910)
Update (7/10/2022): Added Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)


Friday, December 18, 2020

The Last of Us Part II

Note: This review contains spoilers for The Last of Us, The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Undertale and Spec Ops: The Line.

Ever since the PS2 Jak and Daxter games, I’ve been a fan of Naughty Dog and their work, even when they shifted to a narrative-driven style with the Uncharted series onward. I even enjoyed Uncharted 4 and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy in spite of their flaws and found The Last of Us to have some of the best character writing I’ve ever seen in a video game. When they originally announced The Last of Us Part II, directed by Neil Druckmann, I was intrigued, but news of overly intense crunch periods soured my willingness to play it. Once the game actually released during the early months of the global COVID-19 pandemic, I opted to watch a playthrough of the game and a few videos to see if I had really missed anything.

Although I wasn’t impressed with what I had seen, I eventually decided I should witness the story and gameplay for myself. Considering the praise that the game received, and its numerous Game of the Year awards, I wondered if maybe I had missed something and might change my mind if I actually played The Last of Us Part II. During my 25-hour journey, I did form my own opinion of the story separate from what I had already heard and found that I actually liked a couple ideas. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to like the game, I felt so thoroughly disappointed by such a painfully average experience that I now question if I can still eagerly support a company I once loved.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Lifeless Planet

While some games attract me based entirely on their art direction or general gameplay concept, some are based on the ideas they present for their narrative. One such game is Lifeless Planet, developed entirely by David Board, with some audio assistance. After stumbling upon it while flipping through my Steam recommended for a sale event, the concept of an unknown planet that was once visited by Soviets intrigued me enough to consider buying it in the future, though I would not get around to doing so for some time, and due to monetary concerns I had to pass over a physical release via Limited Run. Eventually, I would finally pick up the Premier Edition of the game when it was at a deep discount during a Steam sale, opting to play it not too long after getting a copy. I overall found it worth the wait, even with some minor shortcomings.

Sunday, December 13, 2020


I will admit that when Onward, the first in Pixar’s lineup post-Toy Story 4 to consist entirely of new IPs, was first announced, I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it based on the trailers and so I opted to skip out on it at first. Not helping matters was that the movie suffered from some very bad timing, releasing on the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic and just before movie theaters were forced to close as a result. Not long after, the movie was put out for digital download and on Disney+, though we would not invest in a Disney+ account until much later, with the release of Phineas & Ferb the Movie: Candance Against the Universe. Since we’ve been watching more streaming services during the pandemic, we decided we may as well actually watch Onward before the end of the year. While it did turn out better than I expected, it’s not one of Pixar’s better movies.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Stubs - The Last Picture Show

The Last Picture Show (1971) Starring: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, Eileen Brennan, Clu Gulager, Sam Bottoms, Sharon Taggart. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Screenplay by Larry McMurtry, Peter Bogdanovich. Based on the novel The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry (New York, 1966). Produced by Stephen J. Friedman. USA Run time: 118 minutes. Black and White. Drama

Sometimes films that have gotten big praise don’t always live up to it when you finally see them. Such was the case with Five Easy Pieces and I can now add The Last Picture Show to that list. I wasn’t really planning to watch the film, though I had hoped to possibly record it for future viewing when it was recently on TCM. However, at the last minute, I caught the film in progress, and while I was able to go back to the beginning, I couldn’t record it, so I, along with my family, had to watch it.

This is one of those films that I wasn’t able to see when it first came out since I was too young at the time for an R rating. And somehow, through the years I only seemed to catch the film already in progress. So, for 49 years, I had missed seeing this film.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Injustice 2 Legendary Edition

After the success of 2013’s Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm set to work on the follow-up, Injustice 2, which released in 2017. Considering the track record with NetherRealm’s releases since Mortal Kombat (2011), I waited until the complete Legendary Edition in 2018 so that I could play without also buying all the DLC. However, it was only during the COVID-19 pandemic that I finally found time to play it. I don’t regret finally getting around to it, but the implementation of GaaS mechanics holds it back more than it should.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

I first heard about The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales (French: Le Grand Méchant Renard et autres contes…) when I stumbled upon it while browsing the Shout! Factory website, then read about it further through the GKIDS website. What really captured my attention was the unique art style and the premise of the title story, in which a fox ends up mothering chicks while raising them to be food. I then found out that it was partly based on a graphic novel, The Big Bad Fox by co-director Benjamin Renner, and that Renner had also been a director on the acclaimed French animated film Ernest & Celestine, which also caught my interest. Sometime later, I received both The Big Bad Fox and The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales as a birthday gift, deciding to read the original comic before watching the movie to see how accurate the adaptation was. Regardless of its creative liberties, I absolutely enjoyed the movie and thought it worked perfectly on its own merits.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Wattam (PS4)

When Wattam was first announced, the initial teaser trailer was enough to make me curious about it, especially since it was a product of Keita Takahashi, the creator of Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy, the former of which is one of my favorite game series. When it initially launched in 2019, I will admit I didn’t pick it up right away since I still wasn’t sure what exactly the game was about. I did, however, become more interested when I stumbled upon a physical copy of the game through iam8bit, which featured three different covers (Sun, Apple and Sushi; I picked up the Sun cover from Best Buy). After finally getting a chance to play this game, I thought it held up with Takahashi’s previous work, despite some frustrations.