It’s been three years since Nintendo started its big comeback from the Wii U days with the release of the Nintendo Switch. Yesterday, we took a look at how the console has performed in the three years since its debut, as well as where it could be headed in the coming months, so be sure to give that a read if you haven’t already.
Today, though, we’re celebrating the library of games that have already graced the platform by taking a look at some of our favorites from the past three years. To do that, I enlisted the help of some of our forum members, as well as a contribution from YouTuber AJ McRae from the Fanatix Four channel.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Not many videogame consoles have the privilege of debuting alongside one of the best games in their libraries, but that’s exactly what happened with the Switch and Breath of the Wild. Thanks in no small part to the terrible performance of the Wii U hardware, Nintendo opted to wait and release the game on Switch alongside the Wii U version, and that means the console launched with what is my personal favorite game of all time.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was Nintendo’s first attempt at a truly open-world Zelda title, and for someone who typically doesn’t like open-world games, I had some worries. But the world in Breath of the Wild is so engrossing, beautiful, and rewarding, that I couldn’t go without looking at every nook and cranny I could find, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Even prior to the release of the DLC, I had nearly 300 hours of playtime on record, and that only increased once the DLC was made available. The two DLC packs, The Master Trials and The Champion’s Ballad, were released later in 2017, and they were both great. The latter expanded the story with some more backstory, but I was actually a big fan of the Master Trials as a format, it was really challenging and forced me to make good use of the items in the environment.
I absolutely recommend both the game, which you can buy on Amazon, and the expansion pass, which costs $19.99 in the eShop.
Super Mario Odyssey
Just like Zelda, Mario is a franchise that no Nintendo console can go without, and the company wasted no time in following up one great game with another. Super Mario Odyssey brought some significant changes to the franchise’s formula, starting with large, connected, and semi-open worlds that the player can explore to their own content, but still with some guidelines to make the story progress.
The sheer number of Power Moons to collect and the variety of missions required to obtain them were a breath of fresh air. Likewise, the ability to take control of enemies, characters, and inanimate objects to navigate the world was another big change for Mario, which has typically been based on power-ups like the Fire Flower, and it allowed players to traverse the world in ways that weren’t possible before.
Nintendo also started to show signs of its intent to support its games over longer periods of time, starting with the 8-bit Luigi challenges that gave players an extra reason to explore the game world again. More notably, though, Nintendo eventually released a free update that added a new mode called Balloon World. In it, players can hide balloons and look for balloons hidden by other players from all around the world, and it gave me motivation to master the controls and learn about some of the hidden portions of the game map.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
2018 was a relatively slow year for Switch releases, but Nintendo saved its trump card right until the end of the year. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate generated a lot of hype and became the fastest-selling game in the history of the franchise, and that’s for a good reason. The game includes every character that’s ever been in the franchise and then some more. If that wasn’t enough, the company added more via DLC over the course of 2019, and there’s still more on the way. It also has the biggest number of stages and music tracks in the franchise, so it truly lives up to its name.
There are even more things that make this the biggest Smash Bros. title yet, including the fully-fledged adventure mode called World of Light and a Spirits mode that brings in even more characters from a myriad of franchises. Still, the game shines the most thanks to its multiplayer modes, and even though I haven’t played it myself, AJ McRae is still putting quite some time into it more than a year later. Here’s why he likes it so much:
“Super Smash Bros Ultimate is by far the most important Nintendo Switch game in my library and that’s for a few good reasons. First and foremost, it’s a fantastic celebration for gaming’s biggest franchises. If you love a big name gaming property, chances are it’s represented on some level in this game. Second, it’s a no-brainer when it comes to games that I’d pull out to play with a group of gamers regardless of skill level. Everyone knows that it’s a fantastic game to play with a group of family and friends for all of the chaotic items on high, random stages, 8 player smash you can handle. A lesser known fact though, it’s a really solid competitive game with a breadth of interesting characters to learn to play as and play against. It’s for those reasons that it’s my most played Switch game by a LONG shot and will continue to be so – likely for the rest of the platform’s life.”
Nintendo and PlatinumGames had quite a surprise for fans in 2019 when, instead of releasing Bayonetta 3, the companies decided to announce Astral Chain. It’s still very much the kind of action game you’d expect from PlatinumGames, though, and that means it’s phenomenal at what it does.
I reviewed the game when it released last year, and found that there wasn’t much to criticize aside from some platforming sections of the game. Combat is fast and fluid, and most importantly, very fun. There’s a lot of main and side missions to get through, and it keeps adding new ways to tackle the challenges ahead of you until the very end. On top of that, there’s extensive upgrade system and customization options, which help make the experience more unique to your tastes.
Add to that the fantastic art direction that makes stellar use of the Nintendo Switch’s processing power and exudes a strong anime vibe, pretty great voice acting, and a soundtrack that pumps you up perfectly for each fight, and it’s just a fantastic package overall.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
26 years after it was originally released, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening got a remake last year. Jumping from the GameBoy to the far more advanced hardware of the Nintendo Switch brings along a ton of improvements to the controls, graphics, and sound quality.
The art style Nintendo went with for this remake really won me over. It makes for a very unique-looking world and facial expressions are nothing short of adorable. The music is also as good as you’d expect from a Zelda game. I reviewed Link’s Awakening when it came out and found it a little too confusing to get through, but our forum member and moderator, Brandon H., quite enjoyed it:
“I loved the Links Awakening remake. Some people didn’t like the art style in it but I thought it fit well with the game. I never got the chance to play through the original gameboy version of the game so being able to play with updated controls/graphics is always welcome for a good classic. was the first game I got when I got my Switch Lite and thoroughly enjoyed beating it in a single weekend”
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition
The Switch has been a captivating platform for ports of games from other consoles, and Square Enix jumped on that trend by bringing over the definitive edition of Dragon Quest XI, dubbed Dragon Quest XI S. It includes all of the original content of the game, but it does bring a fully orchestrated version of the original soundtrack.
It also includes a handful of new story content, with story portions focusing on each of the main characters of the game, English and Japanese options for voice acting, and a plentiful list of other improvements. I personally didn’t play the game, nor am I familiar with the Dragon Quest series, but our forum member +forster has had some fun with it:
“Dragon Quest 11 was really stand out for me this year, drove many hours into it. Also I think it stood apart, enough, from its previous ports due to the tweaks and extra Switch content. Graphics great, music great, really shows what a switch can do!”
Ring Fit Adventure
I understand that this isn’t exactly an experience for most gamers, but Ring Fit Adventure actually delivers really well on its promise. It brings together exercise and a plot that gives you extra encouragement to keep working out, which actually works on me, as someone who tends to prefer gaming over exercising. There’s a ton of variety to the exercises you can do, and if the story mode is restrictive, there are mini-games and routines you can create for yourself to focus on what you want.
The Ring-Con looks really simple at first, but it offers plenty of resistance and it’s really surprising how hard it makes you work. It’s the first game to make use of the Switch’s alarm feature to remind you to keep exercising on a regular basis. It’s not a gym replacement, but it’s probably cheaper and easier to accommodate in your schedule. And, if you want to exercise while watching TV or something, the Ring-Com can be used standalone and it will keep count of how many times you press or pull on it.
It’s not for everyone, but if you’re looking for a way to exercise or stay active, and going out isn’t always a valid option, then this is definitely something to consider. The game is currently sold out at most retailers, but you can keep an eye on the Amazon listing if you want to grab it.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi’s Mansion is one of those rare Nintendo franchises that doesn’t have that many entries in its history, and the third iteration makes me glad that the developers had plenty of time to work on it. The spooky adventures of Mario’s green-clad brother have always had a very unique charm to them, but Luigi’s Mansion 3 is bigger, better, and more varied than its predecessors.
I chose not to review this game, and usually, I do that with games I don’t like that much, but that is definitely not the case here. Everything about Luigi’s Mansion 3 feels stellar. The hotel you have to explore this time around is larger than the mansions in previous games, and the different floors for each theme offer so much variety in terms of visuals and mechanics that I enjoyed it through and through. For a game with base mechanics as simple as these, it’s honestly surprising how varied the gameplay is throughout the adventure.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a charming adventure that kept me hooked every second of the journey, but it’s a kind of fun that’s not easy to put into words. It’s just a fantastic game and one that I absolutely recommend.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
The last and most recent games on this list are Pokémon Sword and Shield, and I’ve already talked at length about why I love them in my full review. These are easily the best games in the franchise, and that’s because they drive it forward in many ways. The freedom of movement is bigger than ever, especially in the Wild Area, and seeing Pokémon on the fields, and seeing them react to your presence adds a whole new level of interaction with the game, while also removing some of the annoying parts (that is to say, random encounters).
In general, the game just wastes a lot less of your time. Many animation sequences have been sped up or shortened, some features are easier to access through quick shortcuts, you can manage your party and boxes from anywhere. And all of that comes in a beautiful package, despite some of the places where textures may appear too simple. It’s a huge step in the right direction, even if it’s not where some of us hoped the franchise would be at this point.
Our forum member and moderator Brandon H. is also a big fan of the latest entry in the Pokémon franchise. Here’s what he had to say:
“I fell out of Pokemon games around Diamond/pearl due to getting bored with them. I tried Black/White, X/Y, and Sun/Moon but never beat any of them due to just getting bored part way through. Sword/Shield are the first Pokemon games I’ve thoroughly enjoyed again. I didn’t feel like I had to grind all the time just to progress so that helped keep my attention. The story actually seemed good and kept my attention as well. The wild lands are quite the interesting concept that I like; what little grinding I did have to do was made easier by the early access to the wild lands and the areas of stronger pokemon it had. Can’t wait to see how the DLCs expand the wild lands along with the new areas.”