So, I started writing my top ten Nintendo game picks for 2017. As I compiled my list, I decided to narrow it down to just Switch (Fire Emblem Echoes and Dragon Quest VIII were the only non-Switch games on the list). But I couldn’t narrow the list down to just ten games! So I thought about imposing a “NO PORTS” rule, but that seemed silly. A fun game is a fun game, regardless of whether or not it’s the new hotness debuting on a piece of hardware. As I let the ports creep in, I soon found myself with a list of about 35 games I’d enjoyed on the Switch this year. I narrowed that down to 30, so give me some credit. Anyway, here is a list of games I loved playing on my Switch this year (complete with arbitrary numeric ranking). Keep in mind, this is NOT a “Best Games On Switch!!” list. It’s my weird tastes, at this moment (December 28th at 7:30 AM Mountain Time).
So yeah, it’s pretty definitive.
Now, without any further ado…
OH, WAIT. One more thing. In the interest of keeping this list all on one page (I’m not going to make you click through 6-30 pages just to get my bad takes), I didn’t include any screenshots (the page would have been a mess to scroll through on mobile devices with 30+ pics). So if you want to learn more about any of these games, why not visit our friends at Nintendo World Report or Nintendolife??
OK FOR REAL NOW. Here’s the totally definitive, 100% legit list of my favorite Switch games released in 2017.
I didn’t get as into ARMS as I expected (I’ll be honest: I was pretty bad at it), but I still had to put it on this list for two reasons. 1) The music and characters rule. 2) The online lobby / matchmaking was incredible and should be the gold standard for online Nintendo games going forward.
29. Strikers 1945
From legendary shooter developer Psikyo, Strikers 1945 is a fast, crazy, and colorful take on the “bi-plane shooter” genre popularized by Capcom’s 1942 and 1943.
28. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
“Why is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe so low on your list?!” you may be asking yourself. Well, first of all, this list is VERY PRESTIGIOUS, so placing at all is a great honor. And two, I kinda already played the heck outta this game on Wii U. Mario Kart 8 is awesome, and the Deluxe version is even better (Battle Mode!!!), but I haven’t really put that much time into it due to the dozens of hours I put into the Wii U game. Bring on MK9.
This one dropped pretty late in the year, so I really haven’t put tooooo much time into it. But I still kinda totally love it. Great music, an awesome world to explore, and some very British humor make this one I’m excited to dig into more in 2018.
26. Arcade Archives VS. Super Mario Bros.
It’s Super Mario Bros.! But with the weird hard stuff that showed up in The Lost Levels! What’s not to like?? (A: the weird hard stuff that showed up in The Lost Levels).
25. Namco Museum
Yeah it’s a little pricey for what it offers, but it’s still a really well put together package. Also: SPLATTERHOUSE.
24. Steamworld Dig 2
Despite the praise, the original Steamworld Dig didn’t really click with me. The sequel however, I really “dug” (that’s a Dig Dug joke, in reference to pick number 25, Namco Museum). Steamworld Dig 2 is an extremely well-designed Metroidvania that offers the player as much challenge as they’re willing to take on.
23. Fire Emblem Warriors
Fire Emblem is back, in Musou form! The game delivers exactly what it says on the tin: massive massacres with pretty swords-people. One I can’t help but keep coming back to.
22. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
Dang, this game is lovely (too bad I opted not to include screenshots in this post, eh?). It’s also a super fun action-adventure that reminded me a ton of Monster World IV (a great way to score points in my book).
WHOA. Where did this one come from?? A super fun and weird arcade-style action RPG that only takes like an hour to beat and is just five bucks on the eshop. One of the most pleasant Switch surprises of 2017.
20. ACA Neo Geo Magical Drop 2
In a world of match-three puzzlers everywhere, Magical Drop 2 offers a unique take on the genre, which kinda combines Bust a Move with …a match-3 puzzler. It’s super cool tho!
19. Stardew Valley
While I didn’t get quite as addicted to this as some folks (ahem, Lindsey), I still enjoyed fighting slimes in the dungeon and petting my cat. Great characters, art, music, and oh boy, systems upon systems.
18. Rocket League
Rocket League rocks, and the only thing better than playing Rocket League is playing it anywhere. Which you can do with the Nintendo Switch. ALSO: Samus car (which I still haven’t unlocked because the game hates me).
17. Resident Evil Revelations
RE: Revelations is my second favorite game in the series. So why is it not higher on the list? Mostly because I have played through this game SO MANY TIMES on 3DS. However, the motion / gyro aiming adds quite a bit to the playability, so I’m sure I’ll be revisiting the Queen Zenobia at some point. The Raid Mode is also great in Revelations, though not as great as… well, we’ll get to that later in the list.
Doom (2016) is, from a pure gameplay perspective, maybe my favorite first person shooter ever. The fast paced demon-killing action comes to the Switch completely intact (minus some frames and resolution).
Another super fun, super crazy vertical shooter from Psikyo, Gunbird sports solid (and fair!) shooting action and some lovely art. It’s also very lighthearted and silly, which is kind of a rarity in the genre. Now, when do we get Cannon Spike and Gunbird 2 on Switch??
14. ACA Neo Geo Blazing Star
My personal favorite Neo Geo shooter, Blazing Star has some of the most gorgeous pixel art this side of Metal Slug and Mark of the Wolves (anyone else smell that foreshadowing?) and one of the weirdest localizations ever. Also included: cool 90s anime cutscenes and tight shooting action. Love having this game on Switch.
You know what Skyrim is. But did you know being able to play it on the go RULES? A remarkable port of a great game that feels perfect on the Switch.
12. ACA Neo Geo Neo Turf Masters
While Golf Story was getting most of the critical and commercial love on Switch this year (for good reason, it’s an awesome game), I found myself enraptured with this oldie but goodie. Neo Turf Masters is pure arcade golf fun, and the giant sprites and simple mechanics make it perfect to play local multiplayer in tabletop mode.
11. Puyo Puyo Tetris
…speaking of games that are well suited to tabletop mode, Puyo Puyo Tetris combines the peanut butter and chocolate of these two series to make a tasty puzzle game treat. One of the secret most hardcore competitive multiplayer games out there.
10. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
I’ve barely scratched the surface of this one, but in the 15 hours I played I found a compelling world, AMAZING music, and SO MUCH TO DO. I’ll be playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for a while.
9. Resident Evil Revelations 2
Remember that hint in #17? OH YEAH HERE’S THE PAYOFF. Yeah, so Revelations 2’s campaign is pretty hit or miss, but OMG THE RAID MODE. I’ve put about 15 hours into the mode so far, and that’s with only one of the characters. The character progression system is brilliantly designed to create an ultra satisfying gameplay loop where the next upgrade is just around the corner. Oh, and like with the first Revelations, the motion / gyro controls are a very welcome addition.
8. Sonic Mania
The best Sonic game in years, Mania harnesses the passion of the series’ most talented fans to create something both nostalgic yet fresh. I hope we 1) get a sequel and 2) they handle the lives / game over mechanics in a more forgiving way. Mania would be even higher on my list if I didn’t have to replay so many Act 1s so many times.
7. ACA Neo Geo Garou Mark of the Wolves
Quite possibly the greatest fighter SNK ever developed, it’s amazing having this game on Switch. Gorgeous sprites and animation, tight controls, and a small, but wonderful cast of characters. Play it docked, play it portable, play it tabletop, just play this game and see what the fuss is about.
6. ACA Neo Geo Metal Slug
With all the amazing games released on Switch in its first nine months, it seems almost rude? ridiculous? to put a game from 1996 this high on my list. But if I’m being honest with myself, it belongs here. This is one of the most re-playable games ever, and due to its incredible sprite work, it has aged better than almost any other game from the era. There are some great sequels, but Nazca kind of nailed it in the first go. This is the Mad Max: Fury Road of video games: pure, flawlessly paced action perfection.
5. Blaster Master Zero
So Sonic Mania is the best Sonic game in years, well, Blaster Master Zero is the best Blaster Master EVER. The most surprising comeback in recent memory, Inti Creates took what was good about the original game, got rid of everything the sequels got wrong, and modernized the package to alleviate some of the more frustrating aspects. THIS is how you bring back a cult classic.
4. Splatoon 2
“It’s just more Splatoon!!!” You say that like it’s a bad thing. Regular content updates, Splatfests, and amazing writing keep things “fresh.” This is THE game I come back to every weekend on my Switch.
3. Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment
I was not expecting to get emotional in 2017 over a Shovel Knight expansion, but that’s exactly what happened when I played Specter in March, shortly after the Switch launch. Yacht Club Games completely flipped the script on what I thought the Shovel Knight story was, and made me appreciate it even more (and realize how invested I was in these characters). Oh, and the game plays like the totally rad Strider / Ninja Gaiden mashup that I never expected to play in 2017.
2. Super Mario Odyssey
OK, here’s where things get predictable. Sorry! But this game is the epitome of fun, creativity, and accessibility. I always expect a mainline Mario game to be great, but Odyssey over-delivered. It’s mechanically perfect, it’s open, but not too empty or too cluttered, and it lets you play at your own pace. The Mario series didn’t exactly need a reinvention (3D Land / World were great), but it got one anyway, and the result is an all-time classic.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Try to act surprised. Or don’t. This one is going to top a lot of GOTY lists and receive think pieces by people way smarter and more articulate than me. But please allow me to ramble a bit here. The original Legend of Zelda is my favorite video game of all time. It captured my imagination as a kid and made me fall in love with the medium. See where I’m going with this? Yeah, BotW gave me those same feelings, over 20 years later. But this isn’t just nostalgia. BotW managed to completely redefine the open-world genre, while still maintaining a Nintendo-level of polish. We haven’t even begun to see the impact that this game will have on the medium.
So, that about wraps things up. Not since the Dreamcast has the first nine months of a console’s launch felt this “for me.” It’s been a heckuva year for Nintendo and the Switch, and I’m certain the console will continue to dominate my free time in 2018. Did you have a game that didn’t make the list? Post it in the comments and we’ll consider it an honorary mention 🙂