The best Nintendo Switch games of the year 2021 are here to fill you with wonder and dread (pun intended). Nintendo Switch has seen its fourth full year since launch, and it’s becoming clearer than ever that it’s on the way to become one of Nintendo’s most successful consoles. After Wii U’s underwhelming global sales and a lack of console exclusives to keep it relevant, Nintendo Switch has proven that the company is back on track for another incredible console.
There was plenty of stuff to play on Nintendo Switch this year, so without further ado, here are our favorites.
- Here are the best PS5 exclusive games of 2021
- See our best Xbox Series X exclusive games of 2021
- More: best co-op games of 2021
Monster Hunter Rise
Monster Hunter’s reputation skyrocketed after Monster Hunter World solidified itself as the best-selling Capcom game ever published. And with Rise, the team has continued evolving and expanding upon the best aspects of the series. For example, the game’s Hunting Horn weapon is no longer confusing to use and is absolutely awesome to smack monsters with. Capcom has also shrunk the size of the hub area, making it easier for players to get around.
Palicos, which are cat-like creatures who accompany the player on their hunts, have always been an iconic part of the series. But Rise also introduced the ability to have a Palamute, which is a mountable dog-like companion that you can have by your side. Giving players more adorable animals to bring with them into the fray was the right move, Capcom. There’s plenty of exhilaration in riding your wolf into battle, jumping off their back, and slamming downwards onto a vicious monster’s head.
See our full Monster Hunter Rise review.
It’s been 19 years since we saw Samus Aran become infused with the X Parasites in Metroid Fusion. Fans have been clamoring for a new classic Metroid title since 2002, and after the Metroid Prime 4 announcement with little to no updates for four years, it seemed like all hope was lost. But suddenly, at Nintendo’s E3 Showcase this year, a surprise trailer was shown of Samus dropping into a metal corridor as the text “Metroid 5” appears on screen.
As soon as the title “Metroid Dread” appeared, fans knew a 16-year long project would finally see its time in the light. Dread’s focus on instilling fear in the player is striking, as certain things you come into contact with should not be fought. There’s always a present accumulation of power in Metroid games, but Dread’s difficulty can be terrifying. Players have tight windows to parry enemies and escape the clasps of the things that hunt Samus, and it’s clear Metroid Dread was designed to make the player shake in their boots.
New Pokémon Snap
The original Pokémon Snap launched on N64 in 1999, and while “New Pokémon Snap” is admittedly a silly name, it’s worth playing for those who are looking to revisit the original’s magic. Traveling through mellow beaches and lush jungles to discover hidden Pokémon doing cute things is a fulfilling passtime. It’s not an overly active journey, but it understands exactly what it needs to be.
With a collection of 234 Pokémon, New Pokémon Snap should be played at its own pace. If you try to get into a spree of completing everything and try to snap a photo of whatever you can, the experience might be a bit less joyous. This is a game that’s best played in a relaxed state. Experience New Pokémon Snap at your own pace and you’ll probably have a nice time.
Mario Party Superstars
Mario Party has always been a staple franchise for Nintendo, notorious in its ability to destroy even the closest friendships. Mario Party Superstars, however, is a callback to the series’ best moments on Nintendo 64. If you’re nostalgic for the original Super Mario Party trilogy, Superstars features five remade boards and 100 classic minigames.
Levels like Yoshi’s Tropical Island take players back to their favorite little resort, boasting the unforgettable cozy beaches, huge fruits and coconut trees from the original Mario Party. These jolly vibes continue with Woody Woods from Mario Party 3 with its lush greenery and happy trees. And of course, the dim-lit Horror Land from Mario Party 2 is back. If you miss some of these maps, it’s worth grabbing some friends and hopping into Mario Party Superstars.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Super Mario 3D World originally launched on the Wii U to staggering critical acclaim. People commended it for its lovely aesthetic and novel approach to the Mario series bolstered by wonderful co-op. As Nintendo likes to do with many of its Wii U titles, Super Mario 3D World received a re-release on Nintendo Switch. But this time, it was bundled with a mini-expansion.
Bowser’s Fury doesn’t even feature the same camera perspective or level design philosophies as the base game. In fact, some have claimed it’s the prototype for Super Mario Odyssey’s sequel. As players enter new areas of this world, they’re tasked with finding as many Shines as possible to proceed and complete the game. Players explore one gigantic open level, completing classic platforming sections as a towering Bowser occasionally hops into the fray and messes you up.
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Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Momo finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Momo is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.