With over half a decade since the release of the Switch back in March of 2017, we still don’t know what Nintendo’s plans are for their future consoles or keeping their current one alive, but the little hybrid machine is still going strong and proud. In fact, it’s about to close up one of its most successful years ever. With sequels, remakes, and some ports that have been long demanded by fans, 2022 had just a little bit of everything for Switch fans.
Some good proof of that is the fact that, while only one of the six nominees to GOTY during the latest Game Awards show belonged to the console, Switch exclusives took the prize home in four categories: action, strategy, multiplayer and family game. All of this besides Zelda winning “most awaited” game of next year. In the meantime, let’s look at those that did come during these 12 months.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3
The golden star on the Switch this year was the nominee we spoke of before. In a year with Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarok ,its victory was more of a pipedream, but Monolith Soft has created something special nonetheless. One of the best JRPGs on Switch thanks to its amazing audio and visual design, a sprawling open world full of exploration, and the general quality of its content. The combat and other systems are far more accessible than its predecessors, and its story goes towards a darker, more mature tone, with enemies becoming allies to try and save a world from its twisted nature before time runs out.
Since we’ve talked about the TGA, it’s worth mentioning that not only is Bayonetta 3 worthy of the Best Action statuette, it’s also Platinum’s first game to ever get an award besides NieR: Automata’s soundtrack. Is it the best Bayonetta? There’s a lot of discourse about it, but something that can’t be denied is that the studio threw all of its aideas into the mix. From new weapons to summons you can control directly, or even in its stages that take you through several universes to work with (or challenge) alternative versions of everyone’s favorite witch.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
A game that revalidates a previous victory (as best strategy game) is the newest Mario + Rabbids game. The once surprising collaboration between Ninntendo and Ubisoft has now become a fully fledged franchise for the Switch, opening up its stages to exploration and adding optional content, with more tactical opportunities and character customization through the Sparks (fusions of Rabbids and Lumas from Mario Galaxy). There’s now even a greater freedom of movement in the combat arenas. A definite upgrade that raises the bar to the 2017 original.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
The family category tends to be a wildcard for all platforms, which is why Nintendo tends to win the award, and this year was not an exception. The Forgotten Land, however, can not only be considered the best platformer of 2022, it’s also the best Kirby yet. The jump to 3D not only in graphics sits very well with the basic design, and lends itself to a wide variety of levels where Kirby not only floats and gulps down enemies to get their abilities (with upgrades available in a central hub town), you can also make use of objects like cones, fans, and even cars to broaden your repertoire of tricks.
A franchise that didn’t evolve too much but still managed to become one of the best multiplayer of the year was Splatoon. The ink and squid shooter from the Wii U is still alive and healthy, leaving space for a beefy story mode besides its short duration, but plenty of game modes that are fun for hours and hours. Turf Wars are still the star here, but there’s plenty of variations that include object gathering, zone defense, horde modes and even a card game.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Nintendo could have controlled the entire spectrum of genres during the Game Awards, but one that they couldn’t get was RPG, where Pokémon didn’t manage to defeat the competition. And we’re not talking about Scarlet and Violet, but about Arceus, the spin-off where Game Freak actually got things amazingly right with a 3D game about exploration, hunting, and capture of Pokémon in its natural habitats. A game that stretches the console to its limits, but also that innovated for the franchise in ways the mainline has never done. Even after its release.
Another hidden gem on the Switch is Triangle Strategy. One of the latest Square Enix productions to use the HD-2D engine that brings together beautiful pixel art and amazing visual effects, we’re talking about an S-RPG in the style of Tactics Ogre (which is also back). Political drama, heavy choices, troop management and complex turn based combat make this an incredible game that deserves the attention of players everywhere.
Live a Live
Another Square title that fits the JRPG genre, but still an amazing entry for the console, is Live a Live’s remake. Originally released for the Super Famicom, exclusive to Japan, it was Takashi Tokita’s debut as a director before working on Chrono Trigger and Parasite Eve. What makes it interesting is its weird structure, with each chapter dedicated to seemingly unrelated stories in different time periods and places, available to play in any order. Not only does the setting fluctuate between ancient Japan, the Wild West, the Far Future, a Street Fighter-like tournament, and much more, but the mechanics and gameplay change to fit each one of them.}
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes
Fire Emblem was absent from 2022, but it did get a spin-off. The Intelligent Systems franchise took another dip into the Musou style of games, but this time not as a crossover but as a sort of expansion to the Three Houses universe. You don’t need to have played the original to enjoy it, but it makes it a greater experience, with factions to choose from and relationships to form, it’s a game meant to be replayed several times.
Persona 5 Royal
Going back to The Game Awards, but this time to 2018, remember when Joker, Persona 5’s protagonist, was revealed as a Smash Bros character? The news launched endless amounts of rumors about a port to Switch, but it wasn’t until October of this year when it finally happened. One of the best JRPGs of all time is finally on the Nintendo console, with its unbeatable art direction, complex social routines, an amazing combat system, and deep dungeons full of style, creativity, and challenge. You can’t miss it.
NieR: Automata - The End of YoRHa Edition
Another port you can’t let pass you by is one of the biggest games of the past decade. We’re talking about Yoko Taro’s NieR: Automata, in collaboration with Platinum Games. A Hack and Slash that’s also an RPG, an open world adventure, a shoot’em up, and whatever the heck it wants to be. And also, lots of philosophy and existential dread.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
And we end up with another port, perhaps less popular than the previous ones but as worthy of your attention. Switch is now the second and only other platform the game is available after it was launched on PS4. This mix between visual novel and strategy game comes from the creators of Muramasa and Dragon’s Crown. Of course, Vanillaware’s emblematic 2D art is unique and beautiful, but what makes 13 Sentinels stand out is its complex story, with a multitude of characters and time jumps that create a fascinating narrative frame.