Editorials Nintendo

12 Nintendo Switch Video Games That Defined My Year

With the year coming to a close, it’s time for reflection. I don’t need to recap everything that made 2020 unforgettable in all the worst ways for everyone around the world. But not everything about this year was bad. I probably connected with friends and family (virtually, of course) more than I ever had before. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say. But that’s not what this piece is about. I’m here to talk about the games that made this year just a little more bearable for me. They’ll always be synonymous with the good that I took away from 2020.

Disclaimer:

  • This editorial is going to feature only Nintendo Switch games, as I played almost exclusively on that console all year.
  • Most of these games were released prior to this year, and some I have even played before this year as well.
  • One developer, in particular, is well represented on my list and if you know me by now you can already guess which one that is.
  • Please don’t be offended if I didn’t include your favorite game. This is merely my personal list and one size does not fit all when it comes to gaming! There are plenty of great games that I haven’t tried yet.

With that out of the way, let’s roll down this list. I will try to write it in the order in which I played them, except I’ll be saving the best for last.


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nintendo Switch

Developed and published by Nintendo

This might be my favorite video game of all-time. No game in recent memory has ever given me the full range of emotions that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild did. It was very easy to get fully immersed right from the very beginning.

You can read more about my thoughts on the game about halfway down this editorial that I wrote. I started playing it around this time last year and was able to beat the main story in January. Then I purchased the Expansion Pass in March and finally got around to beating the Champions’ Ballad in August. A very rewarding experience. At some point, I’ll probably try to hunt down all of the Korok seeds to give myself another excuse to explore Hyrule.


Dragon Ball FighterZ

Nintendo SwitchDeveloped by Arc System Works

Published by Bandai Namco Entertainment

I’ll admit that this is an odd inclusion for me because I haven’t touched the game much since March. The main reason I’m adding it is because of one glorious day that I had at PAX East 2020. I wrote about it in my aforementioned editorial but in summary, I finished in second place for a Dragon Ball FighterZ Switch tournament held at PAX. I’ll admit that it wasn’t exactly EVO, but I was still proud that I made it all the way to the finals. I’ll always remember it.


Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa

Nintendo SwitchDeveloped by Art Co., Ltd and PQube

Published by PQube

This one comes with an asterisk. It is a very niche game, to say the least. Take a visual novel, add a three-in-a-row puzzle game, throw in some fan service for the hell of it, and you get Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa. I’m listing it because I put a lot of time into trying to beat the game, even though the payoff ultimately wasn’t worth it for me. There is no good ending, just a bad one and a worse one. The music was limited and repetitive to the point where it was giving me headaches. It was frustrating having to repeat the mysteries over and over again. I had to resort to looking online for the correct sequences.

Kotodama was flawed but I won’t say that I hated it either. I liked a few of the characters in the story, the puzzle game was fun and progressively more challenging later in the story, and there were dark moments in the game that got a good scare out of me. I can appreciate what the makers of the game were going for. I just think it could’ve been more forgiving to the player. The biggest takeaway from my Kotodama experience is that it opened me up to the concept of playing visual novels, which I’ll address a little later in this piece.


Shantae and the Seven Sirens

Developed and published by WayForward

Shantae and the Seven Sirens is my favorite indie game of 2020. There, I said it.

Before you kill me for that, I encourage you to please check out my backlog of games that I’m listing later in this editorial. As for Seven Sirens, it’s the latest Shantae game which got its full release earlier this year. Please check out my review for an in-depth look at my thoughts on the game.


Ring Fit Adventure

Developed and published by Nintendo

Oh goodness. It was difficult to find an available box with all the scalpers snatching them up during the pandemic. I was lucky to find one in stock at Target one morning. Ring Fit Adventure is a fun exercise game to play, especially if you can’t make it to a gym. It got a real sweat out of me each time that I played. Motivation is still important, seeing as how I only lasted about 10 days before I stopped. I’ll get back to it eventually, I swear!


Vitamin Connection

Developed and published by WayForward

Earlier I tried to convince people to get it while it was on sale, but there’s never a bad time to get it. Vitamin Connection is reasonably priced and a lot of cute fun. I absolutely love the music in the game. I still can’t believe that I went to the WayForward booth at PAX and passed up a chance to play it there.


Mighty Switch Force! Collection

Developed and published by WayForward

If you’re keeping count, we’re up to three WayForward games so far in this editorial. Although technically Mighty Switch Force! Collection is four games in one (Mighty Switch Force!, Mighty Switch Force! 2, Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition, and Mighty Switch Force! Academy), so it’s more like six. I got my first taste of this game through the Officer Shantae mode in Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. Mighty Switch Force! Collection was a lot of fun to play through and definitely required skill and patience. Great music too. That brings me to the next game which is all of that but on steroids.


Celeste

Developed and published by Matt Makes Games

Truly a “hidden gem” (or so the running joke went as I saw online). I’m normally not on the verge of happy tears when playing through the final level of a game but that’s what happened to me with Celeste. This was certainly one of the most moving games that I’ve ever played. Madeline’s journey was one many people could identify with in some way or another. It’s a clever platform jumper game that is punishing but rewarding. You will die many, many times but the game encourages you to keep going until you clear your obstacles. That final level in the main story…so satisfying, I tell you. This is one of my favorite indie games ever and I highly recommend it.


River City Girls

Developed by WayForward

Published by WayForward and Arc System Works

Oh, you thought I was done with WayForward titles? Think again! I’ve written at length about my time playing River City Girls so here’s a sample of each:

“I’m familiar with the River City Ransom game from the NES days, and this modern take on it definitely does justice. As you defeat other girls in the game, you can get them to join you as playable characters. It’s a beat ‘em up that’s piqued my interest.” – 16 Amazing Video Games That I’ve Played So Far This Year

“…I love how vibrant the game is, with all the colors and the music and the voice acting and how pounding the tar out of the enemies makes me chuckle just like the original River City game did.”How The Nintendo Switch Helped Me Love Video Games Again

“I finally managed to beat the game, which unlocked Kunio and Riki as bonus playable characters. Kyoko and Misako are two badass girls with plenty of attitude. I liked the pixelated style and the enemies kind of reminded me of those that I’ve seen in the Simpsons arcade. I also enjoyed all the Double Dragon cameos. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but there are some hidden weapons in the game that are downright hilarious to me. Add in the stellar soundtrack with vocals by Megan McDuffee and this has been my favorite beat ‘em up on the Switch so far.”Six Fighting Games That I’ve Played So Far This Year


Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

Developed and published by Capcom

I’m honestly shocked by how much I ended up loving this game (or in this case, three games in one). I knew about the Phoenix Wright games existing for all this time but didn’t give them a chance until now. This is exactly why I set out to challenge myself with the Switch and get out of my comfort zone by trying games I normally wouldn’t. I’m grateful for the experience I had earlier this year playing Kotodama because that allowed me to test my tolerance for visual novels. But this was much different.

The cases were dramatic, the characters were charming, the music was excellent, and there’s no having to repeat everything all over again (unless you forgot to save your progress). It made me laugh and made me cry numerous times. I didn’t expect to feel so much emotion playing this, but that’s the beauty of great writing. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy will forever hold a place in my heart, and I have no objection* to playing more of this series in the future.

* Hey, I had to throw that in there somewhere!


Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut

Nintendo SwitchDeveloped and published by WayForward

This is a classic Shantae game that was finally ported to the Switch this year. I probably don’t have to sell you on why I love the game but in case I do, check out my review here. Without spoiling too much, Rottytops is one of my favorite characters in the series and it was interesting to play Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut and see how far along her character has come since that time in the story. This was an excellent game in its own right but WayForward has managed to outdo themselves with each subsequent game in the series. Every Shantae game has been quality. All that’s left for me to play is the first one, which WayForward will be releasing in the near future.

And I’ve saved the best for last…


Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Nintendo SwitchDeveloped and published by Nintendo

At the Game Awards, the London Philharmonic Orchestra played the music for all the Game of the Year candidates. Here’s the video in case you missed it.

It’s notable that they saved Animal Crossing: New Horizons for last, which is exactly what I’m doing for this piece. When that played, it hit me in the feels like a ton of bricks. Maybe I’m just extra sentimental this year but it brought me to tears. It felt nostalgic.

Chronologically, this would be the third title listed as I played it right when everyone went on lockdown. The timing of the game’s release couldn’t be any more perfect. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was therapeutic for countless numbers of people, including myself. It’s not an action game. It doesn’t have Hollywood box office story writing. It’s not any of the things your typical GOTY candidate would look like.

It was a game that brought so many people together during a time when we physically couldn’t. It was such a pleasure being able to build my island and share it with friends while visiting theirs. I loved seeing all the clever ways people designed their islands. All the interactions with the villagers and their different personalities. Creating all the different clothing designs. So many fond memories. This was the warmest, most wholesome video game that I’ve ever had the joy of playing.

That’s why Animal Crossing: New Horizons is my pick for Game of the Year, and I say that unapologetically. There were other games that were objectively better overall, but none that had a bigger cultural impact this year. I will always remember it as THE game of 2020 and I know I’m not alone.


As a bonus, I want to close this out by quickly mentioning six games in my backlog that I hope I’ll be including in next year’s edition of this editorial.


Hades

Developed and published by Supergiant Games

Probably the only reason that I snubbed this in favor of Shantae and the Seven Sirens for my indie game of the year is because I haven’t played it at length yet. I was more than happy to support Supergiant Games by purchasing the game when it was released, and I would have loved to have seen Hades win the Game of the Year. It would have been a big morale boost for the indie scene and for a company like Supergiant Games that doesn’t believe in overworking their staff. I look forward to giving Hades a proper playthrough, even though I’m not usually into roguelikes.


Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

Developed by Omega Force

Published by Nintendo

As someone who loved The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I absolutely had to get Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. I’ve only played a little of it so far and I have to say I’ve underestimated just how different the experience would be from Breath of the Wild. I’ve never really been into the hack and slash genre of games, but I’m invested enough in the story being told in Hyrule that I still want to see it through.


Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Developed by Intelligent Systems and Koei Tecmo

Published by Nintendo

Anime chess. That’s my favorite description that I’ve heard of this game, since anime and chess are two things that I enjoy! I’m not into RPGs so it remains to be seen if Fire Emblem: Three Houses can get me hooked like it has so many others. The positive reviews were impossible to ignore. As a weeb, I really dig the Fire Emblem fandom from what I’ve seen online and hope that I can be a new convert soon.


Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove

Developed and published by Yacht Club Games

I’ve long been intrigued by the Shovel Knight series. There’s plenty of WayForward DNA here as Yacht Club Games was put together by former WayForward talent. So I’ve got a lot of faith that Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is going to deliver the goods. I really like the whole NES vibe from it. I have a feeling that I’m going to love this series. I can’t wait until I finally dig in.

(Get it? Dig it, even? I’ll see myself out.)


Need For Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered

Developed by Criterion Games

Published by Electronic Arts

I haven’t had a chance to play much of Need For Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered just yet, but it’s definitely cured my itch for a decent racing game on the Switch. Please check out Adam Vale’s review of the game if you want to read more about it.


The Mummy Demastered

Nintendo SwitchDeveloped and published by WayForward

Hey, what else can I say? I tend to love many of their games so it’s only right that I close out this editorial with one final shoutout. After all, their Shantae series introduced me to the metroidvania genre, and The Mummy Demastered fits the mold. Gavin Allen sets the tone as the composer of chilling tracks for this game.

I can’t wait to discover and play more games in 2021, and that’s not including games that haven’t been released yet. Thanks, everyone for reading, and happy gaming!

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