It’s no small secret among my friends that I’m a diehard Nintendo fan(boy) and will mostly buy their systems off of nostalgia alone. But their last 2 console outings were frustrating to say the least. Between spending countless hours waggling a Wiimote hoping Link would do something cool to looking at my WiiU tablet expecting it to work just like my GBA/DS, I was looking for them to capture my imagination again.
When they actually revealed their newest console, The Switch, late last year, all we knew really was that it was a portable/console hybrid that would have Nintendo games on it (and Skyrim apparently). Then they released more details in January of this year as well as confirming that not only would it launch with the latest Zelda game, but we’d ALSO be getting a new Mario game this year as well. As soon as pre-orders opened up, I reserved one from 3 different stores worried I might get one cancelled/delayed. Luckily, that didn’t happen.
Since launch, everything Nintendo has promised from that system has come true, and it has become my most played console this year by a LARGE margin. That’s a testament to the combination of Nintendo’s franchises as well as an extremely surprising push into the indie scene, landing a few console exclusives in the process. It’s truly been the year for the Big N to make its most meaningful comeback. These titles below are absolute must plays for anyone who loves video games.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Let’s start things off with a superlative: This is the BEST game that I played this year, and probably the best Zelda game ever. I know people have complaints about the lack of proper dungeons or that they felt the story was “sleight” and that they think the weapons durability detracts from the game as a whole. And while all of these are reasons someone might not like the game, I didn’t see them in a negative way at all. At its core though, the sheer openness of the game right from the start (even in the Great Plateau) made it so that every time I was solving a combat puzzle or even a shrine, I felt like that experience was unique to me. Hours passed while traversing the incredibly MASSIVE world they created, and finally made good on the promises of other open world games of “see that mountain, you can go there” that so many other games in the genre never quite could.
If you want some more of my thoughts on my time with Zelda, take a look at my thoughts right before finishing the game here.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Having passed up on the WiiU release of this game, and generally being less than impressed with the last “proper” offering on the DS: I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this game as much as I did. The quality of life improvements from the previous games (like being able to accelerate automatically or even turn on steering assist) are great for kids who might not be the “best” at games. But honestly I was just really happy to see so many classic tracks make a return with a fresh coat of paint & polish. While Double Dash holds a special place in my heart as the best of the series, this was a solidly great time that I’d gladly jump into again for some multiplayer fun.
Mario + Rabbids
I’ve already talked about this game in yesterday’s piece here. Not much more to say other than this game is a truly great surprise this year and I wish I had finished it.
Super Mario Odyssey
Since I gave my initial impressions on the game (here) I put a bit more time into the post game worlds and have to say that it’s a truly special thing that this game is a complete experience from beginning to end if you only run through the “main line” for sure, but the additional things that open up after that are just as fantastic. From a sheer joy perspective, I can only think of a few other games I played this year that made me genuinely smile with happiness while playing. It’s an absolute must own for anyone with a Switch and one of my top 5 games this year hands down.
In addition to the incredible first party lineup, the indie games released this year on the Switch were just as great, with 2 of my favorite games this year coming out in the last month alone.
Battle Chef Brigade
In addition to all the great things I said about the game here there was something extremely important I failed to mention/realize until near the end of the time I spent with the game. For a game whose core concept is a competitive tournament about defeating your “enemies” in Kitchen Colliseum, it was amazing to actually see the competitors not have a negative attitude towards each other at the end of a match. No matter how things may have started out, in the end your character (Mina of Thrash) seems to have gained the respect of their opponent and in many cases a new friend/ally. In a year filled with such negativity, it was really refreshing to see a “competitive” game have such a positive vibe amongst all the competitors.
Look, I love Advance Wars, make no mistake. When the Kickstarter for this game failed, I was heartbroken, thinking I would never get another game like that. Especially since Nintendo seemed to have abandoned any hope of a sequel with the ascendancy of the Fire Emblem series. But after having spent some time with the game so far, I can definitely say that this is the sequel I always wanted. It ticks off all the right boxes and makes me happy that it’s on the Switch since I can be right in the middle of a battle and put it into sleep mode just like the GBA SP and DS games.