Now in its fifth year, the Nintendo Switch continues to produce some of the best gaming experiences every year. This year was no different as the Switch saw long-awaited sequels to several popular Nintendo series, along with innovative indie games and some surprise hits. Overall, the Switch library got some gems in 2022 that owners of the console shouldn’t miss.
Indeed, there is already a lot of hype for certain Nintendo Switch games in 2023, but it’s clear that 2022 raised the bar. Of course, it remains to be seen how next year compares to this, but there is plenty of competition to be had. In no particular order, here are the best Nintendo Switch games of 2022.
After making its Nintendo exclusive debut with the release of Bayonetta 2 on Wii U in 2014, fans of this action-packed series have been waiting for a new entry on Switch. PlatinumGames delivered in a big way with the release of Bayonetta 3 gives Bayonetta a completely new look, new enemies, new environments and new characters. The game was the best it’s ever been with tight controls, flashy combos and bombastic boss fights to give players the satisfying power trip they were hoping for.
Recurring characters such as Jeanne, Luka and Enzo brought new and interesting developments to their established characters. The addition of new characters like Viola – the adorable young Umbra Witch – and Sigurd – the leading Alphaverse researcher – helped round out a great roster of characters. But, Bayonetta 3 received some criticism for its unsatisfactory ending and controversial character arcs, but despite this, Bayonetta 3 succeeded as a follow-up to its previous entries and a starting point for future games to follow.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes
With the success from the 2020s Hyrule Warriors: Age of CalamityThe Switch has once again capitalized on the popularity of Musou-style spin-off games with the addition of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes to the Switch library. As a successor to the 2017s Fire Emblem Warriors, Three Hopes offers an alternative version of events to those from 2019 Fire emblem: Three houses— this time presented in the form of an action hack-and-slash game. The game blends expert elements from the series’ tactical RPG roots with the action combat of a Musou game to create an experience that fans of the series are sure to enjoy.
The game received very positive reviews with many praising the depth and strategy these combinations of mechanics provide. Fans eager for more of three houses’ eclectic cast was rewarded with new and interesting interactions and character arcs – especially with the addition of the new main character, Shez. Overall, this game serves to build on the foundation Fire Emblem Warriors built and improves the formula in every way.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Kirby is as cute as ever in this charming new entry in Nintendo’s beloved franchise. Kirby and the Forgotten Land was a first for the series as it marked the first time one Kirby the game was not locked to a 2D plane. This foray into the 3D space led to many comparisons to a game that Super Mario 3D World more than Super Mario Odyssey. Kirby and the Forgotten Land also built on the unique copying features the series is known for with the addition of the Mouthful Mode mechanic, bringing a lot of ‘new’ into the franchise. The comical image of Kirby inhaling a car or vending machine and assuming his form was the source of much amusement, before and after release.
Like most Kirby games, Kirby and the Forgotten Land had some rather dark undertones beneath the wholesome exterior. This post-apocalyptic adventure saw Kirby fight his way through the ruins of the mysterious New World while trying to rescue the kidnapped Waddle Dees. Between exploring beautiful levels and tackling exciting boss battles, building up Waddle Dee Town and upgrading copy abilities, Kirby and the Forgotten Land was packed with innovative new content Kirby fans craved.
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope
As a sequel to one of 2017’s most unexpected gems, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope takes everything fans loved about the previous title and takes it to the next level to create an engaging and accessible tactical RPG. The game sees Mario and the Rabbids team up to save the Sparks-Rabbid versions of Super Mario Galaxy Lumas – from the clutches of the villain Cursa and her plot to drain the power of Sparks for her own use. Saving a spark has its own benefits for players, as they can use their abilities on their own to help take on enemies in battle.
In addition to the returning playable characters from the first game, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope adds Bowser, Rabbid Rosalina, and original character Edge to the roster. The game also features voice acting for the first time in the series to which many fans had mixed reactions. Despite some voice acting fumbles, the strategic gameplay, charming characters and galactic adventure push Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope topping its predecessor as a must-have title for Switch owners.
Neon white was the surprise indie hit the Switch needed this year. From the first reveal trailer, many were captivated by the fast-paced, parkour action and interesting card-based FPS combat. Upon release, these elements combined with engaging characters and a beautiful art style to create a game that checked many of the boxes gamers look for in an indie title. The unique approach to combat that uses cards to represent different attacks the player can perform is its real distinction as an innovative twist on the FPS genre.
IN Neon white, players take on the role of the titular character – an assassin from Hell chosen to compete against other Neon Demon Slayers for the chance to live in Heaven permanently. As part of the competition, players must complete levels as quickly as possible using all the tools in their arsenal. This emphasis on speed does Neon white great for speedrunning and accessible enough that even more casual players will feel like they’re sharpening their speedrunning skills. As an exclusive console, Neon white feels right at home on the Switch.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus
Pokemon fans were treated to an early surprise this year when Pokemon Legends: Arceus released back in January. This was the first main game to abandon the previously established formula of collecting Pokemon, challenging gyms and becoming the champion of the region. Instead, Pokemon Legends: Arceus takes players back in time to the land of Hisui (Sinnoh in the “present”). In this time period, Pokemon and humans live largely separate lives, and the player is tasked with helping Professor Laventon complete the region’s first Pokedex by catching creatures with the newly invented Pokeballs.
Fans applauded the efforts of developer Game Freak in advancing the series beyond the cookie-cutter formula of previous entries. Despite the deviation from the established story and mechanics, Pokemon Legends: Arceus is responsible for many new fan-favorite characters and memorable boss fights.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet brought the series into its ninth generation and with it came a massive shake-up of both gameplay and world design. Takes a signal from Pokemon Legends Arceus, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet emphasized exploration by offering players the first true open world in the franchise. Players could explore the Paldea region in any order they chose following three major storylines – Victory Road, Path of Legends and Starfall Street.
Among the new changes was the shift away from random encounters in the tall grass to overworld encounters, which combined the mechanics of Pokemon Legends: Arceus with the series’ more traditional gameplay. The games received some backlash for its rough technical state, with many fans bemoaning the frame rate issues and a number of bugs present at launch. Despite these problems, the excellent core gameplay of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet making them some of the most innovative Pokemon games to date and shows a positive direction for the series going forward.
Nintendo’s popular FPS series received its third entry this year with the release of Splatoon 3. Now the other one Splatoon play the switch, Splatoon 3 was a natural evolution of everything fans enjoyed about the previous games. In addition to the series’ iconic Turf War mode, Splatoon 3 saw the introduction of Anarchy Battles as the new competitive mode for online play. The fan favorite Salmon Run PvE mode returned from Splatoon 2 with new maps, bosses and the chance to face the super boss – Cohozuna, King Salmonid – and the card game Tableturf Battle was an unexpected surprise among players.
Follows up the climactic Order vs Chaos Splatfest that marked the end of regular events in Splatoon 2, Splatoon 3′Its single-player campaign features elements of the post-apocalyptic Splatlands outside the new city of Splatsville, as well as a mysterious new world known as Alterna. Fans of previous entries in the series will find a lot to love with all the new content Splatoon 3 offer. With more new content rolling out regularly, players will have tons to keep them busy with this game well into the new year.
In Triangle Strategy, players take on the role of Serenoa, heir to House Wolffort as he and his allies are thrown into a conflict between three of the region’s most powerful nations. The game’s persuasion mechanics allow the plot to play out in a number of ways depending on the choices made by players throughout the game and their ability to sway their allies towards their chosen path.
Fans of tactical RPGs will enjoy the deep combat system and a variety of recruitable characters to strategize around. Triangle strategies Gorgeous HD 2D art style harkens back to the days of classic tactical RPGs, while still looking amazing alongside their modern counterparts. Although the game flew quietly under the radar among the other major titles released around the same time, fans of the genre should not miss this entry.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 introduced players to the world of Aionios where two nations – Agnus and Keves – are locked in a perpetual war over the life force needed to power their respective Flame Clocks. Players control a party of characters, who are from both nations and are outcasts after gaining the power of the Ouroboros. This adventure sees players embark on a mission to free colonies from the chains of Flame Clocks, uncover the truth about Ouroboros and the shadowy organization known as Moebius.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 streamlines the convoluted combat mechanics of previous entries, while having the depth and gameplay to keep players engaged for a long time. Recruiting heroes to unlock new classes for the party and building strategies around interlinking and chain attacks are just some of the ways players can customize the way they approach battles. Series veterans and newcomers alike can enjoy one of the best JRPG stories of the year in this instant classic.
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