The Nintendo Switch is more than four years old, and it still has excellent games released for it every single year. Admittedly Nintendo’s output of first-party titles slowed down during the pandemic, and Breath of the Wild 2 is still a distant dream, but even without a big new Zelda or original Mario game, 2021 has been a great year for Switch owners. Partly because there are new Zelda and Mario games, of some description.
Our list below compiles the ten best Switch games throughout 2021. If you’re looking for a quality game to play around Christmas or early in 2022, this list is an excellent place to start.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Super Mario 3D World was a very good Wii U game, but with a few gameplay adjustments and a brand new extra game mode, it is now an excellent Switch game. Super Mario 3D World‘s slow pace has been sped up a bit and has added a huge expansion in the form of Bowser’s Fury, which sees Mario turning into a giant cat to fight off his oldest foe. Plus, it’s all cat-themed.
Monster Hunter Rise
Monster Hunter Rise is excellent. The previous game in the series, Monster Hunter World, managed to streamline the complicated systems that have built up over time, and Rise builds upon that even further. A brand new Japanese aesthetic helps freshen up the vibe of Monster Hunter, and the new areas and monsters can easily keep dedicated fans entertained for more than 100 hours.
Metroid Dread is the first fully original 2D Metroid game in over a decade, and a true return to form. Samus is once again delving through the caverns of an alien world in search of upgrades and monsters to fight. This is easily one of the best games of 2021, let alone Switch games, and makes it an easy recommendation to pick up and play.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl
Pokémon is back – again. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are full 3D remakes of the fourth generation of Pokémon games on the DS. This was the first generation to introduce online play to a global audience, and while that’s hardly revolutionary now, there are still plenty of innovative things to love about this generation that can’t be found anywhere else. The chibi art style is the perfect replacement for the old chunky sprites of the originals and gives BDSP a sense of charm you don’t find in other Pokémon games.
Shin Megami Tensei V
Shin Megami Tensei is Persona‘s cranky grandfather and has an oppressive atmosphere to match its bleak outlook. These games are infamously difficult and dark, so unless you’re a JRPG die-hard, you might want to flick this onto easy mode. That doesn’t mean you should skip it though – this is a deep RPG experience with a story that’ll stick with you after you’ve put it down. Easily essential for JRPG fans on Switch. If that’s not your speed, check out our list of the best Western RPGs.
New Pokémon Snap
Pokémon Snap was one of the most unusual Pokémon spin-offs from the N64 era, alongside Hey You Pikachu – but unlike other oddities, it has always been hailed as a borderline classic. The act of photographing Pokémon for high scores is simple and engaging, keeping you coming back to outdo yourself. New Pokémon Snap has many more Pokémon, four photo tiers for each, a variety of secret paths, and even more levels have been added via free updates since launch, making it one of the best Pokémon spin-offs you can play on Switch.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Happy Home Paradise
Animal Crossing: New Horizons technically launched last year, but a year and a half later a huge DLC expansion has landed; Happy Home Paradise. If you’ve subscribed to the Nintendo Switch Online expansion you will already have free access to this DLC pack, otherwise, you can buy it. It adds loads of furniture, clothing and customization options, new game modes and more. If Animal Crossing managed to take up a chunk of your time last year but you dropped off, this is a perfect excuse to make a return. Or, if you’re playing for the first time, there has never been a better time to get involved with Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Mario Party Superstars
Mario Party is a nostalgic experience for many of us now, and Mario Party Superstars is perfectly poised to capitalize on that nostalgia. Superstars contains 100 classic Mario Party minigames, in addition to a handful of boards you just might recognize from previous games. If you’ve been aching for a new Mario Party game in the classic style, this is it. Perfect for multiplayer sessions with friends – add GameCube controllers for additional nostalgia.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has always been hamstrung by inaccurate motion controls, and Skyward Sword HD does its very best to fix all of that. Whether playing with motion controls or new button controls, Skyward Sword HD is a vast improvement on the original game and looks far better while running at a smooth 60fps. This might be the most maligned Zelda game thanks to those non-standard controls, but this remaster redeems many of its faults.
NEO The World Ends With You
NEO The World Ends With You is the long-awaited sequel to the Nintendo DS cult classic, The World Ends With You. This game features an entirely new cast and a continuation to the storyline 14 years in the making. This action RPG has a unique battle system – unlike anything else on Switch – and makes up for the wait with style.
Written by Dave Aubrey on behalf of GLHF.