This weekend, Nintendo Switch will blow out the candles on its very first birthday cake, marking 12 months of incredible sales, a mainstream takeover and a raft of third-party support. It's been a dream scenario for Nintendo, placing the publisher firmly back in the pantheon of modern gaming, and it has given us a platform teeming with every type of game you could imagine. From first-party exclusives and 'Nindies' to full-on triple-A ports and retooled retro classics, the eShop is a veritable sweet shop of digital delicacies.
So with Switch Year One at an end, here are top picks from the last 12 months...
Glen Fox, guides editor - Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
My favourite Switch game so far is Super Mario Odyssey, but it’s another game featuring the mustachioed plumber that I think deserves championing: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. While Odyssey rehashes all of the best bits of the franchise to create the ultimate Mario, Rabbids is a ball of pure creative energy. Its closest inspiration is X-COM, borrowing heavily from those intense turn-based strategy battles while giving them all a proper Mario twist with pipe-warping, head-jumping and creative boss battles.
Its world is absolutely gorgeous, the perk system accessible yet complex and the Rabbids are nowhere near as annoying as you think they’ll be. In fact, I chuckled more often than not at their mishaps. It’s a real shame that Rabbids will probably fall down the back of the sofa when history remembers Nintendo Switch because, for my money, it’s an absolutely must-play exclusive title. Read our review.
Ryan Craddock, news reporter - ARMS
I remember receiving a copy of ARMS at the game’s launch, playing it for an hour or so, and then not touching it again for months. To give it another chance, and to see what all the newer features were like, I started playing again a few weeks ago and it has suddenly become one of my favourite fighters of the last decade.
In a view shared by several members of Team NL and a fair few players online, I feel that the added Party Crashes and the addictive badge-collecting have somehow made everything so much more exciting. Also, ignoring the Joy-Con in favour of the Pro Controller has made a huge difference personally, turning ARMS into a seriously competitive affair with a refreshing emphasis on movement and strategy. If you were disenchanted with the game at first, load it up once more, teach yourself to use the Pro Controller, and you might just stumble across something wonderful. Read our review.
Morgan Sleeper, contributing writer - VOEZ
I absolutely love rhythm games, and over the last year that I’ve spent with it, VOEZ has quickly become one of my all-time favourites. I love its soundtrack, filled with new-to-me J-Pop, bossa nova, synthwave and dance; I love its storytelling, told through slice-of-life snippets that require real mastery to unlock; and most of all, I love its perfect fusion of music, visuals, and gameplay.
The way notes dance, flicker, and slide across the screen in time with the kaleidoscopic visuals gives VOEZ an irresistibly kinetic energy, and the rush of keeping up with it all is intoxicating - it’s the first rhythm game I’ve played since Osu! Tatake! Ouendan where I feel touch controls genuinely add to the experience. I’ve put in somewhere north of 45 hours since I downloaded VOEZ last year at Switch’s launch, and it still puts a smile on my face every time - for me, that’s what games are all about. Read our review.
Gonçalo Lopes, contributing writer - Xenoblade Chronicles 2
I still find it hard to believe how early in Switch’s life-cycle we had a Monolith developed masterpiece. Considering how Nintendo’s new hybrid console is designed for everyone, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 contrasts severely by rewarding the extremely dedicated player after tackling several hours of tutorials in order to gently prepare you for the hundreds more needed to reach then end of Rex and Pyra’s quest.
Charismatic protagonists and inhabitants, relatable struggles, plot twists and the best (and worst) of mankind at every corner. It's a world so far beyond your imagination you'll wonder if you'll ever be able to fall in love with a video game in quite the same way again. And when you finally decide to give Alrest a rest, the beautiful soundtrack will always remind you of the time you spent… nay, invested into becoming a better overall human being simply by taking this journey to completion. Read our review.
Conor McMahon, contributing writer - Crawl
Within the depths of a dank, endless crypt, madness begins to take hold. The shadows mutter foul, arcane things, and each claustrophobic passageway only forces you further downwards into the terrible unknown. Crawl is a grim, macabre title that's wrought with murder, treachery, and secrets - but it's also one of the most raucously fun multiplayer experiences available on Switch.
Playing as one of the last remnants of a party of adventurers, you're tasked with making your way to the heart of the dungeon, slaying the monstrosity within, and making your escape. The only problem is that everyone else is trying to do the same thing, and there can be only one. The entire game is a fight for dominance, with one player taking on the role of a human while the rest all control monsters and traps within the dungeon itself, seeking to kill the adventurer and take their place. It's simple, satisfying gameplay that's wholly unique, addictive, and fuelled by an endless array of new weapons and monsters to unlock after every session. Get a group of friends together, leave your sympathy at the door, and find out who you can really trust - no one. Read our review.
Liam Croft, contributing writer - Black The Fall
If your wait for Inside to launch on Nintendo Switch is getting a little long in the tooth, last year’s Black The Fall actually already has you covered. A 2D platforming venture into a communist regime gone wrong is what awaits you, and it’s not going to pull any punches when you come across the atrocities it commits.
And the puzzles themselves are no joke either. With a laser pointer in hand, you’ll stay out of sight of guards, manoeuvre around contraptions that spell certain death, and at times use just the simple sound of your footsteps to get by when the lights go out. With an art style that blends with the overall tone perfectly, the game treats you to a visual spectacle on top of everything else. This all amalgamates into an experience that you don’t want to miss out on. Read our review.
Jon Cousins, Japan correspondent - Snipperclips - Cut It Out, Together!
To me, Snipperclips deserves as much praise as anything else on Nintendo Switch. It’s one of the great recent examples of Nintendo fully embracing and supporting independent game developers on a new Nintendo platform. The game's history indicates a shift in Nintendo's philosophy of looking for new talent and yet it still feels very Nintendo - just as charming, unique, fun and accessible even though it doesn't rely on legacy IP (although it still has the potential to).
It also demonstrates the hardware with a fun yet challenging game without making you look like an idiot. It's a great game to introduce someone to because it's not about winning by beating other people (well, actually it can be!), it's the co-operation and communication. Despite four-player being a bit too hectic, two people is the sweet spot and it never fails to be fun, or hilarious. A perfect side-dish to the meaty and satisfying main that is The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, but also stands up on its own as one of the switches best launch games. Read our review.
Mitch Vogel, US correspondent - Slime-san
I got seriously hooked into Slime-san, an inventive and addicting twitch platformer that landed on the eShop last August. Slime-san is the kind of game that is obviously a labor of love, full to bursting with excellent ideas and tight design. The simplistic five color visual style is as distinctive as it is functional; at a glance, players can immediately discern which stage elements are safe to touch and which aren’t.
Building on this, the square shape and single screen design of levels makes them easy to read, while also allowing for a greater amount of creative ideas through the high number of rapid-fire, bite-sized stages. The tight controls, well-judged difficulty curve, deep (and still growing) well of content, and weird sense of humor have brought me hours upon hours of enjoyment, and I would highly recommend this one to anybody who loves a challenging platformer. Read our review.
Liam Doolan, Australia correspondent - Rocket League
Rocket League is easily one of the most fitting game releases for Nintendo Switch. This insane driving and soccer hybrid is ideal for brief or prolonged play-sessions and enjoyable in both the docked and handheld modes. With all the essential modern features included as well such as local and online multiplayer - not to forget cross-network play and competitive modes - what more could you possibly want?
Did you ever fancy yourself as a star striker, or perhaps being a shot stopper in your family ride - well now you can make those dreams a reality in Rocket League. If you somehow haven’t played this game yet, what are you doing reading this? This has to be one of the most accessible titles ever made, with its easy to learn yet hard to master design. Go and buy this right now if you haven’t already! Read our review.
Dom Reseigh-Lincoln, editor - DOOM
It shouldn't surprise anyone to learn I've gone for the game that I just can't stop playing. Shooters, much like cutesy 3D platformers and basketball sims, are my weakness and up until November 2017 Nintendo Switch was seriously lacking in first-person shenanigans. And then along came DOOM, the port of a well-received but soon forgotten series reboot that somehow defied logic and reality. You see, Panic Button's port doesn't just run on Switch, it runs well, creating the full shooter experience in the palm of your hand.
We've seen portable shooters before, from Medal Of Honor Heroes and Killzone Mercenary on PlayStation's handhelds to the original Doom on GBA, but nothing like this. A full, brutal, bloody, visceral, unrelenting single-player experience that makes snapping demon necks into gore-ridden poetry, and a proper online multiplayer. Even if the maps on offer look like trash because of the graphical downgrades enforced to avoid slowdown, you never really care because you're in your tenth match in a row, sprinting around with a Super Shotgun turning your opponents to jam. Read our review.
Steve Bowling, US editor - Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
My pick for year one is Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. I’ve played the game obsessively, across multiple platforms and have logged more hours on it than both Breath Of The Wild and Super Mario Odyssey combined. The good folks at Bandai have been supporting the game nonstop since its release, too. In fact the sixth(!) expansion just released a couple of days ago. Adding the portability of Nintendo Switch to the mix ensured I’d have a go-to anytime I need some Super Saiyan shenanigans. Read our review.
Alex Olney, video producer - Splatoon 2
I’ve been a fan of Splatoon since its inception, which arguably makes my opinion far less impartial, but I’m going to talk about it anyway because I can and want to. In my eyes, Splatoon 2 is unrivaled in terms of shooters, the sheer complexity of its mechanics and variety in their execution makes older, more straightforward competitors pale in comparison. What other game out there that isn’t a shameless Splatoon bootleg released on Android can boast that 90-100% of the shots fired have a direct impact on not just one enemy team member, but every player in the game? Just by pulling the trigger you’re changing the landscape around you to support your team and impede your foe.
I could type for far longer than this about what is quite simply my favourite Switch exclusive, but I can feel Dom’s proverbial eyes peering over my shoulder, so I’d better stop here. In short, Splatoon 2 is the most fun you can have online on the Switch and if you don’t buy it chuffing immediately I’m going to call the police.
What are your fave games from Switch Year One? (426 votes)
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Black The Fall
Snipperclips - Cut It Out, Together!
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
Something else (leave a comment below)
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So those are our picks from Switch's first year, but what are your favourite games? Drop a vote in our poll if we've picked one of your faves, or add a comment below and champion your most-loved gaming delight...