20. DOOM (Switch)
DOOM is one of the best first-person shooters we've ever played - an incredible game, flaws and all - and it's certainly the best in its class on Switch. There's a certain magical quality about having a game this good on the go. Its brilliant campaign is reason enough to pick it up, but DOOM's multiplayer also had the surprising ability to entertain us for months. Developer Panic Button had the good sense to build an invitation system into the game that is both functional and easy to use. Because of the small arenas, matches feel reminiscent of the halcyon days of first-person shooters, when Unreal Tournament reigned supreme. While it's perhaps not as polished as it is on other formats, having DOOM in portable form is a revelation, and Panic Button deserves high praise for porting over id Software's classic title so brilliantly.
There's no doubt about it, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is one of the most refined and enjoyable platformers money can buy. The levels are all beautiful, the characters move with fluidity and brilliant responsiveness, and the inclusion of Funky Kong brings balance for those who have less experience with brutally tough platformers. It’s so well-made that it’s almost toowell-made; there's an absence of a certain 'rough-and-ready' charm found in the original DKC trilogy. This is, however, a complaint so minor it's practically insignificant. Donkey Kong’s first appearance on Switch is streamlined, rewarding, and immensely good fun; any fan of 2D platformers simply has to get this game.
Shovel Knight has always been excellent, but bundling these three chapters together and including new functionality increases the attractiveness of an already incredibly compelling package. These games are fantastic, and having the complete Shovel Knight experience in one spot, clocking in at around 15 hours of gameplay in our case, makes this a must-have for Switch owners - especially those that have so far failed to dig into this game and its add-ons.
Octopath Traveler was developed by the Square Enix studio behind Bravely Default, and boy does it live up to those high expectations. From its dazzling art style to its mechanics, it's the kind of game that keeps an eye on the past while walking bravely into the future. All elements link together perfectly to make for a harmonious and immersive experience that you’ll find difficult to put down. We’d recommend Octopath Traveler to both fans and newcomers of RPGs; it does a fantastic job of straddling that line of accessibility and depth, satisfying both camps with its dizzying amount of content. Classic-inspired gameplay, an orchestrated soundtrack, and a unique approach to storytelling make this a game that you won’t want to miss. This is an absolute must buy.
If you’ve been craving an arcade racer for your Switch, look no further. Horizon Chase Turbo is a hugely enjoyable love letter to a gaming era when the cars were fast, the music was catchy, the action was smooth and the sky was bluer than an Eddie Murphy stand-up routine. Its enormous selection of tracks, addictive World Tour mode and excellent local multiplayer make it an absolute must-have for anyone even remotely interested in the genre.
Stardew Valley offers its players a chance to live a second life – one where you can forget the troubles of the real world and get excited over finding a particularly rare carrot. It is a truly magical experience; games can often be enjoyable but they don’t all manage to be as captivating as this. This is the sort of game that ideally requires a significant amount of time to be invested; the enjoyment doesn’t necessarily come from the day-to-day actions you perform, but rather from the general growth of pride, satisfaction, and sense of security as the days go by. Fans of games such as Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing will be right at home here and, for those who aren’t, there is a decent chance this game might just surprise you.
Despite coming from the previous generation, Bayonetta 2 shines brightest on Nintendo Switch. It runs without a hitch at 60fps, looks incredible in both TV and tabletop modes and offers an addictive free-flowing combat formula that sprinkles in platforming, light exploration and a ridiculous story to create something that you simply need to experience. If you’ve never played it for before, you’re in for a treat. If you’ve already played it, it’s even more bewitching as a handheld gem.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a massive, sprawling JRPG built by Monolith Soft, who developed the previous two entries and the Baten Kaitos games on the GameCube. The team also helped Nintendo design the world of Breath of the Wild, so there's no doubting the pedigree. You'll explore a massive open world made up of Titans – enormous living creatures that house entire civilisations on their bodies. Along the way you'll meet a wide variety of characters, solve a bunch of quests, and save the world. It's Monolith Soft doing what it does best, albeit without shaking off the occasional flaws of the series. This is another Xenoblade gem, though, and a must-have RPG.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a massive standalone DLC, Torna: The Golden Country, that's also well worth playing through. It serves as a prequel to the events of 2, so you can play it before or after.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was a technical marvel when it first arrived on the scene back in 1993. Easily one of the great Game Boy releases, it was a first bash at a handheld Zelda that took the formula as perfected by A Link to the Past, jammed it all onto a tiny portable console and, somehow, managed to make it all work while adding a host of new features and concepts to the mix. This beautiful Switch remake rebuilds all of this from the ground up in fine style. It adds modern conveniences, a dungeon creator, amiibo support and lots of little quality of life improvements whilst infusing every single square inch of Koholint – every secret passage, Piranha, Pokey and Pig Warrior – with a level of detail and depth that totally reinvigorates both its timeless story and classic Zelda gameplay for a whole new generation of gamers.
Splatoon 2 is just about everything you could ask for from a sequel. It builds on everything the original online team shooter set up and then some; almost every single major issue people had with the first game has been resolved, showing that Nintendo is genuinely listening and wants to deliver the absolute best experience possible. It maintains the freshness you’d expect and throws in countless big and small changes and additions, every one of them for the better. Anyone who says Nintendo can’t do online should be eating their words right now; Splatoon 2 is simply ink-redible.