Luigi’s Mansion 3 is not only a graphical powerhouse and showcase for Next Level Games’ unrivalled mastery of video game animation, it’s also an immense helping of spooky fun as well. The amount of care and consideration poured into every facet of the game is abundantly clear, and it all results in one of the most enjoyable and attractive Switch titles of the year. It's also the undisputed high point of a franchise which – following this sterling release – will hopefully get even more love and attention from Nintendo fandom, and the gaming community as a whole.
29. Splatoon (Wii U)
In a sea of rock-solid single-player Nintendo experiences, Splatoon stood out as being an utterly sublime multiplayer endeavour. Everything is knitted beautifully and seamlessly together to create what is quite simply some of the most fun you can have online. The single player elements and the local multiplayer also presented a way to enjoy the game when you're not geared up for the chaos that comes from fighting others online, and provided a useful reprieve if your internet cut out. Indeed, the formula was potent enough for Nintendo to repeat it more or less verbatim in its Switch sequel, but Splatoon got away with it by being easily the freshest shooter we'd played in years.
Retro Studios demonstrated once again that it can take a treasured Nintendo franchise and keep it relevant, with modern thrills and retro nods expertly combined. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze utilised the Wii U’s graphical capabilities beautifully, with levels both stunning in design and looks, and impressive set-pieces that never skip a frame and can test any gamer’s skills. Small touches and masterful contributions, such as the music of David Wise, only add to the experience. As a single player experience it is near flawless, but the precision of the level design can lead the often fun multiplayer into moments of chaos. Another excellent Wii U title that would inevitably be recruited for another tour of duty on Switch, it was a demonstration of how skilful developers and powerful hardware can be combined for spectacular results.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D is a magnificent remastering of one of the finest Legend of Zelda games to date. The visual overhaul, the streamlined features and other improvements make this version even more enjoyable and (crucially) accessible than the original N64 release. Minor flaws seem insignificant against its unique gameplay ideas, the dark and haunting theme and a cleverly crafted game world which gets the chance to truly shine again in this remake.
It's strange, perhaps, that a game in which the main premise revolves around repeatedly travelling back in time was so ahead of its time. In its enhanced form, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D defies its age and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the very best games on 3DS. Simply put, it's a masterpiece that every 3DS owner should play.
In many ways, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U felt like a direct response to criticisms of its party-friendly aspirations. Nintendo’s crossover fighter series had its innocuous start as a goofy game with a playground spirit, allowing players to finally see who would win in a fight between the world’s two most famous Italian plumbers and some of their friends. Subsequent entries continued this theme, only with more figurines in the toy box to choose from and more playgrounds in which to do battle. All that fantastic fan service is still here and more polished than ever and the series finally embraced its hyper-competitive side, all the while still managing to deliver one of the most enjoyable party games in years. This was a smarter, more focused blast of fighting mayhem, confident in its ability to appeal to any audience willing to give it a chance.
Sometimes you can't help but marvel at how developers are somehow able to squeeze home console-sized RPG epics onto tiny handheld systems with the most modest of specs, and Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies stands as an impressive feat. Boasting a wealth of new gameplay features, Wi-Fi compatibility and multiplayer action as well, this remains a significant milestone in portable gaming and helped increase western interest in the hallowed Japanese RPG series.
Becoming mayor in Animal Crossing: New Leaf gives you licence to shape your village more than ever before, with the help of secretary Isabelle, of course. The most evergreen of games, Animal Crossing is a joyous pastime that enters your life and becomes part of your routine. Whether catching comedian Dr Shrunk or resident musician/DJ K.K. Slider at Club LOL, taking fossils and artworks to Blathers for verification, or simply wandering around catching bugs and fishing, there’s enough to keep you occupied for days, months and years. It never overwhelms you, though; you can go deep with breeding flowers or working the stalk market, or kick back and collect fruit, decorate your house or simply chat with fellow villagers throughout the changing seasons. The addition of the campsite and amiibo support gave us more reasons to return and – at least until Animal Crossing: New Horizons arrives – there’s no better way to experience the charm of this relaxing series.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is an excellent package wherever you choose to play it, delivering hours and hours of entertaining and quirky interactive novel gameplay. It remains unique in the market, at least in its consistent levels of quality, and for those new to the franchise — or fans of Dual Destinies — it's a must buy. If you've played the originals to death, the prospect of replaying them on other platforms is a trickier sell — the enhancements are minor enough that they're not worth buying as opposed to simply firing up that old DS cart. As an isolated product, however, this is a wonderful addition to the 3DS' library (as is the Switch version); surreal, funny and huge value, it's definitely Guilty of being excellent.
Yacht Club Games scored a hit with Shovel Knight across all platforms, Nintendo or not. With brilliant game design, charming presentation that tapped into everyone's 8-bit nostalgia before it was done to death, and a ton of post-release content which added a bewildering amount of new stuff to the base game, this was a wonderful first title from the fledgling developer and proved that Kickstarter successes were indeed possible, if done right.
Hollow Knight feels like it's found its natural home on Switch. The game's beautiful 2D world, tactile combat and impressive bevy of secrets constantly drag you in for more, and it proves to be as strong an experience on the move as it is on your TV. On an eShop that's already filled with top quality indie games, Hollow Knight is one of the very best; a big, beautiful, foreboding Metroidvania that's absolutely thick with detail. From its punchy combat system to its charming art and sound design, this is one of the finest adventures you can have on Nintendo Switch.