Feature: Nintendo Life's "Best Non-2022 Switch Game We Played Loads" Awards
Image: Nintendo Life

The thing with Game of the Year awards is that it pre-supposes that we are all adults with lots of free time to keep up with the ever-increasing firehose of game releases. You would think that games journalists, of all the types of adult, would be more on top of this than most... and you would be wrong! Like any other person, we get waylaid, sidetracked, postponed, and backlogged, spending hours playing this hot new thing called Skyrim instead of checking out Elden Ring.

If you're familiar with our semi-regular Backlog Club series, you'll know we've spent a good chunk of this year playing non-2022 games. So, in honour of the games that dominated our 2022, but aren't eligible for this year's GOTY, we present to you the horribly-titled "Best Non-2022 Switch Game We Played A Whole Bunch" 2022 Game Of Not-This-Year Awards. Let's go!

Jim Norman, Staff Writer

Feature: Nintendo Life's "Best Non-2022 Switch Game We Played Loads" Awards
This is the titular dread, we presume

Winner: Metroid Dread

Realistically, my answer to this one would be Metroid Dread – a little indie game that I’m sure you haven’t heard of. Except, of course, you have heard of it. Everyone has. I was very late to the party on this one and only picked Dread up in November of this year so I kind of feel like I am saying “oh, have you ever played Breath of the Wild? It’s really good!” I’ll therefore quickly round it off before talking about something else: great game, one of the best on Switch, best Metroid ever?, lived it loved it etc., etc.

If I was to disqualify Dread based on the fact that of course it’s really good, then I would have to go for Owlboy instead. How on Earth I hadn’t played this before is completely beyond me! It had absolutely everything that I look for in a video game. A stunning art style, interesting combat system, a guy in green hat. If I could have made it last for longer then I would have done so in an instant, but the few evenings that I spent playing this title were some of my top gaming memories of the year. It might not quite match up to Metroid Dread in terms of the best games on Switch, but I know which one made me cry a whole lot more…

Kate Gray, Staff Writer

Feature: Nintendo Life's "Best Non-2022 Switch Game We Played Loads" Awards
It's so wild that a game can be so brilliant and also include shots like this

Winner: Slay the Spire

My GOTY this year is Metal Gear Solid V, a game I steadfastly ignored when it came out because of the legitimately atrocious way it handles women (or, "woman", since there's really just the one). But god, it's a gorgeous little thing all the same — a masterpiece of "I wonder if this would work" systems design. Shame about the sexism.

If we're talking Switch games, though, my non-2022 GOTY is easily Slay the Spire. I played it on Steam when it first came out, and I played it a lot back then, but getting it on Switch tripled my hours in the game, easily. It's such a perfect pick-up-and-play game, and I think those kind of games get overlooked in GOTY lists because they're so bitesized. It's so good though, and I love being able to rediscover a game like that.

Gavin Lane, Editor

Feature: Nintendo Life's "Best Non-2022 Switch Game We Played Loads" Awards
Spelunky? More like spe-ooky

Winner: Spelunky

Earlier this year I was perusing my Switch menu determined to tick something off the backlog to make myself feel better. Something short, something sweet, something quick that I could complete in a couple of hours just to activate that dopamine spurt when you get something ticked off a list.

Stupidly, I saw Spelunky sitting there and tapped on that. Having enjoyed a fair few roguelites, I reasoned that it was about time to go back to the one that kickstarted indie devs’ love affair with the genre — at least on consoles — a decade ago. It’s good. It’s really good. You know it already, but if you’ve somehow overlooked it for the past ten years like I had, I can confirm that Derek Yu’s video game Spelunky is a good video game. I haven’t finished it yet, and when I do I’ve got Spelunky 2 waiting for me. By the time I’ve finished that I could have ticked a dozen other games off the backlog... but none of them would be Spelunky.

So first things first, right? Perhaps Yu will have wrapped development on UFO 50 by the time I get through them!

Alana Hagues, Staff Writer

Feature: Nintendo Life's "Best Non-2022 Switch Game We Played Loads" Awards
Put the thing next to the other thing

Winner: Unpacking

I feel like it’s cheating to put a game that came out in the last few months of 2021 here, but gosh do I wish I’d played Unpacking when it first came out.

Actual, real unpacking is stressful. One moment you’re packing up your life into perishable cardboard boxes, then the next you’re trying to find new places for it in a brand new shell. Unpacking (the game) removes the stress but still keeps the reflection in – it’s a game that managed to tell a story without words. For ten hours I carefully unpacked various times, filling shelves and examining rooms, while paying attention to the changes in both the type of house and in items – what was missing and what had stayed – and the mood. It’s a beautiful game and has me a little bit more hopeful and positive for my next life-changing move.

What's your GOTY-that-wasn't-actually-TY? Give us your catch-up candidates in the comments!