Visually, Pikmin 3 Deluxe doesn't push the boat out much further than the original Wii U version did. Where its changes lie are in its revamped control system and the addition of a new Side Stories mode. Neither are necessarily transformative enough to warrant double dipping if you're perfectly happy with your Wii U copy, but if you're one of the vast majority who don't have a Wii U copy, this Switch update is unquestionably the best way to play it.
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.
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. Splatoon 2 is simply ink-redible.
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 too well-made; there's an absence of a certain 'rough-and-ready' charm found in Rare's original DKC trilogy. You know you're splitting hairs when your biggest complaint is that a game is too polished, though. After beginning life on Wii U, Donkey Kong’s Switch debut is streamlined, rewarding, and immensely good fun; any fan of 2D platformers simply has to get this game.
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.
Designated a mainline entry in the series by Game Freak itself, Pokémon Legends: Arceus feels like the result of the developers learning lessons for 25 years, refining the formula, and finally taking the franchise in a new, incredibly exciting direction. Technically it may stumble in places, but with an emphasis on extremely rewarding exploration, addictive catching mechanics, a fine roster of Pokémon and a genuine sense of scale that’s unlike anything in the series, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is up there with the greatest Pokémon games ever made in our book.
A Short Hike is a fat-free experience from top to bottom – or should we say bottom to top? It's the kind of game that makes us just sigh with happiness when we recall our time with it, and even having played it through to its ostensible conclusion multiple times, we know for a fact there are still things to see and do on that mountain. What we have here is something of an apotheosis – a milestone in indie games akin to Cave Story, or Spelunky. The very best bits of multiple game genres, stripped of all padding and bloat, mixed perfectly into a delicious video game stew that only gets richer and richer the more you play. An exploration in every sense of the word, A Short Hike is cute without being twee, challenging without being obnoxious, and emotional without being cloying. A landmark game for all ages. Don't miss this one.
Shovel Knight was excellent in vanilla form, but Treasure Trove includes absolutely everything that developer Yacht Club has created for the game since its Kickstarter success back in 2013. That includes the extra campaigns Plague of Shadows, Specter of Torment and the more recent King of Cards, plus multiplayer brawler Showdown which further increases the attractiveness of an already incredibly compelling package. These games are fantastic odes to the glory days of 8-bit(+) platforming, and having the complete Shovel Knight experience in one spot makes this a must-have for Switch owners - especially those that have so far failed to dig into this game and its add-ons. Strike the earth!
Celeste is an exemplary amalgamation of style, mechanics and character. A devilishly brilliant action platformer with enough skill required to excite genre purists and the speedrunning community, while at the same time featuring a breakdown of gameplay elements to customize and cater for all audiences. While the game mechanically is great, if familiar, the art style and narrative are truly special, showing both a visual and emotional range and depth that will resonate and inspire. Celeste is the absolute peak of personal exploration and discovery on Nintendo Switch.
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.