2019 was a fantastic year for Nintendo Switch owners, with a stellar lineup from the platform holder itself joined by a near-endless stream of brilliant third party games; finding the time to play them all was by far the biggest problem facing Switch (and Switch Lite) gamers.
Nintendo's console got off to a rocketing start in 2017 with the heavy hitters of launch game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, and that continued into 2018 with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Third parties and indie devs really took Switch to their hearts, too, releasing quality new games and ports aplenty.
2019 gifted us several top-drawer Nintendo-made Switch titles in the form of Super Mario Maker 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, the quirky Ring Fit Adventure, Luigi's Mansion 3 and the all-conquering Pokémon Sword and Shield, but nearly every week brought more essential games to the eShop from other studios, huge and tiny alike.
The following list of the 50 best Switch games from 2019 is ranked according to the user ratings associated with Switch games on Nintendo Life's database. As such, it can still be influenced after publication by your ratings. If you've yet to give your personal score to some (or all) of 2019's Switch releases, the ranking below could yet change, so feel free to score your favourites. Can't see your favourites? Just head to our library of Switch games for 2019.
So, let's take a look at the very best Switch games from 2019 according to you lovely lot...
What Remains of Edith Finch is a 'Walking Simulator' that doesn’t just tell an unforgettable story – it's genuinely unforgettable. As tragic as its tale is, it always manages to entertain. As one section ends and as you fight back tears, you’ll always carry on, because the next story is as engrossing as the last. If you want a strong feature-length story that doesn’t waste a minute, Edith Finch is the one you need.
As far as beat ‘em up brawlers go on the Switch, Castle Crashers Remastered is one of the finest titles available for the platform. Tight controls, many multiplayer modes, a great art direction and a wealth of replayable content make this an easy “ol’ reliable” game that you’ll surely be revisiting with friends for years to come. It’s also far from a perfect experience, as the repetitive nature of combat and the reliance on damage-sponges to pad out the runtime make for a title that can tend to overstay its welcome in extended sessions. Still, it’s pretty tough to argue against the raw value proposition being made here between the amount of content and overall fun factor; if you’re looking for another great co-op game to add to your Switch library, look no further.
While the time since the first game's 2012 debut has somewhat diminished the freshness of Hotline Miami’s creative violence, both titles in this collection still offer some of the most addictive and rewarding experiences you can play. Sure, the Nintendo Switch versions don’t bring anything particularly new to the table (even the touchscreen aspects were present on PS Vita), but if you’re looking to experience these games for the first time (or again) on a portable platform, this is the place to do it. The pixel art visuals and synthwave soundtrack have aged incredibly well – especially in the original – and while the lack of a map editor stings to this day, its brutal story missions are as engaging as they day they were released.
Donkey Kong Country fans rejoice: this is the spiritual successor you’ve been waiting for. The worst thing you could say about it is that the overworld exploration may prove to be too involved for those who are in it purely for the runny-jumpy stuff, but those who are happy to mix platforming with top-down adventuring and don’t mind adapting to the constantly changing pace will find the best of both worlds here. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a fantastic sophomore effort that pays tribute to Rare's past and establishes Playtonic as one of the UK's most exciting studios.
Return of the Obra Dinn lives up to the hype, and then some. It’s a beautifully crafted and intricately constructed detective mystery unlike anything you’ve played before with a harrowing narrative at its centre. Unravelling its secrets takes time and requires patience, but you’ll be glad you allowed the story to play out at its own pace. What we have here is a thoroughly unique experience that will stay with you, and is among best this genre has ever had to offer.
While Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition doesn’t make an major changes to the original game that launched over a decade ago, it does combine practically every piece of exclusive content into one wholesome package. With the benefit of some improved visuals in both cutscenes and gameplay, it’s very difficult to recommend this JRPG classic on any other system than Nintendo Switch thanks to how well it performs in both docked and handheld modes. If you’ve ever slept on this classic, there’s never been a better way to rectify that error.
Much like the port of the first game, Doom II on Switch delivers an exceptional rendition of a seminal sequel, and the handful of audio and visual imperfections that blighted both it and the original DOOM at launch having been buffed out with patches. Consequently, it holds up just as well as it ever did, and for the low asking price this is a great way to play a classic FPS.
To have Ninja Theory's Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice on Switch in such fine form is a blessing that you shouldn’t miss out on. The game itself is a psychological sensory experience that we thoroughly recommend, but the fact that it’s been translated to Switch in such a complete fashion is the true surprise here. It doesn’t feel like a downgrade at all – it stands proudly alongside the other ‘miracle’ ports on the system, arguably surpassing them in some ways. It’s a remarkable effort and a challenge to other developers who insist Switch couldn’t handle their games. Anything’s possible, it seems, and we take our hats off to QLOC – bravo.
It’s unknown at this point just how big of a project Deltarune will turn out to be, but this first chapter proves to be a solid, if a little too safe, take on the unique gameplay and humour that made Undertale such a hit. At worst, Deltarune Chapter 1 is just a smaller and shallower version of Undertale; at best, it’s a promising glimpse into a much more ambitious project that will hopefully grow to escape the shadow of its forerunner. Regardless, you can download Deltarune Chapter 1 for free from the eShop; see what you think.
Assassin's Creed: The Rebel Collection has come as something of a surprise to us after the disappointment of Assassin's Creed III Remastered. Here are two excellent swashbuckling epics ported to Nintendo's console in fine fashion. Black Flag is a revelation in portable mode and looks and performs almost flawlessly as you blast your way around the Caribbean on Edward Kenway's captivating pirate adventures. Rogue, although it struggles to keep up slightly here and there, is always eminently playable and together with the excellent Freedom Cry, they give Assassin's Creed fans something they've wanted for a very long time now – this is handheld Assassin's Creed at a standard we weren't sure we'd ever see on Switch.