The original Ace Attorney is really getting on in years, which is remarkable when you consider just how well it holds up. Sure, it’s been ported plenty of times and the jump to Nintendo DS certainly helped shake off the retro cobwebs, but as a piece of interactive history, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is as utterly addictive and truly rewarding as it was back at the turn of the millennium. Whether you’re brand new to the world of virtual defence law or a veteran attorney, Phoenix Wright’s first adventures are still a fine set of cases to undertake.
What we have here is a flawless port of a game which absolutely deserves all of the praise it has received. From start to finish, Ori and the Blind Forest is a real joy to play. Challenging yet never feeling unfair or discouraging, and almost relaxing to control. The mesmerising art style and musical score are the icing on the cake that makes the player actually care about the protagonist and want to keep playing to the game’s conclusion. It was a bit of a surprise to see this game make its way to the Nintendo Switch, but we’re glad that it did. An unmissable experience.
Cuphead was an absolute masterpiece when it originally launched on Xbox One and nothing has been sacrificed in its move to the Switch. A run-and-gun boss battler dressed up like a 1930s Fleischer or Disney animated short, it’s the same visually jaw-dropping, aurally delightful, knuckle-whiteningly difficult game it was on Microsoft’s console and the Switch’s library is all the better for its presence. Its focus on intense boss battles won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but as long as you know what you’re getting yourself into we can’t recommend it enough. Just look at it!
As with any 20-year-old video game, there are elements of Final Fantasy IX that don't go down today quite was easily as they used to, but the characters, wacky story, and overall gameplay hold up very well in a modern context. Its medieval-style setting makes it a fun nostalgia trip for fans of the older series entries, or players fed up of all the futuristic Final Fantasies.
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.
With its amazing visuals, fantastic presentation, varied gameplay and deep, rewarding combat, Astral Chain is one of PlatinumGames' most accomplished titles. It mixes detective work with exhilarating battle sequences that are inventive, challenging and – perhaps most importantly – breathtakingly cool. The complexity of the game's myriad systems may prove intimidating for some players, but the inclusion of a co-op play and the ability to automate many of the mechanics via the 'Unchained' mode means that even complete newcomers can still enjoy the ride. Astral Chain isn't just one of the Switch's stand-out hits, it's one of Platinum's best video games.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt remains a masterpiece, and being able to take such a grand and engrossing adventure on-the-go is something well worth celebrating. The Switch's Complete Edition is a truly impressive achievement, and although performance isn't perfect, it's still an incredible and impactful role-playing experience. The Witcher 3 set the bar for modern RPGs back in 2015, and this port is a startling reminder that it has yet to be bettered.
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.
As soon as Switch launched it seemed like the perfect console for Fire Emblem. Portability and strategy games are a marriage made in heaven, but being able to throw the battle on the big screen in HD gives Three Houses a scope that wasn't possible on the diminutive 3DS.
Three Houses added new strings to the series' bow, though, with the Garegg Mach Monastery providing a Hogwarts-style academy to explore and enjoy as you build those ever-important relationships with your characters from the Black Eagles, Blue Lions, and Golden Deer. It's clearer than ever before that the key to the franchise is its ability to evoke feeling for your units through canny writing and charismatic characters; Three Houses created the perfect environment to foster and develop the students in your chosen house. Indeed, the huge number of options open to you, not to mention the alternatives closed off with each choice you make, might make Three Houses an intimidating prospect, but it excels in forging a vital and worthwhile experience whichever house you pick or route you take. And you don't need to buy another game to go back and travel the road not taken. Take that, Fates!
And if that's still not enough for you, there's always DLC. Did somebody say four houses?
Originally released for 3DS (and PS4) in Japan, the cumbersomely named Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition is one of the best games Square has ever put its name to, plain and simple — and this Switch release was a fine port, too. Featuring a heartwarming, well-paced narrative supported by a cast of fantastic characters, a dense and interesting overworld packed with dozens of hours of content, and one of the finest soundtracks we’ve heard in a JRPG, it all combines to make this an unforgettable modern classic. Whether you’re a newcomer to the series (or genre) or a returning vet, do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy of Dragon Quest XI as soon as you’re able. This is the epitome of a gift that keeps on giving, and it more than deserves a spot in your Switch library.
There's a huge amount of quality on this list - arguably enough to rival even Switch's stellar launch year. Do you disagree with this ranking? Remember, this is a fluid, ever-changing list governed by each game's Nintendo Life user rating, so rate your favourites and perhaps they'll pop up. Head to our library of Switch games for 2019 and get rating your personal favourites. You can also check out the best Switch games of the 2017 and the best Switch games of 2018, too.
What were your best games of 2019? Did they make this top 50 (yet)? Feel free to share your thoughts below.
This article is one of our Switch Essentials guides which cover a wide variety of genres, including the Best Switch FPS Games, the Best Switch RPGs, the Best Switch Games For Kids, the Best Switch Couch Co-Op Games and the Best Switch Fitness and Exercise Games. We can also help out hunting down the Best Switch Horror Games, the Best Switch Racing Games, the Best Switch Action-RPGs, the Best Nintendo Switch Roguelikes, Roguelites and Run-Based Games, the Best Free Switch Games, the Best Remakes And Remasters, the Best Switch Music And Rhythm Games, Best Feel-Good Switch Games, Best Switch Open-World Games, Best Switch Soulslike Games, Best LGBTQ+ Switch Games, and even Games to Play After You've Finished Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Whatever your favourite genre, we've got you covered: Strategy Games, Metroidvanias, Puzzle Games, Party Games, Online Multiplayer Games, Local Wireless Multiplayer Games, Shmups, Twin-Stick Shooters, Visual Novels, Kart Racers, Fighting Games, Football Games, Funny Games, Golf Games, 'Walking Sims' And Narrative Games, Switch Games For Lovers And Lonely Hearts, Detective Games, Hidden Gems, 2D Platformers, 3D Platformers, Puzzle Platformers, Tabletop Mode Games, Run and Gun Games, LEGO Games, Sports Games, Survival Games, Beat 'Em Ups, Camera Games, Chill Games, Family Games, Retro-Inspired Games, Short Games, Card Games and Deck-Builders, and Life Sims And Farming Games.
Still hungry for more? Elsewhere we look at Wholesome Games, TATE Mode Games, Flight Sim and Space Combat, Point and Click Adventure Games, and the Best Switch Exclusives, as well as Every Arcade Archives Game, Every ACA Neo Geo Game, Every SEGA AGES Game On Switch, plus the Best Switch Ports, Best Wii U-To-Switch Ports, Best Switch Collections And Compilations, Best Cheap Switch Games, Best Switch Demos, Games That Are Better On Switch OLED, Switch Games Under $10, $20, $50, and Switch games with the Best Soundtracks and the Best Graphics. Phew!
If you're looking for the best Switch games regardless of genre, our reader-voted selection of the Best Nintendo Switch Games should help you out, and you can also find the Best Nintendo Switch Games of 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. And finally, if you're interested in other Nintendo consoles and retro games, check out the Best Game Boy Games, Best GBC Games, Best GBA Games, Best Nintendo DS Games, Best Nintendo 3DS Games, Best NES Games, Best SNES Games, Best N64 Games, Best GameCube Games, and Best Wii Games, and Best Wii U Games, as well as Every Available Nintendo Switch Online Retro Game, and ranked lists of Every Nintendo Switch Online NES, SNES, N64 and Sega Genesis / Mega Drive Game.