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...
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.
If you’re new to the series, Yoshi’s Crafted World has colour and charm to spare, even if its inventiveness is largely limited to its looks. For Yoshi fans, it does exactly what you expect it to, which is perhaps the worst thing we can say about it; it contains few genuine surprises. The game is delightfully presented, though, and makes for another very solid entry in Nintendo’s ever-growing pantheon of material-based platformers. If you’re looking to share a light-hearted platformer with the family, or simply relax in a big chair with a cup of something warm and a comfy pair of socks, be sure to have a spare pair ready – Yoshi's Crafted World will charm the ones you’re wearing right off.
Brace Yourself Games has crafted a unique Zelda game which fits in perfectly with the rest of the family. A transfusion from Crypt of the NecroDancer gives the old top-down template a fresh spin but it still manages to feel like Zelda. By allowing a talented indie developer to play in the universe, Nintendo has gained a fantastic entry in the franchise that feels like a celebration – specifically of its music, a part of the series destined to take a back seat as the majesty of Hyrule is increasingly conveyed through the scale of its world rather than melodies from the days when the 'kingdom' was really a walled garden. Cadence of Hyrule is not just a brilliant game, it's a brilliant Zelda game - one that you won't want to miss.
Grandia HD Collection both succeeds and fails on Switch for entirely different reasons. The timeless quality and fun factor of the two titles included shine through some shoddy work done on the porting and remastering. It’s a great way both for newcomers to see what the fuss is about and for veterans to take a trip down memory lane, but the Grandia games deserve a much better remastering treatment than they’ve been given here. Still, you can't deny the quality of the underlying games.
In many ways, the first Resident Evil is – and can only ever be – a product of its time. Even when tuned and honed and buffed to perfection, it has its own idiosyncratic personality and ways; change them and you change the game. Cumbersome and horrifying in equal measure, it refuses to let you have your brains and eat them, so while series veterans will know what to expect, new players should prepare themselves for a schooling in game mechanics which have largely fallen out of fashion. Context is essential, then, but the Switch port shows this classic at its absolute best and there’s arguably no better way to sample the original Resident Evil formula, provided you’ve got the stomach for it.
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.
Slay the Spire is an endlessly addictive roguelike card-battler that’s a perfect fit for the Switch; a beautifully balanced game that arrived on Nintendo's system with all the benefits of an extended period of Early Access on PC. Its combination of ferocious battles, entertaining chance encounters and selection of three impressively different player characters make every run to the top a nerve-wracking and totally absorbing affair. Massively inventive sets of cards combine majestically into hugely destructive combos and attack and defence options fuse perfectly together, enabling players to use the information provided by the brilliantly transparent Intent system to strategise endlessly against the hordes of foul monstrosities that stand between themselves and victory. Sure, you’ll eventually see every enemy and chance encounter and yes, there are a few framerate niggles here and there, but overall this is one dungeon crawler that will live long in our system memories.
To have Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice on Switch in this 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.