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.
Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition may not be the definitive version of the game but, aside from some frame rate issues, the incorporation of GamePad controls feel totally natural, and the opportunity to don the Dark Knight's cowl and cape in one of the best Batman games ever was a considerable boon for Wii U owners. With a relatively lengthy campaign, loads of extra content, and the opportunity to give Batman's gallery of rogues a sound thrashing, this was the Batman game to play on Wii U — a console which boasts no fewer than five flavours of the Caped Crusader (counting the LEGO ones, Arkham Origins and Blackgate - Deluxe Edition).
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.
Yacht Club Games scored a hit with Shovel Knight across all platforms, Nintendo or not. With brilliant game design, charming presentation that tapped into everyone's 8-bit nostalgia before it was done to death, and a ton of post-release content which added a bewildering amount of new stuff to the base game, this was a wonderful first title from the fledgling developer and proved that Kickstarter successes were indeed possible, if done right.
36. Pikmin 3 (Wii U)
Beautifully crafted and filled to the brim with exciting gameplay features, Pikmin 3 is a worthy instalment in Nintendo's quirky strategy series. The core gameplay mechanics remain true to the GameCube originals, but were further enhanced by the unique features of the Wii U GamePad, although you could still use your Wii Remote and Nunchuk (the 'Deluxe' Switch port offers further proof that the GamePad really was a peripheral option here).
A few minor issues here and there arguably prevented it reaching the heights of its predecessors, but the HD sheen provided by the Wii U made the fruit hauled by your little plant-based helpers look more delicious than ever before and we're desperate to see the series return for a fourth mainline instalment.
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!
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is an attractive remaster with some nice additions, encompassing improved controls, visuals and enjoyable extras for fans. It's a deep, involving 30+ hour adventure, which draws the player in with plenty of honesty and soul. It may have stuck a little too much to the Ocarina formula, but we're certainly glad this one came to light again on Wii U and gave us the opportunity to revisit Twilight Princess once more.
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.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is an excellent package wherever you choose to play it, delivering hours and hours of entertaining and quirky interactive novel gameplay. It remains unique in the market, at least in its consistent levels of quality, and for those new to the franchise — or fans of Dual Destinies — it's a must buy. If you've played the originals to death, the prospect of replaying them on other platforms is a trickier sell — the enhancements are minor enough that they're not worth buying as opposed to simply firing up that old DS cart. As an isolated product, however, this is a wonderful addition to the 3DS' library (as is the Switch version); surreal, funny and huge value, it's definitely Guilty of being excellent.
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.