2019 has been a fantastic year for Nintendo Switch owners so far, 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 is by far the biggest problems facing anyone with a Switch or Switch Lite!
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 while third parties and indie devs really took Switch to their hearts, too, releasing quality new games and ports aplenty.
2019 has gifted us several top-drawer Nintendo-made Switch titles in the form of Super Mario Maker 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, but every week has brought another essential game to the eShop from other studios, huge and tiny alike. With big games like the quirky Ring Fit Adventure, Luigi's Mansion 3 and Pokémon Sword and Shield still to come this year, 2020 is going to have its work cut out to beat 2019 in the software stakes.
The following list of the 50 best games from 2019 so far is ranked according to the user ratings associated with Switch games on Nintendo Life's database. Therefore, this list can change according to your ratings. If you've previously rated your Switch games (the ones released in 2019, that is), just sit back and enjoy. If, however, you've yet to give your personal score for some (or all) of the games below, clicking on each game's rating to cast your vote and affect the list.
Can't see your favourite? Head to our library of Switch games for 2019 and input your own ratings. A game needs a minimum of just ten ratings to become eligible at the moment (we’ll bump this up as more ratings pour in), so it's entirely possible to influence the ranking and get your favourite games onto the list.
So, without further prevarication, let's take a look at the best Switch games from 2019!
While no one expected it – and we dare say that no one asked for it – Saints Row: The Third - The Full Package revives an often forgotten open-world adventure on a new console generation, complete with a huge amount of cosmetic and expansion DLC. While it's showing its age mechanically (and in terms of taste), in visual terms it’s a robust sandbox filled with outlandish activities, hyperactive ideas and the kind of diverse mission design most open-world titles fail to fully realise. With support for both local and online co-op, this version of Saints Row’s best outing is a steal. We might not ever get a Grand Theft Auto on Switch, but this is probably the next best thing.
Nearly twenty years later, Final Fantasy VIII proves to be just as weird and polarising a release as it was when it first came out. Cool new ideas like Guardian Forces and Triple Triad are hamstrung by an absolutely wack story and the tedium of the Draw system, making for an experience that’s great in some regards and not so great in others. Taken as a whole, however, Final Fantasy VIII Remastered proves to be a fun and enjoyable romp through the weirder side of the Final Fantasy series, notably bolstered by the new HD presentation and the inclusion of helpful quality of life features. This is easily the most skippable entry of all the mainline Final Fantasy games on the Switch right now, but if you find yourself to be a fan of either the Final Fantasy series or the JRPG genre, Final Fantasy VIII Remastered proves to be a release that’s certainly worth your time.
At its core Daemon X Machina is a solid mech action game that controls well and gives the player a generous helping of customisation options. Its mission structure can get repetitive, and its plot is so difficult to grasp it may as well be soaked in grease, but as long as you’re willing to put up with these and get through its initially bewildering array of gauges and icons you should have a good time with it.
Unravel Two was already a wonderful little game, filled with heartfelt moments of poignant storytelling and challenging platforming puzzles, and then it found a fitting new home on Nintendo Switch. Even with a few downgrades to the visuals, Unravel Two is far from an inferior experience when played on Nintendo's hybrid system. Full of charm and character, it’s one of the best co-operative platformers you can play anywhere, and another robust Switch port that was well worth the wait.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a visually phenomenal upgrade on a PlayStation karting classic, and one that faithfully recreates both its positives (its unique drift boosting system) and its potential irritants (30fps, tricky AI). It does bring a whole new set of issues – mainly lengthy loading times and the fact that playing offline stops you making any progress towards unlocking anything – but while these prevent the game from becoming an absolute must-have, they don’t sour the experience enough to stop us wholeheartedly recommending it regardless.
Despite the sheer volume of solid gold hits in the series, Castlevania Anniversary Collection is a somewhat mixed bag from Konami, with stone-cold classics sharing the spotlight with a couple of undead clunkers that really should have remained dead and buried. Still, even with the questionable inclusion of Simon's Quest and Castlevania: The Adventure, the 'highs' on offer are among the highest points in the entire franchise, and a Western debut for Kid Dracula is a lovely treat for retro gamers looking for something new. As long as you’re willing to ignore the lesser titles in this package and you're not too bummed out by the omission of other classic entries, then you’re going to have a very good time with what’s left – and there's always room for Castlevania Anniversary Collection 2, we guess.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is an impressive package, offering the best of modern-era 2D Mario, madcap multiplayer and glimpses of the outrageous invention that was to come in Super Mario Odyssey. The chance to replay a top-drawer Mario game on a handheld is tantalising, although gameplay aside, ageing visuals and the irritation of being kicked back to the world map after every death stand out as things that could have been improved. The bottom line, though, is that Switch has a very fine 2D Mario to its name.
The Nintendo eShop would be a considerably more exciting and interesting place if it were packed full of games like Ape Out. It’s a refreshingly original experience that more than deserves a place in any Switch owner’s library. Difficult, frenetic gameplay, strong art direction, and an even stronger jazz drum soundtrack make this the sort of memorable game that you’ll likely keep coming back to over and over for another few runs in arcade mode. We’d give Ape Out a strong recommendation to anyone looking for a distinct and unforgettable game for their Switch collection; it’s a bit of an acquired taste, but well worth your time.
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.
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.