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 or 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 and, 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 the new games you played in 2019, 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...
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.
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.
Mortal Kombat 11 is the best Mortal Kombat since MK2, a bold and bombastic entry that boasts a fighting model that finally matches the slapstick theatrics of gory Fatalities. It's further proof that MK, much like Street Fighter, has just as much relevance today as it did in the '90s thanks to the way its evolved while retaining its core identity. On Switch, it's a performance-first experience that nails 60fps, and boasts every mode and mechanic from other versions, only with a noticeable downgrade in the aesthetics department. The heavy-handed application of microtransactions aside, MK11 could be a contender for the best fighter on Nintendo Switch.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Hat In Time is a hugely enjoyable take on the classic 3D platformer. The tight, familiar controls and varied, innovative levels result in one of the most fascinating and entertaining games out there. The issues with performance and the camera do little to wipe the smile from our faces while playing through this; if you adore the likes of Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, then you'll fall utterly in love with A Hat In Time.
A stylish visual novel that incorporates footage from the anime into the original game, Steins;Gate Elite struck a chord with fans and non-fans alike and Switch is arguably the best possible venue for such a game. Its slick presentation extends to all aspects of production (font lovers and Star Trek: The Next Generation fans will immediately recognise the Swiss 911 Ultra Compressed type used on the main menus) and it improves on the original release while retaining the same compelling narrative.
Much like the port of the first game, Doom II on Switch delivers a solid rendition of a classic FPS with only a handful of audio and visual issues preventing it from being perfect. It holds up just as well the original Doom does, and its price is similarly reasonable: as a result, we naturally recommend this one just as much as we do its predecessor.