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...
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.
It feels like it’s been a long time coming and thankfully, any concerns fans may have had ahead of a Switch release can be laid to rest by Death himself. Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition is a visual feast, offering little to those who have already played through elsewhere but holding nothing back for the purists and new players alike. Age-old camera issues remain, but if you’ve been waiting to get on board with Death and his Horsemen, this late-to-the-party package is an easy recommendation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.