The Switch isn’t short of games that have already taken a bow, or several, on other hardware, but Skyrim might be the one that most deserves another look from both hardy Elder Scrolls adventurers and absolute beginners alike. Despite its age showing, with countless little cracks in its already fractured façade, it still delivers a palpable sense of space that few games before or since have managed. May its dancing northern lights never dim.
Despite its ‘Definitive Edition’ moniker, the vast majority of what you get in the Switch version of Rayman Legends has been seen in every other edition. The only truly new features here are a complete character roster for the first time and a tournament mode for its football mini-game. That’s not to say it's a bad game, though; that couldn’t be further from the truth. Rayman Legends is one of the best plumber-free platformers ever made, and its budget price means if you haven’t played it before, the Switch version is the perfect opportunity to jump in.
SteamWorld Dig 2 is another confident effort from Image & Form, and a worthy successor to the original. Stylish and good-looking, it also has the series' trademark humour and, yes, a pretty good soundtrack. It refines and expands upon the qualities of SteamWorld Dig and hits some delicious high points. Whether you played the first game or not, SteamWorld Dig 2 is a must-have - its charming aesthetic and cast set the scene for a tightly designed and clever exploration game.
Splatoon 2 is just about everything you could ask for from a sequel. It builds on everything the original online team shooter set up and then some; almost every single major issue people had with the first game has been resolved, showing that Nintendo is genuinely listening and wants to deliver the absolute best experience possible. It maintains the freshness you’d expect and throws in countless big and small changes and additions, every one of them for the better. Splatoon 2 is simply ink-redible.
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.
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!
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a massive, sprawling JRPG built by Monolith Soft, who developed the previous two entries and the Baten Kaitos games on GameCube. The team also helped Nintendo design the world of Breath of the Wild, so there's no doubting the pedigree. You'll explore a massive open world made up of Titans – enormous living creatures that house entire civilisations on their bodies. Along the way you'll meet a wide variety of characters, solve a bunch of quests, and save the world. It's Monolith Soft doing what it does best, albeit without shaking off the occasional flaws of the series. This is another Xenoblade gem, though, and a must-have RPG.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a massive standalone DLC, Torna: The Golden Country, that's also well worth playing through. It serves as a prequel to the events of 2, so you can play it before or after.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe delivers a huge amount of racing goodness right out of the box; a polished version of a Wii U entry that was only a proper Battle Mode away from being top of class. It's the definitive Mario Kart 8 experience, content-rich and a delightful feast of comedic, cartoonish karting action. It's a game that continually raises a smile and, occasionally, induces that trademark Mario Kart rage as shells strike and positions are lost. It's addictive and unifying, unfiltered fun that draws in anyone daring enough to take up the wheel.
Super Mario Odyssey represents a shift in direction for Mario. For about a decade we had exceptional but tightly structured 3D series entries, but Odyssey’s building blocks go back to Super Mario 64. It’s a very modern take on ‘sandbox Mario’ - Cappy and his abilities are key additions that freshen up the formula, and we have a sizeable and diverse set of lands to explore. In the second half and post-credits - in particular - it takes on a life of its own, showcasing incredible design and development flair. It’s also a wonderful showcase for the Switch, and would be a fabulous introduction to the wonders of Mario in three dimensions. For the veterans among us, meanwhile, it’s yet another special release to remind us of why Mario is still gaming’s number one.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a landmark release for its franchise and Nintendo. It's the first time that Nintendo truly took on the open-world genre, and by arriving late to the party it embraces the strengths from top-of-the-class games while also forging its own unique identity. This game is a revolution for the series, but the Legend of Zelda essence is still there - its soul remains. The end result is captivating. After years of following the same old template, Nintendo bravely took the Zelda series in a new direction, and delivered an absolute triumph which still has us regularly revisiting its iteration of Hyrule over three years on.
No wonder we're so excited about the prospect of a direct sequel; Breath of the Wild forged a new and exciting path in a franchise that had been treading old ground for a while on home consoles and we cannot wait to see where it goes next.
Switch really did have an amazing launch year. Do you disagree with this ranking? Time to get ranking, then - remember, this is a fluid, ever-changing selection governed by each game's Nintendo Life user rating. Head to our library of Switch games for 2017 and see about getting your favourites on the list.
With so many Switch games from 2017, lots are going to fall through the cracks. What are your favourites that perhaps didn't make this top 50 (yet)? Share your thoughts below.