We’re well past the middle of 2021 and we’re slipping steadily towards the end of the year, having negotiated the six-month bump. The holiday season is far away and we still have several months to go before we get into the video game’s “silly season”, but while recently discussing the upcoming Sonic Colors Ultimate remaster and bemoaning that it only happens. September it suddenly hit us that it was just over a month away. Before you know it, we’ll be knee deep in Metroids, Marios, and OLED displays. Beautiful!
So we thought it was worth reading around the room and seeing which games the Nintendo Life staff enjoyed the most during the first half (and somewhat) of 2021. Below is a selection of the games. most popular Switch games of the year. so far with a few words explaining why they left such an impression on us.
Under everything those words, you’ll also find a poll that includes every Switch games released this year (so far, obviously) that scored 9/10 in a Nintendo Life review, as well as a few other obvious ones that simply had to be included. Feel free to vote for your favorite among this group and to specify in the comments if your personal favorite is missing.
So 2021 in Switch games, so. Let’s take a look at a handful of our favorites so far …
Editor: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
While there are a lot of 2021 games that I haven’t played yet, for me the new Bowser’s Fury section in Super Mario 3D World on Switch has to be the best new gaming nugget I’ve experienced this year. I’m at the point where if a game hits a double-digit number of hours, the probability of me finishing it drops to close to zero. Bowser’s Fury was the perfect injection of sublime platform Mario with all the verve and dazzling invention you would expect from a new 3D Mario, but distilled into a manageable small-sized adventure that felt tailor-made to me.
I still have the main game intact, but for me and my personal situation, it was worth the price of admission for Bowser’s Fury alone.
Gavin Lane, Editor-in-Chief
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Editor: Limited run games
I might be as surprised as anyone by this, but I think my favorite game of the year so far could be The House In Fata Morgana.
That’s right, the visual novel I’ve been playing for MONTHS now, with no end in sight; the game which changes subject every two hours; the story that unfolds at slug speed on a leisurely stroll. Of course, there aren’t a lot of interactions, but that doesn’t really matter when the story she tells is so compelling and well-written – I can’t wait to get back to it, which is a feeling that I only have really good books.
My finalist is The Great Ace Attorney, of course: it’s one of my favorite game series… so it’s an obvious favorite, but it didn’t blow my mind in the way that Fata Morgana did. There will be a review at some point – you just have to finish it!
Kate Gray, Editor-in-Chief
Editor: Capcom / Developer: Capcom
Monster Hunter Rise had a tough job on Switch – it had to stand alongside the technological advancements seen in MH World while retaining the quirk of previous Wii / 3DS / Wii U entries. It achieved both of those things, in my opinion.
Considering so much work will have been done during the challenges of 2020/21, the development team has done a fantastic job. I love diving for a portable hunt or a TV “session”, and it’s an entry that added new ideas while streamlining and making the experience more accessible and “alive”. Oh and you climb on palamutes and you can climb on walls; It’s brilliant.
Tom Whitehead, Associate Editor
Editor: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Playing a game that technically launched for the first time in 2011 doesn’t quite scream ‘the best of 2021’, but The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD does a fantastic job of reminding me how good Zelda games have always been, even before the fancy the new kid arrived.
It’s been a whole decade since I played the original, so comparing this new version to this isn’t easy, but what I can say is that I’m having a really good time with it. SSHD. I’ve only touched the surface so far (no pun intended), but the dungeon design, items, and puzzles are some of the best the series has to offer – no sleazy control or rhythm can. mess that up.
I actually stuck with the motion controls as well (flicking a Joy-Con to pull out your sword, that’s cool, okay?), And as long as you hit “Y” every now and then, everything works. quite well. Classic Zelda FTW.
Ryan Craddock, Editor-in-Chief
Editor: Nintendo / Developer: Bandai Namco
There was a 22-year lull between the original N64 and New Pokémon Snap, and I spent a significant portion of that time predicting the return of the series. I predicted it so much that I ended up giving up hope that it would happen and that’s why I still have to pinch myself to realize that we actually had it.
It was one of the biggest surprises of 2021 and the best part is that it delivered its decades-long legacy. Months later, I’m still coming back to my backup file because there is so much left to do. The joy of mastering each level is fully reclaimed and is even increased with stages that grow larger as you play and a four-level scoring system for each Pokémon.
He didn’t reinvent the wheel but the original game holds a special place in my heart and all that was left was to catch up with 7 missed generations of Pokémon. New Pokémon Snap is one of the happiest experiences I’ve had with Nintendo Switch, it’s just pure bliss.
Jon Cartwright, video producer
Editor: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Game Builder Garage is a game that wasn’t stuck in my mind, took hundreds of hours of free time, or even offered solid gameplay most of the time, but what it did actually really opened my eyes. For a long time, I knew I didn’t know much about game development, it’s a scary and menacing beast of a subject that I just wasn’t equipped to participate in, but it was only with GBG that I realized how unfamiliar with the subject I was.
I knew a few outlines and had a very shaky base on how coding works, but didn’t realize how low-level even more basic games are to create. I was given all the tools, lots of shortcuts, and I was always struggling to do something as simple as moving an enemy to the player character. I don’t dream of Game Builder Garage, but I will always be infinitely grateful to him for bringing my ignorance to light and helping me get out of it a bit.
Alex Olney, senior video producer (and agent provocateur)
Editor: Square Enix / Developer: Asano team
I’m here to show my support for Bravely Default 2. Of course, this might not be your typical contender in a list like this, but the fact that we actually have another entry in this particular series is something that Needs to be famous.
And hey, as far as the game is concerned – it provides such a heartwarming experience for anyone who grew up with some of the other Square Enix classics. It’s traditional, it’s a throwback and it also manages to blend the perfect amount of modern conveniences to create a charming adventure that’s an absolute must-have for any longtime fan of the JRPG genre.
Liam Doolan, editor-in-chief
So, it’s our personal picks for the 2021 games that have tickled our cravings so far, but what about you? Let us know in the poll below which of the great physical Switch games / eShop gems from the first six months of the year you liked the most, and feel free to leave a comment below to let us know why.