The Five Best Switch Games Of 2017
This year was a massive success for Nintendo largely thanks to the release of the Switch. The convertible console capitalized on the framework established by its predecessor, delivering on the promise of its hybrid functionality. But for as great as the Switch is, it wouldn’t be nearly as successful if it weren’t for the amazing lineup of software that populated the first nine months of its release. Unorthodox and revolutionary are ample words to describe many of the best experiences you could get on the console. And on the other end, balancing out its most standout experiences were masterfully created renditions of classic genres and ports of games we’ve come to love in the past. Regardless of where you looked, the Switch had some of the best games this year you couldn’t get anywhere else. In no particular order, here are our Best Of Switch from 2017:
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Everyone thought this was a terrible idea on paper. Everyone was wrong.
What’s brilliant about Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is that it takes a traditionally complex and inaccessible genre, the turn-based tactical strategy game, and distills it into a purer version of itself.
Kingdom Battle’s efficient design makes it simple to pick up and understand, without ruining the joys that make the genre great. The satisfaction that comes from defeating enemies with effective flanking maneuvers and the adrenaline rush of narrowly surviving missions are still present, despite its cartoon aesthetic. It’s a version of Firaxis Games’ XCOM where your prevalent emotion is delight, rather than frustration.
That’s not to say that the game isn’t also challenging. While each character’s special abilities are useful on their own, experimenting with how these skills can interact with and complement each other goes a long way to giving you a variety of options with tactical setups. Challenge levels and the Kingdom Battle’s late-game stages encourage you to push the limits of what you think is possible in this respect, if you’re so inclined. But nothing is stopping you from cruising through with basic, effective tactics and simply enjoying this goofy world.
No matter what your opinion on either franchise is, it’s hard to deny that the unholy union of Mario + Rabbids + XCOM is delivered by Ubisoft with long, confident strides. Its concise design, along with its undeniably charming art direction, makes every minute of Kingdom Battle a treat. It’s fun, polished, a perfect experience for the Nintendo Switch, and watching Luigi snipe an opera singer from 50 yards with his cold, dead eyes will never get old.
Super Mario Odyssey
From the very first time you boot up the game’s main menu, everything about Super Mario Odyssey feels like a treat. That blast of triumphant brass, Cappy and Mario’s bright eyes staring at you in wonder, even the atlas wallpaper behind indicating you’re about to embark on a journey–Odyssey embodies child-like joy from beginning to end.
Every interaction you have with the game is enjoyable. Possessing a frogs, onion, or dinosaur evokes a smile almost without fail. And so does exploring the game’s endless nooks and crannies, or defeating its plethora of unique bosses, or finally reaching that elusive Power Moon you’ve been attempting to reach all evening.
Similar to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey changes up its series’ formula, heading to a slightly more open-world structure (albeit in several smaller worlds, as opposed to Zelda’s singular, vast landscape), and it utilizes it expertly. Odyssey’s hub worlds continually tease you with extra stuff to do: minigames, secrets, Power Moons, windows into other worlds–you’re constantly being rewarded for bothering to go off the beaten path, and doing so is irresistable.
Super Mario Odyssey makes you grin like an idiot on the bus to work or school, and not care that people are probably staring at you. More than anything else, Odyssey makes you happy. And what’s a better reward than that?
Colorful and quirky, Splatoon 2 is easy to love. As far as shooters go, its unique movement mechanics stand out and make each match a blast. While the logistics of its multiplayer aren’t perfect, it’s an exuberant and vibrant shooter with more depth than it might appear at first glance.
The main multiplayer mode is Turf War, which is consistently so much fun that only having one casual mode isn’t really a problem. Covering the most ground with your ink is a simple enough concept, but skillful inking, careful movement, and a good handle on your weapon of choice all work together to give each match more variety. Because you’re in and out of matches in a matter of minutes, there’s less pressure to perform in any one game–instead, you can learn from your mistakes and adapt for the next round right away.
Splatoon 2 is also the best implementation of the Switch’s gyroscope aiming; it’s supremely helpful when you’re busy swimming to refill your ink and trying to avoid getting hit and can’t focus on aiming on top of that. It’s definitely a matter of personal preference, but it can make Splatoon 2’s already fast-paced and fun gameplay really shine.
Massive franchises like Zelda and Mario dominated the headlines in Switch’s inaugural year. But the unlikely Nindie hit, Golf Story, was one of 2017’s most surprisingly hilarious and exceptionally fun games released exclusively on the Switch. It’s endearing narrative and simplistic gameplay encourages you to carry out day-to-day responsibilities with your golf clubs, golf balls, and sheer will. And although the word “golf” is literally in its title, the game itself can be best described as an RPG that expertly disguises itself as a 2D sports title.
Everything about Golf Story is delightful, from the way the dialogue bubbles tilt, expand, and shake, to how its diverse cast of characters carry humorous conversations distinct to each locale. Golf Story is equal parts golf, bad puns, and “dad jokes.” And in addition to its obvious golfing aspects, NPCs challenge you to solve a supernatural murder mystery, raise an army of the dead to defeat an evil wizard, and even geocache the greens in search for buried treasure.
Your journey from the sand covered fairways of the Bermuda Isles, to the haunted holes at the Oak Manor, combines the charm and RPG elements of games like Earthbound with the mechanically solid controls of Mario Golf. But the carefree nature of simply dropping a ball anywhere, anytime to tee off is what makes Golf Story shine as both a fantastic indie title and a must have for your Switch library.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a long time coming. It was announced as a Wii U exclusive all the way back in 2013 and was repeatedly delayed before eventually coming to both Wii U and Switch.
When that was confirmed, some fans were, understandably, disgruntled. Some had bought a Wii U specifically because they knew a Zelda game was coming. While Nintendo did deliver on that promise, those fans could in hindsight have skipped the Wii U entirely and not missed a single new Zelda title.
But with Breath of the Wild now out, we think it’s safe to say the wait was worth it. Not only does the game take the Zelda series to new heights–by ditching the series’ trademark dungeons and many more of its tropes and switching up its structure–it’s also possibly the finest open-world game ever. It has seemingly endless places to explore, characters to meet, and feats to accomplish, and it never stops surprising you till the very end.
Shigeru Miyamoto has said he created the Legend of Zelda series in part to evoke the same sense of mystery and exploration and wonder that he experienced growing up Japan’s countryside. That vision is expressed better than ever in Breath of the Wild–the most impressive game Nintendo has ever created.
GameSpot will be unveiling its picks for the best games of the year throughout all of December. Check out our Best of 2017 hub for even more.