2021 was a ginormous year for games on the Nintendo Switch – and a lot of the best games came from Nintendo itself.
Personally, I’ve treated the Nintendo Switch as an indie machine for a while, although Xbox Game Pass has given me a lot of my favourite indie games of the year. That being said, some of the best games on Switch this year have come from Nintendo itself.
Let’s jump into it – here are the five best Nintendo Switch games of 2021, according to us.
Metroid Dread has to be one of the best Switch games of 2021, and definitely one of the best games to be released on the Switch itself. Following up Metroid Fusion (which was released all the way back in 2001) Metroid Dread is a side-scrolling adventure game in which you take on the role of Samus (one of gaming’s most iconic characters) as she ascends the planet ZDR, hunting the remaining X Parasites that survived their demise in Fusion.
It’s the final game in the 2D Metroid franchise, although you don’t really need to play the other four games (nor would it be easy to, considering they were released over 20 years ago, BUT some of them are playable through Nintendo Switch Online). The franchise also coined half of the phrase ‘Metroidvania’ (the other game being Castlevania), meaning a game with non-linear progression, usually with areas gated for utility reasons. Don’t let that confuse you – it’s really easy to get into the swing of things in Metroid Dread.
Metroid Dread is available now on the Nintendo Switch.
New Pokémon Snap
This is absolutely the cutest Switch game of the year. New Pokémon Snap is all about taking cute photos of Pokémon. That’s it – no grinding, no levelling up your equipment, no crumby side quests, just you on rails taking snaps of all the Pokémon you come across.
To some this could be underselling it – but just taking away the stress of a huge game and giving you a really simple objective is really fun and it’s why it makes our list of the best Nintendo Switch games of the year. The original Pokémon Snap was released back in 1999, so it’s about time that it got a follow-up with some of the new generation Pokémon.
New Pokémon Snap is available now on the Nintendo Switch.
The only indie on our list, Eastward is an RPG about two travellers named John and Sam who venture Eastward to uncover the mysteries of the near-future world they live in. It’s a bit apocalyptic, but it’s wrapped together in a beautiful art style.
Although it’s available on other platforms, it’s the perfect game to play on the Switch. Its beautiful 2D art style and top-down perspective make it a great game for playing on the go. Its story is captivating too, as the two travellers try to brave a world on the edge of collapse. Eastward is likely to be a game of the year contender.
Eastward is available now on Nintendo Switch, Steam, GOG and the Humble Store.
Two Pokémon games on our best Nintendo Switch games list this year? Crazy, I know! It just so happened to be a terrific year for Pokémon (it’s the 25th anniversary, so hell yeah). Pokémon Unite is a MOBA (Massively Online Battle Arena, like DOTA 2 or League of Legends) in which you play as Pokémon with a team of other players against an enemy team of players.
Unlike a lot of games in the MOBA genre, Pokémon Unite is surprisingly easy to play and is pretty accessible. It’s free and is easy to get your head around, with simple controls and mechanics. The game will be getting updates over time, with new playable Pokémon added in every now and then.
Pokémon Unite is available on the Nintendo Switch, on the Apple App Store and on the Google Play Store.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
Another classic game reborn in 2021 that HAD to feature on our best Nintendo Switch games list, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles puts you in the shoes of a Victorian age student at the Imperial Yumei University named Ryunosuke Naruhodo. As Ryunosuke, you’ll solve mysteries in the courtroom, yell “Objection!” and use your powers of deduction and evidence-gathering to get to the bottom of cases.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles follows the same beats as the other games in the Ace Attorney franchise, although it’s largely self-contained. It’s a prequel to the rest of the franchise, wherein which you play as Pheonix Wright. It landed on our list of the best Nintendo Switch games because, frankly, it’s pretty fun and will have you thinking the whole time.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is available on Nintendo Switch.
Now you know the best games, should you buy a Nintendo Switch?
If you like gaming in any capacity, a Nintendo Switch is a pretty safe gadget to pick up. It’s a powerful handheld with the fun gimmick of being able to switch between TV mode (like a normal console) and handheld mode (like a Gameboy). It’s easy to use and has plenty of fun games available to play.
Often going on sale, the original Nintendo Switch retails for about $470, while the stripped-down handled-only Nintendo Switch Lite retails for about $330. Alternatively, the Nintendo Switch OLED Edition is out now, retailing for about $540.