2020 Nintendo Switch Game of the Year

We (finally) present the best games to come to Nintendo’s hybrid home console in 2020!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 02/01/2021 21:07 Comment on this     ShareThis

2020 was a year that will go down in history for much of the negativity and destruction it brought to the world, but there were also certainly some bright spots that shone through and helped to guide us into 2021. Video games are one of those bright spots, with Nintendo Switch being home to many of the best in the last calendar year. Without further ado, it’s time to reveal Nintendo’s take on the best-of-the-best to hit Switch in 2020!

Game of the Year

Animal Crossing New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons ranked first on this list because it not only presented a wonderful new addition to the popular life simulation series, but also acted to unite millions of people across the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The perfect storm was created via the combination of global quarantine orders sending countless people into the confines of their homes with drastically limited contact with friends and family, and the arrival of a game that brings everyone who plays it together, regardless of where they may physically be. Quality of life tweaks like more precision-based furniture and item placement, a greater level of customization, and terraforming made New Horizons the technological peak (so far) of the series, but the game’s ability to unite so many people when it was needed most really sets it above the competition in 2020. New Horizons provided a nice slice of normality (well, as normal as it can be with talking animal neighbors) during one of the darkest times in global history. Bravo, Animal Crossing.

Read our review here.

Runner Ups

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

What it lacked in extra features Super Mario 3D All-Stars more than made up for by presenting three of the greatest platformers ever made in a single, HD-package. Super Mario 64 created the blueprint from which all other 3D platformers have been iterating off of for the past 25 years. Super Mario Sunshine took the formula of Mario 64 and incorporated a mesmerizing tropical backdrop with stunning visuals. Super Mario Galaxy utilized everything that came before it and added gravity-defying physics and brilliant level design to produce a masterclass in game design. To have all of this trio on a single cartridge for fans new and old to appreciate was a major win for Nintendo Switch owners in 2020.

Check out our review here.

Streets of Rage 4

Stepping in to fill the shoes of a legendary series like Streets of Rage was always going to be a tall task, but somehow developers Dotemu, Lizardcube, and Guard Crush Games made it look easy. We went back and forth about whether of not Streets of Rage 4 is an indie game, but given the series’ pedigree as a SEGA property and the full retail release the title enjoyed, we leaned no. We can quibble over this in the comments, but the main point here is that Streets of Rage 4 did more for beat ’em ups than any other game in years. The clever tweaks to traditional mechanics and trappings in the belt-scrolling genre made this a compulsory play. The soundtrack is also a major standout—fitting given how beloved the scores of the first three games are. Streets of Rage 4 is a joy and every Switch owner should give it a play if they get a chance.

Here’s our review.

Honorable Mentions

Pikmin 3 Deluxe

Pikmin 3 Deluxe offered the Wii U hidden gem the love and attention the game deserved, and thankfully this port was able to maintain and expand upon everything that made the original so good. A smart balance between the strict time constraints of the original Pikmin and the lackadaisical free roaming of Pikmin 2 was struck in Pikmin 3 Deluxe, rewarding players for exploring the wilds of PNF-404 while still providing just enough of a sense of urgency to compel strategic planning for each expedition. Pikmin 3 Deluxe does a sublime job of planting the player convincingly into the miniaturized shoes of Alph and company, with beautiful production values that shine more than ever on Switch. While a bit on the short side, additional content (Pikmin 3’s DLC and new missions featuring Olimar) helps to add some more meat to the bones. Don’t sleep on Pikmin 3 Deluxe if you have yet to give it a play.

Check out our review right here.

Paper Mario: The Origami King

Paper Mario: The Origami King was a marked return to form for the series. While there continues to be a needless focus on producing non-traditional leveling systems into each new Paper Mario game, the ring-based fights in Origami King at least offered fans a brain-teasing twist on the standard turn-based combat the series is known for. What helps elevates Origami King, however, is its beautiful presentation—this feels like a true papercraft world brought to life. The story line is where Origami King really shines through, delivering a fascinating narrative that offers a genuine emotional punch to the gut halfway through. If Nintendo can manage to bring the combat back to the level of prior Paper Mario entries, the next installment could easily be a contender for Game of the Year. Origami King is nonetheless engaging, however, and littered with nooks and crannies to explore for hours on end.

Check out the review over here.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

Warriors games aren’t always held in regard for their narrative depth, as the franchise is typically recognized most for its scores of foes filling the screen, waiting to be taken out by the dozen. While Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity does indeed deliver on that end, this particular game also does a delightful job of bridging the gap between The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and its upcoming sequel. There are a bunch of excellent cinema scenes that show of the gorgeous art style of Breath of the Wild, not to mention a bunch of landmarks to spot from in that game. The combat is front and center, of course, but it’s kinetic and powerful as any Warriors game should be. If you’re a Zelda fan, this made the wait for Breath of the Wild 2 a little easier to withstand.

That’s it for our 2020 selections! Which games would you have added to the list? Which would you have taken away? Tell us below and on social media!

Also read 2020 Nintendo eShop Indie Game of the Year.

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