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Another year, another 365 days of amazing games for the Nintendo Switch. That's right, I'm back at it again after compiling last year's best Nintendo Switch games of 2017 list. Last year brought us fun and beautiful experiences like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Mario & Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. I have to admit that this year wasn't quite as good as last, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to play. In fact, some of my favorite games for the system came out this year.
Before we begin, though, I want to give a shoutout to Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It came out in December of 2017, but I didn't play it before making the list (since I got it for Christmas and my list went up Christmas day). It's an excellent RPG if you like anime of any kind, and would've gotten a spot on my list last year had I played it in time.
For the best Nintendo Switch games of 2018, I am counting anything that came out for the Switch this year—if it was released on other consoles earlier, but was ported to Switch this year, it still counts. Free games like Fortnite Battle Royale and Warframe are disqualified.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
I won't make you wait for my GOTY till the end this time. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is definitively the best release on the system this year. If you don't already know, the Super Smash Bros. series is an iconic Nintendo fighting game where characters from various game franchises fight one another.
The best thing about this game (besides the giant 70-character roster) is that it's so easy to play, no matter your skill level. It's a great party game with friends, even those who've never touched a controller in their life. But if you're extremely skilled, there are plenty of layers and combos to learn that make it feel like a competitive experience.
There are single player options too, so even when you're by yourself, you still have plenty of fun ahead of you. This game is literally smashing sales records, so don't get left behind as everyone starts finding their main before you.
I love Octopath Traveler. I think it's a criminally underrated release. I'm not a huge fan of JRPGs most of the time, but Octopath really sold me on the genre. It is made by Square Enix, after all, so it really has a nice polish to it and isn't lazily thrown together like some JRPGs out there.
In this game, you can start as one of eight different characters and pick up the others along your way, then progress their individual stories at your own pace. If you're really interested in Olberic's warrior path, you can play that all the way through! Or if you just love every single character's story so much that you just play the scenes as you find them, go right ahead!
I find each of the eight characters to be wonderfully charming and the combat system is very engaging. Plus the art style is absolutely gorgeous. I spent a solid few minutes in each new area (especially the wintery ones) just admiring the scene. I'm a sucker for good pixel art, of course, but the blend of 2D and 3D is something I've yet to see pulled off so well.
Super Mario Party
I haven't played a Mario Party game since the GameCube days, and I heard that they haven't been very good the last few years—until Super Mario Party. This game is super fun with friends as you run around the board collecting coins, playing mini games, and stealing stars from one another. It's pretty fun by yourself too, but best experienced with a group of people.
There are also lots of modes for when you want a break from the usual board game style, so you can try your hand at navigating a river together or keep up with some fast-paced rhythm games. There's a bit more strategy to this game than previous entries, and which character you play as actually matters for once. So grab your friends and get partying!
Dark Souls: Remastered
Ah yes, one of the hardest games of all time: Dark Souls. This frustrating (but awesome) experience has been remastered and ported to the Nintendo Switch—and it's a hit. I mean, who doesn't want to get extremely angry and throw their Joy-Con controller across the room after you've died for the 25th time?
In all seriousness, it's an awesome feat to have this game on the Switch, which means you can play it on the go. Praise the sun on the bus, the toilet, at the bar, whenever you want. It's a hard game, but that sense of accomplishment after you finally beat that boss is unmatched.
Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu/Eevee
Two games can count as one entry when they're basically the same game! I had a ton of fun with Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! Pokémon Yellow was one of the first real video games I ever played and it, along with Nintendo games in general, helped shaped my childhood. So I was super excited to hear that they were remaking it in HD. Even though it's not the hardcore game many fans of the franchise wanted, it's the perfect game for kids and new fans.
With only the original 151 (plus two new guys) Pokémon, easier combat mechanics, and strong visual style, it's a great entry point for newcomers to the series, but really scratches the nostalgia itch for fans of the original games. I got really attached to my Pikachu (who I nicknamed Electra) throughout the game. The ability to dress her and my trainer up in matching outfits was too adorable. Plus the rest of my team got to follow behind me as well, making the world feel truly alive.
Mario Tennis Aces
Mario Tennis Aces is a pretty straightforward game: If you like tennis, you'll like it. If you don't, this one won't change your mind. That doesn't stop it from being one of the most popular games for Switch players though; tennis video games are really fun!
The mechanics of Mario Tennis Aces are far more nuanced than many of the previous entries, making for various gameplay styles. You can upgrade your racket, store up stamina, and even block strong shots, so it's far more fun and interesting than Wii Sports tennis could have ever wanted to be. It's also the first in the series in many years to include a story mode, so be prepared for some hi-jinx from our favorite baddies, Wario and Waluigi.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
The best Nintendo switch games of 2018 didn't all have to originally come out in 2018, as I said earlier. This was originally a WiiU game, and it was actually one of the best on the system. So it only made sense to port it; after all, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was a WiiU port and it's currently the best selling game on the Switch!
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the best 2D platformer around by far. You can play as Donkey, Diddy, Dixie, Cranky, and even Funky Kong! All the characters have different positives and negatives (the exception being Funky, who is all positives because he's basically easy mode). But you might find yourself using him after all, because this game is not a pushover. Harder than your typical Mario game, you'll need to time your jumps pretty precisely to make it through this game without dying.
As one of the first indie games to ever be nominated for GOTY at the Game Awards, Celeste is nothing to scoff at. It won awards for Best Independent Game and Game for Impact—and for good reason: This game's story is unmatched. A story of self-discovery and mental health awaits you with a charming cast of characters.
Be warned, though, this game is brutally difficult. It's like the Dark Souls of platformers. You'll die a lot. But you respawn very quickly on the same screen, so you can try again instantly. It's one of the must-play Nintendo Switch games under $20.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
You know when you were a kid, watching Dragon Ball Z, and you wished you could play as Goku in a game and beat everyone up? Well, here you go. Dragon Ball FighterZ is the game you always wanted, and it is incredible. The graphics are straight out of a modern anime, the fighting mechanics are complex, and on the Switch, you can play co-op with just a single Joy-Con!
Easy to learn, but difficult to master, this is a fighting game you don't want to miss. It's a very solid port, and if you have any desire to take this game on the go, definitely consider the Switch version over its PS4 and Xbox counterparts.
This year brought a lot of hard games, and Dead Cells is one of them. The game actually came out last year, but was ported to consoles (including the Switch) this year. There are no checkpoints in this game. That means yes, if you die right before the final boss, you have to start all over again... good luck!
It's really worth it though. You can progress through the game in pretty much any way you choose, so if one area is too hard for you, simply try a different part of the level and come back later. Reviews say it's similar to the Castlevania series, so if you're a fan of those old-school games, then this is the game for you. Whatever you pick, if you're getting one of the best Nintendo Switch games of 2018, you're going to have a good time.