Mario is missing (and so is Link), but it's okay
There’s only so much Smash Bros. a body can take. In 2017, Nintendo dominated game-of-the-year conversations with its first-party powerhouses The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. This year, aside from December’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the company didn’t release a lot of tentpole hits. Luckily, even in a calmer 2018, the Switch was still a port machine, with developers lining up to bring excellent titles to the system. Here, in no specific order, are a few of the golden oldies (games released in 2017 or earlier on other systems) we were excited to see make it to the portable platform this year.
Dark Souls (first released in 2011)
Progenitor of an entire generation of punishing RPGs (technically Demon’s Souls was first, but that whole business is complicated), Dark Souls deserves a revisit on Switch. Despite some occasional early-2010s jankiness, the modern classic holds up not just as an artifact of gaming history, but as a rewarding experience in its own right.
Dead Cells (first released in 2017)
Originally released as an early-access title in 2017, Dead Cells made its way to Switch with the game’s full rollout in this summer. The game combines some of the best elements of roguelikes, soulslikes and Metroidvanias to become something uniquely addictive.
Diablo III (first released in 2012)
Now available on just about every gaming device ever conceived, Blizzard’s staple isometric action RPG franchise feels right at home on the Switch. Whether you’re grinding for gear on the train or snuggling up on the couch with your loved ones to evaporate scores of demons in local co-op, the title plays well.
Fortnite (first released in 2017)
What more can be said of Fortnite? The dominant battle royale experience and its massive following have been the talk of the gaming scene throughout 2018, and its release on Switch only heightened the already deafening buzz. With newly added tools for player-created content and a constantly evolving section of the map called the Block, there’s never been a better time to surrender your life to this industry behemoth.
The Banner Saga trilogy (first released 2014-2018)
Just before the release of this year’s excellent series conclusion, The Banner Saga 3, Stoic brought the Kickstarter franchise’s first two entries to the Switch. Combining Oregon Trail-style text prompts with tactical grid-based combat works much better than it sounds like it should due to consequential, series-spanning decisions, rousing scores by Austin Wintory, and a hand-drawn Viking mythology aesthetic.
Hyper Light Drifter (first released in 2016)
One of 2016’s best games, Hyper Light Drifter is more than the sum of its parts, and those parts individually are already pretty great. The haunting soundtrack by Disasterpeace, vibrant pixel art, melancholy world-building, and tight controls make for a special experience for those determined enough to overcome the fiendish difficulty.
Transistor and Bastion (first released in 2014 and 2011)
Two out of three of Supergiant Games’ previous offerings made it onto Switch this year. Bastion, the studio’s debut, is a cleverly narrated adventure, and Transistor is an unfathomably stylish, surprisingly deep tactical action RPG with a killer soundtrack by Darren Korb. Fingers crossed for eventual Switch adaptations of Pyre and the company’s freshly announced Hades.
Gone Home (first released in 2013)
For its fifth anniversary, the Fullbright Company and Annapurna Interactive brought this foundational piece of storytelling to the Switch. Delivered entirely via found objects and letters, the plot is an affecting meditation on family and identity. For a mobile experience, play on Switch or, as of Dec. 11, iOS.
TowerFall (first released 2013)
TowerFall is legendary for its fast-paced local multiplayer arena battles, and on Switch the game has everything established fans or newcomers could want. This version supports up to six players for competitive multiplayer, or four players for co-op. Even Madeline from Matt Thorson’s other award-winning title, Celeste, makes an exclusive appearance to get in on the unique blend of 2-D platforming and archery.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (first released in 2017)
Following in the footsteps of Doom, Wolfenstein II is one of the very few AAA FPS titles on Nintendo’s platform. For such a graphically demanding game to run so well on Switch is an impressive feat, and anyone who needs their Nazi-wrecking on the go should consider giving it a try.
Darkest Dungeon (first released in 2016)
Darkest Dungeon is the perfect turn-based dungeon crawler for masochists and Lovecraft lovers. If that doesn’t sound good to you yet, probably skip it. If you’re intrigued, treat yourself to this gothically penned roguelike that cheekily explores the psychological consequences of plundering tombs full of eldritch horrors.