We’re well over halfway through 2021 and we’re steadily sliding down the back half of the year, having negotiated the six-month hump. Holiday season is waaaay off in the distance and we’ve still got several months to go before we get into video game ‘silly season’, but while recently discussing the upcoming Sonic Colors Ultimate remaster and lamenting that it wasn’t arriving until September, it suddenly struck us that that’s little more than a month away. Before you know it we’ll be knee-deep in Metroids, Marios and OLED screens. Lovely!
So, we thought it was worth getting a read on the room and seeing what games Nintendo Life staff have most enjoyed in the first half (and a bit) of 2021. Below you’ll find a selection of the hottest Switch games of the year so far with some words explaining why they left such an impression on us.
Although there are plenty of 2021 games I haven’t got around to playing just yet, for me the new Bowser’s Fury section in Super Mario 3D World on Switch has to be the best new gaming nugget I’ve experienced this year. I’m at the point where if a game hits a double-figure hour count, the likelihood I’ll finish it diminishes to near-zero. Bowser’s Fury was the perfect injection of sublime Mario platforming with all the verve and dazzling invention you’d expect from a new 3D Mario, but distilled into a manageable bitesize adventure which felt tailor-made just for me.
I might be as surprised as anyone by this, but I think my favourite game of the year so far might be The House In Fata Morgana.
That’s right, the visual novel I’ve been playing for MONTHS now, with no end in sight; the game that changes what it’s about every couple of hours; the story that unravels itself at the speed of a slug on a leisurely walk. Sure, there’s not much interaction, but that doesn’t matter so much when the tale it’s telling is so gripping and well-written — I find myself itching to get back to it, which is a feeling I only get with really good books.
Monster Hunter Rise had a tough task on Switch – it had to stand tall alongside the technological advances seen in MH World while retaining the quirkiness of the previous Wii/3DS/Wii U entries. It achieved both of these things, in my opinion.
Considering so much work will have been completed during the challenges of 2020/21, the development team did a fantastic job. I love dipping in for a portable hunt or a ‘session’ on the TV, and it’s an entry that added some new ideas while streamlining and making the experience more accessible and ‘snappy’. Oh and you ride palamutes and can run up walls; it’s brilliant.
I’ve actually stuck with the motion controls too (flicking a Joy-Con to pull out your sword just feels cool, OK?), and as long as you hit ‘Y’ every now and then, it all works smoothly enough. Classic Zelda FTW.
There was a 22 year lull between the N64 original and New Pokémon Snap and I spent a significant portion of that predicting the return of the series. I predicted it so much that I eventually gave up hope on it ever happening and that’s why I still have to pinch myself to realise we actually got it.
It didn’t reinvent the wheel but the original game holds a special place in my heart and all the sequel needed to do was catch up on 7 missed generations of Pokémon. New Pokémon Snap is one of the jolliest experiences I’ve had with Nintendo Switch, it’s just a pure joy.
I’m here to show my support for Bravely Default 2. Sure, it might not be your typical contender in a list like this, but the fact we actually got another entry in this particular series is something that needs to be celebrated.
And hey, as for the game – it provides such a comforting experience for anyone who has grown up with certain other Square Enix classics. It’s traditional, it’s a throwback and it also manages to mix in the ideal amount of modern conveniences to create a charming adventure that’s an absolute must-play for any longtime fan of the JRPG genre.
I haven’t gotten around to playing Bravely Default 2, Ender Lillies, Fata, Skyward, or Ace yet, although I have em. I’ve been spending all my time on MHR and MHS2 this year so far, and since my save file on MHR is over 200 hours, that’s the one I picked. Great game for sure, and if it had an “Ultimate” counterpart then it would be a heavy contender to MHGU which was amazing.
And while I’m a big fan of MH, I’ve never considered them GOTY contenders. Great and amazingly fun games yes, with great mechanics and sense of progression. Supremely satisfying, and the closest thing to the Diablo 2 in terms of that rewarding feeling. And likely until Diablo 2 Res releases, doubt I’ll spend as much time on any other game besides MHR or MHS2.
Lotta great games this year so far though, and more coming. Not sure ultimately what I’ll consider my GOTY this year. And as some have posted while I was typing, NEO is another on my list to get and play….that likely could be a contender alongside Fata.
Seriously though Hades, BotW and Witcher 3 have ruined me for what I expect out of GOTYs at this point. ?