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Feature Article

Here's The 5 Best Nintendo Switch Game Released In 2018

The Switch's finest.

Switch's inaugural year was packed with arguably some of the best games Nintendo has ever made. Heavy-hitters like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey helped bring the console-handheld hybrid into the cultural consciousness, resulting in massive popularity and record-breaking sales. But when 2017 wrapped up, many wondered how the fan-favorite company could possibly follow up such a fantastic debut.

Fortunately, you didn't need to look hard to find great Switch games in 2018. Nintendo delivered a wealth of new games in some of its most iconic franchises, like Super Smash Bros., Mario Party, Pokemon, and Kirby. These new first-party games were each fantastic in their own right, but the real star of the show this year was the Switch's substantial lineup of critically acclaimed indie games, which truly defined the console this year. With so many amazing games, there was more than enough to keep you busy--whether you were sitting on a couch playing at home or on the go. In no particular order, these are the five best Switch games of 2018.

Dead Cells

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One look at Dead Cells and you might think it's just another indie metroidvania game, but don't let its 2D retro appearance fool you. Dead Cells elegantly blends the metroidvania, roguelike, and action genres for an experience that stands on its own. It's tough as nails, and you're likely to die hundreds of times in your journey to reach to the end, but that difficulty is precisely what'll keep bringing you back. It helps that Dead Cells is so brilliantly designed, with a progression system that carries over from run to run, making even your worst attempts worthwhile. The action is also refreshing and often unpredictable; you'll cross your fingers before each run hoping to get the right weapon and equipment allotments that'll push you past that boss you're stuck on. All the while, you'll race towards time-gated doors in the hopes of looting their spoils, so that you might level up further to better your odds of survival. Dead Cells always keeps you on your toes, killing you nearly every step of the way, but always compelling you to go on one more run.

Celeste

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Celeste's merits lie in its ability to blend its poignant storytelling about mental illness with its unapologetically difficult platforming. The two are symbiotic, elevating each other in ways that bring the adventure to an incredible emotional high. You play as Madeline, who's on a self-imposed mission to climb Celeste mountain. While the journey starts simple by having you beat platforming challenges and gather optional collectibles, the game soon explores Madeline's mental health in ways that make each challenge you overcome gripping and profound. Celeste's heartfelt story will pull you in, while its platforming is an intricate high-speed dance that'll keep you busy for hours. It's a must play this year and one of the Switch's best.

Into The Breach

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Into The Breach is deceptively simplistic in its approach to turn-based strategy. An 8x8 grid and the ability to see every enemy action before it occurs might seem like a turn-off for hardcore strategy fans in search of a challenge, but don't be fooled; the complexity and nuance of the tactics demanded here is right up there with the genre's best. Developed by the studio behind the critically acclaimed FTL, Into the Breach puts you in command of a time-travelling mech squad tasked with defending the Earth from giant monsters. However, the catch is the transparency of the action, with the details of every enemy attack being made available to you. The focus on foresight makes encounters empowering in their predictability yet tense and dynamic, as almost every tactical blunder that occurs could have been avoided with better planning. In addition, there's a remarkable diversity provided by the game's various unit types that each change your outlook of a battlefield. Regardless of whether you're a strategy fan or not, Into The Breach is a fantastic tactical journey that you should queue up to the top of your list.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate offers multiple under-the-hood changes that make it one of the most accessible and complex entries in the long-running Smash Bros. franchise. While subtle changes make it a joy to play, it's the game's "everything and the kitchen sink" approach to design that is its most endearing quality. Every character who has ever appeared in a Smash Bros. game is here, plus new additions. If you're a long-time fan, it's fantastic to see everyone across the series' history represented and playable. There's also a significant amount of single-player content available that pays homage to all the franchises that appear--a lovely bonus on top of the hundreds of hours you can spend in multiplayer. It's a wonder that Ultimate is able to include so much but not feel bloated in everything it refines and introduces. It's an all-encompassing collection of varied content and mechanics that'll keep you constantly coming back for more in 2018--and likely for several years thereafter.

Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu / Let's Go Eevee

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Not many expected Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee to be as delightful as they are. After all, the upcoming mainline entry on Switch, which is set to release in 2019, always seemed to overshadow Let's Go's more beginner-focused approach. But it's Let's Go's accessibility and smart improvements to the series' established mechanics that truly makes the adventure shine. The Pokemon Go-style catching mechanics makes the world feel more lively and fun to explore, the removal of hidden moves and stronger direction through the world streamline the journey, and a better onboarding experience spares you from tedious tutorials. Fans of the series might be let down by the absence of more complex features from recent franchise entries, but don't let that stop you from playing Let's Go. It's a worthwhile adventure that pushes the Pokemon formula in exciting new directions, and it's one of the best RPGs on Switch this year.

GameSpot will be unveiling our picks for the best games and entertainment of 2018 throughout December. Head to our Best of 2018 hub to see all the winners so far.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Avatar image for itstheel
Itstheel

If Nintendo could feasibly bring game streaming to the U.S. the system would be much better off. But I believe they already stated they will not do that. Still, Japan got RE7 and Assassin's Creed Oddysey. Makes no sense why we can't get these games too. As I understand, while the hardware can't pull these games off on its own, streaming makes the same games possible on NS. So why not make it happen??!

Avatar image for itstheel
Itstheel

Switch owner here. Our system lacked AAA exclusives. But we got some good ports, and at least Warframe a n d Fortnite came to Switch. I really hope we get Metroid next year. Also, seeing Marvel Ultimate Alliance as a Switch exclusive is kinda promising. Next year, continue with the ports but also give us at least 4 - 5 AAA exclusives. I give NS a B report card this year. The ports kept us afloat, but the system can do so much better. Lastly, lose the app and make all games voice chat similar to Fortnite and Warframe.

Avatar image for itstheel
Itstheel

@itstheel: on second thought, I suppose Octopath and the Xenoblade expansion were AAA exclusives.... Still, not enough to keep up with PS4

Avatar image for jeezers
jeezers

Octopath should have been on here

Online
Avatar image for hamedmuhammady
hamedmuhammady

I bloody love Nintendo.

That's all.

Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

I take it dead cells is winning GOTY.

Avatar image for romeothebeast
RomeoTheBeast

Nintendo needs to come harder in 2019. I'm very happy they released Smash and I bought it day 1 but outside of catching up on 2017 games (Plus Mario Tennis) this year has been a let down for me.

Avatar image for quag-daddy
Quag-Daddy

Let’s Go was a pretty big surprise for me. ...Smash has me distracted at the moment, but I keep wanting to jump back into Let’s Go. It only takes about 30hrs to beat the main campaign and then the hunt is on for perfect versions of all the Pokémon. Fast, fun, and deep.

Glad to see Into The Breach on the list. - Easily spent over 40 hours. - The interesting squads, tons of challenges, and the fast match times have been so much fun.

Avatar image for deactivated-5d4c0b80dcd76

No kissing up to Square Enix with their Octopath Traveler exclusive?

Avatar image for videogameninja
videogameninja

I fully expect Smash Bros Ultimate to take the top prize for best Nintendo GOTY by pretty much every gaming media site out there.

This, while in part due to the great acclaim it is still receiving, is primarily due to the fact that it might very well be the only big-name AAA title released for the system in the entire 2018 calendar year.

It’s true there were some other good contenders but I think many would be lying if they said those titles were in the same league (never mind received the same level of attention from Nintendo itself.) as Smash Bros.

The simple fact that Nintendo dedicated almost it’s entire 2018 E3 Treehouse event to Smash Bros is reason enough to convince even the most die-hard skeptics that this game was being given more special attention than most.

Hopefully 2019 is a huge step up in the games category for Nintendo (mainly the Switch.) as I think many would be excited for another year like 2017 (Zelda, Super Mario: Odyssey, etc…).

-SMASHING THE OTHER NOMIMEES NINJA APPROVED-

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

3 indi games that can be played anywhere else... and a pokemon game that nobody likes. smash is the only worthwhile game on the switch in 2018 as predicted. that's a rough year for nintendo... they have fallen to microsoft levels in 2018.

Avatar image for jesuislc
jesuislc

@Xristophoros: Pokémon game nobody likes? That’s a pretty big (and false) statement. It actually faired quite well. If you’re basing your claim on user bombings on metacritic then I assume you’re one of the people that gave it 0 too.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@jesuislc: the core pokemon fans don't like THIS iteration as it has been watered down. nintendo made it for newbs. a 79 meta score is all you need to know...

Avatar image for zmanbarzel
ZmanBarzel

@Xristophoros: "the core pokemon fans don't like THIS iteration"

Perhaps, and I'm going out on a very long limb here, these Let's Go games aren't made for "the core Pokémon fans."

Avatar image for joe_b1_kenobi
joe_b1_kenobi

@Xristophoros: 79 really isn’t bad. And just because the core fans may feel this isn’t for them doesn’t mean that nobody likes it. That’s a pretty broad statement. Maybe look at sales numbers instead of the meta score for a insight into the games popularity. I’ve read that it sold over 3 million copies and is the fastest selling game since the switches release.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@joe_b1_kenobi: those who are not well read purchased it for their kids... that explains the good sales. pokemon is immune to bad sales after all so that is no way to evaluate the quality of the game. i'm not even a pokemon fan myself but at least i keep up with the trends and know that people (i.e. core fans) should stay away from this one.

Avatar image for joe_b1_kenobi
joe_b1_kenobi

@Xristophoros: well even if you want to completely disregard the sales, the reviews are still generally positive. Like I said l, a 79 on metacritic is far from a bad game and even on par or better reviewed than some of the core franchise titles.

Avatar image for gotrekfabian
gotrekfabian

Please don't let these topics be all GS is offering whereby GOTY is concerned. We want a readers poll and a countdown topic/game each day from the staff as well as a topic on each member's personal favourites and why.

Avatar image for supamastergamer
SupaMasterGamer

I just spoke with a colleague that bought a switch just for smash and pokemon (2019) well for me... Metroid is the only thing that will make me consider buying switch...I'm still waiting...