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The Nintendo Switch is a sleek, versatile video game console. You can play loudly with your friends around a tv, or in quiet solitude on a bus commute. And with the Switch OLED model coming later this year, you have three different styles of the console to play your favorite games on: the Switch, Switch Lite, and OLED model.
This well-rounded, easy-to-use system allows for a lot of variety in what kind of games you can play. If you’re new to the Switch, you might not know where to start! And if you’re a veteran Switch player, ranking your favorites is just so fun. Here’s a list of ten games for the Switch that score well with critics and players alike. While everyone’s top ten will naturally differ depending on preference, this list includes titles that most gamers would consider high quality.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The GOAT! Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (or BotW as it’s commonly called on blogs and reddit threads) came out alongside the original Nintendo Switch in 2017. It was unanimously hailed as the game of the year. Many, many people call it the best game ever made, ever.
It’s an open-world adventure that redefined what a Zelda game (or any game, for that matter) could be. Words to describe BotW are as follows: masterpiece, amazing, record-breaking, brilliant, stellar, fantastic, and BEST. While there’s plenty to do in line with classic Zelda games like defeating bosses and solving puzzles, this game is mostly celebrated for its ground-breaking open concept that gives you complete freedom to explore.
2. Super Mario: Odyssey
Super Mario: Odyssey is a sandbox-style Mario game that takes you to different worlds. Much like BotW, this game completely reimagines what a Mario game can be, with arguably more imagination and charm than any Mario game before it. It’s also colorful and beautifully simple, for younger or newer Switch players.
3. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
For 90s kids, Super Smash N64 was the sleepover game. The franchise-melting-pot fighting game came back and impressively met fans’ towering expectations. With faster gameplay, TONS more characters (over 70 in total), and diversely thrilling stages, Super Smash Ultimate is the ultimate multiplayer game for the Switch. Play with up to eight people – and good luck trying not to wake your neighbors.
4. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
For so many, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is associated with the 2020 pandemic quarantine. It was released as the quarantine began, and offered much needed distraction from an awfully dark time. Perhaps that’s part of the reason it holds a special place in our hearts. But it’s also a quality life-simulation game with creativity and charisma that’s sure to captivate players for many years to come.
5. Bayonetta 2
This Switch game is a “port” of its original release on the Wii U, meaning it has been essentially reformatted for a new or different console. Ports can be tricky, because sometimes the same game just doesn’t play as well on a different device. In the case of Bayonetta 2, it preserves the original quality, if not improving it. This title is renowned for its gorgeous art, combat mechanics, and dramatic characters.
6. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition
This game wins the award for longest title. While this RPG (role playing game) is beautifully designed, from art to gameplay quality of life, it is most beloved for its immersive story. Dragon Quest XI is a port of a Nintendo 3DS game, but the Switch version is stuffed with bonus content, hence the stuffed name to match. This fantastically epic hero’s journey is the perfect escape from real life.
2020’s game of the year was the roguelike indie favorite, Hades. Roguelike means the gameplay is based on randomly generated algorithms. So, like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. Some would argue that Hades perfected the roguelike genre with this game. Drawing on mythology, and featuring stunning art and music, the game is infectious and addictive. Heads up – you die over and over. A lot.
You likely won’t find a game that both critics and fans agree upon so fully. This 2D platformer is delightfully challenging and subsequently rewarding. Madeline has to climb Mt. Celeste, and she needs your help. Meticulously crafted level design allows for clean, elegant gameplay. The allure of this game is how its creators put so much dimension of heart and story into a simple 2D platform.
9. Super Mario Maker 2
In this video game, you make video games. Mario Maker lets you design your own levels in a side scrolling Mario game – and where the first Maker game may have lacked, the sequel worked out the kinks, making for a smooth, endlessly enjoyable experience. While it’s debatably the best game of its kind anywhere, it’s certainly the best game builder on the Switch.
10. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
If you’ve never played Mario Kart in some form or fashion… how? The game is basically ubiquitous in our society, and for a good reason. It’s the go-to multiplayer racing, banana-chucking, shell-shooting game for players of all ages. To this day, it is still the Switch’s best-selling game, and it’s a staple in every Switch owner’s library.
How PlayStation Became One of the “Big Three” Home Consoles
PlayStation’s legacy begins with a father, a daughter, and oddly enough, the Nintendo Famicom. Ken Kutaragi, a Sony executive, was first inspired by watching his daughter play on a Nintendo Famicon, a console released exclusively in Japan. You might think that the inception of the first PlayStation was created to compete with Nintendo, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, Kutaragi and Nintendo began working together. He was almost fired for this, but Sony president Norio Ohga saw his potential and let him continue to work with their now competitor.
Kutaragi showed off a new sound processor that was better than anything Nintendo had and was able to sell them on using it for their SNES system. Later on, Nintendo would try to get Sony to manufacture a CD-ROM add-on. It was titled Play Station.
Shortly after, the relationship would start to crumble as Sony was aggressively trying to obtain full rights over all titles of Play Station titles and music and film software for a different console. This new console would be SNES compatible and include a new CD format called the Super Disc. Sony was trying to enter and dominate a new market. As a result, 1991 would be the last year they worked together.
On the day that Nintendo and Sony were to announce the Play Station, Nintendo harshly “betrayed” Sony at CES 1991. Instead of announcing the new system, Nintendo went on to publicly announce their own partnership with another electronics manufacture, Phillips. There were still some negotiations following CES, but ties were completely cut in 1992 when Kutaragi said that there could never be a deal between the two companies. Kutaragi and company would continue to work on the Play Station at Sony Music. Sony would finally announce its entrance into the gaming world late into 1993. They got rid of the space and called it the PlayStation X to distance themselves further from their initial project with Nintendo.
Now on its own, Sony ran into a wall. They didn’t have anybody in-house with game development experience. They instead utilized third-party development studios to create games for its system. Sony would later gain the support (through negotiations) of almost 300 development teams including big names like Konami and Namco.
A launch day was rapidly approaching now. Kutaragi was satisfied with his efforts to complete his vision of PlayStation, an affordable system with great performance. The console was launched on December 3rd, 1994 in Japan. The PlayStation would go on to receive high praise and excellent sales for its Japan release and the United States release a year later thus engraving the system into gaming history.
Sony went on to release the PlayStation 2, which is still the best-selling console ever. They have released three home consoles since then and have emerged as one of the three names in home consoles. PlayStation has managed to outsell Xbox every single generation and it all started with a man watching his daughter play games on a Nintendo Famicon.
3 Budget Gaming Setups Possible with Xbox Cloud Gaming
Xbox Cloud Gaming is an online gaming service from Microsoft which streams game data from a Microsoft datacenter to your device through the cloud. The data centers use the Xbox Series X configuration which allows for the optimal console experience without the same resource requirement to run the games locally at high resolution on your device.
As a result, there are a ton of different ways you can play high-quality Xbox titles without investing in an expensive Series X – including just about any device with a display and web browser or app store access.
3 Affordable Ways to Play Xbox Without a Console
Old Computers with a Controller
When a game is played directly on a console or computer, the device is responsible for all aspects of processing, transferring, and displaying the data from the disc or hard drive. This puts a strain on the device which limits its ability to process the files correctly, resulting in poor performance or quality.
However, when streaming games the receiving computer or console simply needs to render the visual aspect because the data center handles the rest. This means that outside of some light resource requirements to process the image, the device acts mostly as a monitor (with some controller input handling) which means you don’t need a strong computer to play 1080P modern titles.
To make things better, you can connect an old laptop to a new monitor via HDMI for better resolution and quality that the original screen may not be capable of handling.
Your Smartphone with Accessories
You already spend a lot of money on your phone, so why not turn it into a mobile Xbox? Whether through the Android app for Xbox Cloud Gaming or a mobile device’s internet browser, your smartphone can act as a mobile game console (with some help from accessories).
With the simple addition of a Bluetooth xbox controller, you can enjoy a familiar controller-based experience with the phone as the display. You can even get a phone mount to attach directly to the controller for easy viewing. There are also gaming-specific accessories to add on such as the Backbone One that integrates your phone directly into the “controller” (similar to the Nintendo Switch), which contains the joysticks, buttons, D-pad, and console buttons on two controller handles.
If you’re looking for a self-contained, multi-use gaming setup that doesn’t require additional hardware (in many cases), the Surface Duo presents a unique opportunity.
The Xbox Cloud Gaming app for Android includes the ability to emulate a controller directly on the screen. For a 2-screened tablet like the Surface Duo, this means that the bottom screen (when in landscape mode) can be used as a controller similar to the Nintendo DS’s layout.
The result is a tablet that doubles as a mobile Xbox without the need for additional hardware, making it perhaps the most portable option (although it may end up costing close to the Series X).
Why Virtual Reality Games Don’t Work On a Flat Screen
We’ve seen countless games that start on monitors and TVs get ported to virtual reality. Incredible games like Skyrim and Fallout made for some fun, albeit wonky gameplay moments. Getting to actually be in Skyrim was certainly one of the highlights of my time in virtual reality. So why haven’t we seen VR games get transferred to the flat screen? We’ve seen modders do their best to translate VR games to 2-D, but it usually just makes an incredible VR experience into a mediocre video game.
The answer can be kind of hard to pinpoint if you’ve never had the pleasure of diving into virtual reality. Even watching other players mess around in VR doesn’t give you a complete picture. Sure, you can see your favorite streamer have tons of fun, but actually diving in is so much different. These virtual reality games are not designed to just be played, but to be experienced. For example, picking up an object in VR actually serves as a core gameplay mechanic. You don’t just click a button; you drop down to one knee and physically reach out to grasp it. Shooting, reloading, crouching, and catching objects aren’t just parts of the game; they are the game. There’s no need for different and innovative mechanics since physically performing the action is so dang engrossing.
Flat Screen Virtual Reality Games Fall Flat
This is potentially the only reason that VR games just don’t work in 2-D. Half-Life: Alyx, possibly the best virtual reality game the world has ever seen, was modded into a flat-screen game and it turned out to be kind of boring aside from a stellar story. You just can’t be in the world the same way as you can in VR. The wonder came from being transported into City 17 and having headcrabs leaping at your face. You miss out on accidentally shattering a glass bottle which leads you to being attacked by the truly horrifying Jeff monster. It just isn’t the same, the thrill is absent when you can’t be there. We’ve never seen tech like VR before. Only virtual reality could make sifting through trash and opening cabinets fun.
2-D games aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but let flat-screen games be flat screen and let virtual reality games be virtual reality.