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The Best Nintendo Switch Games Of 2022

Although one of the most highly anticipated Nintendo Switch games, "The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom," was bumped from an expected 2022 release into this year, that doesn't mean that the prior 12 months were a disappointment. In fact, 2022 boasted a wide array of impressive and exciting games released for the hybrid console. Fans got no less than two full "Pokémon" games, for example, and there were plenty of other high-profile titles to go around.

Whether you only bought a Switch to get your hands on Nintendo's first-party titles or were excited to see some of the indie gems that hit the system in 2022, there was something for everyone. Even some tremendous third-party games made their way to the console for the first time, bringing great experiences to a whole new audience of players.

Here's the very best of the best when it comes to the Switch's 2022 output. If you have missed any of these, it might be time to check them out before many of the 2023's heavy-hitters arrive on store shelves.

Nintendo Switch Sports

"Wii Sports" is one of the most popular and fondly remembered games released for the Nintendo Wii. This game helped establish the console and make it the success that it was, showcasing its motion controls as players took part in activities that included tennis, bowling, golf, and boxing. Even Queen Elizabeth II apparently enjoyed it!

Seeking to replicate that triumphant feeling once again, Nintendo released "Nintendo Switch Sports" in 2022. Utilizing motion controls like its predecessors, this game features tennis, bowling, chambara, volleyball, badminton, football, and golf.

Where "Nintendo Switch Sports" stands out is in its multiplayer offerings. The game allows for online matches and even new battle royale-style modes for certain sports. These add a new dimension to the series, while the addition of a progression system to unlock new items also provides a reason to keep playing. Critics were a bit split, however: GameSpot was critical of the lack of single-player challenges and modes at launch, whereas GamesRadar applauded the addition of new sports.

  • Release Date: April 29, 2022
  • Genre: Sports
  • Game Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 72

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

Hot on the heels of "Pokémon Legends: Arceus" came the ninth generation titles "Pokémon Scarlet" and "Violet." Taking place in a new area known as the Paldea region, these entries expand on the open world design of "Arceus," which turned out to be a good move. While it follows the same gameplay formula laid down in the other "Pokémon" games — catch Pokémon, battle Gym Leaders, etc. — these 2022 titles are less linear, allowing players more freedom to choose how to approach the branches of the story.

"Pokémon Scarlet" and "Violet" didn't manage to achieve the same kind of universal acclaim of its predecessors, however. That doesn't mean they were bad games, as they received plenty of praise for the more emotional story and the new gameplay mechanics. Some reviews, like the one from Nintendo Life, even suggested that these are the games that best capture what made the original "Pokémon Red" and "Blue" so great in the first place. However, many critics and fans were also unimpressed with the technical performance and uninspired visuals of the new "Pokémon" duo. Even so, Pokémaniacs will find a lot to love here.

  • Release Date: November 18, 2022
  • Genre: Role-playing
  • Game Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 72

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes

The "Fire Emblem" series has become a staple of Nintendo consoles since the early 1990s, developing a reputation for quality. Almost every entry in the franchise has received critical acclaim. Things are not all that different in "Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes," a crossover of the Nintendo RPG franchise and the "Dynasty Warriors" games that combines elements of the disparate series to create a unique experience.

What that means for the player is plenty of hack-and-slash combat on top of the standard RPG elements that you'd expect to find in a "Fire Emblem" title. For some, including Eurogamer, this elevates both franchises and gives the game an interesting twist that breathes new life into the "Dynasty Warriors" formula. Other critics were thrilled with the improvements made from the first "Fire Emblem Warriors," praising the engaging combat and replay value.

  • Release Date: June 24, 2022
  • Genre: Hack and slash, role-playing, real-time tactics
  • Game Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 81

Splatoon 3

Nintendo is not exactly known for its shooter games, as the genre generally doesn't fit with the family-friendly image that the company has cultivated over the years. The "Splatoon" series is a notable exception, though, and 2022 saw the third game franchise release on the Nintendo Switch. Like its predecessors, "Splatoon 3" is a third-person shooter in which two teams of players battle it out and cover an arena in their own colors.

However, it can't be said that "Splatoon 3" is simply a rehash of the first two games. The developers added a variety of extra weapons, including special items like a Tri-Stringer compound bow, new multiplayer game modes, and (for the first time in the series) a story-driven campaign. All of these additions were widely praised by critics, who were largely happy that Nintendo didn't try to change things too drastically, but instead focused on finding ways to keep the action feeling fresh.

  • Release Date: Sept. 8, 2022
  • Genre: Third-person shooter
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 83

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

The "Kirby" series has always been one of Nintendo's most prized possessions, with dozens of games released since the pink hero made his Game Boy debut in 1992. So it shouldn't come as a massive surprise that the HAL Laboratory has released an entry for the Switch. "Kirby and the Forgotten Land" takes things to a new level with its 3D stages and gameplay. This time around, Kirby has to venture into the New World to save the Waddle Dees from the Beast Pack that has stolen them away.

Critics were not only impressed with the successful integration of 3D, but also found that Kirby's new transformations and abilities also gave players more opportunities to really experiment with his powers — he can even turn into a car! The level design and beautiful visuals also received plenty of praise from reviewers and players alike. It is little wonder that "Kirby and the Forgotten Land" has become the best-selling game in the franchise, selling more than five million copies in its first eight months of release (via VGC).

  • Release Date: March 25, 2022
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 85

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

"Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak" is another entry that isn't technically a brand new game, but rather an expansion to a previously released title. In this case, it's a DLC for "Monster Hunter Rise," a 2021 game that received rave reviews. With that in mind, the fact that this major expansion has also gone down pretty well with critics and players shouldn't come as a huge surprise.

The expansion adds plenty of fresh content to "Monster Hunter Rise," effectively making the in-game world bigger than ever before. There's a selection of new areas to explore, a host of additional monsters to battle, and even some gameplay enhancements to make the game more enjoyable to play. These include being able to switch between skill sets, allowing for more elaborate combos, as well as the ability to run up walls without having to constantly rely on the Wirebug. Add in a new difficulty level with Master Rank quests and an overarching threat from the elder dragon Malzeno and this is an expansion that all fans of the original game will want to pick up (via Nintendo Life).

  • Release Date: June 29, 2022
  • Genre: Action-adventure
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 85

Atari 50

Atari might not be the gaming force that it once was, but the name still holds a special place in the hearts of gamers. This special collection of more than 100 games from across the history of Atari was released in celebration of the company's 50th anniversary. The collection includes games from the Jaguar, Lynx, 2600, 5200, and the 7800, as well as interviews and behind-the-scenes footage about the titles and the people that made them. The title's interactive timeline contains plenty of trivia for players to learn about some of the biggest (and even rarest) games the company has ever put out.

The extras set "Atari 50" apart from many other gaming compilations. For Atari fans or history buffs, it is an unrivaled collection of information and material that you won't find anywhere else. IGN praised the way in which the game manages to be as much a thrilling documentary as a traditional anthology of games. Meanwhile, Gaming Age found the sheer amount of content impressive and suggested that everyone should give it a try.

  • Release Date: November 11, 2022
  • Genre: Arcade
  • Game Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 89

Bayonetta 3

"Bayonetta 3" made headlines in October before the game was released. Original Bayonetta voice actor Hellena Taylor caused quite a stir when she revealed that she was not voicing the titular character in the latest sequel. The situation grew more complicated as she and the developer accused one another of misleading fans and the ordeal threatened to overshadow what was an exciting launch. 

Unlike the original 2009 game, both the second and third installments have been exclusive to Nintendo consoles. Despite all the drama surrounding the game, what that exclusivity meant for Switch owners is that they got their hands on one of the best exclusives of 2022. "Bayonetta 3" sees players once again taking control of the witch as she continues her crusade against angels and a new threat against the fabric of the multiverse. 

As was the case with its predecessors, this game received widespread praise for its fast-paced combat (via GameSpot). While some reviews mentioned moments of poor performance (via IGN) and some took issue with its convoluted plot, players and critics have mostly had a magical time with "Bayonetta 3."

  • Release Date: October 28, 2022
  • Genre: Hack-and-slash, Action
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 86

Mario + Rabbids Spark of Hope

The "Rabbids" franchise has become one of Ubisoft's signature series in recent years, even overshadowing the "Rayman" franchise from which it originally spawned. Switching from the party game genre that it was known for, the Rabbids crossed over with Mario in 2017 for the strategy game "Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle." 2022's sequel continues the quirky, turn-based tactical battles that made the original so much fun.

This time around, the action has been opened up even further. "Sparks of Hope" is not only less linear than the first game, allowing players to move around areas more freely, but it also contains a real-time element when not in combat to add an extra layer of challenge (via Games Radar). Rather than relying on a grid-based system, players can freely move around the area during battles, adding an extra layer of depth to combat. Outside of battles, the developers have included new item-finding asks that allow for further exploration of the world.

Most reviews found that it was a major improvement over its predecessor, especially in terms of the engaging gameplay and interesting additions (via Eurogamer). This makes it a must-buy for anyone who wants a more accessible strategy game on consoles.

  • Release Date: Oct. 20, 2022
  • Genre: Real-time Strategy
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 86

The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero

Originally released in 2010 for the PSP, "The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero" has since been reissued on the PS Vita and PC. It finally received an official North American release on the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 in 2022. The JRPG follows the story of Lloyd Bannings after the events of "The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd." A rookie police detective, he takes control of a new unit within the Crossbell Police Department and slowly begins to uncover a series of secrets in his hometown, including a sinister cult.

Although this is not an older game and not on the cutting edge of technology, reviews like the one from Pure Nintendo found it to be a charming game that still holds up in terms of its visuals. Inverse also praised the surprisingly deep combat system, which is accessible but also allows for plenty of strategic depth in capable hands. The small refinements and English localization (at long last) make this modern classic a game that fans of the series — and JRPGs in general — will want to check out.

  • Release Date: September 27, 2022
  • Genre: Role-playing
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 86

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Despite only becoming part of the Nintendo family in 2007, Monolith Soft has risen to become one of the Japanese company's most important studios in recent years. Its latest effort is "Xenoblade Chronicles 3," a continuation of the series that also functions as a spin-off of the earlier "Xenosaga" series. Acting as the final act in the trilogy, "Xenoblade Chronicles 3" sees two groups from warring nations, led by Noah and Milo respectively, join together to uncover the secrets of their true enemy and who is really controlling their neverending war.

The six main characters are forced to work as a team early on, which means that players have the chance to get to know them better and see them truly develop as the story progresses. As noted in IGN's review, this structure also allows for some rather charming storytelling and plenty of memorable interactions. Although players will clock more than 100 hours of game time, "Xenoblade Chronicles 3" manages to avoid becoming stale by allowing users to switch between classes switch up their approach to each thrilling combat encounter.

  • Release Date: July 29, 2022
  • Genre: Action, RPG
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 89

Portal Companion Collection

Despite the fact that "Portal" was released a decade and a half ago in 2007, the series has remained relevant thanks in large part to its imaginative and unique gameplay. While the original game and its sequel deal with some very adult themes, the quirky nature of the series and the charming (but super-difficult) puzzles are a great fit for the Switch. Up until 2022, however, that wasn't an option. Thankfully, the "Portal Companion Collection" has now provided that opportunity.

There's nothing really new in this package, which includes both "Portal" and "Portal 2," although it does add some impressive graphical improvements compared to previous console ports that make it one of the best-looking and smoothest ways to play the two games (via Eurogamer). The hybrid nature of the Switch makes it an ideal way to play the multiplayer mode included in "Portal 2" as it means that people can play the game on the go and in portable mode rather than having to rely on using a television screen at home, something that has not previously been possible. If you haven't played "Portal" before, then now is the time to finally jump in on Switch.

  • Release Date: June 28, 2022
  • Genre: Puzzle, Platformer
  • Game Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 96

Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course

From the moment that Studio MDHR first announced "Cuphead," it became one of the most highly anticipated games of the last decade. The stunning hand-drawn animations and visual style reminiscent of early cartoons gave the game plenty of appeal, and it certainly didn't disappoint when it finally came to a variety of platforms in 2017. The early success spawned a Netflix adaptation in the form of "The Cuphead Show!" and a DLC expansion that became available in 2022.

"Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course" is no standard add-on, either. The expansion introduced 12 new bosses along with a collection of upgrades to help take them down. It also made Ms. Chalice a playable character in both the original campaign and the newer levels, which expanded the storyline to see Cuphead and Mugman fighting to rescue Ms. Chalice from the Astral Plane.

Winning universal acclaim from critics, Polygon pointed out that the updated artwork and new stages made coming back to "Cuphead" well worth it. Reviewer Russ Frushtick noted, "every fight stands out as a memorable experience, from a bearded stone golem and his pack of evil gnomes to a train-riding cow who sees the business end of a pressure cooker only to keep on fighting."

  • Release Date: June 30, 2022
  • Genre: Action, Platformer, Shooter
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 88

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

For many people, the "Pokémon" series had become a little stale. While various spin-offs have explored new mechanics and genres, the mainline series has pretty much stayed consistent in its formula over the last two decades. Things finally began to change for the better with "Pokémon Legends: Arceus," an open-world prequel that takes place in the Hisui/Sinnoh region, many years before the events of "Pokémon Diamond" and "Pearl." Tasked to research the creatures in the area, the player must fill out the very first Pokédex and learn more about Pokémon from a bygone era. 

"Arceus" allows players to search through the tall grass and capture Pokémon outside of battle, opening up many new possibilities for players to fill out their Pokédex, while the storyline finally revealed a number of details about the beginnings of the Pokémon world. Critics were impressed with the open-world design and rewarding gameplay, with some even calling it the best "Pokémon" game in many years. It's certainly a game that fans should try for themselves.

  • Release Date: January 28, 2022
  • Genre: Action, role-playing
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 83

Neon White

No list of great Switch games that came out in 2022 would be complete with this surprise indie success story. "Neon White" is a bizarre mix of first-person shooter and puzzle platformer in which players control a demon hunter tasked with dispatching demonic enemies as quickly as possible. The parkour-style gameplay is reminiscent of "Mirror's Edge" while the collectible cards found throughout levels provide special abilities and new weapons to use against the hellish horde.

Where "Neon White" really excels is in the ways it encourages speedrunning. Although it isn't a tremendously difficult game to get to grips with, attempting to get the highest rank is a true challenge and will require plenty of patience and practice to master. Once you do, the feeling of flawlessly zipping through a level and killing every demon in a record time is hard to beat. Add in the sleek visuals and an entertaining set of NPCs to get to know and "Neon White" is easily one of the year's standout games.

  • Release Date: June 16, 2022
  • Genre: First-person shooter, Puzzle, Platformer
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 88