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40 Best Nintendo Games Released In 2021

2021 was one of the best years ever for Nintendo Switch owners. The year consistently brought solid and diverse entries to the Nintendo console's library, proving that there's something for pretty much everyone on the hybrid console.

Countless indie games and first-party exclusives have built the system up to be legendary, to say the least. Another factor is convenience, as games are easily found through physical and digital storefronts, and are all playable on the go. Nintendo gives players an experience that can't be found elsewhere (at least until the launch of the Steam Deck).

Nintendo released so many great games for the Switch that it's worth taking a look back the very best the company had to offer in 2021. From party games starring Wario and friends to a high-octane space adventure with Samus Aran, each and every game was distinct — and all warrant attention. Chances are good that at least one game on this list will speak to you.

All eyes are on the next "Zelda," "Bayonetta," and "Splatoon" titles slated for the Nintendo Switch in 2022, but the hype of 2021 won't soon be forgotten. 

No More Heroes 3

The true underdog of 2021 sees the anticipated return of Otaku assassin Travis Touchdown. "No More Heroes 3" became a polarizing game overnight with critic scores that ranged from GameSpot's 4/10 to Easy Allies' 9/10. Simply put, its hack-and-slash combat, surreal characters, and outlandish story are for true fans of director Suda 51.

"No More Heroes" has always featured excellent boss battles, and every single confrontation here is unique. The first two games were praised for this, but criticism was directed towards repetitive minion fights. "No More Heroes 3" fixes this issue with Travis' Death Glove, which offers more ways to take foes down. Easy Allies asserts that combat all-around has improved since "the added layers make it far less repetitive."

On the downside, despite a fairly stable 60 frames per second during combat, the game is "technically rough (via Digital Foundry)." If you can get past this shortcoming, you will be rewarded with one of the best action games of the year.

  • Release Date: August 27,2021
  • Genre: Action
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 75

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but that doesn't always work out for video games. Countless clones of "Super Smash Bros." have made the rounds and the majority are utter failures. Who knew that a "Smash Bros." copycat featuring Nickelodeon characters would be the one to break the curse?

Here, the roster is an eclectic bunch from Nickelodeon's longstanding history. Icons like SpongeBob battle more niche picks such as Powdered Toast Man. Geared for competitive play, this title starring Nick's cartoon characters has "an awful lot of hidden depth (via Nintendo Life)."

Based on what critics are saying about "All-Star Brawl," it didn't have the content at launch to support its solid gameplay. But while it may lack the polish of other fighting games, it's easy to discern that the small development team has a passion for the genre. The game is already expanding, adding Garfield as a free DLC character.

  • Release Date: October 5, 2021
  • Genre: Platform Fighter
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 67

Metroid Dread

It's tough being a "Metroid" fan. Receiving the middling spinoff "Federation Force" in place of a main entry in 2016 was disappointing to many, and then came the announcement that "Metroid Prime 4" had to restart development. Luckily for fans who have waited, "Metroid Dead" turned out to be one of the best "Metroid" adventures in recent memory.

It's a quick playthrough, and yet "Dread" doesn't let up. Pacing is fluid and encourages exploration. In its review, Eurogamer attributed the smoother progression towards the "tooled-up map that's always in hand." This mitigates a great deal of slowdown from getting lost in a specific area or scavenging to find those last few Energy Tanks. Of course, you might still get held up doing combat with the deadly E.M.M.I.s

"Metroid Dread" is a near flawless entry that takes all of the series' greatest 2D elements and translates them into a higher-budget 2.5D package.

  • Release Date: October 8, 2021
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 88

WarioWare: Get It Together!

Wario found his calling when Nintendo made him the star in his own mini-game series. Hits such as "Mega Microgames" and "Smooth Moves" proved the appeal of "WarioWare," but after the forgettable "Game & Wario" on Wii U, Mario's nemesis was put on the back-burner. At long last, he has returned on consoles with "WarioWare: Get It Together!" 

Rather than interacting with objects on screen, players control a number of cast members. These characters are all unique from one another and drastically change how even a single mini-game is played. Adding to the chaos is the ability to play with three others. There are a plethora of modes that are built for this multiplayer mayhem; one of which is the two-player story mode. Trying to work with others to finish the campaign can create "hilarious carnage (via Nintendo Life)."

"Get It Together" suits the Switch perfectly. Taking this madness on the go or sharing Joy-Cons with friends helped make "WarioWare" one of the best video games of 2021

  • Release Date: September 10, 2021
  • Genre: Action, Party
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 76

Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

Nintendo probably could have gotten away with just reselling "Super Mario 3D World" on its own, but the addition of "Bowser's Fury" makes this one of the best games in the plumber's career. 

Remasters of old games usually come with small updates that streamline gameplay, but these changes here make all the differnece. "3D World" had its fair share of alterations, since characters now move faster and have a mid-air dive in their arsenal. These tweaks alleviated the complaints that critics such as GameTrailers had with the original version, in which Mario and friends would need a running start to hit high speeds. 

The semi open world of "Bowser's Fury" combines all of the mechanics of "3D World" and adds exhilarating co-op play. Cat Mario fights a corrupted Bowser in a battle that resembles Godzilla Kaiju fights, which warrants a purchase on its own. It's such a departure for Mario that it begs for a fully-realized spin-off.

  • Release Date: February 12, 2021
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 89

Shin Megami Tensei 5

For anyone who felt "Persona 5 Strikers" was too short and sweet, "Shin Megami Tensei 5" more than makes up for it. "Shin Megami Tensei 5" offers a distinct adventure for diehard JRPG fans that can't be found elsewhere on the Switch, while also improving on the aspects of preceding entries.

The combat and party systems are the highlights of the game. The tried and true system of chaining attacks and exposing enemy weaknesses is as joyful as in other ATLUS titles. According to GamingBolt, customization is the biggest factor in the gameplay's success. The outlet states that the title gives "the player a ridiculous amount of options on how they want to build their character and their parties," which is just one of the reasons why "Shin Megami Tensei 5" is so great.

Because it doesn't share the same fascination with high school drama and characters as "Persona 5," "Shin Megami Tensei 5" is able to focus on the basics, making for one of the best JRPGs on the Nintendo Switch.

  • Release Date: November 12, 2021
  • Genre: Japanese Role-Playing
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 85

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD

"Super Mario 3D World" received light fixes that made a great Mario game even greater. "Skyward Sword" was in a different camp, since it was always one of the most divisive games in the series. Luckily, the new release's updates modernized the game and allowed for a deeper appreciation of its quirks. 

There are big differences between "Skyward Sword" and the HD remaster. Glaring issues like Fi's dialogue, stuttering framerates, and the inconsistent motion controls have all been addressed, allowing for more choice for players in search of a challenge. In general, the game looks better and plays better than it did in 2011. 

There are new problems, however. A much-needed fast travel option is in the HD version, but it's locked behind a paywall. Players that want to use the feature will have to snag the Zelda and Loftwing amiibo. The idea of acquiring an essential feature solely by purchasing a "Skyward Sword" amiibo has not sat well with many fans.

  • Release Date: July 16, 2021
  • Genre: Action-Adventure
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 81

Mario Party Superstars

"Mario Party" was in dire need of a reboot, and "Super Mario Party" offered it in spades. Unfortunate, the welcomed overhaul was overshadowed by the game's severe lack of extra content. Luckily, "Mario Party Superstars" provides enough fun to get the dice rolling again.

"Superstars" will undoubtedly draw in new players, as well as those that have been out of the game for some time. The new title acts like a semi-remake, thanks to older game boards like Space Land, Peach's Birthday Cake, and Woody's Woods making their return. This is just one example of how the game "refocuses on what fans loved about the series in the first place" (via Washington Post).

A whopping 100 mini games are included, but there is less emphasis on Joy-Con motion control in this release. While these are some of the franchise's best games, be wary: one of "Mario Party's" most dangerous mini-games is back. Be prepared to wear out your hand with "Tug o' War."

  • Release Date: October 29, 2021
  • Genre: Party
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 80

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania

Reigniting an age-old franchise and stamping the word "Mania" at the end has been done before by SEGA. "Sonic Mania" successfully brought Sonic back in the limelight, and the same has seemingly been done for AiAi and company. "Banana Mania" combines content from the first two "Monkey Ball" games to give players the best main missions and mini-games of both titles.

"Monkey Ball" remains solid due to tight controls and unlockable bonuses. Tried and true "Monkey Ball" level design and movement is present and outpaces the recent "Banana Blitz" port. The facelift is a nice touch too, making Nintendo Enthusiast call "Banana Blitz" a "definitive entry point."

The game also includes some earth-shattering guest stars. Of course you have Sonic and Tails, but also surprises like Kiryu from "Yakuza." Beat from "Jet Set Radio" also joins the pack, as does Hello Kitty (per CBR). It's a memorable crossover that harkens back to the diverse roster in Sega's "Sonic Racing" games.

  • Release Date: October 1, 2021
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 76

Mario Golf Super Rush

"Mario Golf Super Rush" follows the template set by "Mario Tennis Aces." Nintendo and Camelot Games have kept their word on continuing to support these games after launch, and as a result, buyers can see a return on their investments as new characters and courses become available over time.

Visually, "Super Rush" is striking. The creatively-designed courses pop with color, and even the golfers themselves are pleasing to the eye. Almost every playable character has their own unique golfing attire. Furthermore, everyone on the roster has powerful special shots that can be utilized in a number of modes. This helps to differentiate characters and give players more reason to try out everyone.

The real kicker is the free DLC that followed the launch. As noted by NME, fan-favorite characters and stages have been added over time. Shy Guy and Wiggler have been added to the roster, alongside iconic courses such as New Donk City. Not only that, but brand new modes like Target Mode have arrived in recent updates.

  • Release Date: June 25, 2021
  • Genre: Sports
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 70

Persona 5 Strikers

After years of "Persona" fans asking for a Switch port of "Persona 5," ATLUS announced that the game's acclaimed spinoff would come to Nintendo. It may not be the title fans were hoping for, but "Persona 5 Strikers" is still a fantastic "Persona" experience on Switch.

Developed by Omega Force, "Strikers" follows the "Dynasty Warriors" formula of musou battles. That doesn't necessarily mean it's devoid of that ATLUS charm, though. JRPG elements are interwoven into the hack-and-slash gameplay to produce its own style. Characters are easily switchable, and a plethora of Persona moves can be selected. Meanwhile, the New Game+ Mode allows for multiple exciting playthroughs.

Performance-wise, the Switch is a graphically inferior way to play. As noted by AttackOfTheFanboy, the Switch version "can't handle 60 FPS and keeps 'Persona 5 Strikers' at around 25-30ish frames." Even so, it's stable enough to not disrupt gameplay — and again, it's portable "Persona," which is great for fans.

  • Release Date: February 23, 2021
  • Genre: Hack-and-slash
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 81

Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne HD Remaster

2021 was a pretty great year for ATLUS JRPGs on the Nintendo Switch. A remaster of 2003's "Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne" finally hit stores and came with a slew of new additions. There are reasons for veterans and newcomers alike to hop into this dark and brooding world that ATLUS has revitalized. 

"Nocturne" features a depressing post-apocalyptic world that must be overcome by the otherworldly protagonist. The demonic perspective of the main character is a novel idea that sets Nocturne apart from other "SMT" and "Persona" games. The story and atmosphere have both been preserved and overhauled with updated visuals and all new voice acting, which was lauded by Polygon.

Another noteworthy change is the easier difficulty option for more casual gamers. The developers also tweaked the script to fix translation issues from the first version. HappyConsoleGamer praised the remaster, even with its slightly dated pre-rendered cutscenes.

  • Release Date: May 24, 2021
  • Genre: Japanese Role-Playing
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 75

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Fans have been wanting remakes of "Pokemon Diamond" and "Pearl" for quite some time (per ComicBook), and that wish finally came true in 2021. While the pair of games aren't the most extensive reimaginings, "Brilliant Diamond" and "Shining Pearl" are packed with enough nostalgia and new game fixes to be worth checking out.

Aside from a graphical facelift and new art style, "Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl" are extremely close to the originals. Even old glitches still work in "Brilliant Diamond" and "Shining Pearl," much to the delight of fans. 

What is a bit different are the elements PCMag called "pleasant quality-of-life improvement[s]," including changes to how Hidden Moves are utilized by Pokemon. "Brilliant Diamond" and "Shining Pearl" aren't hugely overhauled remakes that will blow many non-fans away, but they function as pleasant and eye-catching modern re-imaginings that stay true to what fans loved in the originals.

  • Release Date: November 19, 2021
  • Genre: Role-Playing
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 74

New Pokemon Snap

In the days of the N64, Nintendo took the basic idea of taking pictures of Pokemon and ran with it to create the cult classic "Pokemon Snap." Now, "New Pokemon Snap" offers a modernized take on the concept.

"Pokemon Snap" is all about taking snapshots of the lovable creatures in their habitat. There are no battles or action, just small moments captured via camera. Sometimes a premise like this doesn't go a long way, considering the criticisms aimed at the first game's short run-time. Thankfully, "New Pokemon Snap" is a longer endeavor since you have to return to stages multiple times to get pictures of the best Pokemon in each region.

As explained by YouTuber Arlo, each level contains "small alternate paths to find and open up," making a relatively small game seem larger in scale and adding replayability. Add on searching for new objectives, going for higher scores, and attaining new abilities, and you have a "Pokemon Snap" game worth your time.

  • Release Date: April 30, 2021
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 79

Great Ace Attorney Chronicles

When a game never releases outside of Japan, fans can't help but feel left out. Luckily, hardcore followers of "Ace Attorney" finally got what they wanted in 2021: a localized release of "Great Ace Attorney 2" and a port of the first "Great Ace Attorney," all in one package.

The double pack is a bargain as the compilation clocks in at around 70 hours (via HowLongToBeat). If you have played the "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney" games then it's safe to say "Great Ace Attorney" will scratch that itch. These two games follow Ryunosuke Naruhodo, an ancestor to Phoenix Wright, who practices law during the Victorian era. 

These games require strong concentration as you collect clues and draw conclusions in court. Each case brings with it a diverse cast, which critics praised as "absolutely memorable" (via SwitchUp). "Great Ace Attorney Chronicles" offers plenty of bang for your buck in two content-heavy games that hold their own against the main "Phoenix Wright" series.

  • Release Date: July 27, 2021
  • Genre: Visual Novel
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 87

NEO: The World Ends With You

"The World Ends With You" came out in 2007 to glowing reviews. It became a cult classic for its characters, story, and style. At last, after 14 years, it has passed the torch to "NEO: The World Ends With You."

Again taking place in Shibuya, "NEO" retains the style and premise of the former title: To decide the fate of humankind, the main protagonists are locked in a deadly game in which they must overcome challenges over a set period of time. Combat is a big part of the experience, but the city itself needs to be explored to get the leg up on enemies. 

Clothing stores and restaurants fill the area and you must make use of them to progress. Your wardrobe alters stats during battle, while meals function as permanent boosts (via Easy Allies). Combat itself is full of depth; all party members have different abilities and ranging characteristics that keep enemy encounters consistently fresh.

  • Release Date: July 27, 2021
  • Genre: Japanese Role-Playing
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 82

Monster Hunter Rise

Capcom has had a pretty solid couple of years, and "Monster Hunter" is partly responsible. "Monster Hunter World" captured players' imaginations in 2019, becoming the best selling Capcom game of all time. As such, a Nintendo Switch exclusive game for the series made too much sense. 

"Monster Hunter Rise" successfully combines ideas from previous iterations while also expanding on the formula. Much like recent entries in the "Halo" and "Doom" franchises, "Monster Hunter Rise" incorporated a grappling hook that changed the core gameplay in fun ways. Named the Wirebug, this grapple increases mobility and opens up more strategies during monster encounters.

The Wirebug certainly comes in handy on the game's map, which PCMag called "beefy, interconnected, and seamless." Scaling riversides and hilltops never gets old. Thanks to the addition of new mounts, traversal in general becomes much more entertaining.

Lastly, "Monster Hunter Rise" is the gift that keeps on giving, thanks to its DLC. Additional monsters and quests have been added since launch,  giving you plenty of reasons to come back.

  • Release Date: March 26, 2021
  • Genre: Role-Playing, Action
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 88

Bravely Default 2

"Bravely Default" was geared towards lovers of classic Square Enix RPGs: chibi character designs and classic turn-based gameplay are abundant throughout. Transitioning from the 3DS to the Switch, "Bravely Default 2" offers more of the same, which is mostly a good thing. 

Characters and jobs are interchangeable, leaving the player with many decisions when it comes to putting a party together. You can experiment with what works and what doesn't to gain the upper hand. What sets the series (and this particular entry) apart from others is the Brave Point system. Characters can build up their Brave Points to carry out actions in battle, or they can "Default" and build up points for later, adding a sense of strategy to the game.

"Bravely Default" strives to perfect its combat system, but its similarities to other games can be difficult to overlook. GameRant pointed out that "the plot points and general premise and framework are all incredibly similar to those of the original game." Still, "Bravely Default" makes for a comfortable and solid RPG for any Switch owner.

  • Release Date: February 26, 2021
  • Genre: Japanese Role-Playing
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 76

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

The main "Monster Hunter" series isn't for everyone. Some may find hunts too difficult, combat too hard, and the gameplay loop to be too grindy. "Monster Hunter Stories" is for those that want another kind of game in the series. The spinoff series' turn-based combat is accessible and the cutesy art-style is a breath of fresh air.

In "Wings of Ruin," players travel to new locales and battle monsters to save villagers. Bosses are the final obstacle in these quests and determine whether you are able to move on to the next area. Every region is has its own tone and setting, so it's always exciting to see what each place has in store.

The gameplay loop is addicting, but criticism has been leveled at its redundant design, with YouTuber Skill Up claiming that the game needed "more diversity" in its layout. Besides that, critics are saying it's a solid role-playing game and a fun starting point for those interested in learning more about the "Monster Hunter" universe.

  • Release Date: July 9, 2021
  • Genre: Japanese Role-Playing
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 81


"Eastward" is jaw dropping. From sprite work to world design, the Switch indie prides itself on presentation, but gameplay and story shouldn't be discounted either. John and Sam are two very likeable protagonists a dismal and bleak world.

As noted by gaming outlet SwitchUp, "you can switch between the two characters," which allows you to find new solutions to puzzles and other problems. This mechanic needs to be utilized when in dungeons or even in the over-world. There are tons of secrets to be found and activities to do with both heroes.

The game has a straightforward battle system that lends itself nicely to the dual protagonists. "Eastward" clearly strives to make things simple, since fighting is broken down by only one button. Surprisingly, there is still depth to be found, as switching between characters will give more access to routes and change combat. 

For a smaller title, "Eastward" has a lot going for it. It leaves the same kind of impression as a higher budget game and stands toe-to-toe with the bigger Switch releases in 2021. No wonder WellPlayed said it felt "larger than life."

  • Release Date: September 16, 2021
  • Genre: Role-Playing
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 78

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game - Complete Edition

Based upon the hit comics, the "Scott Pilgrim movie came out Aug. 13, 2010. Released three days prior to the movie, "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game" is one of those rare instances in which a license game is actually good. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the digital-only game became delisted and was unavailable for purchase.

But now, it's back and better than ever! "The Complete Edition" is the game in its original form, along with DLC characters and content. The game is a pure action beat 'em up, featuring an art style that is borrowed from the comics almost one-to-one. Basically, it's how the movie's cast should really look.

You'd think this would make for one too many adaptations of this story, but it doesn't. After gushing about the beat 'em up, YouTuber The Completionist praised the game for its faithfulness and its willingness to take risks, stating that it's "a third telling of the 'Scott Pilgrim' story, but also very much its own thing."

  • Release Date: January 14, 2021
  • Genre: Beat 'em up
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 79

Cyber Shadow

The indie scene has been carrying the torch for retro platformers of old. Titles like "Shovel Knight" and "The Messenger" have passionate fans, and now "Cyber Shadow," a high-octane ninja adventure with precise platforming and insane power-ups, has entered the fray.

Taking notes from early titles like "Ninja Gaiden" and "Shinobi," "Cyber Shadow" reinvents oldies but goodies. Each level contains its own set of power-ups and usable items; everything from a moving saw blade to a surrounding energy field is at your disposal. The player constantly gets a good mix of all available weapons, allowing for different methods of attack. Meanwhile, wall climbing and air-dashing make for interesting traversal during play time. IGN gave props to the dash attack, since it serves the dual purpose of both "a devastating attack and a tool to reach new areas." 

All of these variables combine for a game that takes a lot of inspiration from the past while adding its own innovation.

  • Release Date: January 26, 2021
  • Genre: Action, Platformer
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 82

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain

When gamers think of the most engrossing titles of the year, they may not immediately think of brain teasers and puzzles. "Big Brain" is a puzzle franchise that cracked impressed on the Nintendo DS and has been going strong since. The latest entry in the series, "Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain" found its way on the Switch in 2021.

The series specializes in rapid-fire problems and puzzles to test your mettle. Problems are split into various categories: Identify, Memorize, Analyze, Compute, and Visualize. Multiple variations of type of puzzle meach means there's a low chance you'll grow tired of them. A lot of the appeal of "Big Brain Academy" experience comes from improving your score over time. It's not all personal, though, since leaderboards and local multiplayer help increase the motivation to perform better against others. 

"Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain" is a great sequel for Switch, but the controls aren't exactly best for the console. According to GameSpot, "the Switch never feels totally natural as a touchscreen device." Even with this minor flaw, "Big Brain Academy" is a solid portable challenge.

  • Release Date: December 3, 2021
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 72

Death's Door

In "Death's Door," gamers explore an isometric world as a soul-reaping crow, battling small enemies and bosses. "Death's Door" packs in fast-paced rounds of action and strikes an unlikely balance between cartoonish graphics and grim world-building to create yet another superb indie game in 2021.

It might be surprising to hear, but despite all of its dark design choices, "Death's Door" opts for some cheerful moments. Side characters feature some wacky designs and deliver hilarious dialogue that offsets the more dour elements in the game. Meanwhile, lush environments elicit feelings of hope and wonder.

What supports these elements is the combat. The isometric design might be familiar to those who have played titles like "Hades," but "Death's Door" approaches fights and level layouts a bit differently. New skills and alternate pathways are gradually unlocked. And unlike some punishing action titles — like "Hades" — Eurogamer points to the game's difficulty as "always doable and never cruel."

  • Release Date: November 23, 2021
  • Genre: Isometric, Action
  • Game Modes: Single-player,
  • Metacritic Score: 89

Tetris Effect: Connected

"Tetris Effect" broke new ground with its stunning presentation, innovative gameplay, and VR support. At long last, this ultimate "Tetris" experience is on Switch. The "Connected" version has some welcomed additions to the basic game, making the Switch version more of an upgrade than a standard port.

All of the original modes and features of the original "Tetris Effect" are alive and well. Journey Mode is essentially the game's campaign, taking players across a series of themed levels. The soundtrack, slow-motion mechanic, and sparkling visuals are also here in all their glory.

What mixes things up is the titular "Connected" mode. This turns "Tetris" into a multiplayer game in which players work together to defeat a boss-like opponent. The "Tetris" grids are separated at first, but they are then combined to create one large playing field in which teammates work together. GameXplain classifies it as being similar to a "raid battle," and the comparison isn't far off. Who knew "Tetris" could be so epic?

  • Release Date: October 8, 2021
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 95

Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir + The Girl Who Stands Behind

Recent high-profile video game remakes have mainly focused on internationally beloved and iconic titles like "Final Fantasy 7" and "Resident Evil 2." "Famicom Detective Club," on the other hand, is a remake of two lesser-known games for the Famicom (a.k.a. the NES) that never made it to the states. The modern release of these two visual novels brings noticeable improvements over the originals, making it the best time for new players to check them out.

Graphically, the two games have been given a more modern anime art style, with many characters receiving complete makeovers from their appearances in the 1980s. The look of the game isn't the only change, however, as the scripts have been retooled and adapted for localized releases in multiple countries.

What hasn't been altered is the core gameplay concepts of questioning various individuals and searching for clues. Some parts of the story may seem purposefully obtuse, but these new version have been deemed faithful and "true to the originals" by critics such as Good Vibes Gaming.

  • Release Date: May 14, 2021
  • Genre: Visual Novel
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 74

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water

Joining the extensive list of Wii U games now on Switch is "Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water." After seven years of relative obscurity, it has been ported to modern systems so everyone can brave its scares. Horror isn't the first thing you think of when you hear Nintendo, and yet "Fatal Frame" on Switch is a blast.

"Maiden of Black Water" sends players to haunted locations as protagonists Yuri, Miu, and Ren in the main game. This journey is split into chapters that involve wielding a mystical camera, which can photograph malevolent spirits and help players uncover new paths.

As SwitchUp has put it, "battling these spirits can feel incredibly creepy and quite tense at times," so surviving each encounter can be exhilarating. Getting the best shot is imperative for taking spirits out as soon as possible, and it requires serious practice and skill. Nintendo Life praised the new release's remastered visuals and secrets. If you've never played "Fatal Frame," this port is a great place to start.

  • Release Date: October 28, 2021
  • Genre: Survival Horror
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 73

Overcooked! All You Can Eat

"Overcooked! All You Can Eat" acts as a compilation of all of the series' content from the past five years; "Overcooked" and its sequel along with bonus material are crammed into this single game. In other words, "All You Can Eat" represents the best opportunity to get into this hectic multiplayer franchise.

"Overcooked" asks players to cooperate with others (or go solo) to construct meals in a kitchen setting. When playing with a group, the game's relatively simple concept devolves into all kinds of havoc. Ramping things up are the unorthodox stages, which can be set anywhere from a moving vehicle to a floating raft. The madness is sure to either strengthen or break your friendships.

Criticism was directed towards previous entries in the series for lacking online multiplayer (via IGN). Luckily, "All You Can Eat" came through with full online modes. Though some people have had issues with finding enough players for public matchmaking (per Push Square) the value of this all-in-one package is hard to overlook.

  • Release Date: March 23, 2021
  • Genre: Simulation, Party
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 88

Quake Remastered

Revolutionary FPS "Quake" has finally made its debut on a Nintendo console... 25 years after release. Bethesda has not shied away from putting its games being on Switch, what with the "Doom" franchise and "Skyrim" being available, "Quake" stands beside the former action series as a pioneer in the FPS genre, so this Switch port feels like it's been a long time coming.

Id Software's groundbreaking shooter is based in maze-like structures that must be quickly explored and mapped out. Like "Doom," momentum is key and you need to stay on your toes to survive. It's not a cover-based shooter, nor do enemies have any patiences, so newcomers might be thrown off by its intensity.

Luckily, veterans will feel right at home, because a lot has been preserved from the original. For the most part, "Quake" and its expansions have remained untouched in terms of content. Remastered touches, like updated models and improved lighting, are entirely optional; you can "turn off all the fancy effects and play the game like it was in 1996" (via Destructoid). These kinds of remasters have proven to be among the most popular, allowing fans to choose what they want out of their game.

  • Release Date: August 19, 2021
  • Genre: Action, First-Person Shooter
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 87

Danganronpa Decadence

"Danganronpa" is yet another franchise that received an anthology release this year, and this one feels like it's all killer. Many game anthologies include useless spinoffs, unnecessary changes, or throwaway bonus content, but "Danganronpa Decadence" a great deal as a collection of the series' first three mainline entries.

Part visual novel, "Dangonronpa" shares common ground with titles like the "Ace Attorney" series. The dark series follows groups of students locked in something called the Killing Game, which results in many of the students taking one another out. You must learn to get along with your fellow students in order to pinpoint who is doing the killing.

It's a spectacular premise that's been going strong for multiple games. What isn't quite a welcome addition, though, is the tacked-on board game mode. "Ultimate Summer Camp" involves turn-based moves and egregious micro-transactions, which haven't sat right with players. Nintendo Enthusiast called the bonus content "a repetitive affair." The good news is that "Ultimate Summer Camp" is entirely skippable. After all, the main games provide enough fun and chills.

  • Release Date: December 3, 2021
  • Genre: Visual Novel
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 82

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!

When "Doki Doki Literature Club" first released in 2017, it stunned a great number of players. The veil of a typical dating sim hid all of the truly shocking parts that lay within. The new version arrived on the Switch with updated HD visuals, as well as new chapters, characters, and music. In other words, even returning players will find plenty of surprises.

"Doki Doki Literature Club Plus" is sure to bewilder players. Its story is handled extremely well and keeps you engaged with its meta references to the visual novel genre. This story misdirects you at every turn, innovating within the genre and resulting in a truly terrifying game, despite its cute visuals. Game Rant applauded the game's graphics for looking good and running smoothly on the Nintendo Switch.

The new side stories in "Doki Doki Literature Club Plus" encourage multiple playthroughs, giving returning players even more reasons to check out everything the port has to offer. 

  • Release Date: June 30, 2021
  • Genre: Visual Novel
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 85

Dodgeball Academia

Everything you need to know is in the title. "Dodgeball Academia" is about a character named Otto, who joins a dodgeball academy to be the best at the sport. Otto's exploits are split into eight chapters, during which he has to recruit teammates and defeat other teams. The biggest lure is that the entire story actually plays out in an RPG.

For a simple schoolyard game like dodgeball, this indie game is actually intricate. Arenas are full of hazards and other teams have their own patterns, encouraging players to strategize. You can't let your guard down either; The Escapist notes that "gameplay will test your awareness with every matchup."

If that's not enough, "Dodgeball Academia" has a unique and colorful presentation. The cartoony style of it all makes it seem like something from a Saturday morning cartoon. Supporting this is the quirky designs of the characters and the diverse and upbeat soundtrack. It's an energetic and innocent-looking affair that'll bring you back to your childhood.

"Dodgeball Academia" was already a bit of a sleeper hit in 2021, but it deserves much more attention.

  • Release Date: August 5, 2021
  • Genre: Role-Playing, Sports
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 81

Disco Elysium: Final Cut

"Disco Elysium" impressed in 2019 with its thought-provoking story and memorable cast, as well as its ability to comment on societal ills and political ideologies through RPG gameplay. Like other entries on this list, it's finally made its way the Switch — and with some new content to boot.

"Final Cut" takes the unique world of "Disco Elysium" and makes it portable on Switch. The game features plenty of quests and dialogue options, which increases the immersion, but it's also pretty easy to pick up and play this RPG. The game offers a huge number of customizations options for lead antagonist Harry Du Bois, allowing for you to really make the character feel like your own. The time you put into skills will affect story paths and dialogue options.

Even more tantalizing are all of the new features in "Final Cut." The longer list of quests, new locations and characters, additional voice acting, and extra gameplay modes are bolstered by fantastic quality of life features such as fast-travel. "Final Cut" is quite frankly the best way to get into "Disco Elysium." IGN gave the port a perfect 10/10 score, praising its unconventional approach to confrontations, which are typically solved with words.

  • Release Date: October 12, 2021
  • Genre: Action, RPG
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 85

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise

One of the most popular games in 2020 got a massive content update in 2021 that deserves its own spot on this list. "Happy Home Paradise" is the answer to fan requests for more "Animal Crossing" content.

In "Happy Home Paradise," players join Paradise Planning, a resort developer that acts as a committee for planning vacation homes. The goal is to interact with vacationers and create their ideal home based on their desires. Players will also design schools, cafes, and more. The game's robust interior design mechanics are overhauled, granting more leeway when it comes to decorating.

Your enjoyment of these tasks is largely dependent on which clients and requests you get. As stated by Kotaku "the best clients are highly specific," and there's a feeling of accomplishment when you perfectly capture a client's desires with a decked-out home. The sheer amount of features available in "Happy Home Paradise" makes "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" look completely different as a whole.

  • Release Date: November 5, 2021
  • Genre: Sandbox, Simulation
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 81


Nobody likes moving; it's life-draining and seems like it will never end once started. So a game in which moving and unpacking is the premise might not seem like the most thrilling time. But what's so special about "Unpacking" is how it slowly unravels a story while players skillfully put away objects — and it's fun.

The game's story is told quite differently than others: The player acquaints themselves with the items that are being unpacked. As each room is gradually filled with objects, you slowly learn more about this person's life. IGN noted that it feels like "you're really uncovering clues."

That's all well and good, but if the gameplay is shallow, then this premise fails. Luckily, it's not. "Unpacking" can be viewed as a sort of puzzle game. All of the pieces must be fit in their allotted space. It resembles "Tetris" a bit in this regard, but has its own satisfying gameplay loop. The simple point-and-click controls make gameplay feel utterly smooth. If only real life unboxing could be this easy and enjoyable.

  • Release Date: November 2, 2021
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 87

Castlevania Advance Collection

"Castlevania" is a legendary franchises that helped make the industry what it is today. That's why it's such a shame that Konami essentially chooses to do nothing with the property, making fans wonder what happened to "Castlevania" games. Though the "Castlevania Advance Collection" is a package of older games, it's notable for bringing some beloved portable entries into the hands of players once again.

The collection is hefty, composed of three Game Boy Advance titles and "Dracula X," an enhanced remake of "Castlevania: Rondo of Blood." "Symphony of the Night" is widely regarded as the best in the franchise, and its influence can be felt in the GBA titles that followed it (per Hardcore Gamer), from its non-linear progression to its creature design. All of them are 2D or 2.5D side-scrollers imbued with gothic horror themes, and each game will have you throwing magical items while avoiding supernatural creatures. 

Bringing these titles to a portable system like the Nintendo Switch is a no-brainer, allowing you to enjoy some of the best games in the "Castlevania" series on the go.

  • Release Date: September 23, 2021
  • Genre: Sidescroller, Platformer
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 83

Knockout City

Imagine if dodgeball was amped up to eleven and mixed with team death match mechanics. "Knockout City" is what you'd get. This cartoony multiplayer game plays a bit like a third-person shooter that swaps out an arsenal of guns with dodgeballs. The objective is to KO other players while navigating through a bright and colorful arena.

Unlike many online multiplayer games, "Knockout City" has auto-targeting. This means that everyone is on an even playing field, but it also means you need to be creative with your tactics if you want to overcome the other team. IGN points out that one way of doing so is to "ignore balls completely and throw your teammates instead." Just tossing a fellow teammate doesn't always work, though, and you might have to stick together and rely on your reflexes to deal ultimate damage.

"Knockout City" is packed with some great maps that serve as fun playgrounds for this outlandish gameplay. Some maps push players to move  through giant tubes, while others will house oncoming traffic that has the potential to mess up throws and mobility. Developer Velan Studios made sure to add as much pure amusement as possible, and "Knockout City" has already caught on with a good number of dedicated players.

  • Release Date: May 21, 2021
  • Genre: Action
  • Game Modes: Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 83

Kaze and the Wild Masks

There are some games that are subtle about their influences — and then there's "Kaze and the Wild Masks," which wears them on its sleeve. As noted by Nintendo Life, "Kaze" is an obvious shoutout to the "Donkey Kong Country" series in almost every way, yet it somehow finds a way to weave its own new ideas into the mix. 

Kaze uses her bunny ears to float over obstacles and spin into enemies. Because of this, YouTube channel Snoman Gaming argues that she is "basically Dixie Kong." Other ties to the iconic SNES series are the collectable "KAZE" letters that harken back to the "KONG" pieces in the "Country" series. Despite the overt references Kaze never feels quite like a copycat, but instead is more of a spiritual successor.

What "Kaze" brings to the table are the titular masks, each of which are unique and alter the gameplay formula. One might yield swimming or flight capabilities, while another gives players wall jump powers. The masks are so much fun that you'll be itching to find and use them again.

  • Release Date: May 26, 2021
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 79

Game Builder Garage

"Dreams" may have taken the cake for sheer scope when it comes to amateur game creation engines, but "Game Builder Garage" succeeds by keeping things simple. This design maker allows players to bring their creations to life with easy-to-use tools.

Nodons assist players and keep the design phase from becoming too complicated. GameXplain notes that there are roughly 80 Nodons that are split between four categories. The Nodons connect to each other in order to map out the game. The whole process is pretty effortless, which is the entire point of the experience. After all, the sooner you finish building, the sooner you can play!

"Game Builder Garage" also contains a number of games that serve as early walkthroughs to help players a feel for its tools. These range in gameplay styles and visuals. so no two games are the same. There are definitely some limitations to the available instruments and applications, but "Game Builder Garage" has enough to offer some replay value.

  • Release Date: June 11, 2021
  • Genre: Programming, Educational
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 77

Axiom Verge 2

Not many games can say they've succeeded even after throwing out much of made their predecessors great. "Axiom Verge 2" goes in a different direction from the first game, but still manages to improve on many of the exploration aspects of the beloved Metroidvania.

PCGamer addresses the elephant in the room in its review, noting that "the many guns of the original have been excised completely, leaving only melee weapons." This is a bold choice, since the original "Axiom Verge" had a wide range of guns to try out, whereas the few guns in "AV2" are only unlocked later in the campaign. It's a step in a different direction, and "Axiom Verge 2" deftly juggles the old and the new.

Exploration is a bigger focus in the sequel, charing players with as crossing between dimensions to uncover more pathways. The two sides are very dissimilar, making it necessary to tread carefully through both maps. Because of this, "exploration manages to be enjoyable and engaging," rather than repetitive (via Noisy Pixel).

"Axiom Verge 2" doesn't really take after "Axiom Verge," for better and for worse. Harccore fans will miss a few elements of the original, but the revamped combat and freedom of traversing a sprawling map more than makes up for those bits.

  • Release Date: August 11, 2021
  • Genre: Action, Metroidvania
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 76