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It’s that time of year again! As we countdown the final days of the decade, let’s look back and award the best Nintendo Switch games of 2019.

Disclaimer: Any game that was released specifically for the Nintendo Switch in 2019 is eligible for nomination. Meaning that if a game initially released before 2019 but didn’t arrive on the Switch until this year, it’s fair game (pun absolutely intended).

Best Graphics / Art Direction

  • Cadence of Hyrule
  • Cuphead
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
  • Story of Seasons: Doraemon
  • Yoshi’s Crafted World

And the winner is…

Yoshi games have always been known for their unique art style since the first instalment on the Super Nintendo with it’s crayon aesthetic and use of the Super FX chip. That unique design has continued to March 29th this year when Yoshi’s Crafted World released with its stunning cardboard design. Yoshi’s Crafted World also utilises superb use of 3D depth in a traditional 2D platformer being able to throw eggs into the background and foreground and that, as well as playing the game on the “Flip Side”, is why it is a no-brainer for Best Graphics/Art Direction.

Best Hidden Gem of 2019

  • Damsel
  • Fight n Rage
  • Mars Power Industries
  • Mimpi Dreams
  • Monkey Barrels

From Australian developers Screwtape Studios, Damsel is an arcade action platformer that has you taking down the vampire underbelly and saving hostages, all with a cheeky grin and sarcastic one-liners from our protagonist. The plot progresses in comic book-style cutscenes which I would totally read and I’m hoping the developers have laid enough groundwork to be working on a sequel.

Best Game for Under $5 (USD)

  • Ding Dong XL
  • Downwell
  • Fractured Minds
  • Gyro Boss DX
  • Mars Power Industries

And the winner is…

I rarely hear anyone talk about Ding Dong XL and we believe that’s a crying shame! The game is simple, yet effective; it encompasses a single one-button control style where you press A (or touch the screen) and the ball in the middle will venture from one side of the other, so you must time your actions or hit oncoming hazards flying across the screen. It’s not always about how expansive your gameplay is, sometimes simplicity is key.

Best Soundtrack

  • Astral Chain
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
  • Retro City Girls
  • Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

And the winner is…

Grant Kirkhope AND David Wise working on a singular soundtrack… it’s a 90s kid’s dream come true! Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair surprised us all not only in its Donkey Kong Country inspired gameplay, but it’s graphics and sound production as well. Every level is expertly catered for, from upbeat and jolly from Kirkhope and deep to brooding from Wise. I’ve got this playlist on loop on my commute with no sleep timer to be set for a long time.

Most Innovative Game

  • Baba is You
  • Nintendo Labo: VR Kit
  • Ring Fit Adventure
  • Super Mario Maker 2
  • Untitled Goose Game

And the winner is…

Fans didn’t quite know what to think when they first saw Ring Fit Adventure… we didn’t know what to think, but turns out Ring Fit Adventure is a lot of fun and really gives the body a good workout. Granted I don’t exercise as much as I should, but this game had my body aching all over and I had so much fun doing it, showing that exercise can be gamified if people are lacking the motivation or are embarrassed to start out of the house. Nintendo have been known for incorporating fitness and gaming into one with Wii Fit, but Ring Fit Adventure is such a natural evolution and is much more appealing to the average gaming enthusiast.

Best Single-Player Experience

  • Astral Chain
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  • Katana ZERO
  • Untitled Goose Game
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

And the winner is…

Whoever thought that a simple game about a goose causing such havoc and mischief would capture our hearts this much? The Best Single-Player Experience generally goes to a game with a rich narrative that engrosses the player into its world, setting and characterisation, but Untitled Goose Game did all that without a hint of dialogue and with such incredible charm that it captured gamers’ hearts everywhere.

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Most Anticipated Future First/Third Party Release

Disclaimer: we wanted to include games that have a more solid release date (even a year would do), which is why there is no Breath of the Wild 2, Bayonetta 3, Shin Megami Tensei V or Metroid Prime 4 up for nomination.

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • The Outer Worlds
  • Snack World
  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
  • Trials of Mana

And the winner is…

As soon as we saw Tom Nook sitting at his desk in that Nintendo Direct, we knew what was coming. Fans have been screaming for an HD Animal Crossing since the Wii U and Amiibo Festival was… let’s not talk about Amiibo Festival. New Horizons will allow us to gather resources, craft gear, further customise our home and explore this secluded island to our hearts’ content. March 20th can’t come soon enough!

Most Anticipated Future Nindie Release

  • Best Friend Forever
  • Broken Roads
  • The Drifter
  • Hollow Knight: Silksong
  • Spiritfarer

And the winner is…

At PAX Aus 2019, we discovered a game that immediately grabbed our attention. Broken Roads is an isometric RPG akin to Baldur’s Gate and the classic Fallout series. Set in a fictional post-apocalyptic Australia, Broken Roads has a deep morality system with the inclusion of the Moral Compass, providing new depth and meaning to the term “Role-Playing”. We cannot wait to see more of Broken Roads and even though the game has a tentative release date of 2021, we cannot help but be excited with each new tidbit we learn.

Best Local Multiplayer Game

  • BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL!
  • Cuphead
  • Killer Queen Black
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3
  • The Stretchers

And the winner is…

Cuphead is not an easy game, so being able to play with a friend not only keeps your head safe from banging it repeatedly against a wall, but there’s nothing better than sharing that feeling of accomplishment with someone else. With Studio MDHR and Microsoft porting the game over to the Nintendo Switch, Cuphead has easily made itself right at home and players flocked to be able to play this masterpiece on the go or by simply Sharing the Joy in tabletop mode.

Best Third-Party Game

  • Astral Chain
  • Dragon Quest XIS: Echoes of an Elusive Age
  • New Super Lucky’s Tale
  • Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

And the winner is…

When the Nintendo Switch first released, fans dreamed of being able to take Geralt and the expansive world of The Continent on the go. When The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was announced to come to Nintendo Switch at E3 2019, fans were stunned and questioned how well it would run but with some graphical compromises, it runs at an impressive 30 frames per second and is, by all intents and purposes, the gaming phenomenon running on a hybrid handheld console. Technology is amazing and so is this game!

Best Nindie

  • Baba is You
  • Cadence of Hyrule
  • The Touryst
  • Untitled Goose Game
  • Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

And the winner is…

For its second win, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair was something that fans didn’t expect as we were all gearing up for Yooka-Laylee 2 (Twooka-Laylee). If Yooka-Laylee was the spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, following it up with a successor to the original Donkey Kong Country trilogy was the right call for an indie studio that’s still in the process of finding its bearings. With its expertly designed 2D levels, innovative 3D topdown overworld and immaculate presentation, there’s a reason why we reviewed this one so highly.

Game of the Year

  • Astral Chain
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  • Luigi’s Mansion 3
  • Pokemon Sword/Shield
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

And the winner is…

Looking back, 2019 had some fantastic games release on the Nintendo Switch but in our eyes, none was better than Luigi’s Mansion 3. Being the first home console iteration since the original on the GameCube back in 2001, Luigi’s Mansion 3 has so much personality and adds so much more depth and personality to the cowardly underdog plumber. On top of that, the gameplay is superb with the addition of a co-op mode (or swapping between the two) with Gooigi, the plunger, and dynamic tactile feedback in the HD Rumble that makes the game come to life in your hands.

Thank you for checking out our Game of the Year Awards and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:

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Posted by Alex Harding