2023 was fantastic for gamers and our list of the best Switch games of the year highlights each of the Pocket Tactics team’s two favorite games that they’ve spent many, many hours with over the past year. If you’re yet to try out any of the titles below, we recommend picking them up this holiday season to see what all the hype is about.
If you’re more of a mobile gamer, we’ve also compiled our list of the best mobile games of the year for you to take a look at. Spoiler alert, it contains wonderful titles such as Honkai Star Rail, Monopoly Go, and Hello Kitty Island Adventure.
Without further ado, here’s our list of the Switch games of the year 2023.
I absolutely love Danganronpa, a game series from the mind of the darkly clever Kazutaka Kodaka. His latest game, Master Detective Archives: Rain Code, was my most anticipated game of the year and it definitely lived up to the hype. In Rain Code, you take on the role of an amnesiac detective named Yuma who must solve mysteries alongside a kooky spirit who haunts him named Shinigami.
A recent patch has greatly improved loading times, and there are five new DLC chapters out now so you can keep going beyond the final curtain. There really is no better time to give this game a shot. Make sure you check out our Master Detective Archives: Rain Code review to read more of our thoughts.
Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story – Kayleigh’s pick, Deputy Editor
As someone with a bit of experience in the world of LoL, I really enjoy the A League of Legends Story games, but nobody could prepare me for how hard I’d fall in love with Song of Nunu. This is perhaps the most wholesome game I’ve ever played, keeping me hooked from start to finish with a beautiful story about family and friendship. The fact that you get to take part in snowball fights with Willump is nothing short of a joyful bonus.
Speaking of Willump, one of the reasons I love this game so much is that I finally get to learn more about Nunu and Willump. Before this game, my knowledge peaked at Nunu being a ten-year-old boy with a Yeti for a best friend, while Willump is the last of the Yeti. Unless you like to play the jungle lane, you likely don’t know a great deal about these two. Well, Song of Nunu does their story justice and is the perfect way to learn more about them. If you want to know more about what makes this game so special, check out our Song of Nunu review.
Spirittea – Tilly’s pick, Guides Editor
Spirittea is a wonderfully wholesome rural RPG that manages to blend the vibes of Stardew Valley and Spirited Away into one truly delicious brew. However, unlike other games like Stardew Valley, it doesn’t rely on you building up a farm to find success.
Instead, you follow an author who moves to a rural town in search of inspiration, and you find a lot more than you were looking for. Accompanied by an adorably sassy ghost cat, it’s your duty to spruce up the old bath house for the spirits, help out your new neighbors (both living and otherworldly), and restore the town to its former glory, all while making a whole heap of friends and maybe, just maybe, finishing that book you’ve been meaning to.
While the game launched with some bumps in the road, developer Cheese Master Games has been working hard to fix any issues, and I can honestly say that this is the first time I’ve felt this utterly charmed and cozy since first trying Stardew. But, if you need more convincing, be sure to check out our Spirittea review.
Super Mario RPG – Connor’s pick, Staff Writer
In a year of countless ports, remakes, and remasters of classic Nintendo games, Super Mario RPG is the one that I just couldn’t put down. Of course, part of the reason for that is that I picked up our Super Mario RPG review, but the fact it’s an endearing RPG with satisfying pacing, sparkling dialogue, and battles that are challenging enough but rarely frustrating helps the cause. Better still, there’s more end-game content than the original SNES version, offering even further Geno blasting to those who aren’t ready to say goodbye after the credits roll.
Developer ArtePiazza, under the careful gaze of publisher Nintendo, found the perfect approach to reimaging this 25-year-old game. The quality-of-life improvements are there, but so is the original charm, making for something that feels fresh all this time later while bolstering the argument that 2023 might be one of Mario’s best years to date. While I’m sure Paper Mario fans might disagree with me, if there is to be a new RPG starring the mustachioed plumber anytime soon, I hope it’s a sequel to this one.
Silent Hope – Daz’s pick, Staff Writer
As you can see from my Silent Hope Switch review, I was surprised by how much I adore this game. This dungeon-crawling RPG with roguelike elements tells the story of an evil king and a nation left without language as seven unique heroes band together to restore peace to the land. As a linguistics graduate, anything related to language intrigues me, so this plus the adorable character design of the farmer class drew me in.
One of the biggest compliments I can give a game is saying that I can see myself playing it for years to come. We’re spoiled for choice with so many amazing Nintendo Switch games releasing every week so it takes something truly magical to hold my attention. The combat and exploration systems are refined and satisfying, the hub world adds cooking and farming elements, and there are so many different ways to tackle the enemies.
The star of the show for me is the environmental storytelling. Silent Hope slowly drip-feeds us information about the world through the Princess’s remarks and the odd sign at the end of a level. It’s masterfully done.
Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – Holly’s pick, Staff Writer
Do I even need to say it? The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom did not disappoint on any front. Following up on one of the best Switch games of all time was no easy feat, but Link’s latest adventure through Hyrule managed to do it and earned incredible reviews across the board. Tears of the Kingdom builds off Breath of the Wild’s creativity by doing away with the established rules and bringing in a swathe of quite frankly genius new mechanics to use as you find your way across the land, through the sky, and underground.
Yes, there are three layers of Hyrule to explore this time – sky islands litter the heavens, while underground lurks the Depths, a huge, mirror-image of the surface as intriguing as it is haunting. Enough of the game is brought over from the first to make it recognizable and easy to dive into, but the new story, mechanics, and area bring in an entirely new experience and an excellent time. I easily spent 100 hours exploring this world anew, and delighted in playing my part to save Hyrule once again.
Check out our Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review to read more of our thoughts.
Persona 4 Golden – Ruby’s pick
Persona 4 Golden finally made its way onto the Nintendo Switch at the start of the year and has managed to maintain a place in my GOTY picks. In this game, you take control of Yu Narukami as he tries to unravel the mysteries of the Midnight Channel by night, while also maintaining friendships, exploring the city, and improving his grades at school during the day.
Being able to explore Japan and raise social links on my television before swapping to docked mode when I want to grind some levels in the Midnight Channel, the Nintendo Switch is undoubtedly the best way to play. We have a Persona 4 Switch review if you’re not sold yet, but as the game is now over 15 years old, we can’t believe you’ve waited this long.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon – Kayleigh’s pick
Who doesn’t love the Umbra Witch? Bayonetta is sassy and sexy, quite a good mix, especially when you combine that with her powers and general badassery. But where does her story begin? This year we got to find out in Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, a game that offers an intriguing story that shows you Bayonetta in a whole new light. She’s just a teenager here, one who finds herself lost in the forbidden Avalon Forest. Luckily (or maybe unluckily, depending on how you look at it), a demon possesses Cereza’s toy, who she then names Cheshire.
Together, the two go on an exciting adventure that offers something different from the main Bayonetta trilogy. You get to explore a gorgeous forest and solve various puzzles as you try to help Cereza and Cheshire. The gameplay is something I took note of in my Bayonetta Origins review, as I enjoy the fact that you get to control both characters at the same time with each Joy-Con. Cereza and the Lost Demon is a delight and is certainly one of the best Switch games in 2023.
Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo – Tilly’s pick
Now, I’m a sucker for horror, the more supernatural the better – slap a ghost, ghoul, or promise of gore on just about anything and I’m there. So when I first played Paranormasight back in early 2023, it’s safe to say that it wormed its way into my heart with its tricky tendrils, and I’m still thinking about it almost a year later.
Paranormasight is a visual novel that weaves multiple tales together into a sticky web of curses, morality, and more. This interwoven narrative not only puts you into the shoes of several characters inflicted with a curse but also pushes you to investigate and potentially make some deadly decisions. Boasting striking art, a unique 20th-century Japan setting, atmospheric Edo-era stories, and some truly fascinating characters, I really love everything about this twisted visual novel.
You can check out our Paranormasight review to hear more of my thoughts on this little beauty. However, before we move on, I’d also like to give a shout-out to another of my favorite horror games of this year, Vlad Circus. It’s a truly striking, pixelated survival horror with some great psychological scares, and you can also read about it in our Vlad Circus: Descend into Madness review.
Dave the Diver – Connor’s pick
While there might be a lot of controversy surrounding Dave the Diver’s inclusion in the ‘Best Indie’ category at this year’s Game Awards, you can’t say it’s not a fantastic game. With an engaging gameplay loop up there with other personal favorites like Stardew Valley and Hades, a wealth of underwater creatures to encounter and catch, and a riveting narrative that slowly unfurls to reveal the extent of this in-game ocean and its denizens, I’ve spent a solid part of my year diving deeper and deeper.
Still, my favorite thing about Dave the Diver might be the characters. From Dave, our haphazard harpooning hero with a big heart, to Bancho, the perfectionist head chef pushing the boundaries of digestible delicacies, and everyone in between, there’s just something about this cast that makes me want to come back and visit them whenever I can. So, if you’re wondering what I’ll be up to this holiday season, you can bet that I’ll be back in the waters hunting for precious ingredients and having a whale of a time. See what I did there?
In Stars and Time – Daz’s pick
This game, wow, what a masterpiece. Anyone who’s seen me knows I’m an extremely colorful person, so I’m a little shocked that a monochrome game has won me over so entirely. It takes a lot for a videogame to make me cry, but as I said in my In Stars and Time review, this game managed it. It’s full of so much heart, which I’ve come to expect from solo dev projects like this one.
In Stars and Time brilliantly combines old-school RPG nostalgia with modern time loop mechanics and diverse, incredibly developed characters that exemplify the idea of found family. Adrienne Bazir’s beautiful storytelling and world-building are a testament to the impact that games can have on their players. Go and play this game right now.
Pikmin 4 – Holly’s pick
Pikmin 4 is absolutely one of the top games to release this year and almost made up for the decade-long wait since Pikmin 3. I scored it 10/10 in my Pikmin 4 review this year, and I stand by it. Visually, the game is incredible, which is refreshing after some of this year’s other offerings. Taking on the role of a customizable character with plenty of other NPCs to interact with is a refreshing change, and I’m so happy about the arrival of the best character Oatchi, your rescue pup and companion.
Key differences from previous Pikmin games like creating your own character and having a central hub to visit for more quests and activities make Pikmin 4 a step up, but still a valuable continuation of the series by striking true to the core mechanics. There’s plenty here for new and old fans alike, those who want a simple time collecting fruit, or those in the mood for a challenge.