Essential Nintendo Switch Games for the 2020 Holiday Season

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The Nintendo Switch library just keeps growing and giving, with each year bringing more stellar games to the handheld-console hybrid. Years past have given fans the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Super Mario Maker 2Pokemon Sword and Shield, and other fantastic third-party titles such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

2020 has kept up that trend. 

Some of the best games on the console yet have released this year, from platformers and action titles to JRPGs and roguelites. In this list, we've included some of the most essential games and best buys in the 2020 Nintendo switch library, all in the spirit of keeping you warm and toasty this holiday season. 

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons

ESRB: E
Price: $59.99
Get it on: Amazon (physical), eShop (digital)

No list of essential Nintendo Switch games would be complete without one of 2020's most-defining and culturally-important games. Of course, we're talking about Animal Crossing: New Horizons. When friends and family couldn't meet in person because of a global pandemic, AC:NH was there to bring us all together.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has an addicting, seemingly endless to-do list that keeps players coming back day after day, month after month. Exploration, crafting, decorating your little island house — there's so much to do. The game has even steadily added unique content and events since its release in March. 

Read our review for more on Animal Crossing: New Horizons, where we said "New Horizons is bursting with personality and charm, with opportunities to create something new and completely you."

Pikmin 3 Deluxe

ESRB Rating: E
Price: $59.99
Get it on: Amazon (physical), eShop (digital)

As part of one of the cutest real-time strategy series around, Pikmin 3 Deluxe has players grow, assemble, and order hordes of cute little Pikmin across a strange world, all in an effort to get back to your ship and make your way home. It takes some creative thinking to push your little Pikmin to victory, but it's immensely rewarding when you do so.

Pikmin 3 Deluxe offers both single-player and multiplayer co-op for its campaign and other modes, making it the perfect addition to your library if you're looking for something cute, fun, quirky, and playable with friends. 

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Disgaea 4 Complete+

ESRB: T
Price: $49.99
Get it on: Amazon (physical), eShop (digital)

One of the most robust entries in the long-running strategy game series yet, Disgaea 4 Complete+ adds additional scenarios, higher-level spells, new features taken from Disgaea 5, and even a map editor to Disgaea 4. Of course, this all comes on top of hundreds of hours of gameplay if you get into the sweet grinding groove.

You can read more about this strategy gaming feast in our review, where we said "Disgaea 4 Complete+ is the definitive version of the game, with upgrades galore, tons of content to get lost in, and one of the strongest casts in the series."

Ys Origin

ESRB Rating: T
Price: $19.99
Get it on: Amazon (physical), eShop (digital)

A story-driven action RPG, Ys Origin offers a narrative split between three characters and a whole lot of adventure. Fighting your way through the Darm Tower, and solving puzzles along the way, makes for one of the best experiences on the Nintendo Switch to date, even if it is a re-release of a 2006 title that's found its way to the PC, PS4, Vita, and Xbox One over the years.

You can read more about this fluid action RPG in our review.

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Hades

ESRB Rating: T
Price: $24.99
Get it on: Nintendo eShop

One of the biggest action roguelikes to hit PC in years, Hades offers fans of the genre an endlessly perilous journey, as well as a wealth of modifiers and game modes for dedicated players to tinker and struggle with. Now, it's on the Nintendo Switch.

If you or someone you know enjoys the roguelike genre, Hades is essentially a must-play. It didn't win Indie Game of the Year at this year's Golden Joystick Awards for nothing. 

Read more about this visually stunning and engrossing roguelite in our review, which granted Hades a perfect 10 for "top-quality story, gameplay, music, and art direction; hours and hours of excitement and adrenaline; and plenty of humor and snark to keep you laughing."

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

ESRB Rating: E
Price: $59.99
Get it on: Amazon (physical), eShop (digital)

Three of Mario's most iconic 3D adventures are bundled in this one release. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64), Super Mario Sunshine (Gamecube), and Super Mario Galaxy (Wii). With their powers combined, they are one of the best buys on the Nintendo Switch.

But it's only available until March 31, 2021! Nintendo will be pulling the limited-time release from shelves and storefronts then.

None of these games have changed much from their original versions in this release; some of the more persnickety issues exist, but they also come alongside the same charm that's made these games timeless. Read more about them in our review

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Paper Mario: The Origami King

ESRB: E
Price: $59.99
Get it on: Amazon (physical), eShop (digital)

Paper Mario: The Origami King is the latest entry in the popular Paper Mario series, and it may be one of the best. Featuring a fantastic world and fun mechanics, this is a game that Switch owners can't afford to miss out on, even if it's a bit light on more traditional RPG systems. 

In our review, we said that "despite a combat system that gets old quickly, Paper Mario: The Origami King's writing, puzzles, and worldbuilding make it the best entry since The Thousand-Year Door.

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin

ESRB Rating: T
Price: $39.99
Get it on: Amazon (physical), eShop (digital)

An action-platformer, farming hybrid, Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is surprisingly robust for something that appears so simple. Despite that, Sakuna is a deceptively deep game with realistic farming mechanics, so much so that a guide to growing real rice on the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery website is applicable to the game!

You can read more about Sakuna and its intricacies in our review, in which it netted a perfect 10 for a "solid plot, with touching character stories, unexpected twists, and a fun riff on mythology," as well as an "incredibly detailed and rewarding farm system."

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Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

ESRB: T
Price: $59.99
Buy it on: Amazon (physical), eShop (digital)

Sometimes a little hack n' slack musou action goes a long way, and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity has plenty of it. A prequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, this game explores Hyrule 100 years before that game. 

Featuring 18 playable characters and plenty of main and side-mission content, Age of Calamity makes the most of its world, setting, and combat systems. 

We praised the game in our review, saying it is an "expansive take on Breath of the Wild's Hyrule and its people," and that is has "engaging combat [with] lots of character and playstyle variety." It's worth checking out. 

Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions

ESRB Rating: E
Price: $59.99
Get it on: Amazon (physical), eShop (digital)

Soccer doesn't always have to be realistic, as proven in the Captain Tsubasa manga and games series. It just so happens that Rise of New Champions has two in-depth story modes and affords players the ability to create their own characters. It's more arcade-style than, say, FIFA 20, and a whole lot flashier.

Learn more about Rise of New Champions in our review, where we said it "is legitimately the best arcade sports title to come out since Rocket League."

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

ESRB Rating: E
Price: $59.99
Get it on: Amazon (physical), eShop (digital)

The Kingdom Hearts series has plenty of fantastic music, so why not make make a rhythm game out of it?

With that question in mind, that's exactly what Square Enix did with Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory, an absolute treat for fans of the Disney-Final Fantasy hybrid. Featuring 143 songs, "almost every entry in the franchise" is covered here. 

We gave Melody of Memory a solid 8 for its "celebration of the wider series, solid rhythm mechanics, and excellent soundtrack." All said, Melody of Memory is well worth the price of admission, especially for fans of both the series and the genre.

No Straight Roads

ESRB Rating: E
Price: $39.99
Get it on: Amazon (physical), eShop (digital)

An action game with music in its veins, No Straight Roads sets you on a journey to topple EDM from the top of the charts and bring rock roaring back. Though that's not such an easy task with the denizens of Vinyl City after you.

Our review notes that No Straight Roads is endearing and rhythmically satisfying, with the game's stages built to fit its soundtrack. If Melody of Memory isn't quite your cup of tea, No Straight Roads is well worth checking out. 

FUSER

ESRB: T
Price: $59.99
Get it on: Nintendo eShop

If neither Melody of Memory nor NSR suit your fancy, perhaps a more "traditional" rhythm party game will. Enter FUSER from music-game legends Harmonix. 

Play as a DJ either playing popular songs or remixing them into your own special brew. The catalog includes 100 songs at launch from artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, Panic! At The Disco, Childish Gambino, and many more. 

Check out our review of FUSER to find out more, and why we said it's a "necessary" game in 2020 because of its unique multiplayer, co op play. 

Katamari Damacy REROLL

ESRB Rating: E
Price: $19.99 - $29.99
Get it on: Amazon (physical), eShop (digital)

This one, and the next slide, are bonuses that really should be in any library because they're that good. (We didn't include well-regarded staples in these bonus slides like Breath of the Wild because, well, we all know they're fantastic.)

Released in 2018, Katamari Damacy REROLL is a remaster of one of gaming's strangest legacies. It's notoriously bizarre and relaxing in equal measure, and it just so happens to make good use of the Switch's Joy-Cons. It's hard to even think of anything bad to say about this game.

Roll your way to victory, and into the King of All Cosmos' palm, to some seriously infectious music. 

Sonic Mania Plus

ESRB: E
Price: $19.99
Get it on: Amazon (physical), eShop (digital)

A return to Sonic and friends' '90s form, Sonic Mania Plus goes above and beyond to recapture the wonder of the series' classic 2D roots. Sonic Mania, and by extension its further enhanced Plus version, is the best Sonic title to come out in decades and should be on any "best of" list. 

The game features both new stages and remixed stages from the classics, with the Plus version offering brand new characters and a further remixed Encore mode. Read more about it in our review, in which it got a perfect store. 

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Published Nov. 30th 2020

Associate Editor

Ashley is pretty lost in most things, but not in her FFXIV addiction.

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