2020 may have been a horrible year for many companies, but Nintendo came out the other side shining. And while the Nintendo Switch might not be graphically superior to other consoles like the PS5 or Xbox X|S, rumor has it that Nintendo might be looking to up its graphics game soon.
In 2021, the Switch continues to grow in popularity, and one of the best ways to check out Nintendo’s niche is through Switch exclusive games. There are plenty of ported games available on the Switch, but those might not give players a true idea of what makes the system special. Instead of playing ported games like Skyrim, which has appeared on almost every recent console and has even been played with potatoes, you might want to consider picking up a Switch exclusive instead.
With its motion control capabilities, portability, and dedication to quirky titles, the Switch is a great choice for gamers who want something a little different. Here are the best Nintendo Switch exclusives of 2021.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Critics adored Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, and many fans’ only complaint was that it was too short. Super Mario 3D World initially appeared on the Wii U, and while it was beloved by players, the Wii U ultimately flopped. Now, fans have another chance to experience the cat-tastic classic with an added bonus of new content.
An all new, open world adventure starring Mario and Bowser Jr., Bowser’s Fury stands alone as a separate adventure from Super Mario 3D World, and takes Mario to new heights as he fights to defeat a giant, out of control Bowser. The game has some intense moments, and asks players to use clever co-op mechanics to maneuver around environmental obstacles and uncover secrets.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is a Switch exclusive and can’t be found anywhere else. Part of what makes the Switch so special is that it’s the only place to go for Nintendo’s intellectual property, including fan favorite series like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. With an 89 on Metacritic, Bowser’s Fury is a great bet for any game player.
Monster Hunter Rise
Monster Hunter Rise, the latest timed Switch exclusive installment in the Monster Hunter series, arrived to wonderful reviews from a variety of critics. Monster Hunter Rise earned a whopping 87 on Metacritic, threatening to overtake Nintendo’s most iconic original character, Mario.
Monster Hunter Rise adds new features to the long-running series, like the Wirebug, which allows players to zip around the map with ease. There are also new buddies called Palamutes in Monster Hunter Rise, which players can ride and call on during intense hunting sessions.
One of the most exciting aspects of Monster Hunter Rise is that it’s completely portable, thanks to the Nintendo Switch. Portability doesn’t mean Monster Hunter Rise sacrificed looks, though. The gameplay is just as responsive and looks just as crisp and clear as fans have come to expect from the series.
If the thrill of the chase, the accumulation of resources, and strategic planning appeal to you, Monster Hunter Rise might be the one Switch exclusive to pick up.
Tadpole Treble Encore
Tadpole Treble Encore is the type of unconventional game that thrives on the Switch. Developer Bitfinity calls the Tadpole Treble Encore an "auto-scrolling adventure game with a heavy emphasis on music." Tadpole Treble Encore has a cartoony, fun exterior that hides genuinely engrossing gameplay. Players guide the tadpole Baton through a series of songs, avoiding obstacles and gliding through sheet music.
Tadpole Treble originally appeared on the Wii U in 2014, but Encore improves upon the original by remastering and updating the game for the Nintendo Switch. The new version of the game includes tons of unlockables and extras, and players can choose to work through the story mode or take a chance on their own original songs in the composition mode. Tadpole Treble Encore features an original soundtrack with "Dozens of tunes, including six fully sung songs," giving fans an experience reminiscent of the animated musicals they grew up watching.
Tadpole Treble Encore is an example of how quirky games found a new home on the Nintendo Switch. It earned an 82 on Metacritic, and one critic even stated that the game brought them back to the golden SNES era of gaming.
Bravely Default 2
Though its title might suggest otherwise, Bravely Default 2 is not a sequel to either Bravely Default or Bravely Second: End Layer. Bravely Default 2 features an original story and all-new characters, and fans of the original two games have enjoyed jumping into a new adventure. While critics didn’t love Bravely Default 2‘s character design, they deemed the game itself fun and challenging.
Bravely Default 2 brought RPGs back to the forefront of gaming conversation in 2021 by earning a 76 on Metacritic. JRPGs are experiencing something of a renaissance thanks to games like Bravely Default, and fans of lengthy RPGs can rejoice, because Bravely Default 2 has almost 60 hours of content to enjoy.
Bravely Default 2‘s plot is fairly standard JRPG fare: A young sailor who survived a strange storm sets out on an adventure and meets many friends along the way, building a formidable party of heroes. However, as anyone who loves RPGs will know, sometimes even the least detailed plot can unfold into a masterwork of narrative.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection revived a classic franchise for the Nintendo Switch, earning a 74 on Metacritic in the process. The Nintendo Switch exclusive puts a new spin on the classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins formula, what has been known for its extreme challenge level.
Though the newest game was unceremoniously announced at The Game Awards 2020 and released shortly after, it still battled its way into critics’ and gamers’ hearts, reestablishing Ghosts ‘n Goblins as one of the most difficult, pleasantly infuriating games to ever exist. TJ Denzer of Shacknews may have summed it up best: "Ghost ‘n Goblins Resurrection is an absolute monster of a game, but both a thoughtful redesign and a fully intact foundation make it one that feels glorious to tame at whatever level you play it[.]"
With so many great Switch exclusives appearing in 2021, there’s no reason to feel left out of the console fun.