The Switch’s birthday is tomorrow, March 3rd, so I decided to do a top 10 for the true exclusives on the platform. Nintendo has produced so many consoles, and my favorite one by far has got to be the Switch. I love the N64 as well, but the Switch has a bunch of aspects that make it so much better than all of the others that have come before it. The massively popular hybrid console has thousands of games on the system, but what are my favorite top ten titles that are fully exclusive; i.e. not available anywhere else? This includes both PC and other Nintendo consoles since games like Breath of the Wild will not be here as it also launched on Wii U. Well, let’s find out what I think, and let’s discuss what you think in the comments!
Honorable Mention: Kirby and the Forgotten Land (2022 – Hal Labs/Nintendo)
This title may not have broken any barriers or dramatically altered any kind of platformer mechanics, but it is my favorite Kirby title that I have ever played. The game may not be the most challenging title, and it might not have the best or most creative story, but the game is just all around fun. Trying to obtain all of the collectibles, find all of the Waddle Dees to build up the town, take on the coliseum challenges with optional bosses, beat the copy ability side missions, or conquer all of the optional objectives in the main levels provides so much content without overstaying its welcome. The post-game levels definitely provided the challenge that I wanted. This game is among the best 3D platformers available on the Switch. Getting everything in a game is a challenge, but when the award is a screen that shows joy and happiness, it makes the slight frustrations all worthwhile. I hope that Hal Labs crafts another 3D platformer for the happy pink fluff ball as I seriously thought this game was very good overall.
10. Metroid Dread (2021 – MercurySteam/Nintendo)
Honestly, I have never played a Metroid game before Dread and now I seriously want to go back and play other titles, including Samus Returns on the 3DS. Playing older games in 2023 with so many new adventures that are coming is tough for me, but I think this franchise might be one I dive into this year. Since I am new to the franchise of Metroid, the story didn’t make a huge amount of sense to me, but I still think it was a good plot that works on its own. I want to know if this is a truly separate game, or if the plots within these Metroid games connect; without knowing a lot, I am thinking they are connected. The music and art within the game are beautiful and so eerie that at points I definitely felt like I was transported to the world. The Metroidvania combat and exploration within the game are terrific. I also loved all of the tense moments of hiding from the E.M.M.I.s to the non-intensive moments of just looking around the world. It isn’t the easiest game, but I definitely think it was a terrific one to play.
9. Mario+Rabbids Sparks of Hope (2022 – Ubisoft Milan/Ubisoft)
When the first game was announced, even when it leaked, everyone was shocked that Mario would be holding a blaster. When it was revealed to the world in 2017, it shocked everyone how good it looked. When it was released, I was very surprised at how well it worked as a tactical RPG. I had a few issues with the first one, mostly being linear with not much side stuff to do, but the second one is kind of hard to fault for the most part. The combat has improved compared to Kingdom Battle with its open movements. The open area exploration with side content and optional challenges makes it more fleshed out. I don’t normally 100% games anymore, especially on Switch, but for a game this good it needed to be done. I spent 50 hours to get that 100% mark and it was well worth it. Ubisoft typically doesn’t match with me for the style of games they make, but Ubisoft Milan has not disappointed me yet with either of the Mario+Rabbids games. I am excited to see what they end up doing next.
8. Fire Emblem Three Hopes (2020 – Koei Tecmo/Nintendo)
My introduction to the Fire Emblem franchise was Three Houses and I seriously loved that game a lot. I was honestly sad to say goodbye to everyone, but when Nintendo announced they were crafting another story set in this universe with the warriors gameplay style I was excited. I will say this now before I continue; I have only played one route as of now and barely started a second one. It isn’t higher on my list as of now, only because I haven’t played all of the paths yet so I don’t have a full look at all parts of the game. It may be a warriors title, but it is also a Fire Emblem title as well with more focus on the latter of these two. The combat combines the best of both worlds terrifically with a mix of hack-and-slash and tactical movements of the different characters. The exploration between battles offers skill upgrades, building your war base, relationship building with teammates, and so much more that people can relate to Three Houses very easily. I can’t wait to go back and finish the two paths I have left sometime in the future.
7. Astral Chain (2018 – Platinum Games/Nintendo)
Platinum games have made many games that I seriously love with Astral Chain probably being at the top of that list. This game came out of left field when it was announced at a Nintendo Direct and released the same year. The game has so much content to complete and I think this is a great thing when video games have this. Whether it comes to the investigation of scenes, open area exploration, intensive stealth sections, or very annoying light platforming areas it was a terrific package. The combat is amazing and was one that can be easy to understand but hard to master. The art style and music within the game are tried and true Platinum and I loved every minute of looking at and listening to this game. I am still, and will always be, anticipating a sequel and I seriously hope that one is in the works because this game should not be a one-off title.
6. Super Mario Odyssey (2017 – Nintendo)
When you think of fun adventures, one of the biggest names that probably will come up is the plumber wearing a red cap on his head. Super Mario is a game franchise that I played a lot in my childhood and also in my later years. Super Mario Odyssey screams so many emotions at you within the game, most of which are fun and happiness; but with the occasional dark or eerie moment. The throwing and implementing of Cappy is a terrific addition that adds a spin to the classic Super Mario formula that most people are used to. Adding the ability to transform into a lot of creatures or items in the game adds a lot of creativity to the puzzles and collectibles that the title offers you to locate. There are many hidden challenges, tougher areas, hard-to-get collectibles, and much more that after finding all of the moons available within the game, it was time to say goodbye. Is another game being developed in the same vein? I kind of hope so because they didn’t add any DLC areas and I, as well as a lot of others, were hopeful that they would.
5. Pokémon Legends Arceus (2022 – Game Freak/Nintendo)
Pokémon has been around for a very long time. There has always been a “tried and true” formula for the games which start to get old. I have been a little burned out by the basic tried and true formula that has plagued these games for a while. This game is one that breaks ground in many different ways that I didn’t feel burnt out once I rolled the true ending. In this one, you actually can both hunt Pokémon and also be hunted by them. You don’t need to engage in a battle in order to catch them, which is just a joy when you are on the hunt for one where you may have to be a little sneaky so you don’t spook it, or if you want to go on a rampage catching anything in your path. The game may not be truly open world, but that makes part of the game fun where you have to go back to town, craft items or buy select things, and then choose what location you want to go to. This game should not be a standalone title, rather it should be a spin-off series with different eras. This title is currently, and will most likely stay in my top five Pokémon titles of all time.
4. Super Smash Bros Ultimate (2018 – Sora/Bandai Namco/Nintendo)
Beating your friends and NPCs alike is always a fun time when it comes to classic games, including Super Smash Bros. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a fantastic name for it, and minus the somewhat lacking main campaign, the game does not disappoint in any way shape, or form. In the base game, there are 74 characters to choose from, plus 12 DLC characters totaling 86 total playable characters. All of the characters from past games have been brought back which in itself is crazy to think about, and then they added new ones to the main game on top of those brought back. The DLC is also insane with adding characters such as Joker from Persona 5, Microsoft-owned Banjo-Kazooie, and Cloud’s enemy Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII. The final character that was added as DLC was Sora from Kingdom Hearts and I NEVER expected Disney to be part of this game. I played this game for over 400 hours, and will still play it on very rare occasions as it always will be fun to play against others.
3. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (2017 – MonoliftSoft/Nintendo)
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 came out in December of 2017 and honestly, I didn’t get pulled into the game until later. I absolutely loved this game and thought that there was so much to it that it overstimulated me to the point where I couldn’t put it down. There are issues I had with the game; however, when I combine the plot of the main title with the overall combat systems that were there I could overlook some of the inconveniences of the randomized blades system. The music and the art within the adventure were spot-on for an open-world ARPG, so much so that it transports you to the world with everyone there. Now I am looking at this game, like the other games on this list, with the DLC that is available in the adventure. Torna fixed most of the issues that I had with the main title and makes the whole entire adventure a fantastic story that has great character development, stellar music, and so much more. I never wanted to put this game and its DLC down but after 200 hours combined I thought it was time to say adios to the crew and it was a sad time when I did.
2. Fire Emblem Three Houses (2019 – Intelligent Systems/Nintendo)
There aren’t many titles that I can play multiple times and still love everything about the experience from start to finish, back to back nonetheless. Fire Emblem Three Houses was my first entry into the franchise and it took over my life due to the fact of how long I spent in the game. Three Houses has four different paths that the story describes from different viewpoints of the war depending on the house leader you chose, or if you chose to side with the central church. Playing all four paths, plus the DLC for the game which has even more characters and story, had me finish the game at about 300 or so hours and was a blast to play. Each consecutive playthrough takes less time overall due to keeping stats or items that will help you breeze through the academy section at the beginning of the game. Honestly, Byleth as a main character was terrific, but I think the real stars of the show in this one are the students you get to work with.
1. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 (2022 – Monolift Soft/Nintendo)
This game absolutely cannot be beaten for what I believe is the Switch’s best RPG, and possibly the best game on the system; let alone the best exclusive title. The storyline of all six main characters, all of the side characters, and the NPCs are all so powerful and impactful that I was legitimately broken once I rolled credits at 170 hours. I don’t think the ending of a game has ever had the emotional impact that this one did. The art style and music within this game are stunning; so much so that I didn’t want to beat the game since I never wanted to say goodbye. The combat in this game has improved and drastically changed with the ability to control six characters at once. There are job systems in this one that allows you to find the best setup for your allies to overcome the blockades that constantly show up. If you’re a fan of RPGs and can only play a single title on the Switch, this needs to be it. Theoretically, you don’t need to play Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and Xenoblade Chronicle 2 to play this, but to be quite honest; if you don’t play or understand those stories at the very least, you are missing out on a lot of key details that lurk in the plot. I am excited for the story DLC coming this year, and for the future creations of Monolift Soft.
Now, if I were to include the Wii U ports or games that are available elsewhere, this list would be fairly different except for maybe the top 2 titles. Since this is for games only on Switch, do you agree with what I have stated here or are there omissions that you think should be here in place of others? Let us know in the comments; we would love to chat about it. The switch might have been around for six years, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing down whatsoever, especially with all of the exclusives coming this year and potentially beyond.