13. Tetris 99 - This literally came out of nowhere. Tetris spinoffs don’t usually turn out well, but Arika and Nintendo nailed it with this one. It’s such a simple idea. It’s Tetris battle royale. You vs 98 other players online. There’s some real killers online, and I’ve still never won a game, but this is a ton of fun regardless. It has single player Marathon and offline multiplayer DLC, too.
12. Shovel Knight: King of Cards - The final Shovel Knight expansion. And what a great sendoff for the game. It doesn’t seem to have gotten a lot of attention, but it’s a legitimately great platformer. Don’t let the card game scare you off. You don’t have to play it if you don’t want. King Knight is a really fun character to play as and the levels are some of the most challenging in the series. This is a must play for fans of 2D platformers.
11. Untitled Goose Game - The goose that laid the golden egg. Not only was it an instant hit when it came out on Switch, but it just surpassed 1 million in sales after its PS4 and XBO release. And well deserved. Untitled Goose game is hilarious and a lot of fun to play. I was legitimately surprised at how good the actual gameplay was. I thought it was just about funny goose memes, but I had a great time solving puzzles around the neighborhood.
10. Contra Anniversary Collection - This and the Castlevania collection had a few issues, like the Pixel Perfect mode on SNES and NES games actually being in Genesis Pixel Perfect aspect ratio instead of 8:7, but they’re both full of great games and well worth the price. Sure, you’ll get better options by playing these on your NES, SNES, or Genesis Classic, but this is probably going to be the only way to get these games on PS4, XBO, or Switch.
9. Blazing Chrome - Blazing Chrome is not actually a new Contra game, but it is a much better Contra game than the new Contra game, Contra: Rogue Corps. Blazing Chrome takes the sidescrolling run ‘n gun action that made Contra III and Contra: Hard Corps so great on SNES and Genesis and does something a little more modern with it. There is no 30 lives code here, but you do have infinite continues and can do some of the levels out of order, so this game is much more about memorizing levels and improving your skills. If Contra Anniversary Collection left you wanting a new Contra, you should check out Blazing Chrome.
8. Castlevania: Anniversary Collection - Yeah, this is missing all those great Metroidvanias, like SOTN and Aria of Sorrow, and it doesn’t even have all the Classicvanias, since it’s missing Rondo of Blood and The Adventure ReBirth, but there's a lot of great Classicvanias in this thing, and it’s only $20. This also has the only English release of Kid Dracula for NES, which is not great, but is interesting if you’re into retro game oddities.
7. Luigi’s Mansion 3 - Even though the Luigi’s Mansion series goes all the way back to the GameCube days, it’s never been one of Nintendo’s big series. Luigi’s Mansion 3 feels like the game that’s going to change that. This feels like a AAA Luigi’s Mansion. This is by far the biggest game in the series and one of the best looking games on Switch. I thought the controls were a little awkward and felt like the game was asking a bit too much of Luigi near the end, but it was otherwise a great game.
6. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - I was one of the backers that got burned by the pathetic Switch version, but after playing this on PC, I can’t bring myself to hate it. It’s just too good. There are a lot of indies games trying to be Symphony of the Night 2 out there, but none of them do it as well as Bloodstained RotN. Iga delivered and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the series.
5. Devil May Cry 5 - The Devil May Cry series has been flirting with Resident Evil and Zelda style puzzles since the very first one, but I don’t think they ever really clicked. The series needed to pick a style, and it went with pure action. Devil May Cry 5 drops nearly all the puzzles and exploration, and is much closer to a Bayonetta in structure than a DMC4. I think it worked out well. This game is non-stop action, both Nero and Dante are a lot of fun to play, and even though the story doesn’t make sense sometimes (to say the least), it’s fun in a dumb action movie kind of way. This party’s crazier than ever!
4. River City Girls - I love WayForward and River City Ransom is one of my favorite NES beat ‘em ups, so this is a match made in heaven for me. The combat system is nearly as deep as a fighting game’s and the presentation is bursting with style. It has beautiful 2D graphics, one of the best soundtracks of the year, and the story is hilarious and full of colorful characters and clever dialogue. I hope to see more of Misako and Kyoko in the future.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening - It’s Link’s Awakening with more buttons. That automatically makes it the best version of Link’s Awakening. This remake lets the amazing game that was always held back by the limitations of the GB shine through. It’s a shame that they never fixed the uneven framerate on the overworld, but the game is fantastic otherwise. It has some of the best graphics on the Switch and the soundtrack is by far the best Zelda music in a game outside of Smash Bros.
2. Super Mario Maker 2 - Even after Pokemon, this is still my most played game of the year It was basically an expansion to the Wii U game but with a worse UI, but I got totally into making levels again. Nobody plays my levels, but that’s another story. I just have fun making them. It’s a creative outlet for me. The single player was also pretty good. Still waiting on Swoops, Nintendo!
1. Pokemon Sword and Shield - This game was the most fun I had all year. I was totally addicted to it for about a month and I still play it every day. I loved how the story focused on trainers and the spirit of competition, and I'm still having a lot of fun raiding, shiny hunting, and breeding competitive Pokemon. This series was heading in a bad direction with Sun and Moon and its handholdy campaign and terrible characters, like Hao and Lillie, and while Sword and Shield are not the Breath of the Wild of Pokemon, they’re a step in the right direction. This is by far the best Pokemon game to come out in a very long time.