While it has certainly had other challenges, 2020 has been a bumper year for Switch owners.
From the social phenomenon that was Animal Crossing to the return of a cult Mario series and some exceptional indie action, these are our nominations for the best Nintendo * console exclusive of 2020.
The best Nintendo exclusives of 2020
Click on the gallery above or scroll down for the full list!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Not only was it exactly the kind of game everyone needed at the start of an isolation pandemic, Animal Crossing: New Horizons took the laid-back and comfortable city building simulator to the next level with a level of customization unlike any other. previous one. New Horizons allowed players to shape their island getaway down to the last square inch, whether you wanted a bustling city full of handcrafted streets and parks, or a paradise island filled with waterfalls and bamboo forests.
77 Small bright details in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
The new crafting and customization system allows players to not only decorate their dream home, but also welcome new villager friends into perfectly placed homes with a dazzling courtyard as you might imagine. And while your time at the airport will never be a hassle, New Horizons’ ability to host groups of players was the perfect demonstration of your hard work in creating the perfect island community.
For more information, check out our full Animal Crossing review here!
Supergiant Games has outdone itself with Hades, a roguelike with so much depth, heart, and incredible combat that we haven’t been able to stop playing since it came to Switch. The studio’s first foray into the genre, Supergiant has managed to find clever ways to make every race through the Underworld matter, as players take on the role of the son of Ade Zagreus who hopes to escape Hell.
The expertly written and interpreted cast adds loads of personality to the world, delivering new, sprawling personal missions and developments that players can undertake at their own pace. Sure, progress is being made in unlocking new weapons, discovering new upgrades, and, yes, escaping hell, but Hades makes new personality tidbits, evolutions in relationships, and even opportunities to improve Zagreus’ home feel just as meaningful. It’s a brilliant combination of Supergiant’s storytelling prowess, snappy fighting skills with loads of customizable depth, and wonderful artistry in the look, sound and feel of each of its new worlds with the best game ever made by the studio.
For more information, check out our full Hades review here!
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
The musuo genre has always been a bit of a niche, but the latest Nintendo-infused Koei Tecmo rumors have only gotten better. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity could be the first game in the Warriors series that really appeals to the mainstream, mostly due to its obvious link to Breath of the Wild. What initially seemed to be a leftover for impatient fans until Breath of the Wild 2 proved to be a fantastic game that stands on its own, while celebrating the game that preceded it (or technically after it, in lore).
Serving as a prequel to Breath of the Wild allowed us to experience more of Hyrule before the calamity. The roster contains many iconic characters including the four champions: Zora, Daruk, Urbosa and Revali. Each playable character has a unique set of skills that truly feel different from each other, allowing for plenty of replay value across dozens of missions. While the gameplay is mostly the usual hacking-and-slashing the genre is known for, it’s infused so perfectly with parts of Breath of the Wild like Sheikah Slate and cooking that it really feels like a proper voice, rather than a spinoff.
For more information, check out our full Hyrule Warriors AoC review here!
Paper Mario: The Origami King
As a longtime fan of the Paper Mario franchise, it’s easy to write any sequel from The Thousand-Year Door as a betrayal of what made the first two entries in the series so great. And, yes, The Origami King isn’t the latest return to the form fans of the franchise would have wanted, but it’s a journey worth taking, with surprisingly touching character moments, hilarious writing, an inventive battle system, and a legend of Zelda value fun puzzles to complete. In fact, this Paper Mario release owes much of its success to the clear inspiration it draws from that other loyal Nintendo series – the world’s Zelda story is used to create a truly inspiring and fun dungeon design. And he always finds clever uses for the many characters Mario meets along the way – we don’t think we’d ever say before that a Bob-omb could make us cry, but here we are. This doesn’t even mention the unique combat system, which turns turn-based battles into geometric puzzles to solve as you race against time. It’s fresh, unique, and while it’s not the Paper Mario we were hoping for before playing, it’s absolutely one we’re so glad we played.
For more information, check out our full Origami King review here!
Pikmin 3 Deluxe
The original Pikmin 3 may have debuted on Wii U, but it really has a chance to make it always shine with Pikmin 3 Deluxe. As most of the missions are relatively short, the ability to play in bed or on the go makes this the definitive version of Pikmin to date. The different areas you will explore on planet PNF-404 are rich, detailed and teeming with life.
Pikmin’s core mechanics of managing multiple teams to solve puzzles before night falls somehow perfectly on the line between relaxation and stress. Nintendo has added a short prequel story and new side missions to this Deluxe version, as well as introducing a badge system that offers player-specific challenges to tackle, giving you plenty more to do even after the main campaign is over.
For more information, check out our full Pikmin 3 Deluxe review here!
These are our picks for the best Nintendo exclusive of 2020 – let us know in the comments what’s on your list that wasn’t ours, and be sure to launch yours. vote here for our People’s Choice Award for Game of the Year 2020! You can also vote for your favorite PC exclusive, the best PlayStation, Switch and Xbox console exclusives, and the best movies, TV series and comics of the year!
There are many other rewards besides the best Switch games! Check out all of our platform, genre, and design award nominees and of course our picks for this year’s GotY, below!
IGN’s Game of the Year 2020
The best platform games
The best games by genre
Rewards for game development and craftsmanship
Be sure to check out all of our other Game of the Year nominees and our picks for the best movies, TV shows, comics and anime of 2020!
* note that this category represents our picks for top games exclusively on each console platform – while Hades is also available on PC, it’s a Switch console exclusive.