2020 certainly had different challenges, but 2020 was a great year for Switch owners.
These are our nominations for the best Nintendo exclusive console * of 2020, from the social phenomenon Animal Crossing to the return of a popular Mario cult series and extraordinary indie action.
The best Nintendo exclusives of 2020
Click through the gallery above or scroll down for the full list!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
It wasn’t just exactly the kind of game everyone needed at the start of an isolating pandemic: Animal Crossing: New Horizons took the relaxed and comfortable city building simulator to the next level with a degree of customization that is second to none. With New Horizons, players could customize their island vacation to the last square inch, whether they wanted a bustling city with handcrafted streets and parks or a laid-back island paradise full of waterfalls and bamboo forests.
77 Brilliant little details in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
With the new crafting and customization system, players can not only decorate their dream home, but also greet new villager friends in perfectly placed homes with as dazzling front yard as you can dream of. And while time spent at the airport won’t be an issue, New Horizons’ ability to accommodate groups of players was a perfect example of your hard work creating the perfect island community.
For more information, check out our full Animal Crossing review here!
Supergiant Games has outdone itself with Hades, a villain with so much depth, heart, and incredible combat that we haven’t been able to stop playing since switching. Supergiant, the studio’s first foray into the genre, has managed to come up with clever ways to make any run through the underworld as players take on the role of Hades’ son Zagreus who seeks to escape Hell.
The expertly written and performed ensemble cast gives the world a lot of personality and offers new, far-reaching personal assignments and developments that the players can take on at their own pace. Sure, advances are being made when it comes to unlocking new weapons, discovering new powerups, and escaping Hell, but Hades makes new personality traits, developments in relationships, and even opportunities to improve Zagreus’ home seem just as significant . It’s a brilliant combination of Supergiant’s storytelling skills, talent for quick combat with tons of customizable depth, and beautiful artistry in the look, sound, and feel of each of its new worlds with the studio’s best game yet.
For more information, check out our full Hades review here!
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Bad luck
The musuo genre has always been a niche, but the latest Nintendo additions from Koei Tecmo have only gotten better. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity may be the first game in the Warriors franchise that really appeals to the mainstream – largely because of its obvious connection to Breath of the Wild. What initially seemed like a holdover for avid fans, until Breath of the Wild 2 turned out to be a fantastic game that stands on its own while also celebrating the game that came before it (or technically in lore).
As the forerunner of Breath of the Wild, we learned more about Hyrule before the disaster. The list features many famous characters, including the four champions: Zora, Daruk, Urbosa, and Revali. Each playable character has unique skills that really feel different and allow for a wide variety of repeatabilities across dozens of missions. While the gameplay is primarily your usual hacking-and-slashing that the genre is known for, it’s so perfectly interspersed with bits of Breath of the Wild like the Sheikah Slate and the cooking that it really feels like a real start and doesn’t feel like a spin-off.
For more information, check out our full Hyrule Warriors AoC review here!
Paper Mario: The Origami King
As long-time fans of the Paper Mario franchise, it’s easy to write off a sequel since The Thousand-Year Door as a betrayal of the series’ first two entries. And yes, The Origami King isn’t the ultimate return to franchise fans, but it’s well worth the trip to complete fun puzzles with surprisingly touching character moments, funny writing, an inventive combat system, and a legend of Zelda’s worth. In fact, this Paper Mario foray owes a large part of its success to the clear inspiration it draws from this other Nintendo series – the world’s Zelda fication is used to create a really challenging and fun dungeon design. And it always finds clever use for the many characters Mario meets along the way – we don’t think we’d ever said before that a bob-omb could make us cry, but here we are. That’s not even the unique combat system that turns turn-based battles into geometric puzzles for you to solve as you race against the clock. It’s fresh, unique, and while it’s not the Paper Mario we were hoping for before playing, it’s absolutely one that we’re so glad we got to play.
For more information, check out our full Origami King review here!
Pikmin 3 Deluxe
The original Pikmin 3 may have debuted on the Wii U, but it’s really getting a chance to shine, which it always deserved with Pikmin 3 Deluxe. As most of the missions are relatively short, this is the definitive version of Pikmin as you can play in bed or on the go. The various areas that you will explore on planet PNF-404 are rich and detailed and full of life.
The core mechanics of managing multiple Pikmin squads to solve puzzles before dark shows the line between relaxation and stress. Nintendo added a short prequel story and new side missions to this deluxe version, as well as introducing a badge system that overcomes the player-specific challenges and gives you a lot 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 2020 Nintendo exclusive – let us know in the comments below what’s on your list that isn’t on ours and be sure to cast yours Choose our People’s Choice Award for Game of the Year 2020 here! You can also vote for your favorite PC Exclusive, the best exclusive PlayStation, Switch and Xbox consoles, as well as the best movies, TV series and comics of the year!
There are plenty of other awards beyond just being the best Switch games! Check out all the nominees for our platform, genre and design awards below – and of course our picks for this year’s GotY!
IGN’s Game of the Year 2020
Best games by platform
Best games by genre
Game development and craft awards
Also, check out all of the other Game of the Year nominations, as well as our picks of the best movies, TV shows, comics and anime of 2020!
* Note that this category represents our picks for the best games exclusively on each console platform. While Hades is also available on PC, it is an exclusive Switch console.