The Best Nintendo Switch Games of 2021: ‘Metroid Dread,’ ‘Mario Party Superstars,’ and Other Releases Gamers Loved This Year

It’s hard to believe 2021 is already coming to a close, but the year brought Nintendo Switch players a number of video games they won’t soon forget. Many were recognized with nominations and wins at this year’s Game Awards. But what are some of the best Nintendo Switch games to come out in 2021?

‘Metroid Dread’

'Metroid Dread' artwork for Nintendo Switch.
Official art for ‘Metroid Dread’ | Nintendo

Metroid Dread took home the honor for Best Action/Adventure Game at the 2021 Game Awards, and there’s a good reason for that. The newest addition to the Metroid series, this release was greeted with praise from longtime fans of the franchise and newcomers alike. It even received a Metascore of 88 on Metacritic.

Players waited a long time for this addition to the Metroid franchise, and it didn’t disappoint. It takes Samus Aran — and players — on an engaging and action-packed journey, and it does so in 2D. It’s repeatedly been listed among the best releases of the year. Needless to say, it’s worth picking up if you haven’t already.

‘Mario Party Superstars’

The first Mario Party was released more than 20 years ago now, but the game remains one of Nintendo’s most popular releases — and that’s probably why 2021’s Mario Party Superstars was such a hit.

Mario Party Superstars takes some of the best boards and minigames from the previous Mario Party installments and combines them to bring players one epic 2021 Nintendo Switch game.

After a number of additions to the franchise that were merely OK, Mario Party Superstars surpasses expectations. It landed an 80 Metascore on Metacritic, highlighting how much critics enjoyed it. And with an 8.5 user score, it’s safe to say they weren’t the only ones.

‘Monster Hunter Rise’

Monster Hunter Rise received high Metacritic scores from critics and audiences alike, cementing itself as one of the best Nintendo Switch games of 2021 — and one of the greatest Monster Hunter installments to date.

Everything from the design to the music elevates this game. Many players felt it successfully meshed popular qualities of the previous chapters with new features that improved upon the gameplay. It’s also easy to fall into, even if you’ve never given Monster Hunter a chance. Like Metroid Dread, gamers will be praising this release for a while.

‘New Pokémon Snap’

A number of Pokémon games came to Nintendo Switch in 2021. However, New Pokémon Snap was probably the most exciting. This modern take on the popular 1999 game evoked feelings of nostalgia in longtime fans of the franchise. And after snapping photos of new and old Pokémon, it’s not hard to see why.

Enhanced graphics, more Pokémon, and new settings make this updated take on Pokémon Snap even more fun than the original — and that’s without accounting for the DLC content.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl were both solid 2021 releases, but they simply didn’t compare to New Pokémon Snap. Even Pokémon UNITE couldn’t outshine it. The game certainly earned its above-average Metascore on Metacritic.

‘Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury’

It’s not every year Nintendo Switch players get more than one impressive Mario release. But Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury deserves to be on the list of best 2021 Nintendo Switch games as much as Mario Party Superstars.

Landing an 89 Metascore on Metacritic, this release will appeal to anyone who loved Super Mario 3D World on the Nintendo 3DS. It’s fun and lighthearted, a great choice for anyone looking for an escape this year or beyond.

More noteworthy Nintendo Switch games from 2021

Of course, the best Nintendo Switch games of 2021 can hardly be summarized in a five-item list. There are plenty of noteworthy releases from the past year, and all of them deserve a round of applause heading into 2022.

One of the best-reviewed releases of the year was The House in Fata Morgana, which landed a nearly perfect Metascore thanks to its top-notch storytelling and design. Meanwhile, Death’s Door also found itself on many round-ups for 2021.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons continued to dominate the Switch scene with its Happy Home Paradise DLC. The game was a massive hit in 2020, and it seems players were still eager to dive into new content in 2021.

For a more in-depth list of 2021 games that received impressive reviews, check out Metacritic. The site’s round-up will keep players occupied well into 2022.

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