Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Top Ten Exclusives of the Nintendo Switch's First Two Years

As of this past Sunday, the Nintendo Switch is now officially two years old. With it we've seen no shortage of great games for the system, and that doesn't seem to stop anytime soon. However, before we look towards the future of the Switch, let's turn to the past--more specifically the top ten exclusives for the system of its first two years. While you won't see The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on this list due to it also being available on the Wii U, you will see a tremendous amount of quality in these titles--and maybe more Mario than you'd expect, too!

10) Mario Tennis Aces

We start out with a game I was pretty harsh towards when it originally released. Now, since many patches and content updates (from where it was once unbalanced and missing essential features previous games had), Mario Tennis Aces is very much a game worthy of the Mario Tennis series name. Whether you're playing a standard round of tennis or special Mario Tennis rules with power shots and the stamina gauge, Mario Tennis Aces brings with it some high octane, high adrenaline, high value entertainment. Since launch, new modes, an abundance of new monthly characters, and balance changes have made appearances all for free, making was what once a lackluster Mario Tennis game a rather excellent one.

9) Super Mario Party

Party hearty, Mario and friends--and you're free to RSVP and join the celebration, too. While lacking the typical amount of boards seen in previous Mario Party games, the four boards within Super Mario Party are fantastic to themselves, offering a lot of action for their size. One could argue that it's their smaller sizes that allow more events and action to take place! Containing around 80 satisfying mini-games, Solo and Team boards, a fun and engaging four-player co-operative River Survival mode, and much more, Super Mario Party brings enough goodness to in its [party] favor to make it one of the best entries in the series yet.

8) Octopath Traveler

Shifting gears from parties to RPGs, Octopath Traveler is a gorgeous 2D sprite-based RPG from Square Enix that follows the story of eight travelers with their own unique vignettes and adventures. Octopath Traveler is obviously a looker with its unique visual style (your mileage may vary on how you like it--but I'm absolutely in love), but the role-playing systems within the game such as Boost Points allow a deep amount of strategy where you chain attacks to inflict the most amount of damage to enemies and assist your party members in the intense battles the game delivers. Throw in one amazing musical score, and Octopath Traveler strikes a fine balance between retro and modern that all RPGs fans need to experience for themselves.

7) Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Continuing with the RPG theme we have going here, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 features a colorful and charming cast of characters, a collectible Blade system that becomes incorporated into battle, and expansive lands and areas to explore. However, these lands are teeming with indigenous and hostile wildlife, so explore carefully and cautiously! Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is quite the meaty game, offering a robust lineup of Blades to acquire and enhance, side quests to take on, and a main campaign that will take dozens upon dozens of hours to complete. Though undocked performance on the Switch is a bit shaky, being able to hold a massive role-playing adventure like this in the palms of your hands is truly impressive, much like the overall adventure itself.

6) Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Take command of three Mushroom Kingdom or Rabbid characters as you launch them into strategical battles X-COM style! Really, that's what Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle essentially is--X-COM in colorful Mushroom Kingdom clothing. The odds are stacked against you in battle, but with a smart strategy, the odds will turn in your favor. Explore interactive environments filled with puzzles between said battles, discovering treasure and chests along the way. The addition of the Donkey Kong-themed DLC make an already enticing package even more irresistible, as does the completely Grant Kirkhope-composed soundtrack. The idea of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was laughable for many, but after witnessing the astounding quality of the game, it's Nintendo and Ubisoft that are laughing now--and players of this hilarious and charming game as well!

5) Splatoon 2

Time to get wet and messy... with ink! What else did you think, you sickos? (...Or maybe it's I who is the sicko...) Nevertheless, Splatoon 2 features a full fledged campaign that puts Splatoon players in their paces with creative levels, rewarding scenarios and challenges, and some truly intense boss battles. The multiplayer is just as messy and fun as ever with four on four skirmishes in ranked and unranked play across a regular rotation of maps, some returning from the original Wii U Splatoon. An all-new co-operative mode encourages teamwork against hordes of enemies and bosses alike, and while this mode isn't always available, it is quite special of a gameplay experience when it is live. Whether you're splatting to see who can paint the most ground in their team's colored ink before time expires (the main multiplayer mode of the Splatoon series) or deeply engaged in customizing your Inkling to your liking, there's a lot on offer and a lot to love with Splatoon 2.

4) Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! & Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee!

The duo of games that got me back into being hyped for the Pokemon series, Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! deliver a nostalgic trip through the Kanto region with some remarkable improvements. The lack of random battles makes searching for that rare, elusive Pokemon you wish to catch all the less tedious, and it also allows you to avoid battles when you desire nothing more than to evade that hundredth Zubat you faced in the original Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow games. For new players, the Let's Go pair offer plenty to be excited over--from the accessible and friendly Pokemon GO-style catching mechanics to the easier difficulty. While these might put off longtime Pokemon players, there are plenty of traditional features available to them, and even still, the newly announced Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield are the main course for these players regardless!

3) Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Now, this one might be cheating a little--or at least bending the rules a bit--but Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the definitive version of Mario Kart 8, featuring more characters than the Wii U game, a brand-new Battle Mode, and several unique gameplay features and mechanics like auto-acceleration, smart-steering, and a new item. I argue that Deluxe is different enough from the base Wii U version of Mario Kart 8 to be acceptable for this list. And, it's really difficult not to want to put Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on such a list like this because it's just so bloody good. (Oh, I'm talking like I'm across the pond all of a sudden! See how awesome you are, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe!) Containing all of the tracks both base and DLC from Mario Kart 8, the aforementioned bigger and better Battle Mode, and more characters than you can shake a stick shift at, and you have the definitive Mario Kart experience--and one of the best kart racing games of all time.

2) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

We go from the definitive Mario Kart to the definitive Super Smash Bros. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate contains over 70 characters in its rosters--literally EVERYONE is here--and the majority of stages featured in past Super Smash Bros. games--that's over 100 stages to smash on. The brand new World of Light mode with over 1200 unique character and object spirits to collect to power up your fighters is my personal favorite single player campaign implementation in the series yet, and the other assortment of modes and features within Ultimate are nothing to whiff at either! This is definitely the ultimate Super Smash Bros. experience, and Masahiro Sakurai and his team aren't pleased to be finished there, as DLC soon drops this April featuring Joker from Persona 5.

1) Super Mario Odyssey

Since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is also available on the Wii U, that leaves us with SuperPhillip Central's second favorite Nintendo Switch game as the number one exclusive on this list. Returning to the open sandbox worlds as seen in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, the massive platforming playgrounds available to Mario are some of the best levels ever seen in the 30+ year franchise. The exhaustive amount of mobile options allowed to Mario make the portly plumber the most nimble he's been in quite some time. The new capture ability allows for even more unique gameplay scenarios, as Mario inhabits the bodies of enemies and objects, using their abilities to progress in levels and solve puzzles.

The gargantuan amount of Power Moons featured in Super Mario Odyssey mean that any player can get the requisite amount necessary to proceed through the game, but for completionists and players who want a stiffer challenge, then they can go after all of the Moons--or at least the more difficult to acquire ones. Regardless of your skill level, it's hard not to be wowed by the magic that is Super Mario Odyssey, SuperPhillip Central's pick for best Nintendo Switch exclusive.

Honorable Mentions: ARMS, Kirby Star Allies, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate

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