Gamepur’s Best of 2022: The Five Best Nintendo Games of 2022

This story is part of Gamepur’s Best of 2022 roundup.

Five years into the lifespan of the Nintendo Switch, we’re past the point where developer ambitions go far beyond the capabilities of the hardware. Many third-party companies have had trouble getting their games to work on the Switch, but in most cases, Nintendo itself has still been able to harness its limited power to create some impressive and memorable games. While we’re almost certainly in the back half of Switch’s career, there was no shortage of great titles for this little console that could.

5. Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Image via Nintendo

  • Released on March 25, 2022
  • Developed by HAL Laboratory
  • published by nintendo

Sometimes it’s better to keep it simple and silly. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is far from groundbreaking, but it’s more than competent. Placing lovable characters in a somewhat grounded setting is an odd idea, but the charm of the Kirby series is still very much present in the pink puffball’s first 3D adventure.

With responsive controls, crisp animations, and a litany of unexpected and left-field power-ups, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a lot elevated from recent Mario games like Odyssey, but it never hurts to learn from the best. This Kirby title is also another reminder that games don’t need to have absurd difficulty curves to inspire joy or satisfaction. Sometimes you just want to play a damn video game, and Kirby and the Forgotten Land is very reliable.

4. Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope

Image via Ubisoft

  • Released on October 20, 2022
  • Developed by Ubisoft
  • Posted by Ubisoft

Never finishing the first Mario and Rabbids crossover game is disappointing because after experiencing Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, it’s impossible to go back to that first game. Sparks of Hope is a leap too big and too good. Kingdom Battle was a good XCOM for beginners, but Sparks of Hope reshapes that kind of game that feels faster, more dynamic, and overall quite enjoyable.

It also helps that the Rabbids are, dare we say, quite funny? With more characters and voice acting, the silly antics and deadpan dialogue hit a lot harder this time around, and Sparks of Hope carries the torch for keeping heavily written Mario spin-off games absolutely fun for people of all ages. Now that people can finally get over the inclusion of the perennially annoying Rabbids after the first game came as a surprise, I hope that as many people as possible experience Sparks of Hope and all the laughs and cheers that come with it.

3. Xenoblade Chronicles 3

xenoblade chronicles 3

Image via Nintendo

  • Released on July 29, 2022
  • Developed by Monolith Soft
  • published by nintendo

It’s quite remarkable that Nintendo and Monolith Soft have been able to make not just one, but two (three if you count the remaster of the first game) Xenoblade Chronicles titles. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has already proven to be a fan-favorite, even amidst all the giant triple-A action RPGs releasing in 2022. With an engrossing story and improvements to the Xenoblade combat formula, this one could be the definitive game in the series and even a good starting point for those who missed the first few entries.

Set in the midst of an absolutely brutal conflict, with protagonists bred for war and with fairly short lifespans, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is pretty grim thematically and probably one of the most compelling games released by Nintendo in recent memory. Combat has never been more intuitive in the series than in this third installment, with the whole process of using your combat arts and combining abilities between your party members with a nice flow. And it goes without saying with a Xenoblade game, but its world is huge, maybe too much for the Switch, but a great sandbox nonetheless.

2. Pokemon Legends: Arceus

Pokemon Legends: Arceus

Image via Nintendo

  • Released on January 28, 2022
  • Developed by Game Freak
  • published by nintendo

We’re not that used to Game Freak experimenting with the main series of Pokemon, having mostly stuck to its formula for decades. There are absolutely technical cracks in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, but as a departure from what we’re used to in these games, this third-person action title was really exciting to play. Imagine inhabiting a world where Pokémon are dangerous as hell, where stealth and survival are key, and with multiple ways to explore the topography.

Legends: Arceus examines the role of Pokémon in this fictional society by going back in time when the integration of Pokémon into everyday life was not yet a sure thing. By giving your time-displaced character a bit of work, this game creates a gameplay loop that can leave you haunted. Catching Pokemon is a much faster action in this game, which forms the core of that cycle. The battles have strong and agile styles that add an additional element to the strategy. And there are plenty of clever quality-of-life additions and changes that Game Freak would be foolish not to include in future titles. Legends: Arceus is a great snapshot of where Pokémon can go in the future – all they had to do was create a game set in the past first.

1.Splatoon 3

Splatoon 3 Star Power Featured

Image via Nintendo

  • Released on September 9, 2022
  • Developed by Nintendo E.P.D.
  • published by nintendo

When the first Splatoon game released seven years ago on Wii U, it felt like a shot of adrenaline for Nintendo IPs, and if you ask us, Splatoon 3 shows that the effect still lingers all those years later. Still retaining the unique dashes and splashes that we fell in love with in the previous two games, Splatoon 3 is undoubtedly a game made better and better. The single-player campaign is expanded, Salmon Run has quality-of-life changes you never knew you needed, and multiplayer remains unmatched by anything else on Switch.

It’s hard not to be drawn to the new characters, like the Deep Cut idols, or the completely new selection of songs. And even more so than previous offerings, Splatoon 3 feels closer to modern live service games (for better or worse, we suppose), with a constant stream of new content, events, and rewards. There are plenty of reasons to totally miss out on Splatoon 3, we haven’t even mentioned them all, like the new card game included, and believe us, we’ve still been missing out on it.