Though there are definitely titles (and even a few amiibo!) to look forward to, the Switch is going to feel light on new games to sink our teeth into until a Nintendo Direct rolls around. Not just any games either — I’m talking those addictive, seemingly endless ones that handheld mode was made for.
So as we step into another fresh year, I thought it would be worth looking back at a handful of obsession-worthy favorites from 2023. May these hold anyone looking for something new over until we start to see some contenders in 2024!
Oh, F-Zero…you high-speed darling that Nintendo never seems to want to embrace. You flew (or perhaps hovered) too close to the sun back on the GameCube with Sega’s help that it’s seemingly impossible to look at what could be next for the series that gave the world Captain Falcon.
So why not look back instead?
That’s what F-Zero 99 did. By basing itself entirely on the SNES original and adapting it into a last vehicle standing racing royale, it gave fans with Switch Online subscriptions something to sink their teeth into. For months I made at least one race a daily goal, and though I lost track of all the crash outs and disqualifications I’ve racked up I’m never going to forget that first victory.
Theatrhythm Final Bar Line
We’ve made no secret of our love for Theatrhythm here. Both a delight on 3DS and in arcades, its transition onto Switch was a natural one. Sporting 385 songs at launch that’s grown into an even more impressive collection of Square Enix standards (TWEWY! Mana! Chrono! Bravely! Octopath! Xeno!) via DLC, it’s the biggest the series has ever been. While it’s possible to take it at surface value as a robust rhythm game with some light RPG mechanics, enjoyable by anyone, it truly becomes an endless delight if you’re a Final Fantasy fan.
Seriously — the number of characters, quotes, collectibles, and content that embraces the entirety of FF is staggering. Despite pouring ample time into the game’s quest-centric mode I’m still being graced by its call backs. The drive to Perfect (and even full Critical, as flawless as it can get) its tracklist is real. Even if things are done for new additions with its last, Final Fantasy XVI-based DLC pack, I don’t see myself putting down Final Bar Line any time soon.
More than any other game on this list, this one likely had the broadest impact on gaming in 2023. The number of people streaming these cute fruits was staggering, particularly when you take its simplicity into account. You just…stack fruit. Yet those elements altogether pushed it from novelty into obsession for some, aided by a low price point and the aforementioned exposure.
Of course I’m always down for a good puzzle game, and Suika’s physics-based pileup is what really pulled me in. Once you start to have those eureka moments about how to trigger chain reactions and plan ahead for better space management — that’s when it really pulls you in, daring you to build up two smiling watermelons. Even when you fail and overflow, it’s hard not to give it one more try when faced with that many smiles.
Before it finally hit the Switch this was one of my most anticipated releases. Blending Castlevania-like imagery with bullet hell shooter sensibilities and a dash of slot machine flavor, it became its own insatiable beast of the night. The way the game continues to open itself up with new weapons and build possibilities is its own kind of addicting, but it’s that arcadey drive for bigger numbers that pushes this one into an unstoppable force of infinitesimal gameplay.
It helps that alongside the reverence for all things Belmont, Vampire Survivors has its tongue planted firmly in cheek. How else could you describe a game with that name that also doesn’t have a single Vampire in it? Plus you can be a tree named Peppino, and for Switch owners we’ll soon have new DLC content crossing over with (of all things) Among Us to be the bullet hell in all over again.
Dave the Diver
This whole writeup has come about because for some significant portion of time this year I couldn’t put down these games, but they were all within what I’d call reason. You know, within the time I’d be playing something anyway. Dave the Diver has the distinction of actively interfering with my life with how much I was playing it. Such is the power of running Bancho Sushi, and the zen-like state of being that comes with exploring the Blue Hole.
The rollout of new depths, upgrades, and mechanics that DtD served up was exquisite. Prepared by creators more experienced in free-to-play mobile games, their work in that medium does wonders for letting this one reel you in like its dozens of fish. Unlike the rest of this list it does have one potential hitch in that it technically has an ending, but with plenty of extra objectives to busy yourself with it goes from a story-driven adventure firmly into restaurant management sim.
Thankfully, like Vampire Survivors above, it recently crossed over with another title. With fresh Dredge-based content to enjoy (and potentially more DLC on the way) it’s great to know there are still some mysteries of its depths to discover.
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