2017 was quite the great year for Nintendo, which saw the release of a brand new system in the Nintendo Switch. The Switch came into the market with one of the best first year lineups ever seen from a new console. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild and Super Mario Odyssey broke records in critical praise. Additionally, there were plenty of other quality titles as well including Splatoon 2, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and Fire Emblem Warriors. Let’s not forget the Nintendo 3DS, as it had probably the final strong year with games like Metroid: Samus Returns and Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. It’s easy to say 2017 was one of the big N’s best years ever.
We are well within 2018, the holiday season is quickly approaching, and while the Nintendo Switch is still doing well, it doesn’t have as much hype as it had last year. The consistency of quality releases from 2017 has largely been supported by ports, DLC, and indie games in 2018. While everyone is getting excited about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee, there are still pretty good selections of games that are much better than what their Metacritic scores may suggest as well as games that you really do want to avoid. So here we will cover 20 games that are underrated and 10 that are just lame. The games featured here are among the Nintendo Switch and 3DS’ lineup of games that have released so far in 2018.
30 Better Than Critics Say: Octopath Traveler (Metacritic Score: 83)
One of the biggest games to have released on Switch in the first nine months of the year is Square Enix’s retro-styled RPG, Octopath Traveler. While most of the scores have been solid, there were some un-scored reviews such as Kotaku’s that unreasonably criticized the game.
It gives off a vibe similar to other legendary RPGs like Golden Sun.
Octopath Traveler is a fantastic re-visit to classic SNES style RPGs, with a great engaging battle system, unique story progression, and absolutely beautiful HD pixel graphics. It’s one of the must-have games that are available for the Switch.
29 Better Than Critics Say: Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (Metacritic Score: 78)
Hyrule Warriors initially made its debut on Wii U in 2014. It was the first game to feature a major Nintendo I.P. crossing over with Koei Techmo’s Dynasty Warriors franchise (The other being Fire Emblem Warriors on Switch.) Compared to Fire Emblem Warriors, Hyrule Warriors on Switch has a lot more uniqueness to its characters; you won’t find any copied movesets for the 31 characters that are playable in this game.
Hyrule Warriors is best known for Ganondorf's amazing character design.
Additionally, the game comes with every piece of DLC that launched in the original, so if you enjoy Dynasty Warrior games and missed out on this one for the Wii U, you owe it to yourself to give this game a go.
28 Better Than Critics Say: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Metacritic Score: 86)
If you skipped out of the Nintendo Wii U era, you didn’t really miss much in its game library. However one of the great gems on that system was Retro Studios’ second Donkey Kong installment, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. It features a lot of intense platforming levels, a fantastic musical score, and plenty of content to hold you over. Additionally, with the Switch version, you can also play as Funky Kong, who will make the experience a bit less stressful if the challenge is too much for you.
27 Better Than Critics Say: Mario Tennis Aces (Metacritic Score: 75)
The Mario Tennis series has had quite a few disappointments over the last few entries, most notably the abysmal Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash on Wii U. Mario Tennis Aces will initially appear to be lackluster due to its similar design to the Wii U game, but Camelot has done a great job of adding new techniques called trick shots as well as special shots that can be aimed with motion controls. These additions make the tennis gameplay a bit deeper and provide a bit of strategy.
Now that we have this, can Camelot please get back to Golden Sun?
Additionally, they bring back hazardous levels that can change the player’s approach to the game. There is also a decent story mode that provides unique challenges and even boss battles.
26 Lame: Code Of Princess EX (Metacritic Score: 65)
Don’t let the impressive look of the cover art fool you. It’s not a great thing if a game gets ported from the 3DS to the Nintendo Switch with its full 3DS pricing.
Solange might catch your eye, but that $40 price may be more eye-popping.
Code of Princess EX is a flashy beat-em-up that could provide some quality fun here and there, but it doesn’t justify the price tag. Additionally, the story and its characters are not very interesting to the point where you will enjoy their own jokes about it that the main story itself.
25 Better Than Critics Say: Bloodstained: Curse Of The Moon (Metacritic Score: 82)
Developed by Indie studio Inti Creates, Bloodstained: Curse of The Moon is one of the more noticeable and better indie games available on Switch. This game features classic side-scrolling Metroidvania style gameplay where you take control of a demon killing swordsman Zangetsu.
If you love Castlevania games, then this is the perfect game for you.
Throughout your quest, you will meet other potential playable characters, each with their own unique gameplay style. The trick is that if you recruit these additional characters, the game’s difficulty will change. This can also affect the story and even result in completely different endings.
24 Better Than Critics Say: Sushi Striker: The Way Of Sushido (Metacritic Score: 76)
Nintendo released a rather curiously strange looking puzzle game that is centered around one of the world’s most beloved (or hated) foods, sushi. Sushi Striker is an action puzzle game where the players must match up certain types of sushi as well as their plates in order to defeat an enemy. There are multiple characters, each with their own unique skills that can affect how one plays the match.
The story and narrative of a war breaking out all because of sushi may sound completely stupid, but the gameplay is actually quite fun and unique. If anything, this game will sure make sushi lovers hungry, is it lunch yet?
23 Lame: Detective Pikachu (Metacritic Score: 70)
Detective Pikachu is one of the more unusual Pokémon spinoffs. You play as a boy named Tim and you meet a talking Pikachu that claims to be a detective as you partner up to solve some unusual mysteries in the city. While it is an interesting blend to get Pokémon involved with a detective mystery game, its biggest problem is the lack of difficulty. If you are looking for games like these you’re better off going for the Professor Layton games.
22 Better Than Critics Say: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Metacritic Score: 82)
This spinoff game first originated as an alternate stage in each of the worlds in Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U. It was a really unique and fun set up that used the Wii U Gamepad pretty well. Eventually, Captain Toad got his own game with this gameplay style on the Wii U. That would later be ported to both the Nintendo Switch and the 3DS.
This version of the game brings back the same quality puzzle-platforming adventure that was quite the pleasant surprise. Additionally, there is new content in the game that is inspired by Super Mario Odyssey. The game is also at a pretty good value, so if you haven’t played it before it is definitely worth a look.
21 Better Than Critics Say: Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (Metacritic Score: 80)
Capcom’s Monster Hunter series has made quite the noise in 2018 with the evolutionary entry Monster Hunter World on the other platforms. World was great in how it took care of many quality of life issues, but it still lacked in some areas such as monster diversity and certain gameplay elements.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is just as good, if not, better than Monster Hunter World.
Generations Ultimate brings back many of the classic monsters packed into one game, the level of content trumps that of World and you can do more gameplay-wise with the unique skills that each class can perform. These were not present in World. While World may be more refined, Generations Ultimate still had the true Monster Hunter experience.
20 Lame: Dillon’s Dead Heat Breakers (Metacritic Score: 69)
One of Nintendo’s newer I.P.s over the last few years, Dillon’s Rolling Western series has managed to go for a few games strong. The series normally focuses on tower defense gameplay, but this particular entry introduces a combat racing mechanic to spice things up. While there are things it does well, it ultimately gets boring and repetitive after a short while. Dillon’s Rolling Western series may be one of the more unique Nintendo series, but it hasn’t done much to truly wow gamers.
19 Better Than Critics Say: Overcooked 2 (Metacritic Score: 83)
Indie developer Team 17’s original game’s launch last year proved to be quite the success on the Nintendo Switch. Now they have already developed a sequel that has launched this year.
This is definitely one of the best co-op games you’ll find on Switch this year.
Overcooked 2 is a co-op game where the players play up to as many as four chefs and they have to navigate through variously designed kitchens to grab ingredients, chop them up, place them in the proper order. It is surprisingly fast paced and it can be quite intense with all the havoc that is going on.
18 Better Than Critics Say: Kirby Star Allies (Metacritic Score: 73)
Kirby has had quite the successful run on the Nintendo 3DS with Tripple Deluxe and Planet Robobot, but many critics have been a bit unfair in their criticisms of Kirby’s first Switch appearance in Kirby Star Allies. Kirby Star Allies has a similar structure to the previous 3DS titles, but the focus of this game is in co-op play. Kirby can enlist the help of up to 3 other buddies to help him on his quest.
4-player co-op might make the game much easier than it already is, but playing with friends is a very enjoyable experience.
Additionally, the DLC support the game has been getting has been great, adding brand new playable characters that longtime fans haven’t seen in a while such as Adeleine and Ribbon. This is a game that has gotten better over time.
17 Lame: Morphies Law (Metacritic Score: 48)
Morphies Law was one of the higher marketed indie games leading up to its release. Morphies Law has a really unique twist in a multiplayer shooting game. The size of your character changes depending on your skill. As you land your hits your character will grow, but if you get hit a lot, your character’s size will shrink. This can alter how you play and the strategy of your approach.
Again, it is a really unique concept, but the main reason why this game is lame is that it is poorly executed. Its online gameplay is poorly designed and really flawed. Many of the game’s technical issues just make the game unplayable online.
16 Better Than Critics Say: WarioWare Gold (Metacritic Score: 78)
While the Nintendo 3DS is in its final stages of its product life cycle, there are still some games being released for the system. Among the games in 2018, one of the biggest highlights is WarioWare Gold. The WarioWare series has taken a bit of a detour with some of the latest games like Game & Wario and WarioWare D.I.Y.
This game features fully voice acted scenes, Charles Martinet has outdone himself in his role as Wario.
WarioWare Gold is a return to the traditional, high-paced and intense 5-second mini-games formula. It mixes the best microgames from the original game, WarioWare Touched! and WarioWare Twisted! into one brilliant compilation of fun.
15 Better Than Critics Say: Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion (Metacritic Score: 82)
It may be a bit odd to include DLC expansions as entries, but some of the DLC expansions have included truly relevant additional content to their respective games. Splatoon 2 saw a rather surprising DLC announcement back in spring with the Octo Expansion, released in the summer. The Octo Expansion is a brand new single player campaign where you play as a mysterious Octoling who has no memory.
This DLC Expansion is better than the base game.
This new single player campaign is a significant improvement from the tedious campaign in the base game with unique challenges, a wider variety of gameplay, and much more creative levels and missions.
14 Lame: Kirby Battle Royale (Metacritic Score: 57)
While Kirby has had some great mainstream games, there have been plenty of spinoff games in the series as well. Some of these spinoffs have turned into pretty fun games over the years, but Kirby Battle Royale is not one of them. Don’t let the name fool you into thinking it is a 100 man survival game, this is anything but.
This game lacks any imagination to its gameplay and it doesn’t have a lot of value to it.
It is a mini-game competition where multiple Kirbys compete against each other and aim to be the best in the tournament. However, these mini-games get stale very quickly and there aren’t a whole lot of them.
13 Lame: Pokémon Quest (Metacritic Score: 64)
While it may be a free game, there isn’t a lot of excitement involved when playing Pokémon Quest. Pokémon Quest is a game where you befriend Pokémon from the original 151 generation and have them explore various areas of an island called Tumblecube Island.
What makes this game really boring is that you don’t have much control over your befriended Pokémon.
You can input move commands but you can’t control much of their movements. The game has an option where you can literally let the gameplay itself. There are microtransactions options that will make the gameplay a bit easier, but trying to complete the game is a total chore and it simply isn’t worth investing any money into.
12 Better Than Critics Say: Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna The Golden Country (Metacritic Score: 81)
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was one of the best games on the Switch in 2017. Monolithsoft has delivered a fantastic RPG, but what is just as impressive is their commitment to continue to support the game. Since its initial release in December, there have been numerous free updates that fixed QoL issues, added plenty of missions, and even new Blades.
Torna The Golden Country is literally a standalone game that can be played separately from the original.
The Story expansion will uncover a lot of mysteries that Xenoblade 2 left with a brand new country to explore and loads of new features. Additionally, it utilizes a brand new battle system that is reminiscent of the original Xenoblade on Wii. Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s expansion pass has one of the greatest values you’ll find in any DLC expansion.
11 Better Than Critics Say: Wizard Of Legend (Metacritic Score: 76)
Wizard of Legend is an indie game that was developed by Humble Bundle. It is an action game where you play as wizards and navigate through dungeons utilizing various magic spells. What makes this game so cool is just how fast paced it is. With the way that the game speed is, you can chain together multiple spells and create devastating combos against your enemies. There is even a co-op mode as well that will make the experience all the more enjoyable.
10 Lame: Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn (Metacritic Score: 49)
The reason this game even exists is odd. Shaq Fu was a game released in 1994 and it was notoriously bad. Here they make another game featuring the Big Diesel completely animated and they even acknowledged the terrible reputation that the original game got in their marketing of this game.
When it comes to video games, Shaq is better known as “The Big Failure.”
They made the promise that this game won’t be anywhere near as bad. Unfortunately, this beat-em-up sidescroller isn’t any better than the original game.
9 Better Than Critics Say: Dragon Quest Builders (Metacritic Score: 81)
You would think that a Minecraft clone wouldn’t be all that good, but Dragon Quest Builders is a lot more than just another building game. It some ways you could even say it is better than Minecraft.
This game combines the building elements along with the RPG elements that are found in the Dragon Quest series.
It is a fantastic game to those who are looking for a substitute to Minecraft and is one that will do nicely in pleasing Dragon Quest fans.
8 Better Than Critics Say: Ys VIII: Lacrimosa Of DANA (Metacritic Score: 82)
It is rather common for JRPGs to be considered underrated by many critics simply due to most reviews having only experienced a portion of what the JRPG provides. Ys VII is another example of a game that packs so much content that critics may not have experienced it all. Ys VIII is an RPG that pulls you in quicker than most others with its storytelling and characters. The hack-and-slash battle system is great for those who are more action-oriented and enjoy something that is faster paced.
7 Lame: Go Vacation (Metacritic Score: 62)
Over the summer Bandai Namco released Go Vacation for Nintendo Switch. Go Vacation has a very similar appeal to what Wii Sports Resort was on Wii in 2009. It takes place on a large island where there are a ton of mini-games and sporting events take place. Sadly, one look at the game and you’ll become disinterested very quickly. Go Vacation doesn’t deliver much consistent fun and it looks extremely outdated for a Switch game.
6 Better Than Critics Say: Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux (Metacritic Score: 80)
Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei series is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with a 3DS remaster of the 2010 Nintendo DS game Strange Journey. The dungeon crawling aspects of the game is some of the best in the entire series. Strange Journey Redux offers a very impressive and dark storyline that is filled with tragedy. For this game to only score an 80 is a bit of a tragedy in its own way.
There aren’t many major Nintendo 3DS games that have released this year, if you are still looking for a new game to play then this would be one of the best you’ll find this year.
5 Better Than Critics Say: The Messenger (Metacritic Score: 87)
While a Metacritic score of 87 is impressive as is, it still doesn’t do a game like The Messenger justice. This is one of the best indie games on the market and it deserves the attention some of the other games like Celeste and Hollow Knight have gotten. The Messenger is a metroidvania style game where you play as a ninja fighting off a demon army. It features a unique acrobatic style of gameplay fitting for what a skilled ninja would play like, as well as cleverly done writing, excellent classic music, and a beautifully imagined 8-bit and 16-bit graphics.
4 Lame: SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy (Metacritic Score: 64)
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. The only reason this game even got attention in the first place was due to its depiction of the game’s female characters. Heck, even a well known male character Terry Bogard was included in this game as a female character. Of course, the game itself just doesn’t live up to the attention that it received. It is way too simplified for a fighting game and there just isn’t a lot of depth to it.
3 Better Than Critics Say: Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle – Donkey Kong Adventure (Metacritic Score: 82)
Last year, Ubisoft’s crossover game Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was one of the biggest surprise titles on the Nintendo Switch. It is a strategy game that featured a deep turn-based strategy system where Mario and friends team up with Rabbid versions of themselves in an XCOM-like battle system.
The Donkey Kong Adventure DLC expansion adds a brand new campaign that introduces Donkey Kong and Rabbid Cranky Kong.
Both of these characters use one-of-a-kind weaponry and abilities like DK’s banana boomerang that makes it very different than the base game. Also, the music that is played during the game is incredible and worthy of being mentioned.
2 Better Than Critics Say: Owlboy (Metacritic Score 87)
Much like The Messenger, Owlboy is an indie game that deserves more attention despite its good score. Owlboy has been one of the best indie games available on any console. It is another metroidvania style game, but this one is focused on exploration through flight as well as solid platforming and puzzle solving. The art style is brilliant and the characters are great. The story is a fantastic tale of someone proving their doubters wrong, making it a powerful theme that can be applied in life.
1 Lame: All-Star Fruit Racing (Metacritic Score: 64)
This is one of the funnier games you’ll see featured here. All-Star Fruit Racing is a kart racing game where tracks, karts, and items are all based on fruit. Now it’s pretty obvious why this game just isn’t worth considering at all as there is another well known kart racing game available on the Switch. With that said, it is still a bad buy at $40. The game is clearly a low budget game that doesn’t have a lot going on.