The best Nintendo games of 2022

Nintendo has had a frankly phenomenal 2022, with a range of brilliant adventures along the way.
Best Nintendo Games 2022

With the major delay of Breath of the Wild: Tears of the Kingdom, fears were briefly shared about Nintendo and its games lineup for 2022 – but despite all odds, it’s managed to come out on top with a range of surprises throughout the year buoying another brilliant, star-studded year for the company. Even without flagship franchises like Animal Crossing and The Legend of Zelda making an impact this year, there were plenty of strong contenders in the playing field – including an array of indie hits that are just perfect for Nintendo Switch.

Between Kirby, Mario, and multiple Pokemon games, it’s been a brilliant year for Nintendo – with plenty of memorable, colourful, and wholesome hits.

Here are our favourite Nintendo games of the year.

Fire Emblem: Three Hopes

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes
Image: Nintendo

The impact of Fire Emblem: Three Houses was undeniable; a mainline Fire Emblem game that got so much right, it attracted a massive new audience for the anime tactical strategy series. More importantly, it featured an involved narrative with characters so strong, the community couldn’t get enough of them. As with any popular Japanese game franchise, Koei Tecmo gave it the Musou treatment, translating the turn-based strategy world of Three Houses into a large-scale real-time action game.

Read: Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes review – a new future

The result is a fascinating alternate history of the events of Three Houses, with twists and turns that make it a worthwhile, standalone experience that lets you see the beloved cast of characters in a whole new light. New storylines reveal new facets of each character, as does seeing them work their murderous talents in real-time against hundreds of soldiers.

Yes, the action can get repetitive in the same way that most Dynasty Warriors-style games usually do, but like other recent Musou adaptations, Three Hopes also adopts a lot of the unique mechanics that define the signature personality of Fire Emblem. In that respect, Three Hopes is very much an easy recommendation for anyone who played Three Houses, a great adjunct to one of the best Nintendo Switch games of all time. – Edmond Tran

Wayward Strand

wayward strand game ghost pattern
Image: Ghost Pattern

Wayward Strand transports you to an aged care ward in a floating hospital, set in a 70s coastal Australian town. You play Casey, a young girl brimming with curiosity as she spends three days helping her mum out by keeping the residents company. 

On the surface, Wayward Strand is a game where you get to know the residents and pepper them with a million questions about their lives. But dig a bit deeper, and listen a little harder as you wander the halls of the airship, and the game provides a wealth of commentary on past (and current) treatment and care of the elderly, as well as facing difficult topics like mortality. 

Read: Wayward Strand review – The clock keeps ticking

Residents talk about their rich lives, both before they ended up on the ship, as well as their time in aged care. Some patients are nonverbal, however through patience and earnest interest in them, you can learn about their rich interior worlds and past adventures. As the clock ticks on each day, you must decide who to talk to and how to spend your time. There’s plenty of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moments, and Wayward Strand warrants multiple playthroughs to experience everything it has to offer, from heartfelt and gut-wrenching moments, through to absurd and silly anecdotes from the vibrant cast of characters you encounter.

I cried, laughed, and sat quietly, taking it all in, all in the space of one playthrough of this game. For a rich story, and gorgeous art style to boot, this Australian-made gem is well worth playing. – Emily Spindler-Carruthers

Wylde Flowers

wylde flowers game
Screenshot: GamesHub

Wylde Flowers is an Australian-developed farm simulator-adventure game hybrid with a wonderful message of inclusion. While it focuses on magical witches and the fantasy of moving to a quiet country town, at the heart of Wylde Flowers is a tale about overcoming prejudice and learning to belong in a harsh world. Protagonist Tara embodies this in multiple ways – she’s an outsider yearning for deeper meaning after a bad breakup, and attempting to find welcome in the quiet town of Fairhaven.

Read: Wylde Flowers review – Perfect escapism for a busy world

As she later discovers, she’s also a witch – and witches are subject to rumours and fear-mongering in the town. When the existence of Tara’s new coven spills into the ‘real world’, conflict brews between townsfolk, leading to major clashes that must be resolved through good communication and problem solving. Between these story beats, you can spend your time in a wonderful world getting to know everyone, planting seeds, selling crops, fishing, and foraging – all delightful activities that feed into the game’s wild and magical storyline. – Leah J. Williams

Cult of the Lamb

Cult of the Lamb gameplay tips
Image: Massive Monster / Devolver Digital

Cult of the Lamb combines everything great about games into a bloody, eldritch package. With elements of life and management simulators, as well as roguelike dungeon crawlers, there’s plenty to love here – including the titular Lamb, which guides the action as a scion of terrible beasts. While you can get stuck with an awful cult in the early stages, as animals eat their own poop and get sick, the further you travel down dark forest paths, the better your flock will become.

Read: Cult of the Lamb review – The flower of the flock

Eventually, they’ll stop eating their own poop and transform into the faithful herd you deserve, helping you farm religious points that aid your quest to defeat the old gods, and reclaim a piece of your long-dead soul. All of this, and plenty more, hides behind a whimsical and cute facade well-designed by Melbourne’s Massive Monster. As a hybrid cultist simulator, it’s an absolute triumph. It gets its hooks in early, and has you praying at its altar for grim and delightful hours. – Leah J. Williams

Return to Monkey Island

Return to Monkey Island review pc adventure game
Image: Terrible Toybox / Devolver Digital

In the era of constant series reboots and long-awaited sequels, it’s easy to be cynical when something long gone decides to suddenly return, especially when it hopes to address everything that happened an eon ago.

But Return to Monkey Island, a direct sequel to the Monkey Island series as specifically envisioned by creator Ron Gilbert, follows up on the threads left in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (1991). Together with one of his original partners in crime, Dave Grossman, they created something great – and I don’t think anyone could have predicted how utterly brilliant this sequel would be. 

Read: Return to Monkey Island Review – Sail away home

On the surface, it’s a great modern refinement of the point-and-click adventure game, and despite revisiting several of the iconic locales of the series, the strength of Return to Monkey Island is not that it’s a nostalgia trip. 

Narrative-wise, it’s poignant, reflective, and heartwarming, as protagonist Guybrush Threepwood looks back on life as he encounters characters both new and old. He’s a perfect foil for those who grew up on the series coming back into it, and the approach, the connections, and the loose ends that are tied feel simply perfect.

For those who grew up on Monkey Island and LucasArts adventure games, there’s no denying how powerful this comedic adventure game is. – Edmond Tran

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

kirby and the forgotten land
Screenshot: GamesHub

Kirby and the Forgotten Land, the first 3D adventure for the loveable pink blob, was a major, mainstream triumph in 2022 – and one of the best Nintendo games for all ages. With colourful, gorgeous platforming, glittering worlds, plenty of adorable enemies to fight, and a wild new transformation system, Forgotten Land is easily the most approachable game in the entire Kirby series. It deserves every accolade that arrives on its doorstep – and not only because it spotlights one of the most endearing characters in all of Nintendo gaming.

Read: Kirby and the Forgotten Land review – Sweet 3D dreams

Kirby and the Forgotten Land feels like a very familiar experience. The charm and colour in its bright world leans heavily into the design of Nintendo classics, bringing to mind titles like Super Mario 3D World and Super Mario Odyssey. But despite leaning on tried-and-true mechanics, it shines as a delightful, well-designed first foray into the world of 3D platformers – innovative, fun, and joyful in every way. It’s a brilliant entry in an underrated series. – Leah J. Williams

Pokemon Violet (and Scarlet)

pokemon scarlet and pokemon violet tips guide tricks
Screenshot: GamesHub

Like fellow game Arceus, Pokemon Violet (and its companion title Scarlet) tried something new with the Pokemon formula – to resounding success. Yes, the game suffered from major performance issues and slowdown during gameplay, but this shouldn’t take away from just how brilliant the adventure really is. In implementing an open world and multiple story strands alongside classic Pokemon gameplay, Scarlet and Violet strike a perfect balance between freedom and hand-holding. Players aren’t always given clear instructions about where to go – and this opens up the possibility of exploration, finding new corners of the game’s world, meeting new people, and discovering new Pokemon.

Read: Pokemon Scarlet and Violet review – A shiny, Terastallized gem

It’s a bold new world that greets you in Pokemon Violet and Scarlet – bright, innovative, and also deeply emotional. While the modern Pokemon games have started to feel rather stale, these dual games injected the franchise with a new sense of life. Between the warm narrative, breakout characters, new gameplay mechanics, and sense of surprise, both Violet and Scarlet proved the franchise still has plenty of life left in it. Long live Pokemon. – Leah J. Williams

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

xenoblade chronicles 3 game
Image: Monolith Soft

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has a lofty legacy to live up to, and I can confidently confirm that it well and truly surpassed all expectations. From the gorgeous environmental design to the heart-wrenching storyline and world building, this game is a masterpiece. Each character has their own interesting tale to tell, and even the smallest details add to the overall feeling that you truly inhabit this harsh world, where artificially created soldiers wage a seemingly never-ending war within a limited, 10-year lifespan. 

Read: Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review – a grand-scale adventure

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 makes you feel like a small cog in a colossal machine, and all aspects of the game remind you of this. But despite the constant feeling of being so small in the grand scheme of things, your actions make a big impact on the world of Aionios.

With an extensive class system, combat trees, and battle tactics, fighting the (often gargantuan) creatures that roam the world doesn’t grow tiring, despite the massive runtime. Every moment holds the opportunity for an intimate look into each character’s lives and motivations, and the bonds formed even as you meet new allies along the way feel so real that saying goodbye at the end of the game is like seeing off old friends. If you’ve got over a hundred hours to spare and need a new Japanese-style RPG in your life, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the perfect choice. – Emily Spindler-Carruther

Pokemon Legends Arceus

best nintendo games 2022
Image: Nintendo / Game Freak

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is a bold step forward for the Pokemon franchise, into a new open world unbound by traditional gameplay. Without gyms and intensive trainer battles, Arceus lets you sit back and enjoy the crux of the series – discovering new Pokemon, catching them, and roaming lovely fantasy environments. While the game does struggle with performance in some regions, its sense of adventure and wild plot is enthralling. Its tale is certainly a weird one, but everyone you meet along the way (including Pokemon) makes the journey far more colourful, intriguing and fun.

Read: Pokemon Legends: Arceus Review – Breath of fresh air

Arceus is an essential Pokemon story that shines brightly, in every facet – and its stray away from the traditional formula should be replicated in future titles. While the mainstream Pokemon games remain fantastic, new and experimental adventures like Arceus make for welcome breaks. With clever tweaks to catching mechanics and a refocus on the Pokemon world, Arceus is a great reinvention of a long-running franchise and one of the best Nintendo games of 2022. – Leah J. Williams

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope

mario rabbids game
Image: Ubisoft / Nintendo

Mario + Rabbids is a franchise that has thrived against all odds – against a world with a pure hatred for the ‘annoying’ Rabbids, and a mainstream audience that shies away from tactical, turn-based combat. Despite this opposition, Sparks of Hope, the first major sequel to the surprise hit Kingdom Battle, proved to be an absolute triumph. It might even be a rare better sequel that improves on the grounds of its predecessor in every way.

Read: Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope review – Shiny and glorious

Sparks of Hope is colourful, adventurous, cute, and genuinely funny. Its cast of characters is purely delightful, and personality shines through in every gorgeous world of this adventure. Whether you’re travelling through vine-infested kingdoms, or terrifying, chaos-filled battlefields, there’s a sparkle in every twist and turn that makes Sparks of Hope come alive. It’s a joy by every definition of the word, and the best Nintendo game of 2022. – Leah J. Williams

Honourable Mentions

olliolli world best nintendo games 2022
Image: Roll7

Plenty of Nintendo games we played and loved in 2022 simply couldn’t fit in a list of only ten games – but we’d still love to shout about them. First up is Kirby’s Dream Buffet, an adorable party game where your job is to collect as many strawberries as possible to make your Kirby the biggest puffball on show. It’s the very definition of short and sweet, and we enjoyed several helpings of this buffet in 2022.

Next up is OlliOlli World, a brilliant, colourful, and very wacky skateboarding adventure filled with wild worlds, snappy gameplay mechanics, and plenty of charm. While you’ll fail and fail again in your quest for skateboard domination, there’s extreme joy in chasing the win.

Finally, we’d love to mention Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, an incredibly funny, tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the main nine Star Wars movies. This whopping game takes you through the entirety of the beloved franchise, all with a wonderfully slapstick style that’s laugh-out-loud good. If you’re looking for an alternative take on Star Wars, this one is fairly definitive. – Leah J. Williams

How does GamesHub pick its Game of the Year categories?

GamesHub’s Game of the Year picks are selected collectively by tenured staff. Each member puts together a ranked personal list of their favourite games released in 2022, and titles are given a score according to their rank, with 10 being the highest, and 1 being the lowest. The scores are collated, and the games are resorted in rank by their collective score, with staff members then deliberating over individual placements and adjusting where necessary, before locking in the final list.

For more on the best games of 2022, explore the rest of our game of the year coverage:

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