MASSIVE thanks to staffer VideoCookies for this lovely logo!
In GoNintendo’s 18+ year history, we’ve never done ‘Game of the Year’ awards. To be completely honest, I’ve always struggled with the idea of awarding games, as who am I to put my stamp of approval on anything, and why would anyone care to listen? That all changed this year with GoNintendo’s revamp, as it brought in a big wave of new staff and a refreshed approach to our game coverage.
As you’ve no doubt seen, we’ve focused on creating a litany of original content this year. We’ve had interviews, reviews, previews, guides…you name it! Our wonderful staff has a ton of opinions on any number of gaming topics, and I’ve been more than happy to share their work. I’ve also stepped up my own game in terms of features, writing more reviews than I ever have, and also crafting some other features along the way.
This revamp in our coverage paved the way for GoNintendo to do its first-ever GoNintendo Awards. Personally, I’m still not crazy about the idea, as I personally strongly dislike the idea of self promotion. That said, myself and the GN staff have some valid opinions and thoughts on games, so why not pool our efforts and pick some games we feel are worth recognizing at the year’s end? That led us to the first (annual?) GoNintendo Awards.
Just to be clear, all the winners here (minus the Player’s Choice, as that was voted on by YOU!) were selected based on a number of factors. Nominees were discussed among staff, the crew weighed in with their picks and reasoning, and I waded through the chatter to finally land on GoNintendo’s picks. Each staffer may have different personal opinions on which games deserved accolades (myself included!), but the end result is a list of categories and winners we’re all proud of.
Most importantly, please know that our choices don’t mean we think your personal likes/dislikes are invalid! In my opinion, awards often stir up controversy and anger rather than joy. Making these picks weighed very heavily on me, and I know some people will come away quite miffed. Please understand that this was in no way, shape or form an easy feature to put together. The truth of the matter is that it’s absolutely impossible to pick a list of winners that makes everyone happy and stays true to our personal opinions. All I can say is that none of this was taken lightly at all, so hopefully, at the very least, you can see a path to how we arrived at our winners.
With the preamble out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff! Remember, as GoNintendo focuses on Nintendo content, these awards pertain to games released on Switch in 2022. Now hit the jump and have a look at what games came away winners!
BEST MULTIPLAYER: SPLATOON 3
The Switch has no shortage of multiplayer games, be they online multiplayer or local, and 2022 brought with it another deluge of options. While there are plenty of games to keep the multiplayer fun going, nothing quite scratches the itch like Splatoon 3.
We all know the feeling of playing just one more round in Turf War, which turns into another ten instead. The hours fly by just the same in Salmon Run, especially when you have some real-life buddies joining you in the fight against the Salmonids. Throw in the excitement of the freshly-reworked Splatfests and the handful of other multiplayer modes, and Splatoon 3 can be legit tough to put down.
Splatoon 3 may not reinvent the wheel when it comes to the multiplayer of Splatoon in general, but it refines and enhances what was already an incredible experience, and it’s easily the most complete multiplayer package you can find on Switch this year.
BEST HIDDEN GEM: ELECHEAD
What does it take to be a hidden gem? In our opinion, a game has to be unassuming visually, seem straightforward at first glance, and be relatively unknown to the general gaming public. Finally, for those who are willing to dive in, an amazing experience has to be discovered within. For us, there’s no Switch game in 2022 that fits the bill more than Elechead.
The fact that Elechead has flown under the radar could very well be one of the greatest gaming shames of 2022. Sure, Elechead looks like a standard platforming throwback in trailers and screenshots, but boy, does it go far beyond expectations. Elechead takes tried and true mechanics and pushes them to a degree that almost no games do, making you wonder how it came together in the first place.
Elechead is filled to the brim with puzzles that will have you scratching your head, then wow you with their designs. These platforming brain-teasers will continuously feed you ‘Aha!’ moments in rapid succession, which creates an incredible dopamine loop. It also doesn’t hurt that the game is filled with secret collectibles, a catchy chiptune soundtrack, and even a bit of social commentary. Oh, and did we mention this all comes with a $10 price tag? What’s not to like?!
BEST NARRATIVE: INSCRYPTION
In the last decade or so, gaming has gone above and beyond in the narrative department. Some of the stories found in games easily rivals that of literature or TV/film, and things are only getting better. Nowadays, it’s easy to find games that move you to tears, make you laugh, and enthrall you with a gripping tale. With Inscryption, it’s the way that tale is told that makes it a cut above.
For those who’ve never played Inscryption, accolades for narrative might seem quite confusing. How on earth could a card game offer up a compelling storyline? That’s the fun of Inscryption, and going into detail would ruin the journey. As you’ve likely surmised, there’s a lot going on behind-the-scenes in Inscryption, and as the player, it slowly unravels the deeper you dig.
While there are all sorts of unique twists and turns in Inscryption, the thing that pushes its narrative above other Switch games this year comes from the delivery. As we mentioned, numerous games offer amazing stories that will connect deep within, but Inscryption uses game mechanics and the medium in general to weave its tale. In other words, Inscryption not only tells a damn fine (and intriguing!) story, but it does so in many ways only possible through the lens of videogames.
MOST IMPRESSIVE PORT: NO MAN’S SKY
Just like every year before it, the Switch saw a torrent of ports in 2022. This year brought us Switch ports that people have been clamoring for for years, along with surprise ports we never saw coming. While these ports run the gamut from great to garbage, there’s only one that truly deserves the ‘impossible’ tag.
Time and time again, developers have talked about how bringing some games to Switch is an ‘impossible’ task, yet it’s accomplished nonetheless. Games like The Witcher 3 and DOOM Eternal come to mind, and this year we can throw No Man’s Sky into the mix. To be honest, No Man’s Sky could very well be the most impossible of all impossible Switch ports so far!
Back when No Man’s Sky was announced for the PS4, it was dubbed as a game only possible through the power of Sony’s hardware. Perhaps that was a bit of marketing buzz mixed in with truth, but there’s no denying No Man’s Sky is a technical achievement. The game features an incredible 256 galaxies with a potential 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 seeds for each planet. Even developer Hello Games said getting the game running on PS4 took a herculean effort, so seeing this one hit Switch is mind-boggling!
Sure, there are visual concessions and a few nixed features in the Switch version of No Man’s Sky, but that doesn’t lessen the incredible realization this port is. If any game in 2022 is pushing Switch far beyond its limits, there’s little doubt it’s No Man’s Sky.
BEST SOUNDTRACK: XENOBLADE CHRONICLES 3
As we’ve said numerous times here on GoNintendo, game composers do not get anywhere near the amount of credit they deserve. The scores they create for games are nothing short of astonishing; easily worthy of comparison to the greats of the big and small screen alike. If you’re looking for a shining example of how great gaming music can be, look no further than Xenoblade Chronicles 3.
The entire Xenoblade franchise is filled to the brim with stellar music, thanks to both an amazing team of people and the incredible direction of Yasunori Mitsuda. In terms of soundtrack, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 could be the crowning achievement of the entire series, and that’s saying a lot. From sweeping, epic tracks to sullen, tear-inducing tunes, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has it all.
The true power of a game soundtrack is its ability to heighten every single experience the player has. There’s no doubt Xenoblade Chronicles 3 would be a great game no matter what music was backing it, but the game is made infinitely better by the soundtrack we got. Every character interaction, boss battle and moment of exploration is burned into our memories thanks to these amazing compositions, and we simply can’t get enough.
BEST ACTION/ADVENTURE: BAYONETTA 3
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better maker of action/adventure games than the team at PlatinumGames. When the developer officially made its debut back in 2009, they came out with the one-two punch of Bayonetta and MadWorld. Those two titles alone saw PlatinumGames easily stake their claim on the action/adventure genre, and Bayonetta 3 has only cemented their position.
It’s quite impressive to take a franchise known for its over-the-top action and somehow push it further, yet that’s exactly what happens with Bayonetta 3. The set-pieces are bigger, the fighting is more furious, and the frenetic pace is cranked way past 11. Marry that with PlatinumGames’ unique flair and style, and Bayonetta 3 offers an action/adventure that gets the adrenaline flowing like none other.
How in the world does PlatinumGames manage to take the Bayonetta series and up the gameplay ante with each installment? We have absolutely no clue, but the end result was Bayonetta 3, so we’re not complaining! With an unmistakable imprint and unmatched flair, Bayonetta 3 is easily a new high-water mark for action/adventure games in general.
BEST RPG: XENOBLADE CHRONICLES 3
For the last few years, the Switch has been the go-to platform from role-playing games. From Western-developed titles to JRPGs and everything in-between, there’s no shortage of RPGs to pick from. That’s why it takes something special to become the king of the hill. In the case of 2022, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 managed to stave off an incredibly competitive round of releases to come out on top.
Monolith Soft has been making their mark on the RPG genre since all the way back in 2002, and two decades later, the company has achieved a new level of success with Xenoblade Chronicles 3. This is very much the culmination of not just the Xenoblade Chronicles franchise, but Monolith Soft’s entire body of work. All the blood, sweat and tears of previous titles, mixed with all the details gleaned and lessons learned, has resulted in what could be the developer’s finest RPG yet.
It’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer scope of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, especially when you consider the amount of attention paid to every minor detail. Sure, grand vistas and intense battles are undeniably engaging, but it’s the character interactions and multi-faceted story that truly take this RPG up a notch. The lovely bow on the package is Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s unforgettable soundtrack, which ties together everything and anything you experience. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the past, present and future of RPGs all rolled into one, and we’re really feeling it.
PLAYER’S CHOICE: XENOBLADE CHRONICLES 3
We put out the call to GoNintendo readers to see what Switch game they felt was the best that 2022 had to offer. It was another stellar year for Switch games, and fans got to pick from any title they wanted to name as the best of the year. Well, we’ve crunched the numbers across the site and social media, and the majority of you lovely people have bestowed the Player’s Choice honor on Xenoblade Chronicles 3.
While there were a small handful of Switch games that people voted vigorously for, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 took home this Player’s Choice win with relative ease. According to the votes, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 beat the second-place game by nearly double the amount of votes. You guys made it absolutely clear; Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was your game to beat!
Thank you for taking the time to vote via GoNintendo, the GoNintendo Twitter account, and even Patreon. We greatly appreciate your support, and hopefully you feel happy with how things played out!
2022 GAME OF THE YEAR: KIRBY & THE FORGOTTEN LAND
To say that our Game of the Year category was a competitive one would be a gross understatement. All in all, we had sixteen different games that were in the running for Game of the Year, and between the passionate responses from staff and a number of other factors, things were incredibly close. That said, when the dust had settled, Kirby & the Forgotten Land barely managed to eke out a victory.
When you step back and look at Kirby & the Forgotten Land, you can start to see how this game managed to land the year’s biggest award. This release has been decades in the making for Kirby. While many of Kirby’s Nintendo cohorts made the leap to full-3D years ago, the cream puff never seemed to go all-in. There were pseudo-3D games and plenty of canceled experiments, but those were all necessary steps to arrive at Kirby & the Forgotten Land.
We’ve seen countless 2D franchises lose their sparkle and identity in their leap to 3D. Sometimes you have games, characters and genres that just don’t translate well into the polygonal world. Nintendo and HAL knew this all too well, which is why it took so darn long for Kirby & the Forgotten Land to come about. Thankfully, the end result is not just one of Kirby’s finest titles yet, but the birth of a whole new direction for this tough cream puff.
Kirby & the Forgotten Land retains all the elements of Kirby we love, while letting us explore things in all-new ways. As far as we’re concerned, there’s not a single misstep or sour note in this game. Kirby jumped to 3D flawlessly, the levels you explore are pure joy from start to finish, the soundtrack screams the Kirby vibe through a ton of fresh tracks, and Mouthful Mode is so much fun we wonder how we survived without it!
Kirby & the Forgotten Land marks the beginning of a new era for Kirby, and when the first step in a new expedition is this damn good, it’s hard to imagine where things will go next! All we know for sure is that you can count us in!