The time has come to announce the nominees for the Second Annual SwitchRPG Awards! The nomination process this year went back forth between exciting and insufferable, as the hefty batch of quality RPGs released this year on the Nintendo Switch made for some hard fought debates as to which would make the cut. Per the rules, all the nominees this year were released between December 1, 2018 and November 30, 2019, and are spread across 11 categories! What’s changed from last year? We’ve cut the “Best Voice Acting” category and instead created categories for “Best Multiplayer RPG” and “Best Retro RPG.” In addition, we’ve clarified the “Best Studio” category, which was a bit nebulous in meaning, and changed the name to “Best Publisher.” But one crown remains most treasured of all, no matter what changes may come now or in the future – only one game will walk away with the title “RPG of the Year.”
So what can you expect beyond the nominations? Keep your eyes on Twitter starting today, as we’ll be engaging with the community to vote on their picks for the awards. In the meantime, our staff will continue the backstage debates, getting ready to announce the official winners in the back half of December.
Best Turn-Based RPG
Possibly the most recognize subgenre in RPGs, and the one that started it all, Turn-Based RPGs are the first introduction to the world of role-playing games for many gamers. It is only fitting, then, that is serves as the first category in our series of awards. Nominees in this category include the artfully made Alliance Alive HD Remaster, the latest in one of RPG’s longest running franchises, Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age, the game currently taking Nintendo fans by storm, Pokémon Sword and Shield, and the first foray into RPGs for the makers of the beloved Steamworld series, Steamworld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech.
Best Tactical RPG
When simple, turn-based battles aren’t enough, RPG fans turn to the most mentally challenging subgenre of them all – Tactical RPGs. These games test the player’s strategic talents, forcing them to think out their moves turn after turn, ensuring they have the best team and the best tactics for tackling the challenges before them. Nominees in this category include the critically acclaimed Divinity: Original Sin 2, the Final Fantasy Tactics-inspired Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark, the insanely replayable Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and the spiritual successor to the Advance Wars series and indie darling, Wargroove.
Best Action RPG
Stepping away from the more meticulous world of turn-based and tactical games, we move into the heart-pumping and fast-paced realm of Action RPGs. These are the games that once defied tradition, mixing the action combat of other genres with the character progression and artful storytelling of RPGs, but have now become one of the mainstays for RPG fans around the world. Nominees in this category include the RPG-infused metroidvania Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, the multiplayer adventure Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, the action/turn-based hybrid Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, and the much-beloved entry from the Tales of series, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition.
Easily one of the most competitive categories for the SwitchRPG awards this year, the Roguelike genre is always growing, expanding, and innovating, and the Nintendo Switch has quickly become a haven for some of the best games in the genre. Nominees in this category include the family-oriented dungeon crawler Children of Morta, the tough-as-nails Mistover, the retro-inspired Sparklite, and the dense, feature-packed Tangledeep.
Best Casual RPG
A category set aside for games that, while containing numerous RPG elements, may not necessarily fit perfectly into the RPG mold. These games mash up standard role-playing tropes with other genres, pulling together disparate game elements to create unique experiences that can be appreciated by RPG fans and non-RPG fans alike. Nominees in this category include Dragon Quest Builders 2 and its Minecraft-inspired crafting elements, Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, a remake of one of the franchise’s finest entries, Monster Boy: The Cursed Kingdom, a metroidvania dripping with charm, and Ring Fit Adventure, the fitness game turned RPG.
Best Multiplayer RPG
Just as RPG elements continue to infuse all other genres in gaming, so have other genres seeped their way into RPGs. Most notable among these influences is the growing number of RPGs with online and local multiplayer, allowing players to cooperate, compete, and enjoy an epic story together from the comfort of your home. Nominees in this category include the pseudo-tabletop experience of Divinity: Original Sin 2, the charming, pun-filled world of Cat Quest II, the superhero packed adventure of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, and the trading, battling, and raiding of Pokémon Sword and Shield.
Best Budget RPG
Staff members at SwitchRPG love a good budget RPG, whether it be an indie-developed roguelike or a 20-hour spin on a traditional turn-based RPG. We believe these games can often leave just as lasting an impression as some of the most beloved AAA titles. Nominees in this category include the zany, 13-man parties of Alvastia Chronicles, the constant deluge of moral conundrums in Monochrome Order, the rock solid turn-based mechanics of Shadows of Adam, and cartoony roguelike Swords of Ditto: Mormo’s Curse.
Best Retro/Remake RPG
This year, the Nintendo Switch was inundated with a swath of classic RPGs re-released and recreated for modern consoles. This list includes some of the greatest RPGs of all time, and we would be remiss not to recognize not only their timeless greatness, but the quality of their conversion to modern consoles. To qualify in this category – and not be considered straight ports – the nominees must be from at least two console generations back. Nominees include the three-part Collection of Mana, the granddaddy of successful turn-based RPGs, Dragon Quest III, the RPG that popularized JRPGs in the west, Final Fantasy VII, and the masterfully recreated Grandia HD Collection.
Console generation after console generation, RPGs have brought some of the best video game music to the market. With a focus on telling sweeping, epic tales, RPGs bring musical scores that help elevate their subject matter to new heights. Nominees in this category include the gothic tunes of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, the beautifully somber soundtrack of Children of Morta, the blend of orchestrated and 16-bit chiptunes in Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age, and the creative and theatrical score of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.
While great RPG music often works in the background, providing an emotional backdrop to each ongoing tale, great graphics serve a different purpose. Visual design helps define the personality of the characters and the world. Nominees in this category include Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness and the Secret Hideout, which offers a bright and vibrant world to explore, Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age, which brings the art of Akira Toriyama to life, Ni No Kuni, with artistic direction from Studio Ghibli, and Swords of Ditto, which brings the manic flair of western animation.
While most of our awards focus on the achievements of individual RPGs, the award for Best Publisher goes to the video game publisher who consistently put out quality RPGs onto the Nintendo Switch throughout the last year. This may include a few stellar entries or a series of good, bad, and fantastic titles spread over the whole of the year. Nominees in this category include KEMCO and its tsunami of quirky budget RPGs, Nintendo, who put out three amazing RPGs in Pokémon Sword and Shield, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and yes, even Dragon Quest XI S, NIS America, who brings amazing anime-inspired works to the U.S., and Square Enix, who brought both new titles and old to the Switch in massive quantities.
RPG of the Year
Determining our final list of four nominees for RPG of the Year took our staff right up the final day of debate. With so many different and amazing RPGs released this year, the list of potential nominees went deep into the archives of 2019. In the end, we settled on four titles that offer epic adventures from start to finish, an incredible level of artistic direction and polish, and hours upon hours of replayability. While only one of these amazing titles will walk away with the crown, we believe each and every one of our nominees represents the highest quality of RPG available on the Switch this year.
Want your voice heard in determining the best RPGs to hit the Switch in 2019? Keep your eyes on the SwitchRPG Twitter feed for daily polls, or leave your comments below. SwitchRPG staff picks and community favorites will be announced later this month!