Shacknews Best Nintendo Switch Game of 2023 - The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

In a year of incredible Nintendo Switch releases, only Link could stand tall above the pack.


Nintendo has had some strong years in the past and it's almost fitting that what some consider to be the Switch's last big year has almost as many big hits as its first year. Picking the best Switch game was extremely tough this year with big hits coming from Mario, Pikmin, and Metroid. However, it's hard to fathom what an incredible feat The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom truly was.

Like many of the later titles on the Super Nintendo, like Super Mario RPG and the Donkey Kong Country games, Tears of the Kingdom feels like it shouldn't be possible on the Switch hardware. Consider the sheer size of the game's overworld and then add in the sky islands and the Depths. Toss in the effects of the Depths while you're at it.

After that, factor in everything that goes into making the Ultrahand and Fuse mechanics work as flawlessly as they do. For a Zelda game, these are some of the most advanced ideas ever implemented and added countless new ways to approach a Zelda game. Puzzles could now be approached in a multitude of ways depending on a user's creativity and what they have available to them. To allow for all of this without straining the Switch's hardware is a real accomplishment.

A game hits rarified air when it hits that fabled "water cooler" territory. It's the place where you'll go up to friends and talk about how you approached certain parts of the game differently, where you found certain items, and share funny stories about some of your more ignominious deaths. Nintendo also managed to accomplish this with Breath of the Wild, but the addition of Ultrahand and Fuse gave Tears of the Kingdom even more tools to dominate the gaming conversation. Beyond individual user stories, high-end Twitch streamers and YouTube players were sharing some of their coolest Zelda builds and showing the full potential of what Tears of the Kingdom had to offer.

Preparing to dive off the sky islands in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Source: Nintendo

This is before even venturing into the story, which continues the story of Breath of the Wild. With a flair for the dramatic, this story opened with Link and Zelda confronting a rejuvenated Ganondorf that had grown so powerful that he was able to snap the Master Sword like a toothpick. Starting with such a dramatic story moment before throwing Link onto his first sky island, it felt like players were thrown into just a small piece of a much larger world.

It's going to take something truly special for the next Zelda game to outdo what The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has done. In a year filled with incredible Nintendo Switch releases, this one stands above them all.

Be sure to read over the rest of the Shacknews Awards in our Year of the Games: 2023 feature.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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