Well, 2023, wow. If this is the be the Nintendo Switch's swansong year, then what a swansong it has been. Not only have we seen the superb Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Super Mario Bros. Wonder and Pikmin 4 we've also had a completely free F-Zero battle royale emerge from nowhere to ruin my free time. My favourite Switch title of the year however is a new release, and doesn't come from Nintendo.
Anyone who knows me will realise just how big a fan of Pokémon I am, but it is another title in the monster-catching genre, Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince, that has kept me away from the recent Pokémon DLC.
Set in the world of the iconic JRPGs, this is the seventh game in the Dragon Quest Monsters series (although only the third to launch outside Japan) and having completed the first two back in the days of the Nintendo DS and 3DS, I was delighted to see this new instalment launch on the 1st of December. Don't worry, you need absolutely no prior knowledge of the series to enjoy this title.
So why has it been keeping me from Pokémon? Well, the story is for me a much more exciting one (admittedly not as babyish as Pokémon) and the world is much more varied. It's also much harder than Pokémon Scarlet and Violet in particular were. The real reason It's fused into my Switch's card slot however is the monsters.
There have been some questionable Pokémon (the keyring-shaped Klefki springs to mind) but the ratio of hits to misses in The Dark Prince is impressive. Be it a vegetable dragon, a giraffe warrior or the humble slime, the designs are adorable, and there are over 500 of them.
Special praise must go to the localisation team, always on top form in Dragon Quest titles. Monster names are pretty much all puns of the highest order. A sad fruity monster is brilliantly named Woebergine, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Dialogue too is laced with wordplay that can't have been easy to replicate from the Japanese.
I've not even touched on the signature feature of these games. Monster synthesis, the ability to fuse monsters together to create unique new ones is addictive and something I need to see in Pokémon.
Admittedly the graphics aren't particularly amazing, but gameplay-wise, I've not played anything as satisfying on my Switch in 2023.