The Nintendo Switch has become a juggernaut of a console in the past few years simply by having something for everyone. Coming off the relatively weak Wii U, Nintendo’s latest console has managed to fire on all cylinders, offering outstanding new entries in the company’s marquee series like Mario, Zelda, and Smash Bros., along with a surprising amount of third-party and indie support. Not to mention the console’s greatest trick: being a portable gaming tablet (complete with motion controls) and a proper home console, all in one. Capable of transitioning from a portable to a living room console at will, the promise of the Switch has captured the imaginations of the game-playing public. But what are the best games on Nintendo Switch to consider checking out?
As is the case with any Nintendo system, you have to start with the first-party games. Alongside the Switch’s release was the universally praised The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nintendo’s long-awaited return to Hyrule was the killer app it needed to quickly rise to the top of console sales charts and dramatically increase Nintendo’s revenue. But in the years since its launch, there has been no shortage of amazing games. There are already quite a few Mario games on the system (like Super Mario Maker 2, Super Mario Party, and more), Another Zelda in Link’s Awakening, franchises like Fire Emblem have reached new heights on the platform. Even Wii U original games like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Tokyo Mirage Sessions have found new audiences just by being ported over to Switch. Of course, you also have Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Another strong aspect of the Nintendo Switch Switch is its third-party support. You’ve got games great games from standard Nintendo partners like the exceptional platformer Sonic Mania and great role-playing game Octopath Traveler (from Sega and Square Enix, respectively). The console has expanded outside of Nintendo’s usual reach of genres, too–you can play long turn-based strategy games like Civilization VI, an engrossing open-world role-playing game The Witcher 3 or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, a nice puzzle game like Puyo Puyo Tetris, or an intense first-person shooter like Doom, and even a few Assassin’s Creed games. On the other hand, there are indie darlings like Dead Cells, Celeste, and Stardew Valley. You even have great online multiplayer games and like Overwatch and perennial party game Rocket League hitting the console.
In this feature, we’re taking a look back at the best Switch games so far. This is a hand-picked list pulling from games that have received a score of 8 or higher on GameSpot since the Switch’s release, so you have a bunch of games to choose from after you pick up your Switch console. With the console’s library continuing to expand, make sure to check back often as we update this feature over the coming weeks and months.
The Switch already has hundreds of games, so many that some are bound to fly under our radar. The games covered here are only a small handful of the experiences out there. Scroll down to see some of the finest on the hybrid console handheld, whether they’re an incredible sequel, a great party game, a turn-based strategy masterpiece, strong online multiplayer games, and yes, a few Mario games.
What’s your personal favorite Nintendo Switch game? Let us know in the comments below. And if you’re looking for another kind of Switch game to play with your friends right now, check out our list of multiplayer games you can play online during quarantine. We also have lists of the best PS4 games and the best Xbox One games. If you’re looking to branch out beyond consoles, check out our guide on how to build a gaming PC.
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“Odyssey is sustained beyond its major milestones not only through colorful worlds and hidden challenges, but through the sheer joy of controlling Mario, who’s never felt more responsive or dynamic in action. Even with everything new that’s been introduced, Nintendo’s forward-thinking platformer retains the series’ classic handcrafted appeal, which is even more impressive when you realize how densely packed each kingdom is. Mario’s latest outing is big, bold, and bursting with new ideas, and like Breath of the Wild, is another instance of Nintendo going above and beyond to redefine our expectations. It’s a shining example of refined creativity, and another crown jewel for Switch that is without equal.” — Peter Brown, Managing Editor
“At first glance, Splatoon 2 seems very similar to the first game. But all the small changes, and even the bigger ones in single player and League Battles, make for a fresh take on the already unique shooter. If you played a lot of the original, the sequel has enough to keep you coming back, and if you’re new to the game, it’s a fantastic place to jump in.” — Kallie Plagge, Reviews Editor
“The sheer number of things to accomplish in Stardew Valley can keep you interested beyond the original three in-game years you need to reach the end of your story–you may just want to start over rather than continue on. You’ll work quite hard to gather enough money for your first horse, so that you can quickly move to the mines to get a mineral to complete a bundle at the community center. It’s all centered around whatever it is you want to accomplish that day. And that’s truly what makes Stardew Valley such a lovely experience, it encourages you to go out and be the best you can be, in whichever task that brings you the most joy. Stardew Valley motivates naturally, with blissful optimism.” — Mary Kish
“For people new to the game, they have a lot to look forward to regardless, as it’s one of the most fascinating sports games in memory. Nevermind if you don’t like soccer or couldn’t care less about the growing esports community. Rocket League is a unique game that redefines the concept of what a sports game can be, and Psyonix continues to support it with new content on a regular basis. It’s been around for a while, but now that it’s on Switch, there’s no better time to give it a shot.” — Peter Brown, Managing Editor
“Owlboy is consistently charming and surprising, and when its final act doubles down on every front, it’s bittersweet to see it end. As you relish the outcome of the final battle and watch the closing cutscene, you can’t help but reflect on the beginning of your adventure and how far the world and its inhabitants have come. You’ll never be able to play Owlboy for the first time again, but the memories of its magic moments stick with you. This is more than a treat for fans of old-school games; Owlboy is a heartfelt experience that will touch anyone with an affinity for great art and storytelling.” — Peter Brown, Managing Editor
“For Mario Kart fans, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe might look like more of the same with small Double Dash-inspired tweaks. But thanks to a series of updates both big and almost unseen, it’s the version of Mario Kart to get. If you don’t own a Wii U or skipped out on Mario Kart 8 the first time around–or even if you’ve played it before–Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is worth your time. It plays beautifully on Switch in both handheld and docked mode, and its core racing is as exciting as ever. And, most notably, it completely revamps the original’s lackluster Battle Mode, rounding out an already great racing game.” — Kallie Plagge, Reviews Editor
“Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle exudes off-beat optimism that never dissolves. It’s a consistent delight, no matter how challenging the road becomes, because Kingdom Battle’s unique turn-based tactics system is in every way a pleasure to engage with. Coupled with the annoyingly infectious allure of Rabbids, and the always delightful, colorful world of the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is an implausibly engrossing formula that is positively challenging and endlessly charming.” — Edmond Tran, Senior Editor & Producer
“No matter how gorgeous its environments are, how clever its enemies are, and how tricky its puzzles get, the fact that Breath of the Wild continues to surprise you with newfound rules and possibilities after dozens of hours is by far its most valuable quality. It’s a game that allows you to feel gradually more and more empowered yet simultaneously manages to retain a sense of challenge and mystery–which, together, creates a steady, consistent feeling of gratification throughout the entire experience. Breath of the Wild is a defining moment for The Legend of Zelda series, and the most impressive game Nintendo has ever created.” — Peter Brown, Managing Editor
“It can take a little while for the narrative to ramp up in Golf Story and for you to feel like you’ve really cultivated the skills of a champion, but based on the sheer scope of what the game delivers, there’s likely something for everyone to enjoy whether their shtick is mini-golfing or terrorising delinquents with frisbees. It has successfully captured the trappings of yesteryear’s RPGs, and the witticisms and idiosyncrasies of the characters you encounter are a great palate cleanser between rounds. Switch has had a swathe of indies hit its eShop recently, but if you’re looking for something that’ll give you satisfaction in terms of an interesting story and a rewarding mechanic, then Golf Story is certainly par for the course.” — Ginny Woo
“It’s a testament to convincing writing and ingenious design that after playing Celeste I felt like I’d been on the same journey as Madeline. Her struggle is one made easy to empathize with, her low points painful to watch, and her high notes exhilarating to experience. Her tale is delicately told and beautifully illustrated, confidently coalescing with the satisfying, empowering game it lies within. Not bad for a game about climbing a mountain.” — Oscar Dayus
“Dead Cells is a fascinating amalgam of several of today’s most popular indie genres. It juggles elements of tough-as-nails action games and Metroid-inspired exploration platformers, with the procedurally generated levels and random item allotments found in roguelikes. It’s impressive how it all comes together without a hitch, especially given that the persistent character growth found in games like Dark Souls or Metroid squarely conflicts with the randomized resets emblematic of Rogue-inspired games.” — Daniel Starkey
“There is so much strategic joy in seeing the potential destruction a swarm of giant monsters is about to unleash on a city, then quickly staging and executing elaborate counter maneuvers to ruin the party. Into The Breach’s focus on foresight makes its turn-based encounters an action-packed, risk-free puzzle, and the remarkable diversity of playstyles afforded by unique units keeps each new run interesting. It’s a pleasure to see what kind of life-threatening predicaments await for you to creatively resolve in every new turn, every new battle, and every new campaign. Into The Breach is a pristine and pragmatic tactical gem with dynamic conflicts that will inspire you to jump back in again, and again, and again.” — Edmond Tran, Senior Editor and Producer
“Three years after its initial release on PC, Undertale has found its way to the Nintendo Switch–and of course, the game is every bit as charming, challenging, and harrowing as it was the first time around. Undertale may seem like a straightforward retro-style RPG, but it subverts player expectations every chance it gets, which never gets stale because of clever writing and an evocative chiptune soundtrack. Thankfully, it plays just as well as it does on other platforms without any performance hitches or bugs after putting about four hours into this version. Like its console counterparts, you can fill the screen with an adaptive border that thematically fits with the location you’re in (Undertale plays in a 4:3 aspect ratio). Dodging enemy attacks in the bullet hell-style defensive phase in combat works just as well with the Joy-Con analog sticks. Undertale isn’t afraid to break convention, and because it does so in a way that’s thoughtful and humorous throughout, the result is an emotional rollercoaster that fills us with determination.” — Michael Higham, Associate Editor
“An inconsistent online mode and situational downers don’t stop Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from shining as a flexible multiplayer game that can be as freewheeling or as firm as you want it to be. Its entertaining single-player content helps keep the game rich with interesting things to do, as well as bolstering its spirit of loving homage to the games that have graced Nintendo consoles. Ultimate’s diverse content is compelling, its strong mechanics are refined, and the encompassing collection is simply superb.” — Edmond Tran, Senior Editor and Producer
“Despite these concessions, Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee are delightful reimaginings of the series’ origins and a deep RPG in their own right. It makes a lot of smart improvements on the original Red, Blue and Yellow while holding on to what made them so special in the first place. Fans of the series might be let down by the lack of features they’ve come to expect, but Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee take the Pokemon formula in some exciting new directions.” — Jake Dekker, Video Producer
“Tetris 99 may not be a proper battle royale game, but it taps into the same emotional well, where a large number of players vying for supremacy creates an ever-present intensity that’s difficult to shake. Add that layer to a game that’s plenty capable of instilling tension on its own, and you’ve got a riveting experience that even at its worst is still a game very much worth playing. There’s obvious room for improvement, but that’s the last thing on your mind when the pieces start falling and the players start dropping.” — Peter Brown, Managing Editor
“Cuphead has been a longtime coming, and it’s great to see that it lives up to its initial promises across all platforms. It’s beautiful to look at, and with a pitch-perfect soundtrack, it flawlessly captures the era its developers so clearly revere. It’s also an intense action game that pulls no punches. It could benefit from a few tweaks, and two-player co-op doesn’t feel like the valuable addition you might imagine, but Cuphead remains a rare, unique game that truly stands out.” — Peter Brown, Managing Editor
“When all was said and done, all I could think about was starting another playthrough. I was curious about the mysteries left unsolved, of course, but I also hoped to undo my mistakes. There were characters I didn’t talk to enough, students I didn’t recruit, and far more effective ways to train my units. A second playthrough treads familiar ground in the beginning, but after learning and growing so much in the first, it feels fresh, too. That speaks to Three Houses’ mechanical complexity and depth as well as the connections it fosters with its characters–and whether you’re managing inventories or battlefields, it’s the kind of game that’s hard to put down, even when it’s over.” — Kallie Plagge, Reviews Editor
“Though the remake has a couple of blemishes, it’s still an easy game to recommend. People speak of Link’s Awakening as the secret best Zelda game. That’s a tough call to make, but it’s definitely one of the best. If you haven’t touched a classic Zelda game in a while, Link’s Awakening will almost instantly transport you back to the ’90s. It’s simple, in many ways, but the orchestrated journey still conveys a sense of adventure, and this new version is without question the best way to experience it. And more than anything else, it will put a smile on your face. Remakes are a dime a dozen nowadays and often easy to overlook. Don’t make that mistake with Link’s Awakening.” — Peter Brown, Managing Editor
“The important thing is that Untitled Goose Game is a hoot. It’s a comedy game that focuses on making the act of playing it funny, rather than simply being a game that features jokes. Wishing that it was longer speaks to how much fun I had with it. There’s nothing else quite like Untitled Goose Game; it’s charming and cute despite being mean, and both very silly and very clever. It’s also probably the best non-racing game ever to feature a dedicated “honk” button.” — James O’Connor
“Despite some small graphical compromises in 3D mode–rare frame rate stuttering and some occasional pop-in–almost everything in Dragon Quest XI on Switch is an improvement on its original release. If you have been putting off playing this RPG masterpiece, this portable edition is absolutely the way to go–and if you want to revisit it, this version is the perfect excuse to do so.” — Heidi Kemps
“But while the multiplayer modes may not hold your attention for long, the strength of the Luigi’s Mansion series has always stemmed from the satisfaction of exploring its carefully constructed settings, and in that regard Luigi’s Mansion 3 certainly succeeds. The game may not radically diverge from the series’ formula, but it offers up another meticulously crafted set of challenges to overcome while smoothing out some of the issues that held Dark Moon back, and the sense of accomplishment you feel when you clear a particularly head-scratching obstacle is just as potent now as the first time Luigi unwillingly strapped a vacuum to his back and stepped into a haunted mansion.” — Kevin Knezevic, Associate Editor
“In collecting, battling, and exploring, Sword and Shield cut out the bloat and focus on what makes these pillars of the Pokemon games so captivating in the first place. You’re not held back by overly complicated back-end systems or hoops to jump through; from the outset, you can start wandering the Galar region, seeing its new Pokemon, and trying out its new battle strategies with very little in your way. This leaves you free to enjoy what Pokemon is all about, and that makes for an incredibly strong showing for the series’ proper debut on Switch.” — Kallie Plagge, Reviews Editor
“The Nintendo Switch version of Divinity: Original Sin II Definitive Edition seems as if it shouldn’t work on the hybrid console, and yet it does wonderfully. Larian’s acclaimed RPG makes the transition to Switch intact (except for couch co-op, though online and local wireless play are available) with very little in the way of compromises. The control scheme, as with that of the PS4 and Xbox One versions, works well here despite the lack of a traditional mouse-and-keyboard setup. The turn-based nature of combat lends itself to short bursts of gameplay in handheld mode, though it’s a difficult game to put down once you get started.” — Chris Pereira, Engagement Editor
“Although the Nintendo Switch might not be the best platform to play The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, it’s still a fantastic experience that shouldn’t be missed. If you are looking to replay The Witcher 3 and bask in its detail and beauty, the Switch port may not quite scratch that itch. However, what makes this game excellent isn’t its graphics, but the powerful stories it tells, and those are as vivid as ever on Switch.” — Jake Dekker, Video Producer
“Bayonetta 2 arrives on Switch with everything intact from the Wii U version, but with the added convenience of portability and a more consistent frame rate, making it the definitive version of the game. Thanks to the confident execution of seemingly unbridled creativity, Bayonetta 2 remains a game that shouldn’t be missed, just as it was when we first reviewed the game on Wii U.” — Peter Brown, Managing Editor
“Tropical Freeze isn’t a heavy-hitter from Nintendo in the same way Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey are, but it’s a fantastic platformer that’s bursting with creativity and expertly designed challenges. It’s tuned just right–always tough but rarely frustrating–to ensure that even the most common moments feel great. If you missed out when the game first debuted back in 2014, give it a shot today. It easily stands the test of time.” — Peter Brown, Managing Editor
“As long as you’re able to play the entire game in docked mode, The New Colossus is the same fantastic game it is on other platforms. It runs well and, despite some minor visual compromises, it still looks pretty good. Handheld mode is unfortunately far less optimized, and the Joy-Cons simply don’t feel as good to use as the Pro Controller. If Switch is your only way to play it, The New Colossus is absolutely worth your time–just not on the go.” — Kallie Plagge, Reviews Editor
“Digital Eclipse proves once again that it’s the right team for the job of both preserving and resurrecting classic video games. For SNK and its fans, the team has elevated some of the company’s most important milestones. It’s responsible for more than just Neo Geo games, and though not every game that came before is worth replaying on its own today, the addition of supplemental materials and revitalizing modern gaming conveniences make them feel more interesting than they have in years, and in some cases, decades.” — Peter Brown, Managing Editor
“Simply put: This is a remaster done right. Nitro-Fueled maintains the spirit and rock-solid foundations of a childhood favorite while building on it and modernizing it where necessary–even if the handling might take a bit of getting used to. Adventure mode’s classic variant feels a little tough, but your first race on Roo’s Tubes or Sewer Speedway will bring a nostalgic grin to your face regardless. When the nostalgia fades, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled remains fun and engaging enough to keep you racing on with a smile on your face for much longer yet. It’s good to have Crash back.” — Oscar Dayus
“Hellblade has now made its way to Nintendo Switch. While this port manages to reach the same emotional and spiritually resonant highs as other releases, it unfortunately features some inconsistent frame rate and subdued texture detail throughout, lessening the impact of some key moments. With that said, Hellblade is still largely intact on the more modest platform. In the Switch’s tablet form, it gives the impression you’re diving into an engrossing novel, making for a more intimate experience that can’t found in other versions of the game.” — Alessandro Fillari, Editor
“Thumper has now made its way to Nintendo Switch, where it remains every bit as enjoyable to play on a monitor (at 1080p 60fps) as it is on PS4 and PC. Surprisingly little has been sacrificed in the transition to the portable console, and in some ways the fact that you can now hold it close by undocking the Switch makes it a slightly more immersive experience than sitting feet away from your TV. If VR isn’t something you have access to or want to invest in, the Switch version of Thumper is arguably the second best route to experience everything this impressive and brutal rhythm game has to offer.” — Peter Brown, Managing Editor
“New Horizons has a slower pace even than other Animal Crossing games, and at times, that can feel unnecessarily restrictive. But there’s still plenty to do, and each of those activities feeds into the next brilliantly for a rewarding and relentlessly cheerful experience. New Horizons certainly came at the right time, and its strengths are particularly comforting right now. I’m as excited to see what random events await me each morning as I am glad to have it during hard times, and that’s sure to keep me coming back for the foreseeable future.” — Kallie Plagge, Reviews Editor