People say the Switch has the best library a Nintendo platform has had in years. Here’s our picks of the best Switch games.
Everything you could want for the Switch is represented on this list, from Nintendo’s big hitters down to innovative indie games, third party gems and even some of the late ports that stand out as impressive on the Switch.
The list has been selected by the mad men and women behind VG247, and we’ll be updating it periodically as new games arrive that we feel are worth adding, or as we discover more that are worth adding. If you’ve got thoughts on missing games, drop them in the comments – we’ll consider your arguments.
Recent additions to the list include Bayonetta, DOOM and Fire Emblem Warriors, but it’s also a particularly exciting time for upcoming games. There’s some high-profile ports like Captain Toad and Donkey Kong Country coming, plus newcomers like Smash Bros and Mario Tennis Aces – and that’s without getting into third-party games.
Anyway, here are our picks, which – before you scream about Mario or Zelda not being at the top – are in alphabetical order.
The best Nintendo Switch Games
Bayonetta & Bayonetta 2
One entry for two games – a bit of a cheat, we know, but Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 can be purchased separately or together as a package. It’s a great value double pack, too – you get two of the best action games ever made, both of which have been given solid Switch ports that offer a decent performance bump.
A masterclass in action video game design, Bayonetta also has style and attitude the likes of which rarely rears its head on a Nintendo platform. She spanks enemies, her allies curse up a storm, and she’s generally just an incredible bad-ass. Picking these two up is a good idea now, as when Bayonetta 3 arrives it’s surely going to be one of the biggest Switch titles around.
It’s hard to believe that the 2016 Doom reboot runs on the Nintendo Switch at all, leave alone it looks as good as it does – but it’s all there. Handheld or docked, Doom encourages you to rip and tear your way through a sea of demons and is just about one of the most satisfying experiences in gaming – and it just runs on the Switch like it’s no big deal, albeit with occasional frame drops and a visual downgrade from the Xbox One and PS4 versions.
Doom is best defined by how melee executions are turned into a way to regain health and ammunition, encouraging you not to hang back and bunker down but get up close and personal with enemies in order to take them down and properly reap the rewards to thus make you more prepared for the next encounter. Like a lot of the best games on Switch (like Mario and Zelda) it’s an astonishingly clever revival and re-imagining of a truly classic game – and in that success a new modern classic has been created.
Dragon Quest Builders
Minecraft has a little bit of RPG in it anyway, but what if it were to full-on go for it with RPG style traditions? Well, Dragon Quest Builders is that – a charming combination of the huge Japanese RPG series and its tropes and Minecraft-style building.
Unlike many other building games that means there is a full-blown world-saving story-driven adventure plot, but if you just want to create things Dragon Quest Builders gives you a decent amount of freedom to do that too. It’s not the best version of the game thanks to some performance issues, but it’s worth pushing through those issues in order to be able to take such a game on the go.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Switch
Skyrim doesn’t just work on the Switch – it’s utterly perfect for the machine. Its open-ended nature means you can pause pretty much any time you like, fast travel as required to safe spaces and generally hop in and out of it at whim. On Switch it can work both ways, then: binged for hours or played in smaller chunks, slowly exploring new corners of the world and discovering new quests.
The Switch additions like amiibo-activated Zelda-themed loot and motion controls all work well, but the real marvel is in having a game this huge and this engaging packed into such a tiny, portable machine.
Nintendo has left poor old F-Zero out in the cold for a good while now, but if you need a high speed sci-fi racing fix Fast RMX has you covered. If you owned a Wii U you might be familiar with FAST Racing NEO on that machine; RMX is actually a remastered, Remixed version of that game – thus the RMX.
It’s a more aracade-like feel and isn’t anywhere near as punishing as the harder elements of F-Zero GX, but as an approximation of that style of game it’s a decent, worthy contender from an indie studio. It’s pretty too, and mostly runs as smoothly as you’d want for a racer with this speed – 60fps is occasionally rocky, but not by much. There’s split screen plus online multiplayer – for its tiny eShop price this one is easy to recommend.
Fire Emblem Warriors
After the success of the Wii U’s Hyrule Warriors, Nintendo has partnered with Tecmo Koei and Omega Force once again for another Dynasty Warriors/Musou mash-up with a Nintendo property – this time the much more suitable Fire Emblem series. Don’t get us wrong – Zelda worked, but with its huge cast of swordsmen and mages, Fire Emblem just makes sense for this type of game.
Omega Force hasn’t just taken the easy path either – they’ve smartly tweaked their typical hack-and-slash gameplay to properly fit Fire Emblem’s trappings, adding features like permanent death and deeper character growth to the story mode. Fire Emblem fans are in for a treat with the fan service-filled story too – and when that’s done there’s quite a bit of additional DLC available. If you want to go on a stress-relieving power trip slicing through fields of enemies like a knife through hot butter, Fire Emblem Warriors will scratch that itch nicely.
Part sports game and part old-school RPG, Golf Story is an excellent independent game that mixes an RPG-like story mode that replaces combat encounters with settling the score via a round of golf. It feels right at home on Switch.
Featuring some lovely, cutesy sprite work, a sweet little story with an Aussie twang and some really great 2D golfing action it’s hard to turn this one down – good golf games are all too rare these days. You can even draft a second player in to enjoy that golf action in story-free multiplayer, which fares well in both docked and handheld modes.
Graceful Explosion Machine
If you like a bit of arcade action, Graceful Explosion Machine is one of the best options on Switch – which is saying something considering there are some true arcade classics that have been re-released on the machine’s eShop. Graceful Explosion Machine adds a twist to arcade shooter mechanics, built around a deceptively deep weapon-switching mechanic that adds a great sense of challenge and achievement.
There’s a main story mode, but really Graceful Explosion Machine comes into its own when you’re going mad in search of a high score – the perfect kind of setup for on-the-go gaming. There’s amazing use of HD Rumble, too.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
As our ridiculously long review explains, this isn’t just the best Switch launch game, but it’s also a competitor for the best Zelda game ever made and even, possibly, one of the best games ever outright.
The thing about Breath of the Wild is that it’s brave; it turns Zelda conventions upside down in my places and ultimately dazzles as a result. Influence is taken from many other great modern adventure games, and the result is a thrilling tale that’ll hook you and hold you quickly and easily. An absolute must-play.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
An upgraded, definitive version of one of the Wii U’s best games, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe comes with oodles of content to keep players of all skill levels busy: 42 characters, 48 tracks and a whole bunch of vehicles. That’s a good package. There’s even some all-new stuff including an excellent multiplayer Battle Mode.
The cherry on top of the package is performance: after only running at 720p on Wii U this now reaches 1080p and a smooth 60 frames per second when docked – it looks fantastic. Mario Kart is a staple on any Nintendo system, and this is a worthy entry for the Switch.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
It’s difficult to believe Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle even exists. A Mario game made outside Nintendo that crosses the series over with another RPG… and it’s a turn-based strategy game in the vein of hardcore PC classic XCOM. I mean, what?! How?
You can see why Nintendo greenlit it, however. It’s brilliant. Delightfully silly, slavishly reverent to the worlds of Mario and extremely lovingly created, it does a truly admirable job of being a family-friendly take on the brilliant turn-based strategy genre. It’s also not so streamlined that strategy fans will be left bored.
Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition
Minecraft is one of the biggest games of all time for good reason, and the Switch edition is a high-quality port that can easily drag even seasoned players back in – and deep.
A fully-featured version of Minecraft is here with great performance both docked and handheld. There’s even some Nintendo-themed DLC included with Mario music and skins, plus the promise of future cross-platform online play with PC, Xbox and Mobile via Minecraft Realms.
Puyo Puyo Tetris
Puyo Puyo Tetris is exactly what the name suggests: a mash up of two of the most iconic gaming puzzle versus games that has a great deal of fun with toying with – and often breaking – the series conventions. It’s brilliant, and is one of the most perfect multiplayer games going, complete with a low recommended price point that acts as quite the sweetener.
The rules of Puyo Puyo (or Doctor Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, as it was to me growing up) and Tetris smash together fabulously, with a plethora of game modes playing on this. One player can play with Puyos and the other with Tetrominos, or you can just play pure Tetris or Puyo, or one against the other. At its best, you’re playing with both at once, never quite sure which is coming next – a Puyo or a Tetris piece.
Rocket League is something of a phenomenon, and the success is wholly deserved. Not content with massive sales on other platforms and burgeoning esports leagues, this Switch port from Panic Button (the studio also behind DOOM on Switch) retains its excellent balance and tight controls in both handheld and docked mode.
Notable here is a frame rate of 60fps and the now requisite Nintendo-themed additional content including Mario, Luigi and Metroid-themed cars and customization options unlocking as you progress through the ranking. Just keep in mind that given that this is a game at its best online playing cross-platform with PC and Xbox users, it’s perhaps better for docked players.
Already an indie darling with good reason, Shovel Knight can be nabbed on Switch in a few different formats depending on which campaigns you want – allowing players who’ve experienced one campaign on other platforms to only pick up what’s new to them. Shovel Knight does feel as though he belongs on Nintendo, though – he even has an amiibo!
Whichever of the Switch Shovel Knight experiences you go for, each of them is an excellent call-back to the 8 and 16-bit glory days, featuring challenging difficulty, a pumping soundtrack and easily paused action that’s a perfect fit for when you’re taking your Switch on the go.
Snipperclips: Cut it Out, Together
Snipperclips is the ultimate bite-sized co-operative game on Switch, ideal for multiplayer either on the TV or on the Switch screen. It’s a tiny, tight puzzler with a unique sense of style and a finite but good value set of puzzles to get through, and it’s brilliant.
It’s all about physics, and while things start out relatively simple it escalates in a brilliant fashion towards complex and rewarding puzzles – but without becoming frustrating. It feels like a natural fit for Switch, and when you play with a friend you’ll find it easily inspires riotous laughter as you accidentally (or deliberately) ruin each other’s best-laid plans.
After years lost in the wilderness, Sonic the Hedgehog is good again. Sonic Mania is essentially a Sega-approved fan game, with fans famed for reverse-engineering the classic Mega Drive/Genesis Sonic games tapped to make a new Sonic game all of their own.
A love letter to the old days featuring both remixed classic levels and all-new zones, the greatest compliment that can be paid to Sonic Mania is to say that it truly does feel like another game that fell right out of Sonic Team in the mid 90s. The result isn’t just one of the best Sonic games ever but a game you could make a strong case as being the very best in the series.
Created by younger Nintendo staff finally let loose to make a game all of their own, Splatoon is pure magic. A third person shooter of the type that only Nintendo could make, it’s the freshest-feeling game to come out of Nintendo for years, with a cheeky, punky vibe that feels family-friendly and yet a million miles from Mario.
Splatoon 2 is a cheekier sequel, not doing all that much different to its predecessor, but that doesn’t really matter too much. Splatoon 2 is actually on a platform people will play, which means continued support and thriving online matches – the heart of the game. It’s an iterative upgrade, but a high quality one, and it should be in any online-loving Switch owner’s library.
Inspired by Harvest Moon with a little sprinkle of the likes of Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley is pretty simple: the protagonist moves to the country to work a farm. Once there you’re greeted with an open plot of land in disrepair and surrounding areas filled with things to do – memorable characters to befriend, monsters to fight and side quests to undertake. Underpinning it all is the simple need to keep things ticking over on your farm.
Stardew Valley was an indie darling back when it released on PC and other consoles, but the Switch could be argued as the very best place to play the game. With a constantly-moving clock, an in-game day in Stardew Valley is a perfect bite-sized chunk of game for when you take your Switch on the go, but there’s also plenty of depth to keep you busy for many, many hours. Time will fly fast – both in-game and for real. As an eShop download title it’s also nice and cheap – the perfect combination.
Super Bomberman R
Super Bomberman R is a weird one, since it’s a great game but is also a difficult package to recommend in value terms. Its recommended retail price is high for such a simplistic game – but it’s also a great version of a multiplayer classic that feels absolutely perfect for split joy-con action.
This stripped-back experience does away with a lot of the naff power ups and extras added to later entries – it’s pure, classic Bomberman, and Konami has even been pretty generous with free DLC. It’s still not worth full price, mind. Grab it in a sale.
Super Mario Odyssey
What most impresses about Odyssey is its confidence; despite the fact that Nintendo hasn’t really made a Mario game with this sort of structure before (the closest are Super Mario 64 and Sunshine fifteen years ago) they make it look positively easy, cramming every world with activities and things to do that challenge Mario’s move set, also the broadest he’s ever had in a straight platforming and adventure game.
It’s a fresh, forward-thinking take on gaming’s most iconic hero, but is also perfectly reverential to the past. Odyssey could be the perfect first for a Mario newcomer, but those will experience will also find themselves tickled by the nostalgic nods and wowed by just how open and expressive its control system allows you to be. It’s one of the best Mario games ever made, and that’s some damn impressive company to keep.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Xenoblade 2 is one of the most hardcore, in-depth Japanese RPG experiences you can hope to find on any platform – and it’s really rather good to boot. This is Monolith Soft’s third Xenoblade effort, but this is by far and away the most confident. You’re given a huge world, deep combat mechanics and sent out on an epic journey. It’s all in proper RPG tradition.
It’s not perfect – it features some truly awful character design and at times is a little too obtuse for its own good, and broadly speaking folk in need of an adventure should definitely go for Zelda: Breath of the Wild first before attempting this behemoth, but it’s an excellent game nevertheless.
The thing about 1-2-Switch is that, well… it isn’t exactly brilliant. It’s a game that undoubtedly should’ve been a pack-in, but if you get the opportunity to pick this one up at a reduced price it’s worth your attention just to experience its unique and quirky mini-games with friends, preferably with booze flowing.
The games vary in quality but they’re generally speaking good, clean fun. Played in a group of friends this will offer some laughs, but anticipate it wearing thin fairly quickly.