People say the Switch already has the best library a Nintendo platform has had in years. Here are 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, plus newcomers in well-loved franchises 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
Arms was one of the first releases on the Switch and has remained popular since then. A 3D fighter where up to four players can control one of many fighters using extendable Arms, with each starting with three unique Arms that you can select in battle.
It may sound absolutely bonkers, but it’s a formidable fighting game amongst heavyweights like Smash Bros U. The Arms are customisable, with different weights and elemental attributes that can affect gameplay.
Alongside the standard fighting mode, players can also take part in a Versus mode, Grand Prix and various Battle modes, such as volleyball and basketball. You can also play online in a party mode with up to 20 players or in 1-vs-1 matches and let the Arms madness unfold.
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.
Cadence of Hyrule
Nintendo rarely lends out its crown jewel franchises; but based on Cadence of Hyrule, it should do more often.
Developed by Canadian indie team Brace Yourself Games, Cadence of Hyrule features a soundtrack from famed composer Danny Baranowsky, who provided the tunes for classics like Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Issac, and Brace Yourself’s previous game, Crypt of the NecroDancer.
Featuring the same grid-based rhythmic hopping gameplay as NecroDancer, where you have to time your moves to the beat of the music, you explore a randomly generated overworld and dungeons as either Link or Zelda. It’s amazing how well the familiar elements from the Zelda universe take to the new NecroDancer twist, and although this might not be as long as a main-series Hyrulian adventure, there’s more than enough to justify the price of entry.
Celeste is another platformer that took the world by storm in early 2018 with its beautiful art style, challenging gameplay and poignant storytelling and depictions of personal troubles.
Our protagonist, Madeline, begins climbing Celeste Mountain when she encounters a dark reflection of herself, known as Part of Madeline. This seemingly sinister version of herself breaks out of a mirror, attempts to stop Madeline from climbing the Mountain by making the journey increasingly more difficult for Madeline and any companions she meets.
Madeline eventually reconciles with this darker Part of Madeline to reclaim her whole self, which resonated with many players who struggled with their own self-acceptance. Celeste is an emotional rollercoaster and an overwhelmingly wholesome and positive one at that.
Dark Souls, sI mean, Dead Cells is a Castlevania-inspired platformer with the added bonus of ever-present threat of permadeath looming, where you’ll die, kill something and learn your lesson in order to survive.
Arguably one of the most engaging and exciting games available on the Switch, Dead Cells boasts an impressive range of weapons and gadgets that can be potentially game-changing or game-breaking, depending on what you have and who you’re fighting.
High-risk with big rewards is the aim of the game as you often find yourself trapped in a loop of death before the solution hits you in the face like a sack of bricks and you smash your way into the next area. If you’re a glutton for punishment, then you need to check out Dead Cells yesterday.
Diablo 3: Eternal Collection
Switch players were treated to Diablo 3: Eternal Collection which comes with the Diablo III game, the Reaper of Souls expansion, and the Rise of the Necromancer pack in one sweet bundle. While Blizzard isn’t in Diablo fans good books right now, Diablo and Switch fans alike were happy to see this ARPG giant make its way onto the Switch.
As an added bonus, areas of Zelda’s world can be found in Sanctuary, as well as the Cucco companion pet, a Triforce portrait frame, and an exclusive transmogrification set so you can wear Ganondorf’s armour.
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.
Dragon Quest Builders 2
Dragon Quest Builders 2 takes the best mechanics from Minecraft and puts a sweet skin on them that fits nicely within the Dragon Quest universe. You play as a Builder – an outlawed trade – as you journey around islands helping their inhabitants rediscover the likes of farming and building homes.
There are loads of secrets hidden across the map – like the Shrine puzzles – to be found and you’ll easily sink 50+ hours into it. it’s perfect for kids and adults alike, and you can check out Kirk’s review here.
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 arcade-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: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses combines tactical combat and true-to-form RPG elements, with a multitude of characters to romance. You play as Byleth, one of the teachers at the monastery as you train students in combat and prepare them for leadership.
You can fish, cultivate crops and cook meals, as well as train with other teachers. There’s so much choice it can feel overwhelming and losing a character to permadeath is the absolute worst.
It takes around 40-80 hours to complete – depending on how thorough you are – and many of the students you train will become allies later. For more, read Alex’s Fire Emblem: Three Houses review here.
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.
Hollow Knight is a sweet yet frustrating 2D action-adventure game from Australian indie developers Team Cherry. Hollow Knight has built a reputation as the cutest Souls-esque game around, with incredibly challenging foes and complicated layout. A final and free DLC, Godmaster, has recently been released so now there will be even more goth insects to fight in this ethereal Metroidvania world.
Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition will be coming to PS4 and Xbox One on September 25, so now you can prepare to die on every platform.
Into the Breach
Into the Breach is the newest title from FTL developer Subset Games and is an incredible turn-based strategy game. Fans of the XCOM series will enjoy Into the Breach’s balanced yet challenging combat system and can rejoice at the fact that you are encouraged to try again by sending help back through time to help you defeat hardened enemies.
Fans praise Into the Breach’s simple design and intuitive controls. Substance definitely hasn’t been sacrificed for style and at a cool £11.39 it’s hard to pass up.
Katamari Damacy Reroll
Classic roll-em-up Katamari Damacy Reroll was announced as for the Nintendo Switch in December 2018 and has proven a popular choice amongst players. The concept is quite simple: roll up things that are smaller than you into one giant ball, which enables you to roll up larger objects like trees, cruises and even cities.
You can’t just roll things up aimlessly, though; you need to plan to make the most of your time and collect as many items into your ball as possible. If you’re really efficient, you could roll up the entire world, even the clouds, in the ultimate embodiment of serial hoarder.
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.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
The Switch remake of Link’s Awakening is lovely. From it’s tiny, toy-like art style to the nostalgic recreation of its world, map, and gameplay, this thoughtful imagining brings the classic game into the modern era.
While the addition of the Dungeon Creator – which lets you craft your own challenges from the blocks used to make the main game – doesn’t quite live up to its promise, it’s the adventure that you’re really here for.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi’s first solo title on the Switch challenged new and old fans alike as you wander around a haunted hotel hoovering up ghosts. There are several levels to complete, some pretty complicated boss fights and, as usual, thousands of coins to find.
You’ve got a little ghost dog companion guiding you for most of the way and you’ll want to explore every nook and cranny to find secret rooms and items. It’s just as good as the GameCube original, except now you can take it with you wherever you go. You can read Alex’s Luigi’s Mansion 3 review here.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3
In Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, you basically assemble a Marvel dream team in order to save the world. A rather large cast of superheroes can be chosen and you can join up to three other players in TV mode locally or online.
Your characters in the game can also perform powerful Alliance Extreme attacks, and as your chosen characters level up, they’ll learn new skills which can be used on the fly. You can also revisit old levels with new characters.
We have a bunch of guides for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, including how to get Enhancement Points and Ability Points, so jump in with a few friends.
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.
Pokémon Let’s Go
The latest Pokémon game is absolutely brilliant. Combining some of the mechanics of Pokémon Go with the story from Pokémon Yellow, Pokémon Let’s Go is the Pokémon game we’ve been dreaming of. You can choose Pikachu or Eevee as your starter Pokémon and they’ll run alongside you or sit on your head, bringing you gifts every so often or highlighting areas of interest to you.
You can choose which Pokémon you want to interact with, thus avoiding endless Zubat encounters, and you can play co-op with a friend. Rather than battle Pokémon, you can calm them with a few snacks before timing your Pokéball throws to get the perfect catch.
It looks and sounds incredible, and the option to hook your Switch up to the TV and play on the big screen makes it even better.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
In this iteration of Pokemon, you visit the Galar region which is based on the UK. As ever, there are cute starter Pokemon to choose from, a rival to beat and gym badges to earn, alongside new Pokemon to catch.
There was the introduction of Dynamax raids where you fight ginormous versions of Pokemon new and old alongside friends or NPCs, and the new Wild area where you can grind it out for XP and catch new Pokemon – or get obliterated by an OP Onyx. While the Pokedex is decidedly smaller, the new features and Pokemon make up for it. You can check out what Alex thought of Pokemon Sword and Shield here.
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 Maker 2
If you needed a compelling reason for fork out for Switch Online, challenging the twisted creations of builders around the world in Super Mario Maker 2 just might be it.
Not only can you play with the powerful creation tools to build your own devious masterpiece, but there’s also a decent sized, proper Mario campaign to show you the ropes. While there isn’t a huge difference between this and the Wii U original, there’s just enough new in the package to keep things fresh.
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.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
2018 finally saw Super Smash Bros. Ultimate arrive on the Nintendo Switch. Practically everyone you could ever think of is in the roster and it’s definitely the most enjoyable instalment yet. You can see what Alex thought of it in his Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review here.
Complete with a guide on How to Smash, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has 74 fighters, over 100 stages to battle in and over 800 tracks to smash on down to. You can even fight as Isabelle from Animal Crossing, as if being a boss in her own game wasn’t enough.
There are a wealth of items you can utilise to increase your chances of winning and you can even use Pokémon in battle. The Fighter’s Pass will see characters and items added regularly, so keep your eyes peeled for updates.
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.
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