Looking for the best games on the Nintendo Switch? What follows is a living list of the 22 Nintendo Switch games we recommend everyone play or watch, in case you’re new to the system or just want something new to play.
Why 22 games, though? Good question! It’s a solid number of titles, spread across a variety of genres, with selections for families, children, and adults. But 22 isn’t an overwhelming number, and we wanted to focus on the best of the best for this guide to the essential releases of the platform. Find something you like, and see what you think. And just in case you get stuck, we’ve included a link to our guide for each game when possible, just in case you need a little help.
And if the list of 22 games up top isn’t enough for you, check out a few extra recommendations we threw in at the bottom. The Switch is one of Nintendo’s most popular consoles in some time, with a game library to match. Take a look — we hope you find something you like.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
You find yourself on a deserted island and a large raccoon presents you with a house mortgage. Welcome to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, one of the most bizarre — yet broadly appealing — games on the Nintendo Switch.
The series has always been about living among animal villagers while completing simple tasks like fishing and bug catching. But New Horizons, with its gorgeous graphics and incredible customization options, has really stepped the franchise up dramatically. The entire island is now open to customization, letting you place everything from the placement of rivers to the design printed on vendor stalls that line your streets.
New Horizons is also profoundly kid-friendly, allowing youngsters to create their own homes on a shared, family island. If you’re looking to connect with people outside of your family unit, there’s full online connectivity for up to eight players at once.
Looking for a chill experience to wind down after a rough day? There’s really no better option than Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
Nintendo’s first Pokémon game on the Switch — Let’s Go! Eevee/Pikachu — was a solid remake of the original 1998 Pokémon adventure. But it wasn’t a brand-new game. Pokémon Sword and Shield is exactly that, with a new cast of monsters to catch and a new world to explore.
Granted, there’s been a lot of drama about the fact that not every single Pokémon from every previous game is available in Sword and Shield. But if that’s not a deal-breaker for you, you’ll find a really delightful journey here. The game’s new region, Galar, is inspired by the United Kingdom, with all its rolling hills, lakes, and forests just teeming with adorable beasties.
Hardcore Pokémon fans will appreciate enhanced endgame features like the Battle Tower and breeding functionality. But for everyone else, the 20- to 30-hour adventure is filled with fun characters and beautiful vistas, making it feel like a true trip abroad.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi’s capricious series has only seen three entries since 2001, but the latest on Switch is the strongest by far. Rather than a mansion, Luigi has to clear a haunted motel of ectoplasmic beasts in a quest to save Mario, Peach, and a handful of Toads.
Mechanically, the game hasn’t changed much over the last 19 years. Luigi still slowly creeps from room to room looking for levers to pull and ghosts to suck up in his vacuum. But thanks to the increased power of the Switch, the rooms are now filled with all sorts of fun junk to suck up and swing around, which is enormously satisfying.
Kid-friendly themes and co-op support throughout the campaign also make this a great pick if you’ve got a youngster in your life. Even kids as young as 5 should be able to handle the low-stakes role of Gooigi, Luigi’s bizarre, intangible alter ego.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The announcement that The Witcher 3 was coming to Switch was greeted with shock and wonder. Even though the makers of another massive open-world RPG, Skyrim, had pulled off the feat, The Witcher 3 was even more visually ambitious than Bethesda’s game. Would it even be playable? Apparently so!
The Witcher 3 on Switch isn’t quite the stunner that it is on the PC, PlayStation 4, or Xbox one. But it’s still quite playable, and having one of the greatest RPGs ever made in a portable format is a huge perk. Geralt’s main quest is easily 60 hours long, but with the added DLC, you’re looking at something that’s liable to take 100 hours to complete, if not more. With a game that big, it’s always nice to be able to chill on the couch while hunting for herbs.
If you’ve been fiending for something to fill the Breath of the Wild-sized hole in your heart, The Witcher 3 fits the bill admirably.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
A common complaint about modern RPGs is that, too often, combat is the only solution. Divinity: Original Sin 2 has plenty of options to brute-force your way through situations, but it also offers a ton of clever diplomatic and charisma-based solutions to progress through the world. And all of them are written wonderfully and fully voiced.
The top-down RPG calls to mind classic computer games like Baldur’s Gate and Fallout, but with modern elements like physics, realistic lighting, and complex 3D environments filled with ways to dominate a gang of skeletons.
The Switch version takes a bit of a visual dive compared to the game on PC but is still very playable, and it’s easy to see all of the action in it. And if you’re looking to upgrade later to a higher resolution, the game actually supports cross-save with the Steam version (though in that case, you would need to buy the game twice).
You would think that after 35 years, you had seen everything Tetris could possibly throw at you. But here comes Tetris 99, a free-to-play twist on the original formula that pits you against 98 other block-droppers in a race for survival.
Tetris has usually been a solitary experience, but the emphasis on multiplayer in Tetris 99 makes it far more tense and harried than it has ever been before. And even though your odds of winning against so many people aren’t great, just the mere satisfaction of making it into the top 10 can be a thrill. The game is always encouraging you to push a little harder for that extra ranking and maybe someday make it to No. 1. Just keep in mind that you’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online account to take part.
If you’re eager for a more traditional experience, though, you can pay $9.99 for the Big Block DLC, which adds offline setups like the classic Marathon mode.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
The Fire Emblem franchise is a bizarre amalgam of many genres, from strategy to relationship simulator. The first Switch installment, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, maintains the strong strategy roots while fleshing out the events between battles. There’s now a fully explorable school where players can interact with their units, give them presents, and even take them to tea! The academy succeeds in making players feel emotionally attached to these characters, which makes losing them in combat even more brutal.
The game’s three campaigns are massive, each taking around 50 hours to complete, with plenty of branching options and multiple endings. The sheer length of it makes it a perfect fit on Switch, where it’s easy to stop and start at a moment’s notice.
If you’re looking for a strategy epic with the scope of Game of Thrones (but with more tea parties), Fire Emblem: Three Houses succeeds mightily.
Super Mario Maker 2
When it comes to game design, you may think it’s best to leave it up to the professionals. But Super Mario Maker 2 proves that even the least capable among us have a level or two up their sleeves. The game’s approachable controls and interface make tossing together your own Mario creation a breeze. Plus, being able to do it all on the go with the Switch means you can utilize the touchscreen for faster placement and better precision.
If designing levels isn’t your thing, Super Mario Maker 2 comes with its own batch of Nintendo-made stages. It also allows you to play an unending supply of fan-created levels, siphoning only the best creations to the top of your list.
Fans of the 2D Mario era will love all the unique twists to classic mechanics, and a strong online community means there should be plenty of levels for years to come.
Cadence of Hyrule
Nintendo tends to be pretty cautious with its franchises, which makes the arrival of Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer featuring The Legend of Zelda such a nice surprise. Handing the reins of the Zelda franchise to an independent developer seems like a risky move, but when that indie has the proven chops of a game like Crypt of the NecroDancer, it’s a much safer bet.
Cadence adopts NecroDancer’s core gameplay mechanic: Movement and action can only happen on the beat of the soundtrack. Enemies are forced to obey these rules too, so you end up having a foot-tapping ballet where Zelda’s heroes are effortlessly bouncing around the screen, slicing moblins in time with some wicked remixed tracks. (You can also set it to ignore the music, making the enemies move only when you do.)
Gorgeous 2D artwork and that brilliantly remixed score make the package feel like it was made by an in-house Nintendo team. Toss in a fully randomized map, making each adventure feel fresh, and you begin to realize: There’s never been a better Zelda spinoff.
Get it here: Nintendo eShop
Baba Is You
Baba Is You looks like it could have come out 30 years ago. Its graphics are easily within the scope of what the NES could pump out. Despite that, it’s an incredibly modern puzzle game, turning established video game concepts on their ear in incredible ways.
The basics: Baba is a rabbit. Move Baba to a flag to complete a map. But moving blocks of words on the map (like “Wall is Stop”) will change the parameters of what Baba is capable of (or even change Baba himself).
The best puzzle games seem incredibly simple at first glance, but beneath the surface, Baba Is You is a fascinating dissection of the genre. With just a handful of parameters, it manages to create an approachable yet mind-bending experience. There aren’t a ton of puzzle games on Switch, but Baba Is You is one of the best.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
There’s a kitchen-sink aspect to the latest installment of Super Smash Bros. Every single character, stage, and item that has ever appeared in the franchise returns in this outrageously scoped package.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the most ambitious multiplayer game Nintendo has ever made, but despite the scale, it’s incredibly friendly to newcomers. You’ll start out with just eight characters to choose from, slowly building the gang up to over 70 contenders. A new single-player mode offers up a nice way to experiment with unplayed characters while collecting hundreds of artifacts from gaming history.
If you’re having friends over, this and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are must-haves for your Switch. Just make sure you have enough controllers.
Diablo 3: Eternal Collection
Blizzard first released Diablo 3 six years ago on Mac and Windows PC, and followed with ports on a variety of consoles. And yet, outside of dragging a laptop and mouse around, there’s never been a truly portable version of the game. The Switch release changes that with this masterful edition.
In addition to offering all of the content (both free and paid) that Blizzard has released for Diablo 3, the Switch version allows for frictionless multiplayer. Through single Joy-Con play, you and a friend can set up same-system co-op in seconds. Online multiplayer is also supported, if you’re looking for a crowd.
But even solo, Diablo 3 on Switch feels excellent, both in docked and handheld mode. While the developers made some visual concessions, Diablo 3 is able to maintain a stable 60 frames per second, which is crucial to the game’s smooth feel.
Diablo 3’s arrival on Switch is fantastic, filling a much-needed hack-and-slash hole in the console’s library.
The Switch was designed with multiplayer in mind. Outside of first-party Nintendo releases, few games take better advantage of same-system multiplayer than TowerFall. At first glance, TowerFall appears to be a 2D clone of Super Smash Bros. In truth, it’s even more approachable than Nintendo’s brawler. Heroes equipped with arrows engage in minutelong battles to the death, using stomps, dodges, and jump pads to slaughter their competition.
The bright, colorful graphics pop so well that a group of four players crowded around a tiny Switch screen can still play easily, enjoying a range of multiplayer matches without losing sight of their own character and their competitors. Dollar for dollar, TowerFall may be the best competitive multiplayer game on Switch, so if you’re looking to make some enemies, look no further.
Into the Breach
The Switch’s portable nature makes it a perfect fit for turn-based strategy games, which let you take a break at just about any time. Into the Breach is unquestionably one of the best the genre has seen in recent years. This 2D isometric strategy game has you commanding mechs as they battle against a force of giant bugs.
Despite the simple graphics, there’s an incredible amount of depth and strategy in Into the Breach, with every single decision requiring a cost-benefit analysis. And yet, none of this ever feels overwhelming or frustrating. It’s a master class in presentation, giving you just the information you need at any given time.
The 2D graphics also mean you’ll get plenty of juice out of your Switch, which can be a little iffy in terms of battery life for 3D games. If you’re looking to erase a long flight or commute, Into the Breach has you covered.
The so-called masocore genre consists of games that require you to die over and over again until you’re able to best a stage. These games are rarely inviting, but Celeste breaks that mold with gorgeous 2D artwork and a heartfelt storyline to pull you through. It also features an “assist mode,” letting players select from a variety of modifiers to make the game easier.
Despite its welcoming nature, it’s also incredibly punishing, if that’s what you’re looking for. The game’s main campaign isn’t too brutal, but upon completion, it unlocks a handful of levels that would challenge even the most dedicated platforming veterans.
In that way, Celeste manages to be all things to all people: a casual, story-centric adventure and a super intense, hardcore platformer, all in one.
Particularly challenging games are slightly less daunting on Switch thanks to its portability. They can be played passively and repeatedly in those spare minutes of a subway ride or while watching Parks and Rec on Netflix for the third time. Dead Cells fits neatly into this category with its brutal difficulty and gradual progression system. And yet it manages to become almost Zen-like when played for long enough. As in most good roguelikes, all of the blended mechanics begin to feel familiar, and navigating the world becomes second nature.
Very few games manage to pull off the incredible feat of genre blending that Dead Cells nails, and while it’s tough to recommend to a casual audience, hardcore platforming and action-RPG fans will find a hearty, satisfying challenge here. And being able to master this challenge on the go makes it far more palatable than having to do so while slouched at a monitor.
It took a little while for Hollow Knight to finally arrive on Switch after a successful launch on PC, but that delay paid off. It may be the greatest Metroidvania ever made, and it has found a perfect home, especially when played in handheld mode.
There’s a level of copy-and-paste roteness to games of this genre, but Hollow Knight manages to create a handcrafted world that is massive, eerie, and beautiful, all the while adding to the Metroidvania formula in a number of unexpected ways. And since it’s a 2D game, you can explore this world for lengthy play sessions without worrying that your Switch’s battery will die within an hour or two.
Super Mario Odyssey
Using the building blocks of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, and its sequel, Super Mario Odyssey layers in a new range of movements for our favorite plumber. By combining jumps, dodges, and a springboard-esque hat named Cappy, Mario is as nimble as ever. By far our favorite bit of acrobatics involves Mario tucking up in a tight ball and tumbling through the world like a small boulder.
But the real twist to Mario Odyssey is the ability to take command of enemies, including the deviously satisfying Pokio, a bird that uses its nose to stab into surfaces before flinging itself upward. It feels so good that I’d fully support a Pokio-led spinoff.
Odyssey is a reminder that Nintendo can still reinvent Mario in interesting ways, more than 35 years since he first battled Donkey Kong.
The hardest part of Stardew Valley is getting over the hump that you’re paying money for a farming game. Once you do that, you will quickly find yourself and your hours melting away.
Created almost entirely by a single designer, Stardew Valley places you in the role of a new farm owner on the edge of a small town. What starts simple (hoeing the dirt, planting seeds, watering seeds), slowly unravels into a far bigger experience, as you build relationships, explore dungeons, and participate in events that bring the world to life.
The experience has found no better home than on the Switch, where basic duties can be performed on a mass-transit commute with no loss of fidelity or satisfaction. It’s soothing and Zen-like, a perfect way to wind down after a long day. And yet, at higher levels of play, it can be surprisingly strategic and challenging.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
It’s obviously a point of contention, but I believe Mario Kart 8 is the greatest installment of the franchise thus far. Unfortunately, it came out on the Wii U, a console that barely anybody owned.
Its arrival on Switch ensures that the most important aspect of Mario Kart is maintained: easy multiplayer. While there are plenty of single-player challenges to keep people busy, Mario Kart has always been a party game franchise, and the fact that every Switch is already packing two controllers is an instant boon.
If you happen to have a few more controllers (or better yet, friends with a Switch or two), it’s remarkably easy to get a squad of four, six, or even eight people in the same tournament together. All without the hassle of having wires strewn about your living room.
The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth Plus
I’m including this entry on the list with a huge caveat: The Binding of Isaac is not for everyone. This top-down action roguelike is punishingly hard and pretty unfriendly for newcomers, so if you’re one to bounce off games quickly, look elsewhere.
But if this game does manage to grab you, it does so with vigor. As of this writing, my Switch reports that I have spent 175 hours playing this game, and there’s still plenty more to do.
Why? Simply because every time you start, the potential is endless. There’s always a new combination of weapons and items that will result in an incredible or disastrous run through Isaac’s twisted basement. There’s always something to work for as you attempt to complete each of the game’s challenges with its 15 playable characters.
The Switch handles the game’s 2D graphics wonderfully, even when the screen is filled with practical effects and, yes, piles of poop. It’s also the perfect experience if you’re just looking to play for five or 10 minutes, as each room takes mere seconds and offers an ideal place to activate sleep mode.
Ninety percent of you will probably never get there. For those readers, this game might be better enjoyed through a livestream produced by a super fan, or condensed by a video essay on its most novel ideas.
To the remaining 10%: You’re welcome.
Get it here: Nintendo eShop
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
This is the best Zelda game ever made, and unquestionably the best game on the Nintendo Switch. Tomes could be filled with the glories levied upon Breath of the Wild, so rather than repeat those, I wanted to focus on one specific thing that’s remarkable. You can run in a straight line from one end of the map to the other without stopping or seeing a load screen (assuming you’re well-equipped and don’t hit, say, a patch of lava).
Why is this a big deal? Because it offers players the incredible freedom to climb over anything in their way — including entire mountain ranges. Most games don’t trust players enough to let them run roughshod over a carefully designed game world, but Nintendo gives you the reins with the first hour.
This freedom persists throughout Breath of the Wild, giving players a toolkit to interact with the world in wild, unpredictable ways. Folks have spent hours coming up with ways to abuse the physics of the world, but they all work within the ruleset that Nintendo laid out. In short, it’s all part of the plan. And that plan is masterfully executed.
Other recommended Switch games
Get it here: Nintendo eShop
Get it here: Nintendo eShop
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