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The Nintendo Switch has become a runaway success since its launch in March of 2017, outselling its predecessor the Wii U less than a year and a half later. The console’s hook is that it’s a hybrid handheld and home game system.
The Switch itself is a tablet with a 6.2-inch 720p touch screen and a pair of detachable controllers called “Joy-Con” on either side. The console can be connected to a TV by setting it on a “dock,” which acts as a bridge between the Switch and your display.
What Are the Best Nintendo Switch Games?
There are many factors to think about when choosing the best Nintendo Switch Games for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Genres: Different types of games appeal to different people, so we’ve made sure to include titles from the biggest genres: action adventure, fighting, racing, and simulation.
ESRB Rating: The Electronic Software Rating Board determines which games are appropriate for which age group. It’s the equivalent of movie ratings like G, PG, PG 13, etc. Our guide contains games that are suitable for everybody, so no players will feel left out.
Multiplayer vs. Single Player: We made sure to balance out the games in this guide so that single player and multiplayer games are included. If you’re the only one in your household who plays games, the single-player titles we’ve chosen will last hundreds of hours but can be played in smaller chunks of time. If you want to play with friends and family, our multiplayer selections can be played over and over again without getting stale.
Because of its success, the Switch has amassed a huge library of games, and it can be hard to find the best ones. We’ve collected some of the best titles below. Whether you want to fall into a hundred-hour adventure, or want to kick back with some friends on the couch or online, we have you covered.
1. The Legend of Zelda Breath Of The Wild
The Legend Of Zelda has been a key Nintendo franchise for almost 30 years, but its latest entry, Breath of the Wild is one of the best.
It takes place in a version of Hyrule that’s been devastated by an ancient evil: Ganon. It’s up to you to piece together what’s happened, and explore a huge world that can take well over 100 hours to see fully. Each town, dungeon, and field provides another opportunity to find materials for crafting, or enemies that need to be taken down.
The game has been given an E-10+ rating by the ESRB, so it’s appropriate for most players, but some areas can be a little scary for young kids. It’s easy to get lost in this adventure, but that leads to its one potential flaw.
The game does give you some direction, but it’s easy to completely ignore the story beats in favor of charting your own path and seeing what’s out there. That can be intimidating if you’re used to a more linear game with a predefined path. If you’re ready to lose yourself in an open world, though, there’s no finer title on the Switch.
2. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
When it comes to multiplayer Nintendo Switch games it’s impossible not to recommend Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The colorful, chaotic racing game gives everybody (the game has earned an E rating, so we mean this literally), a chance to join in with frantic, fast-paced fun.
Choose one of more than two dozen characters, and race against up to three other people for a chance to earn the top spot on the leaderboards. While it plays like a straight ahead racer — the main actions are accelerate, brake, and turn — Mario Kart throws some new items into the mix.
The items, which range from a red shell that acts as a homing missile, to bananas you can place on a course to foil the racers behind you, serve to equalize matches to give players at all skill levels a chance to pull ahead. The action may get a little too chaotic for newer players, but the gameplay is so engaging they’ll get the hang of it before too long.
3. Pokémon Sword or Shield
Pokémon Sword and Shield are the newest games in the long running franchise, and they break a lot of new ground.
Their premise is still the same: Catch and train pocket monsters to take on gym leaders, and eventually your rival. The story ups the stakes more than previous Pokémon games, but it’s still a family friendly story of good versus evil.
The biggest differences come in how the world is structured. This is a full 3D game, and Pokémon appear on the world map instead of through random battles. These are fundamental shifts from how Pokémon games have operated in the past, which is fitting since this is the first time a mainline title has been released on a home console.
Additionally, Pokémon Sword and Shield introduce a new mechanic called “Dynamaxing,” which allows your Pokémon to grow several times its normal size to inflict more damage. This mechanic helps keep battles more dynamic than before.
Whether you’re new to the franchise, or are a true Pokémon master, you’ll find a lot to like about Pokémon Sword and Shield.
4. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Video games don’t have to be intense to be satisfying or fun, which is why we highly recommend Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Instead of fighting enemies or testing your reflexes during fast-paced action sequences, you slowly build up a town and build relationships with townspeople. You build up a town over time in the hopes of attracting new residents, and design it to your exact specifications.
The game’s premise is simple: you travel to an exotic island, and slowly become the town’s mayor. It’s up to you to make the town cool enough for other characters to come settle down there. As you complete quests, the town will begin to flourish, offering accommodations like a museum filled with artifacts you’ve created.
Because you’re the head of the town, you get to control everything from the way it’s laid out and designed, to how the land is shaped and cultivated. Animal Crossing runs on a real-world timer, which means you can only accomplish so much in a single day. The idea is to go back every day to make a little bit of progress over time.
This “slow burn” style game is appealing if you want a title that evolves constantly, and doesn’t take up several hours of your day, but this limitation may get tedious for some players.
5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate allows you to finally settle the debate: Who would win in a fight, Link from The Legend of Zelda, or Mario?
This game pits 74 classic Nintendo characters against one another on one of 103 stages. Hand-to-hand combat, character-specific weapons, and random items make every match stand out — even if you play for an entire day.
Nintendo went all-out on the Switch entry in this classic franchise by including every single character and stage from previous Super Smash Bros. games. The variety of characters and play styles is impressive, and the action can get intense when four players are on the screen.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has also earned the distinction of being one of the most family-friendly games. There’s no blood or gore, which has earned the title an E-10+ rating from the ESRB.
Although the title is family-friendly, it’s still an action game, which means it’s easy to play, but tough to master. Each character has a robust move set, with different button combinations required to pull off more powerful moves. This game is still fun to play casually, but getting the most out of it requires a fair bit of time investment.
6. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age S is the first game in this series to appear on a Nintendo home console in nearly 20 years.
The Teen-rated Japanese Role Playing Game puts you in charge of a silent protagonist on a long journey to save the world. You’ll pick up a cast of characters — each with unique abilities, and rich backstories — to help you as you navigate the world.
One of the hallmarks of the Dragon Quest series is its rich story, and this game is no different. Sequences play out like pieces of an anthology that weave together as you make your way through the central story.
Fully completing the game will take close to 100 hours, which sounds daunting, but flies by as you play. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age manages to stay compelling right up until the very end, when evil is truly vanquished and the world is saved.
7. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses continues the franchise’s decade-long run of runaway success.
The Teen rated strategy RPG puts you in control of a brigade of characters, which you must move like chess pieces to defeat your opponents. You’ll need to think critically about each turn, because if you lose a party member, they’re gone for good (this setting can be turned off).
While there’s a big, overarching narrative in Three Houses, the game lets you choose from a trio of campaigns, so you can view the same events from a different perspective. Playing through all three story lines will reveal what actually happened.
You’ll start each of the three paths with a core group of characters, which will be expanded as the story goes on. You’ll also have the ability to recruit optional characters along the way. If you like a good challenge, you’ll find a lot to like about Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
8. Octopath Traveler
Octopath Traveler is one of the newest games from Square Enix, the company responsible for some of the greatest video games of all time.
The Teen rated Japanese Role Playing Game lets you choose between eight characters whose individual stories intersect in interesting ways. Each character has a unique set of skills and abilities, but Octopath’s real strength comes with its robust job system.
This gameplay mechanic lets you change roles and customize your party (all fighters, all magic users, etc.) to keep the game fresh. You’ll need to master this system to stand a chance against later bosses in the game, which can only be defeated with the right party rollout.
While each of the character’s stories are satisfying, completing the full game to earn the “true” ending is well worth achieving.
9. Ring Fit Adventure
Most video games keep you on the couch, but Ring Fit Adventure gets you up on your feet.
The E-10+ game is a light role playing game with a big twist: You need to run and perform routine exercises (pushups, squats, leg lifts) to advance. While the game is light on story, its exercise mechanics are no joke. Expect to sweat — a lot — as you face tougher enemies that require a lot of exercises to defeat.
The game comes with the “ring controller,” which is basically a pilates ring, and a leg strap. You’ll need to slip the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers into these accessories, so it can measure which parts of your body you’re moving. The measurements are surprisingly accurate, and Ring Fit’s main character will ask you to correct your stance if it senses you’re a little off.
You’ll learn new exercises as the game progresses, and have the option to switch out which “attacks” to keep in your roster. Swapping exercises allows you to focus on one part of your body during each gameplay session, or mix things up.
Ring Fit encourages you to push yourself by recording your stats, and offering a breakdown of how long you’ve run, how many calories you’ve burned, and how long you’ve played that day. If you don’t like going to a gym, and want a way to work out at home, this is a worthwhile option.
10. Sega Genesis Classics
The Switch’s library contains hundreds of new games, but sometimes you need to go retro.
Sega’s Genesis Classics contains over 50 games originally released on the company’s popular 90s console. This includes titles from the Sonic the Hedgehog and Alex Kidd franchises, along with Altered Beast, Virtua Fighter, and Comix Zone.
This Teen-rated game was released on multiple consoles, but it feels most natural on Switch. The console’s grab-and-go design lets you play these games at home or away, turning your Switch into a Sega Genesis and GameGear. If you have a soft spot for old games, this collection needs to be in your Switch library.