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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.
Now Nintendo has also released the Nintendo Switch OLED model. If you’re wondering where to shop for this newer console, check out our article for the newest drops and deals on the Nintendo Switch OLED.
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.
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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. Metroid Dread
Metroid Dread is one of the most critically acclaimed Nintendo Switch games of 2021. The T-rated action-adventure game is the latest entry in Nintendo’s popular Metroid franchise, and the first one to hit the Switch.
The side-scrolling game pits Samus Aran against an organization of evil machines. Armed with an ever-growing arsenal of weapons, you’ll fight your way through hoards of enemies while solving puzzles to continue through the game. Part of the appeal of a Metroid game is the progression system. As you gain new abilities, you can enter new sections of the map, or places in previous areas that were previously inaccessible.
If you’re the type of player who loves to explore, Metroid Dread should be the next game you pick up for Switch.
7. Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Pokémon threw the rules out the window with Pokémin Legends: Arceus and gave the fans what they’d been asking for — an open-world style Pokémon game. Much of the gameplay itself is focused on Pokémon rather than a linear path to gyms and battles, as in other Pokémon games.
Each Pokémon has a unique personality and those little quirks are what make the game stand out against classic-style pokemon games like Sword and Shield or Let’s Go. Unlike other Pokémon installments, there are also different ways to catch your favorite Pokémon, from immediately throwing a Pokeball at them or feeding them berries to distract them — you don’t always have to battle and weaken Pokémon to catch em’ all.
The map is incredibly large, although it can feel ‘empty’ at times and the graphics are best described as sub-par. But, the real reason why this game shines is because of the almost life-like Pokémon running around. Each of these fun-loving creatures has a personality of their own, making them the star of the show rather than a sidekick like in Pokémon games past.
8. 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.
9. Burnout Paradise Remastered
Open world racing games are always a treat and with Burnout Paradise Remastered you get a jam-packed adventure filled with races, stunts and competitive cars as you prove you’re worthy to hold the game’s burnout license.
The race tracks may get a bit repetitive after a few hours of gameplay but the scenic routes with winding hills, concrete bridges and a flashy downtown district will still leave every player staring wide-eyed at the fictional city — I’ve been playing on and off for months and I’m still in awe.
Plus, since Burnout Paradise was first released in 2008 it also captures all the nostalgic feels of classic racer game — the focus is entirely on driving, there isn’t really a story or plot to follow otherwise. Even the cars used in the game aren’t licensed recreations of real cars, as we’ve seen in games like Forza Horizon 5 — this game is as far removed from reality as you need it to be, which is what makes it my favorite escapist game.
Based very loosely on Greek Mythology, the premise of Hades follows Zagreus, son of Hades, as he battles his way through the hellish underworld, combating danger at every turn — this version of hell is the kind of party you never want to end.
While packed with adventure, it’s not always fun and games though and can be frustrating at times. Every time you die you’ll be sent right back to the beginning having to carve your way out of the underworld again (your own hell loop if you will). Although this gives you a lot of time to get to know the cast of animated characters (which is the best part), right from Lord Hades to Zeus.
Even though the goal of the game is quite simple, — finding a way to escape — the game still boasts high replayability. There are a ton of side stories, challenges and quests to uncover and solve, keeping the game feeling fresh even after the credits roll in.
11. 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.
12. Dark Souls Remastered
The Souls series has been all over the news lately, with Elden Ring dominating charts worldwide. And, while you can’t play Elden Ring on your Switch, you can play the Souls classic, Dark Souls, which was remastered in 2018.
The gameplay is the same as it was 10 years ago but the graphics got a major upgrade. It’s not as clear and vivid as it would be on a newer PS5 or Xbox Series X but unless you look at the gameplay side by side you’d barely notice the difference — major for a console that’s so incredibly compact.
Everything else remains the same as the original: your goal is to take on giant scary bosses and fight for your life over and over again. The gory, cruel and slightly sadistic journey is what drew fans into the Soul series in the first place — and that still remains — except now, you can play it on a handheld device when you’re commuting on the subway.