Christmas has just been and gone and it’s likely that a lot of lucky people got a Nintendo Switch from Santa this year and are currently searching for the best games to buy for their new machine. Luckily for you we’ve got your back – here are our 10 best Nintendo Switch games out now.
It’s always hard to create ‘the best’ lists, as we all have personal preferences when it comes to games – some like RPG’s, some like strategy. Regardless of that, I’m going to try anyway, just remember that these are my personal favourite games that I think every Switch owner should own, which means that a game which you think is the greatest might not be included. Feel free to give me some abuse in the comments if so.
Before I start this list I’d like to say that it will be updated from time to time as new games get released. However, I will keep previous games listed in the ‘Honorable Mentions’ section found at the bottom of the page. Anyway, without further ado and in no particular order, my top 10 must-own Switch games are as follows:
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is, in my opinion, without a doubt the best Switch game I have played. The story, combat, and puzzles are all on par, if not better, than previous Zelda games and the graphics are beautiful, encouraging you to explore the enormous and masterfully designed open world. If you’re new to the Zelda series then first of all what’s wrong with you? And secondly you should know that Breath of the Wild can easily be picked up by inexperienced players without being completely lost. In other words, you don’t need to have played the previous titles in order to know what’s going on and who is who. The only thing I get slightly annoyed at in Breath of the Wild is the sheer volume of reading; only a few of the NPC interactions actually have voice lines, but other than that the game is beautifully crafted. Winner of too many awards to mention and the recipient of almost universal perfect scores, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the must-play Nintendo Switch game.
Super Mario Odyssey
Mario needs no introduction, he’s probably the most iconic video game character ever created, and Super Mario Odyssey is probably our little Italians best game so far. The hit platform game thought outside of the box for this one, and instead of simply controlling Mario you also control his hat which is possessed by a hat spirit named ‘Cappy’ (very original). It sounds strange but it’s been implemented flawlessly and adds some really cool and innovative features into the game.
The aim of the game—as with almost every other Mario game—is to save the Princess, and to do that you’ll need to travel through various kingdoms from desert worlds to cities, each with their own unique challenges and enemies. I also like how the game is more like a sandbox with no linear path to follow and no set way to get to the end game; you could avoid all of the main objectives if you wanted and still finish it. This is Super Mario at its best and is a must own for Switch owners, and if you can’t afford it right now why don’t you just listen to the Super Mario Odyssey vocal theme song, something Nintendo has never done before which shows how much time, effort, and love was put into creating this masterpiece.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
It’s the second best-selling Switch game ever and was the fastest-selling Switch game ever until it was overtaken by Pokemon: Sword and Shield earlier this year. Yeah, it’s a pretty good game. If I’m honest, not a whole lot has changed compared to older Smash Bros titles; sure, there are new maps and characters, but at it’s core it’s still the same Smash Bros we all know and love. Of course, that’s not a bad thing, in fact we quite like Nintendo’s ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ attitude.
P.S yes Waluigi is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Diablo III: Eternal Collection
I decided to add Diablo III: Eternal Collection to the list because of how well it plays on the Switch. Usually I would say that games are always better on PC, and there are some PC ports on the Switch that are much better on PC. For example, if you’ve played Warframe on the PC then you’ll have a hard time getting accustomed to it on the Switch, which is why it doesn’t make an appearance on this list even though the game itself is great. Diablo, however, is just as good on the Switch – it runs smoothly, the graphics are great, and it’s easily playable on a smaller screen (no, that doesn’t mean that we like the upcoming Diablo mobile game).
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 is an amazing game and arguably the best in the series so far. It is incredibly polished and runs phenomenally smoothly, with a massive cast of playable characters and a plethora of brilliantly designed tracks. It may not be essential to you if you’re planning on only ever playing your Switch solo (although it’s still great fun to play on your own!) but if you ever plan on heading online, having friends round, or even if you want something to play with your other half then Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the go-to game for multiplayer madness on the Nintendo Switch. It is the best-selling Nintendo Switch game ever by a significant margin (over 3 million more copies than Smash Bros. Ultimate) which should tell you everything you need to know.
The Nintendo Switch is a fantastic place to play indie games, and when it comes to indie games Stardew Valley is by far the best that I have ever played as well as being the best farming game I have ever played after years of being a Harvest Moon nerd. I first picked it up in 2016 and have easily spent over 100 hours in-game creating my perfect farm. The game does an unbelievable job of never getting stale – there is always something to do: resources to gather, buildings to build, animals to feed, side-activities to complete. The hardest part of playing Stardew Valley is turning the bloody thing off, as you always get that temptation to play “just one more day”, and the multiplayer update means that you can even play this addictive indie masterpiece with friends. If you have a Switch then I implore you to treat yourself to this absolute gem.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
The second Zelda game to make our list is a completely different style of game to the first. A modern day remaster of the 1993 Game Boy game of the same name, Link’s Awakening for the Nintendo Switch is a perfect way to experience this 25-year old classic and is another prime example of a masterfully-designed entry in the Zelda series. In my review of the game, I said:
“The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch brings a 25-year old classic up to modern day standards with stunning visuals and frighteningly faithful accuracy. The game not only acts as another must-have title for the Nintendo Switch, but also as a reminder of what a phenomenal achievement it was by Nintendo to fit such a masterpiece of design on to a Game Boy cartridge.”
In other words it’s great, and if you have a Nintendo Switch then you should own Link’s Awakening.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
Pokémon is a name that is synonymous with Nintendo, it almost feels like it should be a crime to own a Nintendo machine and not own that generation’s Pokémon title, and Pokémon Sword and Shield is no different. The decision not to include all pre-existing Pokémon caused significant backlash among fans, but the game was ultimately still fondly received thanks to its accessibility, open world exploration, and the fantastic creature design of its 81 new Pokémon which makes your quest to catch them all an absolute joy. Oh, and by the way, it just so happens to be the fastest-selling Nintendo Switch game to date.
Developed by PlatinumGames (the legends behind the Bayonetta series and Nier: Automata), Astral Chain is another fantastic action-adventure hack-and-slash’er from a studio who are absolute experts at creating them. Featuring lush and vibrant cartoon-like graphics, Astral Chain looks absolutely gorgeous in both handheld and docked mode, and the fluid and easy-to-use combat system both looks and feels cool as hell as you use two characters at once to build stylish combos. If you’re looking for a stylish and enjoyable beat ’em up then Astral Chain is an essential purchase.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is another example on this list of Nintendo’s expertise in level design and creating a game with an undeniable charm and fun factor. The game is both fun and easy to play for gamers of all ages, featuring a great sense of humour and an incredibly addictive tool in the Poltergust G-00. Luigi’s relatively linear ghoul-based caper isn’t on the level of his older brothers more open-world escapade in Odyssey, but that doesn’t stop Luigi’s Mansion 3 from being a necessity for Switch owners. In my review of the game, I said:
“Luigi’s Mansion 3 is another absolute gem of an exclusive for the Nintendo Switch. Tremendous level design and addictive mechanics combined with fantastic charm, loveable characters, and a joyous sense of humour make this an absolute delight to play for gamers of all ages. It’s not the most challenging of games, it possibly goes on for a couple of hours too long, and the multiplayer isn’t anything to get excited about, but none of that is enough to stop Luigi’s Mansion 3 being another must-play for anybody who owns a Nintendo Switch.”
The games in this list have either been demoted in favour of new releases or they just didn’t make the cut when this list was created, but they’re still bloody brilliant games. I’ve also added some games here that the majority of Nintendo gamers will love, but I wasn’t a massive fan of them:
I have a slight obsession with indie games and the Switch has enhanced this obsession due to the sheer number of quality indie games available. Moonlighter is a perfect example of an indie game done right; it has charming graphics, great gameplay and the polish to go with it.
Moonlighter sees you take control of a young shopkeeper who needs to venture into abandoned mines that are filled with enemies that want to kill you for no apparent reason other than the fact that you’re invading their territory. Upon killing these enemies you’ll be rewarded with ‘artifacts’ which you can then to sell to customers in your bustling shop. There are plenty of upgrades to spend your shops profit on, from shop and town upgrades to weapons and armour, so you never feel like a mine run was pointless, even if you have to teleport back home early because you have no health.
Hollow Knight is a charming 2D Metroidvania game that takes place in the underground world of Hallownest. It’s the type of game that, on occasion, may make you feel like you want you to throw your controller out of the window and eat the game cartridge, but on the whole it’s an extremely enjoyable experience. The aim of the game is to make your way through Hallownest and reach the Hollow Knight while fighting various bugs, bosses, and other mobs along the way. Once you reach the Hollow Knight you have to defeat him in one way or another, depending on both how you do this and on your past actions you will then get one of three different endings to the game. There are various upgrades you can purchase from NPC’s during your journey which will help you progress further, and you can also find soul vessels which provide you with more soul/health.
Dead Cells is a roguelike-metroidvania game that will see you die a lot, but with each death you should learn something new or find something which will help you progress further in the game. The merging of the roguelike and metroidvania genres has been done really well; if you’re into your roguelikes then Dead Cells is easily one of the best. My only gripe with Dead Cells is the difficulty – sure, roguelikes are supposed to be hard and get easier only with play time, but there’s some instances in Dead Cells—especially towards late game—that it feels a bit too difficult. Regardless, it’s still a great game and you’ll end up sinking many hours into it, even if most of those hours are spent dying.
Bayonetta 2 provides players with an ‘arcadey’ hack and slash experience with fluid combat, crazy action scenes, and creative enemy types, if you’re a fan of hack and slash games then Bayonetta 2 should be near the top of your must-own list. If you ever played the first installment in the Bayonetta series that was released on the Switch then you’ll be pleased to know that not too much has changed when it comes to the core gameplay, it’s still the same brilliant game with high-paced action and the same kind of incredible boss fights which you loved, just with a few upgrades and, of course, a new story. The most notable change other than the graphics is the fact that Bayonetta has had a haircut and is now sporting a short and tidy bob style; personally, I thought she was sexier with longer hair, but it makes a lot of sense for a woman who’s daily activities involve back-flips, front-flips, and getting blood in her hair to have it short.
Splatoon takes the classic first-person shooter genre and turns it on its head. Instead of taking aim with guns and sending the bad guys to the afterlife you’re equipped with a paintball gun, and no, you don’t have to shoot other players to win. Instead, you’re placed on teams and are tasked with shooting the environment around you, covering that area of the map with your colour paint – the team that controls most of the map at the end of the match wins. This alternative to the classic multiplayer FPS formula means that, in classic Nintendo fashion, it’s not only great fun but it’s also child friendly.
Octopath Traveler is a turn-based RPG game, which is why I didn’t put it into my top 10; I absolutely detest turn-based RPG games (yes I know that I included Pokémon) but I know that a lot of people like them. Plus, the game has been extremely popular and was met with great critic and consumer reviews. The game itself has a lot in common with the classic Final Fantasy games in terms of combat and the story is supposed to be just as good. Personally, Final Fantasy XV was my favourite FF game (you know, the one that wasn’t turn based?)
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!/Let’s Go, Eevee!
As with Octopath Traveler, Pokémon is usually a turn-based game, but I have traditionally always played the Pokémon series (I know, very hypocritical). I think that’s mainly because I’m very fond of games that involve large amounts of loot and grinding for better gear, so I can overlook the turn-based combat as I enjoy trying to “catch ’em all”. The reason this Pokemon game isn’t in my top 10 is because it’s not the classic Pokémon game that we all know and love; this game is more like a side game, which is why it doesn’t quite make the list while Pokémon Sword and Shield does.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an absolute masterpiece. In fact, it’s one of the greatest games ever made, and now you can play it on your Nintendo Switch. “But Chris, if that is the case why isn’t it in the top 10?” I hear you ask. The answer to that is simple – it just doesn’t run as well on the Nintendo Switch when it’s docked. If you’re only going to play the game in handheld mode then The Witcher 3 is most certainly a must-own, but if you want to play on a big TV then you should definitely try to experience this incredible open world RPG on either PC, Xbox One, or PS4, as it suffers from a big graphical downgrade on the Switch. Of course, if you don’t have access to any of those other platforms then you should definitely buy it for the Switch despite that, as you’re better off taking the downgrade than not experiencing the game at all.
So there we have it, my 10 best Nintendo Switch games out now as well as a bunch of honourable mentions which you should consider purchasing. Don’t agree with one of the games I’ve listed or think there’s a game or two missing? Let me know in the comments below and if they’re worthy I’ll get them added.