Since launching in 2017, the Nintendo Switch has been on a bit of a romp in popularity with it being the most widely adopted console from the Japanese giant in many years. As a console and handheld hybrid, its versatility is a huge selling point, but the games are arguably the best reason to pick one up — the best Nintendo Switch games are those that you won’t be able to find elsewhere.
If you’re shopping for a Ninty fan this Christmas or just have some burning a hole in your pocket, here’s our quick rundown of some of the best games you should buy for the festive season. Warning: the below may make you look back longingly on your childhood and openly weep.
1. Pokémon Let’s Go
The newest game in the series may not be the full-fat RPG that many were hoping for on the Switch, but it’s a nice stopgap between now and then. Pokémon Let’s Go lets you choose between either Eevee or Pikachu as your starting Pokémon as you embark on a fun and simple journey to catch ’em all that may be the most accessible Pokémon game to date. There’s even the option to integrate it with Pokémon GO, if you’re so inclined.
Do you know somebody who just likes to get away from it all for weeks at a time? Then you should probably introduce them to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a game that sucks players in with its approach to freedom and emphasis on experimentation. The latest game in the series, Breath of the Wild is an almost perfect game that would be weird to not have on the Switch. If you love someone who doesn’t have this in their Switch library, help them see the error of their ways.
Another one for those who think sunlight is overrated, Super Mario Odyssey may just be the best game in the series since he revolutionised 3D gaming on the N64. There’s no pretense of this being anything other than what it is: really fun platforming where you take on Bowser to save the day. Oh, but there is one slight tweak to the formula: you work with Cappy, who is a sentient cap that can possess beings and objects. Mario is weird.
Know someone who loves the simplicity of old-school RPGs? You should really introduce them to Octopath Traveler, then, a Switch exclusive that feels like a charming throwback to the early years of Final Fantasy. With an eclectic party who all have interesting backstories to play through and discover, Octopath Traveler is a complete game that feels like the perfect antidote to the overblown and overcomplicated modern RPG.
Rip and Tear as you rip and tear one out on the toilet. While DOOM on the Switch may lack the technical polish of its counterparts or the precision from a mouse and keyboard, there’s something primally satisfying about killing demons in the palm of your hands. This is one of the best FPS games in years and feels right at home on the Switch and also comes with multiplayer for once you’ve shot your way through Hell. For something in a similar vein with more of a Nazi flavour, also check out Wolfenstein on Switch.
If the last game was a little bit too violent for your liking, try Splatoon 2 on for size: a shooter that’s only harmful to those allergic to paint. Playing as one of two sides in a neverending war, you must cover all you see and your enemies in paint in some frantic action that can be played either locally or online. It’s a straightforward time that’s a good alternative if you don’t want the kids to be ripping the heads off of demons.
The biggest game of the year apart from the adventures of the shooty tooty cowboy tooty, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate combines every character ever seen into a Smash game and smushes them with brand new content and single-player mode that many are arguing is the best game in the game to date. While that remains to be seen, the ability to stomp on the villain of Metroid as Kirby and make your loved ones screech in anguish should be enough to sway you towards picking up Ultimate for Christmas.
Speaking of tearing families apart, here’s a game that’s pretty much designed to ruin Christmas for relatives across the globe. Super Mario Party on the Switch doesn’t give a damn about your feelings or who’s the best player, it’s all about random dice rolls and swearing at the inhumanity. If you’re buying this for someone else, consider it also a present for you as Super Mario Party is really only at its best when it’s played with other people.
What is it with Nintendo and trying to turn people who love each other into worst enemies? Here they are again with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a game where it pays to be sneaky and not hog first place. While it’s a pretty simple game for anyone to pick up and play, mastery comes difficult in this one, especially after the nineteenth banana peel in a row. Nothing quite matches the depression of being usurped by a blue shell on the final straight and it’s a trauma best shared with others.
Now here’s a modern RPG that does things just right, and you don’t need to be a long-time follower of the franchise to understand what’s going on. If you know someone who felt burned by Final Fantasy XV, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is the obvious choice, especially with it being playable in handheld. While perhaps not the most universally beloved game on this list, Xenoblade still has a tonne of content and hours of playability for those who love RPGs.