Nobody expected the Nintendo Switch to be as huge a success as it has been, owing to the fact that Nintendo looked like they were in a bit of a pickle following the dismal performance of the Wii U. They needed to innovate rather than simply iterate, and the Switch has been exactly that: a console and handheld hybrid boasting an amazing array of exclusives and the best place to plenty of indies on the market. The best Nintendo Switch games run the gamut from Nintendo’s almost untouchable classic properties to third-party hits that feel custom-made for the platform.
It’s even more remarkable when you consider the fact that the console hasn’t been out that long with its release in 2017. Nintendo have clearly wasted no time in getting their priorities straight, delivering the first-party titles that they are known for and also leaning on other developers to port their games over.
They’ve infamously failed to garner the full support of third-parties in the past, but the Switch’s astounding variety of games –whether that’s indie or AAA– from a lot of genres and publishers suggests that they know that it’s vital for the longevity of the console; the effort put into porting over DOOM and Wolfenstein suggests that others know how hot a property the Switch is too.
With thousands of titles already available, it’s no easy task to whittle it down to just the absolute best Switch games. We’ve tried to opt for variety and include some that are supremely underrated in the mix with the already classics. We’re also denoting whether or not a game is exclusive to the platform and also will be adding to the line-up if a great new game is released up to a maximum of twenty-five Switch games. In the interest of maintaining sanity, we’ve also not put this in any definitive order or ranking.
The Best Nintendo Switch Games
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
What better way to start than with one of the most complete Switch games you’re ever likely to play? Super Smash Bros. Ultimate may be the ultimate Smash experience with an absolutely ridiculous well of content to keep players content for dozens of hours, though you get the feeling that it will be 2050 and there will still be people sticking by Melee.
Whether you’re playing solo or against others, Ultimate is a game that just gets better the more you play. Not only do you progressively earn more characters to play as, but you can also feel yourself growing better as you best what appears to be a simple fighter that actually has a surprising amount to learn. Casual and competitive players alike are bound to find something in Ultimate to latch on to.
From our Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review:
“I know Smash has become sort of the modern day Monopoly as the game you play to lose friends to and it has a serious culture around it as perhaps the greatest fighting game of a generation, but above all, it is supposed to be a living gaming museum and Nintendo toy box that can do anything your imagination desires as long as it wants to have fun. Ultimate does all of that and more, providing one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had and almost certainly setting the bar for Game of the Year 2019.”
ARMS may not have been the most successful new IP Nintendo have launched in recent times, but that might be down to how poorly it was marketed. Instead of trying to pitch it as a fun party game, Nintendo went a little too hard on the competitive aspect of it with the game being difficult to get to grips with for many — a bit silly considering just how silly the game itself is as a concept.
Using the Joy-Cons, you punch your way through battles against the AI and other players with extendable arms being your main weapons. It’s inherently daft but also quite fun, so if you’re looking for some way of venting your anger from a Mario Party session gone awry, ARMS could do the job.
Developer: SFB Games
It’s a crying shame that SnipperClips came out when it did, early in the Switch’s life. While many people were busy with Breath of the Wild, a charming little co-op didn’t quite receive the recognition it deserved for promoting creativity and just generally being a lovely time.
SnipperClips is a platformer that seems you teaming up to cut shapes to help your avatar (which you can also cut up) make their way through levels with there being more than one route to complete a puzzle. It’ll have you laughing and maybe even pulling out your hair if your teamwork isn’t on-point, but you’ll definitely have fun no matter what.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Exclusive? No (also on Wii U)
How’s this for a launch title? Breath of the Wild releasing with the Switch could be seen as a serious statement of intent from Nintendo as they were delivering the most ambitious Zelda game to date for day one. It’s almost a couple of years down the line and people are still finding weird and wonderful things to do in this wild game.
One of the oldest and finest Switch games, view Breath of the Wild as The Phantom Pain of the franchise. While it takes a step back in terms of the story, it opens itself up massively to experimentation and exploration while also still being a quintessential Zelda game. See something huge in the distance? Make your way there and then try to climb it — you probably can.
From our Breath of the Wild review:
“While you may find yourself intimidated by the scope and size of Breath of the Wild, persevere and you will find yourself playing perhaps one of the finest games you’ve ever laid your hands on. This game is truly something special and will be long remembered as the classic game it is destined to become.”
5. Splatoon 2
The cynics among us may suggest that Splatoon 2 really isn’t deserving of the two by its name as it isn’t different enough from the original game to warrant it. While you may argue that it’s more like a tweaked port of the Wii U game rather than a full-fat update, the simple fact of it being a tonne of fun remains the same.
In a bizarre post-apocalypse, players must fight each other with paint and decorate the surroundings to come out on top. Don’t expect Quake from Splatoon 2, it’s meant as a party shooter with social capabilities that is something only Nintendo could make. Plus, if you’re missing the Miiverse (like even the best of us are), Splatoon 2 has its own special version.
Developer: id Software/Panic Button
The port of DOOM to what is, admittedly, not the strongest of consoles is a technical marvel. While it obviously doesn’t match up to its peers in terms of presentation or perfromance, the core of a phenomenal FPS remains intact, meaning that players can now rip and tear as they rip and (hopefully not) tear one out on the porcelain throne.
The most recent DOOM is pure FPS nirvana, a whirlwind of blood and guts that plays like the perfect marriage of the old and new styles of shooting. It’s breathless and no-nonsense as well as surprisingly funny at points. This isn’t the last time Panic Button will be on this list, who should probably be in charge of all Switch ports from here on out.
7. Octopath Traveler
Developer: Square Enix/Acquire
Judging by how much many developers are publishers are trying to pivot away from the “traditional” RPG, you may think that the demand for them is one the wane. Octopath Traveler, which feels like it comes from the SNES era in all the best ways, proves that you don’t need to make your RPG an open world action hybrid to stand out.
You control many different characters in a bulging party with their stories unfolding the deeper into you go; you’ll no doubt be tossing and turning trying to pick your favourites. While this may be the most basic looking on this list of the best Switch games, Octopath Traveler is a deep and rewarding adventure that will endear itself to you the more you play.
From our Octopath Traveler review:
“Above all else, Octopath Traveler never ceases to be a game that entertains. Whether it’s the quirky look, the excellent soundtrack, the hours upon hours upon hours of content, or the core gameplay, everybody should find something to appreciate with this game. And for a brand new JRPG, that’s a pretty special success.”
8. Super Mario Odyssey
With so many games over so many decades, it’s a wonder that Nintendo are still able to innovate with each new Mario game. Super Mario Odyssey is one of the franchise’s most original and downright fun games, tasking the player with using a sentient cap to take over people and objects. It’s not as morbid as it sounds, don’t worry.
Cappy can allow Mario to reach places he never could and to overcome difficult obstacles with each new possession making Odyssey feel like a different game. There’s also a staggering amount of moons to track down and collect, so once you’ve beaten Mario’s old nemesis (shock horror), the game is only really just beginning to open up. There’s more than a hatful (hueue) of things to love about this one.
From our Super Mario Odyssey review:
“For the second time this year, Nintendo have blasted one of their flagship franchises to dizzying new heights. Totally sublime from start to finish, Super Mario Odyssey is an essential Nintendo Switch title. It’s genuinely one of the greatest games ever made and you owe it to yourself to experience it.”
9. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Developer: Monolith Soft
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a massive JRPG that plays like a dream on hardware that shouldn’t be able to handle its scope as well as it does. A massive journey that will soak up dozens of hours of your life, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 boasts a gigantic open world to explore and a party of characters that you can’t help but grow enamoured by.
We don’t wish to overwhelm you when we say that you will need almost 200 hours of gameplay to reach 100% completion, which isn’t even considering the game’s DLC. There’s a lot to learn from here, but as with any good JRPG, you will be so absorbed in it all that you will be able to distinguish your Blades from your Drivers pretty quickly. As a small/huge bonus, there’s a talking tiger.
10. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Exclusive? Yes (though technically it’s just a different package to the Wii U version)
One of the most effective Switch games at ruining everything, this. Many relationships and families have been ripped apart thanks to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: a chaotic evil video game if ever there was one. If you’re in a bad mood or are perhaps too competitive for your own good, playing Mario Kart is not recommended as it will prey on you and turn you into a fire-breathing vengeful dragon whenever you see a blue shell making its way to your pole position.
Easy to pick up and play, even the most incompetent of non-gamers will be able to get to grips with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe 8 with no fuss, but being able to win comes down to a combination of sheer luck and staying away from first place as long as possible — it just puts a target on your back. Don’t trip on a banana peel if you have company and need something to break the ice.
Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.