If you’ve got a Nintendo Switch or the more recently released Nintendo Switch Lite, which are two variations on the most versatile console ever made, you may be stumped on which games you should buy first.
There are many genres to consider in the Nintendo Switch world, with a wealth of RPGs (role-playing game), fighting games, multiplayer, and indie games on the market. Start by checking out this list of 30 extremely good video games that features all kinds of varied gameplay to see what catches your eye. Popular titles such as Pokken Tournament DX, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Splatoon 2, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Octopath Traveler, Mario Tennis Aces, and Tetris 99 are all there. Even better, lots of those games are available for purchase on the Nintendo eShop, which means instant game gratification.
Yes, 30 games is a lot to think about when you’re indecisive, but this concentrated guide should help since we’ve whittled that list of 30 down to seven absolute stone-cold must own games on the Nintendo Switch. In fact, I’m just going to say it: These are the seven best Nintendo Switch games out there.
So let’s get cracking.
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Look, we love this game so much it recently topped our games of the decade list.
Breath of the Wild is still the best video game of the Switch console, of its generation, and maybe the best game ever made (Don’t @ us, Link’s Awakening purists!). This action-adventure game redefines the open world genre by stripping it back to its core elements and building from scratch. Instead of rehashing the tropes of the genre, Breath of the Wild feels new in a way most open world games don’t. Like it came from an alternate timeline, where gameplay in open worlds is less about quest lists and more about evoking a genuine sense of adventure.
This game should be No. 1 on your list of the best Nintendo Switch games to buy.
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You’ve got the Zelda game. Congrats. Step 2: buying the Mario game.
Thankfully Super Mario Odyssey is good. It’s not Breath of the Wild good. It doesn’t reinvent itself in quite the same way, but it does exploit a very clever gimmick to bring the gameplay to its fullest potential.
I’m talking, of course, about the hat. In Super Mario Odyssey, Mario throws his hat at an object and then possesses it. In Super Mario Odyssey you can possess almost everything in the game, from a taxi to a T. rex. It sounds clunky, but in practice it’s a seamless and endlessly joyful process of experimentation and discovery. Super Mario Odyssey is no Super Mario Galaxy, but it’s no Super Mario Sunshine either. It’s an extremely good Mario game that should be part of any collection of the best Nintendo Switch games.
Read our Super Mario Odyssey review.
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Hollow Knight is always the third game I recommend for new Nintendo Switch owners. For a couple of reasons.
Firstly, at $15 this action-adventure game represents incredible value for money. It’ll probably take you around 20-plus hours to finish the single player quest. Secondly, Hollow Knight is sublime.
Hollow Knight takes the best of Super Metroid and the best of Dark Souls and sort of smooshes them together to make something fresh and unique. But that’s just part of its charm. Hollow Knight is dripping in atmosphere and glazed in a dark nostalgia. It’s also perfectly designed. It’s a strange wormhole of a universe that slowly builds upon itself. It’s shockingly good and everyone should play it.
But what an update.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is absolutely the definitive Mario Kart game. It features all the tracks from the original game, including all the downloadable content. Same goes for the additional characters. The back of the box quote for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is “biggest Mario Kart ever” is completely true. It is absolutely loaded with content.
Best of all it’s good content. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has the benefit of borrowing everything that’s worked in previous Mario Kart games, while shedding the stuff that didn’t work. It’s streamlined, well-balanced and tailor-made for players of all skill levels to battle each other on the race track.
Read our Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review.
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Into The Breach, like Hollow Knight, is available on other platforms, but the Switch version is just the best way to play. It’s not a visually intensive game. It wouldn’t benefit from a slicker frame rate or more detailed textures, it simply is what it is and it’s fantastic.
A simple turn-based strategy game on the surface, Into The Breach’s ruleset is such that it allows for endless innovation within the gameplay. It’s different, it feels new, original. It’s endlessly replayable and as the game ramps up the difficulty there’s ample opportunity for players to adapt and think their way to victory.
Many strategy games iterate on what has gone before. That’s not Into The Breach.
Into The Breach is the epitome of the “easy to learn, hard to master” mantra that makes games like these classic. Even if you don’t like strategy games, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.
Count Dead Cells alongside Hollow Knight and Into The Breach as “indie games that make the most sense on Nintendo Switch.”
It’s tough to explain what Dead Cells is without indulging in the worst type of video game jargon. So yes, Dead Cells is a platformer Roguelike Metroidvania set in a Dark Souls-esque universe, but it’s also just a really interesting side-scrolling video game that’s so rewarding to engage with on a second-by-second basis.
And that’s what really makes Dead Cells so special: It has the basic motion controls down pat, making it amazingly fun to play. When you swing a sword or launch an arrow in Dead Cells, it feels extremely good to swing a sword or fire an arrow. Everything feels good in Dead Cells. There’s a commitment to small details that rewards the player for every action they take. It’s a fantastic game that works great in small bursts, which makes it perfect for a portable console like the Nintendo Switch.
Look, I thought about putting one of the many great indie games available for Switch in this position. A game like Celeste or Oxenfree or Baba Is You. These are all very good and interesting video games, but the reality is the people want the Switch version of Smash. They love Smash. Because, friends, sometimes you have to Smash.
Much like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate sets the gold standard as a fighting game. It’s a battle royale, every single time, fought by characters you know and love. And if you’re playing this game at home, with friends, in the same space, it’s almost certainly the best version of the game ever created. Issues only really arise if you’re using the online multiplayer mode — but that’s par for the course with Nintendo.
This is a party game. A competitive party game, but a party game nonetheless. It’s a game to be played in the same space as other human beings, much like Mario Party. And if you’re playing Smash under those circumstances, it’s practically peerless.
Nintendo Switch Lite: 1 month later
Originally published earlier this year.