So you’ve just gotten a brand-new, shiny Nintendo Switch and you’re excited to start playing some games. Or maybe you’ve had a Switch for a while and are looking for something new to sink your teeth into. Disclaimer: We don’t recommend actually biting Switch games (we hear those cartridges taste pretty bad).
Here, we’ve highlighted the best games to pick up for your Switch, with a focus on first-party Nintendo titles. We’ll be updating this list regularly, so make sure to check back. And lastly, if you’d like more gaming recommendations, consider reading through our other curated lists:
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the latest entry in Nintendo’s long-running fantasy strategy-RPG series. In it, players take on the role of a professor at a prestigious academy located in the heart of Fódlan, a massive continent comprised of three rivaling nations.
After swearing allegiance to one of three factions–the Black Eagles, the Blue Lions, or the Golden Deer, players begin training students out in the field while also managing their daily activities and interactions. In many ways, the game harkens back to the series’ roots, with weapon durability, permadeath, and combat arts making a return alongside updated visuals.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Launching alongside the Switch and going on to sell more copies than the console itself, Breath of the Wild is arguably the quintessential Switch game and deserves to be in every collection. It manages to update the Zelda formula while staying true to the series’ roots, evident by the numerous in-game easter eggs and references to earlier Zelda titles.
However, the real highlight is the game’s ability to turn any mundane task into an enjoyable experience, with activities like cooking, paragliding, and rock-climbing all feeling like their own mini-games designed to keep you engaged. While you could easily spend hundreds of hours wandering around Hyrule’s massive environments, most of BOTW‘s content is optional, leaving it to the player to decide what to do and where to go.
Yoshi’s Crafted World
Serving as both a sequel to Woolly World and a soft-reboot for the series, Yoshi’s Crafted World sees the green dinosaur and his friends going on a quest to recover the magical Sundream Stone gems after Bowser Jr. and Kamek try to steal them.
The game introduces a new ‘switch’ mechanic that changes the player perspective to reveal hidden objects in the backgrounds of levels. This feature not only spices up gameplay but also blends nicely with Crafted World‘s colorful, handcrafted presentation.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Smash Ultimate is a great addition to any Switch library due to its simple controls and variety of modes. You can duke it out in low stakes, chaotic 4-player battles with environmental hazards turned on and an abundance of game-breaking items and power-ups at your disposal.
On the other hand, you could go the more competitive route and challenge someone to the standard—1v1. Final Destination. No items. With a roster of over 76 playable characters, a medley of stages and music pulled from so many different video game properties it’s hard to even keep track, Ultimate has something to offer to every Nintendo fan, both old and new.
Dragon Quest Builders 2
Dragon Quest Builders 2 sets out to be more ambitious than the original at every turn. The game has you rebuilding civilization in a world where nearly every person has lost the ability to craft even simple, everyday objects. Reprising your role as the legendary builder, you’ll obtain necessary tools along with some useful companions and restore the world to its former glory.
The sequel introduces a host of new features including environments with more natural landscapes, the ability to glide and dive underwater, collect and fill areas with water, expanded character customization, and online multiplayer for up to 4-players.
Super Mario Maker 2
Super Mario Maker 2 builds upon the success of the first game and introduces a host of new features and QoL improvements. Included are new tools that grant players more creative freedom when designing levels, such as the ability to create slopes and scrolling levels.
Additionally, the sequel sports a number of new block types and themes, namely the option to create levels inspired by Super Mario 3D World. Whether you fancy yourself a Maker or someone who just enjoys checking out other players’ creations, SMM2 has something to offer for just about everyone.
Super Mario Party
Super Mario Party is a return to form for the series after a period of lackluster Mario Party titles. What makes this entry stand-out, aside from being the first MP game on Switch, is how much easier it is to set-up when playing with friends.
It only takes a couple of inputs to get started and from there, you and your buddies are free to plot against one another, form secret alliances, and any other shady tactic that will put you in 1st place. The game includes 80 new mini-games, many of which fully utilize the joy-con’s HD rumble and motion controls.
Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey is everything anyone could ever want in a 3D Super Mario game. You have the iconic, now retired Italian plumber setting course for a brand-new adventure that spans multiple worlds, each with their own unique environments to explore, secrets to uncover, and naturally, coins to collect.
The entire game feels like a nostalgia trip to the days of Super Mario 64, with Mario having access to a wide range of jumps and tricks that lead to some incredible platforming sections. That’s not to say that the game rests its laurels on the success of its predecessors, as new features like enemy possession grant more creative freedom when tackling challenges.
Cuphead is inspired by challenging, retro run-and-gun titles where memorizing enemy attack patterns were less of a strategy and more of a necessity for survival. What’s more, this action-platformer does an excellent job at luring you into a false sense of security with its joyful, 1930s hand-drawn cartoon visuals, before revealing its true sadistic nature.
In it, you take on the role of Cuphead, who along with his brother Mugman, is forced to defeat a series of bosses in order to repay an outstanding debt with the devil. These lengthy battles put your platforming skills to the test, with environments constantly shifting and bosses becoming increasingly aggressive with each passing phase.
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!
Released nearly two decades after Pokémon Yellow, Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! is a reimagining of the original game with completely remade 3D visuals. In it, players set out for an adventure in the vibrant Kanto region, where they’ll meet other trainers and get to strengthen their bond with Pokémon through battles.
The game goes beyond the formula of traditional Pokémon, incorporating many of the catching and battling mechanics found in the AR mobile game Pokémon Go. While it may not check every box for features you’d expect in a mainline Pokémon game, it’s a decent alternative to hold you over until Sword and Shield.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Developed and published by Ubisoft for the Switch, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is an exceptional turn-based strategy game in which Mario and friends come face-to-face with the Raving Rabbids after a dimension-breaking device wreaks havoc in the Mushroom Kingdom.
Gameplay is heavily inspired by the XCOM series and sees players leading a team of three through difficult turn-based battles against formidable foes. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill Mario game, as players are only allowed to perform three actions per turn and enemies offer a greater degree of challenge.
Splatoon 2 carries over the quirky gameplay of the original Wii U title while also benefiting from the Switch’s more intuitive controls. The game sees you competing against other players in a variety of modes centered around using ink-powered weapons to cover as much turf as you can while exchanging fire with the enemy team.
Maps, modes, and gear are constantly rotated to keep things fresh and offer an impressive amount of variety for a multiplayer-focused game. While you’ll find iterated versions of PVP staples like King of the Hill and Capture the Flag, there are also modes like Salmon Run, which sees a squad of players working together to survive waves of powerful bosses and mobs.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe may just be a port of the Wii U version with all of its DLC included, however, it feels right at home on the Switch’s portable tablet. Included you’ll find 48 tracks and a roster of over 40 racers from recognizable Nintendo properties such as Zelda, Splatoon, and of course Super Mario.
Aside from standard 4-player split-screen racing, MK8 supports up to 8-player wireless/online multiplayer, meaning you never have to worry about finding a group to race with. New features like ‘smart steering’ will appeal to younger or inexperienced racers while racing at 200cc is recommended only to those who have mastered the art of drifting.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Captain Toad has appeared in a number of Super Mario games over the years, most notably as a playable character in a series of sidequests in Super Mario 3D World. However, it wasn’t until the Wii U that we saw him gearing up to go on his first standalone adventure in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
With the Switch version, Nintendo has taken the liberty of adding some QoL improvements such as support for 2-player co-op. Where the game truly shines is in its level design; since Captain Toad lacks the ability to jump, levels are more compact and require players to think outside the box in order to find every coin and hidden collectible.
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido
Sushi Striker is an action-puzzle game developed and published by Nintendo whose release managed to slip under the radar for many players. In it, you play as Musashi, a passionate young man with dreams of reversing a worldwide ban that forbids anyone from consuming sushi.
Gameplay has you battling opponents in fast-paced duels where victory is determined by whoever manages to match the most sushi plates from a moving conveyor belt. Additionally, players can slow their opponents down and deal extra damage by eating plates of sushi they’ve already collected and equipping companions that trigger special effects during battle.
Although console launch titles have a tendency of feeling like glorified tech demos, ie 1-2 Switch, Snipperclips is an exception. The co-op centric title sees up to four players working together to clear an assortment of stages centered around trimming your avatar’s paper body into the perfect shape for whatever task lays before you.
Challenges range from simple objectives like carrying an object from one side of the stage to the other but quickly ramp up as more complex puzzles require you and your teammate(s) to communicate your every move. This is where a bulk of the game’s enjoyment comes from since intentionally sabotaging your team’s chances of success can be just as rewarding as finishing a level.
Whether its PC or console, AAA or Indie, New-York born and raised Justin has a natural curiosity to seek out hidden gems and share them with other gamers. He also maintains his own YouTube channel in addition to writing and managing the social media profiles for GamingScan.