So you’ve just gotten a brand-new, shiny Nintendo Switch for Christmas and you’re wondering what games you should play. Or maybe you’re a long-time owner of the handheld-hybrid looking for a fresh, new game to sink your teeth into. Disclaimer: we don’t recommend actually biting Switch games (we hear those cartridges taste pretty bad).
Either way, we’re here to help you out and highlight some of the best games currently on Nintendo Switch, in order of most recent release. While 2018 has been a great year for the Switch, 2019 seems just as promising so make sure to check back as we’ll be providing more awesome game recommendations in the future.
Dragon Marked for Death
Coming from developer Inti Creates, Dragon Marked for Death blends the run-n-gun gameplay the studio is known for with action-RPG elements. The result is an exciting, retro experience with engaging combat and gorgeous pixel-art visuals. The game’s story follows the Dragonblood Clan, a group of people that form a pact with a dragon named Atruum, granting them special powers to seek revenge against an evil empire that has burned their village.
Dragon Marked for Death has you play as one of four classes, split between its two character packs: Empress and Warrior (Frontline Fighters pack) and Shinobi and Witch (Advanced Attackers pack). While combat varies based on which character you choose, with each having unique attacks and special abilities, gameplay boils down to going on quests that culminate in epic, boss battle sequences. Although the game can be played completely solo, online multiplayer functionality allows you to tackle missions with a friend.
Donut County gives you the heroic task of controlling a sinkhole, moving around a series of levels and sliding under objects in order to get them to fall inside the hole. You start off as a rather small hole, only able to consume things like patches of grass and baseballs. However, with each object you drop into the hole, it begins to grow, allowing you to pick up larger objects until you find yourself consuming cars and entire houses.
Outside of its interesting gameplay, DC features an excellent cast of characters who have unique relationships which come into play throughout the course of the game. While its playtime is rather brief, clocking in around two hours, the game’s quirkiness and charm will stay with you long after the credits roll.
GRIS is a beautiful, puzzle platformer that does little to explain itself, instead encouraging the player to make sense of the game’s story in their own way. At the start, the female protagonist loses her voice and the world around her becomes stripped of all color as she falls down to the ground. With no dialogue or explanation present, the symbolism is left up to you to interpret.
Gameplay centers on maneuvering through different structures until you reach the end of a level and encounter what can best be described as a final boss, although there is no combat in GRIS whatsoever. Instead, you use your environment to defeat these creatures, restoring more color to the world in the process.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Smash Bros. is almost as synonymous with video games as Nintendo itself. With fans having so many fond memories of playing Smash throughout their lives, everyone was excited to see what Nintendo would deliver on the Switch. And SSBU has exceeded all of those expectations as the most ambitious Smash game to date.
With a roster of 74 characters, a medley of stages and music pulled from so many different video game properties, it’s hard to even keep track, SSBU is a colossal game with something to offer for every kind of Nintendo fan. The Smash series is known for its flexibility as casual players can enjoy simple, party style combat while more competitive players have plenty of tools at their disposal to practice and become even better.
Katamari Damacy Reroll
The original Katamari Damacy makes a return appearance, this time on the Nintendo Switch. The game sees you as the Prince of Cosmos, tasked with restoring all the constellations after your father destroyed them in his sleep or something. If you played the game back when it originally released in 2004 on the PlayStation 2, then you’re already familiar with its quirky gameplay and nonsensical story.
Where the game truly shines is its gameplay. Starting small, you begin rolling up objects until your ball, called a Katamari, grows larger until you can pick up bigger objects like people, buildings, even entire islands at one point. While the controls feel very dated in 2018, the game’s soundtrack is just as catchy as we remember and it’s worth checking out if you’re into weird PS2 games.
Moonlighter is 2D, pixel-art, action RPG with dungeon-crawling and shop management elements. You play as Will, a shopkeeper that has grown bored of simply selling goods and dreams of becoming a hero. The game follows a day/night cycle where days are spent pricing and selling goods, managing inventory and reprimanding shoplifters while nights are for exploring multiple dungeon levels, culminating with a boss encounter.
Along the way, you will find resources in chests and enemies you slay that can be used to upgrade your gear or sold in your shop. While the gameplay loop of gathering goods in caves and selling them in your shop can be addictive on its own, the risk-reward aspect of going deeper in the dungeon with the possibility of dying and losing everything can be just as enticing. This coupled with the flexibility in how you choose to price items and design the layout of your shop makes Moonlighters a great blend of popular Indie-genres.
Super Mario Party
While Mario Party is beloved by many, in recent years the series has grown stale due to a number of entries that stray too far from the classic formula. Super Mario Party seems to be a return to form, exploring what made Mario Party games so great in the first place: its ability to ruin friendships.
Jokes aside, Super Mario Party is a well-polished experience that’s perfect for playing with a group of friends even if they’re normally not into video games. With the addition of 80 new mini-games, there are plenty of opportunities to betray your friends and come out the victor. Just stay on the lookout for the true villain of the game: BONUS STARS.
Dead Cells is a fast-paced, 2D-roguelike game with metroidvania elements. Gameplay revolves around exploring procedurally generated dungeons, defeating enemies and discovering blueprints for better gear before your untimely death at the hands of any number of the game’s challenging enemies.
The combat in Dead Cells is punishingly difficult and requires precise timing and constant movement in order to survive. While each death brings you back to the beginning of a dungeon, you’re able to make incremental upgrades to your abilities and gear in order to delve deeper on your next run and uncover more secrets.
Sleep Tight is an arcade-style twin-stick shooter that takes childhood superstitions like monsters hiding under the bed and turns them into a twisted reality. You play as a child who spends their days building and fortifying a base constructed of pillows and other household items, stocking up on ammo for your dart gun in preparation for what’s to come.
At night, monsters of all shapes and sizes begin spawning, their one goal to destroy you and your base. The game is run based which sees you trying to survive as many days as possible with each night becoming tougher than the last. Featuring a nice variety of classes to be unlocked and a number of strategies you can approach the game with, Sleep Tight is no doubt an Indie gem on Switch.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
While Captain Toad has made an appearance in a number of Super Mario games over the years, most notably as a playable character in a series of Super Mario 3D World sidequests, he was given his own game back in 2014 on the Wii U. With CT: TT being ported over to the Switch, Nintendo has made some quality of life improvements to the game as well as add some new content and a new 2-Player mode.
In the game you explore levels, solving puzzles and finding collectibles in order to complete each stage. Where the game truly shines is in its level design as Captain Toad, unable to jump, has to maneuver his way around these environments in unique ways that make the gameplay differently than your typical platformer. The Switch version also features four new levels inspired by worlds from Super Mario Odyssey which are a nice touch.
Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze
Another Wii U game that has found a new home on the Switch is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. The game takes place after the events of Donkey Kong Country Returns, with Donkey Kong and the rest of the family celebrating his birthday when they’re interrupted by a band of Viking-themed artic villains called the Snowmads. The Snowmads begin turning everything to ice and it’s up to the Kongs to reclaim their tropical world before it’s too late.
While the Switch version is just a challenging as it was on the Wii U, the addition of a new Funky Mode, which allows you to play as Funky Kong, gaining extra hearts and items as well as the option to skip some levels adds a bit more accessibility to the game. With a reputation for great platforming and fun characters, Tropical Freeze continues the legacy of DK games.
Dandara stands out among all the other 2D action-platformers on the Switch by taking some big risks. And luckily for the game, it manages to nail the landing. Where Dandara differs from other games is its unique traversal, which sees you leaping from one surface to any other in your reach, regardless of gravity or direction. The result is a stylish, fast-paced game that forces you to plan out how to approach each area.
While exploring caves you’ll encounter enemies which will grant you salt upon defeating them and can be used to purchase upgrades. This becomes one of the most important parts of the game as the odds are heavily against you from the start and upgrading your health bar from the initial three hearts helps a lot. However, don’t expect much hand-holding as Dandara has a steep, but ultimately, rewarding learning curve.
While most 2D platformers, especially those with higher difficulties, aren’t known for having great narratives, Celeste manages to strongly deliver on everything it sets out to do from the start. You play as Madeline, the main character, whose goal is to climb a mysterious mountain in order to escape the monotony of everyday life. However, you soon learn that Madeline is suffering from a lot more than you initially thought.
You make your way up the mountain by completing difficult platforming levels that require precise jumping and dashing. There are a number of collectibles to find which add more of a challenge and unlock more stages after you beat the game. Aside from its great story and gameplay, Celeste features one of the best soundtracks to come from a game this year.
Dragon Quest Builders
Dragon Quest Builders combines the lore and excellent writing of the Dragon Quest series with the sandbox, block-breaking action of Minecraft. The result is an addictive, refined base-building game with well-written characters. In Dragon Quest Builders you play as the legendary builder, the only one left in Alefgard who can craft items after the world was plunged into chaos by a really evil dude.
Each chapter of the game has specific conditions but boils down to building a civilization from scratch, attracting NPCs to come live in your town, which you’ll then have to care for and protect from enemies threatening to invade your base. The game’s story and dialogue make for a humorous adventure with some interesting twists.
Super Mario Odyssey
Mario made his grand debut on the Switch in 2017 with Super Mario Odyssey. Featuring a brand-new story as well as some of the best platforming we’ve ever seen in a Super Mario game, Odyssey breathes new life into the franchise. You play as Mario, on a quest to (hold your breath) rescue Princess Peach once again from the clutches of Bowser.
This time Mario’s aided by his latest companion, a sentient hat named Cappy, who grants Mario new abilities in order to traverse the world and defeat enemies in interesting ways. With 16 worlds to explore, a plethora of collectibles, outfits for Mario to wear, and secrets to discover, Odyssey delivers an exciting new journey with plenty of nods to classic Mario games along the way.
Inspired by the beloved Harvest Moon games, Stardew Valley offers players a relaxing, enjoyable experience. You play as a customized avatar who, unhappy with their 9-5 job, moves back home to their grandfather’s old farm in Stardew Valley. After your grandfather’s passing, the land has deteriorated and it’s up to you to rebuild it however you see fit.
Days are spent growing crops, gathering resources, crafting items, exploring mines and completing tasks for NPCs. The cast of Stardew is probably what stands out most as each character you encounter has a unique personality. Flexibility in how you choose to spend your days and earn income, as well as the ability to charm an NPC of your choosing and possibly make them your spouse adds a lot of replay value to the game.
Steamworld Dig 2
Steamworld Dig 2 improves on everything from the first game without compromising its best part: the digging. The game sees you as a robotic miner in a rustic, steampunk-inspired world inhabited by other robots. However, story doesn’t take center stage in SWD2 and instead its most satisfying aspect is exploring the mines underground.
You’ll be gathering gems, defeating enemies, and digging yourself deeper and deeper into the mines until your lantern grows dim and you’re forced to come back to the surface. Upgrading your gear and acquiring new abilities makes progression in the game feel measurable and rewarding. Combined with an addictive gameplay loop and terrific soundtrack, SWD2 becomes increasingly hard to put down once you’re hooked.
For those unfamiliar with the first game on Wii U, Splatoon 2 sees you as a squid/human-child, called Inklings, obsessed with fashion trends and shooting guns filled with colorful ink. While there is a campaign that teaches you the basics of combat and traversal, a majority of gameplay revolves around online multiplayer.
In Splatoon 2, you’ll be spending time browsing through shops, buying gear and weapons with different abilities that need to be unlocked by competing online against other players. The standard for battles are Turf Wars, which are timed matches where the objective is to cover more of the map’s surface with your team’s ink color than your enemy does.
Players who want to compete at a higher level have the option of Ranked and League battles which offer a tougher challenge as well as more variety in match types, including unique takes on classic modes like King of the Hill and Capture the Flag. Additionally, there are community events in the form of Splatfests which have different themes, and the Octo Expansion DLC, which adds to Splatoon 2’s campaign story.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart remains one of the most accessible games for all types of players. Whether you’ve played every game in the series or find yourself behind the wheel for the first time, MK8 Deluxe delivers the best kart racing experience to date.
Including all the DLC characters and tracks from the Wii U version, the Switch port is an amazing deal and looks even better than before. The joycon functionally as well as the ability to play in handheld mode makes it easier to race with your friends on the fly.
Snipperclips remains one of the best local multiplayer games on the Switch. In the game, you and up to three other players are tasked with completing a variety of puzzles by cutting out shapes of your characters’ paper bodies. These puzzles range from climbing your teammates in order to reach a certain area to cutting a shape that can hold and carry a pencil across the stage in order for it to be sharpened.
While communication is important for completing challenges, working against your teammates can provide a lot more fun in some instances as you cut your friends into the wrong shape on purpose or avoid the objective completely and snip them till there’s nothing left. Since its launch, the game has had an expansion which adds 30 new challenges for players to tackle.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
If you own a Switch, chances are you already own a copy of BOTW. Launching alongside the Switch and going on to sell more copies than the console itself, BOTW remains one of the best games for the system. The game manages to update the Zelda formula with new mechanics like cooking and weapon durability and has a giant open-world filled with secrets for Link to explore.
A big part of BOTW’s charm, aside from its ability to turn mundane tasks like cooking food or climbing a mountain into joyful accomplishments, is how well it showcases the usefulness of changing between handheld and docked-mode on the Switch. Offering players hundreds of hours of enjoyment, BOTW becomes even better when you realize you can bring it with you anywhere you go. Since its launch, the game has had two expansion packs which add new content and challenges to the base game.