The list of best Nintendo Switch games to play so far is static for 2023 to date, as we wait (im)patiently for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which is surely going to be a strong contender for that coveted number one spot. After all, in the six years since the Switch launch, nothing has been able to shift the original Breath of the Wild.
The games on this list aren't all Switch exclusives, but they are best experienced on Nintendo's latest console. What we've attempted to do is make this list of best Switch games as varied as possible too, so hopefully, there's something for everyone to enjoy whether you're a JRPG fan or Super Mario diehard.
We've got you covered for the future too, with our list of all the upcoming Switch games so you know what to add to your wishlist for 2021. If you're here because you're considering a Nintendo Switch OLED purchase, check out all the deals you can get on a Nintendo Switch bundle.
25. Pokemon Scarlet and Violet
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We debated for a long time about whether Pokemon Scarlet and Violet should make it onto this list, but although it doesn't quite achieve everything we hoped it would, there is something a little special about it that makes it worth sneaking onto the very tail end of our best Switch game recommendations.
24. Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Genre: Platformer / Adventure
Kirby and the Forgotten Land takes you on a memorable adventure packed full of delightful features, challenges, and new standout additions. Taking place in a mysterious world setting that's made up of wonderfully creative stages, every level hides plenty of secrets and eye-catching sights that you'll want to experience for yourself. The platforming is more open, so you can take the time to explore and make the most of the pink puffball's first proper step into the realm of 3D. With boss fights, puzzles, and a variety of foes to take on with Kirby's slate of copy abilities, Forgotten Land also introduces the new Mouthful Mode skill that allows you to become a car, cone, water balloon, and much more besides to progress. And when you want to take a break from the platforming, you can even take a breather at Waddle Dee Town, with mini-games and side activities galore. If you're looking for something to make you smile or brighten up your day, then look no further.
23. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury
Genre: Adventure / Platformer
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury gives you a whole host of Mario fun in one bundle. On the one hand you've got the re-release of the Wii U platformer Super Mario 3D World, which offers a range of inventive platforming levels that you can play through on your own or with up to three friends. It's the game that introduced the Cat Mario power-up and it's wonderfully zany as well as inventive with its worlds. But then you've also got the compact new adventure that is Bowser's Fury. This is more akin to Super Mario Odyssey, and delivers a brand new story to explore and play through as you fight alongside Bowser Jr. to take down Fury Bowser. It takes elements from Super Mario 3D World too, so it's just as loveable too. This is quite the package.
22. Bayonetta 2
Originally released as a Wii U exclusive, Bayonetta 2 has now been re-released on Switch, and it means that you now have no excuses not to play it. Although, when the heroine is a witch with magical hair and (literally) killer stilettos, you won’t really need an excuse not to. This Switch release allows you to experience some of the most action-packed, brutal moments from the last decade of gaming wherever you want. Although it’s a shame the resolution is locked to 720p, even on your TV, it doesn’t detract from the fact it’s a better game than it was on Wii U, even if you look at the major frame rate improvements alone. The game looks stunning regardless, and if you’re an action game fan in the slightest you owe it to yourself to play Bayonetta 2. In fact, when you buy Bayonetta 2 you actually go one better, because you get the original game thrown in for free too. Bargain.
Sometimes you just want something a little bit different, and if you're looking to push the indie boat out, then Gris is one for you. In terms of gameplay, it's a wonderful puzzle / platformer that'll have you trying to restore the world of colour, but aesthetically it's one of the most beautiful games we've ever had the privilege to play. It's high up on our list of must-play best Switch games for that reason alone. The colour spectrum evolves the more you play, and as you unlock colours and move through the game you'll be introduced to different areas and locales that are just so pretty I can't help but spam the screenshot button. This is a glorious little game that utterly shines on Switch.
Genre: Action, Adventure
If you're looking for the best pixel graphics you've ever seen, you need to check out Moonlighter. This glorious game channels Stardew Valley with that "just one more day" gameplay loop, but instead of tending a farm you're part-time dungeon crawler, part-time shopkeeper in this best Switch games entry. During the day you're figuring out what price to set for each of your hard-earned items, trying to stop thieves from pinching your wares, and saving up enough dosh to rebuild the town. But by night, you're scavenging items to sell in your shop from the dungeons, and working your way towards beating the boss beast that lurks in each one, whilst trying to stay alive. Its addictive gameplay loop means that it's going to be one of those games that eat evenings for breakfast - sometimes literally - and carves a groove into your Switch library. You don't find many games like Moonlighter.
19. Hollow Knight
Some are suggesting that Hollow Knight is Dark Souls for beginners. But it's really a Dark Souls with stunning hand-painted aesthetics and a color palette to make you cry, and a stunning orchestral soundtrack that you just want to bathe in. It's one of our best Switch games for a reason folks. In true Metroidvania style, you'll be exploring a labyrinth of underground areas each more distinct than the last, and all filled with strange creatures to fight, and bizarre bugs to befriend. (Yes, really.) As you progress you gain new abilities, grow in power, and more devoted to uncovering all of Hollow Knight's secrets. One of the greatest best Switch games to date.
18. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Aside from the fact you should buy this for the adorability factor of Toad and Toadette alone, it also happens that Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is one of the best Wii U ports available on Switch. It's a fantastic puzzler where every level takes the form of an interactive puzzle box or diorama that you can traverse, poke, prod, pull, push and generally interact with to unlock its secrets and reach the end goal of the golden star. And each one is beautiful, intricate and just perplexing enough to leave you suitably impressed and a tiny bit chuffed when you finish it. Plus, there are additional challenges that you can go back and dive into too, making this little puzzler stretch further than you originally anticipate. Just wait until you see the new, Switch exclusive, levels based on Super Mario Odyssey (opens in new tab). Being able to waddle through little box-shaped version of Odyssey's Sand, Metro, Cascade, and Luncheon Kingdoms is sheer joy, and they are just as beautifully executed as the other levels available too. It all contributes to ensuring it's always high up on our best Switch games list.
Genre: Building simulation
Because even if you’ve played it before, Minecraft (opens in new tab) on Switch means an ultra-portable, buildable delight. You can sit down with a friend to play together on the local network, which is ridiculously simple to set up - just put one of their Joy-Cons on your Switch once your world is loaded up, press +, and hand it back to them. You can also play online if you're not eager to go exploring alone, or try out one of its mini-games: Battle (straightforwards PvP), Tumble (a race that involves shovels or snowballs), or Glide (get to the end of the course asap). A plethora of achievements makes for pleasantly directed playing as they give you something to aim for, but when it comes down to it you never feel like you've quite beaten Minecraft even if you've been playing for tens of hours. It's an exercise in discovery and ambition, with structures that previously only existed in your wildest dreams suddenly viable - as long as you have the resources. Whether you're tenacious, easygoing, or just rabidly curious, think of Minecraft as a gracious host that will make you and anyone you choose to co-op with delirious with happiness. Either that, or you'll get your hands on some TNT and will make everything go bang. Which is also fun. Definitely worthy of its spot on our best Switch games list.
16. Octopath Traveler
What Octopath Traveler really excels at is scale. Whereas any other game would put all of its focus onto a single protagonist, Square Enix's JRPG tells the story of eight - yes, eight - heroes, and all of their beautifully told stories are given the same gravitas, which is quite the feat. It's a wonderful collection of stories, told in a world that is inspired by JRPGs of old, particularly in terms of art style, and its combat is some of the best turned-based systems the JRPG world has to offer. If any of this intrigues you, then Octopath Traveler needs to be on your wishlist immediately. Or, preferably, under your thumbs. Get involved with this excellent addition to the best Switch games list.
15. Stardew Valley
There's a reason Stardew Valley was one of the most highly anticipated titles coming to the Nintendo Switch and now ranks so highly on this list of best Switch games. This adorable, simple life, farming simulator is the perfect game for taking advantage of the Switch's portability. Farming at home, farming on the go, farming wherever the heck you fancy farming. It's a fantastic game for whiling away the evenings with a spot of farming, mining, animal rearing, fishing and other super relaxed activites. Trust us, you'll soon be as immersed in the world of Stardew as we are.
14. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Not many games offer you the chance to build something that will last an entire console generation, but Animal Crossing: New Horizons (opens in new tab) does just that. After Nook whisks you away to your very own tropical island - for a fee, of course - it's down to you to build a life there. You'll invite new residents to move to your sandy shores, grow local business, create a community, and craft an island you can all be proud of. Running in line with real-world days, Animal Crossing: New Horizons isn't one to be rushed, but it is the idyllic getaway we all need right now.
13. Paper Mario: The Origami King
Paper Mario: The Origami King might not be the RPG you'd hope for, but it is special. Nintendo has tapped right into the fun, light-hearted spirit that has always pervaded the Paper Mario series, and also introduced a tonne of new features including a ring-system for battling. It'll have you twisting and turning your enemies into place before whacking them with hammers or stomping them with your boots, while Boss battles see stationary taking a dark turn. Ultimately, this is a fun, light-hearted celebration of Super Mario with a strong story, great humour, and brilliant characters
12. Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
If you want a slice of more classic, dungeon-focused gameplay on the Switch then you need Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (opens in new tab) in your life. It takes the Game Boy Colour game - Link's Awakening DX - and gives it a fresh art style, a chibi-esque toy village vibe that makes this one of the best looking games on Switch – and the most adorable. In that way it manages to feel like a brand new game, while still maintaining the essence and story of the quirky original. Definitely one of the best Switch games right now.
11. Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
Don't be put off by the XCOM comment, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is a strategy game that works incredibly well even if you're not a fan of strategy games. It features brilliant, polished game mechanics that are introduced in stages to let you get to grips with the game's surprisingly deep tactical gameplay. But it mixes that gameplay with real knowledge of the Super Mario universe and wraps it up in a level of detail and graphical quality that you can regularly mistake it for a Nintendo-made title. It's an absolute joy and definitely worth its place on this best Switch games list, especially as it takes what the original game does and adds more freedom, creativity, and further Super Mario-ness.
10. Luigi's Mansion 3
Proof that the green plumber can be the star of the show, Luigi's Mansion 3 (opens in new tab) takes you on a journey full of memorable spooks, creative puzzles, fantastic level design, and charm that oozes from every pore. Oh, and have we talked about Gooigi? Luigi's goo-filled compadre that can slip straight into places the human Luigi just can't? Well, it all combines to find the right balance between new and old, delivering a refreshing spin on the Luigi's Mansion formula and earning its place on this best Switch games list. Newcomers and longtime fans are sure to delight in exploring everything the hotel has to offer.
9. Xenoblade Chronicles 3
If you want a JRPG that's really going to take over your world, you need Xenoblade Chronicles 3. It's easy to sink upwards of 150 hours into this one, thanks to its gargantuan world and the fact it delivers an epic sci-fantasy tale. The combat is the best and most complicated in the series to date, and combined with engrossing systems, there's almost limitless progression on offer here. It's an almost flawless game, and although it isn't perfect, what's here is more than enough to justify any shortcomings.
8. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (opens in new tab) is pulling out all the stops when it comes to characters. With a whopping 74 characters available to unlock, this is definitely the busiest roster of them all. That total includes 11 brand new characters - and that's before you've even started on the DLC. That means a whole new set of fighters to learn in the heat of battle, but thankfully this is the best Super Smash Bros. title yet, both in terms of its glorious good looks, but also in the way the stages are detailed and animated, fighters move much more naturally and with additional flare, and the KO animations are more satisfying than ever. Plus, there's even a surprisingly meaty single-player story to dive into. This is quite the package.
7. Pokemon Legends: Arceus
Pokemon Legends: Arceus is Game Freak's foray into an open-world Pokemon adventure, and it's achieved something quite special. The game takes us back in time to a point in time where the Sinnoh region is known as the Hisui region. There are no cities, no Pokemon Gyms, no trainers, just a quest to figure out what's going on in the region, and build the locale's very first Pokedex. You'll catch, battle, and train up wild Pokemon you meet in the overworld, and work with them and the brilliant humans you'll meet to solve quite the mystery. It's an excellent new direction for the series and a refreshingly different approach to the core mechanics.
6. Tetris 99
Genre: Battle royale
If you love Tetris and think you're better at playing it than anyone else, then you need to try Tetris 99. It's an insane take on battle royale where you play Tetris simultaneously along with 98 other people, but every two or more lines you clear you send as junk to other players, either at random, to the people closest to a KO, to your attackers or to those doing the best so far. It's mad, fast paced and turns the zen Tetris stacking into a frenzy that will have you screaming at your Switch. It might be the best thing ever.
5. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Genre: Adventure / Strategy
The future of Fódlan rests on the decisions that you make, and that alone serves as quite the selling point. But, in all seriousness, if you're already a fan of the series, Fire Emblem: Three Houses (opens in new tab) this is the best to date. It realises a new, more meaningful direction for the series where stories are prioritised over combat. The challenging, tight, turn-based combat is still there, of course, but it's not all that Fire Emblem is anymore. This is an epic evolution for the series.
4. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Apart from the telling clue in the line above, the Nintendo experience isn't complete until you've enraged your closest friends by beating them at Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It's a rite of passage on every Nintendo console. This immediate, relatable, pick-up-and-play fun is exactly what the Switch was created for. Up to eight people can locally, letting you pretend that you're in a Nintendo lifestyle advert, and it's a novelty that two people can play anywhere using a single console. But best of all, this is the ultimate version of an already amazing game, and perhaps the clearest and brilliant example of how great the Switch could be.
3. Splatoon 3
Genre: Third-person shooter
As the title might suggest, Splatoon 3 is the third entry in Nintendo's zany multiplayer shooter. It manages to walk the line between being family-friendly by using ink blasters and rollers instead of guns and being a really strong competitive title. It's wonderfully fast-paced at all times, and offers a compelling single-player campaign to complement its multiplayer.
2. Super Mario Odyssey
If you're only buying two games for the Nintendo Switch, it has to be Zelda and it has to be Mario. Thanks to Mario's new friend Cappy, Super Mario Odyssey (opens in new tab) manages to successfully bring the series up to date by gifting Mario a ton of new moves. And by moving out of the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario feels fresh and new while still retaining every ounce of its nostalgia and retro charm - there are still ground pounds and green pipes don't worry. This is very much Mario as his best self so far, and his latest adventure looks absolutely beautiful on the Switch.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Genre: Action RPG
This is, perhaps more than anything, the biggest showpiece for what the Nintendo Switch can do. Breath of the Wild takes ideas originally introduced in the first Legend of Zelda game along with concepts expanded on by Skyrim and other modern open-world RPGs and Nintendoizes them, distilling them into purest parts, and polishes the hell out of them. It's a world of wonder, and for the first time what feels like ages, it actually lets you experience that wonder without beating you over the head with hours of tutorials and incessant text boxes re-explaining everything you already know. Playing it on the TV is a treat, but being able to lift the Switch from the dock and take a game of this size and scope wherever you want is a perfect summation of the Switch's potential.