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The Nintendo Switch has had a lot of success in the four years since its release. The console-handheld hybrid has been on the market since 2017, and a slew of promising ports in the first few months of that year gave early adopters a healthy diet of new titles to enjoy. Big first-party exclusives helped build the system’s success early on, though that momentum slowed in 2020 and 2021, with a lighter release schedule. Things picked up eventually, though, thanks to hits like Metroid Dread. Plus, there’s an all-new Switch model out now that features a better OLED screen.

There are plenty of other games to enjoy on the Switch right now. Some recent highlights include Paper Mario: The Origami King, which retains the original look of Paper Mario and the quest to free Princess Peach’s castle, as well as the newly completed Kentucky Route Zero, which has something for those who like to settle down with a classic point-and-click adventure. This list of the best Nintendo Switch games also includes the best free Switch games for those players on a budget.

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Action

Hades

The latest from indie hit factory Supergiant Games, Hades is a rogue-lite action RPG that puts players in the shoes of the prince of Hades. As it turns out, you’re not so keen on the place. It’s dark, cramped, depressing, and your dad is a real peach. So, naturally, you want to do the impossible — escape.

Hades feels positively electric to play. You’ll often die, but you’ll also often feel like an absolute rock star. Even when you die, you’re swiftly returned to the start, giving you a chance to try again after only a brief pause to check out any upgrades you might’ve unlocked.

It doesn’t hurt that Hades, like past Supergiant Games efforts, has stellar production values. The art, voice acting, and music are without peer, and they give Hades a blinding sheen of polish that even big-budget AAA games often lack. That fact is especially apparent in Hades taking home the Game Award for Best Action game, beating out massive titles like Doom Eternal.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

When the first Hyrule Warriors game was originally released on the Wii U, it didn’t seem like much more than a niche spinoff. The hack-and-slash game turned Zelda into Dynasty Warriors with larger-than-life battles. It wasn’t a replacement for mainline Zelda adventures, but it showed that the franchise had some untapped potential when it came to side games. Nintendo capitalized on that promise with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, a more fully realized entry that opens the doors wide open for the series’ future.

Unlike the first game, Age of Calamity is part of the actual Zelda cannon. It acts as a pseudo-prequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and tells the story of the Great Calamity. While the game presents itself as a Zelda version of Rogue One where you know that Hyrule is doomed, the story takes some unexpected twists that make for an exciting Zelda side story. With more characters, weapons, and secrets to uncover, Age of Calamity is a high-quality action game that sets a new bar for Nintendo spinoffs.

Read our full Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity review

Astral Chain

Platinum Games has established itself as one of the best action game studios in the world, with critical darlings like Bayonetta 2 and the existential Nier: Automata. Automata lead designer Takahisa Taura got his first chance to direct with the Switch-exclusive Astral Chain, which doubles down on the insane action that Platinum Games has prided itself on for the last decade. Rather than the post-apocalypse, though, you’re in a bustling stylized sci-fi city that is under attack by mysterious interdimensional forces, and it’s up to you to stop it.

Astral Chain gives you simultaneous control of the protagonist and several Legion characters. This mix of direct and indirect combat is at the heart of the game, but you will also investigate mysteries and solve puzzles along the way. And you can pet the game’s dog-like Legion, so you know it’s good.

Dead Cells

Taking a look at the sidescrolling gameplay and dark 2D art style of Dead Cells may stir up some memories of times spent playing Metroid or Castlevania. Motion Twin, the developers of this highly rated indie game on the Switch, call it a Roguevania due to the inspiration it takes from those games. For a clearer picture of what to expect, add in a Dark Souls-level of combat difficulty, roguelike castle setting, and unforgiving permadeath (short for permanent death), and you get Dead Cells.

When you combine themes like roguelike and permadeath, you’ll know that every playthrough of Dead Cells is different. But that doesn’t mean you have to die to have some fun. There’s an endless amount of weapons, hidden rooms, and passageways that will require a bit of work and skill to find. Did we forget to mention the punishing boss battles that will have you searching for the closest save point? Spoiler alert — there are none!

Read our full Dead Cells review

Cadence of Hyrule

Cadence of Hyrule

It’s amazing that Cadence of Hyrule even exists. Indie studio Brace Yourself Games somehow convinced Nintendo to let it use The Legend of Zelda license. The result is a novel adventure inside the Kingdom of Hyrule that blends the rhythm gameplay from Crypt of the NecroDancer with the tried-and-true exploration of The Legend of Zelda.

Playing as either Link or Zelda, you have to bounce to the rhythm of remixed Zelda songs to vanquish enemies across the overworld and in five unique dungeons. Cadence of Hyrule uses roguelike elements such as enemy randomization and the loss of particular items and rupees after each death. But it still retains the magical feeling of gradually building your character by letting your hero keep their essential things and map progress with each demise.

Challenging and incredibly rewarding, Cadence of Hyrule is both an ode to top-down Zelda classics and a refreshing spin on one of the most iconic franchises of all time.

Read our Cadence of Hyrule review

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Luigi's Mansion 3 Door

The original Luigi’s Mansion for GameCube didn’t seem to understand what its best ideas were but by the time Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was released more than a decade later, new developer Next Level Games had a firm grasp on what made the spooky adventure so charming. In Luigi’s Mansion 3, our titular anxious hero must rescue his brother and friends from a haunted hotel, using his trusty Poltergust G-00 vacuum and new viscous pal Gooigi.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 mixes environmental puzzles with creative combat against several different types of ghosts, and the themed floors vary from a botany-themed area to a medieval arena. All of them are hilarious, and the game’s self-referential jokes and zany animations only make it more entertaining.

RPG

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Complete Edition

Geralt looking at mountain in The Witcher 3.

As one of the great games from the PS4/Xbox One generation, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is also available on Nintendo Switch — which is a small miracle, in and of itself. Of course, the visuals don’t look anywhere near as good as they do on PC and consoles, but the fact that the entire experience mostly remains intact on Switch is still incredible. This game is one of the best action RPGs of all time, featuring beloved characters, nearly endless things to do, and a beautiful world to explore. The Complete Edition also comes with all the previously released DLC, meaning you’ll have even more things to do in this massive RPG.

Dark Souls Remastered

Dragon in Dark Souls Remastered.

Next up is yet another hugely important RPG, none other than Dark Souls. Considering this is a remaster of the PS3/Xbox 360 game on Switch, Nintendo’s handheld hybrid system doesn’t have much trouble running this game. What else can be said about Dark Souls? It’s simultaneously terrifying, rewarding, and has made a mark on the video game industry thanks to its deep lore and incredible level design. It’s full of memorable moments, such as the first time you gaze eyes upon the stunning city of Anor Londo. The fact that Dark Souls is playable in its entirety on a handheld device is pretty surreal, so we highly recommend giving it a try if you like tough action RPGs.

Monster Hunter Rise

Monster Hunter Rise DLC

Pardon the pun, but the Monster Hunter franchise is on the rise. Go back just a few years ago and Capcom’s action RPG franchise was a bit of a niche experience. It was wildly popular in certain parts of the world, but the west simply hadn’t caught on. The tides started changing in 2018 with the release of Monster Hunter World. The game was a wider hit that started piquing more people’s interest. Now Capcom has capitalized on that success with Monster Hunter Rise, bringing the franchise to the Nintendo Switch.

The latest installment is one of the best entries yet. New features like the wirebug and Rampage quest types bring fresh content for fans who have already played hundreds of hours of World. The real key to the game’s success is that it’s a little friendlier for newcomers. The main problem with the series has always been its complex RPG systems that can totally alienate anyone who’s never played a Monster Hunter game before. Rise is a better entry point, making it one of the best games in the series for both old and new players.

Read our full Monster Hunters Rise review

Ring Fit Adventure

Ring Fit Adventure

When Ring Fit Adventure launched in 2019, Nintendo’s quirky fitness RPG was more of an oddity than anything. Critics praised it for its creative approach to exercise, but the peripheral-based game felt niche in comparison to holiday Switch releases like Pokémon Sword and Shield.

The perception of the game quickly changed when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world into lockdown. It suddenly became a hot commodity, providing players a fun way to work out at home while gyms were closed down. Fortunately, it’s not just a game that’s popular because of circumstances. Ring Fit Adventure is a genuinely enjoyable spin on the fitness genre that makes clever use of its RPG components.

Read our full Ring Fit Adventure review

Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition

If you’re in the mood for a new role-playing game that combines human and machine elements, Xenoblade Chronics Definitive Edition might be a good place to start. The game puts players in the position of Shulk, who attempts to understand his place in the world as he battles with others in his party against machine enemies.

The game, which is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, has an open-world feel but generally follows a traditional role-playing game feel with a variety of battle maneuvers, health points that grow with XP boosts, and more. Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition also features more than 90 music tracks.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

Two riders face a giant dragon in Monster Hunter Stories 2.

We can’t talk about Monster Hunter Rise without discussing its foil, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin. While the former is a big-action RPG full of hacking and slashing, the latter is more tactical. It’s a turn-based RPG where players befriend monsters instead of slicing them up. That makes it more akin to something like Pokémon, as players collect and train monsters. For those who wish the Pokémon series would offer up some difficulty alongside its creature collecting, Monster Hunter Stories 2 might scratch that itch.

The game is most notable for its excellent combat system, which builds on Fire Emblem’s “rock, paper, scissors” mechanics. Players can counter an incoming hit by picking the right attack. It’s a game that rewards observation, as studying monsters can help prepare players for any combat encounter. The action goes even deeper than that too, as players can raise their kinship with their monster companions to unleash combo attacks. Whether you’re a fan of Monster Hunter, Pokémon, or Fire Emblem, Monster Hunter Stories 2 covers a lot of bases.

Read our Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin review

Undertale

Undertale is not what it seems. The heralded and emotional indie looks like an old-school JRPG with blocky visuals, minimalist character models, and a rudimentary combat system. Then you start talking to the monsters in the world, and everything changes. You begin to see the strange underworld you’re trapped in a bit differently, and you begin to wonder what Undertale is all about.

The beauty of Undertale is in its writing. Often funny with undertones of solemn sadness, the conversations you have with the monsters around you will stick with you. As with other indie games on this list, Undertale‘s top-down look makes it a perfect game to play in handheld mode on Switch.

Pokémon Sword and Shield

The Nintendo Switch got the Pokémon: Let’s Go games in 2018, which remade Pokémon Yellow in a modern engine and with streamlined gameplay that would be familiar to Pokémon Go players. It wasn’t a full-fledged role-playing game, however, and it would be another year before Game Freak delivered that in the form of Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Both Pokémon Sword and Shield include hundreds of monsters, gorgeous environments, the new Dynamax transformation type, and plenty of options for playing with your friends. It’s also the first mainline Pokémon role-playing game to release only for a home console and looks just as gorgeous on television as it does in handheld mode.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 — Definitive Edition

Divinity: Original Sin 2 early screenshot

With Dungeons & Dragons suddenly feeling more popular than ever before, having a solid RPG in your pocket for long commutes and lazy days on the sofa is pure bliss. Technically a couple of years old now, 2019 saw Larian Studio’s utterly humongous role-playing game leap to the small screen. The power of the Nintendo Switch doesn’t leave it looking quite so beautiful as the other platforms you’ll find this game on, but you’ll be spinning its tall tales all the same.

At its core, Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition is a vast and varied RPG. Just as you’re free to play as one of its many preset characters in the main story, you’re free to make your own if you’re OK missing out on some of the character-specific fables the developers wove deep into the lore. That means current or past tabletop RPG original characters can come for the ride, or you can make something entirely new for the journey. Once you’re off, you’re free to explore its deep world of rich, overarching lore, recruit new characters, and utilize their skills in turn-based tactical battles along the way.

Hollow Knight

In Hollow Knight, you play as a beetle-like knight wielding a nail, exploring an underground labyrinth known as Hallownest. Like many Metroidvania-style games, Hollow Knight has an emphasis on player discovery and secrets. Each section in Hollow Knight requires a map purchased from the mapmaker, typically located in a hard-to-find spot. That means you stumble into new biomes and encounter new enemies without much sense of direction. It’s thrilling, and ups the sense of discovery.

Hallownest is a sprawling world that takes dozens of hours to fully uncover. With great, minimalistic platforming mechanics, and tough boss fights galore, Hollow Knight is as fun to look at and explore as it is a great combat experience.

Strategy

Pikmin 3 Deluxe

Pikmin in Pikmin 3 Deluxe.

The Pikmin series has always gone under the radar, and it’s a shame because it’s full of wonder and charm. First launching for the Wii U, Pikmin 3 is arguably the best in the series, with a wide variety of locales to explore. In it, you get a slew of Pikmin types, each with its own unique abilities. You command them to open up paths, carry items back to your ship, and defeat deadly creatures. What’s neat about this game is that Pikmin are very small, meaning the objects around you are often gigantic, playing with scale in a smart way. Much like previous entries, Pikmin 3 features a day/night cycle that gives you a sense of urgency when commanding your troop of Pikmin to collect food for everyone, and it’s such a satisfying experience.

Into the Breach

Into the Breach Review

Into the Breach is a Pacific Rim-themed turn-based tactics game played on an eight-by-eight grid with changing environments. It comes from the same developer who brought us FTL: Faster Than Light, a roguelike spaceship sim that’s a critical hit in the gaming community.

You’ll spearhead a three-person mech squad and save cities from inbound groups of monsters. The Into the Breach‘s gameplay doesn’t center around walking up and directly attacking your opponents. On the contrary, you’ll have to be creative in your strategy if you want to walk away from levels still alive (though you will die… a lot.)

Read our full Into The Breach review

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

The first traditional entry in the series to hit Nintendo Switch, Fire Emblem: Three Houses manages to improve just about every element, ranging from combat to character development. Taking a page out of the Path of Radiance playbook, the game stars a mercenary-turned-professor rather than the endless number of princes we’ve seen in other games. It’s your responsibility to pick one of the titular three houses and train them, building relationships and learning about the situations that brought them to the game’s central monastery.

When things pop off, however, the Three Houses is classic Fire Emblem game goodness. Turn-based strategy combat has rarely been this polished, providing you with numerous options in how you approach any scenario based on the way you have developed your roster. Special “Combat Arts” and the new Battalion system are two more tools in your chest, and the normal difficulty strikes a balance between challenging and accessible.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

When you think of Mario and his pals, the first thought that comes to your mind probably isn’t likely “XCOM.” It’s even less likely that you’ll want to add Ubisoft’s crazy Rabbids into the mix — but that’s exactly what the French company did with Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.

Combining the fun of exploring different Mushroom Kingdom levels with the tactical combat of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the game is unlike anything else on the Nintendo Switch, and it’s genuinely challenging without ever becoming stressful.

In 2018, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle received a Donkey Kong-themed DLC that adds Nintendo’s giant gorilla as a playable character, along with a new set of campaign levels.

 Read our full Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle review

Platformer

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

The second game in the Ori franchise, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, is a real stand-out platformer. It combines tough-but-fair difficulty with outstanding level design that will satisfy platformer fans who want real depth to their gameplay. Ori and the Will of the Wisps has plenty of competition on Switch, given the wide range of platformers on the console, but it manages to stand out.

Ori is also well-known for its incredible art direction, and the second title doubles down on that. It takes the painterly, ethereal look of the original game and turns it up to 11. There’s a lot going on here, and while Switch owners won’t be able to enjoy the 4K HDR found on other versions (the Switch doesn’t support either), the game still looks great on the Switch’s built-in LCD.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury

Super Mario 3D World was already an excellent game before its Switch rerelease. The Wii U platformer was among the best games the system, and the franchise itself, had to offer. It features creative level design, chaotic multiplayer fun, and some of the best power-ups Mario has ever gotten his hands on. The downside was always that it was stuck on a console that few players bought. Nintendo could have simply ported this game onto Switch without making any tweaks and fans still would have been happy. On its own, it would have been one of the best games on the console.

Nintendo upped the ante, though, by bundling it with Bowser’s Fury. The pack-in game is a brand new adventure that’s a mini open-world game. Think Super Mario Odyssey on a smaller scale. Bowser’s Fury is a fantastic entry in the franchise that goes well above and beyond its freebie status. That makes Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury one of the absolute best values money can buy on Switch. Players are getting two excellent Mario games in one that bring over 50 hours of content between them. The package is every bit of a must-own as Breath of the Wild for Switch owners.

Read our full Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury review 

Super Mario Maker 2

The original Super Mario Maker was one of the best games on the Wii U and practically defined the system before also making its move to the 3DS. With Super Mario Maker 2, Nintendo has improved the level-creating formula with new items and tricks like sloping platforms. Players have quickly embraced the game and have created some truly dastardly and innovative courses.

Though the Switch doesn’t include a stylus, you can purchase capacitive styluses for very little cash to make designing easier in handheld mode. If you’re more in the mood to play levels than make them, the new story mode is perfect. Filled with Nintendo-designed courses that are far weirder and more puzzle-based than traditional Mario levels, it’s the ideal opportunity to learn just what is possible in Super Mario Maker 2.

Read our full Super Mario Maker 2 review

Yoshi’s Crafted World

Yoshi's Crafted World review

Yoshi’s Crafted World follows in the tradition of previous Yoshi platformers. Yoshi can swallow enemies, turn them into eggs, and use said eggs to capture collectibles and take out other enemies. Where it differs is scope. Each level is longer than the traditional Mario platformer, and the set pieces are adorably crafted out of cardboard and paper. Levels have more depth, too, meaning that Yoshi periodically travels into the backdrop and routinely interacts with objects both far away and close to the player.

Yoshi’s Crafted World is leisurely platforming experience that focuses heavily on uncovering all of the many secrets scattered throughout each level. Cute costumes let Yoshi turn into a cow or truck or even a juice box. Local co-op lets two Yoshis scour the levels together, making it a great choice for parents who want to play with their youngsters.

Read our Yoshi’s Crafted World review

Super Mario Odyssey

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Not since Super Mario 64 came out more than two decades ago have we seen a Mario game as fun and whimsical as Super Mario Odyssey. Taking place across several unique kingdoms, Mario’s adventure to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser and his gang of wedding planners offers something unexpected at practically every turn. From zippers that open up to reveal secrets in walls to retro-style 2D platforming sections, the game is always only a few minutes away from amazing you with something.

Read our full Super Mario Odyssey review

SteamWorld Dig 2

Image & Form’s SteamWorld Dig featured a wonderful blend of steampunk and Western when it launched in 2013. Fans have been clamoring for a true sequel that expanded on the mechanics and game world. That feeling was only exacerbated by 2015’s SteamWorld Heist — a great strategy game in its own right — but not a true follow-up. SteamWorld Dig 2 was worth the wait, though, as it amplified everything that made the original so great.

Rusty was replaced by Dorothy in the sequel, but don’t worry, Dorothy still has a trusty pickaxe to create paths in the mines and uncover hidden rooms and objects. The main difference between the two games comes with the level design. The original was randomly generated, while the sequel has a fixed format. That allows for more intriguing level designs, more varied exploration, and better platforming elements.

In addition to the better design, the game’s puzzles have been refined and increased in prevalence, and the game hinges more on RPG progression. As a side-scroller, SteamWorld Dig 2 is best played in the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode.

Celeste

The Nintendo Switch’s portability makes it ideal for “pick up and play” games you can start and stop at a moment’s notice, and few titles meet that bill better than Celeste. A tremendously well-designed platformer with simple controls that feel ideal on the Joy-Cons, it’s a game that continually surprises you with new level design decisions. This forces you to think on (and off) your feet and attempt maneuvers that seem impossible at first glance.

Don’t worry, though, if the going gets too tough, you can turn on the comprehensive “assist” function that lets you take complete control of the difficulty to get through particularly grueling sections. And did we mention that Celeste is frequently laugh-out-loud funny?

With fantastic, hand-drawn character designs during dialogue scenes and surprisingly deep storytelling, Celeste bucks the trend of platformers focusing exclusively on gameplay, and it gives you more motivation to keep playing than seeing “just one more level.”

Shooter

Metroid Dread

Samus cloaks herself to avoid an EMMI in Metroid Dread.

There have been a handful of Metroid games since Metroid Fusion launched in 2002, but none of those games were actually direct sequels. The Metroid Prime trilogy is its own series, Metroid: Samus Returns and Zero Mission were remakes, and the less we say about Metroid: Other M, the better. That means that Metroid Dread was the first original 2D Metroid game to launch in 19 years, which is staggering to think about. Luckily, it was worth the wait: It’s one of Samus’ best adventures yet.

Metroid Dread picks up precisely where Fusion left off narratively, but its a much more mechanically modern title. Developor Mercury Steam, the team behind Samus Returns, heavily refined movement and combat for this game. Samus can now freely melee enemies with her arm canon, slide through gaps, and free-aim in every direction. That allows her to move around like her Super Smash Bros. self during tough boss fights and tricky puzzles that require a mastery of movement. Dread also ups the series’ horror tendencies as Samus must escape from the robotic E.M.M.I., which stalk her like Alien‘s xenomorphs. It all comes together to form one of the scariest, toughest, and most stylish games Nintendo has made in a very long time.

Read our full Metroid Dread review

New Pokémon Snap

New Pokémon Snap Illumina Pokemon Close up

For over two decades, Nintendo fans begged the company to make a sequel to Pokémon Snap. The N64 classic was a beloved hit thanks to its intuitive photography gameplay and charming use of the franchise. It was a long wait, but it was worth it in the end. New Pokémon Snap is a delightful follow-up that feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch. For fans of the original, it doesn’t stray from what made that version work. It features relaxing, on-rails gameplay that lets players lay back and take some cute snaps.

The sequel really shines when it comes to content. The original game was extremely short, making it a perfect Blockbuster rental. This new version is much more robust. There are over 210 Pokémon to snap, each of which has four distinct poses. There are way more courses to explore, which have several variants. Side requests give players around 200 bonus goals to complete on top of the already beefy 12-hour story. To top it all off, the game has a photo editor and an online social component where players can share their best snaps. For those who just want to live in the world of Pokémon, it’s a much more fully realized version of Snap that’s perfect for lazy Sundays on the couch.

Read our full Pokémon Snap review

Splatoon 2

Splatoon 2 Splatfest

The original Splatoon reinvented the multiplayer shooter by taking the emphasis off of simply eliminating enemies, and its unique ink-spraying online matches were unlike anything we had ever seen before. The Switch sequel, Splatoon 2, largely sticks to the formula we saw previously, but its inventive new multiplayer maps and weapons make the game even more engaging. The game’s humor is also back in full force, with puns galore and user-created artwork that is both hilarious and terrifying.

For those more interested in playing cooperatively, the Salmon Run mode is an excellent addition to Splatoon 2. Groups of four players must collect golden eggs while fending off waves of evil Salmonids, and it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. Just make sure all your friends have their own systems, as the game doesn’t support split-screen multiplayer.

Read our full Splatoon 2 review

Cuphead

Cuphead Bosses Ranked

Cuphead‘s 1930s cartoon visuals dazzled Xbox One and PC players when it launched in 2017. Amazingly, StudioMDHR produced a flawless port for Switch, allowing gamers to take the adventures of Cuphead and Mugman on the go as well.

Cuphead is an immaculately designed action game that focuses heavily on boss battles. Though six run-and-gun platforming levels exist, the brunt of your time with Cuphead is spent squaring off in grand battles against wondrously designed and challenging bosses.

Cuphead is punishing but fair, and the art and sound design help to keep you engaged even when you’ve been fighting the same boss for hours on end. There is nothing quite like Cuphead. If you own a Switch, you shouldn’t miss out on this ambitious and sublime experience.

Fortnite

Fortnite is one of the biggest games in the world. The full battle royale game is available on the console, and it supports cross-play with PC, PS4, Xbox One, Mac, Android, and iOS.

Unlike the virtual analog sticks on the mobile version, however, you’ll be able to play it on the Switch with a traditional control scheme and compete against skilled players, and if you want to pop it on the big screen, you’re free to do so like you can with almost every Switch game.

Read our full Fortnite: Battle Royale review

Driving

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

The original Wii U version of Mario Kart 8 is one of the best games in the entire series, with inventive, gravity-defying courses, beautiful graphics, and a surprisingly competent online multiplayer mode. The game also launched with a Battle mode that did away with open-ended maps in favor of more race-oriented ones, rendering the style significantly less fun than it was in games like Mario Kart 64.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe brings with it not only a revamped Battle mode but also every single character and map released as downloadable content — for the Wii U version. A few new characters, like the Inkling Boy and Inkling Girl from Splatoon, also join the fun this time around. In addition to using the Joy-Con Grip and Switch Pro Controller to race, each player can also use one Joy-Con, and up to eight Switch owners can connect their systems for a local multiplayer party, even if they’re on the go.

Read our full Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review

Rocket League

No one could’ve predicted Rocket League‘s runaway success. After all, its premise — soccer with cars — seemed like an odd experiment that would be cool to try out, but would likely fizzle shortly thereafter. Instead, Rocket League became an instant success when it launched in 2015. It has remained popular ever since, and the Switch version offers perhaps the greatest asset of all: Portability.

Though you need to be connected to Wi-Fi to experience Rocket League how it’s meant to be played, with broadband access popping up on transits, in businesses, and elsewhere, it’s not so much of a problem to find a place to get an exciting match in on Switch. Couple that with the fact that Switch users are playing with both Xbox One and PC user bases, and you’re unlikely ever to have a hard time finding a game. Plus, the Switch version has Nintendo-themed vehicles and decorations. Pretty cool, right?

Simulation

Stardew Valley

Few indie games have ever been as successful as Eric Barone’s Stardew Valley. The first-time developer spent five years creating a spiritual successor to the farming RPG Harvest Moon, and when he finally completed the game, what he had made was even more impressive than its influences. Mixing classic farming mechanics with exploration, relationships, and even some combat, Stardew Valley is much more ambitious than its 16-bit visuals indicate.

It also happens to be one of the best Nintendo Switch games to play in handheld mode during commutes, as there is always something you can do to pass the time. Whether you’re interested in fishing, finding a husband or wife, or mining for minerals, it’s possible in Stardew Valley, and you can just feel the love that went into the game’s development.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

The long-awaited Animal Crossing: New Horizons is now one year old, and it just might be the series’ best game yet. Set on a deserted island that players must develop from scratch as part of a vacation getaway package, New Horizons gives unprecedented freedom and customization options. Furniture and decorations can be placed anywhere on the island, and custom patterns can be created for flags and even face paint. It’s one of the best multiplayer games on the Switch and has already moved over 31 million units, making it one of the Switch’s top sellers.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons continues the series’ online multiplayer tradition with support for up to eight players, and players can still trade items such as fruit back and forth to help each other build up their homes. Tom Nook remains in charge and wants mortgage payments, but the joy of New Horizons gameplay means it won’t even seem like a big deal. With regular updates on the way and seasonal fish to catch, New Horizons is certain to stick around for a while.

Read our full Animal Crossing: New Horizons review

Party

Overcooked 2

Overcooked 2 is the sequel to the hectic cooking co-op game, Overcooked. It doesn’t change much of the stress-inducing yet deeply satisfying formula we saw in the first game, but it does refine it. Added features include a new throwing ability, more chefs, different recipes, and online multiplayer. If you enjoyed the first game, then you’ll likely love Overcooked 2. If you didn’t play the original game, then starting with Overcooked 2 will ease you into what you missed since it’s not as frustratingly difficult and has less wonky controls.

This time around, you’ll be facing a new foe called the “Unbread” (zombie bread — get it?), and the only way to save the Onion Kingdom is to don your tallest chef hat, travel to crazy locations, and cook up complex recipes in really impractical kitchens. Overall, we’d say Overcooked 2 is one of the best Nintendo Switch games to bring to a party. The kind that will bring you closer to your friends or have you hurling insults at each other.

Adventure

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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It’s one of the best Zelda games of all time — do we need to say more? The flagship launch is undoubtedly one of the best games on Switch and any system period. While the Zelda name alone is enough to intrigue most buyers, Breath of the Wild still seeks to innovate the series’ classic formula and bring Link’s adventures into the modern era. The lands of Hyrule have opened up, giving you the freedom to explore and complete quests as you please. Weapons and items now have temporary lifespans, meaning you will have to search for and craft items to assist you on your adventure.

The game’s physics — from Link’s movements to his weapons — has also received a drastic overhaul, so expect actions to have increased fluidity and realism. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild takes the series in a welcome new direction without shedding the iconic Zelda charm. It should be one of the first titles you pick up for your shiny new system.

Read our full Breath of the Wild  review

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Throwback Zelda with an overhauled art style, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is an exemplary remake of the 1993 Game Boy classic. As the weirdest game in the franchise, Link’s Awakening taps into its mysterious personality even more with the cutesy art style that makes everyone and everything look like toys in a playset.

Koholint Island remains the best setting not named Hyrule in franchise history thanks to fun characters and a mysterious story revolving around a giant egg. Nintendo thoroughly improved Link’s Awakening in the remake, tweaking the inventory system to make gameplay better, adding map pins for exploration, and significantly increasing the number of Heart Pieces, Secret Seashells, and other collectibles scattered across the island.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening holds up remarkably well and is arguably one of the best top-down Zelda games ever made. Excellent dungeon design and a brilliantly conceived overworld make it an absolute joy to revisit more than 25 years after its initial launch.

Read our full The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening review

Kentucky Route Zero

Kentucky Route Zero

In a similar vein to the game above, Kentucky Route Zero is another legendary title that focuses more on story than gameplay. Also originally released in 2011, Kentucky Route Zero finally reached its conclusion in January 2020 when the last of its promised five acts arrived alongside a complete edition port to other machines.

Through a traditional point-and-click adventure game style, Kentucky Route Zero follows truck driver Conway as he attempts to make one final trip for his antique company. Losing his way while traversing the fictitious highway running through the mountains of Kentucky, Conway befriends a gaggle of eccentric characters who accompany him on this weird and wonderful journey.

Eight years of development across sporadically released acts means there’s a good chance player reception ultimately played a part in the conclusion of the story. So if you’re sick of a game’s ending going against the grain, know that Kentucky Route Zero‘s parting gift likely took many years of feedback into account.

Fighting

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Nintendo

The Nintendo Switch game that could become your sole obsession, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is one of those fighting games so comprehensive that it’s worth buying a Switch for it alone. The latest universe-melding fighting game features every character ever included in the series’ nearly 20-year history, and more than 100 stages are available as soon as you boot it up for the first time.

Nostalgic for Nintendo of the past without seeming dated, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate plays with the speed of a competitive fighting game, but it is easy enough for less-experienced players to enjoy, as well. The character roster has something for everyone, and newcomers like Incineroar and Simon Belmont feel perfect alongside classics like Mario and Jigglypuff. A hefty single-player campaign mode and new local multiplayer options are just icing on the cake.

Read our full Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review

Sandbox

Minecraft

One of the most influential and culturally significant games ever made, Mojang’s Minecraft is a perfect fit for Nintendo’s console. The Switch version contains both the building-focused Creative mode as well as the traditional Survival mode, which tasks you with building shelter to survive nature’s most dangerous elements, all while digging deeper into the planet’s surface.

The Bedrock Edition update lets Switch players connect to friends on Xbox, PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and even VR platforms. You’ll also be able to earn Xbox Gamerscore for any achievements you earn in Minecraft on Switch, and you can purchase additional skins or maps from the game’s marketplace.

Puzzle

Tetris 99

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