The 25 Best Nintendo Switch Games

The 25 Best Nintendo Switch Games

Our rotating list of the best games on Switch, now updated for the start of 2020!

This list of the best Switch games was originally published on March 5, 2018. We've now updated for the new year.

The Nintendo Switch is now hitting the middle of its lifespan. This spring, it will hit its three-year anniversary. Its stellar debut year that included new entries into series such as The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Xenoblade, and Splatoon now feels like a distant memory. Well, almost.

Best Switch Games

To properly celebrate the Switch, we put our heads together to choose the 25 best Nintendo Switch games. Unsurprisingly, nailing this down to just 25 games was a tough task. But we did it.

As time goes on, some Switch games will exit this list as others rise above them, and we'll keep a log of all the changes that are made as they come. In the meantime, here's our collective list of the 25 Best Switch games. Enjoy!

Bayonetta 2

Our Impressions

While Bayonetta 2 made its debut on the Wii U and not the Nintendo Switch, it found itself buried alive on the console, gasping for one last breath. Luckily nothing held Bayonetta and her comrades back, as both games in the series were released on the Switch in early February 2018. The games run great too, with shorter load times than their counterparts on the Wii U. Even if the PC and Xbox One X Enhanced versions of the first Bayonetta are the best editions of it, the Switch version of the Nintendo-exclusive Bayonetta 2 is as good as it gets. Action, visuals, and ridiculous setpieces are left unrestrained by the hybrid-portable foray; if anything, the titular heroine is better for it. —Caty McCarthy

Get It Here: Amazon

One of the few bosses you face in Celeste. | Caty McCarthy/USG, Matt Makes Games

Celeste

Our Review

Celeste is a game about collecting strawberries and climbing a mountain. But not just any mountain: a mountain of one person's worst anxieties. Beyond that though, it's just an impeccably designed platformer. You jump, dash, and grab contraptions across every screen, with only the company of the ever-chilly Celeste mountain holding you back. It's a game that teaches you naturally over the course of the experience, and in an era where memorable platformers are so rare, Celeste's emotional and mechanical depth help it stand out in the crowd. —Caty McCarthy

Get It Here: Amazon

The action in Dead Cells is punishing. | Motion Twin

Dead Cells

Dead Cells Guide | Our Review

Dead Cells is a painful game, but it's painful in a productive way. Kind of like ripping off a hangnail, I guess. Comparing any game to Dark Souls is a great way to earn mockery, but FromSoftware's influence on this 2D platforming adventure is undeniable. Dead Cells will kill you, but that's okay: Your character is literally engineered to die and revive again and again. Each death offers a lesson in how to dodge, how to weave, and how to best use the weapons available to you. In time, you should be able to earn permanent power-ups that let you get a little farther. Then farther still. Slowly up the ladder, catch the monkey. It's a satisfying, rewarding experience, and oh boy, will it ever try your patience. —Nadia Oxford

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Divinity Original Sin 2 has some incredible key art. | Larian Studios/Bandai Namco

Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition

Our Impressions

There is one thing that sets Divinity: Original Sin 2 on Switch above its console port counterparts: cross-save. Yes, with Divinity: Original Sin 2 on Switch, you can carry over your save from PC, and vice versa. It's a brilliant way to bring one of the decade's best RPGs anywhere you want with you, even on-the-go. It reminds me of how the PlayStation Vita operated at its peak, where multi-platform games frequently offered cross-save, or "transfarring" as Hideo Kojima once called it (seriously). Of course, this mostly amounted to small games, but nonetheless, it was a thing of beauty.

Of course, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is at its best with the rereleased Definitive Edition, which smooths over many quality of life functions. As Mike wrote in his review of the original 2017 PC-only release, "Divinity: Original Sin 2 is simply the pinnacle of the CRPG genre." And there's never been a better time to hop into the choice-heavy RPG than now, as it's on Switch. —Caty McCarthy

Get It Here: Nintendo eShop

There are two distinct halves of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. | Intelligent Systems/Nintendo

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fire Emblem: Three Houses Guide | Our Review

Fire Emblem: Three Houses just might be the best Fire Emblem game since the post-Awakening revival. It's the first console Fire Emblem in a long, long time, and with it comes 3D graphics in lieu of the usual sprite art, for better or worse. Still, it takes the Fire Emblem formula in a new direction with its pleasant school system that occupies a significant chunk of the game. So instead of maximizing romances, players must prioritize training, tutoring, and having tea with their favorite Three Houses characters.

Plus, with three substantially different houses to join for playthroughs, Three Houses has plenty of replayability. It recently even got a "Maddening" difficulty level, which is perfect for the veterans who criticized how easy it was upon launch. With that squared away, Three Houses can rightfully take its throne as one of the best Fire Emblem games out there. —Caty McCarthy

Get It Here: Amazon

Don't be tricked by Hollow Knight's cute art style. | Team Cherry

Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight was released in 2017, but it didn't really come into its own until 2018, when it finally released on Switch. Its style manages to be spooky yet vibrant, with insect-like protagonists and antagonists flitting about in the gloom. Its art style is apt to get most of the attention, but you shouldn't sleep on the gameplay, which is very challenging. The indie space isn't exactly lacking for Metroidvanias these days, but Hollow Knight's striking art and superb design helps it stand apart. Along with Celeste, Dead Cells, and Stardew Valley, it's one of the handful of indie games that every Switch owner should have. —Kat Bailey

Get It Here: Amazon

Into the Breach's bite-sized strategy is a perfect fit for Switch. | Subset Games

Into the Breach

Our Impressions

Into the Breach is hardcore. While gameplay is standard for a strategy RPG reminiscent of the Advance Wars-era, it takes a while to grasp Into the Breach's core mechanics. And even then the multiple mechs and mech team configurations make Into the Breach difficult to master. But once you get a hang of it, I promise it'll be hard to put down. While it's available on PC, the Switch version is definitely the most optimal way to take Into the Breach's short but addictive campaigns with you anywhere on the go. —Matt Kim

Get It Here: Amazon

Katana Zero doesn't just deal in slick action, it has a gripping story too. | Askiisoft/Devolver Digital

Katana Zero

Our Review

A lot of games try to be like Hotline Miami, but few are successful. While Katana Zero isn't quite the same type of game, it enacts its neon-soaked action with the same level of confidence and finesse. Joined with gorgeous pixel art, a truly bumpin' synth soundtrack, and a delectable level of pulpy violence, Katana Zero is an adventure you'll want to unsheath your katana for. Or rather, your Joy-Cons. —Caty McCarthy

Get It Here: Nintendo eShop

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild Guide | Our Review

Does this game need any explanation for its inclusion on this list? The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the first reason to buy a Nintendo Switch. It swept pretty much all gaming awards for 2017, including the 2017 Game Awards and this year's DICE Awards. It also landed at the top of our list of the Best Games of 2017. Nintendo stepped up and threw Link into a ruined, lost Hyrule that also represented a wide open world for players to discover. What makes it work is the game's systemic nature, allowing players to mix and match weapons and abilities to find new solutions to problems and new ways to fight. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild offers an amazing sense of freedom and in doing so, climbs to the highest mountaintop on any list of the best Switch games, before jumping off to glide over the rest. —Mike Williams

Get It Here: Amazon

Luigi is back to hunt some ghosts. | Next Level Games/Nintendo

Luigi's Mansion 3

Luigi's Mansion 3 Guide | Our Review

Luigi came back in a big way in 2019. Luigi's Mansion 3 built on the original in exciting ways, making each new floor you'd explore as Mario's brother and Mario's brother's weird gooey twin Gooigi even more thrilling than the last. We were no longer exploring haunted mansions, but a haunted hotel with vibrant scenery at every turn. It made for a richer outing for the series—one that can even be shared with a friend at your side thanks to Gooigi. The Luigi's Mansion series, much like Luigi himself, was always one of Nintendo's second tier series, but Luigi's Mansion 3 vacuumed straight into our hearts. He should stand shoulder to shoulder with his bro now, as one of the big fellas. —Caty McCarthy

Get It Here: Amazon

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe introduced Inklings to the race. | Nintendo

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Guide | Our Review

When you're at a party, usually the fun comes down to two options: Smash Bros. or Mario Kart. I've always been firmly in the Mario Kart camp, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a slightly-rehashed port of the Wii U game of the same number, solidifies why. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is simply just endless fun. It's the ideal kart racing game, with beautifully designed tracks, high-speed 200cc racing, dozens of characters and kart combinations, and a revamped battle mode, which makes popping the balloons of your friends fun again. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an essential game for any Switch owner, just trust us the next time someone's pining for a party game. —Caty McCarthy

Get It Here: Amazon

Night in the Woods may star cute animals, but its story feels all too real. | Infinite Fall/Finji

Night in the Woods

Our Impressions

Night in the Woods is a game about very real anxieties filtered through a modern visual style. While cute animal avatars give the impression that the world in Night in the Woods is something akin to perhaps a game like Animal Crossing, the characters that inhabit it are instead straight out of newspaper headlines of small towns hit hard by the country's economic crisis. It's a game about the collapse of rural America, the drug crisis, of poverty, and depression. It is, in other words, a game about real-life abstracted through the lens of video games. It is easily one of the best games to play on the Nintendo Switch. —Matt Kim

Get It Here: Nintendo eShop

Octopath Travler may feel traditional, but its 3D lighting on 2D looks modern and magnificent. | Acquire/Square Enix

Octopath Traveler

Octopath Traveler Guide | Our Review

Octopath Traveler is the Switch's surprise 2018 hit. This unique RPG takes cues from the Bravely Default and SaGa series, then enshrouds them in an unforgettable "2D HD" art style. The game isn't for everyone: Some people weren't fond of the game's general lack of a central narrative. Octopath Traveler's strengths lie in the individual stories it tells about its characters, not to mention a battle system that's heavily based around pumping yourself up strategically (which sounds like what happens when tacticians hit the gym or something). Octopath Traveler isn't an RPG about blundering through fights: You need to think carefully about your moves, and take your companions' strengths and weaknesses into consideration, too. I can't wait to see what Square Enix has planned next for Octopath. P.S. Snow leopards rule. —Nadia Oxford

Get It Here: Amazon

Pokemon Sword and Shield's starters: Sobble, Grookey, and Scorbunny. | Game Freak/Nintendo

Pokemon Sword/Shield

Pokemon Sword/Shield Guide | Our Review

The end of 2019 ushered in the console game we've all been readily waiting for: Pokemon Sword and Shield! While technically the second Pokemon RPG to hit the Nintendo Switch, following Let's Go, Sword and Shield is the first proper Pokemon game on the platform. By "proper," we mean it's what you've been playing on your Nintendo handhelds for decades, only now you can play it both on-the-go and on your TV.

Generation 8 brings with it a slew of new Pokemon, a dazzling new region called Galar that's inspired by the United Kingdom, and a brand new open-world area called Wild Area. While controversial for how it sliced the Pokedex basically in half, the new Pokemon are some of the best Pokemon yet. With plenty of quality of life fixes—from a constantly present box to easily switch up your party to the lack of random encounters—Pokemon Sword and Shield, even with its faults, is a can't miss monster collecting RPG on Switch. —Caty McCarthy

Get it Here: Amazon

Ring Fit Adventure

Our Impressions

Nintendo has tried in the past to embed itself not just into our video game routines, but our daily ones as well. From Brain Age to Wii Fit, Nintendo's helped us remain both entertained and healthy over the years, but nowhere has it been better with that goal than with 2019's Ring Fit Adventure.

Ring Fit Adventure, thought it may not look like much, is a brutal workout wrapped in a cute RPG. With a pilates ring that has slots for Joy-Cons, you jog in place and do all sorts of exercises, such as squats and yoga. Outside of the adventure, you can dive into individual minigames, or just do the exercises on their own. Or you can make it a party game and pass around the ring itself, making whoever's at your house very sweaty. It's all up to you. Nintendo, at last, has nailed the "fitness game." —Caty McCarthy

Get it Here: Amazon

There's a whole lot of Shovel Knight on Switch, so why not recommend it all? | Yacht Club Games

Shovel Knight / Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove / Shovel Knight: King of Cards / Shovel Knight: Showdown

Shovel Knight Guide | Our Review

Shovel Knight might be the best throwback to the classic 16-bit action-platformer era of games. Yet, to say that suggests that what Shovel Knight excels at is only a mastery of old-school gameplay tropes. Instead, Shovel Knight innovates on tradition, introducing creative and modern new sensibilities to the 16-bit platformer in a way that's closer to WayForward than say, Mighty No. 9. The Switch version debuted with the most complete version of Shovel Knight anywhere, which is why we've included it in our list. —Matt Kim

An additional note: As of late 2019, Shovel Knight is now complete. King of Cards, its final standalone expansion, released, as well as its long-awaited arena battler Shovel Knight: Showdown. In Kat's review of the latter, she writes, "With a large amount of unlockable content, in-game challenges, and solo modes, it's a deceptively robust package that has the potential to be a long-term party staple." —Caty McCarthy

Get It Here: Amazon

Sonic Mania proves that old Sonic games are as good as you remember. | Caty McCarthy/USG, PagodaWest Games/Sega

Sonic Mania

Sonic Mania Guide | Our Review

Arguably, there hasn't been a good Sonic game in quite some time. Some may even argue there's never been a good Sonic game. But I digress, at the very least, Sonic Mania is the first great Sonic game in quite awhile. With the Sonic Team handing the series off to Western fans who adore the blue hedgehog, a marriage of modern attitude and Sega Genesis-like pixel art was born. Sonic Mania doesn't mince the difficulty of old-school platformers either, with some of the most challenging levels and bosses in the entire series. Its Switch version allows you to take your favorite speedy pals on-the-go when you gotta go fast on that commute of yours. —Caty McCarthy

Get It Here: Amazon

New content support may have ended, but Splatoon 2 is still a blast. | Nintendo

Splatoon 2

Splatoon 2 Guide | Our Review

Nintendo never seemed to be too big on multiplayer beyond the couch variety. That is, until Splatoon. The Splatoon series pins players as adorable (and stylish) Inklings, perhaps better known as squids who can turn into kids. You're armed with guns that shoot ink, rather than guns that shoot bullets and inflict violence. There are no kills, only "splats" and painting turf as your primary goal. Splatoon 2 perfects the Splatoon formula laid out by the game before it, adding more depth to random rolls on items, having a more replayable single-player campaign, and in implementing a shockingly great PvE mode called Salmon Run.

Even if the multiplayer infrastructure in buddying up with friends is still a tad busted, Splatoon 2 quenches more than enough for your multiplayer shooter thirst. Plus, if you're left wanting more single-player action, its Octo Expansion DLC is pretty great too. —Caty McCarthy

Get It Here: Amazon

Stardew Valley is maybe at its best on Switch. | ConcernedApe

Stardew Valley

Our Impressions

It's been gratifying to watch Stardew Valley blossom into a phenomenon. I've been an on-and-off fan of cartoonish farming sims since the original Harvest Moon for the SNES baffled the general public, and Stardew Valley feels like the genre finally grew into something grand, something very much worth sharing. Like a seed finally bearing fruit, if you will. Heeey, similes.

Stardew Valley isn't just about farming, though, and that might be the reason behind its mass appeal. It's a game about animal husbandry. It's a fishing game. It's a hack-and-slash adventure game. It's a dating simulator. It's an episode of The Young and the Restless. Whenever you feel like wandering off the farm, Stardew Valley has something for you to do. It's also just the perfect portable game, ideal for long plane or train rides. The Switch and Stardew Valley are soulmates, even if it took us a couple of years to learn as much. —Nadia Oxford

Get It Here: Amazon

Super Mario Maker 2 builds on the already excellent original. | Caty McCarthy/USG, Nintendo

Super Mario Maker 2

Super Mario Maker 2 Guide | Our Review

Super Mario Maker 2 is its Wii U predecessor, supersized. Coming with new creation tools, a story mode, a host of new styles, and even multiplayer functionality, the second Mario Maker is everything a sequel should be: bigger and better. In the months since its release, it's fueled an online community of Kaizo level builders and casual-minded fans alike. While level building isn't as intuitive as the stylus-guided Wii U original, it's still possible to make some delightful levels. And for Switch Lite owners, the new d-pad is sure to make playing levels even more of a blast. —Caty McCarthy

Get It Here: Amazon

Here's Mario possessing a Goomba. Creepy, right? | Nintendo

Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey Guide | Our Review

Super Mario Odyssey sometimes gets overshadowed by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild when we talk about the best Switch games. And while Mario's Switch outing doesn't appear at first glance to innovate as completely as Breath of the Wild does, take a closer look. The 3D Mario formula has never been static, but it's never been as wild as it is in Mario Odyssey. The only close cousin I can think of in Mario's history that comes close to being as abstract and strange as Mario Odyssey is Super Mario Sunshine. Only Mario Odyssey sticks its ambitious landing. —Matt Kim

Get It Here: Amazon

They did the impossible: they made a Tetris Battle Royale. | Arika/Nintendo

Tetris 99

Tetris 99 Guide | Our Impressions

A Tetris battle royale game was once a joke, but then Nintendo and Arika made it a reality. Tetris 99 pits you against 98 other players in a round of Tetris, where the more players are knocked out, whether from being bad at Tetris or falling victim to targeted attacks, the faster the pace of the tetrominoes dropping gets. It's the sort of battle royale that's dependent both on skill and sheer luck, and it's arguably one of the best games in the genre, even with its barebones approach. It's maybe the best part of being a subscriber to Nintendo Switch Online, as players only have access to the Tetris entry through the platform. —Caty McCarthy

Get It Here: Nintendo eShop

Untitled Goose Game

Our Review

It's a surprise that Untitled Goose Game turned out as well as it did. I, for one, was worried the novelty would quickly wear off—after all, years of trailers, GIFs, and general hype had built up Untitled Goose Game to be a can't miss game. Luckily, the final release is just as charming as that first demo I ever played at Day of the Devs years ago. And it delivers on the promise we've all been hungry for in games: to play as a goose.

And play as a goose we sure did. In Untitled Goose Game, you waddle around and cause general mischief. You can untie a kid's shoes, or steal things from a neighbor and drag it to the opposite side of the fence. Everything in Untitled Goose Game will have you giggling and filled with delight. With it being on Switch, it's an especially excellent game to pop out to show your loved ones. The goose is a universal character who unites us all: unites in hatred, at least. —Caty McCarthy

Get It Here: Amazon
The main crew of Xenoblade Chronicles 2. | Monolith Soft/Nintendo

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Guide | Our Review

Good old Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I ultimately clocked in over 200 hours with this goof, and I loved every minute. As with the first Xenoblade game, I immediately found myself drawn in by the weird world surrounding me. I've had enough of RPG stereotypes like castles and mountains. Put me on the back of a stone titan that never stops walking ponderously around an enormous tree of mysterious origin.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 isn't for everyone. Its battle system takes some getting used to, though you come to appreciate the depth when you run into the game's harder challenges. There's just so much to do, and it's truly staggering. Even the main story will take you close to the 100 hour mark. If you've an open mind about long, long RPGs, give Xenoblade Chronicles 2 a try. It's a haul, but you're accompanied by one of the best soundtracks on the Switch, guaranteed. —Nadia Oxford

Get It Here: Amazon

Yoku's Island Express is one of the most clever metroidvanias of the past few years. | Villa Gorilla/Team17

Yoku's Island Express

Our Impressions

Metroid-and-Castlevania-likes are common nowadays, but every now and then, one captures our hearts. Yoku's Island Express is a charming open-world-ish platformer with one core conceit that Samus and the Belmonts don't have: pinball. Yes, you play as a bug who rolls around a little ball, delivering mail to an entire world on the brink of destruction. The art's cute, and the playstyle is cuter, as you fling the bug around using omnipresent bumpers. It's one of the most clever blends of a platformer and another genre that I've ever seen, making it just the perfect game to complete your library on Switch. —Caty McCarthy

Get It Here: Amazon


Update, 11/08/2018: We bumped up this list to 25 games in total, from its original amount of 15, which was published March 2018.
Update, 05/23/2019: We added two new entries in total to this list, adding Tetris 99 and Katana Zero. We said bye-bye to Golf Story and Valkyria Chronicles 4.
Update, 09/17/2019: We inducted three new entries in total to this list, introducing Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Super Mario Maker 2. We removed Overcooked 2, Puyo Puyo Tetris, and Diablo 3.
Update, 01/07/2020: It's 2020, so we gave this list another big overhaul. The Messenger, SteamWorld Dig 2, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle got the boot.

You can find our other rotating Best Of lists for current-generation platforms below:

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