Looking for the best games on the Nintendo Switch? What follows is a living list of the 22 Nintendo Switch games we recommend everyone play or watch, in case you’re new to the system or just want something new to play.
Why 22 games, though? Good question! It’s a solid number of titles, spread across a variety of genres, with selections for families, children, and adults. But 22 isn’t an overwhelming number, and we wanted to focus on the best of the best for this guide to the essential releases of the platform. Find something you like, and see what you think. And just in case you get stuck, we’ve included a link to our guide for each game when possible, just in case you need a little help.
And if the list of 22 games up top isn’t enough for you, check out a few extra recommendations we threw in at the bottom. The Switch is one of Nintendo’s most popular consoles in some time, with a game library to match. Take a look — we hope you find something you like.
Our latest update added Jet Lancer, Hades, Metroid Dread, Unpacking, Metroid Prime Remastered, Dredge, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and Super Mario Bros. Wonder.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars
Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a perfect re-creation of an imperfect batch of games. In the case of Super Mario Sunshine, those imperfections are far too consistent and devastating to recommend the game.
Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy, though, are both fantastic. The quality of both titles is so high that some unfortunate drawbacks (dated visuals in the former, motion controls in the latter) aren’t enough to stymie the pure excellence on hand.
If anything, Super Mario 3D All-Stars shows the breadth of what a 3D Mario game can be, and much of that is truly excellent.
Though seriously, y’all, Mario Sunshine sucks. —Russ Frushtick
For two decades, Metroid Dread was a failed plan. Yoshio Sakamoto, who produced and directed several games in the series since the original Metroid, originally conceived of Dread as a sequel to 2002’s Metroid Fusion, which had given him the idea for the EMMI robots that stalk Samus in Dread. Back in the early 2000s, however, video game technology just wasn’t there yet to realize his vision. Decades later, it was Sakamoto’s partnership with MercurySteam for the Samus Returns remake, as well as the capabilities of the Nintendo Switch, that finally made Metroid Dread possible.
Sometimes, a long-held dream does not actually measure up to what its creator imagines, let alone what fans have thought up over years of waiting and wondering. Not so with Metroid Dread. To quote my colleague Russ Frushtick’s review: “I find myself enraptured by Metroid Dread in ways I haven’t felt since 1994’s Super Metroid. […] Dread reimagines the Metroid format with confidence and care, and it trusts the player to make leaps along the way. While following its interwoven path of epic boss fights, satisfying upgrades, and otherworldly environments, all I could think was that this is the Metroid game I’ve been waiting for.”
If it weren’t on modern hardware, featuring enemies with abilities that only new tech could possibly accommodate, Metroid Dread would feel like a perfect time capsule — a game that should’ve been released back in the 2000s, soon after Metroid Fusion. Now, instead, it’s proof that Samus Aran’s journey was far from over, and her future is bright with the blaze of super missiles. —Maddy Myers
Super Mario Bros. Wonder
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a glorious romp of a 2D Mario game. While you can play it as you would any other 2D Mario platformer, this game contains a bunch of quirky secrets. In each level, you can find a Wonder Seed that will prompt a psychedelic change in scenery and transform the level. In an early part of the game, this means your usual easygoing grass area is graced with an entire musical number sung by Piranha Plants. What’s even more amazing is how Nintendo implements a scene like this into every single one of the game’s levels.
Outside that, the game successfully delivers on the tried-and-true wonders fans have come to expect from a Mario game. New powers like the Elephant Fruit allow Mario to transform into an absolute unit, and players can add on additional bonuses with the badge system. It’s an awe-inspiring game that’s good to play alone or with friends. Given all this, it makes Super Mario Bros. Wonder a great consideration for your game library and a perfect send-off for the Nintendo Switch. —Ana Diaz
Metroid Prime Remastered
Back in 2002, an American studio called Retro Games put out a very different type of Metroid game. The Nintendo-created Metroid series had always consisted of 2D platformers heavy on exploration, environmental puzzles, and positioning. As intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran collected power-ups and new abilities on hostile planets, the player could watch her body and her weaponry change, positioning the heroine perfectly to meet every new challenge.
Not so in Metroid Prime, the first in a trilogy of first-person games that put the player directly into Samus Aran’s power suit (with the one exception of morph ball mode, because, well, even Retro Games couldn’t figure that one out). The surprise-dropped Metroid Prime Remastered changes almost nothing about the original 2002 experience except its appearance. The distance between save points is still just as punishing, the payoff of every environmental puzzle just as rewarding. In 2002, Metroid Prime was a masterpiece — and now, on the Nintendo Switch, it’s a little bit better. —M. Myers
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
You find yourself on a deserted island and a large raccoon presents you with a house mortgage. Welcome to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, one of the most bizarre — yet broadly appealing — games on the Nintendo Switch.
The series has always been about living among animal villagers while completing simple tasks like fishing and bug catching. But New Horizons, with its gorgeous graphics and incredible customization options, has really stepped the franchise up dramatically. The entire island is now open to customization, letting you place everything from the placement of rivers to the design printed on vendor stalls that line your streets.
New Horizons is also profoundly kid-friendly, allowing youngsters to create their own homes on a shared, family island. If you’re looking to connect with people outside of your family unit, there’s full online connectivity for up to eight players at once.
Looking for a chill experience to wind down after a rough day? There’s really no better option than Animal Crossing: New Horizons. —Russ Frushtick
Pokémon Sword and Shield
Nintendo’s first Pokémon game on the Switch — Let’s Go! Eevee/Pikachu — was a solid remake of the original 1998 Pokémon adventure. But it wasn’t a brand-new game. Pokémon Sword and Shield is exactly that, with a new cast of monsters to catch and a new world to explore.
Granted, there’s been a lot of drama about the fact that not every single Pokémon from every previous game is available in Sword and Shield. But if that’s not a deal-breaker for you, you’ll find a really delightful journey here. The game’s new region, Galar, is inspired by the United Kingdom, with all its rolling hills, lakes, and forests just teeming with adorable beasties.
Hardcore Pokémon fans will appreciate enhanced endgame features like the Battle Tower and breeding functionality. But for everyone else, the 20- to 30-hour adventure is filled with fun characters and beautiful vistas, making it feel like a true trip abroad. —RF
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi’s capricious series has only seen three entries since 2001, but the latest on Switch is the strongest by far. Rather than a mansion, Luigi has to clear a haunted motel of ectoplasmic beasts in a quest to save Mario, Peach, and a handful of Toads.
Mechanically, the game hasn’t changed much over the last 19 years. Luigi still slowly creeps from room to room looking for levers to pull and ghosts to suck up in his vacuum. But thanks to the increased power of the Switch, the rooms are now filled with all sorts of fun junk to suck up and swing around, which is enormously satisfying.
Kid-friendly themes and co-op support throughout the campaign also make this a great pick if you’ve got a youngster in your life. Even kids as young as 5 should be able to handle the low-stakes role of Gooigi, Luigi’s bizarre, intangible alter ego. —RF
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The announcement that The Witcher 3 was coming to Switch was greeted with shock and wonder. Even though the makers of another massive open-world RPG, Skyrim, had pulled off the feat, The Witcher 3 was even more visually ambitious than Bethesda’s game. Would it even be playable? Apparently so!
The Witcher 3 on Switch isn’t quite the stunner that it is on the PC, PlayStation 4, or Xbox one. But it’s still quite playable, and having one of the greatest RPGs ever made in a portable format is a huge perk. Geralt’s main quest is easily 60 hours long, but with the added DLC, you’re looking at something that’s liable to take 100 hours to complete, if not more. With a game that big, it’s always nice to be able to chill on the couch while hunting for herbs.
If you’ve been fiending for something to fill the Breath of the Wild-sized hole in your heart, The Witcher 3 fits the bill admirably. —RF
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
The Fire Emblem franchise is a bizarre amalgam of many genres, from strategy to relationship simulator. The first Switch installment, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, maintains the strong strategy roots while fleshing out the events between battles. There’s now a fully explorable school where players can interact with their units, give them presents, and even take them to tea! The academy succeeds in making players feel emotionally attached to these characters, which makes losing them in combat even more brutal.
The game’s three campaigns are massive, each taking around 50 hours to complete, with plenty of branching options and multiple endings. The sheer length of it makes it a perfect fit on Switch, where it’s easy to stop and start at a moment’s notice.
If you’re looking for a strategy epic with the scope of Game of Thrones (but with more tea parties), Fire Emblem: Three Houses succeeds mightily. —RF
Super Mario Maker 2
When it comes to game design, you may think it’s best to leave it up to the professionals. But Super Mario Maker 2 proves that even the least capable among us have a level or two up their sleeves. The game’s approachable controls and interface make tossing together your own Mario creation a breeze. Plus, being able to do it all on the go with the Switch means you can utilize the touchscreen for faster placement and better precision.
If designing levels isn’t your thing, Super Mario Maker 2 comes with its own batch of Nintendo-made stages. It also allows you to play an unending supply of fan-created levels, siphoning only the best creations to the top of your list.
Fans of the 2D Mario era will love all the unique twists to classic mechanics, and a strong online community means there should be plenty of levels for years to come. —RF
As an outdoorsy New Englander who owns a kayak, I take frequent advantage of access to ponds and lakes carved out by Ice Age glaciers, now filled with water that’s clear all the way to the bottom. Paddling and fishing in such places is the opposite of scary; it’s the most soothing hobby you could imagine. But alongside these experiences, I have also met with the horror of their opposite. I’m talking about brackish, brown ponds full of fish that are unsafe to touch, let alone eat. I’m talking about that infamous “dirty water” of the Charles River. And I am talking about the water in Dredge.
If you have never paddled or fished in water like this, you may not understand how unnerving it can be, especially when you’re far from the shoreline and you see something — you’re not sure what — moving somewhere deep underneath you, but not quite deep enough. That said, Dredge is as much a “cozy game” as it is a horror game; much of your time playing it will be spent fishing, and some of what you catch will be quite ordinary at first. But as you continue in your exploration of these strange shorelines, eventually in search of beings that can only be caught in the blackest of night, when your sanity is on its very edges of remaining intact… you will understand, perhaps, why I prefer to sail in clear water. You just never know. —M. Myers
Baba Is You
Baba Is You looks like it could have come out 30 years ago. Its graphics are easily within the scope of what the NES could pump out. Despite that, it’s an incredibly modern puzzle game, turning established video game concepts on their ear in incredible ways.
The basics: Baba is a rabbit. Move Baba to a flag to complete a map. But moving blocks of words on the map (like “Wall is Stop”) will change the parameters of what Baba is capable of (or even change Baba himself).
The best puzzle games seem incredibly simple at first glance, but beneath the surface, Baba Is You is a fascinating dissection of the genre. With just a handful of parameters, it manages to create an approachable yet mind-bending experience. There aren’t a ton of puzzle games on Switch, but Baba Is You is one of the best. —RF
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
There’s a kitchen-sink aspect to the latest installment of Super Smash Bros. Every single character, stage, and item that has ever appeared in the franchise returns in this outrageously scoped package.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the most ambitious multiplayer game Nintendo has ever made, but despite the scale, it’s incredibly friendly to newcomers. You’ll start out with just eight characters to choose from, slowly building the gang up to over 70 contenders. A new single-player mode offers up a nice way to experiment with unplayed characters while collecting hundreds of artifacts from gaming history.
If you’re having friends over, this and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are must-haves for your Switch. Just make sure you have enough controllers. —RF
Any list of the best Nintendo Switch games that doesn’t include even a mention of Supergiant Games’ “godlike” roguelike dungeon crawler hardly qualifies as a definitive list at all.
Hades was Polygon’s 2020 game of the year and the Switch is (arguably) the best way to play it. The game follows Zagreus, the rebellious son of the god of the underworld, who attempts to escape his father’s realm to reach Mount Olympus in a quest to be reunited with his long lost mother. To do so however, he’ll have to overcome a gauntlet of his father’s most powerful servants and commanders before facing off with the old man himself.
Hades is a compulsively playable roguelike, packed with satisfying moment-to-moment gameplay; a wealth of variability in terms of weapons, upgrades, and assorted powers; and numerous secrets and challenges that will test even the most experienced of gamers. That’s not even mentioning the game’s story, a branching narrative that perfectly paces itself as Zagreus undergoes his many, many trials to escape from the Underworld and uncover the mystery of his estranged family’s past. With the sequel just around the corner, now’s as good a time as any to acquaint yourself with one of the very best indie titles to grace the Switch. —Toussaint Egan
The Switch was designed with multiplayer in mind. Outside of first-party Nintendo releases, few games take better advantage of same-system multiplayer than TowerFall. At first glance, TowerFall appears to be a 2D clone of Super Smash Bros. In truth, it’s even more approachable than Nintendo’s brawler. Heroes equipped with arrows engage in minute long battles to the death, using stomps, dodges, and jump pads to slaughter their competition.
The bright, colorful graphics pop so well that a group of four players crowded around a tiny Switch screen can still play easily, enjoying a range of multiplayer matches without losing sight of their own character and their competitors. Dollar for dollar, TowerFall may be the best competitive multiplayer game on Switch, so if you’re looking to make some enemies, look no further. —RF
I feel like a modern archaeologist while playing Unpacking. In this game, you unpack boxes one item at a time and arrange objects in a home. With each completed level, you’ll move into a different scene, like a dorm room or your first apartment. By unpacking item by item, you’ll slowly uncover a story behind the characters that inhabit these spaces, what matters most to them and what makes them tick. It’s a surprisingly emotional game and an excellent addition to your Nintendo Switch library.
Developer Witch Beam managed to pack a lot into this short game. Unpacking features luxuriously detailed pixel art so you can tell the difference between small items, like kitchen utensils. The simple act of unpacking is enriched with satisfying animation of paper unwrapping and textured audio — the developers added over 14,000 foley audio files to capture every possible sound that can come with picking up, unwrapping, and placing items. Overall, it’s a true jewel of a game where every detail matters. —AD
Jet Lancer is one of the great hidden gems of the Nintendo Switch. It’s a side-scrolling aerial combat shoot-’em-up with fast and frantic gameplay that makes for an experience that’s perfectly suited to the ease of playing handheld.
The debut title from indie game studio Code Walkers, Jet Lancer pits players in the role of Ash Leguinn, a rookie aviator who irreverently becomes the pilot of a mysterious prototype aircraft as you take on freelance gigs protecting convoys from rogue mercenary pilots. After engaging with a number of resurrected AI-powered weapons, you’ll embark on a globe-spanning adventure as you soar to new heights on your ascent to becoming a legendary pilot.
With a lengthy story-driven campaign consisting of 30 total missions, a range of customizable weapons and enhancements to choose from, and a fantastic guitar-driven soundtrack, Jet Lancer is a fun and thrilling game that’s well worth picking up. Take to the skies and seize your destiny! —TE
Get it here: Nintendo eShop
It took a little while for Hollow Knight to finally arrive on Switch after a successful launch on PC, but that delay paid off. It may be the greatest Metroidvania ever made, and it has found a perfect home, especially when played in handheld mode.
There’s a level of copy-and-paste roteness to games of this genre, but Hollow Knight manages to create a handcrafted world that is massive, eerie, and beautiful, all the while adding to the Metroidvania formula in a number of unexpected ways. And since it’s a 2D game, you can explore this world for lengthy play sessions without worrying that your Switch’s battery will die within an hour or two. —RF
Super Mario Odyssey
Using the building blocks of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, and its sequel, Super Mario Odyssey layers in a new range of movements for our favorite plumber. By combining jumps, dodges, and a springboard-esque hat named Cappy, Mario is as nimble as ever. By far our favorite bit of acrobatics involves Mario tucking up in a tight ball and tumbling through the world like a small boulder.
But the real twist to Mario Odyssey is the ability to take command of enemies, including the deviously satisfying Pokio, a bird that uses its nose to stab into surfaces before flinging itself upward. It feels so good that I’d fully support a Pokio-led spinoff.
Odyssey is a reminder that Nintendo can still reinvent Mario in interesting ways, more than 35 years since he first battled Donkey Kong. —RF
The hardest part of Stardew Valley is getting over the hump that you’re paying money for a farming game. Once you do that, you will quickly find yourself and your hours melting away.
Created almost entirely by a single designer, Stardew Valley places you in the role of a new farm owner on the edge of a small town. What starts simple (hoeing the dirt, planting seeds, watering seeds), slowly unravels into a far bigger experience, as you build relationships, explore dungeons, and participate in events that bring the world to life.
The experience has found no better home than on the Switch, where basic duties can be performed on a mass-transit commute with no loss of fidelity or satisfaction. It’s soothing and Zen-like, a perfect way to wind down after a long day. And yet, at higher levels of play, it can be surprisingly strategic and challenging. —RF
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
It’s obviously a point of contention, but I believe Mario Kart 8 is the greatest installment of the franchise thus far. Unfortunately, it came out on the Wii U, a console that barely anybody owned.
Its arrival on Switch ensures that the most important aspect of Mario Kart is maintained: easy multiplayer. While there are plenty of single-player challenges to keep people busy, Mario Kart has always been a party game franchise, and the fact that every Switch is already packing two controllers is an instant boon.
If you happen to have a few more controllers (or better yet, friends with a Switch or two), it’s remarkably easy to get a squad of four, six, or even eight people in the same tournament together. All without the hassle of having wires strewn about your living room. —RF
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better game to have on your Nintendo Switch than The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. The follow-up to the groundbreaking The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Tears of the Kingdom is no less astounding. This time, players embark on an adventure as Link to find the missing Zelda after Hyrule is struck with a cataclysmic event known as the Upheaval.
While it’s not necessary to play Breath of the Wild beforehand, Tears of the Kingdom expands upon the world of the previous game — literally. Players can explore the sky region peppered with floating islands, the varied terrain of the world’s surface, and the ominous underground world of the Depths. Almost like Legos, you’ll collect items and fit them together to build extraordinary, or if you want, completely ordinary, machines and structures.
Tears of the Kingdom is a technical marvel and will likely be an easy recommendation for me to give for years to come. If you’re new to adventure games or the scale of this adventure daunts you, don’t let that scare you. It’s well worth it to take the leap. —AD
Other recommended Switch games
Get it here: Nintendo eShop
Get it here: Nintendo eShop
Get it here: Nintendo eShop
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.