The Nintendo Switch is already a smash hit for Nintendo heading into its first holiday, and this is due in no small part to its early game lineup. Though the lineup is still relatively small, the Switch already has one of the best games ever made — The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and the downloadable title Snipperclips is an adorable cooperative game to play with friends and family. With Super Mario Odyssey available now, as well, there is no better time to pick up the console. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games you can buy right now.
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.
The real star of the show in Super Mario Odyssey isn’t Mario, but his companion “Cappy.” Capable of turning almost any creature into a controllable ally, Cappy allows Mario to reach previously inaccessible locations, swim underwater without running out of air, and even destroy enormous boulders. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to actually control the Bullet Bill who mercilessly chased you down in an older Mario game, now is your chance.
A new Zelda game — do we need to say more? The flagship title will undoubtedly be attached to nearly every Switch sale at launch. While the Zelda name alone is enough to intrigue most Switch 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 constantly 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. From our time with the game thus far, Breath of the Wild takes the series in a welcome new direction without shedding the iconic Zelda charm. If you want a lengthy, smart, challenging game for the Switch, Breath of the Wild will certainly fit the bill. It’s really the only must-have launch title.
Doom is the greatest portable first-person shooter of all time. No, the bar for that title isn’t too high, but the 2016 Doom reboot that wowed us for its fast-paced action, precise shooting mechanics, and engaging level design, somehow managed to not miss a step when ported to the less powerful Nintendo Switch. Doom runs like a charm on Switch, even on the go. If you haven’t played it, Doom‘s campaign is a chaotic and action-packed romp across the fiery terrain of Mars populated with bloodthirsty enemies. On Switch, the game remains one of the best shooters in years. The fact that the incredibly quick gameplay runs so smoothly in handheld mode makes Doom all the more impressive.
Like Doom, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been available on other platforms … a lot of other platforms. Skyrim has been around for six years, and it’s playable on just about every home console around. Not for a portable console though, and that’s the difference here. There’s something about playing old games again on a handheld system that feels much more new than say, making the jump from playing Skyrim on a Xbox 360 to playing it on Xbox One.
Revisiting the lush open world of Tamriel in handheld mode feels surreal. A few years ago, the thought of a game as large as Skyrim in the palms of our hands seemed implausible. And even if it was possible, surely it wouldn’t run well. Skyrim looks and plays the part of the brilliant RPG that many have sunk hundreds of hours into already. Now you can take it with you wherever you go.
Sega’s once-revered mascot has had a rough go at it over the last few console generations. Besides a couple of rare gems like Sonic Generations, Sega has largely stumbled in its attempt to modernize the speedy hedgehog. Sonic Mania found its footing by returning to the series’ blast processing roots.
Designed in the style of like the original Sega Genesis Sonic trilogy, Sonic Mania heads back to strict 2D, side-scrolling action. The game’s 12 zones hark back to the past with remixed versions of the series’ iconic locales with mixed and matched enemies, abilities, and mechanics you loved from Sonic’s heyday. Mania includes entirely new zones as well, along with the ability to play as Tails and Knuckles. Think of it as a Sonic greatest hits game, but with completely new levels. It works to perfection on the Nintendo Switch hardware.
Yacht Club Games’ crowdfunded platform game Shovel Knight has done quite well for itself since its original launch for Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and PC in 2014. The 16-bit indie title has sold well over a million copies across all platforms, and for good reason — it’s simply incredible. Unlike other games that have used nostalgic 16-bit visuals for the mere sake of it, Shovel Knight really captures what made side-scrollers of the early ’90s so special. It’s a classic good versus evil tale that excels on its detailed level design, fun platforming sequence, and tough and varied boss fights.
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove really earns its name. Beyond the original “Shovel of Hope” campaign, you’ll gain access to an alternate storyline starring Plague Knight dubbed “Plague of Shadows,” the prequel DLC, “Specter of Torment,” and the yet-to-be-released “King of Cards” expansion starring King Knight. If you’re yearning for a well-made platformer that makes ’90s games new again, Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is a must-have for the Switch.
No one could’ve predicted Rocket League‘s runaway success. After all, its premise — soccer with cars — seemed like a relatively 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 to ever have a hard time finding a game. Plus the Switch version has Nintendo-themed vehicles and decorations. Pretty cool, right?
Nintendo’s exclusive games have traditionally been family-friendly, so it came as a pretty big surprise when the company released the stylish and decidedly-adult action game Bayonetta 2 as an exclusive for the Wii U along with a port of the original. It expanded on PlatinumGames’ previous hack-and-slack title with an even crazier supernatural narrative filled with anime-worthy set pieces, gratuitous fan service, and an improved combat system that cut out nearly all the frustration of the original Bayonetta.
That being said, both games are definitely worth playing, and they’re available together as a $60 bundle on Nintendo Switch with extra improvements. Both games still run at a glorious 60 frames per second, regardless of whether your system is docked or not, and the touch controls introduced in Bayonetta 2 are now available in both games.
The Nintendo Switch’s portability makes it ideal for “pick up and play” games that can be started and stopped 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 constantly surprises you with new level design decisions rather than new abilities for protagonist Madeline. This forces you to think on (and off) your feet and attempt maneuvers that seem impossible at first glance.
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, it bucks the trend of platformers focusing exclusively on gameplay, and it gives you more motivation to keep playing than the typical “just one more level” you see in comparable games.
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 has been 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 procedurally generated, the sequel has a fixed design. This allows for much 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 exceedingly special in the Switch’s handheld mode.
Part brawler, part puzzler, part visual novel, Battle Chef Brigade serves up a unique experience that’s hard to compare to any one game. We mean “serves” literally: It is an action-puzzle-RPG about Iron Chef-style competitive cooking.
Battle Chef Brigade takes place in a fantasy world where elite chefs compete in cooking “duels” where they must hunt monsters, then cook them for a panel of judges. In the game, the duel takes place in two phases. Foraging, where you hunt monsters and collect their meat, feels like a simple RPG. The second part, cooking, is a match-three-style puzzle where you stir gems into patterns to intensify your dish’s flavors. It sounds simple enough, but the game has many layers. You can bring nine items into a match — a combination of ingredients, cookware, and battle gear. Once inside, you have a time limit to prepare the dishes. Depending on what you brought into a match, this can be hard to do. Ingredients can also be found by defeating enemies throughout each 2D stage. The blend of combat, puzzles, and general preparedness makes for a wholly enthralling experience that you shouldn’t miss if you want to try something unlike anything you’ve played before.
A Rockstar game on a Nintendo platform? The developer hadn’t brought a game to Nintendo since Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars launched on the DS in 2009. The Switch, however, is quickly turning into a console meant for reintroducing modern hits to a new audience, and a fresh, portable perspective. L.A. Noire, the 2011 noir detective game, may be the grittiest game available on the Switch to date. Thankfully, perhaps under-appreciated gem holds up very well.
Set in the late 1940s on the heels of World War II, you play as Cole Phelps, a police officer who was promoted to detective after solving a murder. Each mission in L.A. Noire tasks Cole with solving a case by examining clues and interrogating witnesses and suspects. Everything doesn’t always go as planned, which leads to exciting car chases and shootouts. L.A. Noire offers a great detective story and fun, experimental gameplay. While no one asked for it to be ported to Switch, the ability to play this polished detective thriller on a portable device makes it well worth revisiting.
There are few indie games that 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, but when he finally completed the game, what he had made was even more impressive than its influences. Mixing together classic farming mechanics with exploration, relationships, and even combat, Stardew Valley is much more ambitious than its 16-bit visuals would indicate.
It also happens to be a perfect game to play with your Switch 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.
When you think of Mario and his pals, the first thought that comes to your mind probably isn’t “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 actually getting stressful.
It helps that Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is frequently hilarious. Led by a talking Roomba-like robot named Beep-0, the jokes rely on plenty of puns and physical humor, but there are also a couple of lines designed to make parents chuckle instead of their kids. Nothing is particularly inappropriate, however, so the game is still a great choice for a family looking to spend time together, and with cooperative challenges, more than one player can join in on the fun.
The original Wii U 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 new Salmon Run mode is a great 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.
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. But the game also launched with a “Battle” mode that did away with open-ended maps in favor of more race-oriented ones, rendering the mode significantly less fun than it was in games like Mario Kart 64.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe not only brings with it 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.
It’s rare that sports games are able to attract an audience beyond those who already enjoy the real-world version of a particular sport, but Golf Story is different. The lighthearted golfing game is a full-fledged retro-style role-playing game, with a cast of memorable characters, diverse environments similar to the Mario Golf series, and challenges for not just traditional golf, but also putt-putt and disc golf.
Golf Story has drawn some comparisons to Stardew Valley, which also made it onto our list, but it’s more comparable to something like Mario Tennis on Game Boy Color, as the focus is still first and foremost on the sport of golf. But with the game’s charm and beautiful visuals, even those with no interest in golf will find something to love in Golf Story.
Snipperclips is a charming puzzle game that tests your ability to cut new shapes out of its two adorable heroes, Snip and Clip. The game takes place atop a paper-esque grid filled with obstacles and items normally associated with office supplies, including pencils, rulers, and paint brushes. Like 1-2 Switch, Snipperclips takes advantage of the Joy-Con motion controls. Holding a Joy-Con horizontally, you snip, snip, and snip your way through a variety of 2D levels. The game can be played solo, but as the subtitle suggests, the main campaign is designed for co-op.
There’s also a four-player “Party” mode and a competitive mode called “Blitz.” To play with more than two players, however, you will need an additional set of Joy-Cons. A Joy-Con bundle with a digital copy of Snipperclips is scheduled for release on March 10. Keep in mind that Snipperclips will only be available on the Switch’s eShop, though there will be a demo available upon the Switch’s release.
The Switch is quickly becoming a great system for 3D platforming games — with Super Mario Odyssey, Yooka-Laylee, and Snake Pass available, to name a few — and the EA Original game Fe is another excellent addition to the library. An open-ended exploration game set in a “dark Nordic forest,” you interact with the world and its creatures through the use of special songs. These allow you to ally with the inhabitants, who can use their own abilities to let you reach previously inaccessible areas.
Fe is also, unquestionably, one of the most gorgeous games available on the Switch. With a spooky and surreal art style evocative of Ori and the Blind Forest and character designs that are as mysterious as those in Shadow of the Colossus, it stands in stark contrast to the cheerful and whimsical 3D platformers typically seen on the Switch.
Blending together rhythm-based gameplay with intense action, Thumper is one of the most beautiful games we’ve seen yet on the Switch, with plenty of simple visual effects to keep you engaged while mastering what its developers call “rhythm violence.” Naturally, it’s backed by a fantastic soundtrack that is both atmospheric and tense, with large crescendos coming as you make your way through key points in its levels and a steady drumbeat helping to make every moment important.
With a relatively simple control scheme, Thumper is also the perfect game to play when you have your Switch in its handheld mode and need a few minutes to kill. Of course, it’s also playable when the Switch is docked, and its gorgeous colors and effects will be a great fit for a television.