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It’s official: the Nintendo Switch is a resounding success. Most third party publishers who abandoned Nintendo’s last console, the Wii U, have embraced the new hardware, and many new indie publishers have jumped on board too.
So where do you start with the swelling library of games the Nintendo Switch boasts?
In this article, we take a look at the best Nintendo Switch games you can buy today, including first party blockbusters, multi-platform third parties, and indies. This list is presented in no particular order.
1. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is one of the best local multiplayer games on the Switch And you can play it online too. It’s the definitive edition of the Wii U’s best racer (which you can be forgiven for missing first time round) with all the downloadable content on the cartridge.
Nintendo also addressed one of the game’s biggest criticisms by completely reworking Battle Mode into a much-improved version with several different game types and an all-new Splatoon-themed arena. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a must-have title you’ll play again and again.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Launch titles are rarely this good, nor do they remain must-buys for this long, but Breath of the Wild still holds up to the hype. Breaking with convention, this is the first Zelda game to open the entire world up to the player from the very beginning.
Not only is it a technical masterpiece thanks to its gorgeous art style, it also redefines many aspects of open world adventure. You really can go anywhere, climb any ledge, and as you can see in our beginner’s guide to Breath of the Wild you’ll be left to your own devices to complete quests through exploration rather than following markers on your map or HUD.
3. Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey is one of the best Mario games ever made. It’s also somewhat of a sequel to Mario 64, featuring the same open-level design that focuses on collection rather than completion. The bulk of the action surrounds new character Cappy and the hat-throwing game mechanics he unlocks.
There’s a real emphasis on exploration, with hours of content to work your way through and more to unlock once you’ve finished. This takes the heat off having to find everything on your first run, because you’ll definitely want to go back and explore more once the credits have rolled. Don’t miss it.
4. Golf Story
Golf Story is what happens when you fuse top-down RPG elements with the mechanics of a golf game. It’s a Switch exclusive, and it’s super cheap, so you’ve got little reason not to jump in and enjoy it for yourself.
Not only do you play the odd round of golf, you’re tasked with using your golfing skills to solve puzzles, complete side quests, and find secrets dotted around the world. It’s all presented with a cheeky sense of humour and retro art style that suits both portable and docked mode.
5. Steamworld Dig 2
Steamworld Dig 2 is the sequel that improves on the first game in almost every way, most notably the brand new art style which looks gorgeous. It’s still got one of the best gameplay loops around: descend into the mines, loot and explore, then head back to the surface to deposit and upgrade.
It might not sound like much, but it’s fiendishly additctive and it suits portable mode play perfectly. My only gripe is that the game doesn’t last longer, nor does it feature a new game plus mode.
6. Stardew Valley
The cross-platform farming simulator that found fame on the PC is possibly most at home on the Switch. It almost feels like it was designed with portable mode in mind, and the pixelated top-down SNES inspired art style pops on the console’s 720p screen.
Grab a buddy and team up for co-op fun via local wireless or online multiplayer, which was added as a free upgrade in early 2018.
If you’re looking to ease yourself into the frantic Metroidvania genre of progression-based platformers, look no further than Celeste. It’s not quite as brutal as other titles in the genre, but it features all the optional teeth-grinding difficulty settings that veterans could ever want.
There’s a positive message about dealing with mental illness here too, wrapped up in a pleasing pixel art style. Celeste nails the “simple to pick up, difficult to master” mark of a satisfying 2D adventure.
8. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition
Hyrule Warriors isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for an exhaustive hack and slash title you can play on the go then this is your best bet. Fans of the Zelda series will appreciate the Hyrule theme, but ultimately this is a Dynasty Warriors (or Musou) game with a different coat of paint.
It’s worth mentioning the insane volume of content included, featuring everything from the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS releases. Unlike the latter, Hyrule Warriors runs buttery smooth on the Switch whether you’re playing handheld or docked.
9. Mario & Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
The turn-based tie-in that nobody expected, and many came to love. Take one-part rabbids silliness, one-part XCOM 3D turn-based strategy, and one-part Mario license and you’ve got yourself a hit.
There’s a surprising amount of depth and variety in Kingdom Battle, and a new Donkey Kong DLC features a whole new campaign if you want more. It’s one of the cheaper Switch games you’ll find on the shelves, and it’s worth a look if you’re a fan of the genre.
Fortnite is a free to play phenomenon that kids can’t get enough of. Hence our parent’s guide to Fornite. And this game fits right in on the Switch. It lacks the high resolution and 60 frames per second you’ll find on the PS4 and other platforms, but Nintendo’s portable box of tricks gets the job done.
It’s also worth noting that unlike Sony, Nintendo doesn’t bind your account to its console. So if you play the PC, Xbox One, or smartphone version; you can login on the Switch and keep your progress.
11. Darkest Dungeon
Darkest Dungeon isn’t your average turn-based dungeon crawler. It’s a roguelike that tasks you not only with winning battles, but also managing your army and all the emotional baggage and flawed personalities they bring to the table.
Darkest Dungeon is a game that works best in portable mode, thanks the Switch’s touchscreen. In fact, the touchscreen helps so much that this is possibly the definitive version of Red Hook Studios’ turn-based roguelike.
12. Captain Toad Treasure Tracker
First released on the Wii U, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker began life as a game mode in Super Mario 3D World on Nintendo’s previous console. It was such a hit that Nintendo gave Captain Toad his own game, with 82 levels (including four platform-specific bonus levels).
Manipulate the camera and guide toad around tricky mazes, along mine cart runs, and through perilous boss battles. For the most part though it’s a slow-paced brain teaser, wrapped up in a fluffy Toad aesthetic that’s a must-buy for puzzle box fans.
Be warned: if you enjoyed Treasure Tracker on the Wii U, there’s probably not much reason to double-dip.
13. Octopath Traveler
With Octopath Traveler, Square Enix has delivered what so many JRPG fans have wanted for so long: a story-driven roleplaying game with turn-based combat that gets right back to the genre’s roots. Explore eight separate stories in any order you like, though don’t expect too much interaction between them.
Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, Octopath Traveller takes advantage of many of the graphical advancements we’ve come to expect from modern titles. This Switch exclusive JRPG looks stunning, with its trademark art style and heavy use of shallow depth of field that adds some much-needed polish to what can be a very flat looking genre.
14. Hollow Knight
Hollow Knight started life as a crowd-funded Metroidvania game for the PC and then Mac, before arriving on the Switch in June 2018. It quickly became one of the best indie titles on the platform for its silky smooth platforming action, detailed environments, and unique atmosphere.
So far Hollow Knight hasn’t made it onto any other console, but since it’s such a perfect fit for portable mode play the Switch feels like the perfect home for it. There’s a tricky learning curve, which is worth keeping in mind if you’re new to the genre (you might want to start with Celeste instead).
15. Lumines Remastered
Lumines was one of the best PSP games of all time. It comes from the creator of Dreamcast classics like Space Channel 5 and Rez and it’s a perfect fit for the Switch.
This fiendish puzzler involves rotating 2×2 blocks of two colors to create 2×2 squares of a single color, which then disappears when the timeline passes over them. It sounds easy (and there’s more to it than that), but a constantly shifting aesthetic, score, and sound bank keeps it fresh and challenging.
16. Splatoon 2
Splatoon 2 is probably the closest thing the Switch has to a triple-A first person shooter. The big difference is an emphasis on dominating the environment with your paintbrush, spray gun, or roller rather than eliminating your adversaries.
There’s not a huge difference between the Wii U version of Splatoon and its Switch sequel, and for anyone who loved the game the first time round that’s only a good thing.
17. Dead Cells
The “rogue-lite” genre of fusing permadeath with gradual progression has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years. Dead Cells is a prime example of the genre done well, with procedurally generated levels, chunky combat system, and bloodstained pixel art style to boot.
It’s up to you to break out of your cell, venture into the city, and collect permanent buffs that will aid you in future run-throughs. You’ll die a lot—each time starting back at the beginning—but before long you’ll be dispatching those enemies with ease and worrying about the next hurdle.
18. Sonic Mania Plus
Sonic Mania Plus is a long overdue return to the series’ roots, embracing the slick 60 frames per second 2D sprite-based adventure that boosted the blue hedgehog to fame when the Genesis was king.
If you have fond memories of playing the original Sonic games, you’ll love what Sega has done with Sonic Mania. Sonic Mania Plus is the official title of the retail release, also available digitally and as an upgrade to anyone who purchased Sonic Mania when it was first released in 2017.
19. Snipperclips Plus
Snipperclips was released alongside the Switch, and quickly became one of the must-buy Switch launch titles. It’s a co-operative local multiplayer game that takes advantage of the fact that every Switch console sold comes with two separate controllers.
Work with (or hilariously against) a team mate to solve puzzles by “snipping” your characters down to size, in order to complete brain tickling puzzles. The Plus expansion adds more levels and sees the first physical release, all for an extra $15.
DOOM might seem like an odd choice, but it’s astounding that DOOM even runs on the Nintendo Switch at all. The ability to take id Software’s hugely popular 2016 shooter on the go makes it worth a purchase for die hard cacodemon hunters everywhere.
The game lacks the silky smooth framerate and high resolution of its PC and home console counterparts, but that doesn’t really matter when you’re tearing hell-spawn limb from limb while sitting at a bus stop.
Enjoy Gaming on Your Nintendo Switch!
These are the best Nintendo Switch games you can play today, but there are many more Nintendo Switch releases that we couldn’t fit on this list. If you’re reading this because you’ve just taken the plunge on Nintendo’s hybrid console, make sure you familiarize yourself with all the tips and tricks for new Switch owners.