Looking for the best Nintendo Switch games? If you've managed to get your hands on Nintendo's elusive console, then you've got hours and days of play ahead of you. The colourful Switch doesn't have the power of the PS5 or Xbox Series X, but it packs a lot of fun into a compact package and offers a great range of games to choose from, from remakes of classics to new titles.
Of course, the main attraction of the Nintendo Switch is its selection of exclusive Nintendo titles – Mario and Zelda are basically musts. But there's more because the Switch also offers some of the best third-party games available for other consoles, a massive selection of indie titles and a host of retro classics from the vaults. From games to help you relax after a day's work to the best Nintendo Switch games to keep little ones occupied, you'll find our pick of the best below.
If you don't yet own a Switch, check out our guide to the best Nintendo Switch deals. You'll also want to choose from our selection of the best Nintendo Switch accessories and best Nintendo Switch headsets to avoid bothering those around you while you play. And don't forget to look at the best Nintendo Joy-Con deals if you need to add or replace a Switch controller.
The best Nintendo Switch games in 2021
Just released in November 2021, these remakes of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl don't offer anything very different to the originals, but that suits many players just fine. If you haven't experienced the fourth generation of Pokémon, this is your chance, and if you have, these will bring back fond memories of the journey.
Catching and battling the unique Pokémon creatures proves to be a timeless winning formula, and one to while away hours of play. Note that Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are essentially the same game. The main difference is in the list of Pokémon exclusive to each version, with Dialga and Palkia the mascots of Diamond and Pearl respectively.
From something new to something old. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the original Switch titles from the console's launch back in 2017, but it's still the best Nintendo Switch game of all in many players' books. Set in a vast open world, it takes the classic Zelda elements and shakes them up to create an absolute pearl of a game.
There isn't a great deal to do in the game besides the core mission, which is to level up Link and acquire the gear and skills you need for the climactic final battle with Ganon, but that alone will keep you entertained for a long time. You can also explore by going off on side quests, train up a stable of horses and prepare potions. It's a joy to play and really offers something for everyone.
It would be impossible to offer a list of the best Nintendo Switch games without including a good helping of Mario, and luckily there are plenty of options to choose from. The first Mario title in our list is Super Mario Odyssey, which is without a doubt the biggest and best Mario adventure yet.
Every Mario game has its own twist. In Odyssey, that comes in the form of Cappy, a sentient hat that allows you to possess objects, animals and enemies to help you on the journey to save Princess Peach from Bowser. The game offers top-rate Mario action all the way, with some weird touches thrown (New Donk City, a realistic location with real-looking people, makes Mario look disturbingly incongruous). For cooperative fun, there's a two-player option in which one player controls Mario and the other controls Cappy. Whichever way you choose to play, this game offers classic Nintendo fun.
For laid-back fun for all the family, you can't go wrong with Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Jet off to your own little island and turn it into your own personal getaway in a relaxing world-building game filled with delights.
From the starting point of a deserted island, you can build your own home, add furniture and decorations and even customise the landscape until you have a dream destination that starts to attract visitors. When you're not working on improving your island there are plenty of other activities to keep you entertained, from getting to know the local residents, to fishing, fossil collecting or simply gardening. It's a fun game to play with the family.
Ready for some more Mario? Super Mario 3D All-Stars piles three classics into one neat package. The name suggests it might be something along the lines of the old Super Mario All-Stars on the SNES, which revamped the 8-bit Mario titles to look sharp on a 16-bit console. What we actually get, though, is Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy as pretty much straight emulations.
While a lick of paint and a polish wouldn't have gone amiss, we can't argue with quality. Super Mario 64 is still a delight to play 25 years on, Super Mario Galaxy is huge fun with its 3D worlds to jump between, and Super Mario Sunshine... Well, it's not quite up to the rest, but it still has its moments.
As we said, the Switch doesn't mean only Nintendo titles. If you like old-school platform games, you really have to experience Celeste, which is probably the finest game of its kind in recent years. The controls are simple (run, jump, dash and wall-grab), levels are beautifully rendered in stunning pixel art, and the level of difficulty begins refreshingly hard and just keeps climbing as you go on.
The story is surprisingly grown-up, with the main character, Madeline, struggling to climb Celeste mountain while facing her own mental health issues. In a recent twist, it's been revealed that Madeline herself is trans. Respect due there. The challenge of mastering the techniques and racing through the punishing levels at a faster speed will have you coming back to replay over and over. Beyond that, there's a ton of extra-tough bonus levels. Pro tip: use the D-pad rather than the joystick.
If Celeste isn't challenging enough, then Dark Souls is the game for you. The fiendish (yet almost entirely fair) level of difficulty in the game has become something of a modern rite of passage for gamers. The thing you'll see most often in Dark Souls is the phrase, "YOU DIED", in stark red letters as you pay for your lack of skill yet again (although you'll actually die more often in Celeste, to be fair).
With enough practice, you'll learn the techniques to overcome enemies while levelling up your character and collecting better weapons, armour and other items that can make your life slightly easier. You'll also come to marvel at the stunning world-building and lore that underlies the whole Dark Souls experience. It's not for everyone (and certainly not for kids), but once it gets its hooks into you, this game is hard to walk away from.
Just like you need at least one proper Mario game for your Nintendo Switch, you also need a helping of Mario Kart. The ludicrously fun series of racing games is chock-full of daft power-ups and a massive cast of Nintendo characters, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the most polished of them all.
The game came in for some criticism for being an updated version of Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U, with the DLC tracks thrown in as well as new characters and a revised battle mode, but its sheer playability makes it still one of the best Nintendo Switch games. Whether you're battling on single-player mode, huddling around the TV for some 4-player action, or racing against players from all over the world online, this is essential high-speed action for everyone.
If you're looking for something to keep the kids happy, Minecraft remains one of the best Nintendo Switch games to do the job. You almost certainly already know everything you need to know about Minecraft, but just to recap: it's a game set in a randomly generated world built of big, chunky blocks, where you can dig, build, craft and fight to your heart's content.
Kids tend to love creative mode, which allows you to build pretty much anything you want with no restrictions. For more of a challenge, there's also survival mode, in which you have to dig for resources in order to craft bigger and better weapons and armour to be able to fend off the dangerous mobs and monsters. Either way, there's almost limitless fun to be had.
Ever looked at a game and thought that you could do better yourself? Well, Super Mario Maker 2 lets you put your money where your mouth is. Not only does it feature over 100 built-in Super Mario levels for you to try to beat, but it also has a Course Maker that allows you to try your hand at creating your own. If you have a Nintendo Switch Online membership you can share your creations online and help yourself to an almost limitless supply of community-made levels in return.
It's a fantastic slice of classic platform action with a side order of creative fun. If nothing else, it'll teach you that crafting a great Mario level is actually a lot harder than you thought.
Our selection of the best Nintendo Switch games has been rather wholesome so far, so we'll round off with a dose of pure wickedness. In Untitled Goose Game, you're a horrid goose intent on ruining everyone's day. Armed with a to-do list, a beak, big flapping wings and a terrifying honk, you set off on a gleefully malevolent adventure in which nobody in the village is safe from your evil machinations.
It's all fantastically silly and beautifully animated. The goose has a hilariously self-important waddle, and the poor villagers who are trying to get on with their lives despite the rampaging wildfowl also have plenty of character. If one goose isn't enough, you can invite a friend to join in the mayhem and unleash a pair of geese on the unsuspecting village. Oh, the humanity!
If it feels like it's been a long, long wait for the next 2D Metroid game after Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion, that's because it has. But the almost two-decade wait was worth it for this sequel, which was just released in October 2021. Donning bounty hunter Samus Aran's boots once more, your mission this time around is to explore Planet ZDR, gain powers and avoid the deadly E.M.M.I robots.
There are interesting developments as you progress developing the original Metroid story, and along the way, you'll encounter some of the best-designed bosses to ever appear in a 2D action game. The gameplay will be very familiar, and there's a lot of backtracking, which can be frustrating due to the traditional grid-like design of spaces and some repeated themes but while the template's hardly new, the game is great to play – and it looks very slick on the Nintendo Switch OLED.