The best free Nintendo Switch games in 2024

One of the best free Nintendo Switch games
(Image credit: Yasin Hasan via Unsplash / Nintendo / Future)
The best free Nintendo Switch games

The best free Nintendo Switch games will be very welcome if you've just blown your budget on the console and don't have any funds left to buy anything to play. Video games aren't cheap – especially the hottest AAA titles – and while there are plenty of great indie titles available at reasonable prices, there's also a decent assortment of free games to be had if cash is even tighter.

Note that by free Switch games, we mean games that are free to start. In some cases you'll need a Nintendo Switch Online account to get them, and some games include in-app purchases that enable you to get better items and bonuses that can help you progress more quickly. Some games are more generous than others with their free content, but developers have to make money somehow, and so-called loot boxes are a controversial part of that. 

We've divided the free Nintendo Switch games into categories to make it easier to find what interests you, and we've included direct links to download them from the Nintendo website. If you want to see what's available to buy, see our guide to the best Switch games. We also have a list of the best upcoming Switch games for players who want to pre-order the top new Switch games.

 If you still don't have a Switch, see our regular guide to getting the best Nintendo Switch deals, and if you want to play without disturbing others then be sure to check out our guide to the best Nintendo Switch headsets. We also have a guide to Nintendo Joy-Con deals. But for now, let the free games commence!

Free Nintendo Switch games: Puzzle games

01. Pokémon Café ReMix

An image from Pokémon Café ReMix, one of the best free Nintendo Switch games

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Pokémon Café Mix is now Pokémon Café ReMix following some sweet enhancements. This free-to-start Nintendo Switch game challenges you to complete puzzles in order to create drinks and dishes to serve at your Pokémon Café. 

Developed by Genius Sonority, who also made Pokémon Battle Trozei and Pokémon Shuffle), the basic mechanic involves using the touchscreen to choose Pokémon faces and drag them around the screen to touch matching faces and create a chain. The gameplay is quite straight forward and the 'energy' system isn't quite as frustrating as in some free-to-play games.

02. Tetris 99

Best free Nintendo Switch games: Tetris 99

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Classic Tetris is a beautiful thing; just you against endlessly falling blocks, trying to arrange them into rows so that they disappear. Tetris 99, however, is a lot more vicious. You're up against 98 online players, and every time you clear two or more rows at once, you can fling garbage blocks at your opponents to ruin their game, and the last player standing is the winner. Tetris 99's free, but you'll need a Nintendo Switch Online account to get it.

03. Color Zen

Best free Nintendo Switch games: Color Zen

(Image credit: Cypronia)

If multiplayer Tetris feels just a little too frantic for you, here's a much more laid-back option. Color Zen's a relaxed puzzle game in which all you have to do is use the Switch's touch screen to drag coloured shapes around, touching same-coloured shapes against each other to fill the surrounding area with that colour, in order to fill the screen so that it's the same colour as its border. Sounds confusing but you'll quickly get the hang of it, and with 120 free levels to play with it'll be a while before you feel the need to fork out for further challenges.

04. Fallout Shelter

Best free Nintendo Switch games: Fallout Shelter

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Ever dreamed of sitting out the apocalypse in your own underground vault? Here's your chance. Based on the long-running Fallout series of games, Fallout Shelter is a cartoony management game in which you build and maintain your dream vault: adding new rooms, ensuring there's enough power and food for everyone, and taking on the occasional quest along the way. It's free to play and pretty easy to avoid having to pay anything, although you'll definitely be tempted by some of the fun extras you can buy to make your vault feel more like home.

Free Nintendo Switch games: Arcade games

05. Super Mario 35

Best free Nintendo Switch games: Super Mario 35

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Available for free to Nintendo Switch Online members until 31 March, Super Mario 35 is another multiplayer take on a classic title. This time it's the original Super Mario Brothers, and you're racing against 34 other players to complete a random selection of courses with just 35 seconds on the clock. You earn extra time by stomping enemies, which also sends them to your opponents' courses, and once again the last surviving player is the winner.

06. Pinball FX3

Best free Nintendo Switch games: Pinball FX3

(Image credit: Zen Studios)

Video games are fun and all, but there's still a lot to be said for grappling with a pinball table, and with Pinball FX3 there's a whole stack of real pinball tables to be played with, perfectly emulated for some old-school arcade fun. Naturally you'll need to cough up some actual money to get your hands on most of them, but Pinball FX3 starts you off with a free table, and if you keep your eyes peeled you'll spot the occasional promotion that'll earn you extra free tables.

Free Nintendo Switch games: Fighting games

07. Brawlhalla

Best free Nintendo Switch games: Brawlhalla

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

If you fancy some fighting action but can't stretch to the Switch's default brawler, Super Smash Bros: Ultimate, Brawlhalla is the perfect free alternative. While it lacks Smash Bros' polish (not to mention its cast of familiar Nintendo characters), once you get below the surface you'll find that it's a well-designed beat-em-up with loads of distinctive characters to choose from, and fast and frantic combat with up to eight players in each match.

08. Super Kirby Clash

Best free Nintendo Switch games: Super Kirby Clash

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Kirby's one of Nintendo's B-list characters, an amorphous pink blob with the ability to inhale enemies and absorb their powers for a limited time, and he's been quietly doing his thing over the years without ever really having the impact of the likes of Mario or Link. He's hard not to love, though, and Super Kirby Clash – an updated version of Team Kirby Clash Deluxe on the Nintendo 3DS – is a great showcase. It's an RPG with plenty of fighting as you assemble your own Team Kirby to save the Dream Kingdom. 

Free Nintendo Switch games: RPGs

09. Pokémon Quest

Best free Nintendo Switch games: Pokémon Quest

(Image credit: Nintendo)

You may have caught all the original 151 Pokémon before, but have you caught them in adorable cube form? That's the aim in Pokémon Quest, a free-to-start (that is, you'll get nagged to spend money along the way) action RPG set on Tumblecube Island, where all the Pokémon have become strangely cubic versions of themselves. With up to three Pokémon at your side you'll have to fight, level up and cook delicious stews to attract new Pokémon to your team, and while it doesn't have the sheer depth of a full Pokémon game it's still plenty of fun.

10. Dauntless

Best free Nintendo Switch games: Dauntless

(Image credit: Phoenix Labs)

Fancy taking on some properly enormous monsters? That's what Dauntless is all about. Clearly inspired by the ever-popular Monster Hunter series, it tasks you with hunting down massive Behemoths that stalk the land; you can either try it alone or team up with other players, and as you progress you can craft new weapons and improved armour to improve your chances against bigger and tougher enemies. There's a huge, ever-evolving world to explore with regular updates to keep things exciting, plus special events to take part in.

Free Nintendo Switch games: Multiplayer games

11. Fortnite

Best free Nintendo Switch games: Fortnite

(Image credit: Epic Games)

Fortnite's one of those games that you've almost certainly already heard of, even if you're not a gamer. Originally launched in 2017 it's become one of the most popular games in the world: an online battle royale in which you fight against 99 opponents to be the last player standing. Its developers keep things fresh with regular updates and a continually evolving plotline, and while it looks best on a powerful PC, the humble Switch handles it well. It's free to play, but any parent will already know that there are plenty of temptations to spend money on extra goodies.

12. Warframe

Best free Nintendo Switch games: Warframe

(Image credit: Digital Extremes)

Fun with robot suits! Select and customise a Warframe, a hi-tech suit of armour, and head off on a variety of missions that you can tackle either single-handed or co-operatively with up to three other players. As you progress you can upgrade your Warframe with new weapons and items as well as unlocking new worlds to play in, and while the game will bug you to spend money on new stuff, you can go a long way without having to drop any cash whatsoever.

13. Asphalt 9: Legends

Best free Nintendo Switch games: Asphalt 9: Legends

(Image credit: Gameloft)

There aren't many options when it comes to free racing games for the Switch; luckily Asphalt 9 is a solid offering that should provide you with plenty of high-speed thrills. Starting with a humble Mitsubishi, you need to win races to earn blueprints for new and better motors, and with 84 cars available you'll have to do some serious driving to fill out your garage. It's free to play but if you want to give yourself a bit more of an edge you can spend money to upgrade your cars and get a vital performance boost.

14. Rocket League

Best free Nintendo Switch games: Rocket League

(Image credit: Psyonix)

Football with cars! That's the pitch, and you have to admit that it's a pretty enticing one. Jump into a surprisingly nimble car that not only features a turbo boost but also the ability to jump and even spin in mid-air, and use it to try and hoon the ball into the other team's goal; what more do you need to know? Play it online and rise through the ranks, or find a friend and play it split-screen in the comfort of your living room; it's fast, furious and utterly ludicrous.

15. Arena of Valor

Best free Nintendo Switch games: Arena of Valor

(Image credit: Tencent Games)

MOBAs – multiplayer online battle arenas – are the big thing in esports right now. They're super-fast real-time strategy games where you need to combine tactical thinking and lightning reactions as you direct your team of heroes in a pitched online battle, and if that's a prospect that doesn't scare you off then you'll have a fine old time with Arena of Valor. There's a decent choice of game modes to jump into, including 5v5, 3v3, 1v1 and Hook Wars, and thanks to its relatively straightforward control scheme it's fairly easy to get the hang of.

For more options see our pick of the best cheap Switch games.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Jim McCauley

Jim McCauley is a writer, performer and cat-wrangler who started writing professionally way back in 1995 on PC Format magazine, and has been covering technology-related subjects ever since, whether it's hardware, software or videogames. A chance call in 2005 led to Jim taking charge of Computer Arts' website and developing an interest in the world of graphic design, and eventually led to a move over to the freshly-launched Creative Bloq in 2012. Jim now works as a freelance writer for sites including Creative Bloq, T3 and PetsRadar, specialising in design, technology, wellness and cats, while doing the occasional pantomime and street performance in Bath and designing posters for a local drama group on the side.