Whilst the Xbox Series X and the PS5 battle it out for who has the best new console, many are happy with their Nintendo Switch and all the Nintendo exclusives that you can get for it.
We love our Switch here at Radio Times and we have put together a list of the best titles video games fans can buy for the console – and there a lot of games to choose from with some instant classics in the mix. If you don’t yet have one and are tempted by the idea of a console you can take with you wherever you go, we’ve also put together a list of some of the best Nintendo Switch deals that you can find.
From epic adventures with Mario to catching some of your favourite Pokemon, we have got you covered in the best that is out there; even if we did have trouble narrowing this list down to just 21. It’s worth noting that if you did buy all these then you would likely need some extra memory – that’s where SD memory cards come in handy. And if you are on the move, you won’t get very far without a Switch power bank so make sure you have one of those.
Here are what we think are some of the best games you can get for the Nintendo Switch.
The Best Nintendo Switch games
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
One of the original games to launch on the Switch is still considered to be one of the best. Taking the ever-popular Zelda series and transforming it into something far bigger than fans had seen previously, Breath of the Wild wowed gamers at launch for good reason. Described as “a masterclass in open-world design”, we certainly do not disagree.
A sprawling open-world adventure, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has won a truckload of awards since its release and has sold over a staggering 18.0 million copies. The scale of the game is, quite frankly, huge, with so many things to do and so many places to explore. While the main story is lengthy in itself, the additional side quests and challenges make this a game that you will get lost in and it will take even the most hardened gamer a long time to finish. If you’re a fan of the Zelda franchise, Breath of the Wild is a no brainer and easily one of the most impressive games that Nintendo has ever given us.
Animal Crossing: New Horizon
One of the biggest games on the Nintendo Switch in terms of popularity right now has to be Animal Crossing New Horizons. Arriving in March this year, the life simulation video game has players “explore the island in a nonlinear fashion, gathering and crafting items, catching insects and fish, and developing the island into a community of anthropomorphic animals.”
The whimsical light-hearted game has been described as the best kind of escapism and it is certainly possible that its release right at the start of lockdown has helped it become the phenomenon it is today. Its importance for socialising cannot be ignored with users even using the game for weddings and funerals, and even businesses have taken to using it. In fact, it is so influential that US presidential hopeful Joe Biden has taken to the game to help with his campaign. If any game gives those not playing it a real sense of FOMO, it’s Animal Crossing New Horizons.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Ah Mario Kart – a series of games that has been hugely popular for years is still going strong with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe being one of the best to date. Often heralded as one of the best multiplayer games around, this one is no exception with an enormous amount of fun to be had getting behind the wheel with your favourite character.
An enhanced version of the game that was made for the Wii U, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the definitive way to play the game by quite some way with the Battle Mode, in particular, benefitting from the upgrade. Just as much fun as the series has always been, get ready to lose many hours if you pick this one up. And yes, you can still throw banana peels at your opponents to send them hurtling off of the track. Gaming heaven.
Pokemon Sword & Shield
Pokemon is a franchise that shows no signs of slowing down, tapping into all corners of the entertainment market, from collector cards to one-time sensation, Pokemon Go. Bursting onto the Switch with essentially two versions of the same game, the aim of the game with Pokemon Sword & Shield is to “dethrone the Pokémon League Champion, Leon, in a tournament that various other Gym Leaders and rivals also take part in, whilst dealing with Team Yell and a nefarious conspiracy within the League.”
Despite some fans of the franchise taking issue with some notable omissions in the game (where’s our Dragonite at?) the game still received extremely positive reviews and there is a wealth of new Pokemon for you to find and lead into battle. If you love Pokemon then buying Pokemon Sword & Shield should be a no-brainer – even if you can’t catch ’em all.
Super Mario Odyssey
The fact that Mario Odyssey has been heralded by many as the best Mario game yet should tell you all you need to know. From the original Nintendo games to Mario 64, there is no shortage of games featuring our favourite plumber that can be considered classic and this really is one of the greatest.
If you were a fan of the Nintendo 64 classic then Mario Odyssey is a must buy as this feels like the sequel to that game and borrows a lot from what made that such a beloved Nintendo staple. Expanding on the concept and updating it with modern gameplay and graphics, Odyssey is simply a stunning game from start to finish and one that is almost impossible to put down. Mario has never looked or played better than on this endlessly replayable game and it truly is an essential purchase for owners of the Switch.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars
Ah, Mario 64. A game that has been heralded as a classic for good reason, It is also a game that is known for frustrating camera movements that lead to irritating deaths and both are present here in this version for the Switch- largely unchanged from the Nintendo 64 version back in the day. Thankfully, the game itself remains a joy to play for the most part and fans have been wanting the chance to play it again for some time.
But it is not just that game as this collection also includes Super Mario Sunshine from 2002 and Super Mario Galaxy from 2007. Both games are as much fun to play now as they were back then and if you are a Mario fan, particularly a long-time one, Super Mario 3D All-stars is a must-buy for your Switch console.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
While Mario may be the go-to figure for Nintendo, there are many that love good old Luigi and the plumber is at his best when taking on ghouls and ghosts in Luigi’s Mansion 3. The winner of “Best Family Game” at The Game Awards 2019, the action and adventure third-person game sees Luigi making his way through 17 floors of mystery in a hotel.
When all his friends disappear it is left to Luigi and his pet, the wonderfully named Polterpup, to work out what happened to them and to save the day. With a large and exciting single-player story as the main focus, there are also different multiplayer modes that allow you and up to seven other players to take part in various activities. Great fun for all ages, you can do much worse than grabbing yourself a copy of this game.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
If you love a good fighting game, then Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is for you. Featuring a whole host of beloved characters from across a whole range of Nintendo classics, ranging from Mario to Zelda and several Pokemon – as well as Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog – it’s a game that features enough playable characters to appeal to most gamers.
Released near the end of the year in 2018, the game has won a slew of awards and currently holds the prestigious ‘universal acclaim’ title on Metacritic for good reason. With new game modes and an effort to take everything that made the previous entries so beloved and mix it up in a fresh way, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a joy to play and a great ‘pick up and play’ title for those who do not have the time to sink into something like Breath of the Wild.
A third-person shooter, Splatoon 2 was released back in 2017 and up until June this year has sold a whopping 10.71 million copies worldwide,so it must be doing something right! Playing as Inklings and Octolings, this is a shooter that is for everyone, with ink being the weapon of choice in order for it to be a more child-friendly experience.
Taking everything that made the original Splatoon so great, Splatoon 2 adds a whole host of new features and has a great balance between single-player and multiplayer. Everything about Splatoon feels unique and if you are looking for a classic style shooter than you can play with your children, look no further than this – and it’s priced at a very reasonable £17.99.
While Doom may not be quite as good on the Switch as it is on the likes of the PlayStation and Xbox, you can’t take those consoles with you on the move, so the Switch version is still a must-buy for fans.
Many thought Doom would never make an appearance on the console and even though it may not be technically perfect, it loses nothing when it comes to how insane and fun the experience of playing it through is. If you own the game on another platform it may not be worth double-dipping (unless making it portable appeals) but if Doom is a game that you have been debating buying and you own the Switch, we highly recommend giving it a go. Kill them all!
Bioshock: The Collection
All three Bioshock games can be yours with Bioshock: The Collection and while the first two are not quite as smooth a port to the Switch as the third, they are all still classic games that are beloved for a very good reason. The first two games take place in Rapture, the underwater location where things have gone south and most things there want to kill you. The first two games are great fun and while the second does not quite reach the heights of the first, both games remain endlessly replayable.
And then there is Infinite which swaps the underwater location of Rapture for the cloud city of Columbia, Bioshock Infinite took everything that made the first two games so beloved and remixed them to give us an incredible, if a little complex, story, complete with stunning graphics and a score that is, quite frankly, beautiful. We’ve played the game a number of times and we never tire of ziplining our way around Columbia and that ending hits us a like an emotional brick every single time. A truly gorgeous game in every way.
If you have never played the Bioshock games, then Bioshock: The Collection should be high on your list to purchase.
Dark Souls Remastered
Whether you’ll want to pick up this, or any entry in the Dark Souls franchise, depends on how much you like to be punished. Infamously tough, unrelenting and unforgiving, the franchise has always been one that has caused many a swear word to be yelled out in frustration and Dark Souls Remastered is not out to make things any easier.
Remastered to match the current generation’s graphics, this also includes the DLC, “Artorias of the Abyss”, and has everything included in the original release back in 2011 – yes it was nearly 10 years ago. The third-person action role-playing game may be as tough as they come, but completing it gives a sense of relief and satisfaction that few other games come close to.
If the idea of a fighting game that allows you to have extendable arms that can knock out an opponent from great distances appeals to you, then may we suggest picking up Arms. The zany beat ’em up game launched on the Nintendo Switch back in 2017 and is still popular today thanks to its easy playing style and the ability to be able to play it in short bursts.
The 3D animation style gives it a fun energy that always offers up something interesting to look at while you are trying to take down your opponents and it has been called the ‘Mario Kart’ of the fighting genre which is a pretty great compliment to be given. In fact, the game is so popular that a comic series is in the works and a sequel is planned – but don’t get too excited as it currently is not due until 2023.
Good old Tetris, still going strong since the first entry in the series all the way back in 1984 and now rejuvenated all over again with the super enjoyable Tetris 99.
With 99 players all competing against each other (hence the name), the aim of the game is to be the last player standing as the bricks fall. Such success is this new version of the old classic, it has won several awards including the 2019 multiplayer game of the year in the Golden Joystick awards. If you love the simplicity of something like Tetris, Tetris 99 is a must-own and a great way to lose time with quick and simple rounds.
Perhaps one of the greatest games when it comes to ‘pick up and play’ titles, Rocket League takes two things that people love, football and cars, and combines them to give gamers some of the most fun you can have in a video game.
The concept is simple – drive cars around while trying to get the ball in the opposition’s goal but it’s how fast and frantic the game can be that is really its selling point. There are several different game modes, including a basketball and ice hockey version of the game and its cross-platform multiplayer experience (unless you are a PlayStation player) allows for some incredibly exciting rivalries to take place. Whether taking to your vehicle alone or with friends, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a game that is quite as much fun to play, even in short bursts, as Rocket League is.
While it may still feel a little strange to see SEGA’s version of Mario on a Nintendo console, it is certainly a good thing as Sonic Mania is the best game for the speedy blue hedgehog since his heyday in the ’90s.
And that is down to how much this feels like playing those style of games. Whereas Sonic 4 was not quite the return to form fans were hoping for, Sonic Mania truly is, giving us a game that harkens back to the glory days while having enough new in it to feel fresh for current gamers. There are downsides to this as a lot of the frustrations people had with the original games are still present here, but its feel and gameplay style are so much like the titles we used to play and thanks to that blast of glorious nostalgia, Sonic Mania is a triumph.
The name of the game with Thumper is to “guide a beetle-like creature along a single or dual-track through a series of unnerving worlds”. Playing kind of like Guitar Hero, Thumper is a rhythm-based game that requires players to hit a note in time with the background music that plays as the game progresses.
Described as one of the best rhythm games out there, the trippy visuals make it a unique game and one that is fun to play as and when; without the need to sink hours into it like other games on this list. While originally released on the Switch, you can also now get Thumper on other consoles such as the Xbox One.
Whilst the first Bayonetta was released on multiple platforms, Nintendo kept the second in house and while Bayonetta 2 did not do brilliantly on the struggling Wii U, it has been given a new lease of life thanks to its release on the Switch.
The frantic, fast-paced and at times insane shooter has lost none of its appeal in between outings with the second being even more nuts than the first was – and we would not have it any other way. It has been correctly described as “spectacular work of the highest order of camp” and that sums Bayonetta 2 up perfectly. And the even better news? Since arriving on the Switch it has done well enough for Bayonetta 3 to be confirmed. We cannot wait!
A Short Hike
Never forget how important indie games are to the industry and if you are looking for one to try out, we highly recommend giving A Short Hike a try. One of the ultimate relaxing games, the sweet tale is a very simple one and the synopsis of the game sums up its chilled-out style best.
“The main character is Claire, a young anthropomorphic bird who travels to Hawk Peak Provincial Park, where her Aunt May works as a ranger, to spend days off. However, Claire cannot get cellphone reception unless she reaches the top of the peak, and is expecting an important call. For this reason, she decides to reach the highest point in the park.”
It may not be the most action-packed game ever made, but it is a charming one and a great introduction to the indie world if you are unfamiliar with it.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Much like Bayonetta 2, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is another game that launched on the Wii U and went largely unnoticed due to that console not being as popular as Nintendo would have liked.
That is a real shame as there is a ton of fun to be found in this offering from Donkey Kong. Sticking to the old adage of it it isn’t broken don’t fix it, the game keeps the side-scrolling style that has become so well-known as part of the Donkey Kong furniture and updates it to give it a fresh take. If you love the Donkey Kong games, this is definitely one to add to your shopping basket.
Diablo 3: Eternal Collection
Originally released back in 2012 on the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, Diablo 3 proved to be such a hit that we are still getting new versions of it on consoles such as the Switch, with Diablo 3: Eternal Collection launching on the console and causing fans to fall in love with it all over again.
While it may be an old game, Diablo 3: Eternal Collection is certainly worth picking up whether you are new to the franchise or if you have played it before. Losing none of its appeal over the years, the dark fantasy tale remains a rewarding playthrough and all eyes are now on Diablo 4 which was announced last year.