As 2021 draws to a close and 2022 beckons, the Nintendo Switch continues to impress and the recent release of the Nintendo Switch OLED has given gamers an even fancier way to play the best Nintendo games around.
So if you have loaded yourself up with an SD memory card and a power bank for the Nintendo Switch and now you want to know which games you can fill your console with, we've assembled a list of what we think are some of the best Nintendo Switch games you can play right now!
Whether you own the Nintendo Switch OLED model or are holding out for the fabled Nintendo Switch Pro before you upgrade from the base Switch model, you can still enjoy these great games that range from the best of Mario to the latest from the world of critter-catching Pokemon.
Best Nintendo Switch games
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
One of the first original games to launch on the Switch, this Zelda epic is still considered to be one of the best Switch titles. 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.
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. 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.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury
A fantastically fun choice for players of all ages, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury is an absolutely essential addition to your collection. Bringing together a hugely popular WiiU game and a whole new experience based around the dastardly Bowser, this package contains a huge number of memorable moments and loveable levels.
It's a very flexible experience, too: you can either play the whole thing on your own, team up with two other players for local co-op or even go online for more multiplayer mayhem. A must-have for fans of platformers, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury is one of the newest games on this list, but it might just be one of the best as well.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
One of the biggest games on the Nintendo Switch in terms of popularity right now has to be Animal Crossing New Horizons. Having arrived in March 2020 (perfectly timed to entertain the masses through lockdown), the life simulation video game has players exploring a cute island, gathering and crafting items, catching insects and fish, and developing a community of anthropomorphic animals.
The whimsical, light-hearted game has been described as the best kind of escapism, and it is hard to disagree with that assessment. It has huge social potential, too, with users even using the game for weddings and funerals. There has even been a talkshow hosted in the game. If you don't want to miss out on the game that everyone is talking about, you'll want to seek out Animal Crossing New Horizons.
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure
Speaking of cute games, Animal Crossing isn't the only adorable title worth playing on Nintendo Switch - we'd also thoroughly recommend Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, a game that is sure to put a smile on your face! Playing as a girl called Alba, who is visiting her grandparents' island home on her school holidays, you'll explore eye-catching surroundings and do your bit to help the environment as you go.
Whether you're taking pictures of the local animals or picking up litter to make things look nicer, this game will bring you right back to those childhood memories of exploration and wonder. Over the course of a couple of hours, you'll unravel a little mystery and do your bit to stop a massive hotel construction project from ruining the local ecosystem. It would be a great game to use to teach kids about the environment!
Discover more great games:
- The very best PS5 games
- The best Xbox Series X games
- Best Switch Lite games - take these on the go!
- Best Switch games for kids
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Who doesn't love a bit of Mario Kart? This hugely popular franchise is still going strong, with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe being one of its best entries to date. Often heralded as one of the best multiplayer games around, there's an enormous amount of fun to be had by 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. The Battle Mode, in particular, benefitted hugely from the upgrade. 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.
Warioware Get it Together
Despite the graphics leaving a little to be desired, you will find a lot to enjoy with Warioware: Get it Together. There is a huge amount of modes to play and things to do and it has made the long wait for Wario to arrive on the Switch worth it. Read our Warioware Get it Together review for all our thoughts!
Mario Party Superstars
In our Mario Party Superstars review, we called it "a joyous romp through the history of Mario Party" and it's a statement we stand by as the game was everything we expected and wanted it to be. While it is a stressful experience, and we really mean that, it's also a ton of fun and well worthy of picking up.
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 the mobile sensation that is 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 having received a few big updates since launch, you still can't "catch 'em all" in these games, with some iconic critters sitting this one out. Nonetheless, 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.
New Pokemon Snap
Speaking of the Pokemon franchise, here's a game that might help you look at Nintendo's critter-catching series in a new light - in New Pokemon Snap, rather than catching creatures and making them fight against each other, you'll spend your time simply trying to take pictures of Pokemon in their natural environments.
A sequel to the original Pokemon Snap game (which launched on the N64 in 1999), New Pokemon Snap brings together iconic pocket monsters from various different generations of the franchise and position them in some beautiful environments. As you explore each area on rails, you can use various tools to try and take the best possible pictures of each Pokemon. It's a very chilled and very loveable take on the franchise.
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 - but this really is one of the greatest.
If you've ever been a fan of the hat-wearing Italian, Mario Odyssey is a must buy. Expanding on the concept of Mario 64 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 he does here. 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 in late 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 a noticeable 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 2 feels unique and if you are looking for a classic style shooter that you can play with your children, look no further than this!
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 like an emotional brick every single time. It's 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. Plus, Rocket League is now free-to-play on all platforms - including Nintendo Switch!
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 styles 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 is so much like the titles we used to play, and thanks to that blast of glorious nostalgia, Sonic Mania is a triumph.
The aim 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.
And finally, it's worth mentioning the game that absolutely cleaned up at the BAFTA Games Awards in 2021 - Hades, developed and published by Supergiant Games, has earned an absolutely staggering amount of acclaim since it first launched on Switch and PC in September 2020. If you haven't played it yet, you really should!
The game falls into the roguelike genre, which means you'll be going right back to the start every time you die. It's inspired by Greek myths. You'll play as Zagreus, the son of Hades, who must fight his way through a random series of rooms and enemies on a quest to reach mount Olympus. The gameplay, the audio and the graphics are all great, making this game a true triple threat and one of the very best titles on Switch right now.
Read more on Nintendo:
- Nintendo Switch OLED review - handheld gaming levels up
- Nintendo Switch Pro release date - the latest rumours
- Best Nintendo Switch games for kids
- Best Nintendo Switch micro SD cards to buy
- How to charge Nintendo Switch controllers
- The best Nintendo Switch Lite games - take these on the go
- How to connect Nintendo Switch to TV
Alternatively, if you're looking for something to play on your computer or laptop, check out our list of the best PC games to try in 2022.
This year's Radio Times Christmas double issue is on sale now, featuring two weeks of TV, film and radio listings, reviews, features and interviews with the stars. And if you're looking for something to watch, see our TV Guide.