Nintendo is absolutely killing it in the gaming industry right now. The on-again-off-again pattern of the company’s console releases means each console is alternately successful and a disappointment. The N64 did great business, but the GameCube was underwhelming. The Wii put Nintendo back on track, but the Wii U was a disaster. Now we’ve got the Switch, a great idea with excellent execution that fills a niche we didn’t know we needed to be filled until it was.
It stands to reason that a console like the Switch would be absolutely rammed with great games. There are, of course, some bad ones, but we’re not here to talk about those. Here are the 15 best games you can play on Nintendo Switch right now.
Breath of the Wild’s place at the top of the Switch’s mountain is obvious. The game eschewed Zelda conventions to place Link in a living, breathing world stuffed full of secrets and things to find. It’s not typical Zelda, so if you’re looking for Ocarina of Time mark 2, you won’t find it here. It is, however, an unforgettable adventure with brilliant puzzles, wonderful music, and an elegiac atmosphere that stays with you.
Every inch of Super Mario Odyssey is suffused with joy and life. Whether it’s the wonderful New Donk City retro sequence or the first time you see the sleeping T. rex in Fossil Falls, Super Mario Odyssey is another successful Nintendo franchise reinvention. This game switches the formula up enough to make Mario feel fresh while still retaining everything we love about the franchise’s platforming and tone.
“Everyone is here”. Such were the tag words for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and never was a truer phrase spoken. Smash Bros. Ultimate is an absolute cornucopia. The game is rammed full of fighters, stages, music, and challenges; you’ll be playing this one for months if you try to collect all the stickers. Throw in some truly inspired choices for DLC fighters and Smash Bros. Ultimate truly is the ultimate package.
Nintendo continues its run of form by working with Intelligent Systems and Team Ninja to reinvent its ongoing strategy franchise. After Awakening and Fates breathed new life into the franchise, Three Houses takes influence from Persona to create a hybrid of life sim and strategy game that will have you invested in the characters as you’ve never been before. It’s business as usual but with enough new stuff to make it feel fresh.
With Splatoon 2, Nintendo honed the formula it created in the first Splatoon. The new motion controls are surprisingly necessary for mastering the game’s core loop, but they feel great. What you’ve got here is a slick, fluid third-person multiplayer shooter with minimal violence and a punky aesthetic that makes every game a joy. The single-player’s actually pretty good too.
Absolutely nobody expected this game to be good, and yet here we are. Mario and Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is the XCOM-style turn-based strategy crossover we never knew we needed. The gameplay is considered and challenging, the characters are cute (we know some don’t like the Rabbids, but we’re big fans), and there’s plenty of content to get your teeth into here. A surprise smash hit.
“What if you could make your own Mario levels?” This is a question that’s been answered before with fan hacks and custom ROMs, but never as elegantly as in Super Mario Maker 2. Nintendo gives you the tools to craft endless Mario levels, and they just work. The Mario Paint-style interface makes everything a joy to work with and the Switch’s capacitive touch screen is surprisingly responsive.
Many have tried to replicate the success of From Software’s Dark Souls series, but few understand what made it special. Hollow Knight does. Team Cherry’s game fuses the melancholy atmosphere of Dark Souls with the sprawling structure and backtracking of Super Metroid. If you like the game, it’s ridiculously huge, so you’ll be playing it for weeks. Or days, if you can’t get enough.
Platinum Games’ newest title is a joy to behold, as all their games are. It also offers up a well-crafted world that’s built up over time and with care and attention. The combat is the focus, as usual, and the new Legion summoning system brings the depth and complexity for which we’ve come to love Platinum. If you’ve got a Switch, you owe it to yourself to grab this game.
It’s DOOM. On the Switch. The work of Panic Button and id Software on bringing the glorious 2016 demon-killing FPS to Switch is simply astonishing. Naturally, the game doesn’t look or play as good as it would on other consoles, but it’s DOOM. On the Switch. Graphical fidelity is a small price to pay when every centimetre of the game’s incredible pulse-pounding action has been ported effortlessly over to Ninty’s handheld.
We’re cheating a little bit here, as Super Metroid is only available as a SNES title to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. Still, if you’ve never played Nintendo’s masterpiece, you absolutely must. Peerless atmosphere, an exploration structure that’s still copied to this day, and wonderfully tight controls make Super Metroid just as much of a joy now as it was back in 1994.
Just like DOOM, the Switch port of Dark Souls Remastered isn’t the best way to experience the game. If you’ve got a PS4 Pro or an Xbox One X, you’re better off playing it on those. Still, being able to play Dark Souls in handheld mode is a kick that never gets old. If you’ve never played this game and you only have a Switch, buy Dark Souls Remastered yesterday.
Short, but oh so sweet, Snipperclips is definitely best experienced with a friend, loved one, or prospective housemate. Nothing tests relationships quite like trying to communicate one of the many ingenious puzzle solutions in this game to your partner. Word to the wise: pick up the DLC, because the main game won’t last you very long if you don’t.
Honestly, why don’t more people love this game? Sumo Digital’s Snake Pass is a wonderful experiment and a reminder of why video games are special. The levels are all physics showcases for the incredibly well-realised snake movement that makes up the game’s core controls. It takes a while to get used to Snake Pass, but it’s got that satisfying feeling of mastery that only comes with a truly unique control scheme.
Yoshi’s Crafted World won’t trouble hardcore gamers, and it’s not a particularly substantial package. It’s a beautiful hand-crafted platformer that looks like it’s had a painful amount of work put into it. If you don’t squeal with delight every time Yoshi does something in this game, it’s not for you, but if you do then you’re in for a delightfully relaxing trip.