The 22 best Nintendo Switch games

Our pick of the best games out there for the Nintendo Switch – now updated with Bayonetta 2

15 February 2018
by Stuff Staff

Before the Nintendo Switch came out, we all wondered whether there would be enough to play on it in the early months. Then we played Zelda and stopped caring what else was coming.

But there’s more than just the astonishing Breath of the Wild to enjoy on Nintendo’s home-or-handheld device, and thanks to a mix of ports and sterling new games, the Switch has a rather fantastic lineup less than a year after its release.

So whether you’ve just grabbed the Switch and need a few pointers, or are you just looking for something new to play after conquering Zelda, you’ll find plenty of inspiration in our list of the 20 best games the Switch has to offer.

 THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD

What, the three mentions in the intro weren’t enough of a giveaway? It’s true: not only is Breath of the Wild our current pick for the best game in the world right now, but it’s also the most essential game on the Switch – one that’s single handedly worth buying a console for.

The latest and perhaps greatest-ever Zelda is a sprawling affair set in an open Hyrule not bound by the familiar progression structure of past games: you can freely explore the land, take on challenges in any order you choose, and craft, survive, and experiment in the wilds. Kicking the tried-and-true format to the curb has revitalised the franchise, and the result is absolutely brilliant.

SUPER MARIO ODYSSEY

Got a Switch? If so, you’ll need Super Mario Odyssey stat. Alongside Zelda, it’s one of the absolute best reasons to have the handheld. In fact, if you don’t have the Switch, we advise running out and buying one with both of those games right now. Go on, we’ll wait.

Odyssey is a phenomenal new 3D entry that builds upon the likes of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy with huge, open environments and loads upon loads of collectible moons to uncover by completing challenges and exploring. And this time around, Mario isn’t alone: his hat is actually an odd creature that can inhabit other living things, letting Mario control and use the myriad abilities of his many iconic enemies. Strange, right? Yes, but it’s a total delight.

MARIO KART 8 DELUXE

From the best Zelda ever to the best Mario Kart ever? Believe it! While it might just seem like a mere port on the surface, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe takes the excellent Wii U edition and patches its one big deficiency, all while adding the excellent DLC as standard – and then does more.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe packs in a staggering 48 courses and 42 playable drivers, along with an array of vehicles and equipment, and the gravity-defying tracks are some of the series’ most dazzling creations to date. Better yet, it now has a proper Battle mode like the games of old, and the entire experience is playable anywhere. It’s tremendously fun.

MINECRAFT: NINTENDO SWITCH EDITION

Look, Minecraft is Minecraft – and if you’ve already played Minecraft elsewhere, then you’re not going to find anything tremendously new here. But here’s the thing about Minecraft: it’s endlessly replayable and so packed with delight that it’s hard to resist the urge to have it at your fingertips at all times.

And this is easily the best portable edition to date, not only packing in huge worlds on the Switch’s capable screen, but also giving you the full range of controls, featuring eight-player online antics, and bundling in a superb set of Super Mario-themed blocks and skins.

POKKÉN TOURNAMENT DX

As a port of a Wii U port of a Japanese arcade game it’s no wonder Pokkén Tournament’s release on Switch has slipped under the radar. Make no mistake, this is one of the console’s finest fighting games to date. A more traditional alternative to the motion-controlled Arms, it sees you squaring off against other Pokémon in button-mashing fashion.

While the Switch port of Pokkén Tournament DX adds a few new elements into the mix, such as a daily challenge, wireless multiplayer and a handful of extra characters, it is very much the same game as ever. So that’s a surprisingly nuanced brawler that’s as much for genre veterans as it is for anyone who fancies pummeling Pikachu’s face into an adorable mush. With a proper mainline Pokémon confirmed for Switch sometime in the not too distant future, consider Pokkén Tournament DX as a fun taster of greater things to come.

CELESTE

A tough as nails 2D platformer about living with anxiety, Celeste might not scream ‘fun’ in the same way Super Mario Odyssey does but this charming tale about climbing a mountain aboslutely ranks as a Nintendo Switch essential. The key is in its simplicity with each level being divided into bite-sized chunks that you’ll fail at over and over until finding your way across a seemingly insurmountable crevasse. The further towards the summit, the more challenging things get and the more powers you’ll amass to help you acheive the seemingly impossible.

Combined with a charming 16-bit art style and some exhilirating level design, Celeste adds up to an absolute gem of a game. And if things get too tough? There are some genius features you can turn on to make your journey easier.

ROCKET LEAGUE

Rocket-powered cars playing football? Yeah, we’re into that. Rocket League has provided us oodles of fun on other systems, and now that it’s on Switch, we can hop online for some 3-on-3 action whether we’re on the couch, in bed, or in the loo (sorry).

It’s a blast to drive along the walls, vault up into the air, smash opponents, and slam an enormous football into the goal in fast-paced, five-minute matches, plus Rocket League offers hockey and basketball variations as well as other unique play modes. The Switch version has the scads of customisation items from the other editions, too, along with some fresh Nintendo elements (like a Mario car). It’s not the best-looking version, but the fun remains well intact.

SONIC MANIA

A brand new Sonic the Hedgehog game in 2017? We’ve been conditioned by years of terrible 3D games and spin-offs to avoid this clear trap, but believe it or not, Sonic Mania finally bucks the trend. No, seriously!

How? Well, by following the classic 16-bit Sonic template as close as is reasonably possible. Sure, we get widescreen support and higher-res pixels, but otherwise, Sonic Mania looks and plays precisely like a lost Mega Drive game – and it’s budget-priced, to boot. Of course, if you tired of Sonic’s shtick ages ago, then this spot-on throwback won’t change your mind.

BAYONETTA 2

The only Wii U classic that wasn’t made by Nintendo arrives on Switch in almost identical form. Bayonetta 2’s frenetic action is smoother than ever thanks to the new hardware’s added graphical oomph, but this demon-slaying romp remains pretty much unchanged elsewhere. It’s available as a solo digital download, or a physical copy with a code for the original Bayonetta in the box.

If you can look past its outdated graphics and gender politics (Bayonetta herself is half-superhero, half-schoolboy fantasy) then you’ll find an electric hack and slash game in the vein of Devil May Cry and God of War. All of which tees things up nicely for the arrival of Bayonetta 3 on Switch in the not too distant future. Fingers crossed developer Platinum Games keeps its lecherous tendencies in check for that installment.

SHOVEL KNIGHT: TREASURE TROVE

We’ve recommended both previous Nintendo versions of Shovel Knight, but we can’t help but do it again with the amazing Switch rendition. In case you’ve missed it, Shovel Knight is a pitch-perfect homage to 8-bit, 2D action games, only now you’re a metal-clad warrior with a rather effective gardening tool.

Treasure Trove is the ultimate edition of the game, not only giving you the original quest but also the Plague of Shadows and Specter of Torment expansions, each with a brand new campaign starring another character. You’ll also get another campaign in the future. And if you already have Shovel Knight elsewhere, at least you can buy Specter of Torment (shown) solo on Switch.

DOOM

Can it run Doom? Yes, the Switch can – and we’re not talking about the original PC classic. Somehow, id Software have gotten 2016’s gloriously violent and glossy reboot running rather well on Nintendo’s system, whether you’re playing on the TV or on the go.

The frame rate has dipped to 30 frames per second and the resolution has fallen with it, leading to occasionally blurred moments; screenshots don’t really do it justice, though. In the heat of battle, this Doom plays every bit as good as its larger console and PC brothers. It has the full campaign and online multiplayer action, as well as the arcade mode – only the SnapMap map creation mode was left behind.

SPLATOON 2

You might be surprised to hear that Nintendo’s best online Switch game is a frantic, squad-based shooter… well, until you actually see what Splatoon 2 is all about. Rather than notch head shots and fill enemies full of holes, you’ll wield paint guns, brushes, and rollers to try and cover the majority of the stage with your team’s colour.

Bonkers, right? And yet it’s such a perfectly Nintendo concept. What was pretty good on the original Wii U is now downright essential on Switch, with the tense three-minute Turf War battles proving plenty addictive while the Horde-like Salmon Run co-op mode requires rather precise teamwork. All this from a cartoonish painting game.

THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM

We thought getting Doom up and running on the Switch was a major feat, but Bethesda just one-upped itself by putting the entirety of Skyrim on there too.

Granted, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is six years old, but it’s still the gold standard for open-world fantasy. It doesn’t look quite as sharp as last year’s Special Edition re-releases on other platforms, but this is still Skyrim through and through. All the expansions are present, the game looks great (aside from some sharp edges), and the frame rate is absolutely solid. Better yet, you can tap your Amiibo toys and get some killer Legend of Zelda gear for your hero. Sold!

MARIO + RABBIDS KINGDOM BATTLE

What’s this, a cash-in for the early adopters? Mario really must be slumming it, right? Nope and nope. You might be shocked to hear this, but Ubisoft’s inventive mash-up is second only to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild when it comes to true Switch originals.

It’s so strange, too: Mario + Rabbids plays out much like a candy-coated XCOM or Fire Emblem, challenging you to fight it out on a grid-based battlefield. Kingdom Battle is built for portable play, yet it’s also meaty, with a 20-hour campaign and a delightful story to boot. Look, we’re as surprised as you are, but Mario + Rabbids gets our wholehearted recommendation.

FURI

Looking for something to scratch that Dark Souls itch before the cult series arrives on Switch? You’ll want to give Furi a try. A boss rush game where your goal is to conquer a succession of deadly and highly stylised foes, Furi will have you exercising your trigger fingers to full effect.

From a prisoner with a laser cannon strapped to her head to a masterful sniper, each enemy is unique and forces you to change your play-style for every new fight. The one thing that binds them all together? An ability to decimate your health bar in seconds.

FAST RMX

It’s been more than a decade since the last F-Zero game, but while the series may be dead to Nintendo (at least for now), it’s still alive in our hearts – and those of the makers of Fast RMX. You might have missed the earlier Wii U entry, Fast Racing Neo, but no matter: this is the definitive edition of a pretty great anti-grav racer, and more than just a poor man’s F-Zero.

In addition to driving really, really ridiculously fast, you’ll also need to switch between blue and orange states to make the most of colour-colored boost panels and have a chance against your also-plenty-swift competition. Fast RMX looks great, the sense of speed is remarkable, and with 30 tracks, it’ll keep you steady surging for some time.

TUMBLESEED

TumbleSeed is a tricky game to describe. You play as a seed, you spend most of your time rolling around, and it’s incredibly colourful and attractive. On the other hand, it’s intensely difficult, isn’t the easiest game to learn, and will surely result in many, many seed deaths.

At the very least, it’s one of the most original games we’ve played in a long time – and if you have the patience to stomach its challenge, TumbleSeed can be hugely rewarding. You’ll guide the transforming seed up a mountain filled with gaping holes and vicious foes, with precise timing and careful analog stick nudges needed to survive the roguelike gauntlet. It’s a perfect fit for the Switch and wildly attractive – a serious test worth savouring.

PUYO PUYO TETRIS

Every Nintendo handheld needs a great Tetris game, right? That’s true, but Puyo Puyo Tetris isn’t quite like any Tetris you’ve played before. It’s actually a mash-up, blending the familiar line-clearing action with the color-matching gameplay of Sega’s own puzzle series.

You can play them separately, but what’s most interesting is how they play together: you can play Tetris while battling an opponent with a Puyo Puyo board, or command one board of each in the same game as you alternate between them – and even mix and match on the same board. Everything is wrapped up in a cutesy anime aesthetic and packed with personality, and the games beneath remain rock solid. It’s the best of both puzzle worlds.

ARMS

In a very Splatoon-esque fashion, Arms is Nintendo’s bright and colourful spin on the fighting game genre. Here, you’ll control one of several outlandish characters, all of whom pack a rather mighty punch – and can land it from all the way across the stage.

That’s because Arms, as you’ll find its name suggests, stars combatants with spring-loaded, slinky-esque arms that fire like rockets to your opponents. Better yet, Arms makes perhaps the best use of motion controls in any game in ages, providing nicely nuanced uppercuts and jabs. Shame you’ll have to shell out £70 for another pair of Joy-Cons to have two players get in on the arm-waving fun.

GOLF STORY

Golf… Story? Why does golf need a story? Fair question, but this immensely lovable indie goes ahead and answers it anyway with a compelling blend of old-school swinging action and role-playing adventure. It’s like the old Mario Golf entry on Game Boy Color, if you remember that.

As an amateur golfer hoping to go pro, you’ll up your game across eight different courses as the narrative unfolds, and everything is presented with a colourful 16-bit sheen. The classic three-click shot system from Mario Golf and Everybody’s Golf works much the same here, and the storyline and characters help make this an endearing, entertaining experience – even if you’re not the biggest golf buff around.

THUMPER

Remember Donkey Konga? Thumper is the exact opposite of that bongo-bashing extravaganza, but every bit as brilliant. A rhythm game that’s stacked to the max with horrifying visuals and tribal undulations, it’ll have you hooked from the off and scare off any little ones who fancy a go.

In eschewing the usual playlist of years-old pop bangers and wedding disco classics Thumper carves its own unique niche, marrying it with a simple control scheme. Fear not, you’ll soon be cursing out loud as you crash into barriers and are smashed into oblivion. Thanks to a perfectly judged learning curve and the rush that comes with mastering each level you’ll never be stuck for too long. For what this game lacks in percussion-loving apes, it makes up for in visceral thrills.

STARDEW VALLEY

A farming simulator might sound awfully dull – and truly, the actual Farming Simulator series is – but anyone who fell in love with Harvest Moon ages ago knows otherwise. And those folks and plenty more will probably adore Stardew Valley, as well, as the indie phenomenon builds from the same kind of core formula.

Stardew Valley is about managing crops and animals and living off of the land, sure, but it’s also about living a virtual life in a compelling, retro-fied world. You’ll build skills over time, enter the local community and help it thrive and expand, and search for treasure in an enormous cave. You can even find love… or just go fishing. It’s your time, after all.

L.A. NOIRE

One of Rockstar’s defining games, L.A. Noire first hit other platforms in 2011 but has made a welcome comeback with this reworked Switch edition. As before, you take the role of a detective in Los Angeles in the 1940s, cruising the open city as you attempt to solve crimes and get to the bottom of a conspiracy.

The once-incredibly lifelike graphics aren’t as mind-blowing today, but L.A. Noire makes a pretty smooth translation to Switch, even incorporating touch controls where they make sense. And the tense interrogations, really the core of the police experience here, have been slightly tweaked in this edition. This is one of the rare adult-oriented games on Switch so far, and one you can really sink into. Besides, if the Switch can run this, it can probably handle Grand Theft Auto V too. Let’s make it happen, Rockstar…

Comments

comments

Subscribe to the Magazine