The Switch has been a massive success for Nintendo after the Wii U, which, while unique and quirky, didn't shift as many units as the company would have liked. Yes, Nintendo's hybrid console has managed to capture the hearts of both young and old, with a great library of games to choose from, too.
In this article, we'll look at the best Nintendo Switch games you can buy today, including first-party blockbusters, third-party titles, and some indies. This list is presented in no particular order.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Launch titles are rarely this good, nor do they remain must-buys for this long, but Breath of the Wild still holds up to the hype. Breaking with convention, this is the first Zelda game to open the entire world up to the player from the very beginning. If you wanted to, you could even go straight for the final boss; however, that would be ill-advised, as you'd want to get stronger first by exploring the world, doing quests, and completing the many, many shrines.
Not only is the game a technical and visual masterpiece, thanks to its smooth performance and gorgeous art style, but it also redefines many aspects of the open-world adventure. You can go anywhere, climb any ledge, and discover quests organically through exploration rather than following markers on your map or HUD.
2. Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey is somewhat of a sequel to Mario 64, featuring the same open-level design that focuses on collection rather than completion. The bulk of the action surrounds a new character called Cappy, and the hat-throwing game mechanics he unlocks, adding an extra dimension to the combat and traversal. You can even throw Cappy at a Goomba and other enemies to possess and control them.
There's a real emphasis on exploration, with hours of content to work your way through and more to unlock once you've finished. This takes the heat off having to find everything on your first run because you'll definitely want to go back and explore more once the credits have rolled.
3. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is one of the best local multiplayer games on the Switch, and you can play it online too. It's the definitive edition of the Wii U's best racer (which you can be forgiven for if you missed it the first time around) with all the downloadable content on the cartridge.
Nintendo also addressed one of the game's biggest criticisms by completely reworking Battle Mode into a much-improved version. It now has several different game types and an all-new Splatoon-themed arena. Many more areas have been added since launch too.
4. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the sixth mainline game in this popular series, where your job is to build your own custom island. What makes it fun is that there are a plethora of design and customization options and plenty of activities to keep you perpetually occupied, on top of a cutesy art style. Furthermore, the denizens of the Island are a blast to interact with.
In New Horizons, you will spend your days gathering resources, crafting items, building structures, decorating those structures, and dressing up your character with tons of new clothes. There are even plenty of bugs and fish to collect and hunt if you're a collector. Furthermore, you can have people visit your island, or you can visit theirs for some fun multiplayer shenanigans.
5. Persona 5 Royal
What was once a PlayStation 4 exclusive, Persona 5 is now available on all the major platforms. The Royal edition is the definitive version, with more features, quality-of-life improvements, and best of all, new characters and more story content.
Persona 5 features turn-based battles, with its own signature mechanics, such as One More and Show Time attacks. That battles are fast, flashy, stylish, and super fun. And when you're not unleashing your Personas in battle, you're planning how to spend your day, which includes going to class, getting a job, and forging bonds with characters that give you new abilities and buffs to use in battle.
6. Bayonetta 1 and Bayonetta 2
If you've played the Devil May Cry series, then you know what you're in for with Bayonetta 1 + Bayonetta 2: fun over-the-top hack-and-slash video games. While there is a third entry available, the first two games are ones not to miss. The games feature PlantiumGames' signature brand of stylish combos and bombastic finishing moves, all layered on top of tight and responsive controls.
The first game is a port from the PS3/Xbox 360 era, while part two is a port of the Wii U game, which didn't get much love on Nintendo's doomed console. You control Bayonetta, a witch with shapeshifting hair that she can turn into many things, including a dragon, and guns attached to her heels. Enough said.
If you're looking to ease yourself into the frantic Metroidvania genre of progression-based platformers, look no further than Celeste. It's not quite as brutal as other titles in the genre, but it features all the optional teeth-grinding difficulty settings that veterans could ever want.
There's a positive message about dealing with mental illness here too, wrapped up in a pleasing pixel art style. Celeste nails the "simple to pick up, difficult to master" mark of a satisfying 2D adventure.
8. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition
It's amazing that CDProjeckt Red somehow managed to get its magnum opus of an RPG, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, onto the Switch. But it did, along with the Heart of Stone and Blood and Wine expansions, making this version of the Witcher 3 the complete edition. What's great about it is that you don't need to play the previous Witcher games to enjoy the final chapter of Geralt's adventure.
Although the combat is serviceable, the Witcher 3 has some of the best side quests ever designed. Some of the side quests can put the main quests of other games to shame with their excellent writing.
9. Metroid Prime Remastered
During a Nintendo Direct hosted on 8 March 2023, not only did Nintendo announce Metroid Prime Remastered, but it also shadow-dropped the game onto the eShop the same day. The GameCube classic was back with better visuals and controls, much to the delight of many.
Metroid Prime Remastered is a first-person shooter and platformer. You play as Samus Aran, a bounty hunter who crash lands on the planet Tallon IV and must escape. In Metroid fashion, you must slowly regain your abilities to unlock previously inaccessible areas, all the while being treated to some amazing environmental storytelling, puzzles, and combat.
In Hades, you play as Zagreus, the son of the titular god, who tries to escape the underworld to find his mother. Praise for the game goes to its story, which has excellent writing and superb voice acting.
Hades is a roguelite video game, meaning you will die a lot, the levels will reshuffle, and most of your progress will be reset. On top of tight and responsive combat, Zagreus acquires Boons, which are buffs given to him by the gods of Olympus, such as Zeus and Poseidon. You get random Boons per run, which makes each one feel unique.
11. Octopath Traveler
With Octopath Traveler, Square Enix has delivered what so many JRPG fans have wanted for so long: a story-driven role-playing game with turn-based combat that gets right back to the genre's roots. Explore eight separate stories in any order you like, though you shouldn't expect too much interaction between them.
Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, Octopath Traveller takes advantage of many of the graphical advancements we've come to expect from modern titles. This Switch exclusive JRPG looks stunning, with its trademark art style and heavy use of shallow depth of field that adds some much-needed polish to what can be a very flat-looking genre.
Although a sequel is available, you might want to start with the first one.
12. Hollow Knight
Hollow Knight started life as a crowd-funded Metroidvania game for the PC and then Mac, before arriving on the Switch in June 2018. It quickly became one of the best indie titles on the platform for its silky smooth platforming action, detailed environments, and unique atmosphere.
So far Hollow Knight hasn't made it onto any other console, but since it's such a perfect fit for portable mode play the Switch feels like the perfect home for it. There's a tricky learning curve, which is worth keeping in mind if you're new to the genre (you might want to start with Celeste instead).
13. Dark Souls Remastered
Dark Souls is an action RPG that has you playing an undead warrior who must save the world from darkness. However, this is not an easy task, as the game is extremely difficult, meaning you will die over and over again. But that's not to frustrate you, but to force you to memorize enemy patterns, become stronger, and learn from your mistakes.
The game offers plenty of build variety, from knights to mages to thieves. It punishes you for wailing on enemies, as you have to keep an eye on your stamina, meaning each attack, dodge roll, or shield block needs to be executed with purpose, or you die. Overall, it makes for a deep, engaging, and surprisingly fun combat system.
14. Monster Hunter: Rise
Monster Hunter: World made the series more mainstream and accessible, and Monster Hunter: Rise built upon that to be more beginner-friendly, on top of being portable. Rise has the Wirebug mechanic, which adds verticality, a quick dodge, and the ability to quickly recover when knocked down. And traversal is made much easier with the Palamutes that you can ride.
Also, finding monsters is easier now since you don't have to track them. And although Capcom removed the ability to mount monsters, you can use the Wirebug to bind and ride them and then use them to attack other monsters.
15. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
If you've ever wondered what a fight between Mario, Link, Solid Snake, and Pikachu would look like, or you're just looking for an uber-fun brawler on the Switch, then look no further than Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It has 89 playable characters from different games, including Mario, Pokémon, Zelda, Sonic, and Street Fighter.
What's amazing about Smash Ultimate is that the developers have managed to make its huge roster of characters all feel unique and great to play. There's both couch and online play, allowing you to face off against your buddies anytime anywhere, with no excuses.
16. Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Pokémon Legends: Arceus shook the formula a bit by making the world completely open, removing gyms, and improving the crafting system. Furthermore, you can toss Pokéballs at wild Pokémon to capture them instead of having to fight them first. You can also let your captured Pokémon loose to gather resources and level up on their own, another series first.
This is not to say that Legends: Arceus, doesn't have the familiar systems of previous games. You can still ride Pokémon to get around, "catch 'em all" to complete the Pokédex, and participate in turn-based battles.
17. DOOM Eternal
It's amazing that Doom (2016) could run on the Nintendo Switch, much less its sequel, Doom Eternal. Here, the drill is the same: As the Doom Slayer, your mission is to pump demons from hell full of hot lead and save the Earth from invasion.
You now have a grappling hook for greater verticality and a dash move that makes platforming sections more interesting. Also, you get to face more demon types and perform new glory kills. And this time around, you can burn demons with the fancy new flamethrower, which also replenishes your armor.
Enjoy Gaming on Your Nintendo Switch!
These are the best Nintendo Switch games you can play today. However, there are many more Nintendo Switch releases that we couldn't fit on this list.
If you're reading this because you've just taken the plunge on Nintendo's hybrid console, make sure you familiarize yourself with all the tips and tricks for new Switch owners.