The 12 Best Games For The Nintendo Switch

Illustration by Sam Woolley

You just bought a new Nintendo Switch. First of all, good job! They're still kind of hard to find. Now it's time to figure out what games you want to play. We've got you covered.

The Switch is several months old at this point, and its small library is constantly growing. Since launch, Nintendo has managed to maintain a solid ratio of good games, and even this early in the console's lifespan, a few Switch exclusives are legit greats.

Nintendo Switch: The Kotaku Review

The Nintendo Switch is a fascinating new game console built around a novel and well-executed central idea. It also has plenty of problems that will doubtless be improved upon in a future version. Nintendo is yet again trying something new, and here we are to take the plunge alongside them.

Read more

As with all of our Bests lists, we'll be updating this one over the months and years to come. Each game we add in the future will need to replace an existing entry. Expect the list to continue to expand and improve over the months to come.

Here are the 12 best games you can get for the Nintendo Switch.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a monumental artistic achievement, a video game so creative and full of surprises that we'll be talking about it for years to come. It's also unlike any Zelda game before it. For years, Zelda games were defined by "no."

You can't reach this place until later; you can't solve this puzzle until you get the right item. Breath of the Wild is the best Zelda game to date, and it accomplishes that simply by saying yes.

A Good Match For: Anyone who likes games that let you explore and make your own fun; horse lovers.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone who preferred the strict structure of other recent Zelda games.

Read our review.

Study our tips for the game.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon [Walmart [Best Buy [Gamestop]

In Snipperclips: Cut It Out Together!, you and a friend take control of a pair of goofy little paper characters. You have to cut one another into weird shapes in order to solve a series of ever more complicated physics puzzles.

This leads to all sorts of funny failed experiments and, hopefully, some satisfying victories. You'll need to think collaboratively, but you can take your time and experiment. Like the best co-op puzzle games, even your mistakes are fun.

A Good Match For: People who like playing games with their friends, puzzle fanatics.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone looking for a beefy single-player game.

Watch us play the game on Facebook.

Purchase From: Available on the Nintendo eShop

The makers of Thumper bill it as a "rhythm violence game," which is a cheeky description but also an accurate one. The setup is simple: You control a glowing beetle as it zooms along a track through some sort of neon Hell dimension. In your path are glowing gems and various obstacles. You press buttons in time with the grinding, undulating music to get past those obstacles without blowing up.

The music is relentless. The beats are ferocious. The pace is unstoppable. Thumper takes a classic formula and strips it down to its rawest, most hypnotic base elements. The result is one of the finest rhythm games in years.

A Good Match For: People who like rhythm games, people who like difficult rhythm games.

Not A Good Match For: Those who don't want to play Switch games with headphones, those who get easily frustrated.

Read our impressions of the PC version.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Available digitally on the Nintendo eShop.

Why have one good thing when you can have two? Good question. In the case of Puyo Puyo Tetris, those two good things are... Tetris and Puyo Puyo, a pair of place-the-dropping-shapes games that are equally beloved, if not equally well-known, all around the world.

In single-player, online or splitscreen multiplayer, you and up to three friends can compete in hectic matches that flip and flop from Tetris to Puyo Puyo and back again. It's a chaotic good time.

A Good Match For: Fans of Tetris and fans of Puyo Puyo, obviously. Also, anyone looking for a fun competitive puzzle game to play with friends.

Not A Good Match For: Those looking for a fleshed-out singleplayer game, anyone who prefers to solve puzzles without a time limitation.

Read our impressions of the game.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon [Walmart [Best Buy [Gamestop]

Something is wrong with Isaac's mum: She thinks that she can hear God. And God, disturbingly enough, has instructed her to kill Isaac. The only way Isaac can get out of that hellish situation is by jumping into his basement -- which happens to be endless, and full of terrors. Thankfully, these demons can be defeated by directing Isaac's tears, twin-stick shooter style, across Zelda-like dungeons.

Well... if Zelda dungeons were full of horrifying hellspawn, poop, and tons of mysterious items that you don't know how to use. The Binding of Isaac has gotten several iterations over the years, and Afterbirth+ is the biggest expansion yet.

A Good Match For: Players who like a challenge, especially of the roguelike variety. A lot of the appeal with the Binding of Isaac is how constantly it will surprise you with challenges you've never encountered before.

Not A Good Match For: Players who are sensitive to gross stuff or jokes about religion, or people who are just looking to relax while playing a game.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon [Walmart [Best Buy [Gamestop]

Minecraft is such a known quantity that we almost don't feel the need to explain what it is. You break things; you build things. If you want, you can fight monsters, or you can play with no monsters and focus on building. You can play with your friends, or you can play by yourself.

The possibilities are nearly endless, expanded after years of updates, new features, new tools, and new texture packs. Even after all this time, Minecraft still feels fresh on the Switch. It's a fantastic game for playing on the go, and the Switch has the horsepower and built-in controls to make it just as satisfying as playing on a PC or console.

A Good Match For: Minecraft fans. You know who you are.

Not A Good Match For: People who don't like Minecraft. This game is still Minecraft.

Read our impressions of the Switch version.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Available digitally from the Nintendo eShop.

Look, we weren't expecting much from Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle either. We were right there laughing along with the rest of the internet when we first saw those leaked promotional images of Ubisoft's annoying Rabbid mascots dressed up as iconic Mario characters.

But then Ubisoft showed the game itself, and ... wait, a Mario-inspired take on XCOM tactics? One that looks like a first-party Nintendo game thanks to Nintendo's developers lending a hand with production? As it turned out, yep, Mario + Rabbids is a fantastic game. It's a smart, streamlined take on the XCOM style of turn-based, positional tactics. It's beautiful looking, and has an excellent musical score.

And it's just really goofy and fun. Each fight is an unpredictable scrum between team Mario and a bunch of chittering, idiot Rabbids, and the constantly escalating challenge will force you to think on your toes. And its digestible, 5-10 minute battles and "just one more match!" addictiveness make it a perfect fit for the handheld Switch.

A Good Match For: Anyone waiting for a good Switch strategy game, XCOM fans, people who think they might like XCOM but are put off by how complicated it seems.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone who just can't stand Ubisoft's Rabbids. The game is actually a lot more charming than the corny, Minions-like mascots on the cover might suggest, but if you really hate 'em, you really hate 'em.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon [Walmart [Best Buy [Gamestop]

Ah, the blue shell. There may be no better metaphor for the bleakness of life. One minute you're cruising along, on top of the world, and then… BAM, you're totally hosed. Just when you thought you had it in the bag, life throws a blue shell.

Mario Kart 8 isn't really all that philosophical, of course. It's the same Mario Kart formula re-tuned and polished to an absurd degree, easily one of the most fun party games you can play on the Switch or any other console. Best of all, the Deluxe version on Switch includes all the DLC maps and characters from the Wii U game and also completely overhauls that version's woebegone battle mode. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the definitive version of an already great game.

A Good Match For: People who like moving really fast, people who like seeing Luigi look really mean.

Not a Good Match For: People who don't like Mario Kart? Do those people exist?

Read our review of the Wii U version, and of the Deluxe Switch version.

Watch a tournament that we staged at company HQ. 

Purchase From: Amazon [Walmart [Best Buy [Gamestop]

The folks at Jackbox Games have been making party games for years, long since we first gathered around a PC keyboard to play You Don't Know Jack. Jackbox Party Pack 3 is their latest collection of party games, and there's something for almost every occasion.

Connect your Switch to the Internet and everyone with a smartphone can easily join in. Highlights this time around include Quiplash 2, which tests your ability to creatively fool (and amuse) the people playing with you, Trivia Murder Party, which is like classic You Don't Know Jack with an ironic Saw twist, and Fakin' It, which tests whether you can fool your friends to their faces. The party pack is a fantastic addition to every party, and a natural fit for the Switch.

A Good Match For: People with friends, people who go to parties, people who want to play games with their friends at parties.

Not A Good Match For: People who don't go to many parties, people whose friends don't have reliable Internet or smartphones.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Available digitally from the Nintendo eShop.

Splatoon 2 builds on the foundation laid by its fantastic Wii U predecessor with a more fleshed-out singleplayer mode, an addictive new co-op mode, and league play at launch. At its core, though, it's the same brilliant mix of fine-tuned gameplay, Nickelodeon slime and J-pop dazzle that made the original great.

It's a simple idea: you paint the floors, then swim through your paint to move faster and reload your gun, and it works beautifully. It's easy to get sucked into the grind for the freshest fashion and the highest ranks, but none of that would work if the game weren't fun, which it most certainly is.

A Good Match For: Anyone looking for an online shooting game that's a little bit different from the rest. People who like colourful style, fashion, and goofy memes.

Not A Good Match For: Those looking for a more traditional online shooter to play with friends. Splatoon's party and chat systems are pretty terrible, and it's way too difficult to casually play with a group.

Read our review.

Study or tips for inking your spawn, motion controls, and drawing good art.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon [Walmart [Best Buy [Gamestop]

Shovel Knight is a brilliant reminder of what we loved about the best classic NES-era platformers. It combines tight controls, bouncy game feel, an extremely good soundtrack, and a charming cast of characters into a game that feels like a classic, even if it comes with many of the conveniences we associate with newer games. The Treasure Trove includes two expansions, with a third free one on the way.

The first two let you play as Plague Knight and Specter Knight, and while the latter campaign is more fun than the former, both expand on an already fun game. It all looks and plays great on the Switch, and is a natural fit for on-the-go gaming.

A Good Match For: Fans of old-school platformers, people who like a little challenge -- and a lot of good music -- in their games.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone looking for something with modern graphics, or who doesn't like challenging 2D platformers.

Read our review of the original, and the new Specter Knight campaign.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Available on the Nintendo eShop

In Arms, you get in a ring and punch people with your long, slinky arms. That's pretty much it. Pick one of ten fighters, pick a pair of super long arms, and get fighting. It's fun enough in single-player or split-screen at a party, but this game thrives on its 1v1 online battles.

The basic fighting is easier to understand than it is to master, and you'll have to adjust your tactics on the fly to beat your opponents. Each character plays a little bit differently, and each arm you equip changes things further. The game displays Nintendo's signature fine-tuning and polish, and every punch you land feels like a small, satisfying victory. Arms does one thing, and it does it well. Nintendo will be support the game with free updates for the foreseeable future, too.

A Good Match For: Competitive people, Punch-Out!! fans, anyone looking for an approachable fighting game.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone looking for substantial singleplayer content. At launch, Arms doesn't have a whole lot going on outside of its enjoyable online duels.

Read our review.

Study our tips for the game.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon [Walmart [Best Buy [Gamestop]

How has this list changed? Read back through our update history:

9/14/2017: We've added Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and removed Cave Story +.

8/9/2017: We've added Splatoon 2 and bumped off Disgaea 5.

6/28/2017: Time for our first update, and it's a big one. We've added Minecraft, Arms, Cave Story+, Disgaea 5, Jackbox Party Pack 3 and Thumper, and removed I Am Setsuna and Mr. Shifty. The list will remain capped at 12 games from here on out.

5/3/2017: And lo, the Switch Bests list was created! No updates yet. Expect more in the near future as we add more games, eventually capping the list at 12.

Want more of the best games on each system? Check out our complete directory:

The Best PC GamesThe Best PS4 GamesThe Best Xbox One GamesThe Best Wii U GamesThe Best PC Virtual Reality GamesThe Best 3DS GamesThe Best PS Vita GamesThe Best Xbox 360 GamesThe Best PS3 GamesThe Best Wii GamesThe Best iPhone GamesThe Best iPad GamesThe Best Android GamesThe Best PSP GamesThe Best Facebook GamesThe Best DS GamesThe Best Mac GamesThe Best Browser GamesThe Best PC Mods

WATCH MORE: Nintendo News


Comments

    Sif put Isaac in there ahead of Blaster Master.

    There's 8 games for switch?

      No, the whole article is clearly a lie. The literal millions of people enjoying their Switch are actually staring vacantly at a blank screen, suffering of collective delusion. Nintendo's reports are a fabrication and they are actually about to go out of business.

      But you always knew better, eagle eyes piercing the see-through gossamer of that web of lies. And today, you have bravely exposed the truth to us. What a champion.

        Salty Nintendo fan detected.

        I love how Nintendo fans are always the most akin to zealots.

        Say something bad about Nintendo on reddit and they'll downvote you into oblivion. It's hilarious. It's like they just can't comprehend that Nintendo would ever do wrong. Could ever do wrong!

        Look, it's fine you're having fun with your Switch. Doesn't change the fact its a cheaply made Wii U that has a garbage roster of games that are basically all indie games or re-releases that are 3+ years old.

        I don't hate Nintendo. I just wish they would stop this stupidity and release their games on real consoles and PC. Something that has a bit of firepower behind it. That E3 tech demo they did of Zelda like 5 years ago still looks better, graphics and gameplay wise than BotW. Because Nintendo is ALWAYS limited by their shit ass hardware. I'm not talking about graphics only.

          Necro much?

          Listen, the reason why you get downvoted everywhere is that you have this attitude where your subjective opinion somehow has more value than the opinion of hundreds of thousands of people. I don't think that Nintendo is perfect and they certainly have made their fair share of mistakes, but people like you will complain, criticize and mock even unarguable successes like the Wii or the Switch only because Nintendo doesn't do what is more convenient to your established gaming behaviour and catering to the things that you value and prioritise.

          You call me salty but in reality, it is you the one who cannot cope with the fact that you know that Nintendo games are fantastic, but they are not released for the platforms you already own and prefer. And of course, you wouldn't buy their platform because fuck them for not getting in the stupid spec race and become the /third/ power PC inside a shiny brick of a console. If it is to cater to your desires, you'd gladly wish away their hardware department, costing the company millions and leaving thousands of people jobless. To get their games that you want in the most convenient way to you, you'd gladly take away the enjoyment of thousands if not millions who are engaged precisely by the very features that you elitistly dismiss as "gimmicks". In order to validate your marketing-indoctrinated values that are mostly tangential to fun such as "power", "resolution", "fps" and the such, you'd pretend Nintendo has not proven itself capable of making some of the most critically and commercially awarded games in history /regardless/ of the specs of their machines instead of limited by them. And yet, you crave those games. Such cognitive dissonance predictably result in these angered, dismissive posts, time after time.

      They just release 4 games so the list had to be updated to Top 12!

      Lol, sort of true I guess, but it's only 6 months in, the ps4 library was pretty lean at that point too yeah?
      Good thing for me is that I'm utterly hooked on Zelda still, so I'm still yet to need or buy another game haha.

    Yay, another US article. Isaac still has no Australian release...

      And yet I've been playing it endlessly. No region restrictions anymore so bugger waiting.

    Number 9 with a bullet: Ascribe Your Own Barometer of Success to the New Games Console From Nintendo Even Though It's Only May 8.

    I love a bit of AYOBS NGC FENTIOM 8.

      Gotta agree, Kotaku's Nintendo fandom is getting beyond a joke.

        Really? I hear people say this, but as conisseur of all gaming platforms, I find it balanced and fair. Yeah, doing a Top 8 is a bit iffy (coulda waited for another two games worth adding to make it Top 10), but yeah, the "too much Nintendo content!!!" noise seems to come from people that don't do Nintendo, feel left out because, and now want to ignore all the fun people have with Zelda.
        It's okay not to own a Switch or 3DS! Sad, but totes okay! Just let the rest of us who do enjoy the content, friendo.

          I own a 3DS, and a Wii U. However Kotaku's nintendo coverage seems to diverge into retro-nostalgia benders that borders on cognitive dissonance.

            I mean, no, it doesn't. If Nintendo articles on a video game website annoy you, perhaps take a break from the internet for a while.

          I think the coverage Kotaku has provided on Nintendo has been fair, during the bleak WiiU era developments were lacking and sparse between.

          Now that Nintendo has a hit on their hands and with a critically rated launch title - that they deserve what ever coverage news outlets provide. Plus the switch is a breathe of fresh air in this somewhat of a stagnated graphically-focused industry. Positive competition from Nintendo can only mean better games for everyone else and i'm no fanboy either :)

      Be happy that it at least relates to video games. I'll take near-daily Nintendo articles to near-daily articles about MMA anytime.

    Top 8 Nintendo Switch games! Happens to be the only 8! Also, 75% of this list is compiled of indie 2D games that cost an exorbitant amount on Switch for some reason! Also one of them is literally a Tetris game.

    Nintentards.

      I read this in a WWE wrestler's voice.

      That was what you were going for wasn't it.

      haha... this guy

      You don't like the switch so how dare anyone else like it! hahaha

        Used to love Nintendo. Now I can't stand them or their gimmicky bullshit.

          you know what, i get that. I hated the Wii because of the stupid controllers.

          But dude, the switch is shaping up really well. It really does feel and play really well. I never thought the ability to seamlessly go from TV to portable would matter but it doesn't only make it convenient, its makes it super fun and easy to play.

          also, im glad someone is trying something different. Competition and innovation are essential to a good gaming market.

        Nintendo! Exploiting Zelda fans since 1986!

          yeah, exploiting them by giving them game of the decade.......

            By making them buy a Switch for a WiiU game.

              how is that exploiting people by giving everyone the option of buying it on any current console?

              I bought the Wii U version, then changed over to the Switch version (buying a switch in the process) so that I could play it on the plane to and from Europe. Nobody made me buy anything, and I'm quite happy with the result!

                Nintendo is obviously holding a gun to your head! No one really likes Nintendo! (I love Nintendo =P)

      The Switch's library has 34 games so far which is 9 more than the Xbone released in the same period. You come here to disseminate disinformation and feel the need to append -tards to a word describing other people? Back to 4chan with you, little one.

        30 indie 2D games and re-releases of 3-5 year old games. 4 actual games designed FOR the switch.

        Hilarious.

          Clearly, you didn't bother to check how those percentages looked for the other platforms for the same starting period in their lives. PS4 did somewhat better, having a few more AAA exclusives, but also more shovelware. XBOX definitely did worse, having released fewer titles and with more or less the same ratios of exclusives-rereleases-shovelware. Could have been better? Sure, but it's nowhere near the exaggerated barren scenario people like you paint, nor is it endemic to Nintendo.

        I could play devil's advocate. I've got a neo geo arcade machine with a bootleg cart in it and I have 14 games that are on the switch :P

    8 best games on the switch is pretty easy to do when there is only 8 games released on it.

    Puyo Puyo on the the list and Bomberman not being on the list makes me happy ;)

    Also Snipperclips is okay but I'm not seeing the huge fuss, must be the new console smell!

    I have a Switch, and BOTW, but honestly... The console needs more exclusives, not games I can buy on steam for cheaper (that are locked to my account that will keep working on any computer system I buy or make for the foreseeable future).

    More exclusives damn it!

    Ok, let's remove everything that's not a port/remake/remaster/re-release... We're left with Zelda & Snipperclips.

    I guess on a slow news day you gotta do something in the office. I would like to see this list remade in 12 months when the Switch has a lot more Nintendo only games that could be included... Or just new games in general.

      Super Bomberman R, which is better than Mr Shifty, is also a completely new game that you can't get on other consoles.
      In fact 1-2 Switch is also better than it.

      Nah just Snipperclips. Zelda is a Wii U port.

        More like the BoTW on Wii U is a port of the Switch version.

          The Wii U version is a neutered/watered-down version of the original to make porting to Switch easier :P

    Mr Shifty should be replaced by Lego City Undercover and I am Setsuna should be replaced by Fast RMX.
    Those two are average games aimed at cashing in on nostalgia value for two narrow genres, and there are many far better games on the Switch.
    There's also Jackbox Party Pack thats worth getting.

    Kamiko is also pretty good. Probably not something that could compete with the bests, but it is good.

    I could easily appreciate these four rounding out the 12 for now:

    • Tumbleseed (tough-as-nails roguelike)
    • Master Blaster Zero (retro shmup fun)
    • VOEZ (frantic, enormous rhythm game)
    • 1-2 Switch (outrageous fun when drunk)

    Aside from the 12 games you were showing I would have to say 1-2 Switch Mario Kart 8 Deluxe The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild and ARMS are definitely my most favorite games but The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth+ is not my favorite game Disgaea 5 I don't think so SEGA'S Puyo Puyo Tetris I've got nothing to say about that game I'm more into some Sonic action with Sonic Mania coming to the Nintendo Switch soon along with Sonic Forces which is also coming to the Nintendo Switch in the holiday season later this year with a new villain aside from other villains like Shadow Metal Sonic the return of Zavok from the Deadly Six Edition of Sonic Lost Worlds.

    Wow still no Blaster Master. Guys.

    But hey, at least we have TWO actual Switch games now.

    GEM is a fun game too. And a handful of NEO GEO games (King of Fighters, Mark of the Wolves, Metal Slug etc). I love ARMS, Shantae and Wonderboy too.

    wow, these comments. You don't actually care about the number of Switch games that are out, you're just interested in attacking it because you're feeling threaten by it (Console fanboyz war). It's only been out for 4 months you silly fish! In 12 months time, you'll have drop that argument and be arguing about some other silly reason to hate on it.

    If you don't like it, fine, move on with your life. But don't feel personally threaten about a gaming console some people like, its just sad, man.

    I love disgaea games, but the port on the switch seems to crash a LOT :(
    have autosave turned on if you wanna stay sane

    Why are there so many article reposts lately? Is Kotaku making up for a lack of news?

      I think it's because they updated the list again. That's all.

        They should have probably just made an entirely new post instead of updating and reposting this one, because the majority of comments in here are from earlier in the year, replying to a different version of the article, and are outdated.

          Agree, but it is the US article and the Aus editors don't really have any control over that

      Can't wait to see it again in another couple of months!

    I haven't got the Jackbox Party Pack 3 for Nintendo Switch yet but I do love playing the trivia quiz game You Don't Know Jack hosted by Cookie Masterson who is always full of mouth every time he bleeps his mouth no matter what bad word he says. I still love Breath of the Wild but I won't be getting The Master Trials DLC yet until The Champions Ballad DLC comes out at the end of this year because when The Champions Ballad DLC comes out at the end of this year I'm going to get both DLC packs as part of the Breath of the Wild Expansion Pass. Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a great game and I can't wait for a new story mode early next year as part of the Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle Season Pass.

    Interesting how the meta in this discussion is about downvoting people for pointing out, quite legitimately that the switch has an intensely disappointing games lineup (and don't say it has only been X months - there is no indication it is going to get any better, bar mario odyssey).

    Of course it is possible to buy it and have fun, but if you're someone who already has a Wii U and a stacked steam account, even the biggest switch superfan should be able to recognise that the offerings for the switch are underwhelming.

    I don't want nintendo to fail. I want to buy the switch. But its pure facepalm to read announcements like "Skyrim coming to Switch!".

      I mean, it's only disappointing if you're not a Nintendo fan, really. And if you owned a wii u too I suppose. But for someone who has an xbone already and loves their first party stuff, I have Zelda, splatoon 2, mk8, the surprisingly quality looking Mario and rabbids, odyssey just around the corner, and I have yooka laylee, rocket league and more to look forward to. Doom and skyrim point to decent ( admittedly downgraded ) support of older games that people may want to play on the go, and 2k and Wolfenstein 2 are giving people hope that some newer third party games might just make it to switch after all. Yes I'd say ps4 is still the console king, but in terms of exclusives I'm looking forward to Nintendos more than Sonys. For the generic third party games like destiny I have my xbone so I'm covered however as always owning a Nintendo as your only console would be tough ( not so if you had a pc too tho ) .

    One day people will realise how good Has Been Heroes is.

      Absolutely... For the $10 it cost me in the Switch bundle I bought, I've gotten incredible value out of it.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now