Best Nintendo Switch Games – IGN
If 2023 proves to be the last year the Nintendo Switch dominates the market before its successor arrives, then it is going out with a bang. The hybrid portable console has surpassed the PlayStation 4 and Game Boy to become the third best-selling console of all time with over 122.55 units sold, Nintendo Switch Online has added Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games, and Nintendo struck a 10-year deal with Microsoft to port Call of Duty to future Nintendo consoles if Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard gets approved. While Call of Duty fans wait for the first wave of ports, here are the 25 best Switch games you can play to hold you over.
This list was assembled by the entire IGN content team — including our resident Nintendo experts, the NVC podcast crew — and represents what we think are the best games to enjoy on the Switch right now, whether you’re picking one up for the first time or have been a platform enthusiast since day one. So without further ado, these are our picks for the 25 best Nintendo Switch games.
More on the Best of Nintendo:
The Top 25 Switch Games
25. Ring Fit Adventure
Sure, exercising is good for you, but it’s got two pretty big drawbacks: one, it costs a lot of money to join a gym and, two, it’s kind of boring. Ring Fit Adventure fixes both of those problems by gamifying exercise and letting you work out from home while somehow making the entire experience feel like a fun, casual RPG.
By strapping the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con to your leg and with the strange, brilliant new Ring-Con peripheral, Ring Fit encourages you to use your whole body to battle monsters, collect coins, level up, and push past your personal bests — all while giving you a serious workout within the confines of your living room. It proves that exercising can be fun — especially whenF it’s thousands of dollars cheaper than hiring a personal trainer, too.
Ring Fit Adventure also made our list of the best Nintendo Switch exclusives.
24. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
Xenoblade Chronicles has a lot of history behind it. With a story from Xenogears director Tetsuya Takahashi and musical contributions from Yasunori Mitsuda, it forges a direct link to the days of classic PS1-era RPGs. Originally released on Wii in 2010, it received a comprehensive update in 2020 thanks to Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, which we called the “best version of Xenoblade Chronicles we’ve ever had.”
It remains the best entry in the series to date, featuring the strongest story without losing the sense of scope and freedom of the later games. Xenoblade Chronicles was a smart, forward-thinking JRPG with a first-class battle system when it was released on Wii, and it remains one of the best RPGs on the Switch. If you’re choosing between Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition and its sequel, pick this one.
The series’ latest entry, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, is now available. IGN named it the Best RPG of 2022.
23. Link’s Awakening
With its charming, toyetic visual style and bizarrely dark undertones, the vast island of Koholint in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening has never looked better than it does on Nintendo Switch. Link’s shipwrecked adventure on a mysterious island rife with eccentric characters and sprawling dungeons has always been one of the stranger Zelda stories, and this remake allows new audiences and aging fans alike to appreciate it on a modern system. It modernizes the classic beloved Zelda game with a shiny new coat of paint, some excellent quality of life improvements, and loads more hidden collectibles but, ultimately, its greatest accomplishment is retaining the weird, haunting, beautiful feeling of the original Game Boy game.
22. Chicory: A Colorful Tale
It’s rare and delightful to see a truly unique spin on a genre so familiar as the top-down adventure, but by transforming its world into a giant paint canvas that ties in painting with puzzle solving, Chicory: A Colorful Tale is a welcome surprise. While its clever hint system, beautiful score, cute characters, enticing collectibles, and fascinating paint mechanics would be enough to recommend it, what elevates Chicory further is its heartfelt and earnest storytelling.
It’s a game about imposter syndrome, mental health, and the struggles of being a creative, told with a grounded perspective blended with genuine hope and empathy, all of which is supported elegantly by its intense boss battles. It’s art about art, and beautiful indeed.
The Chicory team is now working on its next game, which appears to star an adorable two-legged creature.
21. SteamWorld Dig 2
SteamWorld Dig 2 is a textbook example of everything a sequel should be: bigger, smarter, and just straight up more fun. Guiding Dorothy through SWD 2’s labyrinthine caverns searching for loot and upgrades is a challenging and charming twist on the classic “Metroidvania” style and has a gameplay loop that will undoubtedly keep you up into the wee hours of the morning for “just one more run.”
Developer Thunderful has four new SteamWorld games in development, including co-op, third-person action-adventure SteamWorld Headhunter and city builder SteamWorld Build in 2023.
20. Splatoon 2
Splatoon 2 is one of those rare games you can play for more than a year and still not be tired of it. Many players hoped for a fast port to Switch to hit the ground running, but what we got was an impressive sequel with an all-new single-player campaign and plenty of incredible, and free, post-release content.
Switch owners can now get their hands on Splatoon 3. We awarded its single-player campaign a review score of 8 and its multiplayer component a 9. Splatoon 3’s Tableturf Battle mode is getting online play as part of the upcoming Fresh Season update.
19. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle faced no shortage of skepticism before its launch. But Ubisoft Milan’s robust strategy game proved itself with some truly challenging levels and accessible but complex turn-based gameplay, while also finding a way of marrying the Rabbids and Mushroom Kingdom’s senses of humor into one, charming experience.
A “spiritual sequel” to Kingdom Battle, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, is now available. It won Best Best Sim/Strategy Game at The Game Awards. The Tower of Doooom, the first expansion for Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, releases on March 2.
18. Mario Party Superstars
While there is a limited number of Mario Party titles to choose from on the Nintendo Switch, Mario Party Superstars is the best option for all Switch owners. Unlike Super Mario Party, which is unplayable on the Switch Lite and does not support any controller outside of Joy-Cons, Superstars reverts back to the classic Mario Party formula fans know and love. While it is a collection of popular boards and mini-games from previous entries, Superstars does enough right to make it a worthwhile entry for old and newcomers of the series.
17. Paper Mario: The Origami King
Paper Mario: The Origami King may not a perfect game – or, in fact, not even the best entry in the Paper Mario series – but it is one of the most charming adventures on the Nintendo Switch. While most of the RPG trappings of the earliest entries of the franchise have been stripped away in Origami King, it’s more than made up for by an interesting new take on the battle system and one of the funniest, silliest stories in any game to date.
16. Pokemon Sword & Shield
Pokemon Sword & Shield finally brought mainline Pokemon games to home consoles – even if it’s only by default, since the Switch is both a handheld and home console. Beyond seeing hundreds of monsters in HD on your nice big TV, Sword & Shield brought with it a slew of welcome changes, including several quality of life improvements, the removal of random encounters, and Gigantamaxing, which basically gave your favorite Pokemon the Stay Puft treatment.
It’s also the first game in the franchise to include post-launch expansion packs, The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra, which include both new and classic Pokemon to add to your collection.
The series’ latest mainline games, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, are now available. In her review, IGN’s Rebekah Valentine praised the games’ shift to an open world but couldn’t overlook the “numerous ways in which Scarlet and Violet feel deeply unfinished.”
15. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury offers two fantastic Mario experiences that compliment each other brilliantly. 3D World landed on the Wii U and gave fans a unique blend of 2D and 3D platforming, all of which could (optionally) be played with up to four players in a setup that worked better than the New Super Mario series accomplished. Inventive and just plain fun, it was too good of a game to keep stranded on the Wii U forever, and its port to Switch came with bonus online co-op capabilities, a photo mode feature, and more.
But the biggest draw for fans who had already played 3D World was Bowser’s Fury, a brand-new, open-world experience that lasts roughly 3 to 6 hours. Though only a small taste by series standards, this free-form experiment stands as a proof of concept that an open-world Mario game can be just as creative, exhilarating, and enjoyable as what we’ve seen in the franchise thus far. If this is the direction the next mainline Mario goes, it’s an exciting future indeed.
14. Monster Hunter Rise
Monster Hunter Rise has changed the course of the series in a way it may never be able to reverse. Monster Hunter World already started that process by removing loading screens in its levels and generally increasing the scale of its hunts, but Rise builds on those innovations in a way that’s truly exciting to see.
The new wirebug mechanic is revelatory, adding extra mobility and speed to your hunting tool kit regardless of which weapon you pick, making Monster Hunter faster and more accessible than its ever been before. The hunts themselves are still a thrill and the gear grind is still endlessly compelling, but where World opened the door for Monster Hunter to have a wider appeal, Rise has taken a confident step through.
13. Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley is a wonderfully open-ended farming sim. You’ll forge your own country path with fishing, fighting, farming, and falling in love. Additionally, being able to take advantage of the Switch’s sleep mode helps take some of the pressure off of not being able to save in the middle of a day, even if a few other bugs in the port are still waiting to be squashed here.
Stardew Valley creator Eric Baron revealed his next game to be Haunted Chocolatier.
12. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses takes the series to new heights, deftly blending grueling battles with an expansive social hub that allows for near limitless customization as you recruit, train, and bond with the memorable characters on your team. Its unique take on a three-pronged story ensures that no matter which house you choose, the engrossing plot that unfolds always leaves enough mystery to make multiple playthroughs incredibly hard to resist.
The series’ next mainline game, Fire Emblem Engage, is now available on Switch. IGN awarded it a review score of 9 and said Engage “proves itself worthy enough to be counted alongside the legacy it honors so well.”
11. Slay the Spire
There’s something about Slay the Spire’s balance of strategy and randomness that makes it an endlessly replayable puzzle. Assembling that perfect combo of synergistic cards can feel incredible, but there’s also a joy in scraping your way to victory despite the odds never quite falling in your favor. With that potent package on the Switch’s mobile platform — with some fairly decent touch control options, we might add — it’s a miracle we’ve ever stopped playing it.
Slay the Spire made our updated list of the 10 best roguelikes.
10. Hollow Knight
Hollow Knight is one of the best modern MetroidVania’s available, using all the pieces that make the genre so great in the first place without feeling derivative of anything that came before it.
The expertly crafted map that is the kingdom of Hallownest has an absurd amount of paths to explore, bosses to fight, and secrets to uncover. That’s all drawn in a somber but expressive art style that gives the adorable bug people who live their lives, and stories, of their own. It can undoubtedly be a challenging and demanding game, but what you get out of will be a reward worth far more than you put in.
A sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong, is now in development. It will seemingly be released sometime before June 2023.
Celeste is a surprise masterpiece. Its 2D platforming is some of the best and toughest since Super Meat Boy, with levels that are as challenging to figure out as they are satisfying to complete. But the greatest triumph of Celeste is that its best-in-class jumping and dashing is blended beautifully with an important and sincere story and an incredible soundtrack that make it a genuinely emotional game, even when your feet are planted firmly on the ground.
The developer’s next game is Earthblade, a “2D explor-action game in a seamless pixel art world” due out in 2024.
8. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8’s encore on Nintendo Switch didn’t just keep the online community alive and added returning favorites like Balloon Battle and Bob-omb Blast, we also got a brand-new “cops and robbers” team mode with Renegade Roundup, all of the great DLC stages, and even some guests from the Splatoon universe. It’s not a new game, but one so good, it deserved to reach a bigger audience on Switch right away.
It’s the best-selling Switch game to date with over 48 million copies sold, and there’s still more to come: The Mario Kart 8 Booster Course Pass will add 48 courses to the game by the end of 2023.
Roguelikes don’t always appeal to everyone, but Hades has somehow found a way to win over even those with a distaste for them. Fighting your way out of the Greek underworld is a ruthless and challenging affair, but every failure is rewarded in a way that somehow makes them exciting in their own right.
Instead of just notching up each loss and moving onto the next, the moments between each run push Hades’ excellent storytelling to the forefront, giving you opportunities to learn more about its charming characters and grow close to them – as well as improve the prince of the underworld’s abilities and weapons. It’s that meaningful mix of progression and infinitely repeatable escape attempts (coupled with genuinely fantastic writing, art, and action) that make Hades as delectable as Ambrosia itself.
A sequel, Hades 2, was announced at The Game Awards.
6. Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is essentially a FrankenLuigistein’s monster of the first two games, a mashup of both that creates the perfect Luigi’s Mansion experience. Charming, clever, and absolutely gorgeous to look at, Luigi’s Mansion is 17 levels of pure ghost-hunting joy. Working your way through each of the haunted hotels may never extremely challenging, but the creative boss fights and deviously hidden collectibles will keep you busy for a dozen hours or more. The excitement of getting to a new level just to see its theme (TV Studio! Sewer Maze! Egypt!) is well worth the price of admission, plus the game opens with Toad driving a bus. Priceless.
5. Metroid Dread
Metroid Dread had become a near-mythic game, a fabled DS entry that never saw the light of day by the time it was announced at E3 2021 as a Switch game. With nearly 20 years having passed since the last new 2D Metroid, expectations were sky high. Fortunately for fans, Dread met (and in many cases surpassed) expectations for what a modern 2D Metroid game could accomplish.
It’s easily the smoothest game in the series, running at a silky 60fps, and incorporates several new weapons and abilities the series now can’t live without — the Flash Shift alone makes Dread feel entirely fresh. With high-production values, incredible game design that gently guides the player through ZDR’s labyrinthine corridors, and the most unflinching version of Samus we’ve seen yet, Mercury Steam hit Metroid Dread out of the stratosphere and brought the franchise back into Nintendo’s orbit.
Metroid Prime: Remastered, the upscaled port of the original 2002 Nintendo GameCube title, is available now.
4. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Released on the doorstep of a global pandemic, Animal Crossing: New Horizons provided a much need escape to many, selling nearly 34 million copies to date. Routine and discovery play equally important roles as you plan the perfect layout for your island, make friends (or enemies) with all your villagers, and invite your friends to your own little utopia to trade items and swap secrets.
It’s brilliant in its simplicity and masterful in the way it encourages players to keep up with chores, redecorate and/or reshape entire plots of land, or burn dozens of hours trying to catch rare fish or find every last seasonal item. It certainly helps that all the writing is supremely funny and that, hundreds of hours in, you’re still able to chuckle at a random comment or find genuine inspiration in the places you’d least expect.
Taking a cue from many of Nintendo’s Switch editions of their long-running franchises, Animal Crossing New Horizons does little to completely reinvent the franchise, but it makes a great series even more accessible, more exciting, and more wonderful than it has ever been.
New Horizons is officially Japan’s best-selling game of all time. Animal Crossing players can get even more out of it with the Happy Home Paradise DLC. Our reviewer Taylor Lyles called the expansion “a must-have for base game owners.”
3. Super Mario Odyssey
A masterclass in 3D platforming, Super Mario Odyssey seamlessly blends the best elements from nearly every Mario game with an entire portfolio of new gameplay mechanics to create something both nostalgic and courageous. New players will adore stomping through the vivid and vast new worlds, while seasoned veterans will stick around after the credits to unlock the hundreds of challenges that await their skill and dexterity. To put it succinctly, Super Mario Odyssey is pure, sublime joy and one of the best Super Mario games ever made.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s final trailer will get a special Nintendo Direct on March 9.
2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is exactly what its name implies: it’s the ultimate incarnation of Nintendo’s now 20-year-old brawler series. It’s a celebration of Smash Bros. as a whole, filled with more fighters and levels than ever before, and packed to the gills with over 1000 more characters from all across gaming. “Everyone is here!” may have started out as just another tagline, but it’s one that Nintendo has impressively backed up, and it’s made Ultimate the definitive Smash Bros. game for a long time to come. Add a 20+ hour single-player mode with full-on boss fights and huge world maps and it’s easy to get lost in Ultimate. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate had a lot to live up to with that name, but it has undoubtedly done just that.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
And lastly, the ultimate Best Nintendo Switch game is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Let’s face it, the Zelda series was long overdue for a major change, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild offers an unparalleled sense of freedom and scale in the palm of your hand. Now widely considered one of the best games of all time, Breath of the Wild tells an epic story, as you glide, cook, and battle your way across a beautifully ruined version of Hyrule. It helped reinvigorate The Legend of Zelda in a way that fans had only dreamt of, easily propelling it to the number one spot on our list and in our hearts.
Breath of the Wild also topped our updated list of the 100 best video games of all time. The highly anticipated sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, is out on May 12.
Upcoming Switch Games
The first half of March will bring us two remasters. Rune Factory 3 Special, remastered and expanded from the 2009 Nintendo DS title, Rune Factory 3: A Fantasy Harvest Moon, will be coming out on March 2, with English localization provided by XSEED Games. Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, the fourth game in the Fatal Frame series that originally released on the Wii in 2008, will be out March 9.
Also coming out on March 2 is Fitness Boxing Fist of the North Star, a new boxing game featuring characters from the manga/anime series Fist of the North Star as your instructors.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, the storybook-style prequel to the Bayonetta series that was announced at The Game Awards 2022, will release on March 17.
January 27, 2022, updates:
Added: Metroid Dread, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, Monster Hunter Rise, Chicory, and Mario Party Superstars.
Removed: Astral Chain, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Spiritfarer, Super Mario Maker 2
Position change(s): Link’s Awakening, SteamWorld Dig 2, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Paper Mario: The Origami King, Pokemon Sword & Shield, Stardew Valley, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Celeste, Slay the Spire, Celeste
Did we miss anything? Is your favorite game too low? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check back when we reconfigure this list again!