With nearly a year of gaming goodness under its belt, the Nintendo Switch is going from strength to strength. From the utter brilliance that is Super Mario Odyssey to Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and Minecraft: Story Mode – The Complete Adventure, to the ballsy brawler Pokkén Tournament DX (the revamped version of Pokkén Tournament and Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition, the brilliant platformer, there’s plenty on our list. And that doesn’t even include Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2 or the glorious The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Even if you ignore those major releases, there’s a wealth of smaller but no less fun games out there on the eShop, just waiting to be snagged.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best Nintendo Switch games you can buy right now. While this won’t be a definitive list until we’ve gotten about a year’s worth of games, we’ll continue updating this page with recent releases worthy of your time and money. And whether you’re looking for party games, 2D platformers or big 3D adventures, the Switch has you covered. Oh, and if you want to know what’s still to come, check out our upcoming Nintendo Switch games.
20. Cave Story+
What is it? A Nintendo Switch port of one of the best cult indie hits
Why should you buy it? While the price tag is a bit steep (especially considering it’s appeared cheaper on other platforms, and even launched for free back in the early 2000s), there’s no denying that Cave Story is still worth supporting now that it’s on the Nintendo Switch. It’s the labor of love of a single developer named Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya, weaving retro-styled Metroidvania concepts with an engrossing and emotional story through multiple endings. If you grab a physical copy, you’ll even get a bunch of neat goodies, including a soundtrack mini-disc and full-color manual.
Genre: Rhythm action
What is it? Self described as a ‘rhythm violence’ game, Thumper sees you hurtling down a track as a giant bug perfectly hammering buttons to the beat.
Why should you buy it? Thumper might initially remind you of something a little gentler like Audiosurf as you glide down slick, stylised pathways with electronica in your ears but don’t be deceived, this aural extravaganza requires a calm head and pitch perfect twitch reflexes. Initially your giant bug just requires a tap of A as you go over a light panel or perhaps holding a button as you crash around corners but before long you’re tapping, flying, crashing down onto the track and causing tidal waves to destroy enormous floating heads… and that’s only the beginning. Utterly unforgiving with a soundtrack that you can’t pump into you head loud enough, Thumper is a treat for the senses and potentially RSI inducing for your thumbs.
18. The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+
What is it? The ultimate edition of the remake of the flash game by the artist behind Super Meat Boy.
Why should you buy it? Get past the aesthetic fuelling the Binding of Isaac’s narrative – in which a young, naked boy held captive in his own home attempts to escape his mom’s murderous intentions by navigating underground caverns and crying at enemies – and there’s one hell of a game here from Edmund McMillen. Each run is a randomly generated dungeon, pulling inspiration equally from games like The Legend of Zelda and Spelunky, and as you take on a menagerie of demons, you’ll pick up a variety of mysterious items which can help (or hinder) you on your quest to the bottom. Want laser tears or maps to every level? How about one giant tear droplet to steer around the demonic enemies?
Every run is completely different and always relentlessly, offensively wonderful. Packing in the remake of the original game (now known as Rebirth) along with all of the expansions released so far, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ is the definitive edition of a roguelike that will gleefully suck away hundreds of hours of your life if you let it. Oh, and in further temptation, hunt down the physical edition now available in the EU for a special retro-style actual manual like one you got in the ’90s, and some adorable Isaac stickers.
What is it? A ‘rolly’ roguelike where you need to steer a tiny seed up a mountain using only your analogue sticks to control a tilting stick.
Why should you buy it? Because you like games that will beat you into a pulp before you finally master them. Tumbleseed looks simple on paper. Tilt a board with your analogue sticks and steer a tiny seed up a mountain. How hard can it be? The answer is exceptionally. Holes mean death. Enemies mean death. Everything means death. And then it clicks as you juggle seedling power ups, carefully dodging pits while collecting crystals from felled enemies. Every movement matters and while Tumbleseed is utterly unforgiving and will send you back to the bottom of the mountain as your pitiful number of lives deplete, you’ll be hitting restart without even thinking about it. A must play.
16. Pokken Tournament DX
What is it? The brilliant Wii U brawler is being brought back to life on the Switch with this DX version. Think Pokémon cross with Tekken and you’re spot on.
Why should you buy it? Pokkén Tournament never really stood a chance on the Wii U. While the Japanese arcade version got new characters and regular updates, the Wii U version was left to stagnate. And now it’s clear why, the Switch’s Pokkén Tournament DX edition was en route and ready to kick some Poké ass. Not only do you get five brand new characters – Croagunk, Empoleon, Darkrai, Scizor and Decidueye – but you also get Team Battle mode. You pick three different Pokémon and pits them against an enemy team, and it’s basically a game of survival of the fittest. It’s brilliant for playing solo offline as a way to practice and experiment with the different beasties. Otherwise, it’s the same brawler that so many people missed out on with the Wii U version.
15. Golf Story
Genre: Golf RPG (yes really)
What is it? It’s a brilliant pixel art RPG crossed with a golf sim, with added tongue-in-cheek comedy.
Why should you buy it? Nintendo and Camelot’s Game Boy Color take on golfing was a revelation, even for people who hate golf. Mario Golf GBC combined RPG-lite character upgrades and progression with a simple and intuitive arcadey version of golf – and it happened exactly once. Sidebar Games has clearly taken this to heart, and has made its own full-on golfing adventure, complete with eight unique environments, side-quests, and even a story. I don’t even like golf and I’m addicted to this.
14. Minecraft: Story Mode – The Complete Adventure
Genre: Point-and-click adventure
What is it? One of Telltale’s best episodic adventures in one neat package with a story and world based around the blocky excellence that is Minecraft.
Why should you buy it? Not only is it the first of Telltale’s games to come to the Switch, but it’s also utterly brilliant. Even if you aren’t a Minecraft fan, there’s plenty of comedy, action and block-based jokes to chuckle at and you’ll appreciate the way Telltale’s engine works so seamlessly on the Switch. Of course, if you are a Minecraft fan this should be a no-brainer, especially with the Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition being so brilliant too. You can be Minecrafting on Switch all the time in all the ways.
And plus, you get a lot of game for your money. The Complete Adventure gets you all five episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode and the three episodes of the follow-up Adventure Pass released last year.
What is it? A unique fighter from the house that brought you Splatoon
Why should you buy it? Arms is a fighting game for the masses. Rather than forcing you to learn an endless list of combos and counters, Arms places all of its focus on your pugilists’ two stretchy limbs. That’s not to say it isn’t deep: each fighter has unique abilities and an array of special arm types to use, which allow for a wide variety of strategies. While it’s a bit light on single-player content, a solid foundation and the promise of additional free content on the way ensures that Arms will have a place in our Switch systems for months to come.
12. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
What is it? A complete reskin of cult classic Wonder Boy 3, complete with the ability to switch between hand-drawn animation and the original 8-bit sprites.
Why should you buy it? Wonder Boy doesn’t have the same cultural appreciation that Metroid or Castlevania does, but that those who grew up with the series (along with spin-offs like Adventure Island) attest to its quality. Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap in particular is important because it helped laid the groundwork for a generation of non-linear platformers to follow. In the 2017 remake (which drops the numbering), developer Lizardcube lovingly takes the same game – passcodes and all – and applies a gorgeous painterly aesthetic on top of it, complete with an all-new soundtrack. It’s a bit archaic in spots, but the fact that it holds up so well with minor gameplay changes is a testament to how far ahead of the curve it was in 1989.
Genre: Building simulation
What is it? A beautifully blocky, open-world, creative sandbox for you to build, destroy, and mine anything you want.
Why should you buy it? Because even if you’ve played it before, Minecraft on Switch means ultra portable, buildable delight. You can sit down with a friend to play together on the local network, which is ridiculously simple to set up – just put one of their Joy-Cons on your Switch once your world is loaded up, press +, and hand it back to them. You can also play online if you’re not eager to go exploring alone, or try out one of its mini-games: Battle (straightforwards PvP), Tumble (a race that involves shovels or snowballs), or Glide (get to the end of the course asap). A plethora of achievements makes for pleasantly directed playing as they give you something to aim for, but when it’s comes down to it you never feel like you’ve quite beaten Minecraft even if you’ve been playing for tens of hours. It’s an exercise in discovery and ambition, with structures that previously only existed in your wildest dreams suddenly viable – as long as you have the resources. Whether you’re tenacious, easygoing, or just rabidly curious, think of Minecraft as a gracious host that will make you and anyone you choose to co-op with delirious with happiness. Either that, or you’ll get your hands on some TNT and will make everything go bang. Which is also fun.