Best Nintendo Switch games: essential titles on the handheld

Zelda holding the Master sword
(Image credit: Nintendo)

The best Nintendo Switch games are those that fully showcase exactly what the hardware can do. While the form factor now isn't as novel as it was at launch, being able to pick up and play a title on the go and then enjoy the big screen experience in seconds has magic that will never fully wear off. That's to say nothing of Nintendo's all-star software support, as the Japanese gaming giant has some of the best exclusives on the market, contributing to this console being the third best-selling of all time.  

If the Nintendo Switch is your first console from the hardware manufacturer then you're in the right place to find the titles that are right for you. This list of the best Nintendo Switch games covers everything from the big names such as The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Kirby, and Animal Crossing, to more mature experiences to suit all preferences. Now that this console line has been around for six years, there are many different models to choose from. If you want the best handheld experience then the Nintendo Switch OLED wins out with its beautiful display, and the Nintendo Switch Lite's rugged plastic chassis makes it ideal for younger gamers. 

We've been playing Nintendo games for decades and have put together our collective knowledge and experience together to bring you the definitive 'best of' selection for the platform. If you're looking for your next adventure then we hope this helps you with what you're looking for. 

Best Nintendo Switch games

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Link sky diving in Tears of the Kingdom

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom had massive boots to fill as the successor to the immensely successful Breath of the Wild, a launch title for the Nintendo Switch. Expectations were sky-high from the get-go and yet this follow-up takes everything that made its predecessor special and dials it up to 11. With an amazingly detailed and expansive open world, exciting dungeons, thrilling combat, and a new focus on creativity, this is the defining title for Nintendo's aging handheld-console hybrid. 

We've played over 70 hours in our The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review and can't wait to return to each nook and cranny of Hyrule to see what the fierce environments all over again. One of the biggest new additions to the established formula are the new Zonai devices, such as Ultrahand and Fuse, which add a new perspective to how you can interact with the game world. That's very much just scratching the surface of what makes this new RPG so special, and without giving too much away, this could very well be the best Zelda game in the long-running franchise to date. 

best Nintendo Switch games: A beach scene from Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Nintendo Switch

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Image credit: Nintendo)
Irresistible island retreat for social sim lovers

The first Animal Crossing console game in eight years, Animal Crossing: New Horizons whisks you off to a deserted island through an exclusive Nook Inc package. This island is yours to fill with villagers, but also to change in whatever way you can imagine, thanks to the game's new island building tools. Make friends with your fellow islanders, fish, collect fruit and decorate your island – thanks to a plethora of cute tools and decorative items, there's a lot of ways to make your island your own.

New Horizons feels familiar and fresh, combining the old enjoyable parts of the series with some much-needed improvements and far greater depth than we’ve seen before. Thanks to the game's great online features, you can visit friend's islands, swap items and even design and try custom clothing, making the social game more social than ever before. Read our Animal Crossing: New Horizons review to learn what else the game has in store for you. Nintendo knows how to make all of these elements come together to make a game that's difficult to put down, and even if you don't end up playing Animal Crossing for years and years, we dare you to not be charmed by its tone and presentation.

best Nintendo Switch games: Bayonetta, a witch wearing glasses and holding a gun

Bayonetta 3 (Image credit: Nintendo)

Bayonetta 3

The action in this game will leave your mouth hanging open

PlatinumGame's beloved witch is back to fight angels across dimensions. You once again take control of Bayonetta, a proficient melee fighter and gunslinger, who fights her way across the multiverse to stop a deadly singularity.

Bayonetta is a cult hit for how utterly stylish it is – the witch effortlessly fights enemies the size of skyscrapers, flipping and cartwheeling all the while. The combat is incredible to look at, easily rivaling the likes of Devil May Cry 5, and is incredibly smooth to play. A new addition to Bayonetta's already great combat are the summons, which all have distinct abilities that come with their own risks when using them. Bayonetta 3 is a big, bold action game, as well as a game that brings the Switch hardware to its limit, according to our Bayonetta 3 review. If you want something to get your blood pumping, you've found your game.

best Nintendo Switch games: Kirby and the Forgotten Land's Kirby inhaling

Kirby and the Forgotten Land (Image credit: Nintendo)
Kirby’s jump to 3D is as smooth as the pink blob himself

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a joyful family platformer that is equally as ambitious as it is adorable. This is the boldest Kirby game yet, pushing the pink puffball into all manner of new dimensions and contorted shapes. It also sees Kirby doing what he does best: inhaling enemies to absorb their abilities, jumping and gliding through tight platforming segments, and tackling big bosses at the end of each stage. Read our Kirby and the Forgotten Land review for more details.

Forgotten Land will feel familiar to those who have played a Kirby game before, but its 3D levels and Kirby's new abilities make the series feel fresh. Its visuals are perfect to illustrate the graphical jump from the 3DS to the Switch, and the gameplay shows the blob in top form.  Whether you haven't played a Kirby game before or are a longtime fan, you're in for a treat.

best Nintendo Switch games: Mario in his kart, raising a fist in victory, princess Peach and Bowser coming in behind him

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Image credit: Nintendo)

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Nintendo's popular racer has never been this good

This racer offers several new additions to this version of the arcade racer that was already available on Wii U. You've got the return of battle mode, new characters, all the previously released DLC tracks, and the ability to hold two special items simultaneously to add an extra layer of strategy to your racing. The new game is also a great way of playing the game in multiplayer. You can play online, in split-screen with up to four players, or link up to eight consoles together to play multiplayer wirelessly (where you can also play with up to two players per console). 

Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U was already one of the best entries in the franchise, and the Nintendo Switch version is no different. In fact, it's one of the best Switch games full stop - as well as one of the best online multiplayer Switch games. It's a versatile release and well worth picking up for anyone who missed out on Mario Kart 8 the first time around, and it's still getting new DLC. Just note that you will need Nintendo Switch Online to play with friends online.

best Nintendo Switch games: Metroid Dread Samus fighting a creature

Metroid Dread (Image credit: Nintendo)
This adventure has all the strengths of the genre it helped create

Metroid Dread is a well-refined version of the game that has inspired a generation of players and developers, spawning the Metroidvania, a whole new genre. The structure is simple – Bounty hunter Samus arrives on an unfamiliar planet and has to make her way around to find a means to escape. During her journey, she will find new tools and power-ups to help her get to previously inaccessible places. In Metroid Dread, the stakes are raised by pitting Samus against regular indestructible enemies, which requires a stealthier approach than previous Metroid games. Read our Metroid Dread review for more.

A solid difficulty, the new enemies and the immense satisfaction you get from discovering something new make Metroid Dread an essential Metroid game that delivers on everything fans already enjoy, while also looking incredibly polished visually. It's definitely one of the best Nintendo Switch games, at least until we finally get details on Metroid Prime 4

best Nintendo Switch games: Pokémon Legends Arceus trainers kneels before a Bidoof

Pokémon Legends: Arceus (Image credit: The Pokémon Company/Nintendo)

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

A new direction for Pokémon

Acting as a prequel to the main series, Arceus takes players to a much older version of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl’s Sinnoh region (known here as the Hisui region). Pokémon roam freely and you're charged with completing one of the region's first Pokédexes. With no gym leaders or badges, Arceus' focus is primarily on catching Pokémon, rather than battling them. 

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is unlike any Pokémon game you may have played before – in the best possible way. While the likes of Sword and Shield add new features, Arceus goes even further: shaking up the game as we know it and offering an alternative to the established series formula. This makes Pokémon Legends: Arceus one of the best Nintendo Switch games available and well worth checking out if you're a Pokémon fan or trying to become one.

best Nintendo Switch games: four inklings wildly shooting ink at each other

Splatoon 2 (Image credit: Nintendo)

Splatoon 3

The family-friendly shooter you shouldn't miss

Reasons to buy


Reasons to avoid


Splatoon is the closest to a shooter Nintendo is likely ever going to come. Instead of bullets, here you shoot ink, both to defeat other players and obstacles, or help with movement. Packed with fun modes that make the best of this idea, Splatoon 3 is most fun in multiplayer, a colorful and stylish ride the whole family can enjoy.

Splatoon 3 changes nothing about the series on a fundamental level, but it offers a lot of quality of life improvements that show Nintendo is listening to its players, such as a hub, better connectivity and a better campaign experience. With the Salmon Run returning and small but effective improvements, Splatoon 3 is a strong series entry for one of the best series on the console. Check our full Splatoon 3 review

best Nintendo Switch games: a collage of characters available in Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Image credit: Nintendo)

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

This platform brawler for party game fans and pro fighters

The long-running Smash is Nintendo's family-friendly version of a fighting game, just as Splatoon is their take on the shooter. Instead of simply knocking out your opponent, you go up against each other in tag teams trying to smash your opponent off the screen.

Our Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review says it like it is: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate packs in more fighters, more stages, more gameplay modes, and more tactical elements of any game in the franchise. This is, for all intents and purposes, the definitive Super Smash Bros., with everything that entails – and plenty of juicy Smash Bros DLC (Joker! Piranha Plant! Banjo-Kazooie!) to keep you occupied after you've unlocked the main roster of fighters (though all DLC has now been released). If you're looking for one of the best Nintendo Switch games for fun with the whole family, then you definitely can't go wrong with Smash. It's without a doubt one of the best Switch games for playing with others.

best Nintendo Switch games: a Tetris 99 board with 98 smaller ones, three of them about to attack

Tetris 99 (Image credit: Nintendo)

Tetris 99

Competitive Tetris, for free

When you've got a game as near-perfect as Tetris already is, how can you put a fresh spin on it to keep a new generation of players hooked? By tapping into a modern gaming craze. Tetris 99 takes the classic block-building, line-making formula, and fuses it with a battle-royale multiplayer system. You and 98 other Tetris fans go head to head, making lines as quickly as possible and sending screen-filling blocks to each other's screens to knock each other out. The last person standing wins. 

One quick five-minute game soon becomes a two-hour session, and with regular challenges and additional modes to purchase, it's great fun. You can get Tetris 99 as a standalone game, but as a free download to those who subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online, it's the best reason to sign up for the service, too.

best Nintendo Switch games: The faces of Lind and Zelda, looking at something in front of them

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Image credit: Nintendo)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

An open-world adventure that's both relaxing and gripping in turn

While past Zelda games have stuck pretty closely to the formula established by Ocarina of Time (the series' 3D debut), Breath of the Wild throws much of the established wisdom away. Previously, Zelda games had you make your way through puzzle dungeons and fight enemies and bosses in a linear order. Breath of the Wild turns Link loose in an open world where he gets to explore the world of Hyrule as he sees fit, but enemies can approach him at any time, there's wear and tear to his equipment and plenty of puzzles await.

It's the puzzles themselves that make the game feel the most satisfying. BotW's physics-based problem-solving means that there are often multiple solutions to each challenge depending on how you combine your various skills. Years after release, players are still finding different ways to approach the game's various challenges and secrets. Breath of the Wild truly invigorates the Zelda series, making it one of the very best Nintendo Switch games. The sequel, Tears of the Kingdom, is highly anticipated, as players can't wait to have new environments to comb through. This a game that feels incredibly broad in scope, with so many little touches to discover that it’s hard not to fall in love with this long-running series all over again. Read our full The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild review

best Nintendo Switch games: Mario, Luigi, Peach and their Rabbid counterparts looking at something

(Image credit: Nintendo)
Mario can do XCOM-esque strategy, too, wahoo

With Mario + Rabbids Kingdom battle, Nintendo and Ubisoft tried their hand at another genre we usually don't associate with either of them: tactical strategy in the vein of XCOM 2. You fight opponents in turn-based battles that see you either attack, use special skills or try to avoid incoming attacks.

Because Mario + Rabbids combines the colorful joy of Mario with the... Rabbids-ness of Ubisoft's rabbids, the result is as inventive as it is fun. Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope continues everything that was great about its predecessor, stuffing it with even more puzzles and skills to puzzle with in order to make it past villains from the Mario series. This is one of the best Nintendo Switch games because on the console, there's nothing else like it. Generally, if you like strategy but don't want to control gruff military men all the time, this is the game for you. Just know that because it's aimed at a slightly younger demographic, seasoned strategy veterans may find Sparks of Hope a little easy. Check our full Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope review

Best Nintendo Switch games: FAQs

best Nintendo Switch games: Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch lite on magazines

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Which games should I download on my Nintendo Switch?

The big franchises that we've mentioned above are a great starting point but the Nintendo eShop is home to further indie titles and ports on the console, too. Our list of all the biggest upcoming games can help you to keep track of the up-and-coming titles such as Pikmin 4 and Metroid Prime 4 just to name a few. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is likely to be the biggest draw for the system right now in its twilight period which push the console to its limits with the most ambitious game yet.  

What are the top 10 selling Switch games?

In December 2022, Nintendo revealed its latest sales numbers, which shows that the top 10 selling Switch games are all Nintendo mainstays:

1. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
2.     Animal Crossing: New Horizons
3.     Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
4.     The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
5.     Pokémon Sword and Shield
6.     Super Mario Odyssey
7.     Pokémon Scarlet & Violet
8.     Super Mario Party
9.     Ring Fit Adventure
10.   Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! & Let's Go, Eevee!

Vic Hood
Associate Editor, TechRadar Gaming

Vic is TechRadar Gaming's Associate Editor. An award-winning games journalist, Vic brings experience from IGN, Eurogamer and more to the TechRadar table. You may have even heard her on the radio or speaking on a panel. Not only is Vic passionate about games, but she's also an avid mental health advocate who has appeared on both panels and podcasts to discuss mental health awareness. Make sure to follow her on Twitter for more.