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Best Nintendo Switch games 2019: the most essential Switch games right now

Best Nintendo Switch games 2019
(Image credit: TechRadar)

What are the best Nintendo Switch games? Making a list of only the best and greatest titles to hit Nintendo's bestselling console isn't as easy as it used to be – now that the Nintendo Switch has had two years on the market to build up a jam-packed library of titles. (See why we loved the hardware in our Nintendo Switch review.)

We've come a long way from the those early launch days, when Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the only must-have game on the Nintendo Switch – though it still is one of the best Switch games we can recommend, and should be played before the incoming sequel, Breath of the Wild 2.

There's now plenty of other Switch games to choose from, whether you're into fighting games, racing games, adventure games, puzzle games, or anything else you can think of. The ability of the Switch to handle both AAA blockbuster titles and charming indie hits makes it a truly flexible console that can be tailored to each player – while new Switch Lite consoles and Joy-Con designs are opening up the number of ways you can play.

It's not been easy, but we've put together a list of what we consider to be the best games to land on Nintendo's hybrid console – with updates coming throughout the year as new Nintendo Switch games are released. 

We have a separate guide for the best online multiplayer Switch games, but otherwise sit back and read on for the best Nintendo Switch games currently available on the bestselling console.

Untitled Goose Game

(Image credit: House House)

Who knew an untitled game about a goose could be so fun? A bit of surprise hit, Untitled Goose Game quickly went viral after its brand of avian nuisance-making was unveiled to the world.

Set in a dopey village in the English countryside, you play as a goose tasked with terrorizing your human neighbours: stealing their crops, locking them in closets, and honking all the way through. Inspired by the stealth action series Hitman, but with its own charm, Untitled Goose Game is a must-play game in 2019. You'll zip through the game in a handful of hours, but it's very much work the journey.

Overland

(Image credit: Finji)

Set across the landscape of post-apocalyptic America, Overland charts you with travelling from East to West coast in whatever beaten-up car and hastily-found companions you can muster. 

Overland plays as a turn-based strategy game, pitting you against scarce supplies and ominous insect creatures that seem bent on tearing you to pieces, across procedurally generated levels that feel the right mix of eerie and familiar the more you move through them.

Even the characters are procedural, meaning whenever a character dies, you'll keep playing with their companion for as long as you'll last – or start over with a brand new face whenever your whole party has been wiped out. Smart, tricky, and a bit cruel, Overland is a great addition to any Switch games library.

Baldur's Gate 1 and 2: Enhanced Editions / Planescape Torment and Icewind Dale Enhanced Editions

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Cramming in hundreds upon hundreds of hours of RPG adventure, these double packs should not be missed. Pairing Planescape Torment with Icewind Dale, or the two Baldur's Gate games (plus all games' associated add-on packs) these enhanced editions for the Nintendo Switch make four classics PC role playing games playable on console for the first time.

Cleverly converting mouse and keyboard control to on-the-go gamepad play, you're now able to take four of the most epic D&D-inspired role playing games with you wherever you go, and then dock them for big-screen play at home.

The controls may take some getting used to, and the gameplay and visuals are of a certain slower vintage. But if you want an unmissable history lesson in role playing games, and want to settle into some unforgettable stories and choice-driven play, these excellent-value bundles are a must play.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition

(Image credit: Larian Studios)

From Doom to Skyrim, the Nintendo Switch is becoming known for the seemingly-impossible handheld port, and with the release of Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition, it's bagged itself not only a fantastic technical achievement, but one of the finest RPGs ever made, too.

Building on the foundations set by old-school RPG classics like Baldur's Gate, Divinity: Original Sin 2 has you on a literal quest for godhood, in a world where those with magical powers are marginalised.

So far, so standard for an RPG title. But Divinity: Original Sin 2 comes into its own with just how flexible and freeing its systems are. With turn-based combat that takes as much inspiration from XCOM as it does from tabletop RPG spellcasting, you'll always be given multiple ways to progress, letting you combine items and environmental modifiers to take on foes in increasingly creative ways.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 has more ideas in its first ten minutes than some games have in their entire duration: want to be an undead adventurer who can talk to skulls? Go for it. An animal-whisperer like Dr Doolittle? 100% go for it. Throw four-player online co-op into the mix, where anyone can do whatever they want, whenever they want, and you've a recipe for chaotic perfection.

It's one of the few games where, if you can dream it up, you can probably do it in the game. A massive PC title, the fact its been squeezed onto the Switch at all is impressive alone. That it works so well as an on-the-go handheld title is testament to just how engrossing a game it was in the first place. A must play.

Torchlight 2

(Image credit: Perfect World)

Kill. Loot. Repeat. Yes, it may be a Diablo clone, but Torchlight 2 is worthy of the time of anyone who's ever entered a digital dungeon in the pursuit of adventure.

With its lighthearted style, colorful locations and humorous quests, Torchlight 2 nails the addictive loop of taking on enemies in order to find ever-more-powerful gear to whack them with. It also massages some of the ARPG genre's biggest headaches – the ability to send a pet off back to town to sell all your junk items is inspired. And there's little in gaming more cute than seeing your pet badger return after a hard day's work at the market.

Four player co-op is included, and the handheld performance solid. It may lack Diablo 3's deep end-game season system, but Torchlight 2 has charm in spades to make up for it.

Super Mario Maker 2

(Image credit: Nintendo / TechRadar)

At heart, Super Mario Maker 2 has a simple premise: let players design their own Mario levels. But even that single aim provides near-endless amounts of fun and creation with Nintendo’s joyful and chaotic level editor.

A follow-up from the original Super Mario Maker game on Wii U, and its eventual 3DS port, this sequel / reboot on the Nintendo Switch manages to avoid several pitfalls from the previous entry, making for a more widely accessible title that still retains the joy of giving you the keys to Mario’s inner workings. Whether those keys are literally keys, or rather Chain-Chomps and flying Goombas, is completely up to you.

The addition of a Luigi Assist mode, and a willingness to give you all the tools you need from the outset, make this a vastly more accessible entry, and one that has something for any budding designer out there – or simply someone wanting to understand the workings of their favorite Mario games a little better.

Read the full Super Mario Maker 2 review

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (best Nintendo Switch games)

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Image credit: Nintendo) (Image credit: Nintendo)

Super Smash Bros. is back and the party game that sees friends turn into enemies has definitely found its home on the Nintendo Switch.

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.

If you're looking for a Nintendo Switch game that is fun for the whole family, then you definitely can't go wrong with Smash.

Read our full Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

best Nintendo Switch games

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Image credit: Nintendo)

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.

At its core the game offers the same excellent racing as the Wii U original, but there are also a number of new additions for this version of the arcade racer. 

You've got the return of battle mode, new characters, all the previously released DLC tracks, and the ability to hold two special items at a time 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). 

It's a versatile release, and well worth picking up for anyone who missed out on Mario Kart 8 the first time around.

Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Refueled

(Image credit: Beenox/Activision)

Before you dismiss this racing game in favor in Mario Kart, Crash Team Racing has plenty to recommend it. 

Technically a reboot of the 1999 racing game, it takes a number of characters from the beloved Crash Bandicoot games and sticks them in a wild and chaotic race to the finish – complete with mad-cap items and surreal tracks inspired by the 90s titles.

Ok, so it's a bit like Mario Kart. But for anyone looking for more of a touch of chaos, or just to have some fun with the Bandicoot and his pals, Crash Team Racing is a rollicking good time.

Read our full review: Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is a ridiculously fun ride down memory lane

Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee

best Nintendo Switch games

Pokémon Let's Go (Image credit: Nintendo)

If the idea of throwing around the ol' Pokéball gives you the warm and fuzzies, check out Pokémon Let's Go: Pikachu and Eevee. Basically a re-imagining of Pokémon Yellow Version, Pikachu and Eevee take you through the Kanto region on your quest to become the Pokémon Master. 

Eight gym leaders, four elite masters and dozens of members of Team Rocket stand in your way, but as long as you can keep the rock, paper, scissors-esque battling system in mind, these games are a light-hearted stroll down memory lane. 

That said, it's not the perfected version of the formula that Pokémon Sword and Shield could be when it releases in later this year, but for now it's hands down the best Pokemon game on the Nintendo Switch.

Read our full Pokémon Let's Go review.

Wargroove

best Nintendo Switch games

Wargroove (Image credit: Chucklefish)

Wargroove is a turn-based strategy game set in a medieval fantasy world, one where trees become giant soldiers, vampires assassinate kings, and a royal dog commands his very good battalion to victory. And we can't put it down.

It may look uncannily like Advance Wars - and plays largely like it too - but Wargroove manages to recreate the series’ blend of depth and accessibility while remaining fun in its own way too. You’ll find an engaging war narrative, packed with lively and witty encounters between the colorful cast of characters - with some gorgeous sprite animations - while offering plenty of strategy and a dedicated map-editor to create your own battle terrains. There's even cross-platform play with Windows and Xbox One!

Octopath Traveler

best Nintendo Switch games

Octopath Traveler (Image credit: Square Enix)

Fan of old-school 16-bit RPGs? Wish they could get a HD facelift without losing the pixel-perfect magic of the 90s era? Octopath Traveller may be the Nintendo Switch game you'd dreamed for a time machine for as a kid.

Channeling the magic of the early Final Fantasy games (and published by Square Enix, naturally), it melds pixel art with polygonal environments, like a love letter to the role playing games of old.

Picking up the story of one of 8 uniquely-talented adventurers, there's an epic world saving story to follow, a clever turn-based combat system to master and a great voice-acted script to enjoy too. Fantastic fun.

Hollow Knight

best Nintendo Switch games

Hollow Knight (Image credit: Team Cherry)

While we're all waiting for a new Metroid Prime game to land on the Nintendo Switch, you can still get your side-scrolling Metroidvania fix with the superb Hollow Knight.

You know the score – you're placed in the center of a sprawling map that slowly reveals its scale as you unlock new abilities to traverse increasingly difficult traps, and take on ever-more monstrous foes. Secrets sit around every corner, and the sense of satisfaction you get when you backtrack to a previously-inaccessible location once armed with the right skills is unsurpassed in all of gaming.

Hollow Knight separates itself from other Metroidvania titles with its distinct art style (mysterious underground bug city? Count us in), and its nods to the Dark Souls series, with tough boss fights and the strangely aloof citizens of its subterranean setting. Easily one of the best Nintendo Switch games around.

Nintendo Labo

best Nintendo Switch games

Nintendo Labo (Image credit: Nintendo)

Part software, part hardware, Nintendo Labo is a must-have for anyone who enjoys Nintendo's more quirky and play-focused ideas.

Build your own cardboard toys, play games with them, explore how they work and reprogram them to do what you want. With Nintendo Labo the only real limit is your patience and imagination: build a fishing rod and catch a shark, build a piano and control a musical cat choir, built a robot and, well, become a robot. It's all possible with Labo. 

Nintendo Labo is certainly one of the more original and even educational releases we've seen in years and it can only be played on the Nintendo Switch. It's easily one of the best 'games' for the device.

Check out our full Nintendo Labo review.

Bayonetta 2

best Nintendo Switch games

Bayonetta (Image credit: PlatinumGames)

Not everyone would have had the chance to enjoy Bayonetta 2 when it was first released back in 2014, thanks to its Wii U exclusivity. Fortunately, it's now a Nintendo Switch game too, finally giving it the reach it deserves. 

Bayonetta 2 is an excellent game, with fast-paced and satisfying combat, jaw-dropping animations and frankly outstanding fashion choices. Even better, when you purchase a physical copy of Bayonetta 2, you'll also receive a free download code for the original game.

More than anything, this is a great way to prepare for Bayonetta 3, which has been confirmed as being in development for the Switch. 

Super Mario Odyssey

best Nintendo Switch games

Super Mario Odyssey (Image credit: Nintendo) (Image credit: Nintendo)

Super Mario Odyssey is Mario's first real outing on the Nintendo Switch and he makes his debut in style. Odyssey is a 3D sandbox adventure that sees Mario travel between a wide range of worlds to save Princess Peach from the nefarious and maritally-minded Bowser. 

Giving the old formula a bit of a refresh, this game sees the traditional Power Ups replaced with a new companion for Mario called Cappy. This sentient hat is Mario's weapon and friend and he can be used to possess enemies and objects to solve puzzles and defeat foes.

In our full review for Super Mario Odyssey we called this game "one of Mario's finest adventures in recent memory" and recommend that you play it now – it's instantly one of the best Nintendo Switch games out there.

If you decide to pick the game up for yourself, don't forget to check out our tips and tricks guide to help you get started.  

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

best Nintendo Switch games

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

Even for a series like The Legend of Zelda which rarely puts a foot wrong, Breath of the Wild is an absolutely phenomenal game on the Nintendo Switch (with an upcoming sequel, Breath of the Wild 2, currently in the works).

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. 

Rather than having a pre-defined order you must use to approach each major mission, Breath of the Wild opens the entire map up to you almost immediately, allowing you to approach the game in whatever order you see fit. You can spend hours just climbing trees and brewing elixirs, or you can even head straight to the game’s final boss if you're feeling a little more confident. 

Away from Breath of the Wild's unique structure, it's the puzzles themselves that make the game feel the most satisfying. While previous games rigidly allow for a single solution to each puzzle, BotW's physics-based problem solving means that there are often multiple solutions to each challenge depending on how you combine your various skills. 

The result is 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.

Splatoon 2

best nintendo switch games

Splatoon 2 (Image credit: Nintendo)

Splatoon was the closest Nintendo has ever allowed itself to get to an online shooter, and it did so by fundamentally turning the genre on its head. 

That means no guns, no bullets, and ultimately no death. Instead, you play as characters with paint guns tasked with covering the map in your team's colors. 

You can kill (well, 'splat') your enemies, but you do so only in service of buying yourself time to paint more of the map without your opponents (and their painting) getting in the way. 

While Splatoon 2 is technically a sequel, in truth it's more of the same. 

That's not necessarily a bad thing. The original game was tightly designed and well-balanced, and while the sequel makes some minor tweaks to the gameplay, the same Nintendo charm is still present in spades. 

If you never played the original then Splatoon 2 is an easy game to recommend, but even if you did then it might be worth jumping in again to revisit it on Nintendo's portable system. For our money it's certainly one of the best Nintendo Switch games you can pick up.

Little Nightmares

best nintendo switch games

Little Nightmares (Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Bandai Namco's Little Nightmares is a big adventure on Nintendo Switch. First released on consoles and PC in 2017, this new take on the horror genre is a welcome addition to Nintendo's portable console. 

Players take up the role of a young girl called Six, who is trapped in the Maw, a terrifying place filled with monsters that are larger than life. Across a range of platforming levels, players must help Six overcome her small stature and escape the Maw.

Little Nightmares is a game with a palpable atmosphere – the different levels and their respective monsters are grim and frightening, and we frequently found ourselves tense and holding our breath as we tried to get through a level. It's unusual to get such a thrill from such thoughtful and quiet gameplay. 

The Nintendo Switch release of the game is the Complete Edition, and contains all three DLC releases.

Cadence of Hyrule

Cadence of Hyrule

(Image credit: Brace Yourself Games)

Few games are as universally acclaimed as this brilliant indie hit. It's essentially a spin-off of Crypt of the Necrodancer, a rhythm-based rogue-like that sees you time your moves and attacks to the beat of the music. However, this Legend of Zelda Zelda-themed follow-up places the action in Hyrule itself – also allowing you to play as either Link or Zelda (Nintendo, take note).

Blending the best of classic top-down Legend of Zelda games with a groovy, musical feel, and slick animations to match, it is the rhythm-based Zelda game we never knew we needed.

There's also a free demo version you can download from the eShop before you make the choice to buy – technically only in the UK, though our friends at GamesRadar have a neat workaround for that.

Arms

best nintendo switch games

Arms (Image credit: Nintendo)

It's tough to know what genre to describe Arms as: at its core, the game is a fighting game where you attempt to land punches on your opponent using giant extendible arms. Punch-Out this is not. 

What first appeared to be a slightly gimmicky title made to show off the Nintendo Switch's motion-sensing controllers actually turned out to have a surprising amount of depth and strategy to it, leading to some frantic multiplayer battles. 

Nicely, the whole game can also be played with more traditional buttons rather than control schemes, so you don't have to get caught flailing your arms around on the bus when you play it as a portable game. 

Overcooked

best nintendo switch games

Overcooked (Image credit: Ghost Town Games)

Overcooked was one of the breakout indie hits of 2016, and now it's come to the Nintendo Switch in fantastic style. 

There game is best played with a group of friends, which is perfect considering you always have at least two controllers with your Switch. 

But what do you actually do? In essence you play as a group of chefs trying desperately to cook meals without your customers getting angry or your kitchen catching on fire. 

With each person only able to do one thing at a time, and most meals requiring multiple stages of preparation, this forces you to split tasks up between you. The problem is that every task proceeds at a slightly different pace, meaning you're constantly having to change your plans to deal with problems as they arise. 

It's frantic, it's great with friends, and it's a perfect fit for the Switch – one of the best experiences we've enjoyed on the console.

Dark Souls: Remastered

best nintendo switch games

Dark Souls: Remastered (Image credit: FromSoftware Games)

What's left to be said about Dark Souls that hasn't already been spat out in blood, frustration and pure, unfiltered joy? The daddy of tough-as-nails adventure games, it's spawned a thousand imitators and a zillion curse words as adventurers stalk the deadly land of Lodran.

Taking a methodical and precise approach to combat, it's as unforgiving as it is rewarding, making each hard-won victory against its monstrous foes a real achievement. Always fair, it's also a master of environmental story telling, revealing its secrets slowly as you gain command of its systems and best its enemies.

Dark Souls: Remastered isn't quite as pretty on the Switch as it is on PS4 or Xbox One, but it does have the added benefit of on the go play (just don't go swearing on the bus). And there's a whole new wave of players to engage with when you activate its online mode – a key component of the series, with a new community eking out their first bold steps into its cruel world.

Super Mario Party

best nintendo switch games

Super Mario Party (Image credit: Nintendo)

When it comes to casual co-op gaming there's not much better out there, and it shows the Switch game catalog continuing to grow and get stronger over time.

This is the latest in a long line of Super Mario Party games of course, but the 3D board game mechanics remain tight and engaging, and the game hides plenty of secrets and surprises along the way for you to discover. Most importantly, it's enjoyable to play, and keeps you coming back.

We think Super Mario Party is the most tactical Mario Party game yet.

Fortnite

best nintendo switch games

Fortnite (Image credit: Epic Games)

It's not often you get to put a free game on the Nintendo Switch list but Fortnite Battle Royale is giving us this chance. We'd be amazed if you hadn't heard of it, but Fortnite: Battle Royale is the free-to-play hit from Epic Games which throws you into an online Battle Royale where you must fight and build to be the last person standing. 

The game was announced and launched on the Nintendo eShop during E3 2018. If you've not had the chance to play the Battle Royale phenomenon, the Nintendo Switch offers one of the most convenient ways to do it – especially if you find a smartphone screen just a little bit too small to truly play at your best. And if you already have an account you can move seamlessly between your Nintendo Switch, smartphone, PC and Xbox console. 

Check out our full Fortnite Battle Royale review.

Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle

best nintendo switch games

Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Image credit: Nintendo)

This crossover has surprised a lot of people, us included. Though Nintendo's Mario and Ubisoft's Rabbid rabbits doesn't seem like a combination that should work it really does.

This is a turn-based tactical game and it's incredibly fun to play thanks to gameplay that's satisfyingly complex and deep without being overly difficult – though the difficulty increases, it's in a gradual way that doesn't result in feelings of being overwhelmed. 

Mario Rabbids is also just a lovely game to look at – the level design is consistently fantastic and the world and its characters are adorable and colorful. Joining up with Mario lends Ubisoft's Rabbids a charm they've lacked until now, while Mario and co benefit from the partnership by gaining a bit more of a silly sense of humor which really benefits the Nintendo image. 

With this partnership, Nintendo has managed to secure another appealing exclusive for the Switch, and one of the top games for the console.

Stardew Valley

best nintendo switch games

Stardew Valley (Image credit: Chucklefish) (Image credit: ConcernedApe)

Stardew Valley is one of those games that always felt like it was supposed to be on a Nintendo console, and we couldn't have been happier when it was released recently for the Switch.

If you've ever played a Harvest Moon game, you’re already familiar with the premise of Stardew Valley: it's an addictive farming simulator which sees you interact with townees to the point where you can literally marry them.

Stardew Valley isn't just one thing though, it's a whole bunch of things at once. You can engage in crafting, fishing, cooking and even exploring procedurally-generated caves to mine for items and even take on monstrous enemies. 

However, do keep in mind your health and energy, as you'll need to make sure your character is in tip-top shape in order to avoid suffering from exhaustion – lose health and you lose a considerable amount of money and items you’ve worked hard to attained. Stardew Valley will have you hooked for hours on end, for better or worse. (Better, definitely better.)

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

best Nintendo Switch games

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (Image credit: Bethesda)

Skyrim might be a game that's six years old, but the portability of the Nintendo Switch makes it feel fresh again. What was once an exclusively home console and PC experience can now be played on your commute and there's no denying that holding the wild world of Skyrim in the palm of your hand is exhilarating. 

For a touch of novelty, the game also supports the console's Joy-Con motion controls so you can swing your sword and draw your bow in real life. It's a whole new way to play.

This is the full open world Skyrim experience for the Nintendo Switch, including all DLC, so we're very confident in declaring it one of the best Switch games right now.

Read more about our thoughts on Skyrim's arrival on Switch.

Best Nintendo Switch games at a glance

  • Untitled Goose Game
  • Overland
  • Baldur's Gate 1 and 2: Enhanced Editions
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition
  • Torchlight 2
  • Super Mario Maker 2
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee
  • Wargroove 
  • Octopath Traveler
  • Hollow Knight
  • Nintendo Labo
  • Bayonetta 2
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Splatoon 2 
  • Little Nightmares
  • Cadence of Hyrule
  • Arms
  • Dark Souls:Remastered
  • Super Mario Party
  • Fortnite
  • Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle
  • Stardew Valley
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim