I still remember the day Nintendo revealed the Switch in 2016. After months of rumors and speculation, we finally saw Nintendo’s vision for a hybrid console: a portable, tablet-like device with detachable controllers that could dock for home play on a television. It was intriguing, to say the least, but I remember wondering, “Where are the games?” Nonetheless, I secured my preorder and waited eagerly for the March 3, 2017 launch date.
Clearly, the Nintendo Switch has fared well over time. Becoming one of the most successful consoles ever, it has likely surpassed 130 million units worldwide as of this writing. With a successor likely on the way, now seems like the perfect time to compile a list of my favorite Nintendo Switch games. Now, these games aren’t necessarily the best games available on the Switch. Rather, they’re the games I personally enjoy the most, despite any flaws they may have.
Honestly, I doubt many will find the majority of the games on this list to be surprising. Some may consider these “safe picks,” but it’s not my fault that universally acclaimed games also happen to be my favorites!
11. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
The above screenshot does such a great job explaining why Super Smash Bros. Ultimate belongs on my list. Even though I haven’t logged hundreds of hours on the Smash franchise, it’s the only game that lets you pit Kirby against Sephiroth. With its current roster that features characters like Sora from Kingdom Hearts, it’s tough to imagine Nintendo ever outdoing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. But, I’m sure many of us thought the same before Ultimate was released. If you’re looking for pure brawling fun with a huge cast of iconic video game characters, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is in a league of its own.
10. Splatoon 3
The original Splatoon on the Wii U was such a pleasant surprise. Nintendo’s attempt at creating a family-friendly, competitive shooter resulted in one of the most beloved franchises in the world. What Splatoon excelled at was enabling gamers with different playstyles to succeed in a competitive, team-based setting. Splatoon 3 is the latest entry in the series. It builds on the strengths of Splatoon and Splatoon 2, making the experience even better. Even if you’re not interested in online play, you can still enjoy the extensive single-player campaign. The game also features a co-op mode, Salmon Run, that can provide dozens — or even hundreds — of hours of entertainment.
9. Astral Chain
I feel like Astral Chain flew under the radar for many gamers. Astral Chain comes from PlatinumGames and is directed by Takahisa Taura. He was the lead game designer for NieR: Automata, which is one of the best games I’ve ever played. The game blends elements of cyberpunk and anime, and it features PlatinumGames’ signature combat gameplay, making for a unique adventure. Set in the year 2078, the game depicts a humanity on the brink of extinction. Players assume the role of one of two twins, either male or female. While it has its issues and isn’t a masterpiece like NieR: Automata, it has become one of my favorite Nintendo Switch games over the years. I highly recommend it to anyone in search of an action-RPG.
8. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
I admit, I am very late to the Fire Emblem franchise. I’m not even sure why. I love strategy RPG games, but somehow the series never caught my attention before Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I hope to eventually go back and experience the other iconic Fire Emblem games, but for now, Three Houses deserves a spot on my list of favorite Nintendo Switch games. Although the game features complex tactical combat, it was the intricate story and memorable characters that truly hooked me. I will warn you, though: the game is best experienced through multiple playthroughs. Be prepared to set aside hundreds of hours to fully enjoy it.
7. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
The release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons in 2020 made the strangeness of pandemic life a bit more bearable. In the future, gamers will likely reminisce about the solace Animal Crossing: New Horizons provided during the initial months of the pandemic. New Horizons succeeded in bringing people together. Even those unfamiliar with social gaming came to understand what veteran MMO players have known for years. Though I haven’t played New Horizons recently, the time I spent with it remains memorable. The game became a staple in my routine for months, and very few games manage to do that.
6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
If you were a gamer during the SNES era, you’ll likely agree that it seemed as if the console offered an endless amount of quality games. One of those games was Super Mario Kart, a title I easily spent hundreds of hours on during my childhood. Since then, Nintendo has continually evolved the Mario Kart franchise. The latest entry, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, is comparable to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in that it offers everything you could want in a Mario Kart game. The game features an expansive roster and track selection, which becomes even more impressive with the addition of the Booster Course Pass. Unlike Super Smash Bros. though, it’s reasonable to expect a Mario Kart sequel to arrive whenever the Switch’s successor comes to market.
5. Pikmin 4
In my Pikmin 4 review, I wrote about how the game is a perfect entry point to the series. Pikmin 4 is truly delightful to play. The game is brimming with personality and offers addicting gameplay. Best of all, however, the experience continues after you “finish” the main storyline. It’s not only one of my favorite Nintendo Switch games but also one of the best I’ve played in 2023. This year is shaping up to be a landmark year in the history of gaming. It’s unfortunate that the Pikmin franchise hasn’t gained more popularity. Those who overlook Pikmin 4 without giving it a try are truly missing out. If you’re uncertain about the game, there’s an extensive demo available to help you make up your mind.
4. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
Most of you reading this list will probably find this game to be the biggest surprise. Developed by Vanillaware, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim ranks among the best games I’ve ever played. I take every opportunity I can to recommend it to others. The game’s storytelling method is so unique that it’s challenging to capture in words.In essence, you have the freedom to choose the sequence in which the story unfolds, a choice that could potentially be confusing. Yet, in the end, all the narrative threads come together coherently in a mind-blowing way. The game blends elements of a visual novel with a battle system that combines strategy and tower defense. If character-driven, sci-fi narratives appeal to you, I highly recommend giving 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim a try.
3. Super Mario Odyssey
The genuine wonder that comes from playing Super Mario Odyssey is a very rare thing in today’s video game landscape. It’s hard to believe that nearly six years have passed since the launch of Super Mario Odyssey. Were the game to be released today, it would not feel outdated in the slightest — that’s how good this game is. I suspect that most Nintendo Switch owners with even a passing interest in Mario games already have Super Mario Odyssey. If you don’t, it’s a must-have. This game is the epitome of what it means to recapture the joy of childhood through gaming.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Given my preferences, I really shouldn’t have enjoyed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. I’m not a huge fan of giant open world games, especially if there isn’t a compelling story or memorable characters to hold it all together. Yet, both games not only held my attention until completion, but I also spent over 100 hours on Tears of the Kingdom and there’s still much more for me to explore. The level of creativity in this game is very rare in the video game industry. I believe that no other game is likely to replicate the unique experience offered by Tears of the Kingdom.
What the team at Nintendo achieved with Tears of the Kingdom is truly remarkable. Unrestricted by the limitations of the Wii U, the team crafted a sequel that even surpassed the highest expectations. My only wish is for a stronger narrative. However, I must say it ranks among the better stories in The Legend of Zelda series.
1. Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Although Tears of the Kingdom ranks higher on my list of the best games I’ve ever played, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is actually my favorite game on the Nintendo Switch. Even though I consider Tears of the Kingdom to be a better game overall, the experience, story, and characters in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 were more memorable for me. If I had to invest another 100 hours in either game, my choice would be Xenoblade Chronicles 3. This is despite the broader variety of gameplay options in Tears of the Kingdom.
In my opinion, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 ranks among the finest JRPGs ever released. While I really enjoyed the original Xenoblade Chronicles and even played through it on the Wii, I had mixed feelings on Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (although I loved Torna ~ The Golden Country). Both Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and its DLC, Future Redeemed (review), offer unforgettable experiences, featuring over 100 hours of gameplay, quests, and well-developed characters. The game also boasts one of the most impressive soundtracks I’ve ever heard. It’s one game I’m really hoping Nintendo and Monolith Soft decide to remaster in the future, once Nintendo releases better hardware.