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The 20 best Nintendo Switch games you can buy today

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By Steven Petite


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The Nintendo Switch has been on a tear since it launched last year. It started off strong with what ended up being 2017’s Game of the Year — The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — and kept up the momentum this year with a reign of addictively fun games such as Octopath Traveler and Mario Tennis Aces.

The Switch isn’t just a good platform for first-party Nintendo titles, it’s a host to a wide range of stellar third-party role-playing, strategy, action, adventure, shooters, and more. If you’re looking into picking up a Switch or on the lookout for more games to add to your library, we’ve compiled a list of the best Nintendo Switch games available today.

Action

‘Enter the Gungeon’

Developed by Dodge Roll and published by renowned indie studio Devolver Digital, Enter the Gungeon is one of the Switch’s absolute must-play indie titles. Enter the Gungeon is a challenging dungeon crawler with twitchy shooting mechanics and copious amounts of loot to uncover. It’s also a roguelike, though not in the traditional sense. All rooms stay the same, but the enemies, treasure, and location of the rooms are randomly generated.

Working your way deeper and deeper into the dungeon is a difficult task filled with worthwhile rewards. With great mechanics, entertaining lore, and mysteries to discover in every dark corner, Enter the Gungeon is an enthralling action experience. Although available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, the top-down retro aesthetic feels great when playing in handheld mode on the Nintendo Switch.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Splatoon 2’

Splatoon 2 Splatfest
Nintendo

The original Splatoon reinvented the multiplayer shooter by taking the emphasis off of simply eliminating enemies, and its unique ink-spraying online matches were unlike anything we had ever seen before. The Switch sequel, Splatoon 2, largely sticks to the formula we saw previously, but its inventive new multiplayer maps and weapons make the game even more engaging. The game’s humor is also back in full force, with puns galore and user-created artwork that is both hilarious and terrifying.

For those more interested in playing cooperatively, the Salmon Run mode is a great addition to Splatoon 2. Groups of four players must collect golden eggs while fending off waves of evil Salmonids, and it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. Just make sure all your friends have their own systems, as the game doesn’t support split-screen multiplayer.

Read our full Splatoon2 review

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Bayonetta’ and ‘Bayonetta 2’

Nintendo’s exclusive games have traditionally been family-friendly, so it came as a big surprise when the company released the stylish and decidedly-adult action game Bayonetta 2 as an exclusive for the Wii U along with a port of the original. It expanded on PlatinumGames’ previous hack-and-slack title with an even crazier supernatural narrative filled with anime-worthy set pieces, gratuitous fan service, and an improved combat system that cut out nearly all the frustration of the original Bayonetta.

Both games are definitely worth playing, and they’re available together as a $60 bundle on Nintendo Switch with extra improvements. They still run at a glorious 60 frames per second, regardless of whether your system is docked or not, and the touch controls introduced in Bayonetta 2 are now available in both games.

Read our full Bayonetta 2 review

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Mark of the Ninja: Remastered’

If you missed out on Mark of the Ninja when it originally launched in 2012, now’s your chance to play one of the best 2D stealth games of all time. Let’s be real. 2D stealth games are few and far between, and it’s still miraculous how well Mark of the Ninja takes on this tricky act.

You play as an unnamed ninja who must work through areas by sneaking past and covertly eliminating enemies. Some areas are in plain daylight, others are in darkness. What’s really interesting about Mark of the Ninja is how it makes you feel like an actual ninja. It doesn’t let you see everything on screen — If your ninja can’t see an enemy, neither can you. Upgraded visuals and a few neat additions make Mark of the Ninja: Remastered a must-play for stealth fans, even if you’ve played the original already.

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Nintendo

‘Overcooked Special Edition’

It’s not often that we’d classify a cooking simulator as an action game, but Ghost Town Games’ Overcooked happens to be one of the most heart-pounding action experiences available on Switch. You and up to three friends are tasked with saving the Onion Kingdom from invaders. The only way to do that is to feed them — a lot. Across an eclectic series of kitchens, you chop, cook, and serve dishes such as pizza and burgers to restore order to the kingdom.

Overcooked‘s two-button control scheme makes it an awesome option for serious gamers and non-gamers alike. The best part about Overcooked is that it’s tailor-made for couch co-op. While you can play it solo, it’s meant to be played with lots of communication and teamwork. You’ll find yourself yelling, scratching your head, and laughing through the chaos that is serving food while trying not to fall in a pit of lava.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Overcooked 2’

Overcooked 2 is the sequel to the hectic cooking co-op game, Overcooked. It doesn’t change much of the stress-inducing yet deeply satisfying formula we saw in the first game but it does refine it. There are also new features to enjoy that include a new throwing ability, new chefs, new recipes, and online multiplayer. If you enjoyed the first game, then you’ll likely love Overcooked 2. If you didn’t play the first the game, then starting with Overcooked 2 will ease you into what you missed since it’s not as frustratingly difficult and has less wonky controls.

This time around, you’ll be facing a new foe called the “Unbread” (zombie bread — get it?) and the only way to save the Onion Kingdom is to don your tallest chef hat, travel to crazy locations, and cook up complex recipes in really impractical kitchens. Overall, we’d it’s one of the best Nintendo Switch games to bring to a party. The kind that will bring you closer to your friends or have you hurling insults at each other.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Dead Cells’

Taking a look at the sidescrolling gameplay and dark 2D art style of Dead Cells may stir up some memories of times spent playing Metroid or Castlevania. Motion Twin, the developers of this highly rated indie, call it a RogueVania due to the inspiration it takes from those games. For a clearer picture of what to expect, add in a Dark Souls level of combat difficulty, roguelike castle setting, and unforgiving permadeath (short for permanent death) and you get Dead Cells.

When you combine themes like roguelike and permadeath then you’ll know that every playthrough of Dead Cells is different. But that doesn’t mean you have to die to have some fun. There’s an endless amount of weapons, hidden rooms, and passageways that will require a bit of work and skill to find. Did we forget to mention the punishing boss battles that will have you searching for the closest save point? Spoiler alert – there are none!

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Kirby Star Allies’

Kirby Star Allies is a celebration of all things Kirby. You’ll get to re-experience the characters, worlds, and gameplay that truly have defined the series over the years. Modern platforming, explosive boss battles with enemies like Meta Knight and King Dedede, and all the cool powers Kirby can possibly inhale are signature features you’ll enjoy. There’s also the return of HAL rooms, and if you’re a fan of Kirby games and their easter eggs, this is huge!

As much of a nostalgia trip as it may be, there are a couple new features that make it feel brand new. HD graphics and four-person multiplayer definitely help shake any feelings that you might have of too much sameness. High definition visuals make the chaotic levels and vibrant worlds of Kirby Star Allies feel all the more beautiful and multiplayer truly takes the threshold for fun to the next level. At heart, it’s a classic Nintendo game with a modern twist, perfect for game night or fans of Kirby.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Dark Souls: Remastered’

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Although it came a bit later and isn’t as pretty as the Xbox One and PS4 versions, Dark Souls: Remastered on Switch is the only way to play the notoriously challenging action game on the go. It’s a big step up from the original in terms of performance.

Dark Souls is a modern classic for its unforgiving difficulty, meticulous design, and a gameplay loop that rewards only those who take the time to learn its intricate combat system. Yes, Dark Souls isn’t for everyone, but if you’re up for the challenge, it can provide a level of satisfaction rarely found in the genre.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Starlink: Battle for Atlas’

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Ubisoft’s toys-to-life spaceship shooter, which doesn’t actually force you to buy the toys, is available on all consoles, but Starlink: Battle for Atlas really only worth playing on Switch. That’s because the Switch version is led by Fox from Star Fox.

Although the mission objectives can get somewhat repetitive, the science fiction world of Atlas is full of exciting fixtures and the story with Fox in the mix is actually pretty solid. Ironically enough, Starlink is the best Star Fox game to come around in quite some time. The Switch is low on quality arcade space shooters, and Starlink aptly scratches that intergalactic itch.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

Adventure

‘Thimbleweed Park’

Thimbleweed Park is an homage to point-and-click adventure games of the ’80s and early ’90s. A rarity in modern games indeed, but it makes sense since Thimbleweed Park was designed by the duo behind Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island.

The game follows two FBI agents who head to the eponymous town to investigate a murder. It sounds serious, and parts of it certainly are, but the writing and characters are also incredibly funny. The protagonists are controlled using a verb system that lets players dictate the actions on screen. It even looks like an old-school adventure game. Charming and brimming with nostalgia, if you want a serene game to spend an afternoon with, Thimbleweed Park is one of the best Nintendo Switch games for the job.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Oxenfree’

Oxenfree, a story-driven adventure in the same vein as Telltale games, follows a group of friends on a remote island who begin to experience unexplainable supernatural events. Alex and her friends could leave, but they stay to scour the island and learn more.

Oxenfree provides a rollercoaster of emotions and a bevy of secrets that are very hard to see coming. Superb dialogue, a brilliant 2.5D art style, and a story that is significantly driven by player choice make Oxenfree standout among the droves of other walking simulators. It’s such a memorable ride that it compels you to play through it multiple times to learn more about the island and modify your decisions to see a fresh ending.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘The Darkside Detective’

Described as a “micro-adventure,” The Darkside Detective can be completed in one play session, but the few special hours you’ll spend inside Twin Lakes City will stick with you much longer.

Playing as Detective Francis McQueen, an investigator with the struggling Darkside Division, The Darkside Detective is like Supernatural, the point-and-click game, but hilarious. McQueen takes on the mysterious happenings that regular cops think are simply too far-fetched to bother with. The game is chock-full of hilarious 1980s and 1990s pop culture references in its dialogue.

Buy it now at:

Nintendo

‘L.A. Noire’

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A Rockstar game on a Nintendo platform? The developer hasn’t brought a game to Nintendo since Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars launched on the DS in 2009. The Switch, however, is quickly turning into the console for reintroducing modern hits to a new audience and a fresh, portable perspective. L.A. Noire might be the grittiest game available on the Switch to date. Thankfully, this under-appreciated gem holds up very well.

Set in the late 1940s on the heels of World War II, you play as Cole Phelps, a police officer who was promoted to detective after solving a murder. Each mission in L.A. Noire tasks Cole with solving a case by examining clues and interrogating witnesses and suspects. Everything doesn’t always go as planned, which leads to exciting car chases and shootouts. L.A. Noire offers a great detective story and fun gameplay that puts more focus on detective work than gunfights, though you will end up in a few serious scraps.

Read our full L.A. Noire review

Buy it now at:

Amazon

Fighting

‘Arms’

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Arms isn’t perfect. That’s for sure. But if there’s one underrepresented genre on the Switch, it’s fighting games. Arms has all the polish and charm you could expect from a Nintendo-developed game. Each fighter has a different set of springy “arms” that dole out different style punches. Because of this, you have to use a different strategy depending on who you choose to fight with.

In that sense, Arms is somewhat of a “hero” fighter, as each cartoonish character has their own special moves, strengths, and weaknesses. It makes great use of Joy-Con motion controls as well. While somewhat light on content, Arms is a fun time when playing with friends and family in short spurts.

Read our full Arms review

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Dragon Ball FighterZ’

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Dragon Ball FighterZ is the best game based on the anime. Granted, that wasn’t a very hard feat for Arc System Works to accomplish, but FighterZ is genuinely amazing. Fights are tag-team style, with each player picking three characters to bring to the battlefield.

The fighting gameplay is ridiculously fast, with an emphasis on building combos and strategically knowing when to swap characters. It’s an easy game to jump in and play, and it looks gorgeous in action. You don’t have to be a Dragon Ball Z fan to enjoy this wonderfully made fighter (though it helps for sure). FighterZ is easily the best traditional fighting game on Switch.

Read our full Dragon Ball FighterZ review

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Amazon

First-person shooters

‘Doom’

Doom is the greatest portable first-person shooter of all time. No, the bar for that title isn’t too high, but the 2016 Doom reboot that wowed us for its fast-paced action, precise shooting mechanics, and engaging level design. Surprisingly, it didn’t miss a step when ported to the less powerful Nintendo Switch. Doom runs like a charm on Switch, even on the go.

If you haven’t played it, Doom‘s campaign is a chaotic and action-packed romp across the fiery terrain of Mars populated with bloodthirsty enemies. On the Nintendo Switch, the game remains one of the best shooters in years. The fact that the incredibly quick gameplay runs so smoothly in handheld mode makes Doom all the more impressive.

Read our full Doom review

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus’

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It’s rare for a first-person shooter to tell such a stirring story, but the sequel to the wonderful Wolfenstein: The New Order upped the ante. More expansive levels, richer design, better writing, and an eerily prescient storyline make Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus a narrative triumph in every sense of the word.

Of course, it also has awesome shooting mechanics, including super cool weapons such as a flaming grenade cannon. It mixes truckloads of great action and quality storytelling in a way that few first-person shooters have before it. Play The New Order First, then dive right into The New Colossus. You won’t regret it.

Read our full Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus review

Buy it now at:

Amazon

Free-to-play

‘Fortnite: Battle Royale’

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Fortnite: Battle Royale is the biggest game in the world, and in June it finally came to the Nintendo Switch. The full battle royale experience is available on the console, and it supports cross-play with PC, Xbox One, Mac, Android, and iOS.

Unlike the virtual analog sticks on the mobile version, however, you’ll be able to play it on the Switch with a traditional control scheme and compete against skilled players, and if you want to pop it on the big screen, you’re free to do so like you can with almost every Switch game.

Read our full Fortnite: Battle Royale review

Get it now at:

Nintendo

‘Paladins: Champions of the Realm’

A free-to-play hero shooter in the vein of Overwatch, Paladins: Champions of the Realm is a one-of-a-kind experience on Switch. Featuring game modes such as team deathmatch, king of the hill, and an eerily similar Overwatch-style mode called Siege, Paladins blends the casual with the strategic and has some pretty neat heroes, as well. For instance, there’s a tree named Grover and a walking bomb named Bomb King. Paladins has improved drastically over time, receives consistent updates, and runs well on Switch.

Get it now at:

Nintendo

Sandbox/building

‘Minecraft’

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One of the most influential and culturally significant games ever made, Mojang’s Minecraft is a perfect fit for Nintendo’s console. The Switch version contains both the building focused “Creative” mode as well as the traditional “Survival” mode, which tasks you with building shelter to survive nature’s most dangerous elements, all while digging deeper into the planet’s surface.

The recently released Bedrock Edition update lets Switch players connect to friends on Xbox, PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and even VR platforms. You’ll also be able to earn Xbox Gamerscore for any achievements you earn in Minecraft on Switch, and you can purchase additional skins or maps from the game’s marketplace.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Stardew Valley’

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Few indie games have ever been as successful as Eric Barone’s Stardew Valley. The first-time developer spent five years creating a spiritual successor to the farming RPG Harvest Moon, and when he finally completed the game, what he had made was even more impressive than its influences. Mixing together classic farming mechanics with exploration, relationships, and even combat, Stardew Valley is much more ambitious than its 16-bit visuals would indicate.

It also happens to be one of the best Nintendo Switch games to play in handheld mode during commutes, as there is always something you can do to pass the time. Whether you’re interested in fishing, finding a husband or wife, or mining for minerals, it’s possible in Stardew Valley, and you can just feel the love that went into the game’s development.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Dragon Quest Builders’

Dragon Quest Builders is a sandbox experience set in the Dragon Quest world. It takes place in a reality following the events of the original Dragon Quest game where things didn’t quite go as planned. The kingdom of Alefgard is left in a state of ruin and you’ll have to take the lead in rebuilding it. Fans of the series will love its signature style of music, monsters, and characters but should be prepared for a considerably different experience.

It’s best described as Minecraft with light RPG elements. If that sounds intimidating, just know that you won’t be jumping into a giant open world filled with limitless potential. In Dragon Quest Builders, You get a story, goals, and a good amount of structure to keep things moving forward. You can choose how to rebuild the kingdom, however, so gameplay doesn’t feel too constrained.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

Strategy

‘Disgaea 5 Complete’

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Disgaea 5, like all games in the tactical role-playing series, features both brilliant, deep gameplay and an absolutely bonkers story. You play as the demon Killia, tasked to defeat an army that wants to destroy the Netherworlds. It doesn’t sound all that weird from that description, but the dialogue, of which there is a lot, can get pretty ridiculous (in a good way).

The gameplay takes place on a grid, like Fire Emblem, but it has many more avenues for victory and mechanics involved. Although Disgaea 5 runs north of 50 hours, each individual battle is an ideal length for short bursts. If you’re looking for a deep turn-based strategy game that you can sink a hundred hours into on Switch, look no further than Disgaea 5 Complete.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle’

When you think of Mario and his pals, the first thought that comes to your mind probably isn’t “XCOM.” It’s even less likely that you’ll want to add Ubisoft’s crazy Rabbids into the mix — but that’s exactly what the French company did with Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.

Combining the fun of exploring different Mushroom Kingdom levels with the tactical combat of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the game is unlike anything else on the Nintendo Switch, and it’s genuinely challenging without ever becoming stressful.

Recently, the game received a Donkey Kong-themed DLC that adds Nintendo’s giant gorilla as a playable character, along with a new set of campaign levels. The expansion is $15.

Read our full Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle review

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Amazon

The Banner Saga (series)

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The Banner Saga series, an excellent tactical role-playing trilogy from Stoic Games, has a distinctive art style that harks back to 1970s cartoons. The combat is a rote tactical affair, though engaging enough. The reason to play the trilogy, however, is for the brutal and stirring story told in its beautiful Norse mythology-inspired world.

In The Banner Saga series, your choices do matter. Your decisions determine which characters live and die, and permadeath isn’t just for that game, but the whole series. Stoic makes these tough choices even harder because of well-rounded characterization and insightful writing. You can download each game separately on the Nintendo Switch now, but a package containing all three games will launch on September 21 for $50.

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Amazon

‘Into the Breach’

Into the Breach Review

Into the Breach is a Pacific Rim themed turn-based tactics game played on an eight-by-eight grid with changing environments. It comes from the same developer who brought us FTL: Faster Than Light, a roguelike spaceship sim that’s a critical hit in the gaming community.

You’ll spearhead a three-person mech squad and save cities from inbound groups of monsters. Its gameplay doesn’t center around walking up and directly attacking your opponents. On the contrary, you’ll have to be creative in your strategy if you want to walk away from levels still alive (though you will die… a lot.)

Read our full Into The Breach review

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Nintendo

Platformers

‘Super Mario Odyssey’

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Not since Super Mario 64 came out more than two decades ago have we seen a Mario game as fun and whimsical as Super Mario Odyssey. Taking place across several unique kingdoms, Mario’s adventure to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser and his gang of wedding planners offers something unexpected at practically every turn. From zippers that open up to reveal secrets in walls to retro-style 2D platforming sections, the game is always only a few minutes away from amazing you with something.

Read our full Super Mario Odyssey review

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Mega Man 11’

Mega Man

After an eight-year hiatus, the legendary Blue Bomber returns in Mega Man 11. While it’s still a classic sidescroller, Capcom used 2.5D visuals to give it a more modern look. Don’t worry, though, it still feels as challenging as ever. Mega Man 11‘s stages are expertly designed.

In Bounce Man’s stage, you must line up and time perfect jumps off of balloons. In Acid Man’s, you have to avoid tainted liquid that will deplete your energy. Each one is as entertaining and well-thought-out as the last. While it can be completed in an afternoon, but it begs to be replayed on harder difficulty levels.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze’

The Switch port of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze doesn’t add much besides a new playable character, Funky Kong. To be fair, Funky Kong does make the excellent platformer more accessible. Like most DKC games, Tropical Freeze is quite challenging, and its second chance at life is well worth your time.

Simply put, it has some of the most interesting level designs and bosses in a modern platformer. It plays great in both handheld mode and on TV screens. AAA side-scrollers are rarities, and Tropical Freeze is the best one available on the Nintendo Switch.

Read our full Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze review

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Amazon

‘Sonic Mania Plus’

Sega’s once-revered mascot has had a rough go at it over the last few console generations. Besides a couple of rare gems like Sonic Generations, Sega has largely stumbled in its attempt to modernize the speedy hedgehog. Sonic Mania found its footing by returning to the series’ blast processing roots.

Designed in the style of like the original Sega Genesis Sonic trilogy, Sonic Mania heads back to strict 2D, side-scrolling action. The game’s 12 zones hark back to the past with remixed versions of the series’ iconic locales with mixed and matched enemies, abilities, and mechanics you loved from Sonic’s heyday. Mania includes entirely new zones as well, along with the ability to play as Tails and Knuckles. Think of it as a Sonic greatest hits game with completely new levels.

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Amazon

‘SteamWorld Dig 2’

Image & Form’s SteamWorld Dig featured a wonderful blend of steampunk and Western when it launched in 2013. Fans have been clamoring for a true sequel that expanded on the mechanics and game world. That feeling was only exacerbated by 2015’s SteamWorld Heist — a great strategy game in its own right — but not a true follow-up. SteamWorld Dig 2 was worth the wait, though, as it amplified everything that made the original so great.

Rusty has been replaced by Dorothy in the sequel, but don’t worry, Dorothy still has a trusty pickaxe to create paths in the mines and uncover hidden rooms and objects. The main difference between the two games comes with the level design. The original was randomly generated, while the sequel has a fixed design. That allows for more intriguing level designs, more varied exploration, and better platforming elements.

In addition to the better design, the game’s puzzles have been refined and increased in prevalence, and the game hinges more on RPG progression. As a side-scroller, SteamWorld Dig 2 is best played in the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode.

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Amazon

‘Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove’

Yacht Club Games’ crowdfunded platform game Shovel Knight has done quite well for itself since its original launch for Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and PC in 2014. The 16-bit indie title has sold well over a million copies across all platforms, and for good reason — it’s simply incredible. Unlike other games that have used nostalgic 16-bit visuals for the mere sake of it, Shovel Knight captures what made side-scrollers of the early ’90s so special. It’s a classic good versus evil tale with detailed level design, fun platforming sequences, and tough yet varied boss fights.

Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove earns its name. Beyond the original “Shovel of Hope” campaign, you’ll gain access to an alternate storyline starring Plague Knight dubbed “Plague of Shadows,” the prequel DLC, “Specter of Torment,” and the yet-to-be-released “King of Cards” expansion starring King Knight. If you’re yearning for a well-made platformer that makes ’90s games new again, Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is one the best Nintendo Switch games for satisfying that desire.

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Amazon

‘Celeste’

The Nintendo Switch’s portability makes it ideal for “pick up and play” games you can start and stop at a moment’s notice, and few titles meet that bill better than Celeste. A tremendously well-designed platformer with simple controls that feel ideal on the Joy-Cons, it’s a game that constantly surprises you with new level design decisions. This forces you to think on (and off) your feet and attempt maneuvers that seem impossible at first glance.

Don’t worry, though, if the going gets too tough, you can turn on the comprehensive “assist” function that lets you take complete control of the difficulty to get through particularly grueling sections. And did we mention that Celeste is frequently laugh-out-loud funny?

With fantastic, hand-drawn character designs during dialogue scenes and surprisingly deep storytelling, it bucks the trend of platformers focusing exclusively on gameplay, and it gives you more motivation to keep playing than seeing “just one more level.”

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Amazon

‘Hollow Knight’

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In Hollow Knight, you play as a beetle-like knight wielding a nail, exploring an underground labyrinth known as Hallownest. Like many Metroidvania-style games, Hollow Knight has an emphasis on player discovery and secrets. Each section in Hollow Knight requires a map that’s purchased from the mapmaker, typically located in a hard-to-find spot. That means you stumble into new biomes and encounter new enemies without much sense of direction. It’s thrilling, and ups the sense of discovery.

Hallownest is a sprawling world that takes dozens of hours to fully uncover. With great, minimalistic platforming mechanics, and tough boss fights galore, Hollow Knight is as fun to look at and explore as it is a great combat experience.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘The Messenger’

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The Messenger starts off as a rote action-platformer in the vein of NES era Ninja Gaiden. For the first few hours, you battle through enemies, hop across platforms, and fight the occasional boss. Then The Messenger suddenly morphs into something much different: A Metroidvania. All of the work you did up to that point suddenly has a purpose. The Messenger slyly teaches you about its mechanics and world and then lets you roam free, backtracking to find collectibles and access hidden eras.

The Messenger‘s interesting design choice sets it up well for the back half of the adventure. By the time you reach the end, The Messenger comes off as the spawn of Ninja Gaiden and Metroid.

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Nintendo

Puzzle

‘Snipperclips: Cut it Out, Together!’

A Switch launch game, Snipperclips is a charming puzzler with a surprising amount of depth. Snip and Clip, the game’s paper stars, must work together to solve bite-sized levels. Meant for two-player co-op, players have to change their body shapes to reach solutions. This is done by, fittingly, cutting Snip and Clip with scissors.

It’s a creative game in a similar vein as the Scribblenauts franchise in that the only limit to your ability to solve the puzzles is your imagination. Up to four players can play the competitive Blitz mode, which includes mini-games like basketball and yes, cutting the other players to death.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

‘Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker’

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker can be described as the close cousin of Super Mario 3D World. It stars Toad and his adorable gal-pal Toadette in an action-adventure puzzle game where you explore vivid three-dimensional landscapes. Gameplay centers around collecting treasure, eating mushrooms to stay alive, and throwing turnips at enemies.

If you’re unfamiliar with this style of game, think of your favorite Nintendo platformer plastered onto the surface of a Rubik’s cube. The pixel-shaped terrain adds a different kind of challenge to gameplay since Toad and Toadette can’t jump, and you’ll have to use different camera angles and some puzzle solving skills to successfully navigate your way through the levels.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

Role-playing

‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’

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A new Zelda game — do we need to say more? The flagship title will undoubtedly be attached to nearly every Switch sale at launch. While the Zelda name alone is enough to intrigue most buyers, Breath of the Wild still seeks to innovate the series’ classic formula and bring Link’s adventures into the modern era. The lands of Hyrule have opened up, giving you the freedom to explore and complete quests as you please. Weapons and items now have temporary lifespans, meaning you will have to search for and craft items to assist you on your adventure.

The game’s physics — from Link’s movements to his weapons — has also received a drastic overhaul, so expect actions to have increased fluidity and realism. Breath of the Wild takes the series in a welcome new direction without shedding the iconic Zelda charm. Dubbed as one of the best Nintendo Switch game by a variety of outlets, it should be one of the first titles you pick up.

Read our full Breath of the Wild review

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Amazon

‘Xenoblade Chronicles 2’

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The sequel to one of the Wii’s very best games, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 tells an epic story in the open world of Alrest, a water world where people live and travel on the backs of large creatures called Titans. You play as Rex, a young orphan who finds himself embroiled in the legendary history of Alrest. As Rex, you wield the power of the Blade, a sentient weapon used in combat. Rex’s Blade, Pyra, is one of the most powerful in the world. Naturally, he puts a target on his back because of this.

With deep real-time, action-based combat mechanics that are rife with possible strategies, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 expands on the system from the first game. The game is absolutely massive and features hundreds of quests and events to complete. Beating the story alone takes more than 60 hours, and seeing everything in the game takes much longer. But if you’re a fan of Japanese role-playing games, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is sure to keep you playing to the credits. A story expansion, Torna – The Golden Country, launches September 14, telling a separate story set 500 years before the events of the base game.

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Amazon

‘Octopath Traveler’

Octopath Traveler impressions

Octopath Traveler is quite possibly the prettiest game on Switch. The Square Enix-developed retro RPG uses a mix of high definition 2D sprites and 3D polygons to create an aesthetic that honestly looks like it’s jumping off the screen. While Octopath Traveler‘s eight standalone short stories leave much to be desired, the turn-based combat system is exquisite.

During random battles, you’re tasked with finding enemy weaknesses to disable their shields, along with managing your boost points, which allow you to attack multiple times with one character in a single turn. The combat system winds up making strategy more important than grinding, a rarity within the turn-based RPG genre. If you’re even minimally interested in RPGs, Octopath Traveler‘s combat and aesthetic is worth the lengthy 50-plus hour journey.

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Amazon

‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’

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Like Doom, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been available on other platforms … a lot of other platforms. Skyrim has been around for six years, and it’s playable on just about every home console around. None of them was a portable console though, and that’s the difference here. There’s something about playing old games again on a handheld system that feels much more new than say, making the jump from playing Skyrim on an Xbox 360 to playing it on Xbox One.

Revisiting the lush open world of Tamriel in handheld mode feels surreal. A few years ago, the thought of a game as large as Skyrim in the palms of our hands seemed impossible. And even if it was possible, surely it wouldn’t run well. Skyrim looks and plays the part of the brilliant RPG that many have sunk hundreds of hours into already. Now you can take it with you wherever you go.

Read our full Skyrim review

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Amazon

‘The World Ends With You: Final Remix’

A Nintendo Switch enhanced port of one of zaniest Nintendo DS games of all time, The World Ends With You: Final Remix is a daring and innovative action RPG set in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. Neku, our protagonist, finds himself wrapped in a strange game of life or death and must battle his way through missions each day using a wide array of attack pins.

Final Remix can be played using touchscreen controls or motion controls. Fair warning: It only lives up to its stature with touchscreen controls, but that’s just fine. Great writing, a rocking soundtrack, and distinct cartoon visuals make Final Remix both an alluring and fun experience.

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Amazon

‘Diablo 3: Eternal Collection’

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Diablo 3 is the gift that keeps on giving six years after its original launch. On Switch, the dungeon crawler is as addictive as ever and includes the full stable of Diablo 3 content, including Reaper of Souls and the Necromancer character DLC. Diablo 3 excels in handheld mode, playing as if it was designed with the Switch in mind.

For the first time, you can jump straight into the endless Adventure mode to scour for loot without having to run through the campaign. It supports offline gameplay for everything but the online-only Seasons content. The one downside of Diablo 3 on Switch is that it doesn’t support Battle.net, so you cannot transfer your characters from other versions of the game. Starting from scratch, however, isn’t so bad in a game as consistently rewarding as Diablo 3.

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Amazon

‘West of Loathing’

A comedic RPG set in the Kingdom of Loathing, West of Loathing first stands out for its curious visuals. The characters are actually stick-figures and everything, from the environments to the enemies, is rendered in black and white. There’s a whole lot of white space, as you can imagine.

You’d be making a mistake if you wrote it off for the visuals, though. In fact, they become part of West of Loathing‘s charm. In this ridiculous version of the wild west, you can fight demon cows and search through the murky contents of spittoons. It features turn-based combat, but the real draw here is the slapstick comedy.

For a game that looks like a joke at first glance, it has a lot to say through its written and situational comedy. Top-notch writing will have you searching for every bit of written dialogue in the wacky world of Loathing…and you’ll loathe when it ends.

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Nintendo

‘Darkest Dungeon’

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The Switch has very few traditional horror games, but if you want to get spooked out and stressed at the same time, Darkest Dungeon is the perfect dungeon crawler for you. The turn-based dungeon crawler has a unique stress level system that causes afflictions to your party the deeper you wade into each dungeon.

Sometimes these afflictions can be good, but in most cases, the more you push your explorers, the more they begin to lose their grip on reality. It’s a thoroughly enthralling mechanic made even better by the dreary Lovecraftian aesthetic.

It’s available on just about everything at this point, but if you haven’t picked it up yet, Darkest Dungeon is one of the best Nintendo Switch games to play in handheld mode.

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Amazon

‘Battle Chasers: Nightwar’

Yes, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a terrible name for a video game. Thankfully, this throwback to JRPGs of the past with modernized visuals is not terrible at all. At the jump, our heroes are shot down from the sky and crash lands on a mystical island. Of course, they encounter an evil sorceress and they must stop her.

Inside dungeons, Battle Chasers has an isometric camera angle reminiscent of the Diablo series, though the combat is all turn-based. It’s a layered system with plenty of mechanics and skills to master. The only real downside to Battle Chasers is that as you progress, it becomes a grind. In that sense, it happily mirrors the classic JRPGs that it emulates. Luckily the battle system is interesting enough to make the grind less tedious.

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Amazon

‘Hyper Light Drifter’

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Hyper Light Drifter is a highly stylized, action-RPG that takes cues from old school The Legend of Zelda while upping the difficulty immensely. Playing as the Drifter, a protagonist who gets dropped into a pixelated world in utter chaos, you must battle your way through scores of enemies primarily with the help of an energy sword. Like Zelda, you gain new abilities and weapons as you make progress. As an interesting twist, to power your weapons, you must continuously use the energy sword to slay enemies.

Hyper Light Drifter has no words but manages to tell a moving story that will probably be viewed differently from one player to the next. It tests your skill at every turn. While Hyper Light Drifter is modeled after SNES games, you’d be hard pressed to find many games from that era that rival it in the difficulty department. Hyper Light Drifter‘s top-down, retro aesthetic make it a wonderful experience to play in handheld mode.

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Nintendo

‘Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate’

While Switch owners can’t play the masterful Monster Hunter: World, they can get their hands on the next best thing: Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. An enhanced and expanded port of the 2016 3DS game, Generations Ultimate features a collection of the monsters and places seen throughout the series’ history. It’s pretty close to being comprehensive, too. All told, there are more than 90 big monsters to hunt in Generations Ultimate.

A deep and ultimately rewarding experience, Generations Ultimate is best played with friends either online or through local wireless co-op. There’s still fun to be had solo, though, as Generations Ultimate retains a separate solo mission set to get you warmed up for the more challenging hunts.

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Amazon

‘Undertale’

Undertale is not what it seems. The heralded and emotional indie looks like an old school JRPG with blocky visuals, minimalist character models, and a rudimentary combat system. Then you start talking to the monsters in the world and everything changes. You start to see the strange underworld you’re trapped in a bit differently, and you begin to wonder what Undertale is actually all about.

The beauty of Undertale is in its writing. Often funny with undertones of solemn sadness, the conversations you have with the monsters around you will stick with you. As with other indie games on this list, Undertale‘s top-down look makes it a perfect game to play in handheld mode on Switch.

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Nintendo

Racing

‘Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’

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The original Wii U version of Mario Kart 8 is one of the best games in the entire series, with inventive, gravity-defying courses, beautiful graphics, and a surprisingly competent online multiplayer mode. The game also launched with a “Battle” mode that did away with open-ended maps in favor of more race-oriented ones, rendering the mode significantly less fun than it was in games like Mario Kart 64.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe not only brings with it a revamped Battle mode, but also every single character and map released as downloadable content — for the Wii U version. A few new characters, like the Inkling Boy and Inkling girl from Splatoon, also join the fun this time around. In addition to using the Joy-Con Grip and Switch Pro Controller to race, each player can also use one Joy-Con, and up to eight Switch owners can connect their systems for a local multiplayer party, even if they’re on the go.

Read our full Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review

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Amazon

Sports

‘Mario Tennis Aces’

Mario Tennis Aces

Nintendo served up another great Mario sports game with Mario Tennis Aces. Aces is simple enough to pick-up-and-play with no knowledge of the sport while also offering enough depth to make developing new strategies a must when playing online. The story mode, although short, is filled with hilarious writing and a series of increasingly challenging tennis mini-games and numerous engaging boss fights.

This time around, Nintendo added zone shots and special shots, both of which use up your special meter but are hard for your opponent to return. You can also get knocked out if all of your rackets break from failing to return powerful shots properly. Mario Tennis Aces has a wide cast of characters and online support to give it legs. There’s no denying it’s somewhat light on content, but it’s one of the best Nintendo Switch games for casual gamers that want something they can pick it up every couple weeks and enjoy a few matches online.

Read our full Mario Tennis Aces review

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Amazon

‘Rocket League’

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No one could’ve predicted Rocket League‘s runaway success. After all, its premise — soccer with cars — seemed like an odd experiment that would be cool to try out, but would likely fizzle shortly thereafter. Instead, Rocket League became an instant success when it launched in 2015. It has remained popular ever since, and the Switch version offers perhaps the greatest asset of all: Portability.

Though you need to be connected to Wi-Fi to experience Rocket League how it’s meant to be played, with broadband access popping up on transits, in businesses, and elsewhere, it’s not so much of a problem to find a place to get an exciting match in on Switch. Couple that with the fact that Switch users are playing with both Xbox One and PC user bases and you’re unlikely to ever have a hard time finding a game. Plus the Switch version has Nintendo-themed vehicles and decorations. Pretty cool, right?

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Amazon

‘Golf Story’

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It’s rare that sports games are able to attract an audience beyond those who already enjoy the real-world version of a particular sport, but Golf Story is different. The lighthearted golfing game is a full-fledged retro-style role-playing game, with a cast of memorable characters, diverse environments similar to the Mario Golf series, and challenges for not just traditional golf, but also putt-putt and disc golf.

Golf Story has drawn some comparisons to Stardew Valley, which also made it onto our list, but it’s more comparable to something like Mario Tennis on Game Boy Color, as the focus is still first and foremost on the sport of golf. But with the game’s charm and beautiful visuals, even those with no interest in golf will find something to love in Golf Story.

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Nintendo

‘NBA 2K19’

NBA 2K19

When you think of Nintendo, you typically don’t correlate the platform with hyper-realistic sports simulators, but just like its competitors, you can jump into a basketball career with NBA 2K19. It refines offense, defense, and overall gameplay making it a more balanced iteration to the series and prioritizing skill above everything else.

Players will also be happy to know that MyCareer has an improved progression system with less of an emphasis on money and that alone makes it worth the upgrade.

Read our full NBA 2K19 review

Buy it now at:

Amazon


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