1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – The Switch’s Best Game
Originally set to come out on the Wii U, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was not only a Switch launch title, but also the system’s flagship game. It’s a sprawling open-world adventure that’s undeniably the biggest Zelda title yet.
New additions to the series include loot drops, crafting, and cooking, while the expansive overworld stretches as far as you can see. The lush cel-shaded graphics feel like a natural evolution from the Wii’s Skyward Sword, while the audio boasts another franchise first: voice acting.
This is the best launch title on any console in years, and feels era-defining, reshaping what we expect from open-world games.
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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild review
2. Super Mario Odyssey – Best Platformer
Super Mario Odyssey is easily one of the best Mario games in a decade and Nintendo has crafted a game full of fun and surprises.
It’s a beautiful balancing act of classic gameplay and new features that makes Odyssey feel fresh but familiar. Cappy could’ve been a gimmicky addition but is actually a stroke of genius. Super Mario Odyssey is a must for Switch owners, young and old, and will no doubt go down as a classic.
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Super Mario Odyssey review
3. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe – Best Multiplayer Game
One of the best games for the Switch was actually already one of the best games on the Wii U. Mario Kart 8 was the best entry in the racing series in years, and this version is even better.
There are a few new additions to justify the re-purchase: courses and new characters from Splatoon and elsewhere, the return of Battle Mode, all of the original game’s DLC, and eight-player local multiplayer. There are also a few new items and the ability to carry two items at once.
It’s not a major update, and it might be tricky for anyone who already has Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U to justify the upgrade – but if you missed it the first time, this is a great way to get your hands on a brilliant game.
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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review
5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Best Fighting Game
‘Ultimate’ is undoubtedly the word. Just about everything that every Smash game has ever offered is here once again in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with more characters, stages, modes, and hidden references than anyone will have the time to fully process.
Every fighter and stage from all the previous entries are back, joined by plenty of new faces, and extensive new singleplayer, and a whole new Spirit mechanic that adds RPG stats and buffs as an extra layer of complexity on top of it all.
If Smash Bros. Ultimate has a fault, it’s the same as its strength: there’s just so much here that it’s impossible for anyone to take in, and in the early hours especially it’s an overwhelming experience, with little work done to guide new players in. Maybe even Smash needs a little more editorial oversight than this, but at least you can’t ever accuse Nintendo of shortchanging its fans.
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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review
6. Metroid Dread – Stellar Single-Player
The first proper new 2D, mainline Metroid game since Metroid Fusion on the GBA in 2002, to call Metroid Dread ‘long-awaited’ would be a bit of an understatement.
Picking up where Fusion left off, this game wraps up the core Samus story, and along the way answers a few lingering questions about Metroid, the X Parasite, and the mysterious Chozo race – though leaves just as many unanswered.
More importantly, it’s a phenomenally good game. The classic Metroid exploration and combat are back, but bolstered by new stealth-horror sections where you must evade the detection of the E.M.M.I. robots that are hunting your bounty hunter across the planet ZDR.
Oozing in atmosphere and packed with secrets, this is one of the Switch’s best single-player titles – and a fine way to cap off one of Nintendo’s best and most beloved series.
7. Splatoon 2 – Best Multiplayer Shooter
Splatoon was one of the surprise hits for the Wii U, and a welcome reminder that for all of its reliance on big hitters like Zelda and Mario, Nintendo is still capable of creating brilliant original games when it wants to.
Nintendo’s take on the online multiplayer shooter is very… Nintendo. That means quirky character design, a fun setting, and a brilliant new twist on tired shooter mechanics. Instead of shooting bullets, you fire ink, which can hurt your foes, but more importantly covers the arena. The team with the most ink wins, but it also gives you advantages like faster travel and refilling your ammo as you go.
This sequel is mostly like more of the same (though boasts a new co-op horde mode), but that’s no bad thing, and it includes new weapons, maps, outfits, and music. We’re sold.
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Splatoon 2 review
8. Hades – Best Indie Game
Hades isn’t exclusive to the Switch, but thanks to the console’s portability this is arguably the best place to play the 2020 indie darling.
A roguelike for people who don’t like roguelikes (including myself), Hades lets you step into the sandals of the lesser-known Greek god Zagreus as you fight to escape the titular underworld and reunite with your long-lost mother in the mortal realm.
You’ll find yourself attempting to escape again, and again, and again, but each randomised run feels different thanks to impressive variety in the enemies, environments, weapons, and upgrades you can pick up.
Even more remarkable is how well written and voice-acted the game is, with enough material that you’ll rarely (if ever) encounter repeats, interwoven into a carefully assembled story that develops slowly as you hurl yourself into the undead meat-grinder again and again.
9. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle – Best Strategy Game
It might not be as exciting as Super Mario Odyssey but Mario teaming up with those pesky Rabbids makes for a lot of fun on the Switch.
In this game you create a team mixed from Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, and Rabbid versions of each of them, to take on enemies in various levels. The core gameplay is turn-based strategy – similar to the XCOM series – with a variety of movement options, unlockable weapons, and special abilities.
At first the strategy is simple and accessible, but before too long it amps up, using environmental obstacles and tools like Chain Chomps and pipes to create a fast-paced, refreshing strategy title that should appeal to gamers of every level. By the end it gets seriously tough, and you’ll need your wits – and smart use of the skill tree – to make it to the end.
There’s also a huge amount of replayability, with extra challenges and secret sections for each of the game’s worlds, and silly in-jokes hidden everywhere you look.
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Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle review
10. Animal Crossing: New Horizons – A Meditative Experience
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will take its place as one of the Nintendo Switch staples, with its gentle pace, positive gameplay and beautiful surroundings.
The desert island offers players the chance to build something literally from nothing, and go at whatever speed they feel comfortable with. The new rewards system – Nook Miles – also encourages you to get involved in all aspects that the game offers.
The multiplayer gameplay is a bit of a faff, and having cloud saves wouldn’t go amiss. Nonetheless, this is still an addictive title that will keep you hooked for months to come.
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Animal Crossing: New Horizons review
11. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury – Multiplayer Mario
This Mario two-fer packages a port of the excellent Wii U title Super Mario 3D World with a new single-player Switch expansion called Bowser’s Fury.
3D World remains one of the most under-appreciated gems in Mario’s history. Beloved by critics, this multiplayer Mario platformers was let down by launching on the flawed Wii U hardware, so it’s great to see it get a new lease of life here. This is the best 3D Mario around if you want to play with friends, supporting up to four players and packed with power-ups and inventive level design.
The new Bowser’s Fury is essentially a mini-Mario game in its own right. This is a standalone single-player title that tries something new to the series: an open-world. You explore one larger area completing challenges, occasionally interrupted by a giant (and grumpy) Bowser that you can only defeat by turning into an equally giant Cat Mario for the closest Mario will ever get to a kaiju throwdown.
Both bits of this package are excellent – together, they’re unmissable.
12. Paper Mario: The Origami King – Funniest Switch Game
The latest in the long-running Paper Mario series, The Origami King is familiar enough on the surface: a simplified Mario-themed RPG with a deeply silly sense of humour.
There have been bigger tweaks of course. The Switch’s horsepower allows for perhaps the prettiest Paper Mario yet, and the new circular combat system is a joy. Every fight is a mini puzzle in its own right as you work to re-arrange enemies to optimise your attack, adding enough dynamism and head-scratching to paper over the well-worn turn-based formula.
Like any Paper Mario game, comedy is front and centre in the script, and this is probably the funniest game you’ll find on the Switch. And with hours of gameplay to get through – even without trying to delve into the many collectibles – this one will keep you busy for a while.
13. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening – Best Retro Fun
This old-school Game Boy title was long considered one of the stranger titles in an admittedly odd videogame series, so it’s a real treat that Nintendo decided to give it a comprehensive – yet faithful – overhaul for its latest portable system
Link’s Awakening on Switch is an accurate recreation of the original game’s world, puzzles, and dungeons with just a few tweaks. The extra Color Dungeon from the game’s first re-release is included here, item switching controls have been streamlined, and there’s a new dungeon building mode too – but beyond that, it’s all authentic.
Except for the visuals of course. They’ve been overhauled from the ground-up in the latest reinvention of the Zelda franchise, this time in its most tactile yet. The world is rendered in a visual style that sits somewhere been plastic and porcelain, a reflective sheen coating every chunky little character or delicate blade of grass.
The result is an utterly beautiful game balanced by devious, old-school gameplay and puzzles that’s an absolute treat whether this is your first visit to Koholint Island or your tenth.
14. Luigi’s Mansion 3 – Ghoulishy Great Fun
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a slick reminder that Luigi remains Nintendo’s most wasted asset (sorry Waluigi fans), and he and the ghosts are as charming and characterful as anything in a mainline Mario game.
Once again you’re tasked with exploring a giant haunted building (though technically it’s a hotel this time around, not a mansion) with just a flashlight and a vacuum cleaner to capture your spectral foes.
You’ve got help though: Gooigi, a cross between the T-1000 and Flubber you can use to access otherwise inaccessible areas, solve puzzles, or even team up with in the new co-op mode. Plus multiplayer mayhem ScareScraper returns, along with three slight but fun competitive local multiplayer mini-games for up to 8 players.
Despite a few wobbles the mix of action and puzzles delivers too, and the only thing the game really needs is an editor: surely the 17 floors here could have been condensed down to lucky number 13?
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Luigi’s Mansion 3 review
15. Pokémon Legends: Arceus – Best Pokémon Game
Pokémon Legends: Arceus brings the Pokémon franchise into a whole new age with a semi open-world, slick game mechanics, a detailed plot, and a focus on building the Pokédex and exploring the region, rather than the classic gym battles.
Each part of the Hisui region serves as its own open-world section, building on the Wild Areas which were introduced in Pokémon Sword and Shield. From rolling hills and lush fields to boggy swamps and volcanic islands, there is plenty of variety.
However, the graphics could do with more polish. The presentation feels unrefined and pixelated at times, and some textures and Pokémon appear janky.
Nonetheless, the graphics do not detract from the fact that this is the most refreshing take we have seen on a Pokémon story in years, with plenty of adventure and some challenging battles. It injects character into the franchise in a way that Pokémon Sword and Shield struggled to achieve, making it the most fun Pokémon game on the Nintendo Switch so far.
16. Kirby and the Forgotten Land – Best Switch Game for Kids
Kirby and the Forgotten Land takes Nintendo’s cutest pink blob and brings him into the world of 3D, with sprawling overgrown stages to explore and numerous bizarre enemies to defeat.
The most enjoyable parts of this game are the unusual power-ups, which can be upgraded throughout playtime. With the dubiously named ‘Mouthful Mode’, Kirby can swallow and take the shape of objects such as cars, stairs, and vending machines – to name a few.
The game includes a co-op mode where secondary players can take on the role of Bandana Waddle Dee. Whilst the abilities of this character aren’t quite as dynamic as Kirby’s, it’s still a fun way to explore a level and help complete tasks that unlock new areas of the hub world – ideal for younger kids who want to take part.
This game doesn’t offer a real challenge. Even on the harder difficulty mode, bosses can be bypassed with a lot of button smashing. However, if you want a light-hearted platformer that looks slick, offers plenty of goofy charm, and numerous stages and mini-games, then Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the Switch title for you.
17. Arms – Punchy Fun
Arms is a slightly odd cross between a boxing game and a shooter. The core gameplay is essentially boxing, but with a major twist: your arms are extendable.
Using the Joy-Con motion controls you can punch, block, grab, and dodge, as well as use a powered-up super attack. If you’re not a fan of flailing, you can also use buttons, either on a pair of Joy-Cons, one on its own, or using the Switch Pro Controller.
There are ten colourful characters, ranging from an Egyptian mummy to a sentient green blob, and each comes with three different types of weaponised arms meaning there’s plenty of variety in abilities and fighting styles from launch, with Nintendo planning to add even more as free DLC.
The single-player content is pretty light but multiplayer is where Arms really shines, with Nintendo proving once again that it can take a longstanding genre and find a way to shake it up.
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18. Carrion – You’re the Monster
Carrion isn’t a Switch exclusive – you can also grab it on PC or Xbox – but we think it plays best on Nintendo’s diminutive console. That’s not only because the smaller screen is more forgiving of the pixellated art style, but also because Carrion echoes a lineage of Metroid games from Nintendo consoles.
Described as a ‘reverse-horror’ game, in Carrion you control a gloopy, tentacular, blood-red alien monstrosity that breaks free of a research lab. Your goal is simply to escape, but there are an awful lot of pesky humans in between you and freedom.
Dripping with gore (this is definitely not at the family-friendly end of the Switch spectrum) and moody to the very end, Carrion nails its tone perfectly, while also slowly building up your monstrous skill set in a – mostly – linear trek through the facility.
19. Nintendo Switch Sports – Best Mini-Games
$39.99 (digital) | $49.99 (physical)
The most surprising thing about Switch Sports is that it took so long to come out. After all, Wii Sports was one of the most popular games ever made, and the Switch’s controls lend naturally to a follow-up.
With that in mind, this feels familiar. Bowling and Tennis in particular have been lifted almost directly from the Wii game, but they’re joined by four new activities: volleyball, football, badminton, and chambara (essentially fencing).
The newer games tend to add a little more complexity, though really it’s the simple classics that hit the spot best.
Throw in both local and online multiplayer, and unlockable outfits to customise your avatar, and there’s enough here to make this worthwhile – especially at the game’s cheaper price.
Note that the physical edition comes with the leg strap also found in Ring Fit Adventure – an optional extra for the football mode, but not required at all.
20. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity – Best Hack-and-Slash
After the surprisingly excellent Hyrule Warriors was
ported to Switch in a Definitive Edition, the console now has its own Zelda-themed musou game in Age of Calamity.
Unsurprisingly this title draws specifically on mega-hit Breath of the Wild with a time-travelling story that mostly serves as a prequel to that game, letting you fight your way through that Hyrule’s first battle with Ganon, told only in flashbacks in the original adventure.
This is a musou game, not a traditional Zelda, so don’t expect RPG elements or puzzle-solving. Instead this is a hack-and-slash on a grand scale, letting you play as Link, Zelda, and a host of other characters as you mow down whole armies of moblins while managing both individual objectives and the shape of the entire battlefield simultaneously.