Sure, exercising is good for you, but it’s got two pretty big drawbacks: one, it costs a lot of money to join a gym and, two, it’s kind of boring. Ring Fit Adventure fixes both of those problems by gamifying exercise and letting you work out from home while somehow making the entire experience feel like a fun, casual RPG. By strapping the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con to your leg and with the strange, brilliant new Ring-Con peripheral, Ring Fit encourages you to use your whole body to battle monsters, collect coins, level up, and push past your personal bests — all while giving you a serious workout within the confines of your living room. It proves that exercising can be fun — especially when it’s thousands of dollars cheaper than hiring a personal trainer, too.
24. Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker
Some folks say that there are too many Wii U ports coming to Switch. Those people have never played Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker. This phenomenal spin-off is charming, challenging, and downright cute on any platform, any time. I mean, look at his little vest! From our Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker review: “Treasure Tracker still feels close to unique, and gains new life on both of Nintendo’s current systems. Still smart, prettier than ever and, in retrospect, genuinely important as part of Nintendo’s modern history, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a rare example of a game that actually feels better for being a few years old.”
With its charming, toyetic visual style and bizarrely dark undertones, the vast island of Koholint in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening has never looked better than it does on Nintendo Switch. Link’s shipwrecked adventure on a mysterious island rife with eccentric characters and sprawling dungeons has always been one of the stranger Zelda stories, and this remake allows new audiences and aging fans alike to appreciate it on a modern system. It modernizes the classic beloved Zelda game with a shiny new coat of paint, some excellent quality of life improvements, and loads more hidden collectibles but, ultimately, its greatest accomplishment is retaining the weird, haunting, beautiful feeling of the original Game Boy game.
Astral Chain is PlatinumGames at their best. It’s got it all: a unique story; deep character customization with a variety of play styles, and – of course – power-armored robot pets. On top of all that, it’s got some of the most satisfying, challenging, and fast-paced combat you’ll see on the Nintendo Switch. If you’re a fan of other PlatinumGames like Bayonetta, Vanquish, or Nier: Automata, Astral Chain won’t disappoint.
Hollow Knight can be incredibly demanding, but you get way more back than what you put into it. The expertly crafted Metroidvania map that is the kingdom of Hallownest has an absurd amount of paths to explore, bosses to fight, and secrets to uncover. That’s all drawn in a somber but expressive art style that gives the adorable bug people who live their lives, and stories, of their own. From our Hollow Knight review: “Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania with a well of content to discover that’s as deep as its labyrinthine caves. The world of Hallownest is compelling and rich, full of story that’s left for you to discover on your own, and built with branching paths that offer an absurd amount of choice in how you go about discovering it.”
Every Basic Unit in Wargroove
Wargroove is a top-notch tactics game with lovely pixel art, delivering what Advance Wars fans have been craving for the last decade in a medieval package, But it still manages to set itself apart with tons of gameplay tweaks and stylistic choices. Positioning is important in Wargroove, and its clever campaign will certainly test your ability to set up Crits and move carefully thanks to some fairly competent AI. But more than what’s already there, Wargroove shines so brightly thanks to what’s still to come. It has an extensive level and campaign editor that’s extremely easy to use and can make pretty much any map, story (with custom cutscenes), or scenario you can dream up. From our Wargroove review: “Wargroove is the Advance Wars successor its long-neglected fans have been waiting for. It faithfully revives the tactics I loved that series for while putting plenty of its own spins on the concept. When you add in its extra modes, loads of unlockables, and amazing level editor and it’s a game I’m excited to keep playing far past its campaign.”
19. Monster Hunter Ultimate Generations
The Nintendo Switch makes it possible to get the best of both *worlds* with Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. You can play using a comfortable pro-controller, but you can also slay its more than 100 monsters in person with friends. On top of the ridiculous amount of content packed in, you can also play as an adorable cat and pet alpacas. From our Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate review: “Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate brings the majority of the series’ monsters into one package for a lengthy and exciting hunting extravaganza. While it feels dated in some ways post-Monster Hunter: World, it’s a great farewell tour for the old style of the franchise.”
18. Splatoon 2
Splatoon 2 is one of those rare games you can play for more than a year and still not be tired of it. Many players hoped for a fast port to Switch to hit the ground running, but what we got was an impressive sequel with an all-new single-player campaign and plenty of incredible, and free, post-release content. From our Splatoon 2 review: “There’s a lot to love in Nintendo’s second iteration of its quirky shooter, especially the way Splatoon 2 emphasizes splatting the ground just as much as it does inking your opponents. The new additions to its single-player campaign and multiplayer modes are a step in the right direction.”
17. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Retro’s second entry in their Donkey Kong Country series is every bit as charming and challenging as Rare’s SNES trilogy. The Switch port of the Wii U original features an easy mode with Funky Kong but retains all the white knuckle platforming that made Tropical Freeze a hit back in 2014. Boasting some of the best boss fights and most original challenges in a platformer in the last decade, and a charming Saturday morning cartoon art style, it’s a must own on Nintendo Switch. From our Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze review: “Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze’s addition of Funky Mode makes it more accessible without reducing the formidable platforming difficulty to a walk in the park. There’s still a lot of challenge, even with the extra help Donkey’s Funky uncle affords. But the Switch version manages to take just enough of an edge off a punishing game to let the fun platforming outshine its difficulty.”
16. Pokemon Sword & Shield
Pokemon Sword & Shield finally brought mainline Pokemon games to home consoles – even if it’s only by default, since the Switch is both a handheld and home console. Beyond seeing hundreds of monsters in HD on your nice big TV, Sword & Shield brought with it a slew of welcome changes, including several quality of life improvements, the removal of random encounters, and Gigantamaxing, which basically gave your favorite Pokemon the Stay Puft treatment. It’s also the first game in the franchise to include post-launch expansion packs, which includes both new and classic pokemon to add to your collection.
15. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Monolith Soft’s Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is widely considered one of the best JRPGs ever made. You’ll never want to leave Alrest, even after spending 100+ hours exploring it’s huge open world. You play as Rex, a salvager turned hero and “Driver” to the legendary Blade Pyra. Characters are extremely well written, there are dozens of Blades to unlock, all with their own unique look and personality, and the combat system is satisfying and complex. From our Xenoblade Chronicles 2 review: “Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a standout RPG that manages to keep its story, combat, and exploration interesting over the course of at least 70 hours of adventure through an impressively varied and rich world. Simply put, this is an excellent game full of tough, memorable battles, and a positive message.”
14. Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley is a wonderfully open-ended farming sim. You’ll forge your own country path with fishing, fighting, farming, and falling in love. Additionally, being able to take advantage of the Switch’s sleep mode helps take some of the pressure off of not being able to save in the middle of a day, even if a few other bugs in the port are still waiting to be squashed here. From our Stardew Valley review: “Stardew Valley is a beautiful, fun game that, when all of its parts are pulled together, make for a wonderful countryside adventure. Even 100 hours in with three in-game years in the books, I still feel like I have so many mysteries to discover, and plenty of items to collect. New items, goals, and events from all the updates since its launch make Stardew Valley more welcoming for new players and extends its life for seasoned farmers, too. The fantastic multiplayer is just the cherry on top of the cake to this marvelous farming RPG.”
13. Diablo III Eternal Collection
Blizzard’s massive top-down action RPG franchise Diablo may have originally been built for the PC, but with tailor-made console controls and a UI that never feels too crowded, Diablo 3 Eternal Collection actually feels right at home on Nintendo Switch. It’s perfect for local co-op sessions on the couch or a quick dungeon run in handheld mode. And with tons of different character classes to choose from and thousands of waves of nightmarish enemies to destroy in its murky caverns and crumbling cathedrals, there is no shortage of content here to explore at home or on the go. Switch players can even experience new exclusive content, like costumes inspired by The Legend of Zelda’s Ganondorf. If Diablo hooks you – and it likely will – you’ll be exploring and unlocking weapons and items for years to come. From our Diablo 3 Eternal Collection review: “If you’ve never played Blizzard’s legendary loot-grinder, the Eternal Collection on Switch lives up to its name; you’ll find no shortage of content and characters to fill dozens of hours. And, by the way, you’re in for a treat. But even if you’re like me and the Switch is your third Diablo 3 platform, I still heartily endorse it because, quite simply, this is a complete and polished Diablo package that you can play anywhere from Heaven to Hell and everywhere in-between.”
12. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle faced no shortage of skepticism before its launch. But Ubisoft Milan’s robust strategy game proved itself with some truly challenging levels and accessible but complex turn-based gameplay, while also finding a way of marrying the Rabbids and Mushroom Kingdom’s senses of humor into one, charming experience. From our Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle review: “Based on its colorful world, beautiful animation, and source material you might expect Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle to be “My first turn-based tactics game.” But you’re in for a surprise: even for XCOM vets some of its battles are challenging puzzles. Some of its tougher levels do devolve into a trial-and-error slog, but a good mix of enemies, objectives, and character abilities keep things interesting.”
11. Super Mario Maker 2
Super Mario Maker 2 helped us achieve our childhood dreams of building our own Super Mario levels. OK, technically the first game did that, too, but the sequel took everything great about the original and somehow made it even more charming and wonderful. Not only are its 100+ story mode levels absolutely brilliant, but its accessibility as a viable game design tool is second to none — game designers of the future will almost certainly cite Super Mario Maker 2 as one of the catalysts for their careers. SMM2 is truly one of the Switch’s best experiences: a challenging platformer that satisfies your creative urges, and offers a near-infinite stream of delights.
Celeste is a surprise masterpiece. Its 2D platforming is some of the best and toughest since Super Meat Boy, with levels that are as challenging to figure out as they are satisfying to complete. But the greatest triumph of Celeste is that its best-in-class jumping and dashing is blended beautifully with an important and sincere story and an incredible soundtrack that make it a genuinely emotional game, even when your feet are planted firmly on the ground. From our Celeste review: “Celeste is a surprise masterpiece. Its 2D platforming is some of the best and toughest since Super Meat Boy, with levels that are as challenging to figure out as they are satisfying to complete. Hidden throughout those levels are a wealth of secrets and collectibles, some of which push the skills it teaches you to the absolute limit, along with enough end-game content to keep you playing for dozens of hours.”
9. Dead Cells
Dead Cells fuses breakneck motion with an emphasis on risk-and-reward for an incredibly engaging action-platformer. Each easily digestible run through its beautifully detailed and shifting levels goads you to push the limits of your ability, and crushes you when you get too comfortable. It’s easily one of the very best action platformers on the Switch. From our Dead Cells review: “Dead Cells is rewarding in its flexibility in a way few games are. Each easily digestible run through its beautifully detailed and shifting levels instills a feeling of discovery and familiarity. It goads you to push the limits of your ability, and mercilessly crushes you when you get too comfortable. Dead Cells is a triumphant union of instinct, forethought, fun, and failure.”
8. SteamWorld Dig 2
SteamWorld Dig 2 is a textbook example of everything a sequel should be: bigger, smarter, and just straight up more fun. Guiding Dorothy through SWD 2’s labyrinthine caverns searching for loot and upgrades is a challenging and charming twist on the classic “Metroidvania” style and has a gameplay loop that will undoubtedly keep you up into the wee hours of the morning for “just one more run”. From our SteamWorld 2 review: “SteamWorld Dig 2 retains the original’s addictive resource-gathering gameplay, but supplements it with a gorgeously detailed, handcrafted world. Its heady mix of exploration, combat, platforming, and puzzle solving, alongside an expansive set of abilities and mods gives it plenty of variety and a great gameplay rhythm.”
7. Slay the Spire
There’s something about Slay the Spire’s balance of strategy and randomness that makes it an endlessly replayable puzzle. Assembling that perfect combo of synergistic cards can feel incredible, but there’s also a joy in scraping your way to victory despite the odds never quite falling in your favor. With that potent package on the Switch’s mobile platform — with some fairly decent touch control options, we might add — it’s a miracle we’ve ever stopped playing it.
6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8’s encore on Nintendo Switch didn’t just keep the online community alive and added returning favorites like Balloon Battle and Bob-omb Blast, we also got a brand-new “cops and robbers” team mode with Renegade Roundup, all of the great DLC stages, and even some guests from the Splatoon universe. It’s not a new game, but one so good, it deserved to reach a bigger audience on Switch right away. From our Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review: “This is the best entry in the series so far, and it has all the content you’ll need. Returning players have seen a lot of this game before, but the overhauled Battle mode and its five additional ways to play are a great reason to pick it up. Nintendo didn’t do enough to make the online experience better, but the rest of this game holds up well.”
5. Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is essentially a FrankenLuigistein’s monster of the first two games, a mashup of both that creates the perfect Luigi’s Mansion experience. Charming, clever, and absolutely gorgeous to look at, Luigi’s Mansion is 17 levels of pure ghost-hunting joy. Working your way through each of the haunted hotels may never extremely challenging, but the creative boss fights and deviously hidden collectibles will keep you busy for a dozen hours or more. The excitement of getting to a new level just to see its theme (TV Studio! Sewer Maze! Egypt!) is well worth the price of admission, plus the game opens with Toad driving a bus. Priceless.
4. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses takes the series to new heights, deftly blending grueling battles with an expansive social hub that allows for near limitless customization as you recruit, train, and bond with the memorable characters on your team. Its unique take on a three-pronged story ensures that no matter which house you choose, the engrossing plot that unfolds always leaves enough mystery to make multiple playthroughs incredibly hard to resist.
3. Super Mario Odyssey
A masterclass in 3D platforming, Super Mario Odyssey seamlessly blends the best elements from nearly every Mario game with an entire portfolio of new gameplay mechanics to create something both nostalgic and courageous. New players will adore stomping through the vivid and vast new worlds, while seasoned veterans will stick around after the credits to unlock the hundreds of challenges that await their skill and dexterity. To put it succinctly, Super Mario Odyssey is pure, sublime joy and one of the best Super Mario games ever made. From our Super Mario Odyssey review: “Mario’s games have been around for almost as long as game consoles have been a thing, but thankfully, he’s always evolving. We rarely get the same Mario twice. Super Mario Odyssey delivers on that ongoing promise of originality and innovation: It distills the venerable series’ joyful, irreverent world and characters and best-in-class platforming action, and introduces a steady stream of new and unexpected mechanics.”
2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is exactly what its name implies: it’s the ultimate incarnation of Nintendo’s now 20-year-old brawler series. It’s a celebration of Smash Bros. as a whole, filled with more fighters and levels than ever before, and packed to the gills with over 1000 more characters from all across gaming. “Everyone is here!” may have started out as just another tagline, but it’s one that Nintendo has impressively backed up, and it’s made Ultimate the definitive Smash Bros. game for a long time to come. Add a 20+ hour single-player mode with full-on boss fights and huge world maps and it’s easy to get lost in Ultimate. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate had a lot to live up to with that name, but it has undoubtedly done just that. From our Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review: “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lives up to its name, offering the most comprehensive game in the series to date. It has an absurd amount to play, fight, and unlock – though that can be to its detriment at times. While the World of Light adventure mode isn’t reason alone to get Smash Bros., it’s still a consistently amusing and shockingly large campaign, and a worthy compliment to Ultimate’s incredible multiplayer core.”
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Let’s face it, the Zelda series was long overdue for a major change, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild offers an unparalleled sense of freedom and scale in the palm of your hand. Now widely considered one of the best games of all time, Breath of the Wild tells an epic story, as you glide, cook, and battle your way across a beautifully ruined version of Hyrule. It helped reinvigorate The Legend of Zelda in a way that fans had only dreamt of, easily propelling it to the number one spot on our list and in our hearts. From our Breath of the Wild review: “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a masterclass in open-world design and a watershed game that reinvents a 30-year-old franchise. It presents a wonderful sandbox full of mystery, dangling dozens upon dozens of tantalizing things in front of you that just beg to be explored. I’ve had so many adventures in Breath of the Wild, and each one has a unique story behind what led me to them, making them stories on top of stories.”
What’s New and What Left the Best Nintendo Switch Games List
Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s changed:
Removed from the best Nintendo Switch games list:
Note: removing games isn’t a decision we make lightly — and it certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t like those games. As a matter of fact, you should play all the games we removed as well. But as new games come out that we think are worth of your attention and the team that assembles this list changes over time, you’ll see games drop off or even re-enter the list (eg: Tropical Freeze) based on the tastes of the panel and whether we think they should be in your current list of 25 games you should have in your collection.
Latest additions to the best Nintendo Switch Games list:
- Guacamelee 2
- Yoshi’s Crafted World
- Dark Souls Remastered
- Pokemon Let’s Go!
- New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
- Diablo III Eternal Collection
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
- Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze (much to Brian Altano’s chagrin).
Did we miss anything? Is your favorite game too low? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back when we reconfigure this list again! And look back at our top picks for past Nintendo systems in our best 3DS games, the best Wii games and the best GameCube games. This list was assembled by IGN’s Nintendo Voice Chat podcast crew. You can listen/watch our weekly Nintendo show right here on IGN.com or over on YouTube. Or, why not join the conversation over on Facebook and join the Nintendo Voice Chat Podcast Forums and let us know what you think of our lastest list! And, very rarely, we add games to our best games of all time page: The Top 100 Games List, so check that out, too. Thanks for reading/watching, and don’t forget to get the thing!