The Best Nintendo Switch Games In 2023
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Over the six-plus year lifespan of the Nintendo Switch (so far), just about every major Nintendo franchise (except Star Fox) has had a truly stellar outing on the hybrid home console and portable device. Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, Metroid--the Switch is home to some of the best entries in Nintendo's most storied franchises. The vast and impressive library of exclusives has been complemented by a staggering number of third-party hits, which wasn't the case with the last few Nintendo console generations. With such a strong catalog of games, narrowing down the standouts to the very best isn't super easy, but that's what we've attempted here with our list of the best Nintendo Switch games.
Our list includes a smattering of games you can only play on Nintendo Switch as well as some third-party titles that feel right at home on the console. 2023 has already been kind to Switch owners with the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Metroid Prime Remastered, and Octopath Traveler II--all three of which are new additions to our list. And with Pikmin 4, Super Mario Bros. Wonder, and Super Mario RPG slated to release later this year, the games listed below will have some competition.
If your favorite Switch game didn't make the cut, just know that this list could easily include 50-plus games. We aimed to include a mix of genres, franchises, and both AAA and indie games. Essentially, this list can be used as a guide for a good place to start if you just joined the Nintendo Switch club. Though some franchises nabbed multiple spots on this list (Zelda, Metroid, Pokemon), we tried to limit repetition where possible.
Our picks are organized in alphabetical order, and at the bottom of this list, you'll find a note detailing which games were added and removed with our latest update.
Editor's Note: Article updated on November 15, 2023.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
More than three years after its release, Animal Crossing: New Horizons remains one of the most popular and wholesome games on Nintendo Switch. Just as lockdowns began happening across the world, Animal Crossing: New Horizons invited players to a tranquil island for a relaxing loop of activities like fishing, bug-catching, and perfecting the layout of their virtual homes. Nintendo has steadily introduced new features to New Horizons, including plenty of free content as well as the massive Happy Home Paradise DLC.
New Horizons also has robust customization features, including a new terraforming feature that gives you complete control over the terrain of your island. Whether you're conversing with your fellow residents, trying to finish your museum catalog, or visiting your friends' islands, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a constant charmer.
See our Animal Crossing: New Horizons review.
A showstopper of confident combat and demonic dance-moves, Bayonetta 3 gets action in a way that few other games do. A cocky blast of fun that caps the Bayonetta trilogy off on a high note, Bayonetta 3 isn't afraid to mix up its formula with the arrival of a new character who's a perfect contrast to the elegant anarchy of the titular witch.
With a multi-dimensional storyline, full-scale kaiju battles, and even a Hollywood-level chase sequence, Bayonetta 3 doesn't forget why fans fell in love with the series in the first plac
Read our Bayonetta 3 review.
A wonderful platformer with an important message, Celeste feels right at home on Nintendo Switch. Madeline makes the trip to the treacherous Mount Celeste, a snow-covered mountain filled with perilous cliffs and interesting characters. Rendered in gorgeous pixelated graphics, Celeste plays like an old-school platformer and relies largely on well-timed jumps. It feels superb in motion, and the level design gradually grows more challenging as you acquire new abilities that cleverly expand the gameplay. It's a difficult game, but you can tweak the settings to fit your skill level to enjoy the story. Celeste tells a moving tale about finding yourself and overcoming self-doubt that creeps into your mind. It's one of the most poignant games in recent years as well as one of the best side-scrolling platformers on Switch.
See our Celeste review.
Studio MDHR's Cuphead is a glorious ode to classic cartoons and a tremendous run-and-gun. Cuphead originally released for Xbox One and PC before being ported to Nintendo Switch. It made a smooth transition and runs flawlessly on the Switch hardware whether you're playing on your TV or in handheld mode. Cuphead's art style immediately stands out. The hand-drawn characters and animations look ripped out of a 1930s cartoon, giving Cuphead a visual style that will always look great. The jazzy audio design rounds out the presentation, transporting players to a different time. Essentially, it's a playable cartoon. Cuphead is far more than just a beautiful artistic triumph; it's also an aptly designed run-and-gun filled with exciting boss fights and cleverly made side-scrolling levels. If you're not afraid of a challenge, Cuphead is an absolute must-play game whether you play solo or cooperatively with a friend. The Delicious Last Course expansion only added to Cuphead's greatness by offering a brand-new playable character and some of the most impressive boss fights and animations across the whole package.
Dead Cells is an amalgamation of rogue-likes and metroidvanias, and the result is a game that will likely be considered one of the best in both genres for years to come. Set in a procedurally generated castle, you play as a reanimated mass of cells taking hold of a prisoner's body. The labyrinthine castle is crawling with dangerous enemies and littered with secrets waiting to be uncovered. Each time you die--which tends to happen fairly regularly--you have to start over again. Critically, there are permanent upgrades, which allow you to make progress and see new areas with each subsequent run. With finely tuned and stylish action combat, an array of cool abilities and weapons, and an expertly designed map that changes each time you play, Dead Cells compels you to see it through to the end. And like all good roguelikes, Dead Cells makes you want to play through it again and again. Dead Cells has a bunch of great add-on content, including a great Castlevania-themed DLC, which really does feel like a perfect pairing.
See our Dead Cells review.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition
It's something of a miracle that Divinity: Original Sin 2 plays so well on Nintendo Switch. While the resolution is worse than on other platforms, particularly in handheld mode, Original Sin 2 runs well. The massive turn-based CRPG from Larian Studios is a modern masterpiece in the genre, featuring a stunning fantasy world, rich writing, and a combat system with consummate depth. If you're looking for an old-school CRPG to play at home or on the go, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of your best bets. It's big and bold and manages to offer surprises and new layers even after dozens of hours of play.
See our Divinity: Original Sin 2 review.
Dragon Quest 11 S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition
Square Enix's long-running Dragon Quest franchise has consistently stuck to its roots, and Dragon Quest 11 embraces its traditional JRPG identity. In an age where more and more JRPGs are injecting traditionally Western gameplay features into their systems, Dragon Quest 11 embraces what it has always done so well. It's simply a fantastic turn-based role-playing game filled with charming characters, a beautiful world, and a deeply satisfying combat system. On Switch, you can switch between two distinct styles: modern 3D visuals and a classic 8-bit top-down presentation. The latter is especially intriguing for handheld mode. Dragon Quest 11 is the best JRPG on Nintendo Switch.
See our Dragon Quest 11 review.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Relentlessly engaging and rife with variety, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the most impressive entry in the beloved strategy series. You play as a professor who oversees one of three houses at a mysterious monastery. There, you cultivate relationships and train your students to be prepared for the battles ahead. While recent Fire Emblem games have leaned more into social simulation, Three Houses takes this concept to the next level and includes some well-implemented management sim features. It strikes a wonderful balance between storytelling, preparation for the next battle, and the always-wonderful tactical combat scenarios the series is known for. With deftly written characters, an exceedingly good tale, and smart tweaks to the layered combat system, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is an astonishing experience from start to finish. And more than any other Fire Emblem game before it, Three Houses encourages multiple playthroughs to see the whole story, and each playthrough is different.
See our Fire Emblem: Three Houses review.
Though escaping the Underworld is the goal in Hades, being sent back to it after each failed run isn't a bad consolation prize. Hades, more than any other roguelike before it, intertwines its fast-paced action gameplay with its exquisite story in such a way that failure can be a good thing. You play as Hades' son Zagreus, a charismatic hero in his own right, but it's the supporting cast and all of their own interpersonal tales that make Hades such an enriching experience. Each attempt to escape the Underworld is a thrilling pursuit, one that relies on experimentation with your build to find the right balance for you. The combat has more depth than you'd initially expect, and after a few hours of futile escape attempts, Hades really starts to click. Even after you finally escape, Hades has a wonderful endgame that includes new storylines and challenging combat scenarios.
See our Hades review.
It's a good thing that Hollow Knight is such a good metroidvania that you can comfortably hop into whenever the fancy strikes you, because it makes the wait for its sequel Silksong that much more bearable. The original game had some rough edges, but these were smoothed over in time and the bug's life adventure that came out of this was nothing short of exceptional. Hollow Knight is haunting and elegant: an aggressive collection of combat and exploration that feels right at home on the Switch. This version also contains all of its DLC, a sizable chunk of content that expands on the game massively and is enhanced by its gorgeous visual design.
Read our Hollow Knight review.
Into The Breach
Subset Games' Into the Breach is a rare type of game that feels and plays like nothing before it. Developed by FTL studio Subset Games, Into the Breach is a roguelike tactics game that takes place on tiny grids. In the distant future, the monstrous Vek are threatening humanity. To save the world from monsters, you assemble a team of three mechs who take on the Vek in small-scale battles on eight-by-eight grids. Each battle only lasts several turns, and the goal isn't to overpower the Vek; instead, you're trying to deter their attacks and limit damage on critical infrastructure. You can also see a preview of each Vek's next move at the start of every turn, allowing you to strategize for the best possible outcome. Into the Breach is more like chess than a traditional tactics game, and you'd be surprised at how involved the matches can get. Into the Breach innovates on the form more than any other game in recent memory.
See our Into the Breach review.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Simply put, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the best game in series history. As Kirby's first 3D platforming adventure, Forgotten Land offers remarkable variety and depth compared to earlier entries in the series. Kirby's iconic Copy ability works incredibly well in 3D, adding depth to both puzzles and combat. With six unique worlds that each contain levels that are littered with secrets and novel design quirks, Kirby and the Forgotten is one of those platformers that constantly surprises. Kirby's new Mouthful Mode ability is a charmer and spices up gameplay even more. The lengthy mainline stages are complemented by short and sweet time trials dubbed Treasure Road. These optional levels utilize Kirby's Copy and Mouthful abilities in fun and interesting ways, and completing them feeds into the overall loop that compels you to upgrade Copy abilities to make them even cooler. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is an absolute delight from start to finish whether you're playing solo or alongside a friend or loved one in local co-op.
See our Kirby and the Forgotten Land review.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a Switch launch title, but it remains one of the best games on the platform all these years later. Many fans have called it the best game in the entire franchise--though the next game on this list has a strong argument, too. Breath of the Wild was Nintendo's first real foray into open-world games, and it's easily one of the best in class. Breath of the Wild provides a sense of exploration never before seen in the series. The sprawling open world of Hyrule is gorgeous and serves as Link’s personal playground. He can climb virtually anything, which creates an incredible sense of scale and freedom. This overarching change extends to the central progression as well. Replacing elaborate dungeons with tons of small-scale Shrines allows you to approach the adventure in your own way. Breath of the Wild is one of the few open-world games that isn't littered with extraneous systems and objectives. It prides itself on offering a slower pace and a more scenic, desolate world that's ripe for exploring, whether you're on foot, horseback, or scaling a cliff searching for a new discovery. Breath of the Wild is a stunning, brilliant adventure.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Six years after the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo has captured lightning in a bottle again with its sequel, Tears of the Kingdom. Building on the foundation of the groundbreaking Switch launch game, Tears of the Kingdom hits all the right notes for a sequel. It's bigger, bolder, and even more ambitious than the first game, and at the same time, it makes great strides towards addressing some of the more lingering issues from Breath of the Wild.
The Legend of Zelda at its very best, Tears of the Kingdom links to the past by borrowing the best elements from older games in the franchise, and delivers a rewarding experience that's endlessly captivating. The end result isn't just game-of-the-year material, but a masterpiece of intelligent engineering and fun gameplay that will become a new gold standard for future Zelda games.
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope
Who would have thought that a tag team of Mushroom Kingdom superstars and Ubisoft's Rabbids could produce one of the most cheerfully cunning games of 2022? Following up on the absurd strategy of 2017's Kingdom Battle, Sparks of Hope refines the turn-based strategy formula with genuinely clever improvements. It's a game that the rest of the genre should pay attention to, as Ubisoft Milan and Paris make big changes that help create a better game with an even better sense of pacing.
It's also just a hoot to play, with the sheer joy woven into every pixel shining in this sequel. From Luigi's barely contained cowardice to the hilarious silliness of the Rabbids, Sparks of Hope is a chaotic but clever little masterpiece on the Switch.
Read our Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope review.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
An expanded port of the excellent Wii U game, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best racing game on Nintendo Switch. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe currently contains more than 40 racers and 48 tracks, including many of the best courses from Mario Kart history. Deluxe adds several notable features, including driving assistance settings for new players and two item slots. It also has an extended Battle mode, which winds up making Mario Kart 8 Deluxe the most content-rich and well-rounded entry in series history. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe released during the Switch's launch window, but it remains one of the most popular multiplayer games on the console for good reason. It should be in every Nintendo Switch owner's library.
And if you don't have it yet, now's the time to grab yourself a copy. The first batch of remastered tracks from the Booster Course Pass arrived in March. In all, Nintendo is releasing 48 remastered tracks by the end of 2023. So yes, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will be doubling in size, so "Deluxe" may be an understatement nowadays.
See our Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review.
After a nearly two-decade wait, Metroid returned to its side-scrolling roots for an adventure that closed out the current Metroid saga. Remarkably, Metroid Dread lives up to the high expectations set by longtime fans. Developed by Mercury Steam (Metroid: Samus Returns), Metroid Dread is a wonderful adventure that sticks to its roots. Dread shines mechanically, with fast-paced combat, a wide range of upgrades to acquire, and a stable of bosses that test your fortitude and counterattack skills. Dread also introduces the EMMI, creepy robots who patrol designated zones and cause instant game overs if you're caught. It's an absolute joy to explore the maze-like locales, and Dread's huge swath of secrets to uncover encourages multiple playthroughs. Metroid Dread is easily one of the best side-scrollers on Switch, and it's a reminder that going back to your roots can be a truly excellent idea.
See our Metroid Dread review.
Metroid Prime Remastered
Few games stand the test of time, but Metroid Prime is one of the select few titles from a bygone era that still feels as good to play today as it did on the GameCube back in 2002. More than two decades later, it's even better as this first-person shooter got a massive facelift for Nintendo's hybrid console. Looking better than ever, Samus Aran's shift to the third dimension is a great example of evergreen gameplay design that influenced an entire generation of action games in its wake. It's still Metroid right down to its first-person bones, but the slick action and well-paced exploration can be enjoyed without needing to don some nostalgia-goggles.
Read our Metroid Prime Remastered review.
Monster Hunter Rise
The Monster Hunter series has a long history on Nintendo platforms dating back nearly a decade, and though Monster Hunter World didn't release for the Switch, Capcom rectified that with the excellent Monster Hunter Rise. Though it started as a Switch exclusive, Rise has since been ported to other platforms and received a massive DLC, Sunbreak, that makes it all the more enjoyable. Rise adds a level of verticality through the Wirebug tool. Though perfect for shorter gameplay sessions, it also fits comfortably as a mainline entry with a big map, online multiplayer action, and a ton of depth in the various weapon types for players looking to experiment. With a mix of classic monsters and newcomers, it's a great entry point and perfect for the series' veterans.
See our Monster Hunter Rise review.
Octopath Traveler 2
The Switch has become a hub for classic JRPG goodness, and Octopath Traveler II is a prime example of this. Square Enix's follow-up to the original game retains all the classic charm of the SNES era, mixed with graphics that blur the line between modern and retro gaming. Not just a good-looking game, Octopath Traveler II is satisfying to play thanks to its combo of non-linear storytelling, freeform exploration, and strategic combat, all of which serve to deliver a challenging adventure told across multiple viewpoints.
Like the best sequels, it builds on the ideas that the original game pioneered, improving and iterating on its unique elements. If you're looking for a cozy JRPG that'll easily consume dozens of your hours, Octopath Traveler II is worth picking up.
Read our Octopath Traveler 2 review.
Pokemon Sword & Shield
Pokemon Sword & Shield ushers in the Galar region, an expansive new locale filled with new Pokemon and a familiar but refined loop. Once again, you're working to be the best that ever was, starting off with one Pokemon and no badges and slowly working your way to filling out your Pokedex and becoming the Pokemon League Champion. The Galar region has several Wild Areas (including DLC areas), new open sections filled with different species of Pokemon roaming in plain sight. These sections offer a nice change of pace to the streamlined journeys of previous games, and the new Dynamax mechanic and rotating raids add more continuous content to enjoy. With a great collection of new Pokemon, more customization options available at your fingertips, and a wealth of content that only gets more substantial when you factor in the pair of expansions, Pokemon Sword & Shield is a worthy addition to the beloved franchise.
See our Pokemon Sword and Shield review.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus
Pokemon Legends: Arceus sits somewhere between a mainline game and a spin-off. Taking place well before the events of any other RPG entry in the series, Arceus sends players to the Hisui region (Sinnoh) to complete the first Pokedex. Arceus' core gameplay revolves already scouring the land in search of Pokemon, which can be caught by simply lobbing Poke Balls. Arceus also has the familiar turn-based battle system, which makes it feel like a mainline game in many respects. Mainline story missions take place in sprawling areas, which gives Arceus an open-world feel, and with plenty of optional missions as well, Arceus boasts a surprising amount of compelling content. Crafting systems and resource management incentivize exploration, and it's pretty easy to lose hours simply exploring the locales in search of new Pokemon and resources. Pokemon Legends: Arceus is a must-play for Pokemon fans, and even lapsed fans might enjoy the refreshing loop.
See our Pokemon Legends: Arceus review.
Shin Megami Tensei V
The Shin Megami Tensei mainline series may not be as popular in NA as the Persona series, but JRPG fans shouldn't miss out on Shin Megami Tensei V. This Nintendo Switch exclusive captures the unique atmosphere that the series is known for and complements it with brilliant battles that require players to be strategic with their decisions. The story is a slow burn, but it's filled with interesting characters and choice-driven plot points that make it engaging throughout. If you're looking for a JRPG on Switch that you can sink dozens and dozens of hours into, Shin Megami Tensei V is a great choice--and you don't need to have played previous entries to enjoy it.
See our Shin Megami Tensei V review.
Splatoon 3 isn't as novel an experience the third time around, but this squidtastic game still knows how to make a splash. Family-friendly action in a colorful world, Splatoon 3 refines its formula and creates a highlight reel of fun zone mechanics in online competition, a single-player mode that is delightfully challenging, and clever multiplayer maps.
With a massive amount of multiplayer modes and options on offer, Splatoon 3 is a buffet of content that you won't run out of anytime soon. Veterans to the series might need some more convincing before they hop back into familiar territory, but for anyone who has yet to play a Splatoon game, Splatoon 3 is the perfect entry point.
Read our Splatoon 3 review.
Tired of the hustle and bustle of city life, you move to your grandfather's farm in Stardew Valley, a picturesque rural community where life moves slower than you're used to. Stardew Valley is both a relaxing farming sim and a wonderful social sim filled with relatable characters. Though it lets you make your own fun, Stardew Valley does have a clever loop that slowly builds as you develop relationships, acquire new gear, and uncover the game's many secrets. It's easy to pour hundreds of hours into Stardew Valley. There's so much to see and do, and after a while, Stardew Valley has the familiarity of home, one that's always a pleasure to return to.
See our Stardew Valley review.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury
Super Mario 3D World was one of the best Wii U games, and the recently released expanded port takes the platforming magic to new heights. Super Mario 3D World is a great blend of 3D Mario platforming and the classic Mario course structure. The sheer inventiveness on display across its 12 worlds (including four challenging bonus worlds) is enough to make this one of the better modern Mario games, and the fact you can play the entire campaign with up to four players makes it a great pick for families. Bowser's Fury brings something entirely different to the table with an open-world design with a series of mini levels that gradually unlock as you collect Cat Shines and square off against a very large and angry Bowser. Overall, the package includes a staggering amount of variety and demonstrates how Nintendo's trusty mascot still has tricks up his sleeve all these years later.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the first new 2D Mario in years not under the "New Super Mario" brand, and the reason why couldn't be clearer. While the New SMB series was well-made as a retro throwback, Super Mario Wonder is a true evolution of Mario mechanics that pushes the series forward in ways that we haven't seen for years. The marquee Wonder effects imbue every stage with wild, unique mechanics, while a new Badge equipment system lets you experiment with different powers. New stage types and power-ups abound as well, making this an absolute delight.
Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey is a relentlessly joyful 3D platformer that gives players far more freedom than they've had in previous 3D Mario games. Super Mario Odyssey has a series of large, open levels, each of which is chock-full of Power Moons to find by completing tricky platforming sequences, besting foes, and solving puzzles. It also introduces a new array of moves thanks to Mario's sentient hat Cappy. If you're playing Super Mario Odyssey with young children, the cooperative mode is excellent, as it allows one player to take control of Cappy, who can't take damage. Super Mario Odyssey is Mario's biggest adventure yet, with more to see and do than ever before in a 3D Mario game.
See our Super Mario Odyssey review.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
With more than 80 fighters so far, more than 100 stages, and a wide variety of content whether you're playing multiplayer or refining your skills against the CPU, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the most comprehensive and plentiful brawler in franchise history. The expansive roster of characters with totally different playstyles is impressive enough to keep you playing for the long haul, but Smash Bros. Ultimate is far more than just a collection of Nintendo characters and anime characters with swords hitting each other repeatedly; it's a deeply satisfying brawler that refines the overall gameplay to make the most technically sound Smash Bros. to date. It's full of video game history, too, from unlockable trinkets to iconic music. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the best fighting game on Nintendo Switch. We'd also recommend the first and second Fighter Passes, which grant access to additional characters and stages.
See our Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review.
Tetris Effect: Connected
Tetris and the Nintendo Switch are a perfect match, so it's no surprise that the best iteration of the classic puzzle game has found its way on this list. Tetris Effect: Connected has been around for a few years, delighting fans with its jaw-dropping mix of special effects, catchy music, and block-stacking, but it only just arrived on Switch in 2021. This is pure Tetris, but it adds heaps of style that creates an entrancing experience that's easy to get captivated by. Tetris Effect has a great single-player campaign mode as well as a slew of game variants in its Effects mode. The "Connected" portion of the experience lets three players join up to fight increasingly challenging CPU-controlled bosses. Whether you're primarily playing solo or dropping garbage blocks with friends, Tetris Effect: Connected is the best way to play Tetris...so far at least.
See our Tetris Effect: Connected review.
Xenoblade Chronicles trilogy
Between Mario and Zelda, it's a shame that Xenoblade Chronicles doesn't get more love on Nintendo platforms. But for anyone looking to see superstar developer Monolith Soft at its very best, the trilogy of Xenoblade Chronicles games available right now are masterpieces of JRPG design, worldbuilding, and incredible visuals. Make no mistake, these games are incredibly deep and have steep learning curves, but stick with them and you'll find a rewarding experience waiting for you at the end.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is easily the best of the bunch, a lengthy and stunning adventure that can keep you occupied for the rest of 2023. A testament to just what the Switch is capable of when a developer is firing on all cylinders, each Xenoblade game is worth investing your precious time and delivers a unique magic that you'll only find on Nintendo hardware.
Read our Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review.
Updated on June 23, 2023
Added: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Metroid Prime Remastered, Hollow Knight, Bayonetta 3, Splatoon 3, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, Octopath Traveler 2, Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Removed: Disco Elysium, Eastward, Golf Story, The House in Fata Morgana, New Pokemon Snap, Ring Fit Adventure, Splatoon 2, Super Mario Maker 2