The Nintendo Switch has been out for nearly two months now, and while we wait for more heavy hitters to arrive in the form of Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey, there's no shortage of good games to play. There's Mario Kart 8 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, of course, which many of you reading this are still working through trying to find all those dang Korok seeds - but what about the other games filling in the gaps? Which ones should you pick up?
That's why we've compiled a list of the best Nintendo Switch games you can buy right now. While this won't be a definitive list until we've gotten about a year's worth of games, we'll continue updating this page with recent releases worthy of your time and money. And whether you're looking for party games, 2D platformers, or big 3D adventures, the Switch has you covered. Oh, and if you want to know what's still to come, check out our upcoming Nintendo Switch games.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Genre: Action RPG
What is it? The latest entry in Nintendo's venerable fantasy franchise, which embraces its own history as often as it upends it
Why should you buy it? This is, perhaps more than anything, the biggest showpiece for what the Nintendo Switch can do. Breath of the Wild takes ideas originally introduced in the first Legend of Zelda game along with concepts expanded on by Skyrim and other modern open-world RPGs and Nintendoizes them, distilling them into purest parts, and polishes the hell out of them. It's a world of wonder, and for the first time what feels like ages, it actually lets you experience that wonder without beating you over the head with hours of tutorials and incessant text boxes re-explaining everything you already know. Playing it on the TV is a treat, but being able to lift the Switch from the dock and take a game of this size and scope wherever you want is a perfect summation of the Switch's potential.
2. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
What is it? The best version of Mario Kart 8 money can buy.
Why should you buy it? Apart from the telling clue in the line above, the Nintendo experience isn't complete until you've enraged your closest friends by beating them at Mario Kart. It's a rite of passage on every Nintendo console. This immediate, relatable, pick-up-and-play fun is exactly what the Switch was created for. Up to eight people can locally, letting you pretend that you're in a Nintendo lifestyle advert, and it's a novelty that two people can play anywhere using a single console. But best of all, this is the ultimate version of an already amazing game, and perhaps the most clear and brilliant example of how great the Switch could be.
3. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
What is it? A collection containing the excellent Shovel Knight and every expansion to date, including the brand new Specter of Torment and the upcoming King Knight expansion
Why should you buy it? Shovel Knight (PC review here) may look and sound like a game from the 1980s, but it so much more than simple nostalgia. Featuring inventive level design and action that echoes some of the best elements from Mega Man, Mario, and Ducktales, along with a few tricks of its own, Shovel Knight still stands as one of the best modern 2D platformers out there. The Treasure Trove edition compiles every bit of shovelry released to date: the base campaign, the previously released Plague of Shadows expansion, the brand-new Specter of Torment expansion, the upcoming King Knight expansion, and a brand-new four-player battle mode.
Genre: Building simulation
What is it? A beautifully blocky, open-world, creative sandbox for you to build, destroy, and mine anything you want.
Why should you buy it? Because even if you’ve played it before, Minecraft on Switch means ultra portable buildable delight. From punching wood to seeing your first hint of glitter at a diamond poking through stone, you never feel like you've quite beaten Minecraft even if you've been playing for tens of hours. It's an exercise in discovery and ambition, with structures that previously only existed in your wildest dreams suddenly viable - as long as you have the resources. Whether you're tenacious, easygoing, or just rabidly curious, think of Minecraft as a gracious host that will make you and anyone you choose to co-op with delirious with happiness. Either that, or you'll get your hands on some TNT and will make everything go bang. Which is also fun.
4. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap
What is it? A complete reskin of cult classic Wonder Boy 3, complete with the ability to switch between hand-drawn animation and the original 8-bit sprites.
Why should you buy it? Wonder Boy doesn't have the same cultural appreciation that Metroid or Castlevania does, but that those who grew up with the series (along with spin-offs like Adventure Island) attest to its quality. Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon's Trap in particular is important because it helped laid the groundwork for a generation of non-linear platformers to follow. In the 2017 remake (which drops the numbering), developer Lizardcube lovingly takes the same game - passcodes and all - and applies a gorgeous painterly aesthetic on top of it, complete with an all-new soundtrack. It's a bit archaic in spots, but the fact that it holds up so well with minor gameplay changes is a testament to how far ahead of the curve it was in 1989.
5. Snake Pass
What is it? A 3D platformer in the vein of N64/PS2-era classics, but you're a snake.
Why should you buy it? Snake Pass is a strange one. There are no enemies - just you as a googly-eyed snake, a bunch of shiny objects to collect, and myriad obstacles in your path. It looks like the Rare platformers of old, but there's one huge difference: you can't jump. Because you're a snake. It takes some getting used to, as it forces you to relearn everything you thought you knew about 3D platforming, but once you get it, there's something magical about winding around bamboo poles and figuring out the right way to coil yourself to reach a giant gold coin hanging precariously off a ledge suspended above a bottomless pit. It's surprisingly fun and charming, and will help fill that Mario-shaped void in your life (for at least a little while).
What is it? A 'rolly' roguelike where you need to steer a tiny seed up a mountain using only your analogue sticks to control a tilting stick.
Why should you buy it? Because you like games that will beat you into a pulp before you finally master them. Tumbleseed looks simple on paper. Tilt a board with your analogue sticks and steer a tiny seed up a mountain. How hard can it be? The answer is exceptionally. Holes mean death. Enemies mean death. Everything means death. And then it clicks as you juggle seedling power ups, carefully dodging pits while collecting crystals from felled enemies. Every movement matters and while Tumbleseed is utterly unforgiving and will send you back to the bottom of the mountain as your pitiful number of lives deplete, you'll be hitting restart without even thinking about it. A must play.
7. The Jackbox Party Pack 3
What is it? A compilation of hilarious quiz show-themed party games from the team behind You Don't Know Jack.
Why should you buy it? This is what the Switch was made for - the kind of thing you can bring anywhere and have fun with a group of friends instantly. The Jackbox Party Pack 3 combines the sequel to the always-ridiculous guessing game Quiplash, along with Trivia Murder Party (a quiz show that pits you against a serial killer), deductive reasoning game Guesspionage, Tee K.O. (which forces you to design t-shirts based on clues), and the bluffing game Fakin' It. You don't even need extra controllers, as everyone syncs up and answers questions via their mobile phone or tablet; the only caveat is that you need some kind of internet in order for everyone to play along. Each of the included games are funny, witty, and utterly ridiculous, and a perfect fit for Nintendo Switch.
8. The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+
What is it? The ultimate edition of the remake of the flash game by the artist behind Super Meat Boy.
Why should you buy it? If you can get past the, ahem, grody aesthetic fueling the Binding of Isaac's narrative - in which a young, naked boy held captive in his own home attempts to escape his mom's murderous intentions by navigating underground caverns and crying at enemies - there's a hell of a game here. Each run is a randomly generated dungeon, pulling inspiration equally from games like The Legend of Zelda and Spelunky, and as you take on a menagerie of demons, you'll pick up a variety of mysterious items which can help (or hinder) you on your quest to the bottom. Packing in the remake of the original game (now known as Rebirth) along with all of the expansions released so far, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ is the definitive edition of a roguelike that will gleefully suck away hundreds of hours of your life if you let it.
Genre: Rhythm action
What is it? Self described as a 'rhythm violence' game, Thumper sees you hurtling down a track as a giant bug perfectly hammering buttons to the beat.
Why should you buy it? Thumper might initially remind you of something a little gentler like Audiosurf as you glide down slick, stylised pathways with electronica in your ears but don't be deceived, this aural extravaganza requires a calm head and pitch perfect twitch reflexes. Initially your giant bug just requires a tap of A as you go over a light panel or perhaps holding a button as you crash around corners but before long you're tapping, flying, crashing down onto the track and causing tidal waves to destroy enormous floating heads... and that's only the beginning. Utterly unforgiving with a soundtrack that you can't pump into you head loud enough, Thumper is a treat for the senses and potentially RSI inducing for your thumbs.
10. Blaster Master Zero
What is it? A reimagining of the NES classic following the adventures of a boy and his tank.
Why should you buy it? Blaster Master has always been one of those retro games that plays way better in your head than it does in reality. The original married 2D tank action with overhead exploration segments in inventive fashion, but clumsy controls and cheap deaths make it hard to go back to. Zero takes many of the same concepts, and updates them for the 21st century. Difficulty is far more balanced, an abundance of save points will keep you from pulling your hair out, and its retro-inspired graphics and animations are way smoother and more stable than the NES could have ever pulled off. Blaster Master Zero plays like your memories - and in some ways, it's even better.