I love my Nintendo Switch. It is probably the best gift I have ever been bought – I know, how lucky is that? The only downside to owning a console is having to choose games, especially as they are so many and they can start reaching up into the $60 region. How do you know which Nintendo Switch games you actually will enjoy? How do you prevent yourself from blowing $50 on a copy of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, only to discover that you hate literally everything about it (I know that’s an unpopular opinion, but I truly despised it)?
This is a list of 10 Nintendo Switch games (both Nintendo originals and ports) that I got the most enjoyment out of. They vary in plot content and style but they all share one thing in common: even though I’ve logged 60-70 hours per game and completed the main storylines, I would still now play for an hour just for the fun of it.
10) Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!
It would be a crime not to include a Pokémon game on a list like this. For me, a lot of the enjoyment came from the nostalgic feeling of replaying Pokémon Yellow Version, a favourite of mine from being young. The animation is bright and somewhat childish, but there’s no need to discount it for that reason; it’s amazing to see the original animator’s vision when they made the first games. The catching mechanism borrows from Pokémon GO which, whilst taking a while to get used to on Switch, was actually a big plus-point, providing more variables you can control in getting hard-t0-catch Pokémon.
This is a really successful port across to the Switch and makes it onto the list as one of the more enjoyable first-person-shooters available to Switch players. Shooting Hell-demons on Mars provides hours of entertainment, and there’s also a great multiplayer with plenty of game modes for entertaining guests. For long-time Nintendo players, there’s also some hidden throwbacks to Doom 64 lurking in some of the levels.
8) Super Mario Party
Just in case you’re not familiar with the format, Mario Party games revolve around a game board with dice rolls to determine steps with an ultimate goal of having more stars than the other players at the end of the game. Super Mario Party makes it onto the list as, aside from the fact that I’ve always really enjoyed the Mario Party series, this edition adds some extra fun by accessing the gyroscopes in the Joy-Cons. A really good multiplayer game for a group, especially when alcohol is involved.
7) ARK: Survival Evolved
A fabulous port of a really great game, ARK’s distinctive survival mechanics make this an engaging and thought-provoking playthrough. A game in which you have to stay aware of your own wellbeing whilst learning to build structures and weapons AND simultaneously be concerned about defending yourself from and taming dinosaurs was never going to disappoint. If I wasn’t such a sucker for flagship Nintendo brands, this open-world beauty easily could have been higher on this list.
6) Octopath Traveller
I played the Demo version of this game and knew I would be buying it when it came out for real. This is a really interesting approach to modern gaming, stripping away flamboyant graphic design for a simpler, but still really beautiful, side-scroll game. With 8 plot lines to explore (hence ‘octo’) there’s a lot of map to explore and plenty to do on it. The battle format is turn-based but is still highly enjoyable and, in the very best way, truly difficult. If you were a Gameboy player back in the day, this is a lovely way to reconnect with those side-scrollers in a high-tech environment.
For me, this is by far the best port of a Nintendo Switch game. I actually did play Skyrim when it first appeared so I bought this with the worry that I wouldn’t have a lot to do. In truth, there are so many options to explore and so many side quests that it’s almost impossible to have the same experience playing Skyrim twice. Skyrim also boasts a graphic improvement and it’s a treat to be able to play it handheld, especially as my original game was spent in front of a chunky, old desktop computer back in 2011.
4) Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
There isn’t a bad Mario Kart around (even that beautifully frustrating Super Circuit on Gameboy Advance was great fun) and Mario Kart 8 is no different. With more cups, tracks and unlockables than ever before, playing through Mario Kart was a real joy. Obviously, due to the nature of the game, it is the multiplayer where the most fun is (and, incidentally, the fastest route to unlocking everything) but single player provides plenty of hours of solo gaming fun, especially trying to complete all the cups on the new 200cc mode.
3) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Here in the upper echelons of Nintendo Switch games, it gets far harder to actually rank these games and, arguably, it does a disservice to Smash Bros for it not to be in 2nd or 1st. Combining all of the best bits of previous games with a healthy serving of new animations, assist trophies and 8-player battles, Ultimate really delivers in the glorious fracas that has made it so successful previously. It’s another game with multiplayer fun in abundance, but there’s plenty to do in the Classic and Adventure quests. As another plus, it also looks absolutely beautiful when played on handheld.
2) Super Mario Odyssey
The flagship Mario game is always a wonderful offering on every console that has preceded the Switch, and Odyssey fully continues that tradition. For Odyssey, the new element is the hat-capturing mechanic that allows Mario to take on different forms, and it makes for some cracking gameplay; I know in ARK you get to capture and ride dinosaurs, but what about actually being a dinosaur? The story itself is long enough but, even when you finish it, the lovely creators at Nintendo added twice as much content on the back end. There’s also a big dollop of heart-wrenching nostalgia hidden away at the end of this game which I won’t reveal as it would ruin the delight, but let’s just say I nearly cried.
1) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
For me, it is beyond dispute that this is the best Nintendo Switch game. Boasting an enormous map, an engaging (and lengthy) plot and an interesting animation style, BotW was 120 hours of pure gaming bliss. With side quests and shrine quests galore, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in this open world game. What made this game especially enjoyable for me was the way in which you traverse the map, whether going down the traditional Zelda route of horse riding, floating using the paraglider or climbing every single surface with help of the stamina bar; in this game, if you can see something then you can go there.