The Nintendo Switch is now over three years old and is still one of the most popular and versatile consoles out there. Its hybrid design, mixing a home console with a portable handheld, still feels innovative, and its varied and extensive library of games remains second to none. For that reason, if you’ve just bought a new Switch, you may be a bit bewildered as to what games to acquire first.
Sure, there are the big sellers that everyone knows about, from The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild to Pokémon: Sword And Shield, and these are hugely successful for a reason. But there are also hundreds of lesser-known games, both from major studios and independent developers, which are well worth your time and money. Here are some of the best choices from across the board.
You may be familiar with this farming sim on other platforms, but playing it on the Switch feels like a revelation. This is surely where Stardew Valley belonged all the time. Harvesting, fishing, cooking, and exploring have never felt like so much fun, or so addictive.
Super Mario Odyssey
If you want to enter the Mario-verse on the Switch, then you’ve plenty of options, but this is arguably the place to start. Super Mario Odyssey comes highly recommended in this post, which also rightly bigs up Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as well. But Odyssey was where Mario made his Switch debut, accompanied by his talking hat, Cappy, on an epic journey between worlds in a 3D sandbox-style adventure.
Mario & Rabbid’s Kingdom Battle
It’s the crossover that never should have worked and doesn’t make any sense at all, but which turned out to be one of the most enjoyable games you’ve ever played – against all the odds! Mario meets the Rabbid Rabbits from Ubisoft in a tactical game that’s a joy to look at as well as to play. This Switch exclusive is funny, engaging, and cute, in all the right ways.
This game needs no introduction, but the advent of the hugely-popular battle royale for the Switch added a new dimension as you can now go into combat any place, any time. The Switch version is vastly superior to playing Fortnite on your phone, thanks in no small part to the larger screen size, but the gameplay is also a revelation. Plus you can move seamlessly between Switch, PC, and Xbox without missing a beat.
Is it a sequel, a reboot, or just a straight-up remake? No matter, Splatoon 2 revisits Nintendo’s original shooter-with-a-difference, fine-tunes the gameplay for the Switch format and gives you more of the same, but in spades. Whether you’re new to Splatoon or an old hand, this is definitely worth getting for hours of paint gun fun: all the thrills and glory without the painful death and mutilation.
Nintendo Labo Cardboard Kits
A different kind of game all round, Nintendo Labo lets you utilize your Switch while building a wide range of working cardboard models, from a piano to a fully-functioning robot. The cardboard parts come with stickers that, in turn, communicate with the infra-red sensor on your Switch. This means the models and your console can interact. So you build the toy and play the game, before diving deeper into the mechanics of it all. It’s not for everyone, but Nintendo Labo is engrossing, educational, and bridges the gap between the “real world” and screen time in an ingenious manner.
Another popular pick, this side-scrolling adventure through the Metroidvania universe compels with its distinctive spooky cartoon visuals, inscrutable characters, and complex gameplay. Explore, uncover secrets, do battle, and unlock new skills as your imagination is stimulated by the ideas and surprises around every corner. Hollow Knight is definitely a classic of its kind and one of the best games for the Switch in any genre.
Untitled Goose Game
This whacky mischief-maker was the stealth hit of 2019, proving wildly addictive and more fun than a barrel-load of monkeys. The premise is simple: you play a goose who is up to no good, determined to cause trouble with slapstick antics and rude interventions. Look out though for the citizens who strike back, with everything from mops to rolled-up newspapers, and don’t forget to keep honking!
These titles really do just scratch the surface of the great options available for the Nintendo Switch. They’re definitely enough to get you started. However, don’t forget that, as well as the cartridge games, a Nintendo Switch Online subscription will get you access to a huge selection of free games. Hours of handheld fun await!