We're almost halfway through 2021 and now feels as good a time as any to pick up a Nintendo Switch.
First off, there's a choice between the original Nintendo Switch and the brand new Nintendo Switch Lite. That's good.
Second, with PS5 and Xbox Series X shortages, the Switch is the most accessible console out there.
Third of all, the Nintendo Switch now has one of the best, most varied and deepest libraries of any console out there. In short: there's a lot to choose from.
Here are our choices for the best games on Nintendo Switch.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
No big deal, Breath of the Wild is only the consensus best game of 2017. The game many believe is the best ever made. The game that somehow managed to actually outsell the Nintendo Switch itself on launch.
Still no idea how that actually happened, but it did.
In my humble opinion, Super Mario 3D World is probably the greatest game for young kids ever made. Particularly if you're a parent that wants to play alongside them. It's simple, no reading required. The levels are well designed, open and forgiving.
It also rules in every possible sense.
But when you add Bowser's Fury -- an experimental Mario title that could give us an insight into where Nintendo will take the series next -- this package is unbeatable. Play Super Mario 3D World with your kids, play Bowser's Fury when they go to bed. Perfect.
Monster Hunter Rise
Monster Hunter Rise is perhaps the most accessible Monster Hunter yet. It's also very good.
And at this point, the game is only available on Nintendo Switch. Get on it.
Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Folks, in these dark and troubled days, it's time to disappear into a new world, get a virtual mortgage and work your ass off to pay that sucker off quick smart.
We've been waiting literally decades for a new Pokemon Snap, thankfully this one lives up to the hype.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 was initially released on the Wii U. It was great then, it's even better now with all the additional content.
Not too much has changed, but Mario Kart 8 is about as definitive as it gets. It's stacked with playable characters, inventive tracks and brand new features. It remains the most compelling multiplayer game on the Nintendo Switch.
Hades, an isometric rogue-like from Supergiant Games, came out of nowhere in 2020 and is now a very strong contender for Game of the Year.
Why? Part of it is the combat -- which is fluid, weighty and tactile -- but its evolving storyline, which ties the idea of constant death into Hades' narrative, really pushes it over the edge. This is a rogue-like that people who don't like rogue-likes can enjoy.
Hollow Knight might be one of the best games available on the Nintendo Switch. It's a disturbingly well-designed platformer in the vein of Super Metroid. But it's more than that. The atmosphere, the audio design, the visuals...
Dear lord this game is a stone-cold classic. Play it now.
Return of the Obra Dinn is the most recent game from Lucas Pope, the man behind Papers, Please.
It's a genuine, proper masterpiece. An investigation story, essentially, you arrive onto the Obra Dinn a ship where almost all the crewmates have died. Via flashbacks you try to piece together the story of what happened. It's strange, innovative and completely unforgettable.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars
A package containing Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy could hardly be bad, right?
Well it's not perfect -- the games have aged and there are a few control issues -- but it's hard to argue with the value of Super Mario 3D All-Stars. Especially for those who have fond memories of Mario throughout the years.
They should have added Super Mario Galaxy 2 though. Come on Nintendo!
Luigi's Mansion 3 is legitimately one of the best games of 2019. It is a video game clearly made with love: Gorgeous environments, pitch-perfect animations. Everything about it feels tactile and precise. Maybe the best Nintendo made game of the year.
Untitled Goose Game is a game about being a goose.
And not just any goose, a horrible goose. An asshole goose that makes life extremely difficult for everyone around him. Untitled Goose Game has absolutely taken the world by storm. Even Chrissie Teigen is obsessed with it.
But is it good? Yes. Very good. This one should absolutely be on any and all Nintendo Switch consoles.
Among Us is one of the most popular games in the world right now. While the Nintendo Switch might not be the ideal platform, I'd argue it's the best way for kids to play. There's no chance of them coming across audio chats with teenagers swearing at one another, plus the chat is censored.
Super Mario Odyssey
Here is a list of trash words that don't come close to describing Super Mario Odyssey: inventive, dazzling, smart, seamless, joyful, creative.
Super Mario Odyssey is a Nintendo game that continues in the spirit of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. All bets are off, everything you thought you knew about Mario has been reinvented. But here's what remains: perfectly tuned, precision gameplay that feels incredible every second your hands are on the controller.
If you've played a Paper Mario game before, you probably know the drill. The series is set in a 2D "paper" version of Mario, a theme used to create all sorts of hyper-stylised mechanics and slick visual elements. It's all laced up with a self-awareness and charm that makes the series irresistible to Nintendo fans.
Paper Mario: The Origami King is no exception. Well worth a look.
Pokemon Sword & Shield
Look, regardless of controversy, Pokemon is Pokemon and Pokemon Sword & Shield is a good Pokemon.
Don't believe the online hype, this is one of the best games in the series so far. It's also great to see Pokemon being available on Nintendo's premium console, the Nintendo Switch. Definitely check it out.
Super Mario Maker 2 doesn't quite feel made for the Nintendo Switch in the way it was perfect for the Wii U, but it's still a fantastic piece of software. It makes level design accessible for everyone and has a massively beefed up single player mode.
That's not to mention the endless replay value that comes with the insane user created levels. Check Super Mario Maker 2 out for sure.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is here and it is very, very good. Featuring the biggest line-up of characters yet (hence the "Ultimate") it also has almost certainly the best single player 'campaign' mode of any Smash Bros. game to date. Also -- it's Smash Bros..
How are you going to own a Nintendo Switch and not pick up this game?
Splatoon 2 is very similar to the first Splatoon. It's barely a sequel in the traditional sense but, much like Mario Kart 8, that doesn't make it any less essential.
Splatoon's high concept is pure genius and extremely Nintendo. It takes the first-person shooter, traditionally a violent genre, and flips it on its head. You're shooting paint, not bullets. You don't score points for shooting enemies, you score points by shooting the environment itself.
I also can't believe how good it is. It doesn't even make sense. Everyone had a good ol' chuckle when Mario + Rabbids was announced. Then it was released and it turned out to be one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch.
It's Mario meets XCOM, which is to say it's a turn-based tactical role-playing game. Except you battle killer rabbits with laser guns.
Stardew Valley is the perfect example of why the Nintendo Switch is a game-changing device.
Here is a game that is perfectly good on all the platforms it's currently available on (PC, Xbox One, Vita, PS4) but on the Switch it's just elevated.
Because of the nature of the Switch (and how it allows you to just passively play while watching TV, or on public transport) it's perfect for a game like Stardew Valley -- which is the digital equivalent of knitting a scarf.
Actually all games are just better on the Switch. All of them.
The traditional words used to describe Dead Cells are "roguelike" and "metroidvania". Both common genres, but Dead Cells is a game with a unique conceit: you will play, you will die. But in Dead Cells you get to keep your upgrades and then restart with those upgrades, meaning you slowly progress through the game more easily as you play. Very cool.
A quirky 2D slasher game with a retro aesthetic. But here's the twist: The Messenger begins as a simple hack and slash game in the 8-bit style, but later you get to travel to the future, where the game evolves into a 16-bit style metroidvania.
Who wouldn't want to play one of the best video games ever made on public transport?
Dark Souls isn't perfect on the Nintendo Switch and, at this point, you could make a strong argument the best version is the remastered version on the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X. That being said, you can't play either of those on the toilet.
The creators of Thumper call it "rhythm violence". Goddamn.
It makes sense. Calling Thumper a "rhythm" game just doesn't cut it. It's more than that. It's just a pure, visceral experience that connects music to action in the most compelling ways. It's brutal. It's earth-shaking and just flat out cool.
Baba Is You is a puzzle game that will break every part of your brain. It's a puzzle game that forces you to literally rewrite the rules of the game in order to complete tasks.
If that sounds complicated it's because it is complicated. In a good way.
It's also the kind of game that will haunt you, sort of like The Witness. You will be thinking about puzzles while you do the dishes, while you're driving the car. You'll scream EUREKA. Then maybe break a dish or crash your car.
This game is dangerous for your health.
Kentucky Route Zero
A point and click adventure of sorts, Kentucky Route Zero has been released episodically since January 2013. Now it's complete and available on Nintendo Switch. Like many indie games, it makes absolute sense on that console. One of the most interesting and unique games ever made.