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The Best Nintendo Switch Games to Play in 2023

All the best games you need to play on Nintendo Switch.

markserrels
markserrels
Mark Serrels
Mark Serrels is an award-winning Senior Editorial Director focused on all things culture. He covers TV, movies, anime, video games and whatever weird things are happening on the internet. He especially likes to write about the hardships of being a parent in the age of memes, Minecraft and Fortnite. Definitely don't follow him on Twitter.
Mark Serrels
nintendo-switch-lite-2
1 of 38 Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

The Nintendo Switch has a world-class library of games

Despite being a little older now, the Nintendo Switch is still arguably the best video game console on the market. With PS5 and Xbox Series X shortages still an issue, the Switch is the most easily accessible console out there.

The Switch OLED is our pick of the bunch, but the Nintendo Switch Lite is also available if you're so inclined. 

The Nintendo Switch 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.

Link falling through clouds
2 of 38 Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Following Breath of the Wild -- in many people's eyes the best video game ever made -- was always going to be nigh on impossible. But Nintendo has done it. A completely brand new game, with multiple quality of life improvements and some revolutionary departures, Tears of the Kingdom is another slam dunk. It could be even better than Breath of the Wild. Almost certainly the best game of 2023 so far.

metroid-prime
3 of 38 Nintendo

Metroid Prime

This is the game. The best video game. In 2002, when Metroid Prime was first released, it felt like a game air dropped from the future. In 2023, with this incredible new remaster, it somehow still feels futuristic. 

The upgraded visuals are subtle, but worthwhile. The all-new controls are simply phenomenal. For me, personally, Metroid Prime is one of the greatest video games ever made. It's so exciting that folks get to experience it all over again.

super-mario-odyssey
4 of 38 Nintendo

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.

zelda-cnet-2.jpg
5 of 38 Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Still the daddy.

Breath of the Wild was 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.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a legitimate masterpiece that strips back the open-world genre to its core elements and rewrites its DNA for pure adventure.

It's a world alive with surprise and dense with detail. An incredible, milestone achievement.

Three of the Pokemon in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.
6 of 38 Nintendo

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

It's not quite as good as Pokémon Arceus, but Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is still pretty damn good. It's a more traditional Pokémon title, and struggles on the aging Nintendo Switch hardware, but if you can get past those failings, you'll love it.

mariorabbids
7 of 38 Nintendo

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope

The first Mario + Rabbids was a shockingly good, massively successful turn-based strategy game. For a genre that's traditionally been quite impenetrable, particularly for younger audiences, that was quite the feat.

But Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope outperforms its predecessor in almost every way. It's legitimately one of the best new games released on the Nintendo Switch. 

A screenshot from Splatoon 3's trailer.
8 of 38 Nintendo

Splatoon 3

Splatoon rules. It's ruled since day one, and the latest sequel, Splatoon 3, is no different. Not much has changed in the series, but the high concept is still intoxicating. It's a first-person shooter with a twist: You can shoot your opponents, sure, but to win the game you have to shoot the environment. With paint! It's a great, slightly less violent entry point for kids. But it's fun for adults as well!

pokemonlegends.png
9 of 38 Nintendo

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Imagine Breath of the Wild crossed with Pokémon and that's pretty much Pokémon Legends: Arceus. It's the first properly open world Pokémon game fulfilling the wishes of many a fan. The visuals -- both the aesthetic and the execution -- are pretty lackluster, but there's something incredibly compelling about Pokémon Legends: Arceus. It's different, and a unique leap forward for the series.

super-smash-bros-ultimate-nintendo
10 of 38 Nintendo

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is very, very good. Featuring the biggest lineup 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?

mario-kart-8-0-0
11 of 38 Nintendo

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.

neonwhite
12 of 38 Annapurna

Neon White

Neon White is maybe the strangest genre mashup ever. A first-person speed runner with card-game elements, it's a game that shouldn't make sense on paper, but in practice it's already one of the best games of 2022. If you're looking for something extremely cutting edge, unlike anything you've ever played, you need to check out Neon White.

portal
13 of 38 Nintendo

Portal: Companion Collection

This brand new collection pairs up the first two Portal games into one collection. If you haven't played either of these games, head directly to your Nintendo Switch and buy them immediately. 

Both are peerless classics, but Portal 2, especially, is one of the best video games ever made. It might even be the best, period. A mind-bending puzzler with genuinely hilarious comedy elements, this is as good as video games get.

unpacking
14 of 38 Witch Beam

Unpacking

A game about unpacking boxes and moving into a series of new house and apartments doesn't sound like game of the year material, but it somehow is. Unpacking is brilliantly made and perfectly executed. It's also... surprisingly emotional. Get on it.

animal-crossing
15 of 38 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.

It's Animal Crossing time, my friends. 

swich-metroiddread-comsbroll-scrn07.png
16 of 38 Nintendo

Metroid Dread

It's not every day -- or even every year -- we get a brand new Metroid game, so we need to appreciate Metroid Dread for the unicorn it is. 

A continuation of the 2D Metroid canon that includes classics like Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion, Metroid Dread is a fantastic entry into a legendary franchise. It looks especially slick on the new OLED Switch. Get on it!

hollow-knight
17 of 38 Team Cherry

Hollow Knight

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.

obra-dinn
18 of 38 Lucas Pope

Return of the Obra Dinn

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 on 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.

hacp-auzp-scrn-bowserfury-007
19 of 38 Nintendo

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

In my humble opinion, Super Mario 3D World is probably the greatest game for young kids ever made. Particularly if you're a parent who 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.

luigis-mansion-3
20 of 38

Luigi's Mansion 3

Luigi's Mansion 3 was 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.

celeste
21 of 38 Nintendo

Celeste

Celeste is a video game that makes you want to lodge your controller in your TV -- in a good way.

Featuring incredible level design and flawlessly tuned precision platforming, Celeste is one of the best games of its type ever released. It's smart, charming and dense with content.

It's also perfect for the Nintendo Switch. You'll be hurling obscenities at this game on public transport, and you'll love every second of it.

into-the-breach
22 of 38

Into The Breach

A very good turn-based strategy game by the creators of Faster Than Light. An intricate, intelligent creation that demands problem solving from the player in interesting ways.

dead
23 of 38

Dead Cells

The traditional words used to describe Dead Cells are "rogue-like" 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.

image-2
24 of 38 The Game Awards

Hades

Hades, an isometric rogue-like from Supergiant Games, came out of nowhere in 2020 and was 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.

kirby-and-the-forgotten-land.png
25 of 38 Nintendo

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Ever wanted to swallow a car and then -- as a result -- transform into that car and absorb the abilities of a car? Boy, do I have a video game for you...

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a recent addition to this list. It rules. It's the first game to feature 3D gameplay and it might be the best Kirby game ever? Definitely worth checking out. A great game for young kids especially.

goosegame
26 of 38 House House

Untitled Goose Game

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 it. Untitled Goose Game has absolutely taken the world by storm. Even Chrissie Teigen got obsessed with it

But is it good? Yes. Very good. This one should absolutely be on any and all Nintendo Switch consoles.

baba-is-you
27 of 38 Nintendo

Baba Is You

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.

olliolli
28 of 38 Roll 7

OlliOlli World

The OlliOlli series has been low-key fantastic for years now, but OlliOlli World is its final form. 2022 was a fantastic for video games, and OlliOlli World was up there with the best of them.

Monster Hunter Rise Wirebug
29 of 38 Capcom

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.

eastward-announcement-trailer-2021
30 of 38 Chucklefish

Eastward

Enjoy games like Zelda: A Link to the Past and Earthbound? Of course you do. You're a reasonable adult with great taste.

In that case you have to try Eastward, a new top-down game in the vein of every 16-bit RPG you ever loved. It's slow-paced and takes a while to get going, but it's well worth the investment.

the-messenger
31 of 38

The Messenger

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.

Very meta.

pokemon
32 of 38

Pokémon Sword & Shield

Look, regardless of controversy, Pokémon is Pokémon, and Pokémon Sword & Shield is a good Pokémon.

Don't believe the online hype: This is one of the best games in the series. It's also great to see Pokémon being available on Nintendo's premium console. Definitely check it out.

super-mario-maker-2-doggo
33 of 38 Nintendo

Super Mario Maker 2

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.

zelda
34 of 38

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

It's overpriced, but if you love Zelda, and you loved Link's Awakening, you have to play this faithful, lovingly adapted remake. It's not perfect, but it gets the job done.

mario
35 of 38 Nintendo

Paper Mario: The Origami King

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-stylized mechanics and slick visual elements. It's all laced up with a self-awareness and charm that make the series irresistible to Nintendo fans.

Paper Mario: The Origami King is no exception. Well worth a look. 

mario-tennis-aces
36 of 38 Nintendo

Mario Tennis Aces

Mario is pretty good at sport. As is Nintendo when it puts its mind to it. Mario Tennis Aces gives us what we haven't had for a remarkably long time -- a good tennis game.

rocket-league
37 of 38 Nintendo

Rocket League

Football.

With cars.

Car football.

On the Nintendo Switch.

Rocket League is awesome. You know this.

mania.png
38 of 38 Sega

Sonic Mania

Sonic Mania is just...

[chef kissy fingers]

I mean, imagine being an adult, growing up with Sonic. They announce a new game, and you expect it to be bad because Sonic has been bad for like 20 years.

Then they drop Sonic Mania. A game that takes everything good about Sonic, preserves it and then updates it perfectly in a seamless modern interpretation that has no right being this good.

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