The Best Nintendo Switch Games to Play Right Now — Our Top 20 Picks

How many games do you think the Nintendo Switch has to its name? If you’re anything like me, you likely guessed a few hundred at best. You’d be wrong. The Switch has more than 4500 games in its library. You’ll never be without games to play, but how do you even begin to narrow down the ones worth playing?

I’m obsessed with my Switch, and I spend a fair amount of time looking for new games to play on it, so I’ll do the heavy lifting for you. I’ve selected the top 20 must-play Switch games, so you don’t miss out, or get lost in Nintendo’s endless catalog.

The 20 Best Nintendo Switch Games, Ranked

20. Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection

🏆 Best Fighting Game
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Back in the 90s, I obsessed over a Street Fighter NES cartridge I had. It only featured Ryu, Chun Li, Zangief (or as the game called him, Zangiel), and Guile as playable characters, and Vega was the one and only boss. 

The glory I felt when I finally beat him, after many moons, is unmatched — but so was the embarrassment when I realized the entire game was an unofficial and very much illegal copy. Whoops! The Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection will make it up to Capcom. 

The Switch has many contenders for the best fighting game, but who can resist 12 full titles rolled into one? Relive your childhood with Street Fighter (1987), the entire Street Fighter II collection, and the Street Fighter Alpha and Street Fighter III trilogies. Switch players also get a bonus game — an exclusive local tournament mode for Street Fighter II.

19. Subnautica + Below Zero

🏆 Best Survival Game
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Subnautica’s accolades speak for themselves. In 2018, it won the Gamer’s Choice Fan Favorite Indie Game Award and the Golden Joystick PC Game of the Year Award. Its sequel, Below Zero, may not have been as much of a frenzy, but its ratings are high across the board.

Subnautica and Below Zero have something for everyone. They’re excellent games with incredible storytelling and beautiful gameplay. Even though it’s a survival game at its core, fans of sci-fi and horror will love it too. Play Subnautica if you want to highlight the survival elements, and pick Below Zero if you want to emphasize storytelling.

They’re thrilling, exciting, and immersive in every sense of the word. Player be warned though, they’re not for the faint-hearted!

Honorable mention: I purchased Green Hell while it was on sale and was pleasantly surprised by its crisp detail and masterful voice acting. Give it a go. Fans of survival games will love it.

18. Fall Guys

🏆 Best Multiplayer Switch Game
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Fall Guys is the most ridiculous game I’ve ever played, but it’s so much fun. The premise is simple: You’re a blob person, competing with other blob people to be the last blob standing in a series of absurd obstacle courses.

Not much more needs to be said. It’s silly, it’s full of laughs, and it’s the perfect choice if you’re looking for a non-toxic online game to enjoy.

17. Warframe

🏆 Best Free Switch Game
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It’s difficult to categorize Warframe as one thing. It’s an action RPG, it’s a third-person shooter, it’s got open world areas, and both sci-fi and action elements with exciting storytelling and complex lore. 

Warframe is a great option for players of all skill levels, and you’ll enjoy it if you love the grind. You can even choose solo, co-op, and player-versus-player. Best of all, it’s 100% free to play (with optional in-game purchases).

It’s important to note, Warframe is easy to get into, but even easier to become addicted to. Once you’re sucked in, you might neglect your job and family, so proceed with caution!

16. Pokémon | ✴️ Nintendo Switch Exclusive

🏆 Best for All Ages
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Pokémon is the highest-selling media franchise of all time, so if you haven’t played any of the games you’re sorely missing out. The only problem is, which one should you pick?

Play Let’s Go, Pikachu! or Let’s Go, Eevee! if you’re old school and want to experience the original 151. Sword and Shield are my personal favorites. In my opinion, they’ve got the best music, characters, and design. 

Legends Arceus quickly made its name as the best Pokemon Game of them all and added a fresh spin to the franchise. The most recent editions, Scarlet and Violet, have unique open world mechanics and have the best Pokemon story to date, hands down. As for Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, don’t take the criticism too seriously. They’re great fun if you prefer the old mechanics and missed out on Pokemon’s fourth generation.

Players of all ages will adore what Pokemon has to offer, and it’s one of the best Nintendo Switch games for kids.

Honorable mention: Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a fan favorite. Although it’s rated E for Everyone, younger children might need help with the story and instructions, and may be frightened by some of the spooky scenes. It’s best for kids aged 8 and up, but supervision is advised.

15. Fast RMX | ✴️ Nintendo Switch Exclusive

🏆 Best Racing Game
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It’s no surprise Fast RMX is one of the highest-rated racing games for the Nintendo Switch. At first glance, it seems like any other racing game — go as fast as you can, and take first place. It’s so much more than that, though, and adds a few unique and refreshing elements to a beloved formula. 

Fast RMX is more sci-fi than it is a sports game, and in it, you operate an anti-gravity vehicle instead of a boring old car. It also adds the fun Colour Switch mechanic, which gives you boosts (or slows you down) depending on whether you’re blue or orange in the moment.

Fans of Fast Racing Neo will be pleased to hear Fast RMX includes all 30 courses and DLC from its Wii U counterpart, with 12 all-new courses for you to enjoy.

14. Deemo

🏆 Best Rhythm Game
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Deemo persistently ranks as one of the best rhythm games of all time, and for good reason. It’s not simply a challenge, or the road to rock or pop stardom — it’s a journey that perfectly intertwines music and storytelling.

Another standout feature is the music itself. Unlike most other rhythm games, Deemo doesn’t focus on rock, pop, or electronic hits. While a particular genre can’t be defined in Deemo, its music highlights classical or traditional-inspired styles. Most, if not all, of the contributing artists are Japanese and Taiwanese. It even includes tracks by some of the game’s developers at Rayark.

Honorable mentions: Floor Kids breathes new life into the genre, because you’re a break dancer, and the rhythm is your sick moves. Cytus Alpha, developed by Rayark as well, is a personal favorite with more diverse genres and interesting mechanics.

13. Raiden IV x MIKADO Remix

🏆 Best Arcade Game

When I first saw the trailer for Raiden IV x MIKADO Remix, I was taken back to my childhood like the food critic who tastes Remy’s ratatouille. It’s so reminiscent of classic arcade games I could shed a tear. If you ever played Raptor on MS-Dos, you must play this game.

Don’t go into it expecting a masterpiece — it’s a simple vertical scrolling game in which you shoot and blow up everything that flies in front of you, and not much more. Still, it’s great fun with cool music and the right amount of nostalgia for those who grew up with arcade machines. 

12. No Man’s Sky

🏆 Best Simulation Game
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Forget what you’ve heard about No Man’s Sky. It had a rocky start, but it entirely redeemed itself and is now one of the best space sims on the market. The question is, what makes it so great… and turned its tides so drastically?

For one, it’s not just a space sim, it’s also a survival game. Its visuals have been described as “stunning” and “breathtaking”, and it’s praised for the sheer amount of content you can enjoy. It’s a vast open world sandbox in which you can discover and explore numerous worlds, and you can also be whatever you like: fighter, bounty hunter, miner, trader, you name it.

While the story is simple and can be disregarded, No Man’s Sky has rich lore for players to become invested in, and you’re bound to get sucked into it.

Honorable mentions: Think you can do a better job of running Jurassic World than Claire Dearing? Take over InGen in Jurassic World Evolution and spare no expense. Make sure your guests don’t get eaten. What a PR disaster that would be!

11. Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

🏆 Best Strategy Game
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Sid Meier’s Civilization VI has near-perfect scores across the board. It also won Best Strategy Game at the 2016 Game Awards, Game Critics Awards, and National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards.

I’m willing to bet, even if you’ve never played this game, you’ve heard of it. It persistently ranks on best game lists and has been labeled as a masterpiece many times by many people.

Choose to seize control of the world, develop your technology, create a booming tourist hub, or convert the world to your religion — but it won’t be easy, and that’s what makes it fun!

10. Tony Hawk’s™ Pro Skater 1 & 2

🏆 Best Sports Game

If you were alive in the 1990s, you already know Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is arguably the most well-loved sports game of all time — and it defined a generation’s taste in music, something very few games have accomplished.

Its premise is simple — you’re a skateboarder, and the objective is to perform the coolest moves possible — but its gameplay is not. Creativity is required if you’re playing Career Mode or looking to score the most points, and button mashing simply won’t cut it. 

If this sounds too tricky, take it easy, practice or freestyle in Free Mode. It also has both local 2-player mode and online multiplayer leaderboards.

Honorable mentions: I’m bad at Rocket League but it’s given me many hours of fun. Mario Tennis Aces is a Switch exclusive with multiple modes including offline and online multiplayer, or Tournament play against the CPU.

9. Splatoon 3 | ✴️ Nintendo Switch Exclusive

🏆 Best Shooter Game

Another smash hit by Nintendo, Splatoon 3 is a third-person shooter in which you control a humanoid squid armed with colored ink. 

Splatoon 3 has various modes you can enjoy, including a solo story mode and online co-op. It even includes a card game called Tableturf Battle, in which players collect digital trading cards, build decks, and battle it out. 

The highlight by far is Turf War, Splatoon’s online multiplayer mode. In it, teams of four fight against each other and the clock to cover the most area in their designated color.

Splatoon 3 is, in essence, a paintball game, and you should give it a go if you’re looking for an unconventional shooter. It’s unique, chaotic, and amusing — and it has all of the charm we’ve come to expect from Nintendo.

Honorable mentions: Don’t care for the silliness of Splatoon 3? Crysis Remastered, the Borderlands Handsome Collection, and Doom are way more serious and typical to the genre. They’re also legendary games, so if you haven’t played them, what are you waiting for?

8. Portal 1 & 2

🏆 Best Puzzle Game

In Portal, you, a silent protagonist, wake up in a test center controlled by a spiteful, rude, and snarky AI named GLaDOS who forces you to solve a series of 3D environmental puzzles. Your only means of escape is a portal gun — a quantum device capable of creating and connecting two portals you can pass through.

Portal is a near-perfect critically acclaimed game and is considered one of the best video games of all time. Its only flaw is how short it is. You’ll almost certainly be left craving more. Don’t worry though, it’s bundled with Portal 2, so your wish is the Nintendo eShop’s command.

It’s safe to say Portal is the most refreshing and distinct puzzle game of them all. Play it to experience GLaDOS’s sass if for no other reason — but just a heads up, it might give you motion sickness.

Honorable mention: I love a good hidden object game and Artifex Mundi has developed the very best of them. A ton of them are available on the Switch, and each one is a sorely underrated gem. 

7. Animal Crossing: New Horizons | ✴️ Nintendo Switch Exclusive

🏆 Best Cozy Game

In 2020, when we were all in lockdown, the Animal Crossing franchise saw a boom in popularity, which says a lot about it. People were looking for something easy, comfortable, and nice to fall into to escape the crumbling world around them, and New Horizons took the gold.

It’s a wholesome, simple, and adorable life sim in which the goal may be to develop a deserted island, but players can make of it what they will. It’s meant to be calm and nice, and if you’d rather fish, befriend the critters, or build a community with other players, go for it! The world is your oyster in this game, and it’s a nice break from the chaos and competition gaming is typically known for. 

6. Inside

🏆 Best Indie Game

I had no idea what I was in for when I bought Inside on a whim and went in blind. I think you should do the same, so I won’t tell you anything about its premise. 

All you need to know is it’s an intense, bizarre, and unsettling 2D puzzle platformer. It’s masterfully designed, and its unfolding story will send chills down your spine — and stay with you for a long time after you’ve played it. 

Inside isn’t simply a good game, it’s a must-play, and even though it’s short and to the point, it gets a perfect 10 from me.

Honorable mention: Before Playdead developed Inside, they gave the world Limbo — another puzzle platformer you should play at least once. Limbo is spooky, touching, and has a dark aesthetic everyone will love — unless you’re afraid of spiders and ghosts.

5. Bioshock

🏆 Best Classic Game

Bioshock was so definitive in its day, some recognize it as the first video game to be considered a work of art, while many more acknowledge Bioshock as a turning point for story-based video games as a whole.

In the game, you play as a man named Jack who, after a plane crash, stumbles upon an underwater dystopia called Rapture. In a quest to rescue a benefactor’s family, he becomes trapped inside Rapture and falls into a sinister plot while attempting to make his escape.

Bioshock deserves every ounce of acclaim it gets. It has it all — a thrilling (and terrifying) story, interesting mechanics, hours of excellent gameplay, and a shocking end you likely won’t see coming a mile away.

Honorable mentions: The Contra Anniversary Bundle includes both the US and Japanese versions of the original series, as well as bonus behind-the-scenes content. You can never go wrong with Devil May Cry 3 and Resident Evil 4, and don’t forget Nintendo Switch Online subscribers can access highlight Nintendo releases from the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, SEGA Megadrive, and the recently added GameBoy and Game Boy Advance.

4. Skyrim

🏆 Best RPG Game

Say what you want about Skyrim, I couldn’t exclude it from this list. I’ve lost countless hours of my life to this game, and it never gets old. When I first got my Switch and saw it was available, I purchased it without hesitation — and I’m not complaining one bit. 

If you’ve never played it before, the gist is this: You find yourself about to be executed when the arrival of a dragon — the first one spotted in thousands of years — allows you to escape death. This propels you on a quest to discover why the dragons have returned, and along the way, you discover you’re more powerful and important than you know. Oh, and there’s a civil war you get to fight in.

Skyrim is a rich and vast open world you can explore your own way. While some argue Skyrim isn’t a true RPG because the main questline attempts to railroad you, you can ignore it if you like. You can even refrain from picking sides in the war. Craft, explore, learn magic, become an assassin, or a thief, or both… Skyrim feels limitless, and every playthrough will be different.

Honorable mention: Fans are raving about Nintendo’s exclusive Fire Emblem saga, a series of tactical SRPGs. Although each game is somewhat unrelated, their premise is the same: you’re caught in a war and become the main player, fighting for what you believe in. 

3. Metroid Dread | ✴️ Nintendo Switch Exclusive

🏆 Best Adventure Game

Metroid was first published in 1986 and the franchise is still going strong. The most recent addition retains the classic side-scrolling style as expected, but does an excellent job of streamlining it for modern audiences.

You play as Samus, a dedicated police officer turned galactic bounty hunter who keeps space pirates at bay. Metroid Dread kicks off with the Galactic Federation learning about a new species of deadly parasite, found on planet ZDR. After losing contact with the robots they sent to investigate, they enlist Samus to help.

So begins your adventure to a new world, where you’ll have to uncover the truth while trying to escape a hostile and unfamiliar planet. Metroid Dread is challenging, spooky, and exhilarating, and many believe it’s the best the franchise has to offer.

Honorable mention: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has made its mark with almost unanimous favor. You’ll play as an amnesiac Link, exploring the open world of Hyrule, as you attempt to save Princess Zelda and her kingdom from cataclysmic evil.

2. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe | ✴️ Nintendo Switch Exclusive

🏆 Most Popular

Would you believe me if I told you Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the highest-selling Nintendo Switch game of all time? You should, because it’s true. It’s no surprise. The Mario Kart franchise is legendary in the world of gaming, and the Nintendo Switch only made it bigger and better.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe adds more than a few new features fans of the series will love. New Characters include King Boo, Bowser Jr., Dry Bones, and Splatoon Inklings, and smart steering and auto acceleration improve the game’s accessibility. In terms of gameplay, players can now hold 2 items at the same time, and with the Boo Item, you can steal from other players and turn yourself temporarily invisible. 

You also get 5 new Battle Mode exclusive courses, and with the Booster Course pass, you can roll all layouts of a course into one. Best of all, Deluxe includes all Mario Kart 8’s DLC, and you can access it right away without the need to unlock anything.

Spiting your friends and family has never been this fun!

1. Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

🏆 Highest Rated

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom made such a splash upon its release, I’m 100% certain you saw it coming in at the number one spot. Critics and fans alike have labeled it the best game of 2023, the best Zelda game, the best open world adventure, the best Switch game, and one of the greatest video games of all time — and it was only released in May.

Tears of the Kingdom is exploration, experimentation, and discovery first, and save-the-princess second, though it doesn’t stray too far from the series. 

It begins with Link and Zelda investigating an underground cavern to determine what’s making the people of Hyrule ill. While looking for answers, Link is wounded and his Master Sword lost, along with Zelda who is torn away from him. As usual, it’s your job to discover the truth and rescue Zelda before it’s too late.

That said, you don’t have to play any of the other Zelda games to enjoy it — and you almost certainly will. The consensus is in, and Tears of the Kingdom is a masterpiece. 

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What is the number 1 best Nintendo Switch game?

Going by sales, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has sold 54.46 million copies, almost 10 million more than second place — Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is now one of the highest-rated and most acclaimed games of all time, although the Pokemon franchise is the best-selling media franchise in the world. Take your pick!
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Is GTA 5 on Nintendo Switch?

Not yet, unfortunately, but fans of GTA can purchase Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Collection from the Nintendo eShop. It includes San Andreas, Vice City, and GTA III.
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Is it worth buying a Switch? 

Absolutely! The Nintendo Switch is a versatile device, as it’s both a handheld and home console. Play games like Pokemon or Splatoon while on the go, and dock it to enjoy Skyrim, GTA, or Legend of Zelda on a bigger screen. The Nintendo eShop has frequent deals, and you’ll have access to Nintendo exclusives you can’t purchase anywhere else, as well as popular games from other developers. 

What are the best free games on Nintendo Switch?

The Nintendo Switch has a ton of free games you can enjoy. Our top pick is Warframe — a detailed ARPG and third-person shooter you don’t have to spend a cent on to play. Pokemon Unite is a great contender for a free multiplayer game, while Fortnite and Fall Guys are excellent if you’re a fan of Epic Games’ battle royales. Brawlhalla and Fallout Shelter are fan favorites.
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