The Nintendo Switch is an immensely versatile games console. Besides its physical form meaning that you can easily play it on the move as well as plug it into your TV and enjoy it on the big screen, it also has a plethora of different games to ensure there’s truly something for every taste. With the 4K-enabled Nintendo Switch Pro launching later this year, there’s no better time to dive into the console’s best games.
That means it can be intimidating to know where to begin if you’ve just purchased a Nintendo Switch or Nintendo Switch lite. Fortunately, there’s one fairly foolproof way of knowing you’re onto a winner.
If the game is made by Nintendo itself, and therefore considered a first-party title, it’s almost certainly going to be a good game. That’s because Nintendo is the home of famous franchises such as The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario which are both great starting points for any growing games collection.
There’s also room for some different thinking too, with the Nintendo Switch fast becoming a popular home for independently developed games that may have once only proved popular on PC or similar.
When picking out the best Nintendo Switch games out there, we considered multiple factors. First of all, we wanted to seek out the best games to highlight how versatile the Nintendo Switch is and that will offer you the most fun at all costs.
We also looked at games that would be good for different age and ability ranges, ensuring there are titles that an inexperienced player can get the hang of, as well as someone who’s been gaming for years. Finally, we included a variety of different genres so no matter what your mood is, there’s something here that will entertain you for a while to come.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
The best Nintendo Switch games of 2021 are:
- Best RPG – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: £47.99, Currys.co.uk
- Best for kids – Super Mario Odyssey: £39.99, Very.co.uk
- Best multiplayer – Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: £39.99, Currys.co.uk
- Best platformer – Super Mario 3D All-Stars: £40, Ao.com
- Best puzzle game –51 Worldwide Games: £25.99, Currys.co.uk
- Best for families – Animal Crossing: New Horizons: £46.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best simulator – Stardew Valley: £34.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best fitness game – Ring Fit Adventure: £59.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best remake – The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening: £39.99, Currys.co.uk
- Best strategy game – Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: £16.99, Amazon.co.uk
‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’
- Release date: 3 March 2017
- Developer: Nintendo
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild takes a slightly different route to conventional Zelda games. Offering up a vast open world to explore, it feels near endless, allowing players to explore a land that includes more than 100 shrines full of puzzles and intrigues, as well as encounter strange creatures and beasts. Its sheer sense of scale is a truly wondrous sight to behold and it’s easily one of the most beautiful games on the Nintendo Switch.
Players can choose to pursue the game’s storyline or they can go off the beaten path and opt to climb mountain peaks and delve into the wilderness to see what they can find. Survival can be tricky given this is the first Zelda game to include weapons that can be damaged over time but a comprehensive crafting system ensures you can get back up to speed in no time. It’s a fascinating world that can easily soak up hundreds of hours of your time if you allow it.
‘Super Mario Odyssey’
Best: For kids
- Release date: 27 October 2017
- Developer: Nintendo
No Nintendo console feels quite right without a Super Mario game and Super Mario Odyssey is the best of the bunch. It’s another open-world style experience embracing what worked so well for Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine before it. This time around, Mario is able to use his hat known as Cappy to gain the powers of those around him, enabling him to be able to do far more than simply jump on the heads of his foes.
Experimentation is a valuable part of the game and it’s a lot of fun seeing how different events play out. Best of all, it’s possible to play the game in two-player co-operative mode so it’s the ideal game for all the family to get involved in.
‘Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’
Best: Multiplayer game
- Release date: 27 April 2017
- Developer: Nintendo
Keen to be a bit more competitive with your friends and family? Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the ideal way to embrace your competitive side while still providing a balanced experience for everyone. It has all your favourite Nintendo characters racing against each other in a series of karting tracks that are distinctly quirky and in keeping with the general Nintendo theme. A series of power-ups and weapons ensure that even the weakest of players still stand a chance thanks to some neat balancing acts by the game’s AI.
For those times you’re not playing with friends, there are dozens of tracks to play through with each offering secrets and clever shortcuts so you can shorten your lap times. Online modes are also available if you want to go further afield in your competitions.
‘Super Mario 3D All-Stars’
- Release date: 18 September 2020
- Developer: Nintendo
Whether you’re an old hand at the world of Mario and Nintendo or new to the concept, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a great title to seek out. It includes three of the biggest Super Mario games from over the years, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy, giving you the perfect grounding in Mario history. Each game is 3D based and more open world than traditional Mario with Super Mario 64 in particular redefining what many expected of the Mario name. Super Mario Sunshine was previously available on the Nintendo Gamecube and is a much underrated game with Mario exploring the isle Delfino for a tropical holiday that soon turns to ecological disaster, while Super Mario Galaxy has the plumber jet off into space for a gravity-defying adventure. Each game is ideal for all skill levels.
‘51 Worldwide Games’
Best: Puzzle game
- Release date: 5 June 2020
- Developer: NDcube
Remember as a child playing simple paper-based games on long journeys? 51 Worldwide Games harks back to those days but with a modern twist. It offers 51 games including solitaire card games, ancient board games, as well as some more fast-paced toy sport games too. Its sheer sense of variety ensures that it’s a lot of fun and far from overly simple, with options to play alone or with a friend.
It’s a change of pace from other Switch games but a delightful one that spans all ages. You’ll be surprised at what classics you may have forgotten about that this game reminds you of, with simple tutorials ensuring you’re up to speed in no time.
‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’
Best: For families
- Release date: 20 March 2020
- Developer: Nintendo
Animal Crossing: New Horizons provides you with cutesy escapism and it’s the ideal game to dip into on a daily basis. You arrive on an island full of talking animals and are instructed to set up home. From there, you can form your home into mostly whatever you want it to be, getting to know the other inhabitants and taking the time to construct new items or discover new creatures.
It’s an incredibly relaxing experience that doesn’t quite have set goals other than to be content. The key here really is to be as creative as you want to be, with the ability to set up a homestead just how you want it to look. The beauty here is that new events unfold each day with special occasions happening any time there’s a public holiday. You’ll be beguiled at how pleasant it all is.
- Release date: 5 October 2017
- Developer: Chucklefish
Before Animal Crossing: New Horizons, there was Stardew Valley and it continues to be a gripping experience. This time around, players must build a farm up from the ground, learning how best to tend to their crops as well as how to become part of the local community. It could be tedious but instead it’s positively charming and you’ll feel like you’ve achieved something each step of the way.
Besides tending to your crops, you can also build useful machines and explore nearby caves to discover valuable treasures. It’s all done in a cutesy manner but underneath the surface is a surprisingly rich and deep experience that can last a lifetime.
‘Ring Fit Adventure’
Best: Fitness game
- Release date: 18 October 2019
- Developer: Nintendo
Getting fit doesn’t have to be dull as Ring Fit Adventure demonstrates with style. The game comes with a ring that you hold in your arms so that you can perform more than 60 different exercises in a bid to traverse a virtual world. It sounds gimmicky but it’s surprisingly effective with the game broken up into more than 100 levels so you always feel like you’re progressing.
Each time you complete a level, you earn experience points as well as work up a sweat so you’re always moving forward, both physically and virtually. As with any workout, building a routine is key but the relatively short bursts of Ring Fit Adventure ensure it feels less like work and more like play much of the time.
‘The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening’
- Release date: 20 September 2019
- Developer: Grezzo
A remake of the Nintendo Gameboy game of the same name, Link’s Awakening is a far cry from Breath of the Wild making it a worthy alternative. This time around, action is from a top-down perspective with a cute mini Link negotiating the island of Koholint as he attempts to collect a series of instruments to awaken the Wind Fish and return to his native land.
Action is fairly simple with a couple of buttons to hack and slash your way through baddies. However, it’s the complex dungeons that will beguile you most with each of them full of puzzles to figure out, all while listening to a truly wondrous soundtrack. It’s a change of pace for sure, but puzzle fans will love the delightful linear world that unfolds here.
‘Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle’
Best: Strategy game
- Release date: 29 August 2017
- Developer: Ubisoft
If you prefer to take your time to think each move through, you’ll love Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. It’s Mario but not as you’ve seen him before. Instead, players participate in a series of turn-based battles with evil foes, across a grid-based layout that still captures much of the magic of the Mushroom Kingdom.
There’s a surprising amount of depth here with hundreds of lighthearted weapons as well as special abilities that encompass many of your favourite Mario characters. Co-op challenges extend the fun further as well as a series of puzzles that break up the action.
Upcoming Nintendo Switch games for 2021 and 2022
This year’s E3 conference revealed a bunch of new games heading for Switch in 2021 and beyond.
- Release date: 8 October 2021
The long-awaited sequel to the GameBoy Advance classic Metroid Fusion, Metroid Dread is a side-scrolling shooter starring intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran. The series is known for its intricate, looping level design and puzzlebox-style adventuring.
‘WarioWare: Get It Together’
- Release date: 10 September 2021
A collection of weird and unpredictable minigames, each lasting just a few seconds, WarioWare: Get It Together has you plucking armpit hairs from Greek statues, peeling off facemasks, squeezing tubes of toothpaste and rocking crying babies back to sleep. This sequel focuses on two-player action, offering users the choice of a number of characters with differing abilities.
‘Mario Party Superstars’
- Release date: 29 October 2021
The legendary Mario Party franchise is getting a remix on Switch. Mario Party Superstars will bring together 100 of the series’ best multiplayer minigames from as far back as the N64, but this time around you can play online with friends around the world. You can even save your progress mid-game and resume later on — helpful for Mario fans who’ve grown up and found themselves lumbered with adult responsibilities.
‘Mario Golf: Super Rush’
- Release date: 25 June 2021
Launching soon on Switch, Mario Golf: Super Rush sees a cast of classic Nintendo characters swinging their way through a series of inventive and colourful courses. Standard mode sticks to the basic rules of golf, but new additions such as a frenetic speed mode will challenge even veteran players of the series.
‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2’
- Release date: 2022
The upcoming sequel to the best game on Nintendo Switch, Breath of the Wild 2 (which is a working title) is set to be the console’s greatest adventure to date. A new trailer shown at this year’s E3 revealed more details, including floating islands reminiscent of Skyward Sword and the suggestion of some time-travelling shenanigans.
The verdict: Nintendo Switch games
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild offers the most impressive experience for Nintendo Switch players. Its sheer sense of scale is a sight to behold and it looks utterly beautiful whether on the big or small screen. You won’t run out of things to do for many hours to come here which is why we’ve made it our IndyBest buy.
Alternatively, if you want to lose yourself in the world of Mario then Super Mario Odyssey is a fine alternative. It’s a lot of fun experimenting with different skills and talents, and the world of Super Mario Odyssey is a joy to behold for all age ranges.
For discounts on games and offers on consoles, try the links below:
Nintendo Switch deals and bundles are rare, but not impossible to find. These are the best deals to shop in 2021
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.