Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a massive, sprawling JRPG built by Monolith Soft, who developed the previous two entries and the Baten Kaitos games on the GameCube. The team also helped Nintendo design the world of Breath of the Wild, so there's no doubting the pedigree. You'll explore a massive open world made up of Titans – enormous living creatures that house entire civilisations on their bodies. Along the way you'll meet a wide variety of characters, solve a bunch of quests, and save the world. It's Monolith Soft doing what it does best, albeit without shaking off the occasional flaws of the series. This is another Xenoblade gem, though, and a must-have RPG.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a massive standalone DLC, Torna: The Golden Country, that's also well worth playing through. It serves as a prequel to the events of 2, so you can play it before or after.
Splatoon 2 is just about everything you could ask for from a sequel. It builds on everything the original online team shooter set up and then some; almost every single major issue people had with the first game has been resolved, showing that Nintendo is genuinely listening and wants to deliver the absolute best experience possible. It maintains the freshness you’d expect and throws in countless big and small changes and additions, every one of them for the better. Anyone who says Nintendo can’t do online should be eating their words right now; Splatoon 2 is simply ink-redible.
If you’ve been craving an arcade racer for your Switch, look no further. Horizon Chase Turbo is a hugely enjoyable love letter to a gaming era when the cars were fast, the music was catchy, the action was smooth and the sky was bluer than an Eddie Murphy stand-up routine. Its enormous selection of tracks, addictive World Tour mode and excellent local multiplayer make it an absolute must-have for anyone even remotely interested in the genre.
Hollow Knight feels like it's found its natural home on Switch. The game's beautiful 2D world, tactile combat and impressive bevy of secrets constantly drag you in for more, and it proves to be as strong an experience on the move as it is on your TV. On an eShop that's already filled with top quality indie games, Hollow Knight is one of the very best; a big, beautiful, foreboding Metroidvania that's absolutely thick with detail. From its punchy combat system to its charming art and sound design, this is one of the finest adventures you can have on Nintendo Switch.
Celeste is an exemplary amalgamation of style, mechanics and character. A devilishly brilliant action platformer with enough skill required to excite genre purists and the speedrunning community, while at the same time featuring a breakdown of gameplay elements to customize and cater for all audiences. While the game mechanically is great, if familiar, the art style and narrative are truly special, showing both a visual and emotional range and depth that will resonate and inspire. Celeste is the absolute peak of personal exploration and discovery on Nintendo Switch.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe delivers a huge amount of racing goodness right out of the box, and it's a polished version of a Wii U entry that was only a proper Battle Mode away from being top of class. Now that issue has been addressed, what we have is arguably the best Mario Kart release ever seen.
It's the definitive Mario Kart 8 experience, content-rich and a delightful feast of comedic, cartoonish karting action. It's a game that continually raises a smile and, occasionally, induces that trademark Mario Kart rage as shells strike and positions are lost. It's addictive and unifying, unfiltered fun that draws in anyone daring enough to take up the wheel.
Put in as simple a manner as possible, Super Mario Maker 2 is likely to be the last 2D Mario game you’ll need. It’s Super Mario Maker but with more of everything that made the original so phenomenal. Enemies, themes, game styles, gizmos, powerups, the Story Mode having an actual story, multiplayer, the list of additional gubbins is truly massive when you take a step back. There are a few small issues here and there, but they're overwhelmingly dwarfed by the sheer joy and unbridled freedom that exceeds the original in spades. Realistically this game poses the question as to whether this is the future for 2D Mario as a whole. For any fan of Mario who owns a Switch – heck, for any Switch owner full stop – buying this game is an absolute necessity.
How does this 'ultimate' version of Nintendo's scrapper stack up? Vocal concerns about past games have been actively addressed, every single fighter from the series is present (even Pichu), the customisability is overwhelmingly vast and it’s all topped off with super-solid single-player modes to boot. We’re not sure how you could make a more robust or pleasing Smash game - Super Smash Bros. Ultimate truly is the ultimate instalment in the series, and it makes you wonder where Sakurai can possibly take this franchise next.
Super Mario Odyssey represents a shift in direction for Mario. For about a decade we had exceptional but tightly structured 3D series entries, but this new arrival’s building blocks go back to Super Mario 64. It’s a very modern take on ‘sandbox Mario’ - Cappy and his abilities are key additions that freshen up the formula, and we have a sizeable and diverse set of lands to explore.
In the second half and post-credits - in particular - it takes on a life of its own, showcasing incredible design and development flair. It’s also a wonderful showcase for the Switch, and would be a fabulous introduction to the wonders of Mario in three dimensions. For the veterans among us, meanwhile, it’s yet another special release to remind us of why Mario is still gaming’s number one.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a landmark release for its franchise and Nintendo. It's the first time that Nintendo truly took on the open-world genre in a current-generation sense; in arriving late to the party, though, it embraces some strengths from top-of-the-class games while also forging its own identity. This game is a revolution for the franchise, but the Legend of Zelda essence is still there - its soul remains.
The end result, then, is a captivating experience. This is in the running as the best game in the IP's history, and it is a leading contender in the broader open-world genre. Nintendo bravely took one of its biggest franchises in a new direction, and delivered a triumph.
Switch has had a dazzling couple of years in software terms, and there's plenty more to come! Disagree with this ranking? Time to get voting, then - remember, this is a fluid, ever-changing selection governed by each game's Nintendo Life user rating. Click the 'Games' tab above to find all the Switch games and see about getting your favourites on the list.
With so many games, lots are going to fall through the cracks. What are your favourites that perhaps didn't make this top 50 (yet)? Share your thoughts below.