Cuphead was an absolute masterpiece when it originally launched on Xbox One and nothing has been sacrificed in its move to the Switch. A run-and-gun boss battler dressed up like a 1930s Fleischer or Disney animated short, it’s the same visually jaw-dropping, aurally delightful, knuckle-whiteningly difficult game it was on Microsoft’s console and the Switch’s library is all the better for its presence. Its focus on intense boss battles won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but as long as you know what you’re getting yourself into we can’t recommend it enough. Just look at it!
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.
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.
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.
With its amazing visuals, fantastic presentation, varied gameplay and deep, rewarding combat, Astral Chain could well be PlatinumGames' most accomplished game yet. It mixes detective work with exhilarating battle sequences that are inventive, challenging and – perhaps most importantly – breathtakingly cool. The complexity of the game's myriad systems may prove intimidating for some players, but the inclusion of a co-op play and the ability to automate many of the mechanics via the 'Unchained' mode means that even complete newcomers can still enjoy the ride. Astral Chain isn't just one of the Switch's stand-out hits – it's one of Platinum's best video games.
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.
There was a lot riding on it, but we can confidently say that Fire Emblem: Three Houses manage to live up to the hype and will stand as a highlight in the series for years to come. The expanded gameplay styles, retooled combat, lovable characters, and in-depth character customization hook you fast and are almost guaranteed to keep you engaged for dozens, if not hundreds, of hours as you come to understand this enormous game in its entirety. Fans both new and old won’t want to miss out on what Fire Emblem: Three Houses has to offer; this sets a new standard for what a strategy RPG can be and most certainly proves itself to be a must-have release for the Nintendo Switch.
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 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.
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.