Mario Kart 8 Deluxe delivers a huge amount of racing goodness right out of the box; a polished version of a Wii U entry that was only a proper Battle Mode away from being top of class. 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.
Originally released for 3DS (and PS4) in Japan, the cumbersomely named Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition is one of the best games Square has ever put its name to, plain and simple — and this Switch release was a fine port, too. Featuring a heartwarming, well-paced narrative supported by a cast of fantastic characters, a dense and interesting overworld packed with dozens of hours of content, and one of the finest soundtracks we’ve heard in a JRPG, it all combines to make this an unforgettable modern classic. Whether you’re a newcomer to the series (or genre) or a returning vet, do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy of Dragon Quest XI as soon as you’re able. This is the epitome of a gift that keeps on giving, and it more than deserves a spot in your Switch library.
New mechanics, monsters and a gorgeous setting make Monster Hunter Rise a new high-water mark for the franchise. The Wirebug, Switch Skills, Palamute and carefully thought-out monsters shake things up enough to make the game feel fresh for hunters who have previously spent thousands of hours with the series, and while the package could be slightly intimidating for newcomers, it's arguably the ideal place to get started if you're serious about getting into the franchise. And, with a peerless four-player multiplayer experience, the Rampage quests are a blast. Monster Hunter Rise is one of the strongest entries into the franchise to date, and another stone-cold classic for the Nintendo Switch.
Hades is a sublime mix of satisfyingly gritty and flexible combat, a wonderfully vibrant art style and genuinely fun and engaging narrative. Supergiant Games has an excellent track record with games like Bastion and Transistor, but this really does feel its finest hour, a rip-roaring rampage through the underworld that's arrived here on Switch in a port that's nigh-on perfect. Even if you're yet to be swayed by the admittedly repetitive ebb and flow of roguelikes, we passionately urge you to at least give this roguelite a try; for fans of the genre or anyone even remotely interested, this is one heavenly vision of hell that we highly recommend you sacrifice yourself to.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury takes everything that made the cat-filled Wii U original special and throws in various small gameplay tweaks to make it even more enjoyable. As the only four-player 3D Mario game, it fuses the freedom of the third dimension with the spirit of the tighter, more constrained (yet no less imaginative) courses from his 2D games to wonderful effect. Super Mario 3D World is a colourful and unintimidating introduction to a larger Super Mario world, and a joy for veterans of the Z-axis to boot.
The original game is sublime in its own right, but the additional open-world-y Bowser's Fury mode packaged with the Switch version makes this an essential purchase even if you 100%-ed the game on Wii U. The only real mark against the awkwardly acronym-ed SM3DW+BF is patchy online multiplayer implementation, but this Switch release is otherwise up there with the very best of the plumber's ouevre. Dog lovers should probably steer clear; everyone else, jump to it.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is not just a great sequel; in many ways, it outdoes Ori and the Blind Forest. The addition of more customization options, a greater focus on combat and a better-developed story (all in an incredibly beautiful game that's running at 60 frames per second) allows the sequel to comprehensively outshine the original. It might have seemed like a foregone conclusion that Will of the Wisps would also come to Nintendo's console, but it pushes technical boundaries far beyond the previous game and performance was shaky even on Xbox One X at launch. That it runs on Switch at all — and well — is utterly remarkable.
That's not to say the game didn't have instability problems when it launched on Switch, but even with those issues Ori and the Will of the Wisps was a must-buy for anyone with even the slightest interest. Following a patch from Moon Studios, the game is in even better shape than ever and we really can't recommend it enough. It's a supremely enjoyable platform adventure which everyone should experience.
There's an argument to be made that Mario 64 never got a 'true' sequel until this game: Sunshine's FLUDD muddied the waters with its feature set; the Galaxy games cleverly eschewed large open worlds for impeccably crafted planetoids designed around specific gameplay elements; 3D Land and 3D World were deliberately constrained with linear design to attract players of 2D Mario into the third dimension.
Super Mario Odyssey was a return for the 'sandbox' style of Mario adventure players had been pining for since 1996, and it delivers everything you could want and more. Cappy's capture abilities keep things fresh in an game which blends all sorts of mechanics and art styles into an improbably coherent, compelling whole. It really shouldn't work, but the mastery of its execution makes the realistic human-style inhabitants of New Donk City, the anthropomorphic cutlery of Luncheon Kingdom, and the big-eyed cute characters of Mario and his Mushroom Kingdom clan feel like they belong side-by-side in the same game.
Mario Odyssey is an utterly remarkable entry in this most celebrated of series and should be considered an essential purchase whether you like Mario or not.
How does this 'ultimate' version of Nintendo's scrapper stack up? Vocal concerns about past games were actively addressed, every single fighter from the series is present (even Pichu) and joined by an ever-expanding roster of DLC characters form the annals of gaming, 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 Masahiro Sakurai can possibly take this franchise next.
There’s almost nothing one can reasonably complain about with Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. It's an already-excellent JRPG that has been improved in nearly every conceivable way, short of a complete reimagining. On top of the fantastic story, enjoyable combat, and incredible world design, Monolith Soft has included an entirely new epilogue story arc while improving upon and polishing up nearly everything in the base game, from progression systems to visuals to UI design.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is easily one of the greatest RPGs available on the Switch. It goes without saying that if you were ever a fan of the original, or of RPGs in general, you absolutely must get this game for your collection. Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself a fan, we would still strongly encourage you to think about it; this is the standard against which all RPGs should be judged.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a landmark release for its franchise and Nintendo. It's the first time that Nintendo truly took on the open-world genre, and by arriving late to the party it embraces the strengths from top-of-the-class games while also forging its own unique identity. This game is a revolution for the series, but the Legend of Zelda essence is still there - its soul remains. The end result is captivating. After years of following the same old template, Nintendo bravely took the Zelda series in a new direction, and delivered an absolute triumph which still has us regularly revisiting its iteration of Hyrule over three years on.
No wonder we're so excited about the prospect of a direct sequel; Breath of the Wild forged a new and exciting path in a franchise that had been treading old ground for a while on home consoles and we cannot wait to see where it goes next.
Disagree with this ranking? Time to get rating your favourites, then - remember, this is a fluid, ever-changing selection governed by each game's Nintendo Life User Rating. Click the 'Games' tab at the top of the page to find all the Switch games and see about getting your favourite Switch games 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.
This article is one of our Switch Essentials guides which cover a wide variety of genres, including the Best Switch FPS Games, the Best Switch RPGs, the Best Switch Games For Kids, the Best Switch Couch Co-Op Games and the Best Switch Fitness and Exercise Games. We can also help out hunting down the Best Switch Horror Games, the Best Switch Racing Games, the Best Switch Action-RPGs, the Best Nintendo Switch Roguelikes, Roguelites and Run-Based Games, the Best Free Switch Games, and even Games to Play After You've Finished Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Whatever your favourite genre, we've got you covered: Strategy Games, Metroidvanias, Puzzle Games, Party Games, Online Multiplayer Games, Local Wireless Multiplayer Games, Shmups, Visual Novels, Fighting Games, Hidden Gems, 2D Platformers, 3D Platformers, Run and Gun Games, Sports Games, Beat 'Em Ups, Chill Games, Family Games, Retro-Inspired Games, Short Games, Card Games and Deck-builders, Flight Sim and Space Combat, Point and Click Adventure Games, and the Best Switch Exclusives, as well as Every Arcade Archives Game, Every ACA Neo Geo Game, Every SEGA AGES Game On Switch, and the Best Switch Collections And Compilations.
If you're looking for the best Switch games regardless of genre, our reader-voted selection of the Best Nintendo Switch Games should help you out, and you can also find the Best Nintendo Switch Games of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. And finally, if you're interested in other Nintendo consoles and retro games, check out the Best Game Boy Games, Best Nintendo DS Games, Best Nintendo 3DS Games, Best SNES Games, Best N64 Games, Best GameCube Games, and Best Wii Games, as well as Every Nintendo Switch Online NES Game and Every Nintendo Switch Online SNES Game.