So. It's Christmas or your birthday or some other gift-giving holiday, and you've just been presented with a shiny piece of plastic with Mario and a number on it. Alternatively, an alphanumeric code has been printed or scrawled in a card. You ask your parents/significant other/gift-giving human what you're supposed to do with this, and they reply, "it's a gift card, you numpty."
Yes, this little piece of Nintendo-endorsed material is pretend money, and you can use it to buy real things on the Nintendo Switch eShop!
You can also purchase Nintendo eShop Credit for yourself, and we have a handy guide for Where To Buy Nintendo Switch eShop Credit, Gift Cards And Online Membership. Alternatively if you buy credit via our own code site and use the code 'XMAS10' you'll get 10% off your purchase:
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But... What's the best use of this money? What Switch games are worth buying given the rigid denomination you've been lovingly gifted?
If you don't already have a wishlist, or a game you've been wanting to buy but were $5 short, then perhaps we can give you some recommendations! Below you'll find a detailed guide to the sorts of quality Switch games you can pick up for the most common Nintendo eShop credit denominations.
Switch Game Suggestions - What Should I Buy With My Switch eShop Gift Card?
Note. We'd recommend clicking through and reading our review of each game for more specific information on each title. They're all great, but if you despise puzzle games, something like Picross will drive you up the wall, regardless of quality!
Switch Games Under $5
If you've opened up a gift to find $5 in gift card money, don't be disappointed — there's plenty you can get on the Switch eShop for just $5 (or less!). Keep an eye out for sales, because many games go on sale for 90% off, taking them down to a just a handful of loose change. Fantastic games like Inside, Unravel Two, and FAR: Lone Sails have all been less than 5 bucks in the past, and we'd bet money (about $5 worth) that they'll go on sale again. DekuDeals is an invaluable tool for keeping track of exactly what's on sale.
If you can't wait for sales, though, you can start with the games and apps that don't cost anything at all — Fortnite, Pokémon Unite, Warframe, YouTube, and Twitch can all be found on the eShop, and you haven't even cracked into the $5 yet!
As for games that are always under $5, we recommend:
- Among Us (competitive and collaborative social deduction)
- Doom (1993), Doom II, and Doom 64 (classic first-person shooters)
- Mom Hid My Game! (kooky, funny point-and-click puzzle)
- Downwell (innovative vertical shooter-platformer with a retro feel)
- Pan-Pan (beautiful little indie adventure)
- Bury Me, My Love (heart-wrenching narrative adventure about a Syrian migrant)
- Islanders Console Edition (a zen, Tetris-esque city builder)
Switch Games Under $10
A $10 gift card for the eShop can buy you all of the same stuff that a $5 gift card can get, of course, but now that you've upped the price a little, your options are broader.
Again, watch out for sales on games like Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch — a brilliant $50 game that can often be picked up for just $10 during a sale — and the excellent, goofy Katamari Damacy REROLL. The beautiful-looking and Zelda-esque Okami HD is also often under $10, whether you loved it on the Wii or you've never played it.
But for full-price, sub-$10 games, here's a handful of the best:
- Part Time UFO (underrated, adorable gem from the minds at HAL Laboratory)
- A Short Hike (award-winning, wholesome adventure game)
- Drawful 2 (the highlight of Jackbox's party games, a hit with friends and family alike)
- Oxenfree (creepy, mind-bending, mysterious narrative adventure)
- Picross S6 (it's Picross, an addictive number-based puzzle game — see also S, S2, S3, and so on)
Switch Games Under $20
Now we're starting to get into the beefier cards, and this one can get you some prestige indies. It's extremely hard to whittle these down to the best-of-the-best, so we recommend going onto the eShop yourself and filtering by price to see what's out there, because a lot of really good smaller studios price their games at around $20.
Still, we're up for a challenge, so here's our under-$20 guide by category:
- What Remains of Edith Finch
- Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!
- West of Loathing
- Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc Anniversary Edition
- Night In The Woods
- Tangle Tower
- Paradise Killer
Platformer / Metroidvania
Roguelikes and roguelites
Action-Adventure / RPG
See also: Best Nintendo Switch RPGs
See also: Best Nintendo Switch Strategy Games
See also: Best Nintendo Switch Party Games
But you can instead spend that $20 on a year's Nintendo Switch Online subscription, which gives you access to a library of NES games, SNES games, and occasional week-long free trials of popular and new games, too! You'll also be able to play free online battle royale-style games like Tetris 99 and Pac-Man 99. That's not a bad deal, especially if you're interested in exploring some classic retro titles.
You're bound to find something you enjoy in there! Good luck!
Switch Games Under $35
Again, take a look in the earlier suggestions to see a few games that you might enjoy, and keep an eye on sales — but for this category, you can get yourself some all-time classics, too, and even some bumper-packs of multiple games.
Adventure / RPG
- Slime Rancher: Plortable Edition
- Chicory: A Colorful Tale
- Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
- Ruined King: A League Of Legends Story
Roguelikes and roguelites
Party / Co-Op
Platformer / Metroidvania
Action / Shooter
Switch Games Under $50
You really can't go wrong with grabbing, say, one game from the under-$20s and another from the under-$15s, but if you want something beefier, here are a few more recommendations that cost a little bit more on the eShop.
For some reasons the currently available denominations for eShop gift cards go to $45 — the $50 one seems harder to come by — but these games are worth chucking in an extra 5 bucks for:
- Overcooked! All You Can Eat (a fantastic and frantic co-op party game)
- The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles (a two-pack of Ace Attorney prequels)
- The House In Fata Morgana: Dreams of the Revenants Edition (a 40+ hour visual novel that's widely regarded as one of the best)
- Bayonetta (all-time classic glam hack-and-slash)
- Disco Elysium - The Final Cut (intensely political, incredibly entertaining Dungeons-and-Dragons-inspired RPG)
- Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (retro-style platformer, the complete version of the original Shovel Knight)
- Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age (a colourful, easy-to-play fantasy JRPG)
Switch Games Under $70
Apparently there isn't an easily available eShop gift card in-between $45 and $70, so if you're a 60-year-old who wants to spend one dollar per year of your life, you're out of luck, sorry — unless you want to buy three $20 gift cards, that is.
But $70 is when we start to get into the real blockbusters, and the premium Nintendo-made games (which tend to go on sale extremely infrequently, unfortunately). There's a ton you can get with $70 on the eShop, so feel free to check out our "Best Switch Games Ever" guide, or find one of our "Best of" genre lists for a genre that you love!
If that seems like too much work, here are our ultimate picks:
- Ace Attorney Turnabout Collection (The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles + Ace Attorney Trilogy)
Adventure / RPG
- Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Link's Awakening
- NEO: The World Ends With You
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Complete Edition
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
- Luigi's Mansion 3
- Shin Megami Tensei V
Action / Shooter
Multiplayer / Party
Of course, you could also spend that dosh on the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack, which gives you all of the benefits of the Nintendo Switch Online subscription (NES games, SNES games, online play, free trials) as well as Nintendo 64 games, Sega Genesis games, and — if you own Animal Crossing: New Horizons — access to the fantastic Happy Home Paradise DLC.
Switch Games Under $100
Well, pal, this is... all of them. If you're lucky enough to get $100 in eShop gift cards, the world is your oyster! Buuuut, since you've asked us, we've put together some bundles for you that are sure to satisfy. Just pick the bundle that sounds best for you!
Stories to make you cry
- Hades + Spiritfarer + Chicory: A Colorful Tale
Murder and mystery
- Ace Attorney Turnabout Collection + Overboard! + Tangle Tower
Deep stories, big feelings
- Disco Elysium - The Final Cut + Night In The Woods + Oxenfree + What Remains of Edith Finch
- DOOM + Hotline Miami Collection + DOOM Eternal
Sprawling Fantasy RPGs
- Skyrim/The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt + Dragon's Dogma
Roguelikes and roguelites
- Hades + Slay The Spire + Dead Cells + Enter The Gungeon
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses + Into The Breach + Invisible Inc.
Play with friends
- Overcooked 2 + Drawful 2 + Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- Minecraft + Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Relax and zone out
- Stardew Valley + A Short Hike + Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- Celeste + Ori and the Blind Forest + Super Mario Odyssey
Sequels better than the originals
- Metroid Dread + Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Of course, this is subject to change, and extremely subject to the games you already have. The world really is your oyster on Switch, even if you're on a tight budget, so the suggestion above are really just a starting point.
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, 2020, and 2021. 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.