Skip to main content

35 best Nintendo Switch games in 2021

best Nintendo Switch games
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Picking from this list of the best Nintendo Switch games may be tough, but whichever option you select, you're near enough guaranteed to have a good time playing it.

From first-party staples like Mario and Zelda to essential multiplayer games to engrossing AAA and indie fare, we've done the hard work of playing lots and lots of video games to help you pick out the very best that the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite have to offer.

No matter what you're in the mood for, here are the best Nintendo Switch games to play now.

What are the best Nintendo Switch games?

The latest big Nintendo Switch game is The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD. This isn't a new game, since it was launched for the Nintendo Wii, but it's returned in a new remastered form. With new graphics and updated controls, it's a far better game now, and definitely worth your time if you seek adventure and puzzles and monsters to best.

If you want a multiplayer game that isn't like anything you've played before, have a look at Knockout City. It's similar to dodgeball in that you need to avoid getting hit, except rather than taking place in your school gym, you're out on the streets looking for sneaky angles through and over buildings from which to attack. And that's not even mentioning the power-ups you can use.

For platforming action, you should try Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury. The main part of the game is a remastered version of the already excellent 3D World, but the new expansion is an unexpected treat, offering a whole new way to experience the classic Nintendo platforming formula.

Speaking of Nintendo classics, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is also on our list, because it’s simply an incredible game that offers a huge world to explore, most notably by climbing everything, as well as a vast amount enemies to defeat and puzzles to solve.

If you want something more relaxing, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is arguably one of the best ways to shake off the blues. New Horizons basically gives you a whole island to customize and it fits the Switch perfectly as a game you can just dip in and out of, or plow hours into at once. 

The best Nintendo Switch games to play right now

Metroid Dread

(Image credit: Nintendo)

1. Metroid Dread

If you've been waiting since 2002 for the next 2D Metroid, or even if you're new to Nintendo's storied sci-fi series, you're in for a treat. In Samus Aran's highly upgradeable boots, your mission this time is to explore Planet ZDR, find new powers for your armor suit and avoid the deadly E.M.M.I robots that keep pursuing you.

There are all sorts of interesting story beats to find as you progress through the campaign, the culmination of the story that begin with the original Metroid. The gameplay is very familiar, involving lots of backtracking and secret hunting, but even if the template is old, it still feels great to play.

best Nintendo Switch games: Subnautica Below Zero

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

1. Subnautica: Below Zero

The next installment in the water-based survival series takes things in a much chillier direction. The new frozen biomes are a treat to look at and help freshen up the compelling scavenging/building loop that the game is built around.

Unlike the original, there are dangers both above and below water, so you'll need to stay vigilant at all times. Fortunately as you ascend the tech tree to improve your tools, shelter and vehicle options, you'll gradually feel like a master of the environment. While the core of the game is about survival, there is a more chilled-out "Freedom mode" for players who just want to take in the sights.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD on Nintendo Switch

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Originally made for the Wii but now available on the Switch, Nintendo's done more than just refresh the paint job with Skyward Sword HD. It's now made the game's divisive motion controls optional, making the game easier to control consistently and more accessible to more players.

The story, while nothing like the most recent hit entry, Breath of the Wild, is still an interesting look at the very start of the LoZ timeline, and features entertaining characters, tricky dungeons and a whole sky to explore. It's a good choice for new players or for those who played the original but want to try it again in a new refined form.

Read our full The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD review

3. Knockout City

best Nintendo Switch games: Knockout City

(Image credit: EA)

If you like dodgeball, but wish it had a few more power-ups, then here's your best Nintendo Switch game pick. Thanks to its free trial option, you can sample the game before actually putting your money down on a copy. 

Like the original game, the object is to hit others with dodgeballs you find around one of the game's several maps, and to avoid return fire and environmental hazards. You can enhance your throws with abilities such as explosives, anti-gravity and traps, or launch yourself or your teammates in ball-form for a surprise attack. Naturally, with this being a multiplayer-focussed game, there's a ton of unlockable accessories for you to customize your character with, making it a great alternative multiplayer obsession to the usual battle royale or FPS games.

Read our full Knockout City review

best Nintendo Switch games: Monster Hunter Rise

(Image credit: Capcom)

4. Monster Hunter Rise

You start off as an ordinary villager called to join the guild of hunters. However it quickly becomes clear you'll have more than you bargained for when signs of a new "Rampage" emerge.

Pick this best Nintendo Switch games member if you're a fan of hunting large beasts and upgrading yourself with the spoils from slaying them. New to MH:R however is the palamute, a cliff-scaling mount that can also assist you in the fight, the ability to ride and control other monsters while fighting them wirebugs, which gives new movement options to quickly turn the tables on your quarry. You can go out adventuring alone with your animal companions or join up with other human players online to take on the biggest and most dangerous predators.

Monster Hunter Rise won a "highly recommended" honor for "most rewarding challenge" at the Tom's Guide Awards 2021 for gaming.

Best Nintendo Switch games: Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

(Image credit: Nintendo)

5. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

A combination of remaster and expansion, this two-in-one package offers all the usual smooth, joyous platforming you expect from a game starring the spritely plumber and his friends. The twists this time around are you can play in co-op with up to four players, make use of the unique cat power-up, and the all-new Bowser's Fury expansion, which offers an open-world map for one or two players to gradually jump through.

best Nintendo Switch games: Heaven's Vault

(Image credit: Inkle)

6. Heaven's Vault

Heaven's Vault is an archeological adventure across an open world that tasks you, as researcher El, to translate an ancient language as you explore ruins across the moons of The Nebula. What makes this one of the best Nintendo Switch games is the freedom you have as a player, both in exploration and in translation. There are always several options to choose from, and those decisions pile up to give you different dialogs with the other characters, and eventually one of several potential outcomes to the story.

best Nintendo Switch games: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game - Complete Edition

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

7. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game - Complete Edition

After being unavailable for over six years, the beat-em-up based on the popular comic series and movie is finally on sale again.

Just like the series, you're tasked with defeating Ramona Flowers' seven evil exes in order for Scott to date her in peace. This being the Complete Edition, you also have access to the DLC packs that let you play as Wallace Wells and Knives Chau as well as the basic cast of Ramona, Kim, Stephen and Scott. 

best Nintendo Switch games: Hyrule Warriors Age of Calamity

(Image credit: Nintendo)

8. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

This prequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (another of the best Nintendo Switch games), shows us the world before it all went to chaos. Instead of adventuring around solely as Link, in this game you can play as all the kingdom's heroes as you take on vast armies controlled by Calamity Ganon. Alongside friendly soldiers and an optional co-op partner, you have to take to various battlefields across Hyrule, completing specific objectives in each area and smashing through waves of enemies with your special moves.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity won a "highly recommended" honor for "best Switch game" at the Tom's Guide Awards 2021 for gaming.

best Nintendo Switch games: animal crossing new horizons

(Image credit: Nintendo)

9. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the ultimate digital escape. New Horizons builds on the already addicting gameplay of Nintendo's beloved life simulator, allowing you craft your own items and rack up rewarding Nook Miles as you catch bugs, plant trees, interact with your neighbors and find cool clothes and household items for your personal villager. There's always something to work towards in New Horizons, making every moment feel rewarding as you build up the tropical island of your dreams.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons won a "highly recommended" honor for "best characters" at the Tom's Guide Awards 2021 for gaming.

Read our full Animal Crossing: New Horizons review

best Nintendo Switch games: legend of zelda: breath of the wild

(Image credit: Nintendo)

10. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sets you loose in a massive, gorgeous open world, where you can battle through dungeons, solve puzzles, paraglide around the skies or simply cook some food. Breath of the Wild redefines what an open-world game could be, with a truly explorable Hyrule in which every mountain is climbable and every hidden path leads to a new adventure (you can even bee-line it to the boss if you're so inclined. With memorable boss battles, tons of challenging puzzle shrines, a gorgeous art style and some of the most dynamic combat in the series, there's good reason many consider BoTW to be the best Zelda game of all time.

Read our full The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild review

best Nintendo Switch games: Super Mario 3D All-Stars

(Image credit: Nintendo)

11. Super Mario 3D All-Stars

Super Mario 3D All-Stars packs three of the most beloved 3D platformers of all time into a single, highly nostalgic package. This collection gets you Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy, allowing you to experience the evolution of 3D Mario games from the Nintendo 64 all the way to the more modern Wii era. Rounding out the package is access to the full soundtrack for every game, so you can rock out like it's 1996. 

Note however that Nintendo stopped selling this game on March 31, since the game was meant to be a time-limited tie-in with the 35th anniversary of the Super Mario series. This means it might be hard to find copies going forward.

Best Nintendo Switch Games: Pokemon Sword and Shield

(Image credit: Nintendo)

12. Pokémon Sword and Shield

Pokémon Sword and Shield have all of the addicting monster catching, battling and exploring that makes the series great while making some significant evolutions to Game Freak's beloved RPG formula. The game's London-inspired Galar region features the most dynamic environments the franchise has seen yet, with open-world-style Wild Areas filled with wild Pokémon that provide a real challenge for seasoned trainers. 

best Nintendo Switch games: Hades

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

13. Hades

One of the most multi-talented members of our best Nintendo Switch games, Hades is a punishing-yet-satisfying roguelike action game that has you strategically hack your way through a stunningly fresh take on Greek mythology. Every run through Hades is different, as you encounter new challenges and abilities while piecing together the kind of story that only Supergiant Games (Transistor, Bastion) can tell.

Hades won "best Switch game" at the Tom's Guide Awards 2021 for gaming.

Read our full Hades review

best Nintendo Switch games: fire emblem: three houses

(Image credit: ‎Intelligent Systems‎/Koei Tecmo )

14. Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is one of the biggest, most expansive entries yet in Nintendo's beloved role-playing series. Three Houses builds on the series' addictive, deeply strategic tactical combat while adding a new twist -- you now play as a professor, who must choose one of three houses and guide their students in both their daily school lives and on the battlefield. With memorable characters, large-scale battles and the first free-roaming hub world in the series, Three Houses is easily one of the best Nintendo Switch games you can buy. 

best Nintendo Switch games: super mario odyssey

(Image credit: Nintendo)

15. Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey is the plump plumber's most expansive and inventive 3D adventure yet, setting you lose in a series of brilliantly designed sandbox worlds filled with exciting secrets. It's a constant barrage of joyful discovery, whether you're taking control of a T-Rex or a stack of Goombas with your sentient hat Cappy or warping into a wall for some classic 2D Mario gameplay. Odyssey is accessible, gorgeous and wonderfully weird, marrying the pure fun of Mario's best 3D outings with no shortage of awesome surprises. It's easily one of the best Nintendo Switch games out there.

Read our Super Mario Odyssey review roundup

best Nintendo Switch games: untitled goose game

(Image credit: Epic Games)

16. Untitled Goose Game

The hills of gaming are alive with honking. Part stealth game, part prankster heaven, Untitled Goose Game became one of the internet's best Nintendo Switch games picks by placing gamers in the webbed feet of a despicable goose out to ruin the days of everyone in a quaint little suburb. While its amazingly simple controls may trick you into thinking it's going to be a cakewalk, the difficulty ramps up enough to turn this adorably-drawn puzzler into a true challenge. 

Read our full Untitled Goose Game review

best Nintendo Switch games: the witcher 3: wild hunt

(Image credit: CD Projekt)

17. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Complete Edition

One of the most beloved role-playing games of this generation (and arguably of all-time) has finally landed on Nintendo Switch. As its name suggests, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Complete Edition packs in every bit of content found in CD Projekt Red’s massive open-world adventure, plus all previously released downloadable content (including the popular Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine expansions). While The Witcher 3’s Switch port sacrifices visual quality in the name of playability, it still features the same massive world, gripping story with branching narratives and satisfying combat that make Geralt of Rivia’s third outing so memorable. It's one of the best Nintendo Switch games if you're not keen on Nintendo's usual family-friendly titles.

best Nintendo Switch games: celeste

(Image credit: Matt Makes Games)

18. Celeste

In a sea of excellent indie platformers on Switch, Celeste stands out as one of the absolute best Nintendo Switch games available. This pixelated, ultra-tight 2D sidescroller is simple yet immensely satisfying, as you'll use your jump, dash and wallgrab to avoid spikes, pits and all manner of spooky spectres in screen after screen of precise platforming challenges. Celeste's best-in-class 2D action is complemented by a touching and cleverly told story about dealing with mental illness, and the whole package is wrapped up in an unforgettable synth soundtrack that alternates between serene and haunting. If you own a Switch, you need Celeste -- period.

best Nintendo Switch games: Luigi's Mansion 3

(Image credit: Nintendo)

19. Luigi's Mansion 3

Despite being based around a ghost-hunting vacuum, Luigi's Mansion 3 most certainly doesn't suck. The latest installment in Nintendo's spooky ghostbusting series is one of the best Nintendo Switch games you can buy, giving you a toybox of new spectre-slaying tools to play with as you explore a labyrinth hotel that becomes King Boo's latest haunted mansion. With the addition of Gooigi, Luigi's gooey spectral doppleganger, you'll control two characters at once as you work your way through some of the most satisfying environmental puzzles the series has delivered yet. And with new combat moves such as a satisfying ground slam and no shortage of memorable, challenging boss fights, the actual ghostbusting is a blast, too. If you're looking for a breezy adventure game that's as clever as it is charming, Luigi's Mansion 3 delivers big.

best Nintendo Switch games: legend of zelda link's awakening

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is a masterful reimagining of the 1993 Game Boy classic, preserving the original game's clever dungeons and puzzles while wrapping it in a gorgeously vibrant new art style (seriously, has Link ever looked more adorable?). While Link's Awakening hews pretty close to the original game's overall structure, it does spice things up with the ability to create your own dungeons. If you're craving some old-school 2D Zelda action or just need something to hold you over until Breath of the Wild 2, Link's Awakening is yet another great Zelda adventure for your Switch.

Read our full The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening review

best Nintendo Switch games: Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics

(Image credit: Nintendo)

21. Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics

Clubhouse Games is a virtual treasure trove of classic board, card and sports games, packing dozens of titles you probably grew up playing — and some you haven't. From staples like chess, checkers, poker and air hockey to international hits like Mahjong and Shogi, Clubhouse Games offers a staggering amount of great multiplayer content for just $40. You'll find generic takes on beloved games like Connect Four, Uno and Rock 'em Sock 'em robots, surprisingly solid golf and bowling games, and a whole lot more. 

best Nintendo Switch games: super mario maker 2

(Image credit: Nintendo)

22. Super Mario Maker 2

Super Mario Maker 2 improves on Nintendo's beloved Wii U level-creating game in every single way, introducing a ton of new creation tools, a full-fledged story mode with 100 Nintendo-made levels and multiplayer options that let you play co-operatively and competitively with friends. New level parts like slopes, swinging claws and on/off switches allow you to get more creative (and devious) than ever, and a robust new set of online options let you work your way up the leaderboards as both a player and creator. Super Mario Maker 2 is already a great game now, and could serve as an endless supply of great community-made Mario courses for years to come.

Read our full Super Mario Maker 2 review

best Nintendo Switch games: super smash bros. ultimate

(Image credit: Nintendo)

23. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn’t just a great fighting game – it’s a love letter to all things gaming. The game’s massive 74-character roster mixes mainstays like Mario, Donkey Kong and Pikachu with newcomers like Splatoon’s Inkling, Metroid’s Ridley, Castlevania’s Simon Belmont and Metal Gear’s Solid Snake, allowing you to create ridiculous dream matches on more than 100 stages from video game history. Ultimate’s multiplayer options run the gamut from insane 8-player brawls to intense 1-on-1 contests, while its robust, RPG-like Spirits mode offers solo players plenty to sink their teeth into. Whether you’re looking for a great Switch party game or a tight competitive brawler, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate truly lives up to its name as one of the best Nintendo Switch games. 

Read our full Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review

best Nintendo Switch games: cuphead

(Image credit: Studio MDHR)

24. Cuphead

One of the best platformers of the decade is finally on Nintendo Switch, and it's as fun, beautiful and brutally difficult as ever. Cuphead marries airtight, extremely challenging bullet-hell 2D sidescrolling action with a delightful jazz soundtrack and hand-drawn 1930s inspired artwork that looks ripped right out of a classic Disney cartoon. The result is a crushingly hard game that you'll feel compelled to push through thanks to its satisfying shoot-em-up action and entrancing aesthetics. Studio MDHR's indie masterpiece feels especially at home on Switch, whether you're taking on the Devil and his cronies with a friend in local co-op or knocking out a few bosses on the go.

best Nintendo Switch games: astral chain

(Image credit: PlatinumGames)

25. Astral Chain

Astral Chain is one of the most unique and satisfying action games you can find on the Switch -- or any platform, for that matter. This futuristic anime adventure puts a unique twist on Platinum Games' signature brand of stylish combat, allowing you to create all kinds of crazy combos by controlling both your main character and and array of humanoid Legion companions in tandem with one another. Astral Chain's supremely satisfying fighting is complemented by detective missions, fun environmental puzzles, and a vibrant sci-fi world that comes alive with a thumping techno-meets-metal soundtrack and some of the best visuals of any Switch game.

best Nintendo Switch games: Streets of Rage 4

(Image credit: DotEmu)

26. Streets of Rage 4

A glorious comeback for the beloved Sega beat-em-up series, Streets of Rage 4 preserves the joyfully nostalgic action of the original games while masterfully modernizing things for a new generation. Classic characters like Axel and Blaze are joined by newcomers Cherry and Flloyd, as you punch and kick your way through Wood Oak City with up to four players locally or two online.

best Nintendo Switch games: marvel ultimate alliance 3

(Image credit: Team Ninja)

27. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a fun fan-service frenzy, allowing you and up to three online or offline friends to hack and slash your way through enemies using your favorite Marvel characters. The game's 36-character roster includes iconic heroes such as Wolverine, Captain Marvel and Iron Man as well as deeper cuts like Spider-Gwen, Elsa Bloodstone and Ms. Marvel, which you can mix and match in all kinds of fun ways with different synergy attacks and team bonuses as you attempt to stop Thanos from getting the Infinity Stones.

best Nintendo Switch games: tetris 99

(Image credit: Nintendo)

28. Tetris 99

Even Tetris has gotten in on the battle royale craze. Tetris 99 has you and 98 other players play Tetris against one another in real-time, clearing lines and sending blocks to enemies' play areas until there's one competitor left standing. There's a surprising amount of strategy here, as you can choose to attack specific players or let the AI decide who gets flooded with blocks as you frantically clear spaces. But most importantly, Tetris 99 is just fun, fast-paced Tetris, and you'll quickly wonder where the time has gone as you tell yourself you'll play just one more game. Tetris 99 is free to Nintendo Switch Online members, though anyone (including non-subcribers) can purchase the $10 Big Block DLC to gain offline play as well as new modes.

best Nintendo Switch games: stardew valley

(Image credit: Sickhead Games)

29. Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is a serene farming simulator that seems so simple, you'll wonder how you just lost three straight hours playing it. This laid-back role playing game tasks you with turning a messy field into a thriving farm, one filled with vibrant characters, gorgeous pixel art and no shortage of fun activities. Stardew Valley's many townspeople are charming and memorable, and whether you're meticulously planting crops for a big payday or are exploring the mysterious mines, it's easy to get completely lost in developer ConcernedApe's 16-bit world. And thanks to a recent multiplayer update, you can even enjoy the game with friends. 

best Nintendo Switch games: Mortal Kombat 11

(Image credit: NetherRealm Studios)

30. Mortal Kombat 11

The Nintendo Switch has become quite the formidable fighting game machine over the past few years, and the Switch port of Mortal Kombat 11 delivers a full AAA brawler experience that you can play on the go. Mortal Kombat 11 is absolutely dripping with content, including a robust cinematic story mode, a suite of online modes and a massive roster that lets mainstays like Scorpion and Sub-Zero mix it up with guest stars like Spawn and The Terminator.

best Nintendo Switch games: Splatoon 2

(Image credit: Nintendo)

31. Splatoon 2

Splatoon 2 is more Splatoon, and that's fantastic. Nintendo's vibrant online shooter gets even better on Switch, thanks to new weapons and abilities that let you dual-wield pistols, fire barrages of rockets and perform powerful-ground pounds as you race to cover the battlefield in colorful ink. The game's solo campaign serves as an excellent off-the-wall platformer, while the new Salmon Run mode provides a serious co-op challenge for you and up to three friends. And it's just an absolute joy to look at and listen to.

best Nintendo Switch games: mario kart 8 deluxe

(Image credit: Nintendo)

32. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a fantastic re-release of an already excellent kart racer, packing in all of the downloadable content from the original Wii U game and adding new characters such as Splatoon's Inklings as well as much-requested Battle Mode. Mario Kart 8's colorful courses look as gorgeous as ever, whether you're playing on your TV or taking the action on the road in handheld mode.

best Nintendo Switch games: mario + rabbids Kingdom battle

(Image credit: Nintendo)

33. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a bizarre, unexpected mashup that works exceptionally well. This turn-based strategy game sees Mario teaming up with Ubsioft's mischievous Rabbids to save the Mushroom Kingdom, setting the stage for a series of surprisingly tactical battles that let you chain together attacks and special abilities in all kinds of delightfully satisfying ways. The game's gorgeous, colorful worlds clash with the Rabbids' crude potty humor, resulting in a goofy, charming and strategically deep experience that's unlike any Mario game you've played before.

best Nintendo Switch games: hollow knight

(Image credit: Team Cherry)

34. Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight takes a traditional Metroidvania game design and mixes in a sprinkle of Dark Souls to create a sprawling 2D world that’s both exciting and formidable to explore. What starts as a game that has you take on the role of an insect-like being exploring a world full of sentient and feral insects, expands into a deeply engrossing adventure fueled by mysteries that unfold from conversations with characters, exploration and inference from the design of the overall world.

best Nintendo Switch games: No More Heroes III

(Image credit: Grasshopper Manufacture)

35. No More Heroes 3

Suda51's latest game is yet another demonstration of his inimitable talent for style and weirdness in games. Once again you take the role of assassin Travis Touchdown, with the mission this time of battling a series of alien enemies. The story does continue on from the previous two games, but generous exposition makes sure even new players are up to speed with what's going on.

It's not a game you'll want to pick up on a whim since the idiosyncratic nature of the gameplay plus a reliance on pop culture references will put off quite a few potential players. It's still worth a look however since it's a project with a refreshing amount of independent thought poured into it, compared to other staling genres.

Read our full No More Heroes 3 review

Richard Priday

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. He's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.