Less than a year in, the $299 Nintendo Switch already has one of the strongest game libraries of any console. It's home to the best Mario and Zelda games in years, has plenty of great multiplayer hits like Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and is a goldmine of awesome indies and third-party games such as Rocket League, Doom and Stardew Valley.
So, what to play first? Whether you're loading up on games to play on the go or want to get lost in a big adventure on your TV, here are the best games to get for your Nintendo Switch.
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.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the Switch's first marquee game, and boy does it deliver. The latest Zelda game 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. Link's latest adventure is already one of the best-reviewed games of all time, thanks to its thrilling sense of freedom, beautiful art style and diverse gameplay.
Sonic Mania doesn't just recapture the joy of the Genesis-era Sonic games — it also improves on those titles tenfold. Created by hardcore fans-turned-developers, this 16-bit adventure evolves the wonderfully fast platforming of Sonic's heyday with cleverly remixed levels, gorgeous animation and some unforgettably wacky boss fights. Plus, with three playable characters, tons of secrets and both competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes, Sonic's big retro comeback will keep you busy long after your first time speeding through it.
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.
The Switch version of Doom retains everything great about id Software’s demon-slaying masterpiece – and lets you take it on the go. This port of the 2016 breakout hit features some of the most deliciously frenetic shooter gameplay of this generation, and has the same meaty campaign, robust multiplayer suite and scorching heavy metal soundtrack as its console and PC counterparts. It might not look as slick as it does on other platforms, but you’ll quickly forget about that once you start ripping demonic heads off while you ride the subway.
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.
If Amplitude and Doom had a baby, it would look a lot like Thumper. Described as "rhythm violence," Thumper has you guide a metallic beetle through increasingly complex stages in which you'll tap and slide along to a haunting industrial soundtrack while trying not to die. Thumper's menacing music and engrossingly trippy level design is unlike anything you'll find in the genre, and overcoming its unforgiving level of challenge is immensely satisfying. Plus, it runs just as smooth in Switch's handheld mode as it does on a TV.