1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
And lastly, the ultimate Best Nintendo Switch game is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Let’s face it, the Zelda series was long overdue for a major change, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild offers an unparalleled sense of freedom and scale in the palm of your hand. Now widely considered one of the best games of all time, Breath of the Wild tells an epic story, as you glide, cook, and battle your way across a beautifully ruined version of Hyrule. It helped reinvigorate The Legend of Zelda in a way that fans had only dreamt of, easily propelling it to the number one spot on our list and in our hearts.
Breath of the Wild also topped our updated list of the 100 best video games of all time. The sequel is officially titled The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and it's out on May 12, 2023.
2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is exactly what its name implies: it’s the ultimate incarnation of Nintendo’s now 20-year-old brawler series. It’s a celebration of Smash Bros. as a whole, filled with more fighters and levels than ever before, and packed to the gills with over 1000 more characters from all across gaming. “Everyone is here!” may have started out as just another tagline, but it’s one that Nintendo has impressively backed up, and it’s made Ultimate the definitive Smash Bros. game for a long time to come. Add a 20+ hour single-player mode with full-on boss fights and huge world maps and it’s easy to get lost in Ultimate. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate had a lot to live up to with that name, but it has undoubtedly done just that.
3. Super Mario Odyssey
A masterclass in 3D platforming, Super Mario Odyssey seamlessly blends the best elements from nearly every Mario game with an entire portfolio of new gameplay mechanics to create something both nostalgic and courageous. New players will adore stomping through the vivid and vast new worlds, while seasoned veterans will stick around after the credits to unlock the hundreds of challenges that await their skill and dexterity. To put it succinctly, Super Mario Odyssey is pure, sublime joy and one of the best Super Mario games ever made.
Elsewhere in the Mushroom Kingdom, Nintendo and Illumination debuted the second Super Mario Bros. movie trailer. Check out our trailer breakdown for a look at all the secrets and Easter eggs we discovered.
4. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Released on the doorstep of a global pandemic, Animal Crossing: New Horizons provided a much need escape to many, selling nearly 34 million copies to date. Routine and discovery play equally important roles as you plan the perfect layout for your island, make friends (or enemies) with all your villagers, and invite your friends to your own little utopia to trade items and swap secrets.
It’s brilliant in its simplicity and masterful in the way it encourages players to keep up with chores, redecorate and/or reshape entire plots of land, or burn dozens of hours trying to catch rare fish or find every last seasonal item. It certainly helps that all the writing is supremely funny and that, hundreds of hours in, you’re still able to chuckle at a random comment or find genuine inspiration in the places you’d least expect.
Taking a cue from many of Nintendo’s Switch editions of their long-running franchises, Animal Crossing New Horizons does little to completely reinvent the franchise, but it makes a great series even more accessible, more exciting, and more wonderful than it has ever been.
New Horizons is officially Japan's best-selling game of all time. Animal Crossing players can get even more out of it with the Happy Home Paradise DLC. Our reviewer Taylor Lyles called the expansion "a must-have for base game owners."
5. Metroid Dread
Metroid Dread had become a near-mythic game, a fabled DS entry that never saw the light of day by the time it was announced at E3 2021 as a Switch game. With nearly 20 years having passed since the last new 2D Metroid, expectations were sky high. Fortunately for fans, Dread met (and in many cases surpassed) expectations for what a modern 2D Metroid game could accomplish.
It’s easily the smoothest game in the series, running at a silky 60fps, and incorporates several new weapons and abilities the series now can’t live without -- the Flash Shift alone makes Dread feel entirely fresh. With high-production values, incredible game design that gently guides the player through ZDR’s labyrinthine corridors, and the most unflinching version of Samus we’ve seen yet, Mercury Steam hit Metroid Dread out of the stratosphere and brought the franchise back into Nintendo’s orbit.
6. Luigi's Mansion 3
Luigi's Mansion 3 is essentially a FrankenLuigistein’s monster of the first two games, a mashup of both that creates the perfect Luigi's Mansion experience. Charming, clever, and absolutely gorgeous to look at, Luigi's Mansion is 17 levels of pure ghost-hunting joy. Working your way through each of the haunted hotels may never extremely challenging, but the creative boss fights and deviously hidden collectibles will keep you busy for a dozen hours or more. The excitement of getting to a new level just to see its theme (TV Studio! Sewer Maze! Egypt!) is well worth the price of admission, plus the game opens with Toad driving a bus. Priceless.
Roguelikes don’t always appeal to everyone, but Hades has somehow found a way to win over even those with a distaste for them. Fighting your way out of the Greek underworld is a ruthless and challenging affair, but every failure is rewarded in a way that somehow makes them exciting in their own right.
Instead of just notching up each loss and moving onto the next, the moments between each run push Hades’ excellent storytelling to the forefront, giving you opportunities to learn more about its charming characters and grow close to them – as well as improve the prince of the underworld’s abilities and weapons. It’s that meaningful mix of progression and infinitely repeatable escape attempts (coupled with genuinely fantastic writing, art, and action) that make Hades as delectable as Ambrosia itself.
A sequel, Hades 2, was announced at The Game Awards.
8. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8’s encore on Nintendo Switch didn’t just keep the online community alive and added returning favorites like Balloon Battle and Bob-omb Blast, we also got a brand-new “cops and robbers” team mode with Renegade Roundup, all of the great DLC stages, and even some guests from the Splatoon universe. It’s not a new game, but one so good, it deserved to reach a bigger audience on Switch right away.
It's the best-selling Switch game to date with over 48 million copies sold, and there's still more to come: The Mario Kart 8 Booster Course Pass will add 48 courses to the game by the end of 2023.
Celeste is a surprise masterpiece. Its 2D platforming is some of the best and toughest since Super Meat Boy, with levels that are as challenging to figure out as they are satisfying to complete. But the greatest triumph of Celeste is that its best-in-class jumping and dashing is blended beautifully with an important and sincere story and an incredible soundtrack that make it a genuinely emotional game, even when your feet are planted firmly on the ground.
The developer's next game is Earthblade, a "2D explor-action game in a seamless pixel art world" due out in 2024.
10. Hollow Knight
Hollow Knight is one of the best modern MetroidVania’s available, using all the pieces that make the genre so great in the first place without feeling derivative of anything that came before it.
The expertly crafted map that is the kingdom of Hallownest has an absurd amount of paths to explore, bosses to fight, and secrets to uncover. That's all drawn in a somber but expressive art style that gives the adorable bug people who live their lives, and stories, of their own. It can undoubtedly be a challenging and demanding game, but what you get out of will be a reward worth far more than you put in.
A sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong, is now in development. It will seemingly be released sometime before June 2023.