best switch games lead
CNN  — 

The Nintendo Switch may very well be one of the most versatile systems ever released. From its innovative hybrid console/handheld design to its expansive collection of game releases, it’s been a crowd-pleasing favorite ever since debuting in 2017. And even more people joined the Nintendo family with the Switch Lite, a $199.99 take on the Switch that’s just a handheld. We think the Switch is a better buy than ever these days, even compared to the newer PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles.

But what about the games? There’s a little something for everyone on this diminutive system, from colorful platformers to sprawling, heartrending role-playing games with expansive worlds. And you can play a ton by inserting a microSD card for extra storage. Plus, you can play with friends by opting for online play with Nintendo Switch Online.

Exercise games, massive brawlers and even life sims where you feel as though you could jump right in and live an entirely different life — this system has it all. Whether you just picked up a Switch to enjoy this wide variety of titles while the world stays home during the current pandemic or you want to expand your library, here are some of the best Nintendo Switch games currently available for any type of gamer. Get cozy, because some of these games will keep you entertained for quite some time.

New Pokémon Snap ($59.99;

best nintendo switch games new pokemon snap

New Pokémon Snap is a fun new take on the beloved Nintendo 64 photography game, and a delightful shot of serotonin that we could all use right now. Like the original, this game lets you go on expeditions, take pictures of adorable Pokémon — from mainstays like Pikachu to newcomers like Scorbunny — and get scored on the quality of your shots while unlocking new regions and features. Capturing the perfect shot of a Pokémon in the wild is just as joyous now as it was in 1999, and it’s made even better on the Switch, thanks to handy motion controls and gorgeous visuals that make the Lental region feel truly alive. The game’s social component is just as addictive as the photo-snapping itself, as you can edit your shots with a variety of fun stickers and filters and then share them with players around the globe.

Monster Hunter Rise ($59.99;

best nintendo switch games monster hunter rise

Monster Hunter Rise is the most accessible game in Capcom’s beloved action role-playing series yet, notably adding some exciting upgrades. The addictive gameplay loop is still largely the same here — you hunt down increasingly difficult monsters using your choice of 14 weapons and get rewarded with increasingly cool gear as a result. But thanks to new features such as the Palamute (an adorable dog that you can ride) and the Wirebug (essentially a grappling hook), getting around and hopping into battle in Rise feels better than ever. It also introduces epic Rampage missions that have you take on waves of monsters at a time, and its gorgeous, expansive environments make for one of the best-looking Switch games yet.

Hades ($24.99;

best games of 2020 hades

Hades manages to take a notoriously daunting genre and make it both approachable and engrossing. This hack-and-slash adventure is of the “roguelike” variety — meaning that when you die, you have to start all over from the beginning. But every run still progresses the Greek mythology-inspired story, in which you’ll get to know some truly charming takes on characters like Aphrodite and Zeus as you attempt to make it out of the underworld. It’s also simply a fantastic action game, with an array of satisfying weapons and abilities that can combine in unexpected and thrilling ways to make each escape attempt feel unique.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons ($59.99;

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Escape the perils of everyday life by losing yourself in a new world on your own island paradise. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a laid-back simulation game that lets you retreat to a fun new home surrounded by animal villagers. Wake up each day and go fishing, catch bugs, pick fruit or craft some awesome new items to decorate your home with. Invite your real-life friends over for a stroll through your town, or keep it closed off so you can enjoy a stress-free facsimile of your own life, with 200% more hilarious animal pals. This is the first time the Animal Crossing series has ever been on the Switch, and it’s quickly taken the world by storm. Fall in love with it on your own when you jump in and see just how awesome island living can be. You can read our full review here.

Super Mario Odyssey ($38.88, originally $58.88;

Super Mario Odyssey

Mario’s very first outing on the Nintendo Switch is a globe-trotting adventure that has him running all over the world to stop Bowser from forcing Princess Peach to marry him. Mario’s got a new sidekick named Cappy, who lets the plumber take over any character in the game, for some fun new hijinks. Plus, it steps outside the Mushroom Kingdom to introduce dozens of new locales — like beaches with water made of soda and 2D areas where 3D Mario flattens out for some retro platforming — and does this all to great effect. This is the definitive Mario experience on Switch, and should attract a wide variety of players.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses ($59.88;

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fire Emblem meets the world of dating sims in this inventive new entry in the long-running tactical RPG series. It puts you in the shoes of a professor who’s assigned to teach one of three classes of students from rival nations the basics of combat in a bid to prepare them for the coming war. It may sound stuffy, but it’s the most accessible game of the series, offering fun social simulation and time management elements similar to those seen in titles like Persona. It’s an exciting and challenging game to take on the go, and the fact that it’s on Switch makes it all the better.

Pokémon Sword ($59.88; and Pokémon Shield ($59.88;

Pokémon Sword

Pokémon finally got two new core entries on the Switch with both Sword and Shield, and a slew of new monsters to go with them. It also includes a whole new region to explore and new ways to battle. Pokémon can grow to massive size by way of a new Dynamax phenomenon, and gym battles are much more like stadium events. It’s a bombastic, exciting new way to play, even for those who have been around since the original Game Boy entries. The future of Pokémon looks exceedingly bright with the cavalcade of niceties done to make things more convenient for trainers, not to mention all of the creative new monsters. Plus, a new expansion pass brings even more adventure and new Pokémon so you can catch ‘em all.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate ($59.88;

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate takes everything you’ve ever loved about this ambitious crossover series and pumps it up to 11. It features 74 characters to unlock and brawl with, as you beat Pokémon’s Pikachu to a pulp with Metal Gear Solid’s Snake or steal the show with Persona 5’s Joker after beating the pants off of Kirby’s King Dedede. It’s a collection of fighters and characters from throughout Nintendo’s storied history, with plenty of third-party title friends along for the ride. It’s the biggest, most exciting Smash yet, and even if you skip out on the multiplayer battles, its surprisingly deep single-player story mode will keep you busy for hours.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 ($49.94, originally $59.88;

Luigi's Mansion 3

Mario’s had years to shine in the spotlight. It’s time for Luigi to take center stage in a new adventure, and this fun little journey through a haunted hotel is better than it has any right to be. The first Luigi’s Mansion entry on the Nintendo Switch is a hilarious, spooky adventure for the taller Mario brother. Luigi has to venture into a haunted high-rise hotel and clear each level of ghosts he finds there with a special vacuum of sorts: the Poltergust. It’s not terribly different from previous Luigi’s Mansion excursions — save for the odd “Gooigi” companion that can assist you and Luigi throughout your time in the haunted hotel — but it’ll definitely put a smile on your face.

Super Mario Maker 2 ($59.99;

Super Mario Maker 2

If you’re a Mario fan, the allure of creating your own levels in the iconic platformer’s world cannot be understated. We had a glimpse of greatness at the concept on the Wii U when Super Mario Maker first debuted, but the game’s sequel, Super Mario Maker 2, lets you create bigger and better projects. Whether you’re a creative soul or you just want to play what others have put together, there’s plenty for you to tackle in this sky’s-the-limit title. There are hundreds of levels available at any given moment online to check out: self-playing platforming levels, musical courses and even fun nods to other Nintendo classics and game franchises. It’s an extremely powerful tool, and in the hands of seasoned Mario fans, magic is made. If you’re not into making your own levels, it comes packing over 100 levels in a series-first story mode to keep you entertained.

Snipperclips Plus: Cut it Out, Together! ($24.99;

Snipperclips Plus: Cut it Out, Together!

Ever play with construction paper as a child? Snipperclips feels a lot like doing that, but solving puzzles with it too. It’s a colorful, cartoony adventure that players of all ages will no doubt enjoy. As one of the diminutive paper characters, Snip or Clip, you’ve got to keep snipping away at your partner (and yourself) to solve each problem presented to you, whether that means being able to get a basketball through a hoop or reaching a distant item in the level. It may not be the simplest to figure out sometimes, but it’ll keep you and your partner entertained for hours.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ($59.99;

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the best we may ever get from the Zelda series, and that’s saying a lot. It takes some of the franchise’s earlier concepts and expands them with concepts found in modern open-world RPGs to create something bold, fresh and new. As you’re left to guide Link through a regressive vision of the kingdom of Hyrule to keep the villainous Ganon from wreaking havoc once more on the world, you’re faced with a series of quests and missions to complete. Each step forward through the gorgeous land of Hyrule is a real treat, and the expansive world means you’re always discovering something new, so there’s always a reason to keep playing.

Splatoon 2 ($59.99;

Splatoon 2

Staying fresh? You soon will be when you dive into the colorful world of Splatoon 2. Jump into this addictive adventure as a squid/human hybrid and start inking everywhere, alone or with friends along for the ride. Whether in single-player or multiplayer modes, you’ll shoot, roll and spray rainbow-hued ink using a variety of guns, rollers and bombs. It’s even deeper the second time around, with plenty of unlockables, customization options and players online at all times of the day to rumble with. Oh, and you’re going to love the soundtrack.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars ($59.88;

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

Super Mario 3D All-Stars brings the cream of the crop from the world of 3D Mario platformers together in one affordable package. You get three different eras of awesome Mario games, including Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy. These games alone will keep you entertained for hours, and now this collection is officially the easiest way to enjoy each one, since they used to be only on the Nintendo 64, GameCube and Wii, respectively. Now they can go with you wherever your Switch does.

Paper Mario: The Origami King ($59.88;

Paper Mario: The Origami King

Paper Mario: The Origami King is a colorful new entry in the inventive Paper Mario RPG series. It follows Mario as he works to thwart the evil plans of King Olly, the Origami King, to turn the entirety of the Mushroom Kingdom into origami figures. Explore the kingdom, rescue Folded Soldiers and fight back against bad guys, all while collecting hidden Toads, covering the world with confetti and collecting coins. It’s an adventure with heart that’ll have you laughing every step of the way.

Diablo 3: Eternal Collection ($59.99;

Diablo 3: Eternal Collection

Ever since 1996, Diablo has set the bar high for RPGs where you slash through enemies and loot them for treasure. Why change what works so well? This special Switch collection brings the first three Diablo games together for one of the most awesome co-op collections the system has seen. This particular version can support up to four players on the same system with just one copy of the game. Since it’s on Switch, there are also Nintendo-centric Easter eggs, like a Cucco pet, Ganondorf’s armor and even a Triforce character portrait frame, all taken from the Legend of Zelda series.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps ($39.99;

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is one of the most gorgeous takes on the Metroidvania genre, and developer Moon Studios knocked it out of the park when porting it to the Switch. Players take control of tiny guardian spirit Ori, who must jump, glide, climb and swim throughout a variety of platforms to rescue a baby owl, an adventure that spirals off into something mystical and beautiful. It’s a platforming adventure that’s smooth as silk, and an enjoyable diversion that fits absolutely perfectly on the handheld console hybrid.

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics ($39.99;

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics

The Switch is one of the best consoles for bringing friends and family together, and Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics is an excellent way to enjoy a variety of different games you might never have otherwise tried. There are 51 different games here, including backgammon, mancala, checkers, hanafuda, shogi, chess, golf and more. There are also some fun toys you can play with if you prefer to fly solo. There’s something fun here for players of all ages, and lots to learn about other cultures as well if you take the time to read through the tutorials and different presentations set up throughout the game.

Cadence of Hyrule ($39.99;

Cadence of Hyrule

Crypt of the Necrodancer and The Legend of Zelda are two tastes that happen to blend together beautifully. This top-down dungeon crawler combines the adventure and familiar characters from the Zelda series with the rhythmic action of Crypt of the Necrodancer. Groove along to a selection of remixed Zelda songs as you skip throughout dungeons, stave off monsters and solve puzzles. The collision of the games delivers a unique narrative and challenging rhythm-game elements that will thrill and delight any player. Whether you play as Link, Zelda or newcomer Cadence, there’s plenty to see and do throughout this music-centric adventure. Plus, you’ll find tons of new songs to start bopping your head to.

Pikmin 3 Deluxe ($55.99, originally $59.99;

Pikmin 3 Deluxe

Pikmin 3 Deluxe is the sequel to the GameCube adventures Pikmin and Pikmin 2, but this time it brings the adorable little aliens called Pikmin together to solve puzzles and create structures. This single-player adventure lets players control a captain who can command up to 100 little plantlike creatures called Pikmin. Using their variety of different abilities, you can explore a new world, fight against enemies, collect treasures and solve a variety of puzzles. The game is all about directing them to complete a variety of tasks, with each Pikmin bringing their own special abilities to the table. If this is your first brush with Pikmin, it’s a good place to start.

Ring Fit Adventure ($69.88;

Ring Fit Adventure

If you’ve ever wished to be able to combine gaming with exercise, Ring Fit Adventure is a great way to bring the two concepts together. It’s an excellent option for families who want to get in shape, because it’s just like playing an RPG, only with a special peripheral meant to help measure exercise moves. There’s even a gripping story, monsters to defeat and milestones to complete along the way. This is one creative way to make a fitness plan, and it’s fun and simple to set up. Plus, the entire family can get in on the fun, which only spreads the desire to get fit — and that’s something that should certainly be infectious.

Dark Souls: Remastered ($39.99;

Dark Souls: Remastered

The Dark Souls series is one of the most challenging of all time, and it tests just about anyone who decides to jump in. It’s been given a loving update with Dark Souls: Remastered, and on Switch, that means you can take it with you wherever you go. Much of the extreme difficulty in Dark Souls comes from the visceral and satisfying combat between you and the creeping terrors that lurch toward you in-game looking to end your life. The game might look slow and methodical, but you’ll have to keep your wits about you if you ever want to make any sufficient progress, and that’s part of the game’s enduring appeal.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 ($79.99;

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Monolith Soft’s Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is one of the biggest, most expansive RPGs you’ll ever find on the Switch. Take to a massive cloud sea where enormous creatures named Titans rule the skies — and make homes for the people who live on top of them. The last bastion of humanity has taken to living on the Titans, but they’ve started to die out as well. It’s your job to figure out what’s going on so that the symbiotic relationship between humans and Titans isn’t affected. This lengthy, complex adventure is exemplary in terms of storytelling, combat and keeping players intrigued. Play this installment, then check out the other Xenoblade titles on Switch. You won’t want to miss out.

No More Heroes ($19.99;

No More Heroes

No More Heroes was a franchise that began on the Wii but has now made its way over to the Switch. With the third entry in the series being released soon, now’s a great time to jump in and try the first two games on Switch. This hyperviolent, stylized action adventure follows assassin Travis Touchdown as he works to become the No. 1 assassin of all time (or die trying), all because he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s a rock ’n’ roll saga for the ages that combines hack-and-slash goodness with anime aesthetics.

Overcooked! and Overcooked! 2 ($29.99;

Overcooked! Special Edition + Overcooked! 2

Think you know your way around a kitchen? You haven’t seen a thing until you’ve been knee deep in sushi orders while your kitchen floods and breaks off into pieces around you. Welcome to the world of Overcooked!, a series that will challenge your ability to multitask, and your friendships. Assign jobs and trade off with co-op partners while working to serve a variety of dishes. That’s not all, though. You also have to do the dishes, prep the meals and cook everything just right. It’s all about working together, but sometimes that’s impossible when the entire kitchen has been swept away by the sea or torn asunder by cars careening down the highway. This set brings both the first and second games together for one addictive package.

Astral Chain ($50.99, originally $59.99;

Astral Chain

Ever wished you had an intangible fighting assistant that could help you in your day job as a space cop? PlatinumGames’ Astral Chain is a Switch exclusive that tasks players with joining the Neuron special police task force, working to infiltrate the Astral Plane. There’s been an attack by strange life forms known as the Chimera. What do you do? Hack and slash your way to victory while taking in the style Astral Chain practically oozes. If you love games like Bayonetta or Vanquish, you’ll feel right at home here.

Minecraft Dungeons Hero Edition ($29.88;

Minecraft Dungeons Hero Edition

Everyone knows and loves Minecraft, but Minecraft Dungeons takes what you know about the series and flips it on its head. This unique adventure lets you join up with an adventuring party to conquer randomly generated dungeons either solo or with friends in a Minecraft-inspired world. Become a hero as you slay mobs and uncover treasure. Best of all, you can invite your favorite Minecraft co-op partners to play with you, since this is another great game for all ages.