This article is originally posted on April 3, 2020, and updated on January 16, 2022.
The Nintendo Switch has been out for 3 years now. During that time, Nintendo established an impressive library of games exclusive to the console, due to the several beloved series under Nintendo’s belt. From action-adventure games to RPGs, the Nintendo Switch has it all.
Today, we’re focusing on the cream of the crop. The best of the best. The finest titles are exclusive to the Nintendo Switch.
We have selected 20 of the best Switch exclusive games and reviewed them below, in no particular order.
1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020)
Animal Crossing: New Horizons might be the newest game on the list, but it has quickly earned a spot in our hearts as a must-buy Switch exclusive. The newest installment in Nintendo’s beloved Animal Crossing series features familiar characters like Tom Nook and Isabelle but also stands out from previous Animal Crossing titles for many reasons.
This time around, the player buys and moves to a deserted island, which they are tasked with improving. Previous Animal Crossing games were set in villages, so players now have more freedom when it comes to exploring and establishing their new town.
Players can build waterfalls, mountains, and even shrines. The game has also introduced a new form of currency called Nook Miles, which are earned by completing certain tasks and allow the player to buy premium items.
What makes Animal Crossing: New Horizons so different is that the gameplay is nonlinear, meaning players are given the free will to explore the island at their own leisurely pace. There are no deadlines, only fun to be had.
Perfect for: Gamers who like to take their time
2. Astral Chain (2019)
Astral Chain is set in the future, in a fictional world called the Ark after an alien invasion results in the destruction of Earth. The player takes on the role of a detective from the special task force and goes on missions to fight aliens with their Legion, a robot that helps the player see the aliens. The game’s title comes from the tether between the player and their Legion.
It’s not your typical hack and slash video game: the 11-mission game features twists and turns you won’t see coming. Aside from that, Astral Chain allows players to customize their character to their heart’s desire.
Astral Chain is a stylish game with depth to boot. It’s no surprise that it won “Nintendo Game of the Year” last year.
Perfect for: Sci-fi dystopian fans
3. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Xenoblade Chronicle 2 is massive with over 80+ hours on my first playthrough. I can’t say I liked every second of it but as a traditional JRPG fan, I did certainly enjoyed the game as a whole.
1 of the downsides of this game is the mechanics and all these features can be quite confusing as the game throws a lot f of things at you at once but once you managed to get past that stage then you will certainly love it.
There are a lot of various environments to explore which is great but prepare to grind your way for some materials or extra experience as monsters can be quite challenging all of a sudden.
Overall the game is solid and if you are a hardcore JRG fan then you will love this!
3. Xenoblade chronicles: Definitive edition
Before anything else, if you are wondering which game to get play 1st check our review comparing Xenoblade Chronicle: Definitive Edition and Xenoblade Chronicle 2.
Xenoblade Chronicle is a cult classic and like their previous games, the game is massive with ours and hours of side quests ranging from running around and talking to people to going into a den of impossibly high-level enemies to retrieve an item.
The game is also can be quite difficult I’d admit due to some learning curve but this is something you will learn throughout your playthrough.
The characters are also more interesting and the game is very story-driven which I really appreciate.
I have to really mention that Monolith Soft did a great job on this game and definitely this is 1 of the top Nintendo Switch exclusive games.
4. Fire Emblem: Three Houses (2019)
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a tactical RPG set in the fictional continent of Fódlan. At the outset, players are asked to pick one of three houses that represent the three nations in Fódlan that they will teach at. The player’s choice will affect the rest of the story.
The school setting makes up for the first half of the game. The second half of the game takes place 5 years later and focuses more on the battle.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses feels like a fully fleshed-out story and the world, which is not to say that it is dragging. On the contrary, players can rack up hours into the game just by building relationships with other characters and exploring the setting.
The heart of Fire Emblem: Three Houses lies in its characters, who each have their own backstories that you uncover as you get to know them. In fact, making the wrong moves during battle can get a character killed and removed from the story altogether, which raises the stakes considerably.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is more than just a tactical RPG game. It’s a tactical game with a lot of heart.
Perfect for: Tactical RPG fans
5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2019)
When you hear about switch exclusive games this next title is the most awaited and successful game out there.
Having 17.4 million copies sold worldwide, it’s no wonder that it has a score of 97 on Metacritic.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an open-world, nonlinear game set at the end of the Zelda series. Link awakens after 100 years to discover that Hyrule is in chaos: monsters have overtaken the kingdom, sending mankind into hiding. It is up to Link to save the kingdom.
Breath of the Wild breathes so much life into the Legend of Zelda series, which had begun to feel formulaic. (No pun intended.)
In Breath of the Wild, players aren’t spoonfed with objectives but given just the right amount of guidance while still given the freedom to explore the breathtaking scenery of Hyrule. In addition, there’s more than one way to solve problems in the game, encouraging creativity and experimentation.
A better title for Breath of the Wild would be Breath of Fresh Air because that’s exactly what the game is. (Pun intended.)
Perfect for: Open world game fans and Zelda series fans
6. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (2019)
Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are sure to get a kick out of this huge crossover game with a plot similar to the last two Avengers movies. Thanos is back and seeking the Infinity Stones yet again, but this time he is joined by the Black Order, a group of supervillains who work under him. It’s up to the Avengers to stop them.
Players can choose from over 30 Marvel characters to form their foursome, but many other characters show up throughout the game. Aside from fan-favorites like Captain America and Spider-Man, other playable characters include Luke Cage and Scarlet Witch.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is an ambitious crossover event reminiscent of the Avengers movies, and like the Avengers movies, it is best experienced with family and friends.
Perfect for: Marvel Universe fans
7. Pokemon Sword and Shield (2019)
Pokemon Sword and Shield follow the same premise as other Pokemon games: you try to become a Pokemon master by capturing and training more Pokemon and defeating other trainers.
There are also many significant changes in Sword and Shield that merit some praise. For example, players are no longer caught by surprise when walking through tall grass. This time, it is the player who must initiate the battle by walking towards the wild Pokemon. There’s also a new move called Dynamax and more intricate player customization.
However, Pokemon Sword and Shield do not come without their downsides. The Pokedex is noticeably smaller than it was before, resulting in criticism from long-time fans known as Dexit.
Still, Pokemon Sword and Shield is a well-made addition to the Pokemon franchise.
Perfect for: Pokemon fans
8. Super Mario Odyssey (2017)
We couldn’t make this list without including at least one Mario game. While the core of Super Mario Odyssey may be in line with previous Super Mario installments, with Mario having to rescue his damsel-in-distress Princess Peach from the hands of Bowser, the game has proven itself to be one of the strongest titles in the Super Mario franchise.
Mario’s mission, aside from rescuing Peach, is to collect enough moons to power a ship called Odyssey to travel to other “Kingdoms”. These different worlds are a mix of old and new. Some levels are set in the flat, 2D style of vintage Mario games, while other levels include a replica of New York City called New Donk City.
Mario’s hat, Cappy, also comes to life and helps him throughout his journey, giving Mario powers that enable him to possess other characters.
Super Mario Odyssey has plenty to offer old and new fans alike. The callbacks to previous games are charming instead of cheap, while the new features enhance the gameplay. The folks at Nintendo have done it again because this one is a must-try.
Perfect for: Fans of sandbox-style games
9. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018)
Imagine Isabelle from Animal Crossing duking it out with Cloud from Final Fantasy. Well, you don’t have to imagine anymore, because Super Smash Bros. Ultimate exists. Over 80 characters from various Nintendo games come together in this crossover event to brawl, and it is a pleasure to watch.
The game follows a straightforward premise: players must knock each other out of the arena in order to win. There’s also a single-player adventure mode where the player must rescue other Smash Bros. characters who have been captured by an evil entity named Galeem.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lives up to its name. It feels like a complete history of Nintendo’s games and also so much more. It’s the long-awaited sequel that lived up to the hype.
Perfect for: Hardcore Nintendo fans
10. The Touryst (2019)
The Touryst is a strange little gem. It’s not confined to one genre, but rather it takes elements from several existing genres and utilizes them in a way that makes the game feel very new and exciting. In addition, the graphics are simple yet crisp.
In The Touryst, players control an unnamed tourist who visits an archipelago of tropical islands. There’s a lot to do on these islands, including scuba diving and going to jazz clubs, but the main quest involves the ancient alien ruins on the islands.
You cannot unlock a new island until you’ve completed the current island’s challenges. Players encounter a mix of puzzles, platform levels, and minigames throughout the game. Each island comes with its own unique theme, so it never gets boring.
The Touryst is a solid and entertaining adventure game that deserves more love.
Perfect for: Fans of StarTropics and The Legend of Zelda games
11. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (2017)
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a joint project by Nintendo and Ubisoft, starring two of their most popular franchises: Nintendo’s Mario and Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids.
It’s possibly one of the most random collaborations in video game history, but somehow it just works. In Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Mario and co (Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi) are joined by four Rabbids dressed like them as they defeat the evil Rabbids who have taken over the Mushroom Kingdom.
It’s a turn-based strategy game with perfectly streamlined combat mechanics, a light-hearted game atmosphere, and a funny story. The levels also get surprisingly challenging as you progress throughout the game.
For a game that no one saw coming, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle sure hits all the marks.
Perfect for: Turn-based strategy gamers
12. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (2019)
If you ask us, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is the perfect introduction to the ever-expanding Legend of Zelda universe. It’s a lot easier than other Legend of Zelda Games and offers lots of guidance, so kids will be able to enjoy this game as much as older Legend of Zelda fans. The youthful art style is also a delight.
In Link’s Awakening, our hero Link finds himself stranded on a mysterious island, where he must collect eight instruments in order to escape. Along the way, players can complete side quests and battle monsters.
Link’s Awakening is more than just a faithful remake of the 1993 classic, it is also a classic Link adventure that would capture the hearts of any young gamer.
Link’s Awakening is also available on the Nintendo 3DS, but it’s significantly more fun to play on the Switch.
Perfect for: Young gamers
13. Luigi’s Mansion 3 (2019)
Luigi’s Mansion 3 follows Luigi as he attempts to rescue his friends after they are held captive in a haunted hotel. He sets out to capture ghosts with the help of his trusty Poltergust and Gooigi, a Luigi clone made out of green go who can enter vents and gaps.
The six-year wait for this game was completely worth it. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is more open-ended than its predecessors, allowing Luigi to explore the hotel to his heart’s content. In addition, the Poltergust is equipped with more useful functions. Gooigi is such a neat companion to play alongside too.
The game is more silly than scary, with a lot of variety to offer. It’s definitely got us excited for the next Luigi-fronted game.
Perfect for: Slapstick comedy fans
14. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (2017)
The Mario Kart franchise has always been a staple for owners of Nintendo consoles, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a good reminder of that. It’s an expanded version of the original Mario Kart 8, which was originally released on the Wii U back in 2014.
This expanded version enhances the original and more. There are 6 new playable characters, 8 new arenas, new racing suits, and additional kart parts. The multiplayer mode is better than ever, specifically the battle mode, and the graphics are polished.
The latest Mario Kart installment just might be the finest one yet. It’s no wonder why it’s the best-selling Switch game of all time.
Perfect for: Slapstick comedy fans
15. Pokemon: let’s go, pikachu! and Eevee! (2018)
Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! is the kind of game that will appeal to old and new fans alike. It is a well-crafted remake that incorporates new elements into the game without losing the core essence that made Pokemon Yellow (the 1998 original) special.
Perhaps the biggest change in Pokemon: Let’s Go comes in the new, simplified way players can capture wild Pokemon. If you’ve ever played Pokemon Go, the spin-off mobile app that shook the world in 2016, then you will recognize the new system for catching wild Pokemon. Instead of the traditional Pokemon battles, players simply use Poke Balls to capture wild Pokemon. Additional features include the ability to ride certain Pokemon and outfit customization options.
Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! is a good introduction game for young Pokemon fans.
Perfect for: Young Pokemon fans
16. Good Job! (2020)
Good Job! has the kind of wacky premise that guarantees a good time: you’re the son of a CEO who’s trying to climb up the corporate ladder by completing office tasks through extreme, destructive measures.
Said measures include flinging projectors through walls, using slingshots to send packages flying across the room, and drenching your coworkers with a firehose.
The design of this game is simple, with no dialogue and bright colors. The deranged possibilities are where the game truly shines. Each level in a Good Job! is graded based on the speed and the neatness with which you completed the level, which means you will have to sacrifice speed if you don’t want to damage the office. On the other hand, the game also rewards you for getting things done in record time, even if you destroy half of the office equipment.
Play it however you want to play it, but Good Job! is at its most fun when you’re wreaking havoc in the office and terrorizing your poor coworkers. Getting a bad grade doesn’t matter. After all, you’re the CEO’s son.
Good Job! is a hilarious tale and an excellent couch co-op.
Perfect for: Fans of quirky games
17. Kirby Star Allies
Kirby Star Allies developed by HAL Laboratory is the first Kirby game released for Nintendo Switch. It has a sci-fi storyline where it involves planets, galaxies, superpowers, Dreamland, and magic.
The story started with a priest named Hyness, the evil one using his magic to start a ritual to break the seal of the Jamba heart and threaten Planet Popstar. Something went wrong with the ritual which shattered the Jamba Heart and its shards went flying throughout the galaxy.
Many of these pieces or shards fell down the Dream Land where Kirby lived and from there the game is on the players where they control the adventures of Kirby. Other characters such as King Dedede, Poppy Bros. Jr, and Meta Knight just made the gameplay even more interesting.
Kirby also has the ability to create Friend Hearts which turn anyone he touches into a friend by using the X button. Cute, right?! Kirby still has his usual moves like the Star Spit, Slide Attack, Inhale, floating, and Air Gun. Its objective is to get to the end of each stage using the Copy Abilities. Up to three players can join in and out of the game anytime. Abilities can also be combined with elements such as fire or ice to create new friend abilities.
Kirby can defeat enemies that stand in his way by taking advantage of their elemental weakness. Cool! My kids love to play this game because basically, it’s all about saving the world from the clutches of the enemies which make them feel like superheroes every after the game. Well, it’s not just them actually but also me so. It’s a family thing!
18. Yoshi’s Crafted World
Yoshi, one of the characters of the ever-popular old-school game Super Mario, has become popular since his debut in Super Mario World decades ago. The green dinosaur now has made cuter and fuzzier in the new Nintendo Switch adventure where Yoshi can be dressed up with various papercraft costumes.
With the use of coins that were collected, you can spend them on buying eggs that contain different looks for Yoshi not just for the sake of fashion and style it can also serve as his armor to combat the enemies. He can jump, pound the ground, and uses his long tongue to eat enemies and turn them into eggs.
There are simple and fun to play short levels across various themed worlds. A very pleasant and relaxing game where you just take challenges and invent designs structured like most Super Mario games where you clear out enemies, collect smiling flowers and hidden souvenirs. If you want to play a particular stage to continue searching for hidden items or collect coins, you can do so because each stage is replayable.
Amazing, isn’t it! It gives the players, especially kids, the feel to be in a fancy, crazy, fun-filled, and well-defined world of Yoshi where every detail was being considered and enhanced carefully by the developer, Good-feel, making it fascinating in the eyes of every gamer.
Riding on trains made of cardboard, wearing dinosaur skulls made out of clay, using magnets in climbing.. the adventure just keeps going as you play on. I feel like a kid again every time I play this delightful game.
19. Super Mario Maker 2
If you are into Mario games and wanted to create your very own Mario-inspired level, well look no further as Super Mario Maker 2 got you covered in that regard.
Bringing the loved aspects from the first game, the sequel adds more new stuff to play around with when building your dream level. Some features were also added and some were tweaked even further to improve overall gameplay and replayability.
Choose various Mario-related themes and designs when creating your new level. From the classic Mario up to the latest design from Super Mario Odyssey, the results of what you can create are endless.
Although the game (specifically the user-generated levels) have gained somewhat a meme status to gamers and non-gamers alike for its seemingly devilish impossibility when it comes to custom levels; there are some who dare challenge those levels and even triumph, which is a feat itself that they can be proud of.
20. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl
If you are feeling nostalgic for the old Pokemon games (specifically the fourth generation that was released in the Nintendo DS), then the new Pokemon titles of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are the titles you can choose from to curb those nostalgic needs. Both titles are remakes of the original Ds games with updated visuals, 3D graphics, overhauled UI, improved assets, and many more.
Although not the generation that they have started with, many veteran players will enjoy the enhancements made in both titles. While new players will have a fun time exploring the fourth gen’s region, gameplay mechanics, and the conflicting story that it follows. Having the ability to play old games in a new format with new gameplay mechanics and enhancements bring a new gaming experience for Pokemon fans.
These are the best Nintendo Switch exclusives you can buy right now but a lot of games are still in development and will surely keep on updating this article to keep you guys up to date!
It’s clear to us that the people at Nintendo are bringing out their heavy-hitters as they expand their library of Switch exclusives. As long as they keep on telling exceptional stories without compromising their graphics or gameplay, we’re happy to keep trying whatever Nintendo comes out with next. Who knew that a handheld console could pack this much of a punch?
Let us know if you’ve tried any of these games in the comments below! For more information on the top switch games, why not join a Nintendo discord server to discuss?
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