There are the Best Nintendo Switch Games to Buy in April 2021: Animal Crossing, Hades, Fire Emblem, and more!
The Nintendo Switch is an extraordinary console, a hybrid that combines the portability of a handheld with the power of a standalone device. It also has a huge library of games you can’t play on any other console — so many, in fact, that it can be hard to know what to play first.
If you’re looking for games on the Xbox Series X/S, you usually can’t restrict yourself solely to the exclusives, because the console doesn’t have many. Even the library of exclusive PS5 games might not be enough to fill a complete list. The Switch, on the other hand, has a number of exclusive titles. In fact, the majority of this list will be made up of games that can only be played on the Switch, but there will be some exceptions — deserved ones, to be sure.
Here are the 25 games you must play if you own a Nintendo Switch!
Bayonetta 1 & 2
Originally developed by SEGA as a console-agnostic heroine, Bayonetta was saved from obsolescence by Nintendo, who poured funding into the development of Bayonetta 2. Now Bayonetta is one of Nintendo’s banner heroes, even appearing in Smash Bros (see below). Both Bayonetta 1 & 2 are two of the best action games ever made, and certainly the best on the Switch. They’re fast-paced hack-n-slash-n-shoot titles in which the witchy heroine fights the forces of angels and demons. Bayonetta 2, with its mountains of Nintendo fan service, might be a bit more fun, but both of them are worth playing.
Super Mario Odyssey
It wouldn’t be a Nintendo list without at least one Mario title, and we have several here. But Super Mario Odyssey is notable for having been built with the Switch in mind, a single-player Mario title that takes full advantage of the hardware capabilities of the Switch — and also a really fun adventure story that’ll keep you occupied for hours. Starring Mario, natch, and his new hat buddy Cappy, Odyssey lives up to its name by showing the characters traveling through multiple worlds in a bid to rescue the ever-distressed Peach from a forced marriage to Bowser. And when you’re done with the main story, you have hundreds of challenges to return to and conquer.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Recently crowned the most popular racing game of all time, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is also the best-selling game on the Switch. So if you haven’t played this yet, jump on this very top-heavy bandwagon and get racing! The game features a roster of 42 characters, all of the tracks from Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U, and multiplayer for up to 4 players. It’s one of the console’s best party games.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda series isn’t a Nintendo staple for nothing: This adventure game series has fascinated players for 35 years. The latest game in the main series, Breath of the Wild has quickly risen to the top of the list of best games in the series and best games on the Switch full stop. As always, you play Link, the Hero of Hyrule. You must navigate the beautiful open world, discover your destiny, and how to fulfill it. Along the way, you’ll solve dozens of shrine puzzles, ride a herd’s worth of horses, cook more food than most chefs will in their lifetimes, and shatter hundreds of weapons on every Bokoblin, Lynel, and Guardian in your path.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing has always been a tranquil game about going about daily life in beautiful settings, and New Horizons takes the series to a tropical island. Dress up your avatar, fly out to your island, borrow money from Tom Nook, and get started setting up the island of your dreams. New Horizons is one of the more absorbing games on the Switch, and before you know it, you’ll have sunk dozens of hours getting your new home to look good, recruiting the villagers of your choice, and throwing bells at the bottomless chasm that is Tom Nook’s personal coffers.
Hades is not a Switch exclusive, but it fits the Switch so well it’s impossible to leave it off this list. In Hades, you play the son of the titular character, Zagreus. The young god is determined to leave the Underworld, and is prepared to beat as many of his father’s obstacles as he needs to in order to do that. No matter how many times he dies, Zagreus is ready to tackle the gauntlet again with fresh resolve. This rogue-lite is so good, it might spoil other games in the genre for you.
Untitled Goose Game
Speaking of non-exclusives, Untitled Goose Game isn’t one either, but its strange charm and chaotic protagonist are so funny it feels like it belongs on the console. You play the titular (or untitular) Goose, and must cause havoc and destruction wherever you go, for reasons known only to your tiny, goosey brain. It’s not a deep story, but that’s kinda the point — if you want a game that’s a fun puzzler but also hilarious, give this adventure a try.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Super Smash Bros has gotten bigger and better than ever, recruiting so many characters across the gaming industry, you may need a visual aid to keep track of them all. Ultimate is not only one of the great multiplayer games for the Switch, it also offers a single-player campaign of sorts if you just want to be able to beat up Nintendo characters. There are several fighting games available on the Switch, but this is the classic Nintendo fighter to play both alone and with friends.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town
Farming sims are not exactly uncommon on the Switch — for example, you can play Stardew Valley on the Switch, but Stardew is also available on every other platform, up to and including your phone (it’s one of our best games for Android phones, in fact). But when you want to play a Nintendo farming sim, you need to try Story of Seasons. Or, to use its original name, Harvest Moon. Friends of Mineral Town is a remaster of one of the older games in the series, updated to bring it forward for a new generation. It’s a delight if you’re looking for a slower game that you can spend days enjoying.
Super Mario Maker 2
Most of the other Mario games on this list have something like a story or a campaign to enjoy. Super Mario Maker, on the other hand, is purely about the platforming experience. There is a story in Mario Maker 2, but it’s not the main reason to play. No, this game is enjoyable mostly for its selection of custom-built courses, made by other users, and the fact that you can make several courses of your own. If you’ve ever felt that Mario platformers didn’t quite match your skills, this is the game where you’ll surely find a challenge that suits you.
Monster Hunter Rise
Monster Hunter is one of those games that, when you hear its premise, you either immediately declare that you love it and must play it or you’ll be indifferent. You, the titular Monster Hunter, must protect a small village from several rampaging monsters and try to determine what’s made them so aggressive. You do this by defeating several monsters and making their skin and scales into armor and weapons. I recommend everyone at least try one of the games, and Rise is as good a game to start with as any.
Pokémon Sword & Shield
Nintendo consoles and Pokémon games are a must-have combination. The Nintendo Switch-exclusive adventure Sword & Shield explores the new Galar region. The new mechanics of this game involve “Dynamaxing,” which pushes your Pokémon to huge Gigantamax forms. You can also buy versions of both games that come with all of the post-game content. Anyone who’s not satisfied with just one pocket monster game can also enjoy Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee as well as the new Pokémon Snap title.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Yet another Mario title, Super Mario 3D World was originally released on the Wii U. Given how little-remembered that console is, many more gamers are likely to experience the game for the first time on the Switch. This updated re-release also comes bundled with Bowser’s Fury, an extra story campaign in which Mario pairs up with Bowser Jr for another adventure. If you want to play a classic-style Mario adventure, then this is one of the best titles the Switch, especially if you can’t get your hands on Super Mario 3D All-Stars.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
We’ve got so many Mario titles on this list, it felt wrong not to throw his brother a bone. If you’ve played any Luigi’s Mansion titles on other platforms, you’ll be familiar with the gameplay: Luigi must explore a haunted building, vacuuming up unruly ghosts in every corner and crevice until he finds his missing brother. It’s a markedly different game than your typical Mario gameplay, and if you want to play a good adventure title, this is the game to get. It also supports multiplayer for up to 8 Luigi’s.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem was once one of Nintendo’s more obscure franchises, a tactical RPG in which the player commanded armies in wars across continents while also experiencing the stories of individual soldiers and leaders. Three Houses, however, brought the series into the limelight with its depiction of a years-long war between former childhood friends. It’s a hit if you’re looking for a game in which you must use careful strategy, or you want to experience a complex and morally challenging story.
Platinum Games makes some of the best action games for the Switch (see Bayonetta above), and this is no exception. In Astral Chain, you play a futuristic police officer in a cyberpunk city who is paired with a Legion, a biomechanical partner designed to fight monsters known as Chimera. If you’ve played any of Platinum’s other games, you’ll be familiar with the fast-paced gameplay. It’s a great title for those looking for a stylish action fix, or who want to see some beautiful futuristic art design.
If you want to play a multiplayer shooter that feels quintessentially Nintendo, Splatoon 2 is the game to get. This game, in which you shoot globs of ink at your fellow cephalopod-human hybrids, is one of the most colorful and joyful you’ll play on any console. Splatoon 2, unlike the previous game, also has a single-player story campaign for players to enjoy, though the meat-and-potatoes of the game is still the online multiplayer mode. While the Switch features several of the same multiplayer shooters as other platforms (Fortnite is on the console, natch), Splatoon 2 is the one that feels like it most belongs on a Nintendo console.
Real-time strategy games are a good fit on the Switch, and Sid Meier’s series is a classic. Anyone who wants a good 4X title for the Switch needs to play Civilization VI. It’s not the only strategy game available on the Switch, but it’s one of the best and not by a small margin. You can use either the Joy-Con controls or touch controls when you’re in handheld mode, which is useful for when you need more precise control over your units. The game also comes with four expansions to keep you playing for a long time.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Unlike Breath of the Wild above, Hyrule Warriors is a hack-and-slash title that transposes Dynasty Warriors gameplay onto the world of Legend of Zelda. In fact, this is a prequel (sort of) to Breath of the Wild, though you don’t need to have played one to play the other. You play as multiple characters besides Link, all locked in a war with the forces of darkness. If you’re a fan of action games or real-time strategy gameplay, you’ll enjoy this even if you’re not a Legend of Zelda fan.
Ring Fit Adventure
And now for something a little different: Ring Fit Adventure is an exercise game for the Switch, following in the footsteps of the Wii Fit games. However, this isn’t a game where you try and mimic the Trainer’s yoga pose. No, this is a full-blown fantasy RPG in which you must use your body as a giant controller while you travel the land defeating evil. If you’re not looking to get fit and get your blood pumping, you might not enjoy this, but considering how sedentary gaming is otherwise, a little movement is something all gamers could probably use. And if you’re just in it for the exercise, the game has a “Fitness Mode” that lets you skip the story entirely.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
If you have any familiarity with the XCOM titles, you know what turn-based tactics gameplay looks like. The best game of that type to appear on the Switch is Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, which unites Mario with the Raving Rabbids. The latter have accidentally landed themselves in the Mushroom Kingdom after falling through a dimensional portal, and now Mario and company must keep the new invaders out. If you want to try a strategy game with colorful graphics, this is the best title on the Switch.
While Smash Bros is the first fighting game you should play on the Switch, ARMS takes a close second. You play a variety of fighters who box each other with long, springy arms. The game is designed to be played with the motion controls that are built into the Joy-Con, but you can play with traditional buttons if you wish. It’s one of the Switch’s strangest titles, and for that reason alone we recommend everyone try it at least once. You can play either 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 battles with friends.
Like Hades above, Hollow Knight is one of those games that plays so well on the Switch that we can’t leave it off. It’s a Metroidvania title, meaning the player can explore more of the world the more bosses they defeat and abilities they gain, and it’s one of the best Metroidvanias on the Switch. You, as the Knight, must clear Hallownest in this side-scrolling action-adventure. If you like 2D platformers, this is a Switch title you shouldn’t miss.
There are dozens of puzzle games on the Switch, but Snipperclips is one of the first titles available for the console. You play two different characters, who attempt to cut shapes out of each other in order to solve various challenges — though not as violent as that sounds. You can play either by yourself or with a friend. If you want a local multiplayer title, this is a cute, low-stakes game that’ll keep you and your partner occupied for hours.
What’s a list of Nintendo games without a good fantasy RPG? Octopath Traveler tells the story of eight people, each out for their own ends, traveling together to take down a common enemy. If you’re a fan of turn-based JRPG gameplay, this is the Switch title you have to try. Each character has their own abilities to contribute to battle, and each has a unique origin story to play. If you want a game that’ll keep you occupied for hours, Octopath Traveler is one of the best titles for the Switch.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are so many games on the Switch that deserve to be played that we couldn’t possibly have included them all. But hopefully, this list gives you a good place to begin. If you want games you can play specifically with family, you can check out our list here of Nintendo Switch family games. If you own a Switch and want to protect it, look at our list of the best Nintendo Switch cases. If you’re looking for more game recommendations, we have lists for the best Android games and the best Xbox games too!