These are the Best Nintendo Switch Games to play in 2022
The Nintendo Switch is one of the most popular consoles of all time, and there’s very good reason for it. Thanks to its hybrid design, you can play on your TV, in handheld mode, or set the console down on a desk to play games in any way you want. It’s frankly my favorite console ever, and I make full use of the hybrid nature all the time. But what really makes the Nintendo Switch so good is the selection of amazing games available on it.
Nintendo typically relies on exclusive games more than its competitors. If you look at the best games on Xbox, for example, you’ll find a ton of cross-platform games, and many of them aren’t available on the Switch. The flip side of that is that Nintendo makes some of the best games out there that are exclusive to its consoles, and that certainly holds true with the Switch.
There are potentially hundreds of games on the Switch that you’re likely to enjoy, but for this list, we’re focusing on 25, which should already keep you busy for a long time.
Bayonetta 1 & 2
Bayonetta wasn’t originally a Nintendo-exclusive franchise, but after the first game got forgotten by Sega, its original publisher, Nintendo stepped in and helped fund the development of Bayonetta 2. That was originally released on the Wii U, but both the first and second games made their way to the Nintendo Switch as a bundle. The Bayonetta games feature incredibly intense hack-and-slash combat and fantastic visuals, particularly the second entry, and they’re an absolute joy to experience if you enjoy action games. It’s definitely not a game for the whole family, but if you’re a more mature player, these are two phenomenal games that deserve all the attention they get. Plus, Bayonetta 3 is coming later this year, too.
Unfortunately, the physical release is a bit hard to find brand-new now, but you can buy the digital bundle below. If you want a physical version, it’s available on Amazon from third-party sellers.
Super Mario Odyssey
Any Nintendo console needs to have at least one (usually several) Mario games, and they all tend to be pretty good. But Super Mario Odyssey goes further than that. It’s one of the most open Mario games ever, it has tons of little missions to do, and so much variety to its gameplay and power-ups. With the help of Cappy, Mario can take control of all kinds of characters and objects, and that allows for new kinds of traversal and actions. This is one of the best Mario games ever, and it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It may be turning five years old soon, but this is still a masterpiece everyone should play.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Is it too early for another Mario game? We don’t think so. Mario Kart 8 originally debuted on the Wii U in 2014, but the Deluxe version for the Nintendo Switch includes all the DLC from that title, plus a completely revamped battle mode that’s more in line with previous games. It’s a fantastic-looking game featuring 42 characters from across the Mario franchise and a whopping 48 tracks to race on – the biggest Mario Kart game ever.
And if you’re thinking “48 tracks? That’s not enough”, don’t fret. Nintendo recently announced the Booster Course Pass DLC for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and that’s going to bring 48 more tracks to the game for a total of 96. You’ll have to spend $25 more for the DLC, but it’s essentially doubling the amount of content, and it’ll be the first time we see tracks from the mobile game Mario Kart Tour on a console. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is already the best-selling Switch game out there, but if you’ve been holding back, this is the best time to jump in.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild might just be one of the best videogames of all time. It took a long time to be released, but Nintendo’s first foray into open-world games was a massive success. I’ve personally put over 700 hours into my copy of the game since it launched in 2017, and I still find it absolutely incredible. It has a gorgeous art style and an open nature that lets you do anything you want whenever you want. Want to head for the final boss right from the start? The game won’t stop you. Want to explore every inch of the map first? Go ahead. There’s so much to see and do in this game, and it’s an unforgettable experience.
If you crave a little more content, Nintendo has also released DLC for the game with an expansion pass, adding new challenges and dungeons. It also adds a more challenging hero mode that lets you re-experience the game with regenerating enemies and other changes. And the sequel to this game is planned for later in 2022, so now’s the time to get caught up with the story if you haven’t played it yet.
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.
The game received a big update in November 2021 that added lots of changes and new features like gyroids, improved design options, and more. Alongside that, Nintendo also released the Happy Home Paradise paid DLC for the game, which lets you design houses for all kinds of customers with new parts and design styles, which you can then use on your own island. There’s a ton of content in this game to keep you hooked, and it is the second-best-selling game on the Switch should tell you that.
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.
In 2021, it had been 19 years since Nintendo made a new original 2D Metroid game. We got a couple of remakes in that period, but Metroid Dread was the first new game in the series, and it delivered on so many levels. Developed by Mercury Steam – the same studio that remade Metroid II for the Nintendo 3DS as Metroid: Samus Returns – Dread features fast-paced and incredibly smooth gameplay where everyone’s favorite bounty hunter has to investigate Planet ZDR to find and eradicate the Parasite X. The game runs and looks amazing and it features a rewarding gameplay loop that will keep you coming back. You can even replay it multiple times to finish it as fast as possible if you’re into that kind of challenge.
Nintendo recently released an update for this game that adds a “Dread” mode where you lose a life after a single hit, if you want to go for the perfect run. And if you’re a newbie to Metroid games, a new Rookie mode was also added that lets you recover health more quickly. It’s a great time to learn about the Metroid series if you haven’t yet, and in April, the team is even adding a boss rush mode so you can play only the boss fights in the game. This is an easy recommendation for Switch owners.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Living up to its name, Super Smash Bros Ultimate was the biggest Smash Bros. game when it launched back in December 2018. Featuring every character that had previously been in the series, hundreds of songs from different franchises, and refined gameplay with the most battle stages of any game in the series, it’s the best iteration of Nintendo’s crossover fighting game.
In the three years since its launch, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate also kept receiving DLC, and the last expansion was finally announced in October 2021, adding Sora from the Kingdom Hearts franchise. In total, 11 new characters were added via DLC, along with new stages, spirits, Mii costumes, and more. You’re very unlikely to run out of content in this game anytime soon. You can buy the main game below, and the first Fighters Pass as well as the Fighters Pass Vol. 2 are also available.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
As much as I’ve been a fan of the Pokémon franchise for years (and we may or may not have one of those games later on this list), it’s been stuck with the same formula for a long time, particularly when it comes to battling and catching the creatures we adore. But Pokémon Legends: Arceus shakes things up in a completely fresh and interesting way that makes this one of the most addictive Pokémon games ever.
In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, you see Pokémon roaming around in open environments, and if you don’t want to battle them, you can throw a Poké Ball at them right then and there. No battle cutscenes and tedious turns – just take aim and throw the ball. There’s a stealth element to catching Pokémon, too, and if you want to engage in battle, the battles now take place right where you are in the world instead of transitioning to a generic background, and you can keep moving around. The battle system has changed, too, with Pokémon being able to use moves in agile and strong styles to change the course of battle.
It’s quite possibly the best Pokémon game ever, and it’s bound to appeal to long-standing fans of the series and new players alike.
Super Mario Maker 2
Anyone can enjoy a 2D Mario game, but what if instead of just playing the games, you could also make them? That’s the idea behind Super Mario Maker 2, which lets players take the objects, enemies, and power-ups from across the Mario series and make the wildest creations with them. Super Mario Maker 2 lets you create games in different graphical styles, and each style plays differently, too. And not only can you create levels, but you can also create worlds of levels (after a free update), so it’s almost like making your own full game.
And if you’re not into creating levels, don’t worry – you can just play them. Super Mario Maker 2 includes a single-player adventure mode, but after that, you can also play a virtually infinite amount of levels and worlds from players around the world. The fun never has to end with this game, and for many people, it still hasn’t. If you want a game that can potentially last you for years to come, this is a great option.
Monster Hunter Rise
The Monster Hunter series isn’t new, but the latest entry, Monster Hunter Rise, may just be the most refined experience in the series yet. As the name indicates, your job is to hunt monsters, which you can do by yourself or with friends via online multiplayer. Most of the monsters are far bigger than yourself, but with powerful weapons and smart strategies, you can take them down. This game introduces new gameplay mechanics like riding a Palamute to travel faster across the world, using Wirebugs to leap into the air, and taking control of certain monsters to attack other monsters.
The base game is already pretty big and it’s been receiving updates to add even more content and new challenges. But if you want even more, Capcom recently announced Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, a paid DLC expansion planned for the summer of 2022. You can expect even more story content and monsters to hunt. The game is no longer a Switch exclusive, but it feels right at home on the console.
Pokémon Sword & Shield
We may have said that Pokémon Legends: Arceus brought a fresh new take to the Pokémon franchise, but if you’re more of a fan of the classic style of games, Pokémon Sword & Shield are still some of the best games ever in the series. While they still have some of the old conventions of Pokémon games, lots of quality of life improvements were made to make the more tedious tasks easier and faster, and the game just wastes less of your time compared to previous entries. You can now see Pokémon roaming the world so you can make a choice on whether you want to battle them or not, and in some areas, you get full camera control for the first time. Battles also feature Dynamaxing, where Pokémon can become super-sized versions of themselves with stronger attacks and more health.
The base game was already great, in our opinion, but Pokémon Sword & Shield received an Expansion Pass that adds two whole new areas with new Pokémon, new characters, and new stories to tell. These expansions make the game even better, and it’s an experience Pokémon fans won’t want to miss. You can buy the game below, and get the Expansion Pass here.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
It’s been a while since we saw a Mario game on this list, right? This is yet another entry in the franchise, but it stands on its own as a fantastic game. Super Mario 3D World was originally a Wii U game, but now it’s on the Nintendo Switch, and it comes with faster movement speed to make the game even more hectic, plus it’s received a bit of a visual upgrade with more vibrant colors and higher resolution. It’s the only 3D Mario game that supports multiplayer with up to four people, which makes this a fantastic game to play with family and friends, whether that’s on the same TV or online – another new addition in the Switch version.
But this Switch game also adds Bowser’s Fury, a completely separate game mode designed for just one or two players where players have to take down Fury Bowser, a dark, super-sized version of the iconic villain. In this mode, you don’t get strings of levels on a world map – all the challenges are laid out in a big open world that offers a sense of freedom that even Mario Odyssey can’t always match. This is practically its own game, and it’s a great one at that. Bundle it with another great Mario game, and you get a must-have package that everybody should try.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Mario may get the spotlight most of the time, but his little brother’s ghostly adventures are nothing to pass up, either. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is the latest and greatest iteration of this adventure series. This time, Luigi has to explore a haunted hotel where his friends have been captured by ghosts in an attempt to get back at our favorite green-clad plumber for his previous adventures. Each floor of the hotel has a different theme, from a film studio to a pirate ship, and they all look and feel unique with ingenious gameplay mechanics revolving around the Poltergust vacuum, making this a truly fresh experience that you’ll want to see through to the end.
There are even some multiplayer modes in this game that let you have fun with friends and family, and if you enjoy those, Nintendo released a DLC expansion that adds even more multiplayer mini-games. While the story is the main draw here, we’ll admit to having a great time with the multiplayer, too. Either way, this is a game everybody can and should play.
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. In recent years, though, it’s become one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises. Three Houses is one of the biggest reasons for that, 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.
Nintendo recently announced Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, a hack-and-slash action game set in the same universe as Three Houses. If you want to learn all about this universe before the next game comes long, this is a great time to pick it up.
Bayonetta is easily one of the most well-known titles developed by PlatinumGames, but Astral Chain is an incredibly stylish game that deserves just as much attention. Partnering with Nintendo once again, PlatinumGames created a new high-tech world where humans face the threat of extinction due to interdimensional creatures showing up all over the place. Using the titular Astral Chain, humans can control some of these creatures, called Legions, and use them to fight the impending threat.
Just like the Bayonetta series, Astral Chain features intense fast-paced combat with a visual style that’s largely inspired by anime and manga. Taste is subjective, but we’d argue it’s even cooler-looking than Bayonetta, and it’s a game you should absolutely pick up. It’s a bit hard to find a physical version these days, but some third-party sellers on Amazon still have it. Otherwise, you can find the digital version at Best Buy below.
While other platforms are rife with mature and gritty shooters, Nintendo’s Splatoon series is a colorful and fresh take on the genre. Starring the Inklings – seemingly human-squid hybrids – Splatoon 2 offers one of the best competitive multiplayer experiences on the Switch, with teams of four players duking it out to paint most of the battle arena in the color of their team. Inklings can walk, but they can also swim through the ink they shoot with their guns, which lets them move faster, climb up walls, and hide from enemies, so it’s really fun to move around the map.
The base game is mostly focused on the multiplayer side of the experience, but Nintendo also sells the Octo Expansion DLC if you want a more fleshed-out single-player campaign. Nintendo recently announced Splatoon 3, so we think you might want to wait for that to launch, but you certainly won’t regret your time with Splatoon 2 if you buy it now.
WarioWare: Get It Together!
WarioWare has had a presence on most Nintendo consoles since its debut on the Game Boy Advance, and the latest entry in the micro-game collection doesn’t disappoint. Just like previous WarioWare titles, Get It Together! challenges players to complete quick challenges in a matter of seconds and see how long they can last completing as many of them as possible. The twist this time is that you control characters you can see on screen, and all the characters have different abilities. Every character can complete every challenge, though, so it’s up to you to find inventive ways to use each character in a specific game. This is also the first time WarioWare has a form of cooperative play, so you can pass a Joy-Con to a friend and face challenges together.
This game is cheaper than most of Nintendo’s retail games, so if you’re looking for a fun experience you can play for a few minutes or a few hours, this is a great choice.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
We’ve already talked about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on this list, and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a great complementary title. Like other Warriors-style games, this is a hack-and-slash title where you take on hundreds of enemies at a time, but now, it takes place in the world of Breath of the Wild – just 100 years before. You can experience (some of) the events that led up to Breath of the Wild’s story, and it’s a great opportunity to get to know these characters more closely, even if the game itself plays a lot differently.
If you’ve finished the main story and you’d like even more content, Nintendo also released DLC for this game, adding even more playable characters and story bits to the experience. It’s not quite Breath of the Wild, but it’s still a very fun game if you love the Zelda series.
Ring Fit Adventure
Nintendo has been into fitness games ever since the Wii, but Ring Fit Adventure is a whole new take on fitness that’s frankly one of my most-played games on the Switch. Using the included Ring-Con and a leg strap. Ring Fit Adventure has you do all kinds of exercises for your legs, arms, core, and balance, and in adventure mode, they’re the key to saving the world. As someone who’s more into gaming than exercising, Ring Fit Adventure was everything I needed to actually follow through with workouts, and it helped me get in much better shape.
If you already have a fitness habit and you don’t want the story, Ring Fit Adventure also lets you create your own workouts. You can create playlists of exercises, do specific sets, or just jog through the courses from adventure mode without any battles. Post-launch updates even added features like a rhythm game, so you can get a light workout in a more fun and engaging way. It even features music from popular Nintendo games like Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey.
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 and slightly more casual gameplay, this is a fantastic option.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle received a pretty significant expansion featuring Donkey Kong and some more additional content through a Season Pass. The new adventure is actually fairly unique and expands on the base game in a fun way, so we recommend grabbing it all. Thankfully, it’s all bundled in the Gold Edition of the game, which you can buy below.
If you enjoy this one, you’ll be happy to know that a sequel is in the works: Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope. This one will mix in elements from the Super Mario Galaxy games, but we’d still strongly recommend the first game.
ARMS was one of the earliest titles released on the Switch, and while it’s often overlooked nowadays, it’s still a super fun time. Featuring a colorful cast of characters with stretchy arms and different abilities, it’s a very fun fighting game that you can play with button controls if you want to get more serious or use a full range of motion controls to get more of a workout. I personally prefer the latter, but it’s a great time either way. It’s lacking a bit in single-player content, but if you’re confident going straight into online battles, there’s a lot of fun to be had here. There are even some unique modes that aren’t strictly fighting.
Metroid helped define the “Metroidvania” style of games when it first showed up, but during its long hiatus before the aforementioned Metroid Dread, indie developers picked up the slack and delivered some amazing experiences. Hollow Knight is one of those games, and it just delivers in almost every way. It features a gorgeous cartoon art style, tough platforming challenges and bosses, and a satisfying sense of progression and adventure you’ll only find in the best Metroidvanias out there. If you like a challenge, you can’t pass this one up.
Mario Party Superstars
Not many games capture the spirit of a party quite like the Mario Party series, and after hitting a bit of a rough patch in recent years, Nintendo has nailed it with the latest entry, Mario Party Superstars. This game brings back classic game boards from the Nintendo 64 games, all remastered in fantastic HD visuals, as well as mini-games from across the entire series. It’s not the most original Mario Party game, but it gets almost everything right and it’s simply a blast to play with a group of friends or family members. If you can’t get friends together in the same room, you can even play the game online, so there’s no reason not to have a blast.
Octopath Traveler is, simply put, one of the most remarkable games for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a fantasy RPG with a fairly unique concept in terms of gameplay – eight different characters can be controlled at different times, each with their own story to tell in the same world. They all have their own goals, but all of the stories intertwine with each other by the end, making for a compelling narrative you don’t see often.
One of the defining elements of this game, however, is its art style. It’s what Square Enix calls HD-2D, and it looks so fantastic that it’s becoming a common art style for Square Enix games. Triangle Strategy is another Switch-exclusive game that will use the same art style (that one is a strategy RPG), and it’s also being used for remakes of Dragon Quest III and Live A Live. It truly looks stunning, and it’s a good enough reason to play this game. It’s no longer a Switch exclusive since it came to other platforms later on, but it’s the perfect fit for Nintendo’s hybrid.
That’s already a long list of games to try out, but rest assured, it’s far from all of them. The Nintendo Switch has so many great games from Nintendo and third-party partners that it would be impossible to mention them all. Still, these are great places to start, and we doubt you already own all of these. Be sure to leave your own suggestions in the comments if you think we missed something.
Not interested in Nintendo? We also have lists of the best PlayStation 5 games, along with one for the best Xbox games. And if you’re more of a smartphone gamer, we have you covered, too: Check out the best Android games you can play right now.