Nintendo has always done its own thing, both in terms of hardware as well as software. While PlayStation and Xbox kept trying to reach the uncanny valley with ever more realistic graphics, physics, and sound, Nintendo prioritized just one thing – fun. Its games have always had a unique look, feel, and gameplay mechanics that combined for a top-notch experience for players of all ages.
Being a portable device, the Switch lets you play via your TV or on its own screen. The handheld’s controllers are detachable, with each “Joy-Con” usable for individual control. This is a very useful feature for social events or even for a casual match-up against a fellow commuter on your way to work.
What sweetens the deal is that Nintendo has a vast array of exclusives in its library, some of which are absolute delights!
Best Nintendo Switch exclusives of all time, ranked
11) Splatoon 3
Few games let you have as much fun with your friends as the Splatoon series, and the third entry is no different. In these games, you don’t shoot; you squirt. While most team-based games of this nature involve bullets and bloodshed, here it’s all about ink.
You play as the humanoid Inklings or the squid-like Octolings, both very typically cute Nintendo characters. The game lets you engage in what is basically a take on paintball using a variety of purposeful weapons that resemble everyday objects. Hours will pass by as you and your friends compete in the Turf War mode to see who can paint the most part of the level.
Nintendo has taken the “don’t fix what isn’t broken” route with Splatoon 3, and fans of the last two games will feel very much at home here while appreciating the new weapons and gameplay elements.
10) Shin Megami Tensei V
If you’re a fan of Nintendo exclusives like Zelda and Xenoblade, or a lover of the Persona games, you’ll likely enjoy Shin Megami Tensei V. A murder in Tokyo forms the basis of the story, and you play in an alternate reality version of the city crawling with evil gods and monsters.
The JRPG has it all, from a phenomenal soundtrack and memorable characters to a rich story and incredible world detail. While all of that is fine, if we had to pick one attribute that makes the most recent entry in Atlus’ series a must-play, it’s the gameplay. Its battle system is particularly enjoyable, especially the fusions and Press Turn systems. The game veers toward the difficult side but never feels unfair. It’s all about keeping you on your toes as a player.
9) Metroid Dread
While fans of the Metroid Dead series were obviously put off by the delaying of Metroid Prime 4 — the next big entry in the series — 2021’s Metroid Dread certainly went some way in tiding them over.
The action-adventure side-scroller is set after the events that unfolded in 2002’s Metroid Fusion, the fourth game in the franchise, and sees you controlling Samus Aran as she gets marooned on planet ZDR. The metroidvania-style gameplay is as good as it gets, and the newly added stealth elements will have you holding your breath as you try to anticipate the dread EMMIs’ next move.
With excellent combat, solid level design, and challenging bosses, it’s hard to go wrong with Metroid Dread before the much-awaited Metroid Prime 4 hits the store shelves.
8) Luigi’s Mansion 3
Back when I first started playing the original NES Mario Bros game, I’d often be stumped by the green-hat version of Mario, thinking it was a console bug that mixed up the colors! Of course, it was his more timid brother Luigi. Since that popular first entry in the hallowed franchise, it’s fair to say that Mario went on to become the more famous of the two.
However, the Luigi’s Mansion games have a very popular fanbase of their own. Embracing his more anxious personality, these titles see you exploring haunted homes with Ghostbusters style gadgets to sweep up poltergeists and solve puzzles.
In Luigi’s Mansion 3, everyone near and dear to Luigi, including Mario, the Princess, Toad, among others, has been kidnapped and imprisoned in a haunted hotel, and it’s up to our teeth-chattering hero to save them one-by-one, floor-by-floor. One of the new features I particularly enjoyed was Gooigi, a gelatinous replica of Luigi which can crawl into spaces that Luigi simply can’t. This added a whole dimension compared to previous Luigi games.
7) Pokemon Legends Arceus
Pokemon Legends: Arceus, released in 2022, answered the prayers of many long-time fans who felt the franchise had lost its way until then. Even the much-awaited Pokemon Sword and Shield released three years prior to it had left many fans dissatisfied.
Arceus marked a return to what “worked.” You embark on an adventure set in an open-world that harkens back to the past of the franchise, featuring creatures that are not necessarily too friendly. The variety in creatures is staggering as well, with each one displaying markedly different characteristics.
You play the game from the third-person perspective and can take full advantage of the open world to catch pokemon any way you like.
6) Super Mario Odyssey
The most recent entry in the mainline Mario series is likely the best overall game featuring the Italian plumber in the lead role since he first went fully 3D in Mario 64. Each aspect of the game is finely tuned and perfected to provide a gaming experience that I fondly look back on to this day.
The game featured a variety of gorgeous and functionally-different kingdoms that almost serve as their own self-contained biomes. From New Donk City (based on New York City, in case you didn’t figure it out) to the deliciously-designed Luncheon Kingdom, and even the Moon, you will be blown away at how much work went into making each of these levels fit like a glove while being markedly different from each other.
One unique gameplay aspect in Super Mario Odyssey is the introduction of “Cappy,” a self-aware hat that you use to control people and things around you to achieve your goals. I personally enjoyed this new aspect very much and I sure hope Cappy returns in the next Mario title.
5) Metroid Prime Remastered
Originally launched for the Nintendo Gamecube, Metroid Prime was the first game in the franchise to feature 3D graphics and a first-person perspective. It did this while maintaining perfect harmony among the core gameplay elements that made the franchise great – platforming, exploration, and combat.
As bounty hunter Samus Aran, you face off against biological organisms known as Metroids, and Space Pirates. The relentless pace of its action sequences, the rich, explorable environments, and highly rewarding puzzles will keep you glued to the screen for hours on end.
While the wait for a true sequel to Metroid Prime continues, those who have yet to experience it can try the recently-released and very faithfully-remastered version for Switch.
4) Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released just as the world came to a standstill due to the global pandemic in 2020. The social simulation game offered the perfect escape from the horrible events that were unfolding in the real world, letting you carry out fun tasks on your own island, crafting and customizing your animal community to your heart’s content.
guys I tweeted my turnip prices and elijah wood just came to my island and hung out 😭😭😭😭😭 this is the best day in quarantine yet pic.twitter.com/H3mYJWnvgR
— Jessa 🌱💓 (@directedbyrian) April 23, 2020
Even celebrities like Brie Larson and Elijah Wood have been known to spend hours in the game, interacting and hanging out with players and looking to sell their vegetables!
3) Super Smash Bros Ultimate
If you enjoy fighting games, Super Smash Bros. is the only one you need on your Nintendo Switch. Unlike most games in the genre, where depleting the opponent’s lifebar is your key to victory, Super Smash Bros. makes you focus on knocking them clear off the stage itself! The crossover fighting game series has been a platform mainstay since 1999 and continues to go from strength to strength, featuring a host of legendary characters with special abilities and movesets.
Of course, such a game would not be interesting for too long if you could only play against AI; its seamless online mode is where it shines. You’ll face opponents of varying skill levels, forcing you to up your game with each match, keeping the experience fresh and challenging every time you fire it up.
It’s a fantastic game for parties and get-togethers, even if you don’t have a TV nearby, as it can be played using each Joy-Con only, thus letting at least two players compete against each other while following the action on the Switch’s screen.
2) The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild
As with Mario and Animal Crossing, The Legend of Zelda has also become a household name, and playing Breath of the Wild will make it very clear why the franchise is so popular. Released as a launch title for the Switch back in 2017, the action-RPG places your character Link in a vast world with endless possibilities.
Once you get a hold of the paraglider, the game world is your oyster, as there is nowhere you can’t go and explore. You are free to do what you want. Feel like entering that distant castle and facing off against its defenders with basic utensils at your disposal? Go right ahead!
Even today, players continue to find new surprises and tricks in the game. So while the long-awaited sequel Tears of the Kingdom expands the game’s world, it’s never a bad time to try Breath of the Wild and experience one of the best Nintendo exclusives available.
1) Mario Kart 8
First released on the venerable Super Nintendo System, the Mario Kart series has sold 164.43 million copies till date. The game features Mario and his friends racing around an incredibly wild variety of thematic tracks in zany, customizable karts. What makes the game so much fun are its array of powerups that can turn the race on its head.
The eighth release packs in everything that made the series great, and then some. It’s a fantastic game for parties and get-togethers, even if you don’t have a TV nearby, as it can be played using each Joy-Con only, thus letting at least two players compete against each other while following the action on the Switch’s screen.
You could also take the races online. The online experience is seamless, with thousands of players always ready to be matched up for a race. As with Smash Bros, you can also race against a friend simply by handing them one of the Joy-Cons.