It has been a great time to be a Nintendo fan. Not only is the Switch a massively successful console, but it also offers a bevy of excellent games that are Nintendo Switch exclusive. From day one back in 2017, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo showcased to the world that they aren’t messing around.
Now, many years later, the lineup of Nintendo Switch exclusive games continues to impress. We’ve compiled a list of the best titles currently available for your viewing pleasure. As more games are released, we’ll continue to update the list!
Most importantly, don’t forget that the opinions are solely of the author. There’s a chance you may agree, there’s also a chance you’ll disagree. Unlike some of my other Nintendo Switch-related lists, such as my definitive ranking of every track in Mario Kart, I think there will be more common ground here.
Don’t forget too that we’ve compiled a list of the most anticipated Nintendo Switch exclusive games of 2022 as well, so be sure to give that a read!
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
What makes Breath of the Wild so special is that sense of discovery. The only thing that limits you as a player is your imagination. From the moment its iconic introduction is completed, the entire world is available for you to explore. Breath of the Wild encourages the player to get lost in the wonder. Its story is a standard affair; the narrative is solid and gets the job done, but the game’s best moments occur naturally.
It is impossible, however, to discuss Breath of the Wild without talking about the durability system. It’s aggravating for sure, but don’t let it detract you from an otherwise near-perfect experience.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
I’m pretty sure I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve talked about Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on this website. I already linked my ranking of every track in the game. It’s undoubtedly the best Mario Kart of all time. What more is there to say about this incredible title?
Seriously! What more do you all want me to say about this game other than stop buying it so I can get a sequel.
Super Mario Odyssey
It seems odd to say that the Mario franchise was in a bit of a rut for nearly a decade. After the release of Super Mario Galaxy 2 in 2010, the New Super Mario Bros. series was born. With it came some enjoyable 2D platforming that didn’t do much to evolve. The games were simply good, not great. Super Mario 3D Land in 2011 and Super Mario 3D World in 2013 are good games, don’t get me wrong. There was something missing from them, however.
Enter Super Mario Odyssey.
There was a definite itch for a traditional 3D Mario title that Odyssey scratched. It surpasses the game’s incredibly high expectations. Super Mario Odyssey is not only one of the best Nintendo Switch exclusives ever released, but it’s also one of the best games of all time. A love letter to everything platforming, Odyssey is pure fun no matter how you play it. If you’re collecting every moon alone or playing the game casually with a friend, you’re going to have a great time.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Speaking of Super Mario 3D World, we’ve come to the Wii U re-release. While it was entirely well-received upon release, the game has aged like a fine glass of wine. What brings the Switch version over the top is the addition of Bowser’s Fury; it alone makes it worth the price of admission.
It takes the open-world formula that originated with Odyssey and expands upon it. The result is a fresh experience I didn’t think Nintendo was capable of delivering.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
One of the biggest things I miss pre-COVID is the Smash Bros. parties my wife and I would host. The very first one took place on release weekend. We had tried to get one on launch night, but not enough people were able to afford the day off work. “No worries,” we thought. “We’ll just check in at GameStop, do some shots at the bar, and then go home and play until we pass out.”
My wife would spend literally all night playing through the story mode. I’d go to bed, she was playing Smash Bros. I’d wake up for work, she was still playing Smash Bros. Few games can hold her attention like that, the other being Mario Kart. Any game she can sink her teeth into that deeply is a top-tier game.
Super Mario Maker 2
From the day the Switch was announced, I wanted to see one of the best Wii U games brought to the new Nintendo console. That dream came to fruition with the release of Super Mario Maker 2. The Nintendo Switch exclusive expands on one of Nintendo’s best ideas in years.
Super Mario Maker 2 delivers in every way imaginable. Creating custom levels is fun, no doubt, but I’d rather leave that to the experts. It’s still frustrating to sift through the best player-made stages, which is a shame. Once you get into a groove, however, and discover the best levels out there, it’s very easy to lose track of time.
Whether you’re looking for traditional Mario platforming, speed runs, or challenging stages, Super Mario Maker 2 has something to offer everyone.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
The Fire Emblem franchise has always seen critical success but hasn’t managed to cross into mainstream commercial success. Enter Three Houses, one of the best games in the franchise and easily one of the best exclusive releases for the Nintendo Switch.
Three Houses balances the traditional and deep tactical strategy Fire Emblem is known for with a deep and engrossing JRPG narrative. Equally as impressive is the relationship building with the game’s wide cast of characters. Picking favorites in the story translates to those favorite characters joining you on the battlefield.
There is a surprising amount of choices Three Houses throws at you at all, each with its own consequences. Having to pick sides, allegiances, and make decisions that affect the rest of the game carries their weight. It adds to the game’s already high replay value as well.
Side note: Fire Emblem: Three Houses was the first game I can recall in a long, long time that was sold out in stores! I remember going to four GameStop locations before finally being able to pick it up.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a barebones title compared to recent predecessors. While new updates have added a good amount of content, at launch, it was a bit lacking. This game makes our list because of timing.
It was released when Covid-19 lockdowns began and allowed us to keep connected with friends and family. We were able to live our lives on Tom Nook’s island, decorating our house, conversing with neighbors, and designing island layouts. What’s truly remarkable about New Horizons, or any Animal Crossing game for that matter, is the amount of enjoyment everyone gets out of it.
Personally, I go pretty hard for anywhere between 30-60 days and then move on. My wife spent several months and, despite not currently playing, often talks about missing her neighbors. My sister-in-law continues to check in with her island daily. Despite all three of us playing for different amounts of time, we got the same enjoyment from the game. That’s the beauty of Animal Crossing; there isn’t a right or wrong way to play the game. That’s what makes New Horizons one of the best Nintendo Switch exclusives available today.
Golf Story is, admittedly, an unassuming game. It’s a direct call back to 1999’s Mario Golf on the Game Boy Color. The art style, gameplay mechanics, and RPG elements are all heavily influenced here. The game’s story is also a surprising treat. The more you play, the more you realize it’s more than just a trip down memory lane. Golf is merely a vehicle for a wonderful adventure-oriented RPG
It helps too that the golf systems in the game are a hole-in-one. The added story, character interactions, and mini-games are just icing on the cake.
While we still await Metroid Prime 4, Metroid Dread absolutely sates our hunger.
Developed by MercurySteam, also known for its work on the 2017 remake of Samus Returns, Dread delivers a satisfying and challenging Metroid experience. The combination of traditional Metroidvania exploration and modern boss encounters delivers a memorable experience.
Metroid Dread is able to scratch the itch for any type of player. Looking to collect everything in the game? You’ll have a great time. Craving a challenging experience? You got it. Longing for a nostalgic trip that calls back to the franchise’s roots? It delivers. Dread is easily one of the best Nintendo Switch exclusive games available today.
Splatoon 2 is more Splatoon. For fans of the series, that’s enough to make it a top-tier choice.
Personally, Splatoon isn’t my thing. It’s still one of the games out there, however, that I can respect. I understand why it has such a large audience and the game’s mass appeal. The unique formula results in a shooter experience that’s both exciting and accessible.
Like Animal Crossing, it’s a game that I can spend some time in, enjoy said time, and leave with no issue.
Ring Fit Adventure
Ring Fit Adventure took the world by storm. It was a fantastic way to get exercise in, particularly during peak lockdown. Unlike, say, the Wii Fit Board, Ring Fit managed to be more than just a gimmick.
The game itself is entertaining, albeit nothing special, but it’s the workout that shines here. You’ll feel a serious burn and be left extremely sore if you don’t do your stretches. This is what helps make it one of the best Nintendo Switch exclusive titles out there. It delivers an experience unlike any other. One that helps transform the game’s hook from gimmick to legitimate workout.
Monster Hunter Rise
I hopped on the Monster Hunter bandwagon pretty late. Monster Hunter World was my introduction to the franchise. Despite my limited experience with the series, I was still able to notice the difference with the introduction of the Wirebug. Combat felt different compared to World; it was faster, quicker, and more intense.
Or I could just be a complete novice. Either way, Monster Hunter Rise is an absolute blast that’s a perfect fit for the Switch. Does it have some technical issues? Sure, but they’re worth it.
Note: Monster Hunter Rise is a console exclusive for Nintendo Switch.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Fun fact: this is my personal favorite Zelda title of all time!
Link’s Awakening is reimagined for the Nintendo Switch, allowing an all-time classic to truly shine. The art style is incredibly charming and inviting. Combined with some much-needed quality of life updates, Link’s Awakening truly shines on the Switch. It’s a no-brainer addition to this list.
Mario Party Superstars
When Mario Party debuted on the Nintendo Switch, it kind of fizzled. Super Mario Party was a good game that aged like a glass of milk.
Mario Party Superstars, however, is a return to form. It helps, of course, that Nintendo’s choice to focus on the highlights of the franchise. Delivering classic boards and mini-games, Superstars absolutely delivers. The tense moments and ebbs and flows Mario Party is known for are all here.
Is it a shame that there’s plenty of room for more boards and mini-games? Absolutely. Don’t let that keep you away from one of the best Nintendo Switch exclusives available on the market, though. Superstars is well worth it.
Donky Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
This isn’t the first time I’ve discussed a Wii U game. Still, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze deserves its spot on this list. Tropical Freeze is one of the best platformers of all time.
After all these years, Donkey Kong Country can still deliver. The combination of platforming, precision, and difficulty truly shines. For those that missed out the first time around on Wii U, don’t make the same mistake again.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is proof that sometimes bigger is indeed better. The game expands upon prior entries in the franchise, culminating in an absolute epic pick for the Nintendo Switch.
The game truly shines on the Switch hardware. The large-scale open-world JRPG offers gorgeous visuals and engrossing combat. What truly impressed me was a story that keeps the player engrossed. It’s a game that’s worth the daunting time investment necessary.
Paper Mario: The Origami King
The Paper Mario franchise started to feel like it had run its course. The original titles are some of the best Nintendo games of all time, but subsequent releases fell by the wayside.
Origami King is a return to form for Paper Mario. Its strategic turn-based battle system delivers alongside yet another wonderful cast of characters. Some criticize Origami King for being less of an RPG than other games in the series, it’s more of a minor critique than anything. The story and interactions with sidekicks delivers an experience that’s one of the best Nintendo Switch has to offer.
Cadence of Hyrule
Crypt of the Necrodancer is an addictive and unique dungeon crawler where your character moves to the beat of the music. It’s a game I fell in love with the first time I played it.
Cadence of Hyrule is Crypt of the Necrodancer with a Legend of Zelda theme. Naturally, it’s going to be an absolutely amazing pick.
The gameplay marriage of dungeon crawling, adventuring, and music all work perfectly together. Its an experience that will put a smile on your face.
Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together!
I’m digging deep into the archives of Nintendo Switch exclusives here. Snipperclips was originally released alongside the Nintendo Switch in March 2017. It delivered incredibly solid and enjoyable co-op puzzle gameplay. There’s an inherent charm playing with a friend side-by-side as you rest the Switch console on a table.
Maybe that friend is a girl you like that you’d like to date and possibly one day marry. Am I talking about my current wife? Absolutely. She probably doesn’t remember playing Snipperclips with me, but I certainly do.
Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl
There’s been much made about some of the Pokemon games we’ve seen released for Switch. It’s telling that the franchise’s best entry on switch is a remaster of the DS titles.
I have to admit that Diamond and Pearl have aged really well. Upon their original release, they became something of an afterthought for me personally, but I’ve come to enjoy them when compared to other mainline entries in the franchise.
Personally, I disagree with what the critics have said when it comes to Diamond and Pearl’s place amongst other Pokemon games. It’s a great game and deserves its place on our list.
Mario Golf: Super Rush
Recent Mario sports titles have had their issues. Mario Golf: Super Rush is able to overcome those issues thanks to its marquee mode: Super Rush.
The chaos of sprinting to your ball after each shot makes for an incredibly entertaining experience. It’s a very welcome game made that accompanies an enjoyable, albeit shallow, traditional golfing experience.
Super Mario Bros. 35
A lot of people wondered how a Super Mario Bros. Battle Royale would work. Some thought it was just Nintendo trying to capitalize on the genre’s popularity. Others dismissed it as a throwaway game. I, on the other hand, dove in to see what the game was about.
As the hours flew by, I realized this was somehow one of the best games available for Nintendo Switch.
Super Mario Bros. 35 is beyond addictive. The hook of completing old-school Mario platforming while competing against others manages to work wonders. It adds in an enjoyable twist and degree of difficulty to the levels we’ve completed countless times. It’s not perfect, but it never had to be.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Few franchises have experienced a glow-up like Luigi’s Mansion. Its initial release as a Gamecube launch title was a good game, but it was also severely lacking. 2013’s Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for the 3DS expanded upon the original in every way. Now, with 2019’s Luigi’s Mansion 3, we’ve achieved one of the best Nintendo Switch exclusive titles ever created.
The game is jam-packed with puzzles to solve, floors to explore, and ghosts to encounter. Luigi’s Mansion 3 also showcases how the series has evolved. It sticks true to its action-adventure roots, equally emphasizing both the action and adventure genres. The result is a new way to experience platforming style gameplay in more of a 3D environment.