It should be no surprise that the Nintendo Switch has incredible exclusive games. The best of the best represents the pinnacle of gaming. Say what you want about Nintendo; they sure know how to make one heck of a video game.
Over five years have passed since the Switch launch in March of 2017. Since then, countless titles, both major AAA and indie, have blessed the Nintendo console. While not every game has been a home run, the best titles have had a lasting impact on gamers.
Let’s rank the 15 best Nintendo Switch exclusives. As more games come out, we’ll update the list as we see fit.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus Is a New Way To Play Pokémon
The mainline Pokémon games are running a little stale. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a breath of fresh air. The game takes place in the past in the modern-day Sinnoh region. As a result, the game focuses on the uneasy relationship humans have with Pokémon.
Gameplay evolves beyond the traditional formula. There’s a sense of danger around every corner as wild Pokémon feel like a genuine threat. Impressively, the game keeps catching hundreds of the same Pokémon an enjoyable task.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope Is a Surprisingly Amazing Tactical Strategy Game
The original Mario + Rabbids defied the odds to be a fantastic turn-based strategy game. The sequel builds on the original and delivers an even better game.
Sparks of Hope isn’t just one of the best Nintendo Switch exclusives. It’s also one of the best games Ubisoft has ever made. Learning from the original’s flaws, Sparks of Hope is a refined experience that hopefully builds the foundation for future installments. As long as Mario + Rabbids games keep coming out, we’ll gladly keep playing them.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Is a JRPG That Ranks Among the Best Nintendo Switch Exclusives
Few Nintendo games can match the scope and scale of the Xenoblade franchise. From its origins on the Nintendo Wii to the most recent release, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, these are definitive JRPG experiences.
Monolith Soft and Nintendo capture the essence of what makes the genre magical. You and your friends traversing huge environments to save the world is a wonderful feeling. The game is backed by sensational combat and a great cast of characters.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 Is the Best in the Franchise
We’ve come a long way from the Nintendo GameCube. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is easily the best in the series.
The action-adventure game features an impressive amount of variety and creativity with its level design. Nintendo and Next Level Games have honed in on what makes the Luigi’s Mansion games special. As a result, they can deliver an imaginative, spooky, and enjoyable game that leaves us wanting more from the series in the future.
Splatoon 3 Delivers More Satisfying Action
Nintendo’s third-person shooter franchise is one of the best Nintendo Switch exclusives you can play right now. It has a lot to live up to, considering the strength of its predecessor, Splatoon 2. Splatoon 3 delivers an impressive amount of content, and welcome revamps to the series.
It may be lacking marquee new features you’d expect from a sequel. Instead, Splatoon 3 focuses on polishing the experience to an immaculate shine. It’s easy to lose track of time with Nintendo’s newest shooter.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Lets You Relax and Unwind
Animal Crossing games hold a special place in our hearts for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s a chance to build relationships with their virtual neighbors. Others enjoy collecting all the game’s items and decorating their house. Personally, I enjoy the brief respite from reality that comes with the release of a new game in the series.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out at the perfect time. It was an excellent way to escape the struggles of a global pandemic and unwind on our new island.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Brings Everyone Back for One Last Ride
Everybody is indeed here in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Every playable character from the franchise’s past returns in what is, pun intended, the ultimate version of Smash.
The game’s impressive roster of characters isn’t the only thing to love here. A surprisingly enjoyable single-player campaign can offer at least 50 hours of gameplay. Trust me; my wife spent weeks doing everything she could to 100% the campaign.
Smash Bros. games are always an event, and Ultimate is the headlining act. If this truly is the last game in the series, it’s going out on top.
Super Mario Maker 2 Is Everything You’ve Wanted in a 2D Mario Platformer
One of the best Wii U games is also one of the best Nintendo Switch games. Super Mario Maker 2 is back and better than ever.
The Super Mario franchise as a whole has enjoyed a renaissance as of late. While Odyssey (more on that later) delivers an incredibly 3D Mario experience, Super Mario Maker 2 is a classic 2D Mario game. Between Nintendo’s default levels and the impressive creativity of the community, don’t be surprised to spend hundreds of hours with this game.
Even if you do, you’ll only scratch the surface of what’s available.
Metroid Dread Is Undoubtedly One of the Best Nintendo Switch Games Available
We’re still (im)patiently waiting for Metroid Prime 4. Thankfully, Metroid Dread has us covered.
Returning the series to its side-scrolling roots, Metroid Dread is an incredible achievement. Developer MercurySteam continues to impress with the Metroid franchise. Their ability to modernize the classic Metroid formula results in one of 2021’s best games.
Metroid Dread is everything you could ever want from a modern-day Metroidvania game. Its bosses are challenging, its exploration is enticing, and its combat is incredibly satisfying.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses Is a Masterclass in Turn-based Strategy
The Fire Emblem games have always delivered classic turn-based strategy gameplay. Recent releases have leaned further into their storytelling and RPG experiences as well. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the culmination of everything the franchise has delivered thus far.
Three Houses is a massive achievement in tactical combat, relationship building, and storytelling. It’s a deep, engaging experience that is hard to put down when it gets going.
Golf Story Is One of the Best Nintendo Switch Indies
Who could have guessed that a Golf RPG would be one of the best exclusives for Nintendo Switch?
Golf Story is a charming game that delivers by mixing nostalgia and comfort. It harkens back to the Mario Golf games for GameBoy. However, the mix of golf and storytelling is expanded here. Despite being a game about golf, Golf Story’s greatest strengths are the characters and naturally occurring events.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land Is One of 2022’s Best Games
The Kirby games have always been enjoyable. Yet they could never quite reach the levels of success of Super Mario. Kirby and the Forgotten Land changes all of that.
Nintendo continues its run of success on Nintendo Switch with another home run. Forgotten Land brings the Kirby platforming formula into the modern day. Bringing the franchise to 3D for the first time delivers an experience you’ll never forget.
The same level of imagination from Mario Odyssey is here; the game opens up many options when Kirby swallows available objects. It’s a beautiful mesh of platforming and puzzle solving that will keep you coming back for more.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Is the Most Critically Acclaimed Nintendo Switch Exclusive
One of the launch games for Nintendo Switch is also one of its best.
It’s hard to believe that Nintendo made a game like Breath of the Wild. The game takes a lot from modern-day open world RPGs and expands upon them. The freedom for players to do whatever they want is truly impressive. There’s no handholding here; you’re kicked out of the tutorial, sent into the world of Hyrule, and you’re on your own.
There’s a reason so many recent open world games have drawn inspiration from Breath of the Wild. It’s not just one of the best Legend of Zelda games but also one of the best games, period.
Super Mario Odyssey Is Just as Beloved as Breath of the Wild
I could spend all day telling you why I love Super Mario Odyssey. It’s the kind of game only Nintendo can make.
Balancing new ideas being introduced without overwhelming the player is impressive. This works because Mario Odyssey isn’t afraid to take risks. Its level design and power-up abilities are screaming with confidence.
Super Mario Odyssey is easily the best platformer that has been released in the modern era of gaming. It’s better than the Galaxy games, and one day may even have a case against Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe May Just Be the Absolute Best Nintendo Switch Game
It’s hard to deny that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is one of the best Nintendo Switch games. It features some of the best gameplay the series has ever seen. Moreover, the darn thing continues to sell like hotcakes even five years after release.
Continued DLC support has helped an already popular online community blossom further. Racing against others in Mario Kart online is an absolute blast. It’s also frustrating, but it’s always a good time.