The Nintendo Switch’s success should come as no surprise. It’s an incredibly convenient and well-crafted console, capable of both being a standard home entertainment system and acting as a handheld for when you’re on the go. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be shocking that there are a wealth of great gaming experiences to choose from if you pick up a Switch in 2021. Not all Nintendo Switch games are created equal, but the best of them are some of the greatest games you’ll ever play. Here are our top 10 favourite Nintendo Switch games in 2021.
Breath of the Wild is simultaneously a huge departure from its franchise’s conventions and a return to what made the original The Legend of Zelda great. Its freeform, open-ended exploration makes each discovery a delight, and it forgoes the usual overabundance of items in favour of just a few, each of which can affect multiple situations and puzzles in different ways. We’re only just starting to see the influence Breath of the Wild is having on the gaming sphere, but it’s a landmark game for sure.
Despite years of stopgap releases – Super Mario 3D World, New Super Mario Bros. U, et cetera – Super Mario Odyssey represents an instant return to form for everyone’s favourite plumber. It’s a classic 3D Mario adventure, but the formula’s been shaken up a little; instead of searching for a single star at the conclusion of a lengthy course, you’re now hunting for Moons, which are dotted about each stage and can be collected by completing mini-challenges. This change has revitalised the franchise, and we’re excited to see where it goes next.
It is an unwritten law that every household with a Nintendo console must also have a copy of Mario Kart. The Switch iteration of the classic kart racer comes complete with a staggering number of courses, characters, and karts to choose from. This is the definitive version of Mario Kart, and although many might prefer different instalments to this one, it’s hard to argue with the immediacy and joyousness of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Just don’t play it with friends if you’re hoping to stay away from arguments.
There’s something truly magical about being able to play From Software’s genre-defining masterpiece on a handheld console. Dark Souls: Remastered isn’t at its best on the Switch; frame rates occasionally wobble, and you’re not going to get the kind of graphical fidelity you could enjoy on next-gen platforms. Despite this, Dark Souls: Remastered must be experienced at least once, and the Switch’s convenience is the perfect way to navigate its treacherous dungeons and emotionally involving world.
The original Pokemon Snap is a classic, but there was definitely room for improvement. Happily, New Pokemon Snap has implemented a lot of the changes we would have asked for back in the N64 days. The number of courses, number of ‘mon to snap, and storyline have all been expanded, but at its core, New Pokemon Snap is still the classic rail shooter-come-photography sim we all knew and loved. Pick this one up if you want something a little more slow-paced, but still thrilling.
Since we’re going to have to wait a little longer for an honest-to-goodness 2D Metroid game on the Switch, Hollow Knight is the next best thing. It marries the complex exploratory gameplay of Nintendo’s venerated series with the storytelling and emotional punch of Dark Souls, making for a truly special experience. Hollow Knight is also an embarrassment of riches; just when you think it’s done, it keeps going for another few hours, and it pulls this trick more than once.
Persona 5 Strikers is in a somewhat strange position. It’s a direct sequel to a game you can’t actually get on the Switch, but it finds itself on Nintendo’s console nevertheless. If you did play Persona 5 on PS4 or PC – and if you want to carry the group’s next adventure around with you – then Persona 5 Strikers is an excellent proposition on the Switch. Don’t let Koei Tecmo’s name fool you; this isn’t a Dynasty Warriors spinoff. Instead, it’s a fully-fledged action RPG starring some of the most lovable characters in RPG history.
Sure, it’s a little less content-rich than its predecessors, but Animal Crossing: New Horizons offers the same ultra-relaxing gameplay you’ve come to expect from the franchise. This time around, it’s all about Nook’s tropical island paradise, and there’s plenty to do there including shopping, shaping and sculpting your island, and chatting to the local residents. Think of New Horizons more as a place to live rather than a game; it’s an ongoing experience that sucks you in and keeps you playing.
Supergiant’s action-RPG-roguelike hybrid pulls off the impossible: integrating narrative into randomised gameplay and making it feel completely natural. You are Zagreus, rebellious son of Hades, who has pledged to escape the titular underworld in order to find his mother. Thing is, the pesky place keeps shifting around you. The moment-to-moment gameplay is satisfying enough, but it’s in the world and characters of Greek mythology that Hades truly comes alive.
“Everyone is here,” said Sakurai, and he wasn’t kidding. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate boasts character inclusions from franchises as iconic as Mario, Zelda, and Metroid, but they’re joined by top-class third party offerings such as Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud and Sephiroth, Tekken’s Kazuya, and Banjo-Kazooie’s…well…Banjo and Kazooie. Smash is an ultra-fast, ultra-technical fighter that rewards mastery, but it’s also insanely accessible thanks to the sheer number of modes and options on offer.