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The Switch is a sort of inverted version of the Wii or Wii U. While those consoles all but demanded that games had to be redesigned to make the most of their strange features, the Switch manages to make old ideas new again simply by allowing you to take them out into the wild. Dark Souls on the tube! Mario at the beach!

While Nintendo's had a thing for portability since the days of the Game Boy, the Switch is also defined by its multiplayer accessibility, and was sold on the unlikely promise of friends gathered together in public spaces crowded around a single screen.

In the end, that sales pitch came true. So whether you're looking for a game for the TV, the commute, or one of those improbably stylish rooftop parties from the launch ads, hopefully there's something for you here in our list of the best Nintendo Switch games.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

To make a game about nature, Zelda's creators had to change the way they created. The precision tooling of every part of the environment had to be hidden, with intricate dungeons that clip together across the landscape replaced with massive vistas that at first appear thrillingly empty.

Do not be fooled. Breath of the Wild is as obsessively designed and crafted as any Zelda game before it, but everything in this huge, seemingly untamable game is put in place to make you feel lost and small and at the mercy of the elements. Pick a direction and explore: an adventure of genuine beauty and revelation awaits.

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Want to read more? See our full Zelda: Breath of the Wild review.

Super Mario Odyssey

Odyssey is a wonderfully, purposefully incoherent Mario game in which each world has its own costumes and gimmicks, but also its own defining aesthetic. After the rolling majesty of Breath of the Wild's Hyrule, it's a bit like diving into a jumble sale. But like all jumble sales there are brilliant things to discover: strange worlds that glitter with unusual textures and seem to be driven by alien rules.

And at the heart of it all, that brilliant sense of weight and momentum and pace that makes Mario the platformer than nobody else can touch. So Odyssey is a game of moments, in other words - and what could be more like Mario than that?

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Want to read more? See our full Super Mario Odyssey review.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Countless others have taken on the Mario Kart formula since its inception in 1992, not least of which is Nintendo itself, delivering various mutations, variations and iterations over the years. It wasn't until Mario Kart 8, however, that it matched the brilliance of the SNES original, with a work of stunning imagination and impeccable craft.

It wasn't until the release of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe a few years after, however, that Nintendo delivered what's inarguably the best in the series to date; bundling together all of the DLC that came to the Wii U version post-release, most importantly it also added a brilliant Battle Mode that completed the package. It's thrillingly close to perfection.

Want to read more? See our full Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review.

Splatoon 2

Splatoon 2 is a glorious team-based shooter with a unique territory capturing mechanic, but that's only half of the appeal. The arenas are great and the weapons are a pleasure to use, and there is a simple playgroup joy to chucking that much ink around, but Splatoon's Switch instalment lingers in the mind because of its placefulness.

Much has been written about the Switch's bare-bones front-end. For the first days of the console's lifespan, Inkopolis Square felt like it was the heart not just of this wonderful game but of the charming, personable, colourful and surprising console that runs it. What a thing!

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Want to read more? See our full Splatoon 2 review.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate

It doesn't even matter if you like fighting games or not: Smash Bros is for anyone who's ever fallen for video games full stop, a mad, impossibly expansive and expertly engineered celebration not just of Nintendo's rich past but that of the entire medium.

The cast is outrageously vast, taking in all-comers from Mario to Metal Gear, the options are plentiful and the soundtrack is just to die for. Oh, and the game underneath all that is alright too, a wilfully chaotic dust-up that's best enjoyed shoulder to shoulder with friends. You'll find a little of all video games here in Smash Bros. Ultimate, a breathless celebration of the medium in all its mad, incoherent and joyous whole.

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Want to read more? See our full Super Smash Bros Ultimate review.

Arms

How's this for a pitch: the Mario Kart team does for fighting games what it once did for driving games in a ludicrously colourful, energetic and original Switch exclusive. Yet despite delivering so well on that promise, Arms has never found the audience it deserves. For shame, though that shouldn't stop you picking up what remains one of the highlights of the Switch's line-up.

Here's a fighter that's instantly accessible, offers boundless depth and does all this with one hell of a spring in its step. Oh, and springs in its arms too, as your fighters reach into the screen in an enjoyably pliable brand of pugilism. The chances of a sequel now seem slim, so make the most of a game that's truly one of a kind.

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Want to read more? See our full Arms review.

Tetris 99

Battle Royale Tetris sounds like a joke, but it turns out to be the basis for one of the most energising console exclusives in years. It's Tetris, a game you've been playing forever, but now you're up against an entire gameshow board of rivals.

There's two kinds of beauty here: the beauty of a game you know innately being twisted into a new form, and then the buried beauty of the hidden rules and synergies that will see you racing up the leaderboard. Tetris isn't just the eternal game, it's an eternally surprising one.

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Want to read more? See why we think Tetris 99 might be the best battle royale yet.

Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze

Unfairly maligned when it first launched - something to do, perhaps, with the desire from fans for developer Retro to return to the Metroid Prime series that made its name - Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze has emerged over time as something of a modern classic.

Here's a 2D platformer with muscle, heft and, most importantly, imagination, piling on set-piece after set-piece in a gloriously creative spin on one of gaming's most well-worn mediums. It's all helped along by an impeccable score, making for one of the all-time great platformers, regardless of platform.

It's so good, in fact, that I'll admit I was a little disappointed when it was announced that Retro was, after all these years, returning to Metroid Prime, because I'd dearly love to see more of this.

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Want to read more? See our full Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze review.

Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age

There are other Final Fantasy games available for the Nintendo Switch - there's 7 and 9 if you want to sample some of the PS1 classics, or even 10-2 if you want an offbeat gem - but none of them is quite so welcome as Final Fantasy 12. Partly it's because this presents our first chance to play Final Fantasy 12 on the move, and partly it's because this most curious of spins on Square's formula is so perfectly suited to portable play.

Set up your gambits, optimise your team and then let them mop up marks while you go about your daily business. It's not perfect, of course, but here's hoping that Final Fantasy 12 finds the love it so dearly deserves not that it's found the perfect platform.

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Want more? See our full Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age review and buy now from Amazon.

Picross S

Picross has become such an embedded part of Nintendo's handheld portfolio that it's easy to forget it's there. It's easy, in fact, to think these aren't video games at all - they're close relatives to sudoku, living alongside them in some publications as nonograms, and they offer the simple thrill of logic and deduction.

For all that, it's easy to forget just how good the formula is, and see that you've clocked up *checks play time* 150 hours across the three instalments released to date on the Nintendo Switch. If it's a commute-eating puzzler you're after, they really don't come much better than this.

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Lumines Remastered

Lumines started life on the PSP, and despite the transition from Sony to Nintendo, Remastered feels like a homecoming. The only puzzler to truly challenge Tetris in terms of universality or brilliance - okay, maybe Drop7 comes close - is built for a screen like this, bright and luxuriously wide and yet held, somehow, in your hands. The levels have never looked better and the use of vibration is sublime.

Mostly, though, it's Lumines back where it belongs, inches from your eyeballs, the timeline racing through again and again and leaving the glinting landscape behind it transformed once again. Jeepers this is good!

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Want to read more? See our full Lumines Remastered review.

Windjammers

Once upon a time, there was nothing more exotic, nothing more nineties than the Neo Geo, and one game on that most exquisite and powerful of machines was more exotic and nineties than them all. From the chromed lettering of developer Data East to the wraparound mirrored sunglasses of Hiromi Mita, Windjammers is arcade perfection, serving up a delicious alchemy of Street Fighter and Pong.

It's one of the very best local multiplayer games available, which makes it an absolute essential for the Switch. Now it's not a case of hoping the pub you're heading off to has a well-stocked Neo Geo cabinet propping up the corner - thanks to the marvels of modern technology, you can challenge someone to a game of Windjammers wherever you may be.

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Want to read more? See our full Windjammers review.

Puyo Puyo Tetris

The blending of two puzzling greats, one austere and angular, one squishy and sugary, makes for an absolute classic in its own right. But there's more to Puyo Puyo Tetris than the ingenious nature of its design.

In the early days of the Switch, this game above all others delivered on the console's dream: a bunch of friends, loose in the world, all crowded round a tiny screen propped up on the table in front of them while four-player chaos unfolded. If you've ever wondered what that stand on the back of the Switch is really for, wonder no longer. It's for Puyo Puyo Tetris.

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Want to read more? See our full Puyo Puyo Tetris review.

Devil Engine

The Switch isn't short of shmups. Pick up Konami's Anniversary Arcade Collection and you can play Gradius 2, one of the greatest of them all, or maybe you want to sample the classic Thunder Force 4 via M2's impressive Sega Ages port. Or you could go through a large chunk of Psikyo's back catalogue, or get an impeccable introduction to the genre with the smart, accessible Danmaku Unlimited 3.

Or, if it's just one game you're after, you could turn to Devil Engine - an all-new effort that's studied the classics and added its own unique flavour. It's an incredibly enjoyable game, and one that looks - and sounds - the part too. Devil Engine just goes to show that, sometimes, they really do make them like they used to.

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Want to read more? See our full Devil Engine review.

Into the Breach

A tactics game concerned with the world's dinkiest invasion, Into the Breach is a study in economy. From the game's tiny play areas and short match times to the sparse animation and simple rules that govern a unit, everything here is bright and glinting and wonderfully fit for purpose.

Such basic elements lead to rich surprises, however, and this is one of those games that you can play for days and weeks and months without ever feeling that you've ceased to learn.

Here's a tip to start you off: don't just think about what a unit can accomplish on a turn, but also think about where it ends up once the turn is finished. If you've never played this, I envy you. Tactical perfection awaits.

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Want to read more? See our full Into the Breach review.


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About the author

Matthew Reynolds

Matthew Reynolds

Guides Editor

Matthew edits guides and other helpful things at Eurogamer.net. When not doing that, he's out and about playing Pokémon Go or continuing to amass his amiibo collection.