Illustration by Sam Woolley

You just bought a new Nintendo Switch. Now it’s time to figure out what games you want to play. We’ve got you covered.

Since the Switch came out, Nintendo has managed to maintain a solid ratio of good games on their system. At this point there’s a healthy selection of fantastic Switch games to choose from.

As with all of our Bests lists, we’ll continue updating this one as long as people keep putting out new Switch games. Each game we add will need to replace an existing entry. This list in particular got really good relatively quickly, so expect it to become even better as more and more games come out.

Here are the 12 best games you can get for the Nintendo Switch.

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a monumental artistic achievement, a video game so creative and full of surprises that we’ll be talking about it for years to come. It’s also unlike any Zelda game before it. For years, Zelda games were defined by “no.” You can’t reach this place until later; you can’t solve this puzzle until you get the right item. Breath of the Wild is the best Zelda game to date, and it accomplishes that simply by saying yes.

A Good Match For: Anyone who likes games that let you explore and make your own fun; horse lovers.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone who preferred the strict structure of other recent Zelda games.

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Read our review.

Study our tips for the game.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Walmart | Best Buy | Gamestop

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Stardew Valley is an already-great game made indispensable by the Switch. The 2016 farming/dating/life sim lets you forget your worries and embrace a soothingly banal life in the countryside. You water your crops in the morning, and think about how you’re going to improve your farm. You head in to town and stop by the general store to get seeds and chat up the cute boy you’ve had your eye on. And if you want, you explore the mysterious mine, gather magical materials, and uncover the deeper secrets of the valley. It’s a game with a seemingly endless amount to do, and it fits perfectly onto a handheld.

A Good Match For: Fans of games like Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, or Minecraft. Anyone looking for a relaxing but terrifyingly addictive game.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone looking for a straightforward game. Stardew Valley is calming and low-key, but it’s also extremely complex and doesn’t alway explain itself that well.

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Read our impressions of the Switch version.

Study our tips for playing the game.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Available digitally on the Nintendo eShop.

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Look, we weren’t expecting much from Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle either. We were right there laughing along with the rest of the internet when we first saw those leaked promotional images of Ubisoft’s annoying Rabbid mascots dressed up as iconic Mario characters. But then Ubisoft showed the game itself, and… wait, a Mario-inspired take on XCOM tactics? One that looks like a first-party Nintendo game thanks to Nintendo’s developers lending a hand with production? As it turned out, yep, Mario + Rabbids is a fantastic game. It’s a smart, streamlined take on the XCOM style of turn-based, positional tactics. It’s beautiful looking, and has an excellent musical score. And it’s just really goofy and fun. Each fight is an unpredictable scrum between team Mario and a bunch of chittering, idiot Rabbids, and the constantly escalating challenge will force you to think on your toes. And its digestible, 5-10 minute battles and “just one more match!” addictiveness make it a perfect fit for the handheld Switch.

A Good Match For: Anyone waiting for a good Switch strategy game, XCOM fans, people who think they might like XCOM but are put off by how complicated it seems.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone who just can’t stand Ubisoft’s Rabbids. The game is actually a lot more charming than the corny, Minions-like mascots on the cover might suggest, but if you really hate ‘em, you really hate ‘em.

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Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Walmart | Best Buy | Gamestop

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SteamWorld Dig 2 takes the backtracking, exploration and gradual upgrades of a Metroid game and combines them with the strategic spelunking of Dig Dug. The result is a charming, engrossing side-scroller loaded with smart ideas and clever challenges. That’s... pretty much all we need to say about it. It’s a straightforward gaming pleasure.

A Good Match For: Fans of sidescrollers, Metroid-inspired games, and digging.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone who hates platforming. SteamWorld Dig 2 isn’t as hard as some other similar games, but it does have some tricky challenges.

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Read our impressions of the Switch version.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Available digitally on the Nintendo eShop.

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Ah, the blue shell. There may be no better metaphor for the bleakness of life. One minute you’re cruising along, on top of the world, and then… BAM, you’re totally hosed. Just when you thought you had it in the bag, life throws a blue shell.

Mario Kart 8 isn’t really all that philosophical, of course. It’s the same Mario Kart formula re-tuned and polished to an absurd degree, easily one of the most fun party games you can play on the Switch or any other console. Best of all, the Deluxe version on Switch includes all the DLC maps and characters from the Wii U game and also completely overhauls that version’s woebegone battle mode. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the definitive version of an already great game.

A Good Match For: People who like moving really fast, people who like seeing Luigi look really mean.

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Not a Good Match For: People who don’t like Mario Kart? Do those people exist?

Read our review of the Wii U version, and of the Deluxe Switch version.

Watch a tournament that we staged at company HQ. 

Purchase From: Amazon | Walmart | Best Buy | Gamestop

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Bright lights, loud music, and a towering dominatrix beating the living hell out of a bunch of monsters: Bayonetta gets the sequel she deserves. Everything the first game did, the second game does just as well, while throwing in a bunch of new weapons and abilities in on top. If you’ve ever wanted to whip a massive angel into submission using your hair, this is your game. We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention the first Bayonetta, which is also a fantastic game and which you can get for a discount if you buy it along with the sequel.

A Good Match For: Fans of fast-moving action games like Devil May Cry and, well, the first Bayonetta.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone looking for something relaxed to play, people who prefer games with a more subtle, low-key aesthetic.

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Read our review of the Wii U version, and our take on the Switch port.

Watch the Switch version in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Walmart | Best Buy | Gamestop

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Golf Story is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a story about golf, and the emphasis is placed equally on both words in the title. It’s a narrative game with light RPG elements that also happens to have an in-depth golfing system. Combining aspects of pop golf movies like Caddyshack and Happy Gilmore with a more traditional underdog sports story, it tells the tale of a talented young wannabe golf pro and his rise through the ranks to the heights of golfing glory. To do that, you’ll need to master the intricacies of its golf gameplay, which gracefully walk the line between realistic and arcade-y. This one’s a real charmer, and a lovely Switch surprise.

A Good Match For: Fans of story-heavy sports games, people who like golf but want something less dry than your average PGA-licensed game.

Not A Good Match For: People who hate golf. Golf Story may be a story-centric game, but you still play a lot of golf.

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Read our impressions.

Study our tips for playing the game.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Available digitally on the Nintendo eShop.

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Darkest Dungeon is familiar at first: you send a band of intrepid adventurers into the dungeon that lies beneath a huge, spooky mansion. It quickly drops the familiar fantasy RPG veneer and becomes an excruciating, enthralling plunge into the depths of the human psyche. Your characters will suffer traumas physical and psychological as they plumb the depths in search of truth and treasure, and you’ll be tasked with maintaining them as best you can before they inevitably die. Bleak and engrossing, Darkest Dungeon was named one of Kotaku’s favorite video games of 2016 when it was released on PC, and it’s arguably even better on Switch, thanks to the availability of touch and standard controls.

A Good Match For: Fans of eldritch horror, those who like a challenge, people who thirst for turn-based combat.

Not A Good Match For: Those who get frustrated by failure, anyone looking for a happy or fanciful adventure, people who like to see the good guys win in the end.

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Read our review of the PC version, and why we like the Switch port so much.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Available digitally on the Nintendo eShop

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Splatoon 2 builds on the foundation laid by its fantastic Wii U predecessor with a more fleshed-out singleplayer mode, an addictive new co-op mode, and league play at launch. At its core, though, it’s the same brilliant mix of fine-tuned gameplay, Nickelodeon slime and J-pop dazzle that made the original great. It’s a simple idea: you paint the floors, then swim through your paint to move faster and reload your gun, and it works beautifully. It’s easy to get sucked into the grind for the freshest fashion and the highest ranks, but none of that would work if the game weren’t fun, which it most certainly is.

A Good Match For: Anyone looking for an online shooting game that’s a little bit different from the rest. People who like colorful style, fashion, and goofy memes.

Not A Good Match For: Those looking for a more traditional online shooter to play with friends. Splatoon’s party and chat systems are pretty terrible, and it’s way too difficult to casually play with a group.

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Read our review.

Study or tips for inking your spawn, motion controls, and drawing good art.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Walmart | Best Buy | Gamestop

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Celeste is a difficult game, but it’s just so gentle about it. As you help your character mantle and warp-jump her way to the top of the eponymous mountain, you’ll find that no matter how complex a room looks, the underlying solution is simple: jump. That purity of design combines with fine-tuned controls and a charming story to make Celeste into a winning, joyful experience. The music is fantastic, too.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Available digitally on the Nintendo eShop.

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One might be tempted to describe Dragon Quest Builders as “the Dragon Quest version of Minecraft.” That’s an okay starting point, but the comparison ultimately fails to do this game justice. DBQ starts out by following Minecraft’s example, giving you a world completely made of crafting parts and letting you dismantle and rebuild it as you see fit. But it also notably changes the structure by framing everything within an actual narrative, introducing townspeople who send you on specific quests, and generally giving players much more structure to guide them along their way. Dragon Quest Builders is a fantastic game to play on the go, and a natural fit for the Switch.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Available digitally on the Nintendo eShop.

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Super Mario Odyssey is all about freedom, and it is glorious. Unlike recent Mario games, the red-hatted plumber no longer must move forward in a straight line. The timer is gone , and each level is a toybox filled with platforming challenges, surprising secrets, and all kinds of goofy fun. It’s one of the best feeling, most charming, freshest games we’ve played in ages, and a cinch to recommend on the Switch.

A Good Match For: Platforming fans, Mario 64 and Sunshine fans, people who like hats.

Not A Good Match For: People who hate 3D platforming, people who hate hats.

Read our review.

Study our tips for how to jump really, really far.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Walmart | Best Buy | Gamestop

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How has this list changed? Read back through our update history:

3/1/2018: We’ve added Celeste, Dragon Quest: Builders, Darkest Dungeon and Bayonetta 2 while removing Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, Overcooked, Skyrim, and Arms.  

12/6/2017: We’ve added Super Mario Odyssey, Overcooked, and Skyrim and taken off The Binding of Isaac, Puyo Puyo Tetris, and Thumper.

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10/12/2017: We’ve added Golf Story, SteamWorld Dig 2 and Stardew Valley and taken off Jackbox Party Pack 3, Minecraft, and Snipperclips.

9/14/2017: We’ve added Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and removed Cave Story +.

8/9/2017: We’ve added Splatoon 2 and bumped off Disgaea 5.

6/28/2017: Time for our first update, and it’s a big one. We’ve added Minecraft, Arms, Cave Story+, Disgaea 5, Jackbox Party Pack 3 and Thumper, and removed I Am Setsuna and Mr. Shifty. The list will remain capped at 12 games from here on out.

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5/3/2017: And lo, the Switch Bests list was created! No updates yet. Expect more in the near future as we add more games, eventually capping the list at 12.

Want more of the best games on each system? Check out our complete directory:

The Best PC GamesThe Best PS4 GamesThe Best Xbox One GamesThe Best Wii U GamesThe Best PC Virtual Reality GamesThe Best 3DS GamesThe Best PS Vita GamesThe Best Xbox 360 GamesThe Best PS3 GamesThe Best Wii GamesThe Best iPhone GamesThe Best iPad GamesThe Best Android GamesThe Best PSP GamesThe Best Facebook GamesThe Best DS GamesThe Best Mac GamesThe Best Browser GamesThe Best PC Mods

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Note: If you buy any of these games through the retail links in this post, our parent company may get a small share of the sale through the retailers’ affiliates program.