The Nintendo Switch is just over three years old and shows no signs of slowing down. Part of the gaming system’s appeal is the unique home-and-away design that lets you play your favorite titles on a big-screen TV when docked or in handheld mode when you’re waiting in line at the post office. It’s especially convenient for commuters or people with busy lifestyles. There’s now even the cheaper, portable-only Nintendo Switch Lite if you don’t want to bother with a TV at all.
The other huge appeal is the games. The Nintendo Switch saw one of the most immeasurable first-year libraries in gaming history. And more must-have games are coming out every month. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an action RPG that will be spoken about for years to come. Splatoon 2 is a more-than-worthy follow-up to the best Wii U original, and Super Mario Odyssey is utterly one of the best Mario games ever made.
Critics will likely retort, “You only mentioned first-party games!” Yes, because they’re darling titles. That said, the Switch has gotten plenty of solid second-and third-party games as well, with surprisingly strong ports from both previous and current generations like Bayonetta 2, Diablo III, Doom, Skyrim, and The Witcher 3.
The arrangement is strong with retro and indie games, too. Hamster, a company that practices in many arcade-to-console ports, has brought loads of SNK’s classic Neo Geo titles to the system, such as The King of Fighters ’98 and Metal Slug. Nintendo is eking out its own classic pre-NES arcade games, and, though a true Virtual Console is still curiously missing from the system, the Nintendo Switch Online service includes a library of dozens of NES and SNES classics. Meanwhile, indies are extremely well-represented, with games like Cuphead, Hollow Knight, Night in the Woods, Inside, Into the Breach, Slay the Spire, The Missing: J.J. Macfield, and the Island of Memories, and Undertale available on the Switch.
In crisp, even with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X on the horizon, Nintendo Switch is the most compelling console on the market. And it has plenty of excellent games in its catalog. If you want to experience Joy-Con life, these games are where you should start. They’re all compatible with the Nintendo Switch Lite, too.
For something more specific, here are the best Nintendo Switch games for kids and some overlooked games we think to play especially well on the Nintendo Switch Lite.
1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the ultimate digital escape, providing you with the getaway island that you’ll live in, customize, and watch flourish over time. New Horizons builds on the already addicting gameplay of Nintendo’s beloved life simulator, allowing you to craft your items and rack up rewarding Nook Miles as you catch bugs, plant trees, interact with your neighbors and find cool clothes and household items for your villager.
With tons of creatures to collect, a museum to curate, and new shops and facilities to fund, there’s always something to work towards in New Horizons, making every moment feel rewarding as you build up the tropical island of your dreams. Whether you’re customizing your ideal home or visiting friends online to trade fruit and gear, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the relaxing, pleasant wind-down game that every Switch owner needs right now.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sets you loose in a massive, gorgeous open world, where you can battle through dungeons, solve puzzles, paraglide around the skies or simply cook some food. The inspiration of the Wild redefines what an open-world game could be, with a explorable Hyrule in which every mountain is climbable and every hidden path leads to a new adventure (you can even bee-line it to the boss if you’re so willing. Among memorable boss battles, tons of challenging puzzle shrines, a gorgeous art style, and some of the various dynamic combat in the series, there’s a good reason many deliberate BoTW to be the best Zelda game of all time.
3. Tetris 99 – Nintendo Switch
Even Tetris has gotten in on the battle royale craze. Tetris 99 has you and 98 other players play Tetris against one another in real-time, clearing lines and sending blocks to enemies’ play areas until there’s one competitor left standing. There’s a surprising amount of strategy here, as you can choose to attack specific players or let the AI decide who gets flooded with blocks as you frantically clear spaces. But most importantly, Tetris 99 is just fun, fast-paced Tetris, and you’ll quickly wonder where the time has gone as you tell yourself you’ll play just one more game. Tetris 99 is free to Nintendo Switch Online members, though anyone (including non-subscribers) can purchase the $10 Big Block DLC to gain offline play as well as new modes.
4. Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time
Samurai Jack isn’t just a faithful adaptation of the beloved Cartoon Network show — it’s also one of the best pure action-combat games you can find on the Switch. Part hack-and-slash, part platformer, Battle Through Time has a surprisingly intricate combat system that lets you unlock a variety of powerful moves and combo them together in dazzling ways. The game’s gorgeous art style looks like the classic cartoon come to life, and it even brings back original voice actors (including Phil LaMarr as Jack himself). If you’re a fan of the show or just want a great slice-em-up on Switch, you can’t go wrong with Battle Through Time.
5. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Nintendo Switch
By far the best racing game ever, especially for kids, is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch. Both kids and parents alike can enjoy the long-established series of Mario Kart, as the game is loaded with classic tracks, characters, and that natural rush from earlier redundancies. Just make sure that no one gets further into it – it’s that fun.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is most suitable with multiplayer, allowing up to four players to share the screen nearby as they go head-to-head on their TV in split-screen mode. There are over 42 characters, 48 tracks, and various vehicle combinations like motorcycles, providing for a definitive and full experience of a Mario Kart racing game. Our tester enjoyed Hover mode the most, where you can take side ramps and ride a part of the map that defies gravity. She thought the controls were smooth and intuitive throughout the game. Best of all, kids can take their Switch out for a handheld mode adventure and play with others who have the game.
6. Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo Switch)
Super Mario Odyssey is by far the most immeasurable Nintendo Switch game for kids due to its huge 3D kingdoms, assorted environments, fluid sandbox, and entertaining gameplay. The latest installment of the Mario series covers a ton of items and costumes for Mario to collect and a new way of playing by controlling objects, characters, and animals (dogs, dinosaurs, etc.) with your hat.
Huge levels like cities modeled after New York, vast green jungles, and isolated deserts await Mario in Super Mario Odyssey; the game has so many diverse places to explore that you’ll always discover something new. Our reviewer particularly liked how the game combined the new visuals of these worlds with the old visuals of previous Mario games, adding to nostalgia. If you happen to find something interesting, Mario’s hat, Cappy, can be thrown at it and players can interact with it. The open-world game encourages exploration while collecting various items and stars to complete objectives.
7. The cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer
Crypt of the NecroDancer was a surprise indie hit in 2015, catching gamers’ eyes and ears with its combination of roguelike randomized dungeon exploration with rhythm game beat-keeping. It hit the Nintendo Switch in 2018, and now it’s back in a new and much more Nintendo-specific form: Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer, a title that injects rhythm game mechanics into The Legend of Zelda. This Switch game seamlessly combines Zelda and Crypt of the NecroDancer, creating a surprisingly accessible and thoroughly enjoyable experience played to the beat of Zelda’s classic and music.
8. Dead Cells – Nintendo Switch
The traditional words used to describe Dead Cells are “roguelike” and “Metroidvania.” Both are common genres, but Dead Cells is a game with a unique conceit: you will play, you will die. But in Dead Cells you get to keep your upgrades and then restart with those upgrades, meaning you slowly progress through the game more easily as you play. Very cool. See GameSpot’s Dead Cells review.
9. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition
One of the most beloved role-playing games of this generation (and arguably of all-time) has finally landed on Nintendo Switch. As its name suggests, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition packs in every bit of content found in CD Projekt Red’s massive open-world adventure, plus all previously released downloadable content (including the popular Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine expansions). While The Witcher 3’s Switch port reduces visual quality in the name of playability, it still emphasizes the same massive world, gripping story with branching narratives and satisfying combat that make Geralt of Rivia’s third outing so memorable. And now you can take it all on the go.
10. Wargroove – Nintendo Switch [Digital Code]
Wargroove is a turn-based strategy game developed and published by Chucklefish. Its development was heavily inspired by titles like Advance Wars to provide current generations of consoles and PC gaming platforms with a high-quality strategy game. Players take the role of Mercia, queen of Cherrystone, as she leads her army against hordes of vampires, monsters, and undead. Players eventually gain the ability to use special commander moves to heal their units or give certain bonuses. Different units working together give special damage or defense bonuses, encouraging players to develop different tactics for taking down enemy units.
The main campaign is relatively short, maybe 12 hours, making it great for children who are getting interested in turn-based strategy games. Wargroove also supports multiplayer via local connections on online play. Players can either battle one another to see who is the best commander or work together to take down a common enemy. Multiplayer mode also lets players create custom maps and campaigns to share with friends, boosting replay value. The single-player mode has scalable difficulty, letting players set individual parameters for income, damage taken, and special ability charge times to create a truly custom experience.
11. Indivisible – PlayStation 4
While many role-playing games draw their influences from Western folklore, even RPGs made in Japan, Indivisible carves out a unique identity with a fresh Southeast Asian flavor. The 2D animation is exquisite, as we would expect from the developer of Skullgirls. The gameplay is a mix of nonlinear spaces to explore and enemies to defeat in tactical battles. Of the two types of play, the exploration sections impress us more. In these bits, you find your way forward by using an ax to fling yourself up walls or by shooting arrows to blind sentries. That’s just more satisfying than the frantic messes the fights, caught awkwardly between turn-based and real-time combat, can turn into.
12. Nintendo Splatoon 2 – Nintendo Switch
Believe it or not, there is a kid-friendly Nintendo Switch shooter game for kids called Splatoon 2.
Who says shooter genres have to be bloody and violent? Nintendo’s Splatoon 2 instead takes the approach of being a paintball-style game that focuses less on brutal realism and more on family fun.
Splatoon 2 is a team-based, third-person shooter where players use colored ink to attack opponents and beat goals. Players can transform into squids and navigate through the ink that splattered to avoid detection. Various game modes include an online and offline multiplayer Turf War battle where players must cover the entire level with ink. Our reviewer thought the game’s premise made it unique compared to other shooters, along with the fact that it features a variety of different weapons and is just as fun and intense as the more popular shooters on the market.
13. Dark Souls – Nintendo Switch
Who wouldn’t want to play one of the best video games ever made on public transport?
Dark Souls isn’t perfect on the Nintendo Switch and, at the aforementioned point, you could secure a strong argument the most reliable version is the remastered version on the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X. That being said, you can’t play either of those on the toilet.
14. Mojang Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition
There’s no rush or push in Minecraft. Kids can experience a nice casual game where they can build whatever they want without expensive Legos. Minecraft is only limited by the player’s imagination, generating huge random worlds where kids can build anything from little homes to gigantic cities using virtual blocks and crafting items like ladders, stairs, and more.
Minecraft highlights two gameplay options: Survival and Creative Mode. Our inspector played with his six-year-old son and conceived the game was particularly enjoyable while in Creative Mode. Kids who play Survival Mode will have to mine deep for resources and building materials and will be forced to fend off giant spiders, skeletons, zombies, and other mobs of enemies when the sunsets. Creative Mode offers a more relaxed way of playing, giving infinite resources for players to build whatever they want on their own time at their own pace. The game also features a multiplayer mode, so kids and their friends or parents can join in on building something together.
15. ARMS – Nintendo Switch
Arms is a motion-controlled game that’s like boxing. Except you have big stretchy robot arms and everyone has special powers. Obviously.
Which is to say Arms is a very Nintendo-esque version of boxing.
It’s also extremely inventive and surprisingly in-depth. There are layers to Arms and a genuine strategic element. It’s not perfect, but Arms is bizarre, inventive, and a lot of fun. See GameSpot’s Arms reviews.
16. Bayonetta 2 – Nintendo Switch
Like Mario Kart 8, Stardew Valley, and Oxenfree, Bayonetta 2 is an old video game repurposed for the Nintendo Switch.
Bayonetta 2 originally came out on the Wii U, a console that struggled. Therefore Bayonetta 2 struggled.
Thankfully it’s getting a second run on the Switch. Which is great, because Bayonetta 2 is an under-appreciated masterpiece. Get on it. See GameSpot’s Bayonetta 2 review.
17. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn’t just a great fighting game – it’s a love letter to all things gaming. The game’s massive 74-character roster mixes mainstays like Mario, Donkey Kong, and Pikachu with newcomers like Splatoon’s Inkling, Metroid’s Ridley, Castlevania’s Simon Belmont, and Metal Gear’s Solid Snake, allowing you to create ridiculous dream matches on more than 100 stages from video game history. Ultimate’s multiplayer options run the gamut from insane 8-player brawls to intense 1-on-1 contests, while its robust, RPG-like Spirits mode offers solo players plenty to sink their teeth into.
Whether you’re looking for a great Switch party game or a tight competitive brawler, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate truly lives up to its name as one of the best Nintendo Switch games.
18. Astral Chain – Nintendo Switch
Astral Chain is one of the most unique and satisfying action games you can find on the Switch — or any platform, for that matter. This futuristic anime adventure puts a unique twist on Platinum Games’ signature brand of stylish combat, allowing you to create all kinds of crazy combos by controlling both your main character and array of humanoid Legion companions in tandem with one another. Astral Chain’s supremely satisfying fighting is complemented by detective missions, fun environmental puzzles, and a vibrant sci-fi world that comes alive with a thumping techno-meets-metal soundtrack and some of the best visuals of any Switch game.
19. Streets of Rage 4 – Nintendo Switch
A glorious comeback for the beloved Sega beat-em-up series, Streets of Rage 4 preserves the joyfully nostalgic action of the original games while masterfully modernizing things for a new generation. Classic characters like Axel and Blaze are joined by newcomers Cherry and Flloyd, as you punch and kick your way through Wood Oak City with up to four players locally or two online.
Streets of Rage 4’s gorgeous hand-drawn art style is complemented by an absolutely bumping soundtrack that expertly remixes the iconic tracks from the original trilogy. Factor in a satisfying combo system and tons of unlockable characters from the series’ past, and Streets of Rage 4 is the ultimate beat-em-up package for fans new and old.
20. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a fun fan-service frenzy, allowing you and up to three friends to hack and slash your way through enemies using your favorite Marvel characters. The game’s 36-character roster includes iconic heroes such as Wolverine, Captain Marvel, and Iron Man as well as deeper cuts like Spider-Gwen, Elsa Bloodstone, and Ms. Marvel, which you can mix and match in all kinds of fun ways with different synergy attacks and team bonuses as you attempt to stop Thanos from getting the Infinity Stones.
With options for local and online multiplayer and plenty of unlockables and side missions, Ultimate Alliance 3 will scratch your superhero beat-em-up itch in a big way — especially if you’re playing with friends.
21. Mortal Kombat 11
The Nintendo Switch has become quite the formidable fighting game machine over the past few years, and the Switch port of Mortal Kombat 11 delivers a full AAA brawler experience that you can play on the go. Mortal Kombat 11 is absolutely dripping with content, including a robust cinematic story mode, a suite of online modes, and a massive roster that lets mainstays like Scorpion and Sub-Zero mix it up with guest stars like Spawn and The Terminator.
And with the arrival of the new Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath expansion, the game has, even more, to offer with additional story content and new characters including fan-favorites Fujin and Sheeva as well as guest fighter Robocop (yes, Robocop). And while the Switch version of the game isn’t quite as pretty as its PS4 and Xbox One counterparts, it still runs at a smooth 60 fps for fluid fighting. If you’re looking for a fighting game you can pour dozens of hours into both in single-player modes and competitively, MK11 is as good as it gets.
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