If you’re fortunate enough to be at home and already worked your way through every jigsaw puzzle known to man (including that infamous clear one) yet STILL need a fun escape, you’ve come to the right place, my friend. You might want to harken back to a different time. A simpler time that’s very possible to revisit thanks to the Nintendo Switch.
This console’s been around for three years now but sold out basically everywhere in a recent renaissance, likely brought on by the release of the Switch Lite (which is $100 cheaper) and the much-anticipated Animal Crossing New Horizons Switch game (we’ll get to that later).
With years worth of Switch games available to download though, which ones are the best?
Allow Cosmopolitan to help you weed through the masses. Before we dive in to the best Nintendo Switch games out there, make sure you’ve got your Switch on hand (or Switch Lite, if you just want a handheld console vs. something to hook to your TV).
All set? Alright, let’s do this.
If you’re looking for an escape (to which I say, AREN’T WE ALL?)
I know you’ve heard this rec before, but there’s a reason everyone and their mother is taking out loans from Tom Nook and catching virtual oarfish.
The pleasant sound effects are ASMR-worthy, the script sounds like your most positive friend texting you a pep talk, and social distancing isn’t a thing on Animal Crossing islands (just ask Pashmina, the pissed off goat I keep bumping into accidentally). The whole experience spells C-A-L-M in video game form, which comes in handy these days.
If you wanna catch ’em all or if you’ve never played Pokémon before.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
For a franchise around for 20+ years, Pokémon sure knows how to keep itself compelling. Sword and Shield introduces the Galar region, which gives off major U.K. vibes, and a “Wild Area” packed to the brim with catchable Pokémon, TMs, hidden gifts, you name it.
The plot follows you as you train your team, try to beat bad guys (who call themselves “Team Yell,” aka every New Yorker at 7 p.m. 🙌), and dethrone the Pokémon League Champion. It’s a comfortingly familiar blueprint for anyone who’s played before, but the region’s more immersive and offers brand new ‘mons.
Also, it’s just charming. I mean come on look at this corgi Pokémon named Yamper:
If you’re into endearing puzzle games.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
If you remember playing Luigi’s Mansion on GameCube, getting into this reinvention is a no brainer.
Poor Luigi takes a vacay and ends up in a haunted hotel with a bunch of ghosts who kidnapped his friends (don’t you hate when that happens to you?). As Luigi, you’ve got to navigate through 17 ghost-filled floors to save the day, which are each jammed with puzzles, tricks, and treats.
Bonus: It’s genuinely hilarious, which can be a difficult note to hit in a video game. Even when Luigi does well, his whole internal monologue is basically, “WOW, SURE GLAD I DIDN’T DIE THAT TIME,” which is a far cry away from his more famous bro’s bravado.
If you’re buying a game for multiple people to share and play.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Can you have a “best of” list without a heavy-hitting CLASSIC? No! You cannot! The Switch version of Super Smash Bros. has every character ever included from the franchise’s decades-long history, so even if you’re an indecisive Libra (hi, my people), you’ll find something to love.
If you’ve never heard of Super Smash Bros. before, know that it’s essentially the ultimate fighting game. Choose your fighter, knock out your opponent, and win. It’s that simple.
What makes this specific version different (and frankly better) than the rest are the graphics, the customization possibilities, and the roster itself. With so many beloved characters to play as, there are a lot more fighting styles to learn, which incentivizes players to switch up their faves every once in a while.
If you’re an Aquarius who loves open-world concepts.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Alright, this game has been called “the greatest video game of all time,” so let’s start there. That’s an absurd amount of hype to live up to, but honestly? It checks out.
If you’ve never played a Zelda game before, the gist is you explore a kingdom as the protagonist Link, a guy who wakes up after 100 years and also has to defeat this Calamity Ganon before it destroys the kingdom.
This version is especially up your alley if you like free play games that are more “open world” and less “here is a plot you will follow step by step.” It’s nonlinear and really rewards you when you’re exploring the (very, very, very detailed) world freely.
If playing games about the apocalypse makes you feel better IRL.
There are two types of people in social isolation: those of us who play Animal Crossing, rely on rom-coms, and bake enough sweets to construct the candy house from Hansel and Gretel, and those who read Station Eleven, watch Contagion, and casually muse over the potential impending apocalypse. If you’re in the latter category, this survival game will be your catnip.
Overland’s set in post-apocalyptic America and sees you traveling from East Coast to West Coast, making decisions about supplies, resources, and a possible cultivated band of survivors. If this sounds like something you want to be doing right now, well, here you go.
If you let memes guide your life choices.
Untitled Goose Game
Alright, hear me out with this one. This game should be your go-to if you’re looking for something absurd and silly and just a little bit stupid.
Here’s the premise: There’s this asshole out here bothering a quaint English village by grabbing objects, honking, running, and being a complete nuisance. Oh, and the asshole is a goose. And it’s also you.
Play as a goose and steal things, trick humans, and cause all the wholesome chaos your heart desires, because why not? Even Twitter Mayor Chrissy Teigen’s obsessed with this. Need I say more?
welp as a contrarian, I wanted to hate goose game but I LOVE IT
If you’re nostalgic from games circa 2008.
Mario Kart 8
You might have fond memories of playing Mario Kart on the Nintendo Wii (R.I.P.), but the Switch version levels the whole game up.
It’s easier to learn than other versions, mostly because there are features that help new drivers balance and avoid plummeting off the tracks every 30 seconds, making this ideal for kids (or Mario Kart newbies). It’s also a great multiplayer game with TWELVE-player online play.
Plus, every track from the Wii U version is back, so if you’re a sucker for nostalgia, you’ll be pleased. It’s a win-win for everyone, really.
Buy this if: You’re nostalgic from games circa 2008.
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