There’s a reason that Switch exclusive games often get the highest review scores of any in the industry: they’re universally loved, and have a unique charm all of their own.
Whether you’re adventuring across a colourful land as Mario or battling to save the Princess Zelda as Link, there’s something special about a Nintendo game. While there are dozens of Switch-exclusive games out there, we’ve picked out ten of the best.
These are the games that offer an experience unlike anything on any other platform; the games that we keep going back to time and time again.
If you’re a new Switch owner looking to bolster your library, or a stalwart trying to fill some gaps, click on through to see the 10 best Nintendo Switch exclusive games you really need in your collection.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild is a Zelda game like no other. It takes the world of Hyrule and transforms it into a huge, beautiful, sprawling open world. Gone is the linear storyline that Link must follow to save Princess Zelda; instead, players are free to traverse the world as they see fit. Heck, you can head straight to Hyrule Castle to face off against Ganon if you wish – but we wouldn’t recommend it.
Traditional dungeons are instead replaced with over 100 puzzle Shrines dotted around the world. They’re all optional, but completing them will reward Link with useful items to aid him in his journey. It’s a game that very much puts the player in control of their own destiny. The freedom that Breath of the Wild gives is unlike anything else we’ve played before, and for that reason it’s one of the best exclusive games on Switch – and perhaps one of the best games of all time, period.
When you’re through with this, too, don’t forget to add its sequel to your collection. Tears of the Kingdom changes things up by adding crafting mechanics into the mix, but it’s still a memorable experience and amongst the best Switch exclusive games.
2. Super Mario Wonder
There’s so much to love about Super Mario Wonder. This is the first completely brand-new 2D Mario game in quite some time, and it’s been worth the wait. It someone manages to feel like a classic Mario platformer while also feeling completely new and fresh. It looks fantastic, it’s a joy to play, and it’s absolutely filled with magic.
Here, pipes come to life, Mario’s pursued by giant bulls and, interacting with a Wonder seed will see the world around you change completely. This is exactly what the best Nintendo Switch exclusive games should be about: family-friendly fun, packed with ingenuity and joy. Super Mario Wonder absolutely nails it.
3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing doesn’t sound all that interesting on paper: you spend your time pottering around an island, picking fruit, talking to your villagers and decorating your house to your heart’s content. But when you get stuck into it, it’s so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s a whole digital life; your villagers become real friends (providing they’re ones you actually like, of course), and doing your daily tasks around the island becomes part of your routine. We’ve put hundreds of hours into the game since it launched on Switch in March; if that isn’t the sign of it being one of the best Switch exclusive games, then we don’t know what is.
There’s something almost magical about how relaxing Animal Crossing: New Horizons is. The most stressful thing about the experience is waiting for that one last item you need for your kitchen to appear in Nook’s Cranny. Or perhaps the worry of what this week’s turnip prices are going to be like. Ah, if only real life could be so blissful. Even if you don’t think Animal Crossing is a game for you, we challenge you to give it a go and not get sucked into its alluring charm.
4. Kirby and the Forgotten Land
We all love Kirby, right? What’s not to love about the big, pink blob? Kirby and the Forgotten Land is Kirby like you’ve never seen them before, set in a ruined world that, if we’re being honest, reminds us at first glance of The Last of Us.
Of course, this is a family-friendly Nintendo game, so you won’t find any Clickers or Infected here. What you will find, though, is a wonderful 3D platforming adventure that sees Kirby take on new, fun shapes, and a world that’s a joy to explore.
5. Ring Fit Adventure
Ring Fit Adventure isn’t your typical videogame. You can’t sit on the couch, munching your way through a bag of Doritos. Nope; it’s an exercise game so – shock, horror – you need to be up on your feet, moving around. That in itself makes it a controversial choice for one of the best Switch exclusive games, but because it’s such an excellent workout, and presented in such a wonderful way, we can’t ignore it.
To play Ring Fit Adventure you need the specially-created Ring-con. It’s a circular resistance device that you insert one of your Joy-Cons into. Your other Joy-Con straps to the top of your leg. As you play the game, you’ll make your way through an RPG-like adventure, battling enemies and running through a variety of environments that wouldn’t look out of place in Breath of the Wild. The difference? You actually need to jog to move forwards, and combat will require you to squat, squeeze and move around. It’s a difficult workout for even the fittest among us, but thankfully, it comes with a a robust difficulty levelling system, so you can adjust it to suit your fitness level.
6. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Ultimate by name, ultimate by nature; the Switch exclusive iteration of the long-running series may well be the best that Nintendo’s ever released. This fighting game has a huge roster featuring characters from a wide range of franchises – many are Nintendo, but there’s a range of third-party characters included too, like Cloud from Final Fantasy VII and Metal Gear’s Snake.
While battling in single-player against NPC characters is fun enough, it’s when you take Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s action online that the game really comes into its own. Challenging friends and strangers across numerous wonderfully-designed stages is a lot of fun, and even if you don’t come out victorious, you’ll want to jump straight in again. No matter your favourite franchise, you’ll likely find a character you love here, and the sheer breadth of the game makes Super Smash Bros. Ultimate one of the best exclusives on Switch.
7. 51 Worldwide Games
Perhaps 51 Worldwide Games is a controversial choice to make it onto our list of the best Switch exclusive games. But hear us out. There’s something rather special about this collection of minigames. Presented beautifully, with voiced introductions to each of the games, it’s the ultimate way to pass the time. The 51 games included span from traditional table games – like chess and dominos – to 3D renditions of sports like golf and bowling. There’s even a match-three type game in there.
With most games playable in multiplayer as well as single-player, it’s the perfect game to pull out while friends are over, too. Some of the games, including bowling and darts, utilise the Joy-Cons’ motion control system, making it the closest thing we’ve had to Wii Sports in years. And if you don’t feel like flailing your arms around, there’s a wide range of international games to sink your teeth into. A mixture of classics you’ll know like the back of your hand, and games you’ve never heard of before, 51 Worldwide Games is a delight.
8. Super Mario Odyssey
You didn’t think we’d leave out Super Mario Odyssey, did you? Mario’s colourful 3D outing is without a doubt one of the best exclusive games on Switch. It’s rather different from your traditional Mario game; levels are replaced with larger worlds which Mario can explore at will. There’s still plenty of platforming to enjoy, pipes to travel down, and Goombas to stomp – with the addition of a talking hat, beautiful visuals and crazy costumes to dress Mario in.
It’s the type of game that you can go back to again and again, with something new to discover every time. Even if you’re not a huge fan of Mario, we challenge you not to find something to love about Super Mario Odyssey. Even if it’s just Mario’s Mariachi get-up.
9. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong’s latest adventure may be the best yet – and we don’t say that easily, because Donkey Kong Country on SNES is still one of our favourite games after all these years. But this modern take on the series is just a delight from start to finish. It has all the charm of the original, but with beautiful visuals and an all-new adventure it’s simply bigger and better in every way.
Donkey and Diddy and co are as delightful as ever, but it’s the world you explore in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze that really cements it as one of the best Switch exclusives you can buy. It’s a stunning platforming adventure; you’ll want to gawp at its visuals just as much as you’ll want to collect all those bunches of bananas. Even after you’ve completed it, you’ll find yourself going back to it once in a while just to have a jump around the treetops.
10. Tetris 99
One of the best Switch exclusive games is also one that you can play free if you have a Switch Online membership: Tetris 99. This unique spin on the classic block-falling game transforms it into a battle royale like no other. Every game of Tetris faces you off against 98 other players. As you clear lines, you’ll send junk onto another player’s screen – and junk will appear on yours as other players succeed, too.
The idea is to stay alive, clearing blocks faster than anyone else and causing other people to be knocked out of the game. As the number of participants dwindles down, the pace of the game gets faster, making it even harder to stay alive. Find yourself in the final 10, and you’ll be playing at breakneck speeds. But should you find yourself ever crowned with the #1 spot, it’s a feeling of victory like no other. Oh yes, we’ve got the badge and we wear it proudly.