Gift Guide: The best Nintendo Switch games and gifts

0/19 Replay Gallery More Galleries

Gift Guide: The best Nintendo Switch games and gifts

The Switch has had an amazing debut year, defying worries that it would crash and burn like its superficially similar predecessor, the Wii U. Unlike that console, however, the Switch is just stocked with amazing games, many of them exclusives. From serious challenges for seasoned gamers to multiplayer laughs with inexperienced friends, there’s something for everyone. Here are our picks for the games any Switch owner should have.


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild is rich, generous, beautiful and a welcome departure from the trappings of the Zelda franchise. And I would have said that (and did) before it had the extra modes and bug fixes that the last few months have brought! Anyone who has a Switch needs this game. Period.


Breath of the Wild, though

A couple of us here just wanted to make extra sure that you were convinced of how good Breath of the Wild is. The DLC is definitely worth getting too, by the way — you don’t want to miss out on the motorcycle, horse transportation and a bunch of good gear.


Super Mario Odyssey

It’s hard to come up with compliments enough for Odyssey; the best thing I can say for it is that Nintendo finally made a true successor to Mario 64. The attention to detail is staggering, the controls are superb and the worlds and gameplay never ever stop surprising. This is the other true must-have in the lineup right now. If someone has one but not the other, you know what to do.


Blaster Master Zero

Blaster Master was one of the best games on the NES, but its sequels and remakes have been less than stellar — until now. Blaster Master Zero gets everything right while fixing a few little issues and bolstering the story of the game, which honestly never really made sense (not that it really mattered, as with most NES games). Being able to play through again with new characters is just icing on the cake. Retro gaming lovers will enjoy it.


Zelda again

Thinking about Blaster Master, I was just kind of reminded about how interesting it is that Breath of the Wild, which is really great by the way, is actually more like the original Zelda for the NES than any other, in a way — the freedom it gives you, the sense of being in a vast world full of carefully hidden secrets… anyway. Just thought I’d mention that. Don’t forget to buy Zelda.


Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

As an SNES purist I’ll never admit that this is the “best” Mario Kart, but it sure is a blast. This is the game as it was meant to be played: insane, strategic, frustrating, hilarious and so on. It’s a great party game (just don’t try to play 4-player on the tiny Switch screen). Just be sure to grab…


Some extra Joy-Cons

Multiplayer is a focus on the Switch, at least with a few of its best games. You’re going to want these sooner or later, so snag them next time you see a sale. Pro tip: get a different color, it’s easier to keep track of the players that way.


Charging rack

There are two reasons to get one of these things. First, once you have more than the basic two Joy-Cons, it can get annoying to swap them out and keep them all charged. And second, you avoid the occasional hassle of unseating the console while you pull the controllers off it. This way you can hide the Switch itself away (it’ll wake up when you press some buttons) and just have the rack out. Much less expensive if you somehow break this thing.



Who would have expected that one of the Switch’s first games would be one of its most original and endearing? This pleasant puzzler has you and your friends clipping pieces out of one another to create shapes and manipulate the environment. I’ve had no end of good times with this game, and I can’t wait to play the new expansion.


Which reminds me… Zelda

Actually, one of the other launch games was super good, too. Breath of the Wild! I can’t remember if we had it on this list already or not.


Splatoon 2

Perfect for gamers that want to play online but don’t want to face embarrassment at the hands of foul-mouthed teenagers. This kid-friendly but challenging game isn’t super different from the first… but the first was great! Splatoon 2 runs like butter and has been adding content at a steady basis since launch, making it twice the game it was then. The second-by-second gameplay never gets old (though being insta-splatted by a roller from offscreen does).


Disgaea 5 Complete

This extremely weird strategy JRPG (which technically came out in 2015) is one many might have skipped for other consoles but is a great match for the Switch: clear, expressive graphics that look great in handheld mode and extremely deep gameplay that will take dozens of hours to master. It’s a great time waster with a lot of personality, and scratches the itch that some gamers have for overwhelming an opponent in a complex battle of wits. (Some costumes may not be suitable for children… and by that I mean that those children shouldn’t be wearing those costumes.)


A hard traveling case

There are plenty of cases to choose from out there, and really you’ll have to pick the one that makes the most sense to you. But some don’t have space for extra controllers (you’ll wish you’d brought them), some attach directly to the console (I didn’t really like that) and some are too soft to adequately protect your Switch, which really isn’t particularly durable. We liked Orzly’s, which checks all the boxes and still only costs about 15 bucks.


Xenoblade Chronicles 2

The last Xenoblade, for the Wii U, was a breakout hit with an incredibly large world in which to explore and hunt monsters. That’s also the case here, but the developer has been focusing on filling that world with even more interesting things to do, plus, you know, a plot. The combat system is insanely complex, so only get this for people who really get into their games. (And who you think can get over the main character basically wearing robo-chaps.)


Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

No one expected that this bizarre crossover of Mario with Ubisoft’s questionable Rabbids would be anywhere near as good as it is. But somehow it takes the cover-based squad strategy of XCOM and streamlines it without dumbing down the challenge. There’s a little crude humor (it’s a Rabbids trademark) but it’s generally bright and positive, and just oozes polish. Easy to play in short bursts like commutes, too.


Steamworld Dig 2

I’m only a couple hours into this one, but the first, on the DS, was an extremely pleasant surprise and the second one-ups it in every way. The combination of Metroidvania action, block-smashing and resource management combine with a funky robot-based world to make a charming game that’s easy to pick up and deeper (so to speak) than expected.


Golf Story

I am not a golfing person, but I’m having a blast playing through Golf Story, which reminds me of those few sports games in the past that manage to transcend the genre. But while there is certainly golf to be played, this game is just as much about exploring the courses, interacting with the strange cast of characters and feeding fish.


Stardew Valley

Technically, this game came out a while back, but it really is perfect for the Switch. It’s a farming, exploring and friendship simulator à la Harvest Moon, but with less pressure on the player and more care by the creator to make everything fun, worthwhile and just generally heart-warming. Safe for kids, but adults will get addicted (I did). Made by one guy!


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

It’s so good!