We’re quickly approaching the third anniversary of the Nintendo Switch, and a lot has changed in that time. Nintendo’s console / tablet hybrid now boasts a mature, varied lineup of games; an online service with Netflix-style access to NES and SNES games; and even a new iteration of the hardware thanks to the smaller, sleeker Switch Lite. Early on, it was easy to figure out what to play; you just downloaded a copy of Breath of the Wild and lost yourself for dozens of hours. Now, things are more challenging because there are so many interesting games.
If you just got your hands on a Switch over the holidays, here are eight great games to start your journey with.
We’ve rounded up our favorite and most-used games, apps, and entertainment. Check out our app picks for iPhones, Android phones, PCs, Macs, and TVs; our favorite mobile games from Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass; and our top choices for the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. We’ve also listed our favorite streaming shows on Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix; some great sci-fi books; and exciting new podcasts. (Note: pricing was accurate at the time of publishing, but may change.)
Pokémon Sword and Shield
Sword and Shield represent the best Pokémon adventures in years. The new games benefit from the dual nature of the Switch — you can catch monsters on the go and simultaneously enjoy the wonderful new visuals on a big-screen TV — as well as a handful of very welcome changes to the formula. These include new multiplayer raid battles, an open-ended “Wild Area” to explore, and a host of quality-of-life changes that make the quest much more streamlined. Plus, thanks to the new Dynamax feature, you can blow your favorite monsters up to absurd proportions.
Untitled Goose Game
You’ve probably never dreamed of being a goose. But there’s a good chance you’ve wondered what it would be like to cause havoc, free of consequences. In this way, Untitled Goose Game is a kind of wish fulfillment. You play as the titular goose, with the goal of creating mostly harmless trouble for the bewildered residents of a small village. It’s cute and charming, and has a dedicated button for letting out a “honk!”
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Link’s Awakening isn’t technically a new game. Instead, it’s a remake of a classic adventure from the original Game Boy. But the remake is so extensive that it feels new. Link’s Awakening might just be the most adorable game on the Switch, thanks to its tiny, diorama-like world, and the game’s quest holds up remarkably well in 2019.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem has been around for decades, and Three Houses marks the biggest departure yet for the strategy series. It maintains the same tense and tactical combat the franchise is known for, but it opens things up with an all-new structure that simulates life as a professor at a magical academy. It’s sort of like Hogwarts, only more anime, and it means that you’ll be as focused on tests and student relationships as you are on the battlefield.
Ring Fit Adventure
Ring Fit Adventure is one of the strangest ideas to come out of Nintendo in some time. On the one hand, it’s a fitness game in the mold of the bestselling Wii Fit series. On the other, it’s also a fantasy adventure complete with worlds to explore and turn-based battles. It sounds like a weird combination, but remarkably, it works; the two seemingly disparate sides complement each other perfectly, resulting in workouts that are actually fun.
Super Mario Maker 2
For fans of classic side-scrolling Super Mario adventures, Super Mario Maker 2 has a lot to like. In fact, it’ll probably be quite some time before you run out of things to do. There’s a full-fledged single-player mode filled with inventive levels, as well as the titular maker mode where you can craft your own 2D Mario stages. And if you get bored with either of those? You can play through the plentiful, varied stages uploaded by other players.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3 is one of the best open-world games of the last decade — and now you can take it with you anywhere. The Switch version of the fantasy epic is slightly compromised; the visuals in particular have taken a hit in order to squeeze such a big game onto a tiny handheld. But the payoff is worth it. There’s something very satisfying about being able to play a huge adventure like this wherever you are, and even though The Witcher 3 is nearly five years old at this point, it holds up remarkably well. Even better, the Switch version features all of the downloadable expansions, so you have lots of quality time with Geralt to look forward to.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi’s latest adventure isn’t your typical horror game. In fact, it’s much more of a slapstick comedy. Luigi’s Mansion 3 tasks Mario’s bumbling brother with rescuing his friends from a haunted hotel, but — in typical Luigi fashion — he’s a reluctant hero who is scared every step of the way. The result is a hilarious, charming adventure, filled with inventive levels and creative bosses, along with a very satisfying vacuum for sucking up your ghostly enemies.
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