The 9 Best Nintendo Switch Games of 2022

We've got the most addicting games for the newest Nintendo console

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If you want the very best Nintendo Switch game, you need Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It's a game that will charm everyone, regardless of age or prior experience, and gives players a chance to explore an adorable virtual world full of animal inhabitants. There's always something new to do as you spend time establishing your surroundings, choosing to fish, or even run around hunting down bugs. 

Alternatively, one of the best things about the Nintendo Switch and the Switch Lite is that it's incredibly varied. With a strong games lineup, players can return to childhood favorites like Mario or Zelda while also discovering newer experiences like Hades or Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Thanks to the majority of games providing simple-to-learn controls, it's the ideal console for those new to gaming as well as old hands. Find your next favorite from our picks for the best Nintendo Switch games.

The Rundown
There's something addictive about seeing what new furniture or clothing you can acquire or simply completing your bug catalog.
It's a racing game that's designed for everyone.
If you've ever played a Mario game before, you'll feel right at home here.
A game that revolves around catching ghosts might not sound like a title for kids, but Luigi's Mansion 3 does it in a really cute way.
It has a massive storyline that can provide you with hundreds of hours of content.
Using your imagination is everything here, and Super Mario Odyssey is a lot of fun.
Best Roguelike:
Hades at Amazon
It takes a bit of getting used to but once it grabs your attention, it won't let you go.
It might be monotonous, but it's also weirdly enjoyable and definitely great for stress relief.
If you need structure, this isn't the game for you, but if you want to lose yourself in a fantastical land, this will set you up for months to come.

Best Overall: Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Nintendo Animal Crossing: New Horizons
What We Like
  • Casual, relaxed pace

  • Seasonal events and festivals

  • Amiibo support

  • Highly customizable

What We Don't Like
  • Limited to one island per Switch

  • Unstructured, open-ended play not enjoyable for everyone

Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched just as the world found itself stuck at home, and it continues to captivate. That's because it's simply so pleasant to play. You're taken to a charming deserted island that soon flourishes with life and activity thanks to how you guide its development. Controls are straightforward, so you can spend time talking to the cute animals that live nearby rather than figuring out the control system. 

Befriending the animals leads to receiving gifts, but you can also make your own way in the world by catching bugs, fishing, or digging up treasures. It's a slow-paced game, which means there's always something new to do each day, including seasonal events. Its casual pace makes it ideal for anyone who needs more time to think about their plans, but even hardened players will still adore what they can accomplish here. There's something addictive about seeing what new furniture or clothing you can acquire or simply completing your bug catalog. 

It's also possible to visit a friend's island to see what they've done with the place, before swapping items. Just bear in mind that while multiple players can build homes and play together on the same island, you'll need separate consoles (and game cards) to have separate islands.

ESRB: E (Everyone) | Install Size: 6.2GB

"Playing with friends adds a lot to the experience, but online play is more of a hassle than it needs to be."Sandra Stafford, Product Tester

Best Multiplayer: Nintendo Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
What We Like
  • Lots of tracks to race

  • Diverse range of multiplayer options

  • Well-balanced design means everyone stands a chance

What We Don't Like
  • Limited number of tracks available for online play

  • Voice chat for friends only

Often, multiplayer games run the risk of being unbalanced. Pit an experienced player against someone who's only just picked up a Switch Joy-Con controller, and things can turn unfair fast. That isn't the case with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It's a racing game that's designed for everyone. Due to some clever balancing features, those in the lead get weaker power-ups while those in the back often receive more powerful advantages such as speed-boosting mushrooms or a projectile that will take down opponents up ahead.

As a result, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is terrific fun and often very closely battled. Other features like smart steering and auto-accelerate help even more inexperienced players too. Thanks to being pitched so well, it doesn't take long to learn how to be better at the game, spotting shortcuts along the charmingly unrealistic race tracks.

Besides supporting play with up to four players split-screen on the same system, there's local wireless multiplayer with multiple Switch consoles in handheld mode, along with online multiplayer too. Not every one of the 48 varied tracks is available to play through all these modes, but it's nice to have so much flexibility. A Battle mode rounds things off nicely, feeling suitably frantic but—again—not hard to learn.

ESRB: E (Everyone) | Install Size: 6.7GB

"The game is simple enough that even if you’ve never played a Mario Kart game before, you should be able to figure things out with some trial and error." — Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

Best Remake: Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury
What We Like
  • Simple to pick up and play

  • Assistance provided if you get stuck

  • Colorful, vibrant graphics

What We Don't Like
  • Can be tricky in places

Previously a Wii U game, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury is a fantastic remake that combines Mario's 2D and 3D adventures. If you've ever played a Mario game before, you'll feel right at home here. Controls are simple; jump around and avoid (or stomp) on enemies along the way.

If you've never played a Mario game before, it takes seconds to learn here. Best of all, if you continue to struggle with a level, you're given a special suit that makes you far more powerful and able to negotiate difficult platforming sequences more easily. There's no need to use it if you don't want to, but the suit helps everyone see everything the game has to offer.

Alongside the standard Mario experience is Bowser's Fury, a new 3D Mario mini-campaign that drops you into an open world of islands as you take on cat-themed challenges. As the name suggests, these endeavors are all in a bid to take on a super-sized and extra-angry Bowser. The open-world nature of the game is an exciting new twist on the franchise and potentially a suggestion of a new direction for future Mario games. Combined, it's a must-play experience.

ESRB: E (Everyone) | Install Size: 2.9GB

"It’s a fun hybrid that brings in the best of both 2D and 3D Mario games, and Nintendo puts it to great use in exploring lots of creative and sometimes downright goofy ideas." Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best for Kids: Luigi's Mansion 3

Nintendo Luigi's Mansion 3
What We Like
  • Both single and multiplayer

  • Light-hearted tone

  • Feels different than other Mario or Luigi games

What We Don't Like
  • Can be difficult for some young children

A game that revolves around catching ghosts might not sound like a title for kids, but Luigi's Mansion 3 does it in a really cute way. Centered around one of Nintendo's goofier characters, Luigi, the plumber must rescue his brother Mario and friends from a luxury hotel filled with ghosts. It's far from creepy and actually quite adorable at times.

In part, that's because Luigi's main tool to stop ghosts is a vacuum cleaner: a Poltergust vacuum cleaner that sucks up ghosts and any other objects he sees. Combined with highly interactive and destructible environments, it's a (sometimes literal) blast figuring out what to do as you traverse the 15+ floors of the hotel. Being able to destroy so much in a playful manner is immediately endearing for kids who love to experiment. Along the way, they gain new abilities and tools too.

To further help matters, it's also possible for two players to play at once via Gooigi, a green oozy clone that you can summon at will to help out. It's certainly useful when you reach the game's trickier moments. It helps to have some prior gaming experience, but it's still fairly accessible.

ESRB: E (Everyone) | Install Size: 6.36GB

Best RPG: Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Nintendo Fire Emblem: Three Houses
What We Like
  • Huge campaign

  • Well-written story

  • Good voice acting

What We Don't Like
  • Needs more map variety

  • Not accessible for everyone

Some RPGs (role-playing games) can be unwieldy to get into. They're generally far more intense than other games and can involve thinking about a lot of different things at once. Much like the other top Nintendo Switch role-playing games, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is incredibly vast. It has a massive storyline that can provide you with hundreds of hours of content. That might seem intimidating at first but you soon get into the swing of things.

An officer's academy calls on your main player character to pick from one of three houses to teach. From there, you have branching paths, multiple endings, and so many reasons to replay the game, thanks to your decisions affecting what happens. Free updates and paid downloadable content that expands on what's already there gives you even more to do.

Combat comes in a turn-based manner, so it plays out kind of like a game of Chess. Players can command units around the grid, choosing to move, attack enemies, or support one another. Stick the game on casual mode, and you'll rarely fail. But those after a challenge will appreciate classic mode, which means once a character dies, they die permanently. Combat isn't all you can do here either with plenty of other activities such as teaching classes, farming, or simply talking to other characters to learn more about them.

ESRB: T (Teen) | Install Size: 10.9GB

“Three Houses is also a teaching simulator, and a fishing simulator, and a pet-feeding simulator, and a meal-eating simulator. Three Houses is a JRPG protagonist life simulator.” Emily Ramirez, Product Tester

Best Platformer: Nintendo Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey
What We Like
  • Traditional Mario with a twist

  • Lots to explore

  • Simple controls

What We Don't Like
  • Can be difficult

Super Mario Odyssey is sure to be a huge hit if you've previously loved Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Galaxy. Like those two games, players explore a vast world rather than negotiate specific routes like in 2D Mario games.

The twist here is that Mario has a magic hat called Cappy which means he can borrow the skills of any creature (or object) he flings the hat at. It's not quite as open-ended as it sounds, but it still gives you the chance to play as a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex or even control a smiling bullet to destroy blocks nearby.

Using your imagination is everything here, and Super Mario Odyssey is a lot of fun. It can get tough, though if you're keen to collect all the bonus Moons scattered around the game, leading to some frustration. Still, it's so charming that you'll forgive it. It's simple to play and only requires some excellent timing occasionally.

ESRB: Everyone 10+ | Install Size: 5.7GB

"Super Mario Odyssey is a game even players who aren’t Nintendo fans will love. The 3D platforming has smooth controls, with a variety of mechanics available to help you explore every nook and cranny the world has to offer. The visuals are fun and yet still beautiful."Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

What We Like
  • Rewarding to keep playing

  • Interesting mythology-based characters

  • Great visuals and music

What We Don't Like
  • Can be very difficult

The roguelike game is a highly popular genre (under the role-playing umbrella), thanks to its repetitive nature. Any time you die in Hades, you come back and start over again with many of the same abilities that you had before. Starting out is very tough, but as you chip away, you soon become much better than before.

The beauty here is that Hades is incredibly easy to learn but offers a lot of depth. You only need to use a handful of buttons to attack in different ways, but there's a lot of strategy underneath the surface. You can choose one of six primary weapons, each offering a different style of play with no one weapon proving to be the best for everyone. It's also possible to earn items to further enhance your experience during each new run.

While this format might sound potentially tedious, it's far from it. That's thanks to the storyline. You're an immortal prince, Zagreus, who has connections to Greek mythology. By returning to an area full of gods and heroes, you get to know them all bit by bit, learning more about Zeus, Ares, Athena, Achilles, and more. By gaining their trust, you also gain their powers and support, with a little more of the story unlocked along the way.

It takes a bit of getting used to, but once the game grabs your attention, it won't let you go—even if the playing experience lacks variety for hours upon hours.

ESRB: T (Teen) | Install Size: 5.8GB

"The characters are well-written, with natural and nuanced dialog that always seems to suit them." Sandra Stafford, Product Tester

Best Action RPG: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
What We Like
  • Highly enjoyable

  • Diverse playable characters

  • Ties into Breath of the Wild and other Zelda games

What We Don't Like
  • Can get repetitive

  • Not traditional The Legend of Zelda gameplay

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is different from other The Legend of Zelda games. It's a sort of spin-off, but it focuses on combat while taking a glimpse into the events that would set the Breath of the Wild (BOTW) story into motion 100 years later.

Players must capture outposts and meet objectives by mostly button-mashing their way through hordes of enemies and fearsome bosses. It takes seconds to learn. Mostly every button inflicts some form of attack, so any age group can figure it out. Play can get a little repetitive at times, but tougher foes require some more strategic thinking, which helps with each The Legend of Zelda character offering a specialty move to help you out.

For instance, Link has his trusty sword and bow and can also paraglide like in BOTW, while Zelda can use Sheikh Slate runes to fight back. However, keep the difficulty low, and pretty much anyone can negotiate what's going on here. It might be repetitive, but it's also weirdly enjoyable and definitely great for stress relief.

For those looking for a little more depth, you can always collect resources, level up, and loot chests for better equipment too.

ESRB: T (Teen) | Install Size: 10.9GB

Best Story: Nintendo The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
What We Like
  • Vast world to explore

  • Feels nearly endless

  • Satisfying combat

What We Don't Like
  • Almost intimidatingly vast

  • Survival side of things can get frustrating

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is probably the most beautiful game on the Nintendo Switch. Deviating from the usual Zelda format, it has players exploring a vast world exactly how they want to. That's almost intimidatingly open-ended. There aren't quests exactly here, but you'll still feel part of something bigger as you tackle numerous shrines to unlock magical abilities before taking on the evil Ganon.

Controls are complex compared to other games here, but they're also intuitive. A bit of practice will soon set you up nicely. How you use your magic abilities makes sense, too, with ice magic allowing you to create ice blocks, for instance, while magnetic magic has you moving things around. Elsewhere, you can catch fish, pick apples, craft equipment or catch a wild horse. Crafting equipment is particularly vital as your weaponry can fail over time. This process can become frustrating, but the well-designed fighting helps beginners get the hang of things. It makes up for losing a great weapon once in a while.

If you need structure, this isn't the game for you, but if you want to lose yourself in a fantastical land, this will set you up for months to come.

ESRB: Everyone 10+︱Install Size: 13.4GB

"The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a beautifully designed game with amazing visuals, smooth controls, and a huge open world to explore." — Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

Final Verdict

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (view at Amazon) is a wonderfully wholesome escape from life. Being able to create your own charming island and mold it to your liking is compelling and long-lasting. If you're looking for a more fast-paced multiplayer session, then you can't go wrong with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (view at Amazon). Players of all skill levels can have a great time thanks to a well-balanced game design and some brilliantly designed tracks.

What to Look For in Nintendo Switch Games

Genre

The main thing you need to consider when you're shopping for any game is what kind of experiences you enjoy most. It doesn't matter how well designed a game is if it's the sort of thing you're never going to play, so if you love first-person shooters, flight simulator games might not be for you. We've picked some of the best of every genre and tried to be as inclusive as possible, with an emphasis on the things Nintendo historically does best: platformers, multiplayer, and games for younger players.

Length

Sure, a 100-hour JRPG (Japanese role-playing game) might seem like a great value proposition, but if you're a busy professional, you might get more fun out of a short linear shooter game (and more satisfaction when you're able to finish it). There are also a growing number of games-as-a-service that offer a continually evolving suite of systems and gameplay that you can dip into whenever you like, often for one flat fee. While many of these titles have yet to make their way to a Nintendo platform, more and more of them are popping up as developers realize what a long tail the Switch has.

Narrative

If you're the sort of gamer that loves a rich story and a fully developed, immersive world, you may take as much (or more) satisfaction from an adventure game or visual novel as from the latest Activision FPS. On the other hand, if you get your story kicks from books, films, and/or TV, maybe an addictive little puzzle game or a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) is the best gaming investment for you.

FAQ
  • Do these games work with the Nintendo Switch Lite?

    Most games work with no issue on the Nintendo Switch Lite. There are a handful of titles that you can't play on Nintendo Switch Lite, with the main distinction being whether the game supports handheld mode or not. You can check the back of the game box to confirm whether it's compatible with the Nintendo Switch Lite.

  • How do I know if this game is appropriate for my kids?

    Each game has its own game rating that has been set by either the ESRB, PEGI, or Australian Game Rating System, depending on the country you live in. Each system has different ratings for different intended audiences ranging from E for Everyone to Adults Only. It's possible to check the cover of the game for the rating or to look online so that you can be certain the title is appropriate for the age of the person you're buying it for.

  • Is it best to buy a digital copy of the game or a physical copy?

    The best choice mostly depends on personal taste. Typically, physical copies of games are cheaper as you can find many older games on sale at various stores. However, sometimes Nintendo has sales on its digital eStore, so you can buy such titles for less. Ultimately, it depends on your personal preference. Digital copies mean you don't have to worry about carrying a game cartridge with you, but they also mean you can't swap games with friends or choose to resell them once you've finished playing them. You can resell physical copies if you wish, but they don't have the convenience of always being available on your console without needing to remember to take the cartridge with you.

About Our Trusted Experts

Jennifer Allen has been writing about technology and gaming since 2010. She specializes in iOS and Apple technology, as well as wearable technology and smart home devices. She's been a regular tech columnist for Paste Magazine, written for Wareable, TechRadar, Mashable, and PC World, as well as more diverse outlets including Playboy and ​Eurogamer.

Kelsey Simon works as both a tech writer and as a technology rep for her library. She combines her love of writing and video games in her game reviews, including testing out several Nintendo Switch games for Lifewire.

Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based writer who's been covering video games and tech since 2006. He's previously been published by TechRadar, Stuff, Polygon, and Macworld.

Emily Ramirez has a degree in Comparative Media Studies (Game Design) from MIT and is always playing, making, or writing about video games. Her Lifewire reviews have covered a variety of games and other consumer electronics.

Sandra Stafford has been writing for Lifewire since 2019, and a casual gamer for much longer. She enjoys a variety of PC and Nintendo Switch games.

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