The Nintendo Switch is both a handheld and home gaming console that was released in 2017. It's become incredibly popular over the years due to its versatility, simplicity, and an excellent library of titles that span multiple genres. While many popular games have been released on the Nintendo Switch, some of the best on the console are its exclusives.
While The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is often viewed as a stellar Switch title, it's also available on the Wii U and doesn't count as a Switch exclusive. If you're wondering which Switch exclusives to check out, here are the absolute best games according to Metacritic.
Updated July 30, 2022, by Kyle Chamaillard. It's been a few years since this list was posted, and in that time Nintendo has continued to release critically-acclaimed exclusives to its Nintendo Switch platform. We have added the games that have ranked highly on Metacritic over the last few years to expand the list.
13 Luigi's Mansion 3 (86)
Luigi's Mansion 3 is a fun and spooky Nintendo Switch exclusive starring the often overlooked Luigi as he once again faces poltergeists in a haunted establishment. It was released in October 2019 and was praised for its charm, level design, and humor.
Luigi's Mansion 3 follows Luigi and his friends who have been invited to a luxurious hotel for a much-needed vacation. But, when they arrive, they learn that it was an elaborate trick by King Boo to trap them in a haunted hotel. Yikes! Luigi is tasked with exploring each room in the hotel alongside Gooigi – Luigi's slimy clone – to rescue his friends and survive the night.
12 Cadence of Hyrule (86)
Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda is a rhythm-based indie game that was also released in 2019. It may surprise you, but the game combines the foot-tapping gameplay of Crypt of the NecroDancer with characters and environments from The Legend of Zelda to create one of the best rhythm games on the Switch.
Cadence of Hyrule is evocative of classic Legend of Zelda games like Link to the Past, but with a twist: You can only move to the beat of the background music. The world and dungeons are completely randomized each run, and you can choose to play as either Link or Zelda, or even characters like Skull Kid through its DLC.
11 Astral Chain (87)
Astral Chain was developed by the legendary PlatinumGames and was released exclusively for the Switch in the summer of 2019. If you have enjoyed other games from the developer such as Bayonetta or Nier: Automata, then Astral Chain is certainly worth looking into.
This action-adventure game has you take control of either a male or female member of the Neuron Police Task Force. Throughout the course of the game, you are tasked with questioning NPCs and piecing together evidence to solve a mystery while also using Legions to fight hoards of enemies and magnificent bosses.
10 The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (87)
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is a remake of the original game that was released on the Game Boy back in 1993. Considering this 2019 release completely remade the underrated original with an awesome new aesthetic for the Nintendo Switch, it really feels like a whole new game.
In this action-adventure game, you follow Link after he wakes up on a strange island inhabited by a plethora of unique people and creatures. Link must make his way through this mysterious land and solve its secret in an attempt to find his way back home.
9 Super Mario Maker 2 (88)
Who hasn't always wanted to make a level in their favorite video game? Although most people may not be lucky enough to become video game developers, they're still able to emulate that feeling from the comfort of their couch and create their own levels in various Mario-inspired game styles in Super Mario Maker 2.
This game is a sequel to the immensely popular Wii U game Super Mario Maker. It allows you to create your own levels inspired by classic Mario games, play online with friends or against strangers, and play other people's levels. Super Mario Maker 2 has an amazing community of creators that are still releasing mind-boggling levels that may inspire you to create your own 2D masterpiece.
8 Metroid Dread (88)
It took a long time for Metroid Dread to be released, but it surpassed most expectations when it launched on the Switch in 2021. It originally began development in 2005, but a series of unexpected events led to its delay and eventual cancellation. Fans of the series patiently waited for its return, and when Metroid Dread was finally released it proved that the Metroid series hadn't lost its magic.
The game follows Samus Aran after she lands on a mysterious planet known as ZDR. Metroid Dread provides the atmosphere, action, and tension that the series is known for and amps them up to unprecedented heights with its stellar graphics and excellent boss fights. It's an absolute blast to play over and over again, and witnessing the final chapter in one of gaming's longest-running stories is truly special on the Switch.
7 Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury (89)
Super Mario 3D World is easily one of the best games from the Wii U's library, so it wasn't a huge surprise when Nintendo announced that a port would be coming to the Switch. What was shocking, though, was the trailer for Bowser's Fury – a new game that featured a giant Mario going Super Saiyan in a catsuit.
Bowser's Fury is an open-world game full of fascinating puzzles and challenges inspired by 3D World's cat theme. You can approach anything at any time, which creates a nonlinear experience unlike anything else in a Mario game, including Super Mario Odyssey. You must save Lake Lapcat from a giant, sludge-covered Bowser in this riveting four to six hour adventure full of creative obstacles and a magical soundtrack.
6 Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition (89)
Xenoblade Chronicles, exclusive to the Switch? You might think it's a strange addition to this list because it was originally released on the Wii and later ported to the "New" 3DS, but the Definitive Edition provides a brand-new story that separates it from the other versions.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Future Connected is a roughly ten-hour epilogue that mostly revolves around Melia, one of the seven-party members of the original game. Shulk and a few new characters join her as they explore Bionis' Shoulder, a new location full of secrets, and tells yet another great story in the Xenoblade universe.
5 Fire Emblem: Three Houses (89)
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the first game from the iconic Fire Emblem franchise to be released on the Switch and instantly became a fan favorite. In this role-playing, turn-based strategy game you play as a professor and guide one of three houses through an ambitious campaign full of twists and unique characters.
This game is set in Fódlan, a land divided up between three nations. You will spend half of your time at school, forging bonds with your students and the other half on the battlefield strategically navigating your team to victory. With multiple campaigns included and an excellent DLC expansion, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is full of content that's consistently impressive throughout.
4 Animal Crossing: New Horizons (90)
While many other games on this list require you to face relentless monsters or navigate a sprawling open world, Animal Crossing: New Horizons simply wants you to be yourself and have fun. Almost a decade after the release of New Leaf on the 3DS, New Horizons was released and was the perfect game to be playing in early 2020.
New Horizons may seem like another Animal Crossing game, but its tone and gameplay are much different from previous entries. Its crafting mechanic allows you to create the tools you need and design new items to decorate your island with. The villagers have never looked better, and their personalities shine in the game's hilarious writing. If you need a short break between running away from E.M.M.I's or hunting down ghosts, it's time to look at New Horizons.
3 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (92)
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an expanded version of the Wii U game Mario Kart 8 that was released in 2014. It may appear like a port on the surface, but this 2017 release included new characters, karts, and other small changes like the ability to hold two items instead of one. It also continues to receive new tracks through DLC that are unavailable in the original game.
There is a reason why Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is one of the Switch's highest-selling games. It's full of great characters – including cameos from Splatoon's Inklings and Isabelle from Animal Crossing – and some of the best tracks in the franchise's long history. It's a delight to play in a room with friends or online until they throw a red shell at you right before you cross the finish line.
2 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (93)
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the culmination of the series' legendary history and packs it all into a single game. Ultimate contains every fighter that has ever appeared in Super Smash Bros. and pits them against each other in this giant celebration of gaming history. It contains references to hundreds of video games, from cameos on stages to spirits that can power up your fighter.
Ultimate was adored by critics and longtime fans alike when it launched, and it only got better from there. Over the course of three years, Ultimate continued to receive updates that included new characters like Banjo-Kazooie, Sephiroth, and Steve from Minecraft. If Metacritic scored the game at 93 at launch, it's only gotten better from there through balance updates and a slew of new stages and modes.
1 Super Mario Odyssey (97)
Released in 2017, Super Mario Odyssey was one of the first games released on the Nintendo Switch and continues to be the highest-rated game on the console. With a Metacritic score of 97, Odyssey ties with games like Halo and Red Dead Redemption 2 for the third highest-rated game on the website. Critics loved its creativity, challenging yet rewarding platforming, and incredible soundtrack.
Super Mario Odyssey is the first sandbox-style Mario game since Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Wii. Mario and his companion Cappy must travel to colorful and mesmerizing worlds to collect moons and thwart Bowser's plans to marry Princess Peach. Each world is full of fun activities, interesting characters, and secrets around nearly every corner. It's easily one of the best exclusive games on the Nintendo Switch, but it's also one of the best games Nintendo has ever made.
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