The best Nintendo Switch games of 2018

Following an early 2017 launch, the hybrid Nintendo Switch is now available to buy from various retailers in the UK. But while we love the look of the hardware and having a home console that we can also use as a portable, what really matters is the games line-up. The good news is that while the initial launch selection was slim, there have been plenty more games since to keep Switch owners occupied, with both a great selection of Nintendo’s own games and enough third-party titles to give fans hope that the Switch will have better support than the Wii U did.

There are some great gaming coming up for the Switch this year including Pokemon Let’s Go, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, Super Mario Party and Dark Souls Remastered so look out for those.

So without further ado, here are the Switch games we love so far. Also check out our round-up of the best 3DS games.

Best Nintendo Switch games 2018

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Originally set to come out a few years ago on the Wii U, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is now not only a Switch launch title, but also the system’s flagship game. It’s a sprawling open world adventure that’s undeniably the biggest Zelda title yet.

New additions to the series include loot drops, crafting, and cooking, while the expansive overworld stretches as far as you can see. The lush cel-shaded graphics feel like a natural evolution from the Wii’s Skyward Sword, while the audio boasts another franchise first: voice acting. This is the best launch title on any console in years, and feels era-defining, reshaping what we expect from open-world games.

Discover more of what we thought of the Switch’s best game in our Zelda review.

2. Super Mario Odyssey

The best Nintendo Switch games of 2018

Super Mario Odyssey is easily one of the best Mario games in a decade and Nintendo has crafted a game full of fun and surprises.

It’s a beautiful balancing act of classic gameplay and new features that makes Odyssey feel fresh but familiar. Cappy could’ve be a gimmicky addition but is actually a stroke of genius. Super Mario Odyssey is a must for Switch owners, young and old, and will no doubt go down as a classic.

See what else we thought about Mario’s open world adventure in our full Super Mario Odyssey review.

3. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

The best Nintendo Switch games of 2018

One of the best games for the Switch was actually already one of the best games on the Wii U. Mario Kart 8 was the best entry in the racing series in years, and this version is even better. There are a few new additions to justify the re-purchase: courses and new characters from Splatoon and elsewhere, the return of Battle Mode, all of the original game’s DLC, and eight-player local multiplayer.

There are also a few new items and the ability to carry two items at once.

It’s not a major update, and it might be tricky for anyone who already has Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U to justify the upgrade – but if you missed it the first time, this is a great way to get your hands on a brilliant game. Read more in our review of Mario Kart 8: Deluxe.

4. Splatoon 2

The best Nintendo Switch games of 2018

Splatoon was one of the surprise hits for the Wii U, and a welcome reminder that for all of its reliance on big hitters like Zelda and Mario, Nintendo is still capable of creating brilliant original games when it wants to. Nintendo’s take on the online multiplayer shooter is very…

Nintendo. That means quirky character design, a fun setting, and a brilliant new twist on tired shooter mechanics. Instead of shooting bullets, you fire ink, which can hurt your foes, but more importantly covers the arena.

The team with the most ink wins, but it also gives you advantages like faster travel and refilling your ammo as you go.

This sequel is mostly like more of the same (though boasts a new co-op horde mode), but that’s no bad thing, and it includes new weapons, maps, outfits, and music. We’re sold. Find out more in our Splatoon 2 review.

5. Nintendo Labo Variety Kit

The best Nintendo Switch games of 2018

Nintendo Labo is unlike any game we’ve played before.

It’s like taking Google Cardboard and multiplying it by 100. The game comes in two kits, the variety kit and a robot kit. We’ve played the former which will be the best place to start for most people.

Essentially the game gives you instructions to build elaborate contraptions made almost entirely of cardboard.

In the variety kit, there are five so called Toy-Cons to make including a piano, motorbike and fishing rod. Once you’ve made them, you can play sort of mini games. The Toy-Cons have moving parts and are mind-bogglingly clever.

Beyond playing the associated games, which can get old quite quickly, you can mess around in garage mode. Here you can do simple graphic coding to make the Toy-Cons do different things. You could make reeling on the fishing rod make the car move forward.

You can even use the motorbike to play Mario Kart 8: Deluxe.

It might be quite pricey, but you need to remember that the fun of Labo lies in the building as well as the games themselves. Read our full Nintendo Labo review.

6. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

The best Nintendo Switch games of 2018

It might not be as exciting as Super Mario Odyssey but Mario teaming up with those pesky Rabbids makes for a lot of fun on the Switch. In this game you create a team mixed from Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, and Rabbid versions of each of them, to take on enemies in various levels.

The core gameplay is turn-based strategy – similar to the XCOM series – with a variety of movement options, unlockable weapons, and special abilities. At first the strategy is simple and accessible, but before too long it amps up, using environmental obstacles and tools like Chain Chomps and pipes to create a fast-paced, refreshing strategy title that should appeal to gamers of every level. By the end it gets seriously tough, and you’ll need your wits – and smart use of the skill tree – to make it to the end.

There’s also a huge amount of replayability, with extra challenges and secret sections for each of the game’s worlds, and silly in-jokes hidden everywhere you look.

Read our hands-on of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.

7. Arms

The best Nintendo Switch games of 2018

The first major new Nintendo IP for the Switch, Arms is a slightly odd cross between a boxing game and a shooter. The core gameplay is essentially boxing, but with a major twist: your arms are extendable. Using the Joy-Con motion controls you can punch, block, grab, and dodge, as well as use a powered up super attack.

If you’re not a fan of flailing, you can also use buttons, either on a pair of Joy-Cons, one on its own, or using the Switch Pro Controller.

There are ten colourful characters, ranging from an Egyptian mummy to a sentient green blob, and each comes with three different types of weaponised arms meaning there’s plenty of variety in abilities and fighting styles from launch, with Nintendo planning to add even more as free DLC. The single-player content is pretty light so far (just an arcade mode and some mini-games) but multiplayer is where Arms really shines, with Nintendo proving once again that it can take a longstanding genre and find a way to shake it up. Read more in our full Arms review.

8. Mario Tennis Aces

The best Nintendo Switch games of 2018

We’ve loved Mario Tennis games since the Game Boy edition way back in 2000.

Although not all titles in the franchise have been amazing, the Switch version is definitely worth a go. Not only does it look great, but there’s plenty of depth and ways to play. The big news is that the adventure mode is back for the first time in 13 years and sees Mario and Toad go on a quest to defeat a mysterious racket called Lucien.

It’s all a bit nuts but you get to play a variety of levels, including bosses and some well thought-out mini games.

These will all help you learn the mechanics and have a better chance of beating friends and others online.

There are plenty of characters and courts to choose from, but an almost overwhelming amount of shots also. You’ll need to charge up an energy bar to perform special shots to win points or try and win by breaking your opponent’s racket.

It can get a bit complicated but you can play in a simple mode that let’s you play with motion like Wii Tennis.

Read our full Mario Tennis Aces review.

9. Doom

The best Nintendo Switch games of 2018

We thought that Doom was fantastic when it first landed on the PS4, Xbox One and PC back in 2016. Still, we never could have imagined that not only would publisher Bethesda decide to port the game to Nintendo’s comparatively underpowered Switch, but that it would turn out so fantastic.

This is pretty much the full Doom package (the only thing missing is level editor SnapMap), including the original’s post-release content like Arcade mode, which is fully unlocked from the start here – ideal for players who’ve already beaten the campaign on another console.

Once again you’re rampaging across Mars, and later Hell itself, killing hordes of demons in a frenetic, fast-paced FPS that actively rewards you for pushing ahead. A cover shooter this is not. Performance is surprisingly solid given the Switch’s specs.

Play it docked on a big TV and you’ll notice the lower resolution (capped at 720p) but on the tablet screen it’s never an issue, and the devs have wisely prioritised framerate over resolution, keeping things slick and smooth.

Doom obviously isn’t for everything, and the tone is a far cry from Nintendo’s own output. But for Switch owners looking for something a little more on the aggressive side, this is the game to beat.

10. Snipperclips

The best Nintendo Switch games of 2018

The surprise hit of the Switch’s launch window, Snipperclips is the little indie game that could, a brilliant puzzle game that makes the most of the console’s portability and multiplayer features. You and up to three friends take control of colourful paper creatures.

By standing in front of one another you can cut sections out of each other to form new shapes, which you in turn use to solve a variety of environmental puzzles. It tends to quickly devolve into sheer chaos as you rotate and jump and run around, accidentally cutting each other into the wrong shapes, trying (and usually failing) to explain what you need someone else to do to solve the puzzle.

It’s the ideal game to show off the Switch’s portable Joy-Con multiplayer, and looks great even on the tablet screen – partly thanks to brilliantly memorable animation.

11. Kirby Star Allies

The best Nintendo Switch games of 2018

Ok so it might not be the greatest Kirby game ever but fans will not want to pass this one on the Switch. It feels like a completely new title in the franchise on Nintendo’s latest console might take Kirby to new places.

However, Star Allies is more a look back at our pink friend’s 25 year past by pulling together themes and elements you’ll remember from previous games. The game looks so great because, even though it’s hard to believe in 2018, this is the first Kirby title in HD. A simple update in picture quality is not enough to warrant playing the game and would make it a missable entry.

There’s more to it than HD, though.

As the name suggests, Star Allies has a mechanic where Kirby can befriend enemies using a dedicated button. You charmingly toss a heart icon at one to become allies, including most mid-bosses. You can bring up to three along and they’re controlled by the computer.

However, it’s far more enjoyable if you use the multi-player feature that lets up to three of your friends jump in for up to four-way co-operative play. It’s not the most difficult of games making it great for younger players, but you will have to make use of combo powers providing some depth.

12. Surgeon Simulator CPR

The best Nintendo Switch games of 2018

Surgeon Simulator CPR is about as chaotic as all the Surgeon Simulator games that came before it, and it’s down to you and your (frustratingly hard-to-control) surgically-trained hands to remove organs, pull out eyes and even operate on an alien in a spaceship. Yes, you heard that right.

Surgeon Simulator CPR starts off fairly tame, asking you to perform open heart surgery (what a breeze, right?) on an unconscious patient in a hospital, but it quickly escalates into more dramatic scenarios. Whether in the back of an ambulance or in the zero-gravity of space watching your tools float around, every operation comes with unique challenges that’ll keep you busy for hours. In true Surgeon Simulator fashion, there’s very little in the way of an instruction manual.

You’re free to perform surgery however you like – as long as the patient doesn’t bleed out and die, of course. If that means using a hammer in the place of a bone saw to open the skull of your patient, so be it!

If that’s not enough of a challenge, the frustratingly difficult motion controls will have you contorting your arms into unnatural positions trying to perform simple tasks like picking up a scalpel. It’s all part of the charm of the game, of course, but it does get a little tiring after a while.

The real draw of the game is multiplayer support, where you and a friend get to control an arm each. Yeah, you can imagine how well that goes! It’s a fun game that’ll help pass the time, but we’d avoid it if you get easily frustrated at games.

It will trigger you!

13. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition

The best Nintendo Switch games of 2018

In a sense it’s a shame that so many of the best Switch games so far are ports of Wii U titles, but when you consider the fact that the Switch has already outsold its older sibling, it makes a certain sense – for a lot of Switch owners, this is their first chance to ever play these games. That’s how Hyrule Warriors has been given a third (it got a 3DS port too) lease of life in this Definitive Edition, which collects every mode, character, map, costume, and more from both previous versions of the game, throws in a couple of Switch exclusives like Breath of the Wild costumes, and upgrades the whole thing to crisp HD.

If you’re not familiar, it’s worth noting that Hyrule Warriors isn’t a traditional Zelda title: this is a spin-off from the popular (in Japan at least) series Dynasty Warriors. This is pure hack ‘n’ slash, throwing you into huge arenas to mow down hordes of enemies with simple attack combos, though there are tactical wrinkles too, with multiple missions and objectives popping up simultaneously, forcing some high-octane prioritisation.

It’s also a big love letter to the Zelda franchise, with a story that spans multiple eras – primarily as a shameless excuse to bring in goodies, baddies, and monsters from across the franchise’s history. It’s not as dumb as it looks, but it’s just as fun.

14. Layers of Fear: Legacy

The best Nintendo Switch games of 2018

Layers of Fear: Legacy is just one of many, many, many games that have been ported to the Switch following the console’s explosive success (see Doom above for another great example). Still, that makes the Switch a great way to get your hands on games you might have missed first time around, and play them on the go.

Layers of Fear is a smart psychological horror game from the oddly named studio Bloober Team, with the player stepping into the shoes of an undeniably disturbed painter roaming his dilapidated house and reliving some of his more… questionable ethical choices.

It’s defiantly schlocky stuff, with jump scares, gory twists, and rats all over the bloody (literally) place, but there are smart touches too.

The impossible geography of the house is a thrilling trick, with corridors shifting every time you look away from them, and the game amps up to a very satisfying crescendo.

The Switch port also includes the Inheritance DLC, and takes advantage of the Switch’s HD Rumble and motion controls.

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