I didn’t always have a preference for handheld consoles. I grew up playing games like Super Smash Bros. Melee and Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, games that required a home console. Which was fine and good — except that our house only had one TV to share between my parents and brother. It meant that I wasn’t always to play the home console games that I enjoyed, and when you’re a kid like me who overexaggerated everything, it felt like the world was crashing down. So it meant settling for the next best compromise: playing handheld consoles instead.
Eventually, I came to enjoy my handheld consoles even more. I spent countless hours playing my Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS and 3DS during road trips or long flights around the world to pass the time, and no more fighting over the TV. I still liked playing games like Twilight Princess on the Wii whenever possible, but I learned to settle for other options, too. After all, a console that you could play on the TV and on the go was a pipe dream, right?
The Wii U was a step in the right direction, but technologically you couldn’t take it anywhere with you. Not very far, anyway. You always had to sit near the port, so you never really got the sense of “on the go.” I could never take it on a car drive for hours at a time, for instance. But then the Nintendo Switch was announced…and it was a dream come true.
Nintendo Switch, You’re The Best Around
The Nintendo Switch is my favorite console that I own. As an adult, it fulfills the pipe dream I’m sure many of us had as kids. It’s hard to believe it’s already been out for 5 years now. It may be about halfway through it’s lifecycle, but the catalog of games available on the Nintendo Switch are excellent and incredible varied.
And since I’m definitely an expert on all things Nintendo Switch related, here are my recommendations for the games Switch owners should try out, if they haven’t already! Twenty-two games for 2022, in no particular order because ranking them was way too hard. Here we go!
Yoshi’s Crafted World
This game is so delightful and charming. I absolutely love the arts and crafts aesthetic, bright colors, and texture of the graphics, giving it a very down-to-earth, Kirby’s Epic Yarn vibes. The game isn’t particulary hard — it’s a sidescroller in the same spirit of the Mario series — but it’s incredibly satisfying collecting the myriad of collectible items and following the Yoshis on their simple, but fun, quest.
A perfect entry point for new Metroid fans (myself included), Metroid Dread is an incredibly polished sidescroller. Samus is as much of a badass as she has always been, and the new quality of life upgrades and abilities at her disposal makes the platforming incredibly fresh and fluid. On top of that, the EMMIs chasing her is one of the most tense situations I’ve ever experienced in a game, and it’s incredibly rewarding when you start to gain the tools to fight back (sort of).
New Pokemon Snap
I adored the original Pokemon Snap on the Nintendo 64. I spent hours snapping photos of my favorite Pokemon (which at the time, I purely based on cuteness, not combat prowess), so getting a sequel showcasing more the 900-something Pokemon in the roster now was amazing! New Pokemon Snap is super fun. If you enjoyed the original premise of taking the best pictures of Pokemon, this game has all of that and more. With new regions to explore and multiple poses to capture, New Pokemon Snap is a great sequel to an already creative and fun classic.
A JRPG featuring the classic trappings of pixelated classics like Final Fantasy VI, Octopath Traveler features fantastic music and multiple character routes to experience. I appreciate the classic Final Fantasy feel of this game — the pixel art is incredibly detailed and charming. It’s also pretty challenging at times, and there’s always something to do.
Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
We’re currently playing through this on our YouTube channel now, but Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a solid entry in the stellar Ace Attorney series. If you’re fan of the non-realistic court proceedings, great music, quirky characters, and great storytelling through meaningful escalation and high stakes, the Great Ace Attorney Chronicles have it all and then some. Not only are there new mechanics that keep things interesting during trials, but this game features two in one — something I admittedly didn’t know until we started playing it on YouTube, but it’s great.
Pokemon Sword and Shield
The latest mainline entry in the Pokemon franchise that isn’t a remake or sequel, Sword and Shield offers new features in the expansive Wild Area and new Pokemon to capture. Character customization is back, along with camping to spend time with your adorable Pokemon. I enjoy the new features to battle too, even if I actively avoided Gigamaxing so I could watch my tiny Dragapult nuke a giant Pikachu out of existence in one hit. That was hilarious.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Featuring all of the characters and race tracks, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the perfect game to play with family and friends, locally or via the Internet. It’s just as chaotic and fun as ever with new items to trip other racers up. As a fan of the Mario Kart series since I was a kid, this game is my guilty pleasure.
The World Ends With You: Final Remix
In case you didn’t know from my previous ramblings, I love The World Ends With You. Final Remix sports shiny graphics and clean character art, a remixed OST, and a modified gamplay system to accomodate the Switch’s control scheme, while trying to maintain the touch controls of the DS. It’s not a perfect port, but I still strongly recommend this game on the Switch for its story and characters. And then check out NEO: The World Ends With You! It’s a pretty good sequel.
Bravely Default 2
A sequel to the popular Bravely Default (only in name, not in story), Bravely Default 2 has everything that made the first game fun, with multiple character classes to choose from and a incredibly unique combat system that is improved on from the first.
Animal Crossing New Horizons
Animal Crossing New Horizon was the poster child of socialization with friends and family around the world during the pandemic shutdown — people banded together to play this charming, wonderful game together. Animal Crossing New Horizons features crafting and island customization, allowing fans to sink countless hours into the game carefully planting flowers and placing furniture in the perfect spot. I think New Horizons is the best offering of the Animal Crossing series thus far. It’s a delightful game where you can forget the world for a while to socialize with adorable, anthropomorphic animal Villagers while reluctantly giving Tom Nook all of your Bells.
Fire Emblem Three Houses
When Fire Emblem Three Houses came out, I was obsessed. You have three routes that you can pick, each featuring a unique cast of characters. You play as their teacher, where you teach and support your students to become the best they can be (resulting in stat boosts and class changes, gameplay-wise). While you can recruit some students from other houses to join yours and can build friendships with them, where this game truly shines is the story and progression. I don’t know if the timeskip is much of a spoiler anymore since it wasfeatured pretty prominently in the trailers, but the stakes rise significantly, and it truly feels like a war, where the tactics and strategy matters. With an amazing soundtrack and excellent voice acting, Fire Emblem Three Houses is the best offering in the series so far.
The Switch remake of the classic Gameboy Advance game oozes charm and retains the spirit of the original. Bright and colorful, Link’s Awakening also has some new features and upgrades that help it stand among modern games. With absolutely gorgeous animated cutscenes and orchestrated music, this remake is among one of the best.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a really impressive game. The sheer amount of content in the game is staggering. Bringing back all of the stages and fighters from previous Smash entries along with all of the new DLC content, Ultimate feels like a love letter to gamers of all ages. I love playing Smash with friends, and 8-player smash is a special kind of fun and chaos that can’t really be replicated in any other game.
Mario Odyssey is an excellent game. The platforming is fun and engaging, the controls are fluid and responsive, showcasing Switch controls at perhaps their best. The amount of control you can have over a playthrough (ie how many Moons you can collect, and how you do it), along with the variety of worlds to explore, is fantastic. With an incredibly catchy soundtrack and great visuals, it’s easy to see why Odyssey was a contender for best game of the year in 2017.
Hyrule Warriors Age of Calamity
Dynasty Warriors isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and I can understand why. Sometimes the button mashing can be pretty mindless, and the missions aren’t always the most creative. But where Age of Calamity shines is the Zelda touch — being able to play as characters from Breath of the Wild with unique combos along with a story worth being invested in makes this game stand out from the series it largely borrows from.
Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition
I, for one, am so happy this definitive edition of Xenoblade Chronicles exists. While I adore the original game, it was always a bit of a hard sell. Those graphics! The tiny font! Definitive Edition fixes many of the initial challenges of the original, with a clean and easy-to-read UI character models that actually LOOK like the characters due to the overhauled graphics. Along with much of the OST being reorchestrated, Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition feels like the game the original was trying to be all those years. It’s by far the best way to experience this game now.
Rune Factory 4 Special
Yet another example of a game ported to the Switch that ultimately benefits from it! A Harvest Moon spinoff that originally came out on the 3DS, Rune Factory 4 was remastered for the Switch with improved graphics and additional content not found in the original game. I was obsessed with the original — I spent countless hours dungeoneering, farming, and gifting Clorica with as many gifts as I could. It was great to be able to jump back into the game on the Switch.
Super Mario All-Stars
In celebration of Mario’s 35th Anniversary, Nintendo released Super Mario All-Stars, a game that features Super Mario 64, Mario Sunshine, and Mario Galaxy all in one for the Switch, and it sold out like hot cakes. This was a hugely sought after collection of classic Mario games, and with good reason — all three of these games previously released for home consoles. But on the Switch? Being able to take these games on the go is incredibly fun and gives me even more of an appreciation for these classic games. If you haven’t had a chance to play these earlier Mario entries and you can get your hands on this compilation, I totally recommend it!
Skyward Sword HD
Skyward Sword HD on the Switch may still retain the motion controls from the Wii, but it’s a bit more forgiving and flexible now with an option to use the Joycon buttons as well. Sporting cleaner graphics and handheld functionality, Skyward Sword HD on the Switch is a blast to play. It’s been great to revisit the game again — I played the original when it first came out, so being able to play it on the go has been a huge plus.
Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age
Final Fantasy XII may not be as popular as VII or X, but the Zodiac Age is Final Fantasy XII at its best. Featuring a variety of quality of life upgrades to the License Board and Gambits, increased gameplay speed, and bonuses to New Game + and more, the Zodiac Age is by far the best way to experience this great Final Fantasy installment.
I’m planning to do a more thorough writeup about this game and all the ways I love it, but until I find all the words to do it justice, this will have to do for now. Hades is the first roguelike game I’ve ever played, and it may be the last because it has set such a high bar for me. The roguelike genre has inherently frustrating qualities — restarting from the very beginning with no real sense of progress or achievement — that Hades expertly crafts its entire story, characters, and premise around. It turns the genre on its head by making restarting REWARDING, and it’s incredible. The music is excellent, the voice acting is top notch, the art direction is beautiful, and the characters and story are absolutely amazing. Dripping with drama worthy of the Greek myths this game revolves around, the approach it takes to modernizing these legends and humanizing these characters is incredible. Hades is absolutely amazing, and one of my favorite games ever. It’s available on other systems, too, but being able to play this handheld wherever I go on my Switch is an absolute blast, and very easy to do!
Breath of the Wild
I originally played Breath of the Wild on the Wii U, and while it was fun being able to play “portable” to a degree, getting it for the Switch is a huge upgrade. You can sink hours upon hours exploring the carefully crafted and detailed open-world Nintendo created, searching every nook and cranny for shrines and secrets. Having the flexibility to experience the story on your own terms — whether you acquire the blessing of all of the Champions, regain your lost memories, or just stroll up to Hyrule Castle wearing nothing but boxers and equipped with a stick — and the possibilities are endless. Breath of the Wild is among one of the best games to have on the Nintendo Switch. Whether you play it handheld or on the big screen, this game is beautiful and immersive.
And there you have it! Twenty-two games I would recommend for Nintendo Switch owners. What about you, which games would you recommend? Let us know in the comments! Thank you for reading!