The Nintendo Switch is admittedly a compelling gadget on its own, but unless you are into expensive paperweights you’re going to need to pick up a few games to keep that thing in your hands and off that pile of paperwork. Having Nintendo pumping out games from your favorite childhood franchises like Mario, Zelda, and Donkey Kong means that there isn’t a lack of great games, but it’s worth digging past the obvious to unlock the system’s full charm.
OK, so we said it’s worth “digging past the obvious,” but frankly you can’t talk about the Nintendo Switch without bringing up the legend. You’ve probably played a Zelda game before, even if you don’t consider yourself a gamer, so you’ll find yourself interacting with familiar characters in familiar settings, But past that, this is a unique Zelda experience. Free of the guardrails of the past, you guide Link through an open world, picking up fragile weapons to fight off the goblin hordes that have besieged the land. You explore glorious, rolling landscapes in search of secrets, chickens and physics-driven puzzles. The only real knock against this game is that it is too big. If you need a strict story to guide you forward you might find yourself just giving up.
Yes, Nintendo Switch games have a nasty habit of being extremely cute. But we challenge you to find one kinder and more engaging than Animal Crossing. It’s up to you to build a community populated by cute talking animals on an abandoned island. You get to create tools, houses, decor, and landscapes all while gardening, fishing, and fossil hunting. Plus, you can invite your IRL friends to explore your island community by sharing a simple code.
The Fire Emblem series is a revered staple of the strategy genre, and its last three installments remain standouts of the diverse Nintendo 3DS catalog. It’s no surprise then that Three Houses is a good reason to own a Switch. The surprise here is just how much there is to do in the game. From schooling, training, and managing your troops to mastering the deep and challenging combat, there is almost too much to do here. You’ll quickly be charmed by the cast of characters and looking forward to stumbling over an ally’s missing journal, or jewelry so you can return it, win their favor, and then invite them to a tea party (seriously).
It’s easy to be jaded when it comes to Mario games. It’s not that most of them aren’t decent—it’s just that if your reference point is an installment from the NES or SNES, it’s hard to imagine how to improve on the tried and true formula. Super Mario Odyssey will smack that jadedness right out of you with a compelling mix of gameplay formulas that only occasionally break the Mario mold. Yes, you still can stomp goombas, travel down sewer pipes, and battle Bowser, but with 3D worlds that you can roam freely. Thanks to your symbiotic, mind-controlling cap you’ll soon be doing things you never dreamt you’d see in a Mario game, like, say, romping through brick walls as a towering T.Rex, or becoming a chain-chomp. At times you’ll flatten into the 2D world for typical gameplay and then burst right back into the fully rendered world replete with platforming, puzzles, and riddles.
The chaotic, irreverent, and strangely addicting Super Smash Bros. throws iconic video game characters into living arenas full of traps, tricks, and perils. Ever wonder who would win in a fight between Pikachu and Megaman? This may not be the only way to find out, but it’s got to be the most fun. Battle with more than eight players at once with a staggering roster of fighters and arenas that includes every single one featured in the series’ past as well as a heap of new content. You can very well enjoy Super Smash Bros. without ever actually understanding what’s going on, thanks to sharp animations and cheeky comedy, or you could master the game and join the growing competitive Smash Bros. community.