We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Best Switch exclusives – the greatest games only on Nintendo’s console

Here are all the best Switch exclusives that can only be found on the Nintendo Switch console, including staples of the Japanese giant Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon

Best Switch exclusives: Mario (middle), a Splatoon inkling (left), and Link (right) posing.

Maybe you’ve just got a shiny new Nintendo Switch for your birthday, or maybe you’ve decided to finally make the jump to Nintendo after playing PlayStation or Xbox consoles and you want to see what all the fuss is about – either way, welcome to some of gaming’s finest experiences.

Or, maybe you are a long-term Nintendo Switch owner looking for the best Switch exclusives for something new to play. From Zelda to Mario to Pokemon, some of the best franchises in the gaming world are found solely on Nintendo consoles.

Whatever the reason, you’re looking for all the finest games that you can play – either portably or on the big screen – only on the Nintendo Switch. We’ve put together this guide for that exact reason, so read on below for a comprehensive list of games you should be playing if you haven’t got around to them yet. We’ve also got a list of the best Nintendo Switch games of all time which is worth checking out as well.

These are the best Switch exclusives:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Luigi’s Mansion 3
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • Splatoon 2
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
  • Fire Emblem Three Houses
  • Golf Story
  • Kirby and the Forgotten Land
  • Link’s Awakening
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • Metroid Dread
  • New Pokemon Snap
  • Pokemon Legends Arceus
  • Shin Megami Tensei V
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
  • Pikmin 4

best switch exclusives zelda bokoblins

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Originally developed for the Wii U, Breath of the Wild was delayed for so long it actually launched with the Switch console. It moves the series in a new direction by plonking Link into a massive open world and letting the player discover Bokoblin camps, shrines, dungeons, and puzzles organically.

The best thing about Breath of the Wild is how, while there is a story, the game lets you take it at your own pace. Weapons have a limited number of uses, food must be cooked at a campfire, and Link has a stamina meter that must be managed or you’ll fall from a cliff while climbing. It’s a Zelda that definitely puts the eponymous wild into the game with a firm stamp.

best switch exclusives luigi's mansion 3 boo chasing luigi in hotel

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Originally debuting on the Nintendo GameCube, Luigi’s Mansion 3 continues the series’ tradition of taking Mario’s green-clothed brother and putting him into spooky situations, like an abandoned mansion, and making him fight ghosts in a third-person action adventure.

In Luigi’s Mansion 3, the better brother tries to go on a relaxing hotel holiday when the ghouls turn up. He inevitably uses his wiles to fashion a device known as a Poltergust out of old vacuum parts. The Poltergust can suck up those dastardly ghosts, so Luigi sets about exorcising the place and saving his friends.

best switch exclusives animal crossing new horizons using a pole to hope a river

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

There’s no way that you haven’t heard of Nintendo’s cute life simulator Animal Crossing. In New Horizons, you arrive on an island in the middle of the ocean to start a new life with nothing in your pockets. You’re welcomed by the notorious tanuki swindler known as Tom Nook, who gives you jobs to do and eventually provides you with a mortgage on a house.

Animal Crossing is played in real time, so the game’s day-night cycle reflects the time of your current location, as does the game’s seasons. Catch butterflies, go fishing, build your island how you want, and generally slow down and take life easy. Even the theme tune will have you humming it as you go about your daily life.

best switch exclusives splatoon 2 yellow inkling

Splatoon 2

This vibrant and original Nintendo game takes paintball, adds in controllable anthropomorphic squid-kids, and asks you to literally paint the town red (or, whatever colour your team is assigned).

Splatoon is a predominantly multiplayer game, though it does have a campaign, which pits two teams against each other in a timed battle to paint the level with paint – the team that covers the most area wins. Of course, there are paint buckets, paintball sniper rifles, paint rollers, and you can actually ‘splat’ enemy team members to force them to respawn. Did we mention it has a killer soundtrack consisting of the funkiest Nintendo tunes you’ve ever heard?

best switch exclusives mario and rabbids kingdom battle mario and peach

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Nintendo are usually very picky about who they let mess with their IPs, but in this case, they’ve let Ubisoft make a Mario game set alongside the Rabbids from Rayman. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle takes Mario and friends on a X-com-like journey through the Mushroom Kingdom to defeat invading Rabbids.

The gameplay is turn-based, meaning you move team Mario around the grid-like level, choosing where they take cover and who they target attacks towards. Don’t let it’s cute veneer fool you, this is a strategy game that forces you to think about what you’re doing, and a brilliant one at that.

best switch exclusives fire emblem three houses battle

Fire Emblem Three Houses

The latest proper tactical RPG in the Fire Emblem series created by Koei Tecmo, Three Houses is one of the most fleshed out entries in the series to date. Set in a world where three ruling factions are vying control, much of the game takes place in a military academy for young officers, of which you are one.

What makes this entry a stand-out is the brilliant mix of academy classes, inter-personal relationship drama, and fighting on the battlefield. Add to this the fact that your choices matter and fans of RPGs shouldn’t skip this.

best switch exclusives golf story driving the range

Golf Story

One of the Nintendo Switch’s indie darlings, Golf Story is both exactly what it sounds like and so much more than that, too. It’s about an individual who grows up loving golf but forgoes it in their adult life. Later, they try to reclaim their skills and impress family and friends amidst a kind of mid-life crisis.

The game’s top-down perspective and pixel art hide not only a very fun golf game, but also a deep story. It’s also a traditional RPG, with your character gaining in skill and power as you play. It’s the perfect blend of simplicity and depth in both gameplay and story.

best switch exclusives kirby and the forgotten land kirby runs from enemies

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

What is Kirby? He’s a pink blob that can inflate himself like a balloon, suck up objects, and copy them to help him fight enemies. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is set in a dystopian city reclaimed by nature, and forces Kirby to adventure through the world’s remnants.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a 3D action-platformer, so fans of Mario’s videogame antics should check out his bloated, pink sibling because he brings new abilities, enemies, and storylines to the Nintendoverse.

best switch exclusives the legend of zelda links awakening link fighting enemy with sword

The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening

Technically, Link’s Awakening is a remake of a Game Boy game from 1993, but don’t let that put you off – the graphics have been completely overhauled and the gameplay still stands up today. It’s the latest top-down Zelda game, so Hyrule fans looking for a more traditional experience will find it here.

The game has a unique art style, too, and has you taking control of Link as he washes up on the shore of Koholint Island. Link’s Awakening is chock full of old-school dungeons, so players who found the Breath of the Wild approach to them underwhelming should be right at home here.

best switch exclusives mario kart 8 deluxe mario throwing a shell

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

The game that never dies, Mario Kart 8 started out life as a Wii U game in 2014, before it was brought over to the Switch in its current Deluxe guise that includes all the DLC. Nintendo are still supporting it with new expansion over the next couple of years, too.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is one of the best entries in the Mario Kart series. From Mario to Yoshi to the Inklings from Splatoon, all of Nintendo’s most interesting characters jump in go karts and race around tracks from all the different Nintendo franchises across time. Not only does it offer compelling gameplay as you drift around corners and take out your opponents with shells, its levels are a homage to everything Nintendo from the company’s founding.

best switch exclusives metroid dread samus sliding away from enemy

Metroid Dread

Every self-respecting Nintendo player knows about the Metroid series, and Metroid Dread is a surprise for long-time fans of Samus as it takes place right after the events of 2002’s Metroid Fusion.

It brings back the side-scrolling platform action from previous games, but it also adds a unique sinister and anxious vibe to its gameplay as you have to stealthily avoid the enemies that stalk you throughout.


best switch exclusives new pokemon snap owlet in a tree

New Pokemon Snap

If you’re too young to remember Pokemon Snap on the Nintendo 64, boy, do I have a game for you. Have you ever thought that Pokemon are just so cute that instead of heaving red and white enslavation balls at them, you’d rather walk around and take pictures of them?

Enter New Pokemon Snap. It’s a game about building out your photography portfolio by taking candid images of pokemon in the wild. Think of it as National Geographic meets cute pocket monsters, except in videogame form. Pokemon fanatics shouldn’t miss this one.

best switch exclusives pokemon legends arceus trainer and pokemon in the wild

Pokemon Legends Arceus

Speaking of pocket monsters, Pokemon Legends Arceus is the latest entry in the pokemon series of games that’s been running for over two decades. Arceus takes on the guise of an open-world adventure played from the third-person point of view, allowing you full freedom to sneak up on and capture pokemon wherever you choose.

Pokemon Legends Arceus also has a unique setting, going back to the franchise’s early history, when pokemon were still largely wild and not the appealing and friendly creatures we’ve come to know. If that piques your interest, Arceus is one of the best Pokemon games out there, so it’s well worth playing.

best switch exclusives shin megami tensei 5 running on a bridge

Shin Megami Tensei V

The long-awaited latest entry in Atlus’ beloved JRPG series, Shin Megami Tensei V needs no introduction. It’s similar to the Persona series, except with an even heavier emphasis on RPG mechanics.

Shin Megami Tensei V centres around a murder in Tokyo, and the transportation of the player to an otherworldly Tokyo called Da’at that is full of demons and dieties. In true JRPG style, you have to save the world, and it’s going to take you dozens and dozens of hours to do it.

best switch exclusives super mario odyssey throwing hat in new york city

Super Mario Odyssey

Ya-hoo! Mario is back in fine 3D-platforming form in Super Mario Odyssey. It’s one of the best, if not the best, Mario game ever to have been created. Odyssey takes the Mario 64’s open-world formula and pumps it full of steroids to make it the Mario game you come across in the gym hallway and don’t want to make eye contact with.

You will embark on adventures in lots of varied locations, and there is plenty to keep you going back to visit levels in Mario’s talking space-hat thingy after the credits roll. You need to play this game.

best switch exclusives super smash bros ultimate battle stage

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is, well, the ultimate version of Nintendo’s fighting game series, which pits characters from across its franchises against each other on a 2D battle stage. It takes everything the series has done in the last 20 years and enhances it. All of the questions about which Smash game was best fall away as Ultimate has become the clear choice for all players casual and competitive.

On top of that, the game has received numerous updates and expansion. If you’ve ever been fond of this Nintendo-centric fighter series, now is the time to jump into Ultimate.

Best Switch exclusives: Link standing on a Sky Island looking out over Hyrule.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Somehow, Nintendo managed to top the stellar Breath of the Wild with The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. It builds upon the excellent foundations of its predecessor, using new tools like Ultrahand to further emphasize the incredible feelings of discovery and adventure that permeated Breath of the Wild. It also boasts a much more focused and involved narrative, even if it does have a similar setup to Breath of the Wild.

Bigger and better than its predecessor in nearly every way, it’s definitely one of the best Switch exclusives. Be sure to read our The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review to find out more.

Best Switch exclusives: Pikmin and Oatchi the dog posing together in a garden.

Pikmin 4

Bigger and better than the previous entries in many ways, Pikmin 4 was worth the wait. It quickly became one of the best Switch exclusives thanks to its unique and charming world full of puzzles to solve. Using your colorful army of Pikmin – with the help of Oatchi, a cute dog – you must find a way to rebuild your spaceship. Striking the perfect balance of mystery and casual puzzle solving, it’s a joy to play. Thankfully, you don’t need to have played the previous games in the series, though they are great too.

Welcoming to new players and veterans alike, Pikmin 4 is a delightful adventure. You can read Pocket Tactics’ Pikmin 4 review for more on the game.

Those are all the best Switch exclusives that you should play if you haven’t already. It’s a long list, but that’s because the Nintendo Switch has too many amazing games. If you’d like to find out all the Nintendo Switch’s upcoming games, we have a guide for that too (if you’re not too busy throwing Mario’s hat at dinosaurs).