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Best Nintendo Switch games for 2020 – CNET

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Sony and Microsoft are kicking off the next generation of video game consoles later this year with the launch of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, respectively. They’ll both cost a bundle and could be nearly impossible to obtain this holiday season. Thankfully Nintendo already has a horse in the race with the Switch. Unlike any PlayStation or Xbox, the Switch can be played on your TV screen or on the go. (There’s also the Nintendo Switch Lite, which costs $100 less, which plays nearly all of the same games, but can’t be connected to a TV.)

To be clear, the Switch made its debut back in 2017, so it’s not going toe-to-toe with the graphical prowess of the next-gen consoles. But the Switch’s flexibility in moving locations — even if it’s just room to room — and the fact that it’s the only place you can play the latest and greatest Nintendo-exclusive franchises like Zelda, Mario, Pokemon and Animal Crossing gives it an advantage 2020’s shiny new consoles will have a tough time countering. In fact, unlike Nintendo’s previous Wii and Wii U consoles, the Switch has built up a huge library of games, including plenty of third-party titles and some games that can already be considered bona fide classics.

Let’s run through a few of our favorites, which we’ll update periodically. Note that the red buttons are links to third-party retailers, most of which are the cartridge version of the game in question, though some (where indicated) are digital codes for download. Direct links to the Nintendo eShop downloads are also included, if you’d prefer to buy directly from Nintendo.

Read more at GameSpot: Nintendo Switch games and news

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

No big deal, Breath of the Wild is only the consensus best game of 2017. The game many believe is the best ever made. The game that somehow managed to actually outsell the Nintendo Switch itself on launch.

Still no idea how that actually happened, but it did.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a legitimate masterpiece that strips back the open-world genre to its core elements and rewrites its DNA for pure adventure.

It’s a world alive with surprise and dense with detail. An incredible, milestone achievement.

See GameSpot’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild review.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

Folks, in these dark and troubled days, it’s time to disappear into a new world, get a virtual mortgage and work your ass off to pay that sucker off quick smart.

It’s Animal Crossing time, my friends.

See GameSpot’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons review.

Untitled Goose Game

House House

See digital version at Nintendo store

Untitled Goose Game is a game about being a goose.

And not just any goose, a horrible goose. An asshole goose who makes life extremely difficult for everyone around him. Untitled Goose Game absolutely took the world by storm. Even Chrissie Teigen is obsessed with it.

But is it good? Yes. Very good. This one should absolutely be on any and all Nintendo Switch consoles.

See GameSpot’s Untitled Goose Game review.

Pokemon Sword & Shield

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

Look, regardless of controversy, Pokemon is Pokemon and Pokemon Sword & Shield is a good Pokemon.

Don’t believe the online hype, this is one of the best games in the series so far. It’s also great to see Pokemon being available on Nintendo’s premium console, the Nintendo Switch. Definitely check it out.

See GameSpot’s Pokemon Sword & Shield review.

Super Mario Maker 2

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

Super Mario Maker 2 doesn’t quite feel made for the Nintendo Switch in the way it was perfect for the Wii U, but it’s still a fantastic piece of software. It makes level design accessible for everyone and has a massively beefed-up single-player mode.

That’s not to mention the endless replay value that comes with the insane user-created levels. Check Super Mario Maker 2 out for sure.

See GameSpot’s Super Mario Maker 2 review.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

It’s overpriced, but if you love Zelda, and you loved Link’s Awakening, you have to play this faithful, lovingly adapted remake. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done.

See GameSpot’s The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening review.

Super Mario Odyssey

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

Here is a list of trash words that don’t come close to describing Super Mario Odyssey: inventive, dazzling, smart, seamless, joyful, creative.

Super Mario Odyssey is a Nintendo game that continues in the spirit of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. All bets are off, everything you thought you knew about Mario has been reinvented. But here’s what remains: perfectly tuned, precision gameplay that feels incredible every second your hands are on the controller.

See GameSpot’s Super Mario Odyssey review.

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

Luigi’s Mansion 3 is legitimately one of the best games of 2019. It is a video game clearly made with love: Gorgeous environments, pitch-perfect animations. Everything about it feels tactile and precise. Maybe the best Nintendo-made game of last year.

See GameSpot’s Luigi’s Mansion 3 review.

Hollow Knight

Team Cherry

See digital version at Nintendo store

Hollow Knight might be one of the best games available on the Nintendo Switch. It’s a disturbingly well-designed platformer in the vein of Super Metroid. But it’s more than that. The atmosphere, the audio design, the visuals…

Dear lord, this game is a stone-cold classic. Play it now.

See GameSpot’s Hollow Knight review.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

Mario Kart 8 was initially released on the Wii U. It was great then, it’s even better now with all the additional content.

Not too much has changed, but Mario Kart 8 is about as definitive as it gets. It’s stacked with playable characters, inventive tracks and brand-new features. It remains the most compelling multiplayer game on the Nintendo Switch.

See GameSpot’s Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is very, very good. Featuring the biggest line-up of characters yet (hence the “Ultimate”) it also has almost certainly the best single-player campaign mode of any Smash Bros. game to date. Also — it’s Smash Bros.

How are you going to own a Nintendo Switch and not pick up this game?

See GameSpot’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review.

Celeste

Matt Makes Games

See digital version at Nintendo store

Celeste is a video game that makes you want to lodge your controller in your TV — in a good way.

With incredible level design and flawlessly tuned precision platforming, Celeste is one of the best games of its type ever released. It’s smart, charming and dense with content.

It’s also perfect for the Switch. You’ll be hurling obscenities at this game on public transport and you’ll love every second of it.

See GameSpot’s Celeste review.

Splatoon 2

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

Splatoon 2 is very similar to the first Splatoon. It’s barely a sequel in the traditional sense but, much like Mario Kart 8, that doesn’t make it any less essential.

Splatoon’s high concept is pure genius and extremely Nintendo. It takes the first-person shooter, traditionally a violent genre, and flips it on its head. You’re shooting paint, not bullets. You don’t score points for shooting enemies, you score points by shooting the environment itself.

Splatoon rules.

See GameSpot’s Splatoon 2 review.

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Ubisoft

See digital version at Nintendo store

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is just so goddamn stupid. I can’t believe it even exists.

I also can’t believe how good it is. It doesn’t even make sense. Everyone had a good ol’ chuckle when Mario + Rabbids was announced. Then it was released and it turned out to be one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch.

It’s Mario meets XCOM, which is to say it’s a turn-based tactical role-playing game. Except you battle killer rabbits with laser guns.

Good times.

See GameSpot’s Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle review.

Cadence of Hyrule

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

Are you ready for some video game buzzwords?

Cadence of Hyrule is an indie roguelike rhythm game based on the Legend of Zelda. In regular speak: a game that crosses Zelda with Dance Dance Revolution.

Which sounds like a completely bizarre proposition, but Cadence of Hyrule works! It really works. And you should play the hell out of it.

See GameSpot’s Cadence of Hyrule review.

Doom

Bethesda

See digital version at Nintendo switch

Doom rules. This is known.

Playing Doom on the Nintendo Switch also rules. Sure, it’s a little compromised compared to the versions you might play on the PS4, Xbox One or on a decently specced-up PC…

But yeah, good luck lugging one of those on the train.

See GameSpot’s Doom review.

Stardew Valley

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

Stardew Valley is the perfect example of why the Nintendo Switch is a game-changing device.

Here is a game that is perfectly good on all the platforms it’s currently available on (PC, Xbox One, Vita, PS4) but on the Switch it’s just elevated.

Because of the nature of the Switch (and how it allows you to just passively play while watching TV, or on public transport) it’s perfect for a game like Stardew Valley — which is the digital equivalent of knitting a scarf.

Actually all games are just better on the Switch. All of them.

See GameSpot’s Stardew Valley review.

Dead Cells

Motion Twin

See digital version at Nintendo store

The traditional words used to describe Dead Cells are “roguelike” and “metroidvania.” Both common genres, but Dead Cells is a game with a unique conceit: you will play, you will die. But in Dead Cells you get to keep your upgrades and then restart with those upgrades, meaning you slowly progress through the game more easily as you play. Very cool.

See GameSpot’s Dead Cells review.

Into The Breach

Subset Games

See digital version at Nintendo store

A very good turn-based strategy game by the creators of Faster Than Light. An intricate, intelligent creation that demands problem solving from the player in interesting ways.

See GameSpot’s Into The Breach review.

The Messenger

Sabotage Studio

See digital version at Nintendo store

A quirky 2D slasher game with a retro aesthetic. But here’s the twist: The Messenger begins as a simple hack-and-slash game in the 8-bit style, but later you get to travel to the future, where the game evolves into a 16-bit style metroidvania.

Very meta.

See GameSpot’s The Messenger review.

Mario Tennis Aces

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

Mario is pretty good at sport. As is Nintendo when it puts its mind to it. Mario Tennis Aces gives us what we haven’t had for a remarkably long time — a good tennis game.

See GameSpot’s Mario Tennis Aces review.

Gorogoa

Annapurna Interactive

See digital version at Nintendo store

Gorogoa is unlike any video game you’ve ever played.

It’s a puzzle game… I guess. But it’s really a game about exploring a strange universe in ways you can’t really predict.

A couple of warnings: Gorogoa is pretty short and I think it might play better on an iPad, but it’s such a unique, compelling and seamless experience on any platform.

Find a way to play this video game.

See GameSpot’s Gorogoa review.

Dark Souls Remastered

FromSoftware

See digital version at Nintendo store

Who wouldn’t want to play one of the best video games ever made on public transport?

Dark Souls isn’t perfect on the Nintendo Switch and, at this point, you could make a strong argument the best version is the remastered version on the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X. That being said, you can’t play either of those on the toilet.

Check and mate.

See GameSpot’s Dark Souls Remastered review.

Arms

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

Arms is a motion-controlled game that’s like boxing. Except you have big stretchy robot arms and everyone has special powers. Obviously.

Which is to say Arms is a very Nintendo-esque version of boxing.

It’s also extremely inventive and surprisingly in-depth. There’s layers to Arms and a genuine strategic element. It’s not perfect, but Arms is bizarre, inventive and a lot of fun.

See GameSpot’s Arms reviews.

Tetris 99

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

Tetris 99 sounds like it came from the pages of The Onion. Battle royale has become so dominant as a genre that even Tetris is battle royale now.

But here’s the crazy thing: Tetris 99 works. This game works. It’s a lot of fun and you should play it.

Note that this game is free for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers.

See GameSpot’s Tetris 99 review.

Sonic Mania

Sega

See digital version at Nintendo store

Sonic Mania is just…

[chef kissy fingers]

I mean imagine being an adult, growing up with Sonic. They announce a new game and you expect it to be bad because Sonic has been bad for like 20 years.

Then they drop Sonic Mania. A game that takes everything good about Sonic, preserves it, and then updates it perfectly in a seamless modern interpretation that has no right being this good.

See GameSpot’s Sonic Mania review.

Oxenfree

Night School Studio

See digital version at Nintendo store

You know when you’re playing a video game and you’re like, “Man, this story is really interesting and well written…

“For a video game.”

With Oxenfree you don’t really need to make that distinction.

Oxenfree is a spooky mystery wrapped in teen drama. It’s like Riverdale for video games. It also features a really deft and perfectly implemented dialogue system that rewards multiple playthroughs.

See GameSpot’s Oxenfree review.

Golf Story

Sidebar Games

See digital version at Nintendo store

Golf Story takes the 16-bit JRPGs you loved back in the SNES days and adds uh… golf.

Yes. The sport of golf.

And somehow it all works. Golf Story is the world’s craziest elevator pitch perfectly executed. The golf works, the RPG works, the story is fun. Great little video game.

See GameSpot’s Golf Story review.

Thumper

Drool

See digital version at Nintendo store

The creators of Thumper call it “rhythm violence.” Goddamn.

It makes sense. Calling Thumper a “rhythm” game just doesn’t cut it. It’s more than that. It’s just a pure, visceral experience that connects music to action in the most compelling ways. It’s brutal. It’s earth-shaking and just flat-out cool.

See GameSpot’s Thumper review.

Bayonetta 2

Platinum Games

See digital version at Nintendo store

Like Mario Kart 8, Stardew Valley and Oxenfree, Bayonetta 2 is an old video game repurposed for the Nintendo Switch.

Bayonetta 2 originally came out on the Wii U, a console that struggled. Therefore Bayonetta 2 struggled.

Thankfully it’s getting a second run on the Switch. Which is great, because Bayonetta 2 is an under-appreciated masterpiece. Get on it.

See GameSpot’s Bayonetta 2 review.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

Nintendo

See digital version at Nintendo store

It’s not the best Mario game on the Switch, but it’s still worth buying. Particularly if you’re looking for a solid multiplayer experience.

Just be slightly wary of some slightly weird jumping mechanics.

See GameSpot’s New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe review.

Baba Is You

Hempuli

See digital version at Nintendo store

Baba Is You is a puzzle game that will break every part of your brain. It’s a puzzle game that forces you to literally rewrite the rules of the game in order to complete tasks.

If that sounds complicated it’s because it is complicated. In a good way.

It’s also the kind of game that will haunt you, sort of like The Witness. You will be thinking about puzzles while you do the dishes, while you’re driving the car. You’ll scream EUREKA. Then maybe break a dish or crash your car.

This game is dangerous for your health.

See GameSpot’s Baba Is You review.

Kentucky Route Zero

Cardboard Computer

See digital version at Nintendo store

A point-and-click adventure of sorts, Kentucky Route Zero has been released episodically since January 2013. Now it’s complete and available on Nintendo Switch. Like many indie games, it makes absolute sense on that console. One of the most interesting and unique games ever made.

See GameSpot’s Kentucky Route Zero review.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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