Every self-respecting console needs to have its own share of excellent exclusive games, and the Nintendo Switch definitely delivers in this regard, albeit in a slightly different way than other consoles.
As third-party support isn’t as big as it is on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the vast majority of the best Switch exclusives are either developed or published by Nintendo itself. This isn’t a huge problem, though, as Nintendo’s software is always of extremely high quality and this is all that matters, in the end.
Here are the best Nintendo Switch exclusive games available as of May 2019.
Nintendo is known to always break boundaries and go beyond the expected, but with ARMS, the Japanese developer went even beyond the unexpected, delivering a game that’s unlike anything seen before.
While a fighting game at heart, ARMS does so many things differently that’s impossible to compare it to anything else on the market. The game allows players to take control of a variety of fighters all coming with different traits and use them to fight opponents equipped with ARMS, which also come in a huge variety.
What makes ARMS so engaging are the different control schemes. While motion controls can be the most fun, especially for casual play, those with competitive aims will prefer traditional controls, which can be more accurate during the most hectic phases. No matter the chosen control scheme, however, ARMS can provide hours upon hours of fun.
The original Bayonetta has managed to become a true hit over the years, mostly thanks to the depth of its experience as well as of the wacky charm of the titular main character and her friends. Despite becoming a cult hit, SEGA wasn’t willing to risk the development of a sequel, but Nintendo came in and saved the day, allowing Platinum Games to create Bayonetta 2.
Bayonetta 2 takes everything that made the original character action game so good and brought everything up a notch by introducing a lot of new weapons, skills, and the Umbran Climax mode, which makes battles even more epic.
Bayonetta 2 also features an extremely engaging single-player mode which can also be played offline on Nintendo Switch, something that was not possible in the original Wii U release.
With its intense action, colorful graphics and wacky setting, there is no better pure action game on Nintendo Switch than Bayonetta 2.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Like Bayonetta 2, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze isn’t, technically, a Nintendo Switch exclusive, as the game has been originally released on Wii U. Still, it’s so good that it has to be mentioned despite it being not really an exclusive game.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the second entry in the series developed by Retro Studios, who has managed to capture the spirit of the original games by Rare perfectly. In the game, players control members of the Donkey Kong family as they traverse a lot of different locations filled with enemies, traps, bananas to collect and more.
The original game is quite challenging, but the Switch release makes things a little bit easier with the addition of Funky Kong, who comes with enhanced health and some abilities that make many of the challenges almost trivial.
There are many platform games available on Nintendo Switch, but very few are as engaging, and challenging, as Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is among the craziest games that feature Mario and his friends as mani characters. Developed by Ubisoft, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a quality tactical game that no fan of the genre should pass on.
The premise of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is extremely improbable, but also extremely funny, as it combines the Mario universe with the Rabbids, the Ubisoft mascot original introduced in the Rayman series.
The game is best described as an X-Com with Mario characters, as players take control of their characters in a turn-based battle system in order to defeat the opponents with a variety of weapons and skills.
As strange as it may seem to see Mario and Luigi wield guns, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is an incredibly well-crafted experience that no Nintendo Switch owners should pass on it: it’s hilarious, it’s deep, it’s engaging and it’s extremely rewarding.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is yet another game that is also available on another Nintendo console, Wii U, but it’s so good that it has to be mentioned.
While the added content from the original Wii U release is minor, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is still an excellent kart game that no fan of the series should pass on. Alongside a lengthy single player mode, the game also features full online multiplayer modes that vastly expand the experience.
Even if you fear the dreaded Blue Shell, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is probably your best choice of a racing game on Nintendo Switch.
Octopath Traveler is one of the few games on this list not developed by Nintendo, as it has been created by Acquire, a Square Enix team that worked on two of the best JRPGs available on the 3DS: Bravely Default and Bravely Second.
Octopath Traveler is a love letter to classic JRPG. The story is simple, following the individual tale of eight different characters, yet engaging, but the JRPG mechanics are extremely well done, with a Job System in the vein of the classic Final Fantasy games that gives players tons of flexibility.
The art style is also extremely unique, combining sprites with 3D modeled locations that look incredibly pleasing to the eye.
There aren’t many many JRPGs available on Nintendo Switch, but Octopath Traveler would be able to stand its ground even with fierce competition.
Splatoon 2 is, without a doubt, one of the best shooter games released in recent times and one of the best Nintendo Switch exclusive games.
There isn’t a single element that makes Splatoon 2 such a great game, as its the sum of the parts that make it so engaging, ranging from the single player content, the gameplay mechanics, the online multiplayer modes and the constant support the game has been receiving since its release. If you have loved the original Splatoon, you will love Splatoon 2 even more.
Super Mario Odyssey
Following the release of the two Super Mario Galaxy games, Nintendo tried a different approach with the 3D Mario games, trying to combine 3D gameplay with a compressed level design typical of the 2D games.
After the release of Super Mario 3D World, however, Nintendo went back to the design philosophy of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy, delivering one of the best entries in the series ever.
Super Mario Odyssey is everything a Super Mario game should be, and more. It’s big, with over 10 kingdoms to explore; it’s creative, with a lot of secrets scattered all over; it’s engaging, thanks to the many ways players have to collect Power Moons; it’s beautiful, thanks to the excellent presentation which makes each kingdom extremely memorable.
If you own a Nintendo Switch, you must get Super Mario Galaxy, even if you’re not a huge fan of 3D Mario games: you will not be disappointed.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is, undoubtedly, the pinnacle of the Smash series. It’s the biggest, most balanced entry in the franchise.
While the basic mechanics haven’t changed much, not counting tweaks to shields, Spot Dodge and overall game speed, which is the perfect middle ground between the speed of Melee and Smash 4, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate feels much better than most of its predecessors, also thanks to the huge character roster which includes some of the best crafted newcomers ever seen in the series, like the Inklings, Simon Belmont and Persona 5’s Joker.
The game also includes a lengthy single-player mode called World of Light where players will be able to collect Spirits inspired by many franchises tied to Nintendo to customize their fighters.
If you’re even remotely a fan of fighting games, you must get Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: there’s no doubt that you will be glad you did.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda series has always tried to mix things up with each new entry, but no one could be ready for what The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild tried, and succeeded to do.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the first true open world entry in the series and the first game following the first that manages to capture a true sense of wonder and adventure, without any sort of handholding. If players wish, they can head straight into the final battle right at the beginning of the game. It’s not recommended, but it’s doable.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild extreme freedom is not just related to game progression, but also to how players can solve puzzles and defeat enemies. Weapons and environments interact in some very interesting ways, allowing players to be extremely creative.
The Nintendo Switch may lack open world games, but it’s more correct to say that other systems lack an open world game like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s a fantastic game that no gamer should ever pass on.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Xenoblade Chronicles 2, developed by Monolith Software, is among the best JRPG released during the current console generation, and one of the best Nintendo Switch exclusive games currently available on the system.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 expands on the scope of its predecessors considerably, offering players a huge sprawling world to explore, filled with secrets. The story is somewhat of a mixed bag, depending on your appreciation of typical anime stories, but the gameplay is top notch, with an extremely engaging battle system and well-crafted mechanics.
If you’re just in for the story, you may end up being disappointed in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but if you’re looking for a solid JRPG to sink your teeth into, there’s no better choice than this on Nintendo Switch.
Any notable Switch exclusive you feel should have made it on this list? Let us know in the comments below.