Nintendo has made a name for itself as a family-friendly developer of family-friendly games. Nothing cemented this more than the Wii, a console that turned grannies into gamers. However, the Nintendo Switch has proven to be such a massive commercial success that AAA developers of every genre and style have turned their heads and taken notice. The Switch is wonderful, and its selling point of being able to take the biggest, flashiest, newest AAA games with you on the move really is just that: a massive, undeniable selling point. Now that the Switch has had time to grow and build itself a nice library, what are the best AAA games currently available on the newest Nintendo console?
10 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim has been ported to every console in recent history, and that’s only a good thing because Skyrim is bloody great stuff. Having Skyrim in your pocket is like carrying around the secret to a happy life. The Switch edition received a slight graphical downgrade from the PS4 and Xbox One editions, but that tweak was worth it to get the biggest and most celebrated RPG of the last decade in your pocket.
This cold, medieval, sprawling mass of dangerous terrain, mystic quests, and epic adventure is something that can take hundreds of hours to conquer. Being able to fill out those hours on your morning train commute, or during your work break, is a complete and utter delight.
9 Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Although it was a larger commercial success on other consoles, the very fact that a bloody shooter about killing Nazis made it onto the Switch breeds excitement for the console’s future in the AAA market.
Wolfenstein is a far more adult affair than is usually seen on Nintendo’s family-friendly consoles, and that’s a great thing. It’s also a really good game, expanding on its predecessor in every way. It has a bigger story, better explorations of character backstories and motivations, more engaging combat scenarios, and a story which reaches ludicrous places but remains grounded at every turn. Seeing an FPS of this calibre on the Switch is exciting, and only means that the Switch’s future looks even brighter.
8 Pokémon: Let’s Go
Game Freak is known for hashing out remakes of its beloved Pokémon games. Over the years we’ve had Fire Red, Heartgold, and Omega Ruby. Now we have Let’s Go, a Switch remake of Pokemon Yellow, with an Eevee version to boot (huge love to my fellow Eevee trainers out there)! Avoiding the temptation of making a straight HD port, and learning from the success of Pokemon Go! with the implementation of some fun mechanics, Game Freak has delivered a streamlined, delightful gem of a game. Packed with adorable Pokémon, improved with a deeper approach to storytelling and dialogue, and removing all of the grind of typical Pokémon battles, this is absolutely the right direction for Pokémon to be heading in. You’ll love every second.
7 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
What other developer can accomplish the feat of keeping several beloved franchises alive and healthy? They straight up avoided boredom by repetition, keeping fans happy through creativity and a lack of cynical money-grabbing ploys. Nintendo's got it all figured out.
Eight games in and Mario Kart is stronger than ever, providing enough tweaks to keep it fresh, while still delivering everything in a game that fans expect to see. Mario Kart, much like the Super Mario games, is a series made with love and heart, and 8 is arguably the finest in the series so far.
Racing games aren’t to everyone’s taste, especially those of us who care nothing for cars and realism in our games. Nintendo knows this and offers us an alternative in the form of the most fun to be had in a racing game.
6 Bayonetta 2
Japan does campy so well. Look to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Fist of the North Star, and The Yakuza games for the proof you need. Bayonetta is much the same, with spectacular fight choreography, ridiculous stories that make little sense, frustrating character stereotypes, and bombastic, explosive battles, there is no greater fun to be had than a single play session of Bayonetta 2. Nintendo bought the license and launched the game for the failed Wii U console, but were also good enough to include a full remaster of the original Bayonetta for free. Now with the massive success of the Switch, this ludicrous beast of an action hack-n-slash game goes portable.
5 Octopath Traveller
Although it looks like a retro indie, Octopath had a massive studio behind it, finely tuning and crafting one of the best-looking games in recent memory. Mixing HD water and lighting effects with 2D pixel sprites makes for one of the most gorgeous animated spectacles this generation. Reminiscent of SNES RPGs, like Final Fantasy VI, Octopath is a pleasure of an experience. The game gives players control of eight protagonists whose individual stories are bound together and lead them on a journey of swords and sorcery — battling memorable villains in beautiful settings. While it is undeniably riding the wave of nostalgia that’s crashing through the game industry right now, it does so with style and pomp.
4 Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Much like Mario Kart, the Smash Bros franchise is one frequently tweaked and enhanced but its heart remains intact. Fans expect certain things, and Nintendo delivers faithfully. Ultimate is very much that: a promise made to take a global success and build on it, tweaking the controls and combat, building the biggest fighting roster in history. Smash is an accessible game with a deep well of strategy and tactics to be drawn from. Whether you’re in it for the single player, fun with friends and family, or hoping to become the next Smash e-sports champion, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is for everyone.
3 Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
The 2D platformer has undeniably suffered for some time, limping through the past few console generations with a few gems here and there. With Tropical Freeze, Nintendo has refused to allow the death of 2D platformers, pulled a full U-turn, and released arguably the best AAA 2D platformer in decades.
With a high difficulty curve, and a fantastic mechanic to allow accessibility in the face of that difficulty in the form of the playable character of Funky Kong, Tropical Freeze is a cleverly designed romp. The cleverest part of its design comes in its context: every enemy, platform, and hurdle is a functional part of the setting; be that forest, desert, or glacier, everything makes sense. When you find yourself laughing at the level design of Crash Bandicoot, as a strange creature wandering an aimless loop wipes you out for no reason, you’ll be praising the careful design choices of Tropical Freeze. It all makes sense in the context of the world around you. This game is design genius.
2 The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
The Zelda franchise was in desperate need of an overhaul. That’s not to say it was broken, but it was certainly tired. New breath is certainly what it needed, and very much what it received. Taking a leaf out of the Minecraft book of open-world design, a player is plopped down in a field and invited to use their own creative means to overcome the challenges delivered (enemy camps, rough weather, landscape traversal, ancient machines).
Breath of the Wild didn’t just refine Zelda, but in one fell swoop fixed the broken open-world trend that has plagued this generation of games. Nintendo turned to companies like Ubisoft and Bethesda and said, no, dear, this is how you do it.
1 Super Mario Odyssey
It’s difficult to know where to begin when discussing Odyssey. It's wild that a character and franchise has continued to lead the charge in the genre of mascot platformers for over 30 years. While the most recent big entries in the series (Sunshine, Galaxy, and 3D World) relied on gameplay gimmicks and creative settings to spark new appeal in the plumber, Odyssey confidently proclaimed that the greatest thing Mario does is traverse the world by jumping. A lot. The stellar level design tempts the player to use the simple controls available to them as a means of traversing the land by creative means, all the while having all kinds of absurd fun. Odyssey is a celebration of Mario and the likes we have never seen. It is the best game on Switch and the best Mario game that has ever been.