Top 10 Nintendo Switch Exclusives (Best NES Games Ranked For Switch)

by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist


Published in Gaming on 29th August, 2019


The Nintendo Switch is stacked with quality exclusives despite the fact that it came less than two and a half years ago.

Nintendo was in a dire situation after the infamous Wii U debacle. The company lost lots of money and instead of going into panic mode and making the situation even worse Nintendo pulled a 180 degree turn and gave the world one of the most original video game consoles of all time.

nintendo exclusives

The Nintendo Switch reimagined portable gaming and is the first Major console to offer big screen and portable experience in one package.

And results are more than impressive with almost 40 million units sold over the course of just 27 months. What's more striking is the sheer number of quality exclusives for the console.

The Switch came out in March of 2017 and already has lots more exclusives than the Xbox One, a console that launched in October 2013! Sure, some of those are rereleases of Wii U titles but even without counting those the console still trumps the Xbox One by a long shot.

Ranking the top ten titles was pretty hard not because we had trouble deciding which one deserves the top spot (you probably know which one we talk about) but because we had to leave out some impressive games. You can find those in the honorable mentions section located below our list of the top ten Nintendo Switch exclusives.

10. Splatoon 2

Splatoon was a brilliant game that took a tired, chewed out formula (third-person multiplayer shooter) and turned it upside down with its unique gameplay where you have to paint the map instead of shooting at other people.

And it worked, with Splatoon becoming one of the rare Wii U games everyone's heard about. Nintendo knew what a hit they had and released the sequel just in time for the summer of 2017.

Splatoon 2 is better than the original in every way. Visuals are upgraded, performance is better, there are more game modes, maps are much more suited to the game's unique take on multiplayer shooter formula, and playing it is just so much fun. Sure, there are no more Splatfest events but servers are still working and will continue to work for the foreseeable future.

And let's be real, you don't need thematic events to enjoy this masterpiece of an online shooter.

The sheer enjoyment of trying to paint the map while at the same time denying enemy players to do the exact same thing is not recreated in any other game. It's strange how no one else took on the formula and improved it but the fact is that Splatoon 2 still is one of the most original multiplayer games you can find today and you can play this one only on the Nintendo Switch.

9. Super Mario Maker 2

Just like its predecessor, Super Mario Maker 2 is suited both for creative people and those who just want to enjoy playing a huge number of unique Super Mario levels.

super mario 2

The game comes with a sort of a campaign this time so you aren't limited only to other people's creations like in the first game. And that's awesome because there're plenty of Nintendo-made levels to play and the campaign is excellent on its own. The twist on earning coins and rebuilding princess Peach's castle is just another reason to continue playing the game.

And once you finish the single-player campaign you can dive into thousands of excellent levels made by the community. The sheer number of visual styles available and the robust creation tools allow for some really impressive creations.

And since the game is hugely popular you can bet that the steady stream of new levels won't stop in years to come. The best thing about community-made levels is that not everyone wants to build super tough levels often saw in YouTube videos. There are hundreds of levels for every gamer making this one a perfect game for the whole family to enjoy.

8. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

The renaissance of turn-based battle sims that started with the remake of the original XCOM game gave gamers dozens of quality titles to pick from. But Nintendo Switch isn't really known for its large collection of turn-based tactical games.

You can't find any of the two excellent XCOM titles here and the recently released Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden looks horrid and is marred with performance issues.

Luckily, Nintendo fans have Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, which is one of the best games in the genre and also is Switch exclusive. The single-player campaign is huge and it features incredibly wacky stories that put Rabbids into Mario universe and you know that Rabbids are synonym for fun times.

Combat is a bit simplified compared to XCOM titles but it is incredibly fun, tactical, and it doesn't feature that nasty feeling that enemies are always overpowered no matter how powerful your units are often found in similar games.

The cast of characters features known faces of the Mario franchise and watching Mario, Peach, and the company battle baddies simply cannot get old.

The game features its own twists on the classic formula with puzzle elements that offer much-needed variety and levels look like they came from the best parts of recent Mario games; a noteworthy achievement given the fact the game is made by Ubisoft and not by Nintendo's team.

The campaign offers about 20 hours of fun and once you reach the end you can play the awesome DLC that features Donkey Kong and his company.

7. Into The Breach

This amazing turn-based strategy/rouge-like combo was a PC exclusive for a while before it landed on the Switch, where it still is a console exclusive. You can't get this on PS4 or the Xbox One.

into the breach

And the game is definitely worth playing in case you own a Switch, even if you already have the PC version. The short battles are perfect for playing on the go and the campaign can be finished in about 3-4 hours, that is if you actually beat the game and not end up being overwhelmed by the atrocious bug-like aliens that invaded the Earth.

The gameplay is quite similar the classic turn-based combat seen in XCOM titles with an important twist. Each shot you fire can move aliens in any of the four directions and that works both ways.

This gives the game chess-like qualities and the requirement to think a couple of moves ahead since you don't just have to kill all aliens, you also have to keep people alive and to preserve the planet's electric grid, often a target of opportunity for the huge bugs.

And even when you finally beat the game the party's just started since there're plenty of mech teams to unlock, each with its own unique strategy and combination of powers.

And there are also plenty of mech pilots to unlock, increasing the number of combinations of powers and strategies even more. One of the best (if not the best) PC games of last year is even better on the Switch because the portability of the console and the uniqueness of the game's turn-based gameplay are a match made in heaven.

6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart 8 was an awesome game and it alone was a reason enough to get a Wii U. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the ultimate version of Mario Kart 8 released for the Nintendo Switch that is the best kart game you can find on any video game system at the moment. The number of tracks is stunning with all 48 tracks being unlocked from the start.

There is plenty to do when you want to play the game alone and the game also supports online multiplayer for times when your friends cannot join you at your place.

The visuals are stunning and it is really impressive how Nintendo managed to create such a beautiful game while keeping resolution at 1080p and allowing the game to play at silky smooth 60 frames per second with zero hiccups, even during 4 player split-screen races.

This is also one of the best multiplayer games to play in portable mode since a single Joy-con is more than enough to allow for full enjoyment of kart racing.

Nintendo Switch isn't really known for its racing games but this one is best than 90 percent of titles available on other platforms and is miles ahead of competitors in the form of Crash Team Racing or Team Sonic Racing, both in visuals and in gameplay.

5. Super Mario Odyssey

Ever since Mario broke into the third dimension with the cult classic Mario 64 each subsequent Mario 3D game was better than its predecessor.

super mario odyssey

And the latest one is the best of them all. Super Mario Oddysey is a gargantuan title that spans many different worlds and many different gameplay combinations. The game offers a stupendously high level of gameplay variety.

There's so much to be done and so many moons to collect (almost 900) that collecting them all will take more than 60 hours.

And they are hidden inside 17 unique kingdoms, each with its own visual identity and combination of gameplay elements. As we said, gameplay variety is impressive and each level features multiple switches between different gameplay formulas making it near impossible to get bored from playing this gem of a game.

The game looks lovely and, as with many other first-party Switch exclusives, it looks almost impossible for a game this beautiful to work on the humble hardware powering the hybrid console.

Super Mario Oddysey is perfect for any gamer. No matter if you're new to this world or are veteran with decades of experience you will find something to love here. Endless exploration, excellent visuals, superb gameplay, and the joy of collecting more and more moons will keep you playing until you finish the game.

And then, in months ahead, you will return just to have some fun and collect more moons.

4. Bayonetta 2

Bayonetta was a sleeper hit of 2009 and to this day this is one of the most intense hack and slash action adventures, right next to God of War 3, Devil May Cry 3, and Nier: Automata. Over the top action combined with lots of explicit violence and rivers of blood along with an equally over the top story mesmerized players around the world back in the day.

The second installment of the franchise was the Wii U exclusive, and it didn't do well in sales despite being even better than the original.

Luckily, Bayonetta 2 was released for the Nintendo Switch in late 2018 and the game is the best hack and slash action-adventure you can play on the console right now.

Even though Nintendo financed the development, the sequel kept the over the top action and brutal violence that made original Bayonetta stand out from the pack.

The story is even better than in the original and gameplay was noticeably improved, creating one of the most enjoyable action-adventure games ever created.

The Nintendo Switch isn't known for its mature oriented games and Nintendo as a company is known for their family-friendly titles so having this behemoth of a hack and slash genre on the Switch is an amazing thing. If you like the genre and happen to own the Switch you simply have to get your hands on this one. You definitely won't end up being disappointed.

3. Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fire Emblem games are known for their long campaigns and the latest entry in the long-running series is the most ambitious Fire Emblem to date. Fire Emblem: Three Houses features three campaigns, each overlapping with other two a bit but each one featuring its own unique story moments.

Each house features different leaders, as well as different students you can recruit, creating a unique gameplay experience with each of the game's three houses. And each campaign takes about 40 hours to complete, making the whole experience longer than 100 hours.

fire emblem

And there's so much stuff to be done in-game. You have the school itself, where you can roam around, talk with students, recruit them, do side missions, explore the open-world map, find out more about the lore of the world and the houses. Then you have the strategic part of the game taking place on large maps where the main story is unlevelled.

There you lead your students into strategic, turn-based battles that are a joy to play and that demand lots of patience and forward planning in case you want to beat them with your squad untouched.

The game offers a classic game mode where each member killed is permanently gone which creates an additional emotional bond with your students and makes each battle the ultimate test of skill and perseverance because if someone dies they are gone for good.

As a package, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is definitely one of the best games on the Switch and one of the main contenders for the 2019 Game of the Year award.

2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

This is the ultimate fighting game on the market at the moment. While other fighting titles come with a limited number of character, offering additional ones as part of expensive DLC packs Super Smash Bros. Ultimate comes with 74 characters, which is by far the largest roster found in any fighting game on the market.

And yes, most of them are locked from the start but you can unlock all of them relatively easy just by playing the game. Much better than spending money on DLC packs.

Unlockable content is nowhere to be found in many modern video games, replaced with profit generating practices that are DLC packs and is great to see a game that allows players to unlock new fighters just by, you know, playing the game.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate also comes with an incredible number of stages with more than 100 (yes, you read that right) stages being available from the start.

And they aren't just differently skinned stages that play the same. Each stage offers different layout and requires a different strategy to beat your opponent. The game also has a robust stage builder allowing you to create your own stages and download other people's creations.

And then we come to the gameplay, which is awesome as ever. Each character features a distinct fighting style that requires a different approach to each combat.

Yes, some characters are considered weaker than others but with patience you can learn how to be competitive with each character, it only takes time and practice.

This is another superb local multiplayer game that is perfect for playing with friends. It doesn't get much better than gathering the gang and spend the whole day battling in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the closest an open-world game can come to perfection. This isn't yet another open world filled with busywork and hundreds of collectibles that are dotting the map.

No, here you can find and fight the final boss in just a couple of hours and finish the game before it even begins but the real magic is the fact that 90 percent of people playing the game will sink dozens (even hundreds) of hours into it and will postpone that boss battle as long as they can.

the legend of zelda

It's because The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a dream come true for all fans of exploration who don't want for their game map to be invisible, hidden under hundreds of icons showing various points of interest.

Here, the sandbox gameplay reached its apex and players can create their own stories in millions of different ways. There are plenty of secrets waiting to be found, lands to be discovered, and quests to be completed but they are all hidden in plain sight instead of being showed at you at each corner.

The gameplay is superb. Combat is wild and it can create some incredible situations since the environment plays a large part in it. Traversal systems are just short of reaching the heights of the latest Spider-Man game.

Crafting doesn't feel like it was artificially stitched to the game; instead, it feels like just another organic part of it, and there's not a single moment where all those recipes and ingredients may overwhelm you like in many other games.

And visuals are out of this world, with the best cell-shaded graphic ever seen in any video game, at least until Borderlands 3 comes out.

This is a system seller, this is a game that can take months to complete, and this is a virtual journey every gamer should experience. This is one of the best games of the generation and the best game found on the Nintendo Switch.

Honorable mentions:

Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu / Eevee

The only (at least until we get Sword and Shield in November) Pokemon game for the Nintendo Switch is pretty solid although not as good as some previous installments.

Despite it failing to reach the level of quality of its predecessors Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu / Eevee still is an extremely fun game for all Pokemon fans. There's plenty Pokemon to catch, the world is huge as always and the game is more than capable to keep you occupied until Sword and Shield lands later this year.

Arms

Yet another interesting multiplayer game that is great when played with friends. Arms is a fighting game but instead of pressing buttons on a controller you have to take Joy-Cons into your hands and then fight other people by landing punches, avoiding hits by moving your body, and guard against punches like real world boxers, by actually putting your hands up to your face.

This is the only fighting game that can work as a solid kardio workout and we definitely recommend it to everyone who wants to sweat a bit while playing video games, like in the glory days of the Wii.

Octopath Traveler

A gorgeous JRPG using the technology of today (the game's made in Unreal 4 engine) to create worlds of yesteryear. Excellent pixel art visuals and pseudo-3D models look amazing on the Switch and you'll be hard to find a weak point in the game's graphical presentation.

octopath traveler

The story's also pretty good and the game offers almost 60 hours' worth of gameplay and that's if you only tackle story quests.

Fast RMX

By now it's almost certain we won't get another F-Zero game (which is really a shame) but luckily the Switch launched with Fast RMX, the next best thing.

Gorgeous visuals, excellent track design and faster than life races aren't as good as the latest WipEout game but they do come pretty close. The second best racing game for the Switch and a must-play title for all racing fans who happen to own the console.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Another Wii U game that got re-released for the Switch, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the best Donkey Kong title since the glory days of Donkey Kong 64. Excellent platforming gameplay, cute visuals and lots of expertly designed levels will keep you hooked until you see ending credits.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Another superb JRG game, this one features a modern visual design that looks impressive when played in the portable mode.

There's a huge world to explore (and we mean really huge because the story takes more than 65 hours and if you happen to do some exploration and take on side quests you can end up spending more than 100 hours inside the game's beautiful world) here and the story is one of the best we saw in recent years.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

This cute puzzler went under the radar after it originally launched for the Wii U and the 3DS but the Switch release gave this game the attention it deserves.

captain toad

A bunch of levels designed as standalone dioramas with super creative solutions, adorable visuals, and great controls are the main strengths of this excellent title.

Tetris 99

This is Tetris, but reimagined as a battle royale game. And as crazy as that sounds Tetris 99 works and plays surprisingly well.

This highly competitive version of Tetris is best played on a large screen (since other people's boards, all 98 of them, are shown on the screen) and once you start playing you won't stop until you snag your first victory royale.

The game's free so if you are subscribed to Nintendo's online service there's really no reason to not check it out.

Super Mario Party

The new title in the long-running series of wacky mini-games to play with friends isn't as fun as some of its predecessors but if you have friends come to your house often the latest Super Marion Party is definitely worth getting.

If for nothing else, then at least as a great way to unwind after a long session of Smash Bros. Ultimate.

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