2021 is as good a time as any to invest in the Nintendo Switch and its ever-expanding library of games. As one of the most successful handheld consoles ever to grace the market, people are looking to the gaming giant now more than ever for their fix. And as it stands — there’s plenty to keep players occupied over the drier months as we hold out for some of the major releases later this year. Whether it be an indie puzzler or a packed-out platformer — chances are, the Switch has inducted a reel of each to its chest.
Since early 2017, we’ve been scratching off new releases like second nature, and we’ve been jotting down every noteworthy title along the way. With that said, having to compress the catalogue down into just five essentials isn’t exactly the easiest task to swing. Though, in all honesty, if we had to pick the absolute essentials that every Switch player should pick up — then it’d have to be these five.
5. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of Nintendo’s loveable little life simulation franchise or not, because, at the end of the day, Animal Crossing has impacted so many people around the world during these unprecedented times, that any negative remark immediately falls to the back of the mind. And it’s because of the sheer joy that the Animal Crossing domain brings, that we can’t help but both praise and plaster it all over our red and white canvas.
As one of the best-selling Switch games of 2020, New Horizons has rested as a safe haven for millions of players around the globe and gifted a second home on a portable silver platter. With all of the quirky charms that you’d usually find in an Animal Crossing game, New Horizons takes what you love and levels it up with an ever bigger kingdom to reside in, build around and call your own. It’s a place to meet, a place to evolve to your own taste, and most importantly — a place to fish from dusk ’til dawn so you can pay off that hefty mortgage the raccoon slumped on you. What more could you want?
4. Luigi’s Mansion 3
It might’ve taken a while for Nintendo to summon the audacity to bring Luigi back to the forefront of the enormous Switch library, but the third chapter that released back in 2019 was definitely a comeback worth waiting for. As the cowardly but awfully tenacious sibling of the plumber duo, players will once again enter a hollow world fuelled by all the ghosts and ghoulies under the moon on a brand new adventure packed full of spiritual madness.
With nothing but the trusty Poltergust G-00 strapped to your back and a neon green doppelganger to keep you company, you’ll once again assume the role of the saviour on a hunt to rid the spirits of The Last Resort hotel and rescue the band of abducted friends that idle at the apex of the complex. Unfortunately for you, the elevator won’t play ball, and it sure is a long ride to the roof where King Boo rests in anticipation of your arrival with rubbing hands and twisted intentions. With that said, you’ll definitely remember the 17-story walk through the ghost-riddled resort.
3. Pokemon Sword and Shield
Of course, a Nintendo list just wouldn’t be complete without a Pokemon game of some sort to boot. And that’s exactly why we’ve handpicked the best entry (or entries, given both Sword and Shield are entirely separate games) to grace the Switch since its 2017 debut.
As two rather impressive packages that both wield vast woven worlds, Sword and Shield intertwine a little role-playing with unique storytelling and open-ended gameplay. With each journey fleshed out with different Pokemon to collect and battle with, as well as gym leaders to obliterate — there’s just no telling which chapter would suit you down to the ground, and therefore we can only suggest you purchase both — for the full roster and complete experience. After all, these really are the two must-haves for any Switch user, so it’s better to be safe and own both rather than pick one and leave a void. Right?
2. Super Mario Odyssey
While Nintendo’s favourite child has been around a lot over the last several decades, it hasn’t quite stopped us from wanting to follow every pitstop along the way. Sure, there’s a lot to take in when pondering over the beloved plumber’s career — which is why it’s proving to be a nightmare in picking just a single Switch entry to spotlight. And as much as we adore Mario Kart and its wacky antics, it’s still somewhat subpar compared to some of the alternative chapters in the Super Mario domain. Like Odyssey, for example.
As much as we enjoy drifting through the infamous Rainbow Road in Mario Kart or going toe-to-toe with other celebrated heroes in Smash Bros. Ultimate — nothing quite compares to the sheer joy that pours from the Odyssey tale. With pure entertainment oozing from every corner of the fluorescent world, exploring the enormous platformer is essentially a gift in itself, and one we would happily revisit ten times over. But then, what can you expect from a Super Mario game? After all, there’s a reason why Nintendo keep the franchise flowing.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
As one of Nintendo’s longest-running and most respected series, it only makes sense that The Legend of Zelda would find a second home on the Switch. After such a rich and healthy career of producing some of the boldest games we’ve ever seen, it felt right that the gaming giant would go on to succeed their beloved Link and continue the Hyrule narrative. Breath of the Wild, in particular, was Nintendo’s way of summarizing the most cherished factors of the timeline and compressing them into one standalone adventure.
With one of the biggest environments we’ve ever had the pleasure of exploring in the history of the series, Breath of the Wild packs in so much content that players can submerge into the secrets of Hyrule for weeks on end and still refuse the ladder rounding back to reality. This, as well as the invigorating combination of nostalgia and ecstasy, is exactly why Breath of the Wild tops our list as an absolute must-play title on the Switch.