DualShockers Definitives — The Top 10 Essential Nintendo Switch Games

DualShockers ranks the Top 10 essential games for every Nintendo Switch owner in the Fall 2018 DualShockers Definitive series. Did your favorite make it?

on October 31, 2018 11:30 AM

Welcome to the first official Nintendo Switch DualShockers Definitives list! This week has been a hard one for DualShockers staff, thanks to much arguing and nit-picking over which games in the amazing Nintendo Switch library make the Top 10.

If you missed the original post, here is a quick TLDR on what this is all about:

The DualShockers Definitives series is a living list, updated seasonally, where we hash out which ten essential games are must-buys for each platform — the ones we would put in a time capsule today if we were making one. The list is intended to grow over time as new releases take the spotlight or older games age like fine wine.

With all of the introduction out of the way, here are the Top 10 Essential games for the Nintendo Switch (as of Fall 2018):


10. Celeste

Celeste

On its own merits, Celeste is an increasingly challenging and very satisfying 2D platformer. However, coming from star developer Matt Makes Games, Celeste is pushed to something much more than a basic platformer, thanks to deep introspection into self-doubt and depression. It is a charming, quirky platformer that still feels best on Nintendo Switch and one you shouldn’t be passing up on.

Check out the DualShockers review of Celeste or pick up the game via Amazon.

9. Octopath Traveler

DualShockers Definitives — The Top 10 Essential Nintendo Switch Games

There are a ton of visually striking games on the Nintendo Switch, but arguably none moreso than Square Enix’s Octopath Traveler. Focusing on the journeys of eight different characters, the game truly feels like an evolution of the Nintendo 3DS classics, Bravely Default and Bravely Second. And while that may be enough to earn it a spot on this list, Octopath Traveler really hones in on the beauty of 2D RPG games with a new diorama-esque perspective that looks tremendous on the Nintendo Switch.

Check out the DualShockers review of Octopath Traveler or pick up the game via Amazon.

8. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

DualShockers Definitives — The Top 10 Essential Nintendo Switch Games

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a game no one was asking for, yet everyone needed. A great play on the XCOM formula, the title is a turn-based tactics game with all of the energy and personality of a Mario title. Developed by Ubisoft, composer Grant Kirkhope (of Banjo-Kazooie fame) helps breathe life into the game the way only he knows how to.

Check out the DualShockers review of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle or pick up the game via Amazon.

7. Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley Nintendo Switch

Modern gaming’s obsession with Stardew Valley didn’t start with the Nintendo Switch but it is likely the game’s definitive place to play. Sure, tending the crops feels amazing when playing on a big screen, but the bonus of being able to take the game on the go and bring the zen-like gameplay to your morning commute is something hard to pass up on. While the gameplay is less action-oriented than a traditional video game, Stardew Valley has stepped into the role of ad hoc Animal Crossing game… until one of those comes out.

6. Dead Cells

Dead Cells

Speaking of satisfying pick up and play goodness, no game hits that handheld market better than Dead Cells. A procedurally generated 2D action platformer, Dead Cells merges a lot of amazing CastlevaniaMetroid, and Ori and the Blind Forest-like mechanics in one satisfying package. Tight gameplay shines through, and you can easily spend dozens of hours getting lost and perfecting the art of speedrunning through the game’s campaign.

Check out the DualShockers review of Dead Cells.

5. Xenoblade Chronicles 2

DualShockers Definitives — The Top 10 Essential Nintendo Switch Games

Breaching the Top 5 list of best Nitnendo Switch games is Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the premier RPG by Monolith Soft. Learning from the mistakes of the series’ predecessors, Xenoblade Chornicles 2 is a sprawling adventure that is only slightly held back by the technical limitations of the Nintendo Switch. However, even technical blips doesn’t hold the game back from being one of the greatest RPGs of the generations.

Check out the DualShockers review of Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

4. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

DualShockers Definitives — The Top 10 Essential Nintendo Switch Games

While Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is largely the same game that came out on the Wii U, it is certainly a song played best on Nintendo Switch. With obvious performance enhancements and the ability to take the game on the go, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is still the de facto party game among any good group of friends (or strangers) and is without a doubt an essential for the platform.

Check out DualShockers’ review of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

3. Splatoon 2

Splatoon 2 Promo

Speaking of games largely ported from the Wii U, we get to one of the platform’s major accomplishments: Splatoon. With Splatoon 2 on the Nintendo Switch, everything has been polished up and expanded. It may not be the traditional third-person multiplayer shooter, but thanks to the novel ink-based mechanic and mobility, the title deserves its name in the Nintendo Switch Top 10 list.

Check out the DualShockers review of Splatoon 2.

2. Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey

With the two tent-pole games topping the list, Super Mario Odyssey takes a close second to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s undisputed among fans of the game and critics that Super Mario Odyssey is one of (if not the) best 3D Mario to date, a tough crowd when considering Super Mario 64 and the Super Mario Galaxy series. Thanks to the innovative Cappy-possession mechanic, players are still uncovering gameplay secrets to this day.

Check out the DualShockers review of Super Mario Odyssey.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

DualShockers Definitives — The Top 10 Essential Nintendo Switch Games

The final game to top the list was Nintendo Switch’s first: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A game as visually striking as it is imaginitive, Nintendo listened to fans when they said they wanted a more directionless approach. The result is a return to form for the amazing The Legend of Zelda series, as we explore creative gameplay design not touched by the series in some time.

Check out the DualShockers review of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.


As it stands, that is our current DualShockers Definitives ranking of the Top 10 games for Nintendo Switch; for an extended rankings chart, make sure to check out our dedicated page.

Next week, check out our list for the Top 10 PC games — meanwhile, we will be revisiting this list and re-assessing come Winter 2019.


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 /  Editor-in-Chief
Lou Contaldi is the Editor-in-Chief at DualShockers, specializing in both reviews and the business behind gaming. He began writing about tech and video games while getting his Juris Doctor at Hofstra University School of Law. He is maybe the only gaming journo based in Nashville, TN.