DualShockers Definitives — The Top 10 Essential Nintendo Switch Games

DualShockers Definitives — The Top 10 Essential Nintendo Switch Games

DualShockers ranks the Top 10 essential games for every Nintendo Switch owner in the Fall 2019 DualShockers Definitive series. Did your favorite make it?

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 2019):

Dead Cells

10. 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.

Tetris 99

9. Tetris 99

Arguably the best battle royale game on the market, Tetris 99 is a force to be reckoned with on the Nintendo Switch. Not only is it (generally) a free-to-play experience, but it is likely the most innovative (ance certainly the most competitive) way to play Tetris on this generation. It also has an increasingly strong claim to the best Puzzle game we’ve seen this generation.


Check out the review of Tetris 99; the game is available physically on Amazon, though you can always download it digitally for free.

The Messenger

8. The Messenger

While this list is no stranger to 2D platforming titles, The Messenger holds a special place for being so genre-bendingly witty about how it is constructed. An indie game through and through, The Messenger feels at home on the Nintendo Switch — almost like a love letter to previous 16-bit samurai titles that came in bygone years of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. With that said, there is so much ingenuity added to this equation to make it both easily accessible, a joy to play, and complex enough to keep all level of gamers hooked.

Check out the review of The Messenger; a physical version of the game can be purchased from Amazon.



7. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition

Though Dragon Quest XI may have gotten the bump off the Top 10 PS4 games this year, it makes a fresh-faced appearance on the Nintendo Switch Top 10. And for good reason — Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition (despite the extravagant title) is the best version of this game on the market. Though late to the game compared to its 2018 release on other major consoles, the Nintendo Switch version adds refinements to the game’s established equation and a fantastic 2D mode that harkens back to the series’ heyday.

Check out the review of Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition; you can purchase the game physically on Amazon.

Astral Chain


6. Astral Chain

Astral Chain burst onto the field this year, with many claiming it is not only the best game in developer PlatinumGames’ extensive line-up — it may even be the best action game to date. Both a technical showcase for the Nintendo Switch’s (admittedly limited) capabilities, Astral Chain is platinum at its best and it is worth celebrating if you are a dedicated Nintendo Switch gamer.

Check out our review of Astral Chain; the game is available physically via Amazon.


5. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

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 Deluxeyou can pick up the game physically via Amazon.


4. Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Another newcomer in 2019, Fire Emblem: Three Houses takes the established tactical RPG series and polishes it to near perfection. With many arguing that this will be the Persona 5 to the Fire Emblem series, it is a must-play for anyone with a Nintendo Switch — even if this is your first time dipping into a notoriously inaccessible genre. With excellent gameplay and an engrossing story, the title is a GotY contender and a clear cut example of a Nintendo Switch defintiive.

Check out the review of Fire Emblem: Three Housesthe game is available physically via Amazon.

Super Mario Odyssey nintendo switch


3. Super Mario Odyssey

With the two tent-pole games topping the list, Super Mario Odyssey takes a close third to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. 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 Odysseythe game is available physically via Amazon.

nintendo switch

2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

It should be no surprise that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has carved out a spot on the list. Whether you argue on either side of “Is Smash Bros. a fighting game?” debate, it is unquestionably the pinnacle party game for Nintendo Switch and the best handheld version on the market. Whether this phases out the legacy of Melee has yet to be seen, however we know that this title alone will keep the Nintendo Switch next to the TV well beyond this generation.

Check out the review for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate; you can grab the game physically on Amazon.

nintendo switch

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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 imaginative, 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; the game is available physically via Amazon.

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.


Changes to the List

November 1, 2019: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2nd), Fire Emblem: Three Houses (4th), Astral Chain (6th), Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition (7th), and Tetris 99 (9th) are newcomers to the list. Super Mario Odyssey got bumped from 2nd to 3rd. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe got bumped from 4th to 5th. The Messenger advanced from 11th place to 8th. Dead Cells got bumped to 10th.

Celeste (12th), Splatoon 2 (13th), Stardew Valley (13th), Octopath Traveller (16th), Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (18th), and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (19th) all got bumped from the Top 10 list.

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