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The Nintendo Switch is far and away the most versatile console on the market right now, with its hybrid design and vast game library. If you’re just getting into gaming, it’d be top of my list of recommended hardware — and I suspect there are lots of you who’ve done just that since quarantines and lockdowns have completely changed how we spend our free time. So here are some games to get you started.
I’m going to guess there are lots of Switch newbies out there by virtue of the fact that the Switch is sold out globally. That’s a lot people buying new consoles. I’m going to assume not all of you are seasoned gamers — I’m sure a few people haven’t played since the age of the Gameboy. Given that gaming is currently being endorsed by the World Health Organization as a worthy stay-isolated-and-indoors activity, this is basically the best time to get into it.
But, as I said, the Switch’s game library is massive, stuffed to the rafters with original titles and third-party games. This is good, as one of Nintendo‘s historical problems has been the inability to get decent third-party support for its consoles. But still, it can be intimidating. So here are seven games to get you started on your new console, from a variety of genres.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Let’s start with one of the console’s latest games, if only because it’s a game you’ll be able to find lots of help with online at the moment. New Horizons brings the series’ trademark chill vibes to the Switch. In the current climate, it’s become a sort of combination of Stardew Valley‘s make-your-own-space and a town square where you can socialize with friends. If you’re just getting started on the Switch and want a low-pressure game that’ll also facilitate you making friends, New Horizon‘s your game.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
This is a game for those of you who want to try something that’s big but not difficult to get into. As much as I adore Fire Emblem: Three Houses, I can’t recommend it necessarily because of how esoteric the gameplay can be. Breath of the Wild, on the other hand, is both deep and easy-to-get. Even if you’ve never played a Zelda game before, you’ll still find yourself getting lost, literally and figuratively, in Hyrule as Link. If you want a big open world to explore, it’s the best available on the Switch.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
For a little nostalgic platforming fun, I can’t recommend the Spyro games enough times. It’s got simple gameplay, but massive game worlds to explore and challenges to undertake. Take my opinion with the knowledge that I’m a lifelong Spyro fan, but if you want to play something that’s old-school but still holds up to the test of time, he’s your dragon. It helps that the Reignited remake has given the whole trilogy a much-needed glow-up, meaning it’s just as nice to look at as it is to play.
The aforementioned games that are chill, or easy, or simple to pick up are all well and good. But what if you want a game that’s an actual challenge? There are a number of those on the Switch, such as Dark Souls and Cuphead. But for my money, the best is Hollow Knight, with its excellent platform gameplay, Metroidvania design, and superb atmosphere. It’s a blast to play and figure out, and if you’re looking for something that’s not as colorful and fluffy as the Switch’s other games, then this is your best option.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
This one is almost a gimme, and an ideal game if you have other people around you who might like to join in a little couch co-op. Mario Kart has always been one of Nintendo‘s most popular franchises, and for good reason: it’s easy to play, family-friendly, and has a thriving community behind it. I already recommended the mobile game Mario Kart Tour as one of the mobile games to play with friends during the lockdown. You really can’t go wrong with it.
Bayonetta 2 (and 1)
If chill vibes or open worlds or platformers aren’t your thing, then how about a little action? Nintendo has made itself the home of Bayonetta, Platinum’s witchy heroine who spends two whole games beating the crap out of angels — yes, angels. If you want a game that makes you feel like a gold-plated badass, then Bayonetta‘s an ideal game to start with. Both games are available on the Switch, and are more or less equals in terms of quality. Bayonetta does look better in the second game, if that sways your opinion at all.
Super Mario Odyssey
Finally, we have to bring it back to Nintendo‘s number one poster child, Mario. I can’t make a list of Nintendo Switch games and leave this one out — while the Switch has better platformers, none of them feel quite so Nintendo as this one does. It has a simple gameplay conceit — Mario uses his hat to possess items and creatures — that facilitates varied gameplay (just don’t think about the ethical implications of it too much). If you’re a lifelong Nintendo fan, playing this game will feel like coming home.
Keep in mind I’m not even making a tiny scratch on the surface of the Switch’s library. So if nothing I’ve so far mentioned appeals to you, you’ll probably still be able to find a game that suits you. Good luck!