Best Nintendo Switch games to play in 2023: Lite, OLED & Online

An image of the Nintendo Switch logo with a blurred background of link and other Nintendo game charactersNintendo / Dexerto

There are tons of great Nintendo Switch games in 2023, with more coming to the traditional or OLED screen every month. While that means there’s plenty to choose from, it does also mean finding the best can be challenging. So, here are the best Nintendo Switch games to play in 2023.

Despite facing competition from the Steam Deck, the Nintendo Switch continues to dominate the portable console market with its many releases and dedicated fanbase. However with such a plethora of games surrounding the console, finding the best can be tricky.

So, we’ve sifted through the extensive library of Pokemon, Zelda, Minecraft, and other popular games to help you find the best games for your Nintendo Switch in 2023.

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Best games on Nintendo Switch, Lite, or OLED in 2023

From games like Metroid Dread to Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, there’s a whole host of options to choose from when finding the best Nintendo Switch OLED games, or the best Lite titles. Take a look at our personal picks below:

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild screenshot showing Link on horsebackNintendo
Breath of the Wild has never looked better on the Switch OLED.

Sure, if you’ve got a Nintendo Switch, there’s a good chance you’ve already played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. After all, it’s one of the best Nintendo Switch OLED games out there.

Hyrule’s plains have never looked more verdant, its mountains have never felt more uninhabitable, and the bigger screen makes it feel like an entire world on your handheld device even more than before.

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Metroid Dread

Metroid Dread screenshot showing Samus firing at an enemyNintendo
Samus’ latest adventure is a perfect showcase for the Switch OLED.

Launching alongside the Switch OLED, it’d be fair to say Metroid Dread, a game that’s been years in the making, represents a great reason to upgrade your console hardware.

Planet ZDR is full of small details and touches, and whether Samus is sprinting through environments fleeing from robotic pursuers or trying to blast a path through its labyrinthine world, this Nintendo Switch OLED game relishes every missile, counter, and epic boss encounter.

Sora in Super Smash Bros UltimateNintendo/Square Enix
Sora is finally in the game, and the Switch OLED is the best place to play Smash to take on your enemies.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a must-play game on whichever Switch you own – but it’s undeniably one of the best Nintendo Switch OLED games out there.

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With the OLED, fights are easier to follow, and, if you’ve spent any time in tabletop mode on your regular Switch, then it cannot be understated how much the larger display helps when playing against friends.

Hollow Knight screenshotTeam Cherry
Hollow Knight’s haunting world has never been better.

Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight is an indie darling, but it’s not the most colorful of adventures. Instead, Hollow Knight highlights the deeper blacks possible of a Nintendo Switch OLED game.

Hallowsnest has never looked darker or more mysterious, all without losing any of its detail or allure. Now, where’s Silksong?

mario kart 8

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart’s eighth entry is the ultimate party game. You play as characters from both Super Mario and other Nintendo series’ as you race it out to win Cups.

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You can customize your kart to fit the racetrack, and you unlock more characters the more you play. You also don’t have to play with other people – there’s a single-player mode too. Just be warned that if you do play with friends and family, it may cause a friendly rivalry or two.

pokemon trainer battleThe Pokemon Company
You travel back in time to the Hisui region.

Pokemon Legends Arceus

Game Freak shocked fans when they revealed Pokemon Legends Arceus as it was a step away from the classic gameplay the series had been using since 1996. It is the developer’s first venture into an open-world style, set in ancient Sinnoh in a region known as Hisui.

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Here, you join the Galaxy Expedition Team as you explore new lands to fill out the first-ever Pokedex. Not only do you battle and catch regular Pokemon, but giant, tougher versions known as Alpha Pokemon roam the wilderness too so prepare for a challenge.

The title also sees you crafting your own Poke Balls, medicine, and battle items using materials gathered in the wild. It is a breath of fresh air for the series, but it is no short of incredible.

animal crossing new horizons, one of the best nintendo switch gamesNintendo
New Horizons is the perfect escape when you want to relax and construct your ideal, perfect island getaway.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

New Horizons whisks players off to a deserted island where they must build it from the ground up to become the ultimate destination. You earn Bells by partaking in fishing, catching bugs, selling fruit, and more.

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There’s a museum you can donate your catches to, a clothing store, mystery island tours, and even the addition of Brewster and his cafe! You can also upgrade your house and villager’s vacation homes in Happy Home Paradise to have more space and rooms, which you can decorate to your heart’s content with furniture.

On the island, you’ll live with up to 10 villagers who you can get to know and befriend. Animal Crossing is a very chilled-out game, so if you’re looking to relax, it’s the perfect way to unwind.

Disney / Gameloft
Disney Dreamlight Valley is a perfect transition from Animal Crossing and is equally relaxing.

Disney Dreamlight Valley

Disney Dreamlight Valley may still be in its early access but this game has risen to unprecedented popularity since it came out in September 2022.

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Essentially, Disney Dreamlight Valley is a life-sim where you farm, cook, craft, and decorate Dreamlight Valley, all while completing quests for your favorite Disney characters. This chilled-out title is perfect for any Animal Crossing or cozy game lover.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

Pokemon Scarlet and VioletThe Pokemon Company
Enjoy the latest Pokemon game from the luxury of your Switch.

As one of the newest Pokemon games to come out on the Switch, this is a fantastic experience to try out, whether you’re a Pokemon veteran or a beginner.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet is filled with color, intense battles, and fantastic exploration, making it perfect for any Nintendo Switch.

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Best Nintendo Switch Online games

Nintendo Switch’s online, paid service offers a huge range of legendary titles to revisit or even to experience for the first time, so we’ve picked out the best games that you need to play in 2023.

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Thanks to the Switch service, players have the chance to revisit games full of childhood memories, experience much-heralded titles for the first time, or enjoy exclusives that can’t be enjoyed anywhere else. We’ve hand-selected a few of the best to help point you in the right direction.

Super Metroid

Super Metroid best Nintendo Switch gamesNintendo
Super Metroid is a thrilling 2D action-adventure and is often named the pillar of the Metroid series.

The Metroid series is one of the most influential game series of all time, they have a cult following and are widely regarded as some of the best action adventures out there. Luckily, rather than having to buy a SNES or pay a rather high price for such a desired game cartridge, you can enjoy the third installment on the Switch.

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Super Metroid is a thrilling action game filled with aliens, dark twists, and all the tropes many come to expect from the Metroid series. If you have Nintendo Switch online, this game is not to be missed, especially if you love the newer titles.

Tetris 99 (2019)

tetris 99 gameplay, one of nintendo switch's best online gamesNintendo
Tetris never gets old.

A bit of a cheeky one to start things off here, as Tetris 99’s concept is very new, but Tetris certainly isn’t it. It’s also one of a few games that can only be played using Nintendo Switch’s Online membership!

By now, everyone knows Tetris: the addictive, strategic block-building game that raises the blood pressure as the game goes on. Just when you thought you had the classic game sussed, though, Nintendo decided to drop Tetris 99 in 2019 – effectively, Tetris meets battle royale.

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It cast a whole new spin on a winning formula and managed to somehow up the intensity and reinvent the franchise for a new generation.

Super Mario Bros. (1985)

mario triggering a mushroom in super mario bros.Nintendo
The first of many Mario games on this list, quite fitting really.

Often cited as the savior of the video games industry, Super Mario Bros. was a revolutionary platformer that the world simply had not seen before.

Does it look as flashy or handle as smoothly as Super Mario Odyssey does today? Nope. Does it matter? Hell no! Super Mario Bros. is a work of art that gets surprisingly difficult towards the end of the game.

It may not be as refined as later games or have as many features or as flashy a color palette, but it still remains a Mario game that everyone should play.

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Super Mario Kart (1992)

a race in super mario kart, one of the nintendo switch's best online gamesNintendo
Think you’re tough because you can beat your friends in modern-day Mario Kart? Try Super Mario Kart on for size.

The perspective and suddenness of objects could potentially be a shock to newcomers of Super Mario Kart, but these were technical limitations that were more than passable in 1992. Not only that, but it also creates a different kind of Mario Kart game than what we’re used to in the 21st century.

Super Mario Kart’s content may be a bit more limited – the item animations and flat environment may feel antiquated to some – but, like many other games on this list, it was a necessity that has helped cultivate a franchise to create bigger and better Mario Kart games.

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The experience and blockier nature of the game does offer a unique way of playing Mario Kart, and who doesn’t love repeatedly pinballing off of a wall?

Star Fox 64 (1997)

flying a ship in star fox 64Nintendo
Legit, do a barrel roll.

Barrel rolls and banter are two of the key fundamentals that make Star Fox 64 such a compelling game.

Despite being an on-rails, spaceship shooter, Star Fox 64 complemented its great cutscenes and story with smooth gameplay. While it is a tad on the shorter side, it’s now highly digestible in an era full of open-world games that take 100+ hours to see, meaning you can have a real blast smashing through this in one day.

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Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (1992)

Sonic jumping over Dr RobotnikSEGA
All these years later and Dr. Robotnik is still devising schemes in games and movies.

’92 really was a good year, wasn’t it? Typically, when you think of iconic gaming mascots, you think of Mario, Crash Bandicoot, Master Chief, Link, Pikachu, and most definitely, Sonic The Hedgehog.

Sonic dashed onto the scene in 1991 on the SEGA Genesis and returned even quicker a year later with the sequel. Sonic 1 was brilliant and its innovative fast-paced gameplay was in stark contrast to the methodical and plodding nature of traditional slower, crawling platformers.

After learning from its faults, Sonic 2 hit TVs with 10 new levels, a yellow-tailed companion for Sonic, and more fun Robotnik rumbles.

Streets of Rage 2 (1992)

Axel uppercutting enemies in streets of rage 2SEGA
Axel was the hardcore hunk back in the day.

Another entry from 1992, this 2D sidescrolling beat ’em up has aged like a very fine (and violent) wine.

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Considering the recent revival of the franchise marked 30 years since Streets of Rage 2, you’d have to say that gameplay-wise, the original had everything pretty much spot on. Playable in co-op, it tasked gamers to take to the Streets of Rage and use special abilities and carefully considered attributes to efficiently take down thugs and criminals.

Whilst it did encourage muscular hunks to obliterate phone boxes and trashcans to scower and eat questionable chicken and apples, it also spawned a lifetime of imitators of a classic genre.

Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988)

mario jumping on obstacles in super mario bros 3, one of the nintendo switch online's best gamesNintendo
It’s basically the 2.5D Mario games you know, just a tiny bit older.

Still regarded by many to be the quintessential 2D Mario game, Super Mario Bros. 3 took everything it learned from its predecessors and just went even deeper.

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With lots of plants and pipes, the game’s levels really became greater than just the sum of its parts, and opened players up to a whole new level of depth not seen before in previous efforts.

New costumes, power-ups, and other intricate gameplay mechanics subtly and succinctly tweaked the already successful formula to make Super Mario Bros. 3 a fluid and revered success.

Zelda: A Link To The Past (1991)

link collecting rupees in a link to the pastNintendo
It’s not quite an expansive 3D open-world, but it’s classic Zelda.

The Legend of Zelda is a bit like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, only, instead of regressing as you go back, you appreciate it’s been at a high level for so long. The platforming, the combat, the exploration, and pacing – it always feels spot on.

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Way before Nintendo was churning out one Zelda game of the year contender on the N64, Wii, etc, they were doing it in the early 90s with A Link To The Past on the SNES. It absolutely holds up and gives players a taste of Link’s adventures and what was to come for the next several decades.

It’s been ported several times and is a must for anyone that likes a Zelda game.

Super Mario 64 (1996)

Mario standing in hub area in mario 64Nintendo
The father of many 3D platformers you know and love today.

Whilst Super Mario Bros. was busy saving the games industry, Super Mario 64 was busy reinvigorating it and kicking the door open for the next generation.

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The decision to make Mario a fully 3D platformer is probably one of Nintendo’s biggest ever gambles, and to say it paid off was an understatement. It showed the world what could be achieved in 3D, and in doing so, made gaming’s greatest mascot the undisputed king.

The worlds were incredibly fun and varied and the music is just an endless treat of ear ecstasy. Not only one of the best video games of all time, but one of the most significant ones too.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

link pulling master swordNintendo
Ocarina of Time guarantees a masterful time.

Hey, listen! Just pipping Super Mario 64 to the post is the unmistakable, undeniable The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

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If you don’t know by now, the game has a 99 out of 100 score on Metacritic — the industry-standard aggregator for game reviews. It has captivated the lives of millions of gamers for years as you always have to go back to it, and, like Super Mario 64, it exceeded its predecessors by offering tantalizing and innovative new gameplay methods.

Locking-on, puzzles, lateral problem-solving, contextual prompts, and a whole sea of other ideas made Ocarina of Time a video game years ahead of the curve – so much so we’re naming it our number one Nintendo Switch Online game you need to play in 2023!

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So, there you have it – the best Nintendo Switch games you need to play Online or on your OLED in 2023.

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