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The Best Nintendo Switch Games for Casual Gamers

Good, chill fun.

animal crossing new horizons
Nintendo

Some people take pride in playing the most challenging video games out there. That’s fine and swell, but sometimes, you just want a game you can jump into that isn’t going to be long, hard, or terribly frustrating (because you have enough stressful stuff in your life, especially during the coronavirus pandemic). Here are the best of those titles for the Nintendo Switch. Take it from someone who has played them: With all these games, the learning curve isn’t steep (so literally anyone, your dad or non-gamer roommate included, can pick it up), the gameplay is fun and, dare I say, even relaxing once you really settle into it. Enjoy the ride.

Nintendo
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Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Nintendo amazon.com
$57.49

Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out just as much of the U.S. went into quarantine. It became the Nintendo Switch's fastest-selling game of all time less than two weeks after it came out—and for good reason. The mellow game allows you to fish, harvest fruit, catch bugs, and interact with cute animal neighbors on your own island as you build up the island and your house. As your island's reputation improves, you'll eventually be able to terraform the land. The customization opportunities—from being able to design your character's outfits to shaping all your islands' rivers and ponds—are endless. Real-life designers like Valentino and Marc Jacobs have gotten in on it.

The game allows for social opportunity between your real-life friends, too. Friends with the game can visit your island (and you theirs) via the game's Dodo Airport travel feature. Holidays all get special treatment on Animal Crossing as well, with the game's special events. This summer, for example, ocean swimming will be unlocked July 3. Easter featured a month-long egg hunt hosted by island visitor Zipper, who Chrissy Teigen had a very hot take on.

All in all, Animal Crossing is calming and simultaneously very addicting. You can easily spend hundreds of hours making your own island five-star perfection—and not regret a second.

Nintendo
2 of 15
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Nintendo amazon.com
$58.75

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a tactical RPG game that boasts a deeply intricate story, very memorable characters (whom you can befriend and one of whom you can choose to marry), and distinct Harry Potter vibes. You play as Byleth, who you can make either female or male. 

Byleth becomes a young professor at Garreg Mach Monastery and gets to lead one of three houses. The house you choose greatly impacts the direction the game's story will go. Each house's leader is an heir to the throne for the three different regions of Fódlan. (Edelgard, leader of the Black Eagles house and princess and heir to the Adrestian Empire, is pictured here.) Things begin relatively peaceful between the three regions and house leaders. They don't end that way.

Students go on missions with Byleth, who joins and leads them in battle, instructs them to build up skills for battle in the classroom, and befriends them outside of class (which, of course, also has perks on the battlefield as relationship levels grow). Battle is turn-based, with you moving each of your units (students) forward on a grid-based board to attack enemies and monsters. The game's combat system takes some getting used to, but once you're accustomed to it, battles are really fun...and even relaxing depending on the difficulty you set the game on.

I came for the story when I played, so I set the game on normal difficulty and casual mode (so if one of the units falls on the battlefield, they are not dead for good; in classic mode, they would be, and I just did not need that stress in my life). This is not a short game: I played the Blue Lions house story, and it took me about 60 hours to complete it. But there's replay value in that once finishing the game, you can go back, choose a different house to lead, and play through its story on an enhanced new-game plus file.  

Nintendo
3 of 15
Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics
Nintendo amazon.com
$39.99

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics is the sleek, seamless virtual version of your traditional family game night. The title boasts digitized versions of Texas Hold 'Em, checkers, Four in a Row (aka Connect Four), chess, you name it, all ready for you or your friends to play.

Clubhouse makes multi-player very easy too: Players only need one Joy-Con to play or up to four people to play on their own Nintendo Switch systems locally with only one person owning the game. An online mode lets you play against people all over the world, which is particularly nice if you're quarantining alone or just generally want a challenge.

Nintendo
4 of 15
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX
Nintendo amazon.com
$59.99

Imagine a Pokémon game with no trainers and cute, civilized Pokémon who can talk: That's Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX. The Nintendo Switch title is a remake of the Game Boy Advance game that was released in 2005. In the Switch game, you take a personality quiz, and then it matches you up with a Pokémon to play as (though you are not obligated to play as it; you can opt to pick the main Pokémon yourself). You then get to pick your partner Pokémon.

The game consists of rescuing Pokémon from computer-generated dungeons that change each time you enter them, along with helping Pokémon in your village with quests. This is not a high-intensity game. With beautiful storybook illustration-like graphics and turn-based battle gameplay, it's a chill yet original take on a Pokémon game.

This game is on the shorter side, taking at most 20 hours to complete.

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Pokémon Sword (or Shield)
Nintendo amazon.com
$59.99
$49.00 (18% off)

Pokémon's new big game for the Nintendo Switch features an open-world environment (modeled off of England), an improved battle system for those who have been playing the games, and Dynamax battles where you and your friends can fight with giant versions of your Pokémon.

Be prepared to lose many hours running around, collecting Pokémon, battling Pokémon, and getting gym badges. This game is designed for Pokémon players of all skill levels, so for those less familiar with the series, there's enough to ease you in so you can prosper. (And there's always Google for those who don't know type weaknesses by heart, which can really help you out in the game's many battles.)

Sword and Shield have different version exclusives, including the different legendary Pokémons, some Pokemon that only appear in one version, and different later gyms. See a breakdown of the differences on IGN to figure out which you'd rather get. In June 2020, the game's Expansion Pass was released for $29.99, opening up two new areas. The first, the Isle of Armor, is available to visit now. The second, The Crown Tundra, will open up this fall.

Nintendo
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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
Nintendo amazon.com
$59.99

This remake of the 1993 Game Boy game is adorable, sleek, and pretty easy to jump into. The story moves smoothly, although this game isn’t as heavy on plot as some other Zelda titles may be. But it doesn't need to be; it's still a blast.

The entire game is roughly 20 hours long, and if you do want more of a challenge, there’s a hero mode (translation: hard mode). But if you don’t, the regular mode adventure doesn’t get terribly difficult until the very end, and that's thanks to the dungeon's puzzles more than enemies. It’s a great platformer to play while traveling.

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Super Mario Odyssey
Nintendo amazon.com
$58.75

This title is essentially a classic on the Nintendo Switch, and it deserves to be. It’s an inventive, addicting, and a really fun Mario platformer. 

The levels are imaginative (there's a New York City-inspired level and a food-themed one, as a sampling of the variety), expansive, and offer plenty of opportunity for you to run around and explore if you want more chill gameplay. The main story mode’s enemies don’t pose too much of a challenge either once you get used to the mechanics, which the game eases you into. Also, there’s something almost therapeutic about flinging your JoyCon to swing Mario's hat Cappy to fight enemies. 

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Super Mario Party
Nintendo amazon.com
$59.99
$49.99 (17% off)

Literally anyone can pick this game up and win: Parents, friends who have never touched a Switch, and Mario Party veterans. The standard party mode is as much luck-based as it is skill-based. So you may win most of the mini games but still fall short of first place in party mode because your friend had slightly better luck with dice rolls. New additions to this Mario Party include partner party mode (great for double dates or hangouts), a fun rhythm mode, and a co-op mode (where you play team mini games). This game is playable on your own but is even more fun with a group. Party is literally in the title, after all.

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Nintendo amazon.com
$58.98

When it comes to fighting games, the mechanics behind this one seem simple at first. There are some excellent Smash players out there, but gamers of all skill levels can get sucked into this game for hours. This game is the best with a group, although there’s plenty of solo modes (story mode, adventure mode, etc.) that make it easy to pick up and play alone while on the go. 

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Yoshi's Crafted World
Nintendo amazon.com
$59.99

This game is so aesthetically pleasing to look at and it's clever, with the craft materials incorporated into every item in the game's backgrounds. The premise is simple: Complete levels, get flowers and gems, and beat baby Bowser. But this game isn’t as much about the story as it is the gameplay. Each level is mellow, fun, and on the whole, just lovely to take your time playing through.

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Ring Fit Adventure
Nintendo amazon.com
$79.99

Few games can make most people willingly do squats and planks. This is one of them. How you look playing it—using the resistance band-controller and leg attachment to do body weight exercises or jog in place—may be ridiculous, but you do work up a sweat. You can set the fitness level to be as low-key or intense as you’d like it to be. It doesn't entirely replace the gym or an hour jog, but it’s a good way to get a supplemental workout in and have fun.

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Luigi's Mansion 3
Nintendo amazon.com
$52.94

There’s a little more plot in this than some of the other titles here: Luigi has to save his friends who get trapped in paintings in a haunted hotel. But the real appeal here is gameplay: sucking up ghosts and money in the imaginative levels, which include a garden-themed floor and a medieval castle one, is super fun. The co-op mode for two players is among the best the Nintendo Switch has to offer. One player controls Luigi and another controls Gooigi, his slimy double. Neither player gets the short end of the stick when it comes to gameplay experiences. 

While the controls take some getting used to, the game does an excellent job of easing players in.

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Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee!
Nintendo amazon.com
$59.99
$49.90 (17% off)

This is a very fun—and very nice—Pokémon game that works for beginners and those more experienced with the series alike. The premise is simple: Go to towns, catch and train Pokémon, beat gym masters, get badges. The Pokémon-catching mechanics are a lot like Pokémon Go, for those who are familiar with the mobile game. 

The entire game is about 20 hours, and Ariana Grande boasted about finishing it, so it has vocal celeb fans. Bonuses include having an adorable Eevee or Pikachu to pet throughout the game, which does have a purpose other than being cute: it builds your bond with your partner Pokemon and ultimately helps you in battle.

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BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL!
Nintendo amazon.com
$9.99

This cute box-themed puzzle game eases you into more tricky puzzles—and gives you a sense of satisfaction whenever you solve one with the fewest amount of boxes. There’s a single and two-player mode, and both can provide a hour or two of entertainment if you need it. 

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Nintendo amazon.com
$57.00

Mario Kart games are always good, but this one is particularly great because of its versatile control options and imaginative courses. For those more into using a classic controller to play (like you did in Mario Kart 64 or Mario Kart Double Dash), there’s that option. For those used to the Wii and Wii U’s motion-based controls (where you tilt the JoyCon like it’s your steering wheel), you can use that too. This game is addictive, great for parties, and easy for anyone to pick up on the fly.

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