Compared to the Wii U, the Switch is a runaway success for Nintendo, already selling twice as many units over the entire life time of the Wii U since launch last year.

Nintendo had an explosive launch year in 2017. Things settled down a bit in 2018, with of the biggest releases saved for the holidays.

One of the most anticipated games of the year, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, isn’t even out until December 7. If your family has a Switch, or is getting one this year, it’s safe to say that Smash Bros. will be a must-buy, but may be hard to come by.

Throughout the year the Switch received a ton of slightly older indie games, as well as ports of great games from other systems (including the Wii U). For that reason, the Nintendo eShop Gift Card is one of the best gifts you can give to a Switch owner this holiday season. If you’d like to make your gift card a bit more personable, you can purchase specific indie game gift cards at places like GameStop.

Keep you eyes peeled for Black Friday deals this year, as it could be the first chance to find the Switch at a slight discount. The best deal announced so far by Nintendo is a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Bundle. For the standard price of a Switch by itself ($299), the bundle includes a digital copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (normally $60).

2018 holiday gift guide

Since the Switch is still a fairly new system, you may want to check out our 2017 Holiday Gift Guide as well, where you’ll find last year’s huge hits like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8, and Super Mario Odyssey.


Younger Kids

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was one of the best, most unique first-party games to come out of the Wii U. Toad is the star of this 3D puzzle game where he must navigate and rotate a series of cube worlds to reach the exit. The Switch version includes new levels based on Super Mario Odyssey.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

While Tropical Freeze was a wonderfully nostalgic, yet modernized 2D platformer, it was also notoriously challenging when it launched on Wii U back in 2014. The new Switch version adds Funky Kong as a playable character and an easier Funky Mode, which features more hit points as well as the ability to double jump and hover in mid-air.

LEGO DC Super-Villains

The LEGO games are often the best cooperative family games around, though the quality can vary from game to game. The superhero genre fits together with the LEGO style beautifully, especially when TT Games can craft an original story around it. LEGO DC Super-Villains is unique in starring your own super-powered, customizable figure, as they join forces alongside a cast of comic favorites.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Nintendo Labo Variety Kit

Nintendo is still the leader when it comes to out-of-the box game design, and Nintendo Labo is the perfect illustration of their design philosophy. Less a game and more an interactive toy, it comes with cardboard material that can be built into different objects, such as a piano or RC car. The Joy-Con controllers can then be inserted and programmed using the free Toy-Con Garage software to produce unique physical toys brought to life with the Switch.

Overcooked 2

Even if you’re not a fan of Iron Chef or Great British Bake Off, you can find a lot to love in this delightfully charming cooperative cooking game. Each level in Overcooked 2 features a kitchen filled with zany hazards and traps as you and up to three others race to chop veggies, bake ingredients, and toss each other dishes across rivers and through portals. Easily one of the best co-op games of the year.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!

When Pokémon GO launched on mobile phones two years ago, it became a global phenomena. The hysteria has since died down, but Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have capitalized on the more simplistic capturing controls, using the Joy-Con to launch PokéBalls. Let’s Go is an interesting redesign of the original Pokémon Red/Blue that should appeal to Pokémon GO fans as well as younger kids.

Sonic Mania Plus

How well do those classic 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog games hold up today? Incredibly well, if Sonic Mania is any indicator. Released last year, Sonic Mania is a love letter to old-school 2D Sonic games that should delight fans young and old. The new Plus version includes the Encore DLC, adding two new playable characters, four player multiplayer, and a new Encore mode that remixes levels in challenging new ways.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Super Mario Party

The Mario Party series has had its ups and downs over the years. With the Switch version Nintendo has doubled down on the best parts of the gameplay: the fun four-person mini-games. You can play the mini-games online for the first time, but this is still a game best served by a room full of friends and family enjoying easy to pick up and play mini-games.


Older Kids & Teens

Dead Cells

For years indie games have filled the niche of 2D action-platformers in a variety of formats and styles. With a cool neon art style, tight controls, and clever level design, Dead Cells may be the peak of the genre (read our review).

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Dragon Quest Builders

If your kids are into Minecraft but looking for a bit more story and classic video game structure, Dragon Quest Builders fills that role nicely. It combines the brightly colored world design and creatures of Dragon Quest, with the rewarding creativity of building your own town and community from the ground up.

Also available on: PlayStation 4


fortnite switch

Fortnite Battle Royale is technically free to play, but if you’re also looking at purchasing a Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has a Fortnite bundle that includes 1,000 V-Bucks (which can be used to purchase a seasonal Battle Pass) and some other digital goodies.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Mobile

Into the Breach

Into the Breach is basically Chess, if Chess involved time-traveling mechs versus giant insects. From the makers of FTL come this brilliantly balanced tactical strategy game where every turn demands pain-staking attention to detail and perfect planning. It’s incredibly tense for a turn-based strategy game, and equally rewarding.

Also available on: PC

Mega Man 11

One of the most prolific platformers in gaming, Mega Man enjoyed a triumphant return to prominence this year with the well-received Mega Man 11. The action is colorful and fast as the Blue Bomber once again battles a series of themed robot masters, acquiring their powers along the way. Different difficulty modes ensure a wider range of players can enjoy the classically-inspired gameplay.

And if you’re nostalgic about the old Mega Man games, the Mega Man Legacy 1 + 2 Collection serves all your needs.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate

Capcom brought their Nintendo 3DS Monster Hunter game to Switch this year. The Monster Hunter series is highly complex but very rewarding, and supports multiplayer co-op. Note that this is not the same game as Monster Hunter: World, which launched on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (and later on PC) and brought many modernized features and impressive new visual detail.

Also Available on: Nintendo 3DS

Octopath Traveler

Usually we rely on indie games to provide the old-school nostalgic 80s and 90s gameplay, but Square Enix has begun returning to this lucrative mine in recent years. Octopath Traveler is their latest RPG, with classic turn-based battles and 2D artwork. Play through the interweaving stories of eight characters, each with their own distinct abilities in this deceptively huge RPG.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

The once exciting (albeit expensive) toys-to-life genre has all but died, save for Ubsoft’s very late but surprisingly competent sci-fi entry. Starlink uses toys to customize your spaceships, but they’re probably the least exciting aspect, as the game itself lets you zip around planets completing quests, dogfighting enemies, and engaging with fun characters. The Switch version also has exclusive access to Star Fox, instantly making it the best version.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate doesn’t release until December 7, but we’re confident including it on our Holiday Gift Guide. Featuring a jaw-dropping 70+ fighters from a variety of Nintendo (and other) gaming series, the Smash Bros. series has always been one of Nintendo’s best on any console, and a perennial fan-favorite fighting game.

Valkyria Chronicles 4

Valkyria Chronicles presents an intriguing combination of RPG, tactical-combat, and third-person action set in an alternate Earth during World War 2. Take turns directing troops on the battlefield, line up shots in your crosshairs, then enjoy their banter in between battles. Although it’s the fourth game in the series, Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a stand-alone story featuring its own cast of young soldiers.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One


Mature Teens

Banner Saga Trilogy

The Banner Saga trilogy reached its conclusion this year with the release of Banner Saga 3. The series is known for both its intricate turn-based tactical combat and its bleak, emotional story-telling that forces you to make tough decisions while facing the end of the world in this Norse-inspired strategy game. All three games are excellent, and included in the bundle.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Dark Souls Remastered

The original Dark Souls practically invented a new subgenre of action game with obtuse, challenging, but very rewarding gameplay. Develop your preferred weaponry and playstyle as your journey through a darkly gothic world. The original has been given a graphical face-lift and includes the Artorias of the Abyss DLC.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Diablo III: Eternal Collection

Diablo 3 is six years old this year, and still fresh as ever thanks to years worth of quality content updates, patches, and improvements. The Switch version includes all previously released DLC, including last year’s Rise of the Necromancer. Hack and slash your way through demonic hordes as seven different classes, and join forces with up to three players in online and local co-op. A Diablo 3 Switch bundle is also available.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

This article was written by

Eric has been writing for over nine years with bylines at Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer, Tabletop Gaming magazine, and more covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games, and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on his YouTube channel. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.