The Nintendo Switch will turn four years old next March, but continues to look great for its age. The Switch is still a fantastic platform for gaming families, especially younger kids, and the handheld-only Switch Lite is the perfect starter console.

Big releases were slower to come to the unique hybrid console this year, partially due to the pandemic. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was the biggest game on Switch, and a must-have for gamers seeking a non-violent gameplay experience.

Other major Switch releases include Super Mario 3D All-Stars, Paper Mario: The Origami King, and Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition.

Younger Kids (Under 10)

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

For fans of: Life sim, Farm sim, Relaxing games

It’s not hyperbole to declare Animal Crossing: New Horizons the biggest 2020 release on the Switch. During the initial onslaught of the pandemic back in March, New Horizons was the medicine we needed with its delightful characters and real time life simulation. New Horizons gives you an entire island to mold, from customizing your house to fishing, farming, and catching bugs. Earn upgrades and decorative rewards, recruit new friends, and visit your friends’ islands in a game that never has to end.

Also available on: N/A

Minecraft Dungeons

For fans of: Minecraft, Hack and slash, dungeon crawls

Minecraft Dungeons is a dungeon crawling spin-off of the most popular game on the planet (sorry, Fortnite). Whereas Minecraft is all about building and crafting your world, Minecraft Dungeons is about adventuring through a linear campaign, battling enemies and earning loot. Dungeons are procedurally generated, and up to four players locally and online can adventure together.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation, Xbox

Paper Mario: The Origami King

For fans of: Mario RPGs, Tactical combat

The Paper Mario series is home to quirky RPGs with unique mechanics. In The Origami King, Mario works to prevent his 2D kingdom from being transformed into origami. In addition to exploring a unique version of the Mushroom Kingdom constructed out of paper, Mario engages in turn-based battles with enemies on a circular arena with rotating rings. Mario will need to shift and slide enemies to get the most out his attacks, turning every encounter into a satisfying puzzle.

Also available on: N/A

Pikmin 3 Deluxe

For fans of: Co-op, Adventure-puzzles, Bossing underlings

Pikmin 3 is the latest in a long-line of excellent Wii U games being newly discovered by a much bigger audience on the Switch. Pikmin 3 is set on an alien planet filled with the titular tiny plant-like creatures that you can recruit and manage. Pikmin come in different colors and styles, each capable of handling different tasks and puzzles, such as crossing water or going airborne to attack flying enemies. Pikmin 3 also includes multiple captains to control, along with excellent cooperative and competitive gameplay modes. The Deluxe version adds co-op to the formerly single-player only campaign, multiple difficulty levels, and a new prologue and epilogue.

Also available on: N/A

Streets of Rage 4

For fans of: Retro games, Beat ’em up, Sick beats

A modern sequel to a 90’s side-scrolling Beat ‘Em Up series may not seem like a winning formula for a kids game. Streets of Rage 4 features simple yet engaging controls as you punch and kick your way through a variety of brightly colored enemies. The action-packed, character-drive story resembles a Saturday Morning Cartoon, and the head-bopping soundtrack is one of the best you’ll hear all year. What makes Streets of Rage 4 a great family game for kids is the local co-op, proving that an old-school genre still has much to give us.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation, Xbox

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

For fans of: Mario, 3D platformers, Retro Nintendo games

Super Mario 3D All-Stars compiles three of the biggest Mario games of the late 90s and early 2000s: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. Each 3D Mario game represents a major generational console leap, showcasing the Nintendo 64, GameCube, and Wii. The compilation adds widescreen support and 1080p resolutions (except for Mario 64), and Galaxy can take advantage of the Joy Con’s motion control to mimic the Wii remote.

Also available on: N/A

Unrailed

For fans of: Trains, Overcooked, local co-op

If you’ve enjoyed previous local co-op games like Overcooked, you owe it to you and your co-op partner(s) to check out Unrailed. In Unrailed you’re tasked with keeping your mostly unstoppable train from derailing by harvesting nearby trees and stone, converting them to tracks, and laying tracks through the randomly generated land. It’s a simple yet joyful cooperative experience that gets progressively more challenging the longer you can keep your train going.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation, Xbox

Older Kids & Teens (10-16)

Hades

For fans of: Roguelikes, Supergiant games, Greek mythology

Supergiant Games (Pyre) remains one of the most prestigious indie developers around, so it’s saying something when we declare Hades as their best game yet. The roguelike dungeon crawler blends superb voice acting and gorgeous artwork with fast-paced gameplay. The prince of the Underworld can choose from multiple weapons, gaining boons from the gods as he travels to escape his father’s realm. Dying or even winning isn’t the end however, as the character-driven story smartly expands with each return trip to the House of Hades.

Also available on: PC

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

For fans of: Dynasty Warriors, Zelda, Prequels

Hyrule Warriors is a mash-up of two different series, Zelda and Dynasty Warriors. The Dynasty Warriors series features large-scale military warfare while battling as a single super-powered character, in this case, Link, Zelda, and the Four Champions from 2017’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Hyrule Warriors is cleverly intertwined with Breath of the Wild by serving as an intriguing prequel that expands on story elements and characters shown only in backstory during the huge RPG. Hyrule Warriors isn’t an RPG, but it should satiate Zelda fans, and tide us over until the next big Zelda game.

Journey to the Savage Planet

For fans of: The Outer Worlds, First-person exploration, Metroid

Don’t let the aggressive name and quiet launch fool you, Journey to the Savage Planet is one of the hidden gems of 2020. The first-person game is technically a shooter, but it’s more about exploring an alien planet, scanning creatures and plants, finding upgrades, and unlocking new tools. It’s a modern Metroid Prime with a much cheerier world wrapped in corporate satire that should delight fans of Fallout and The Outer Worlds. Best of all – it supports two player online co-op.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation, Xbox

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition

For fans of: JRPGs, Open worlds, MMO gameplay

Not nearly enough people played the original Xenoblade Chronicles when it released on the Wii in 2010. Nintendo has given us a second chance (or rather, third after a 2015 3DS release) with the Definitive Edition on the Switch. With enhanced visuals, interface, music, and an all-new epilogue scenario, the Definitive Edition is worthy of the title. Xenoblade is a big RPG with MMO-like zones filled with monsters and side quests, combined with a compelling JRPG story of perseverance against a powerful robotic faction aiming to destroy all biological life.

Also available on: N/A

Older Teens & Adults (17+)

Borderlands Legendary Collection

For fans of: Looting, Shooting, Laughing

Borderlands 3 finally released last year, and if you’re looking to catch up on some of the best looter shooters ever made, the Borderlands Legendary Collection has you covered. The compilation includes Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, along with over a dozen DLC expansion packs, serving up a staggering amount of content. The world of Borderlands is delightfully irreverent, with memorable meme-worthy characters, big zones to explore, and thousands of guns to loot. Many Switch ports of bigger games tend to falter with performance or graphics, but Borderlands’ trademark art style looks great and runs well on the Switch.

Also available on: N/A

The Outer Worlds

For fans of: Fallout, First-person RPGs, Corporate satire

You’ll have to accept a bit of a graphical downgrade to play this first-person RPG on the Switch, but it’s worth experiencing one of the best games of 2019. The Outer Worlds takes the first-person gameplay and satirical humor of Fallout to craft a compelling and memorable space-faring RPG. Explore exotic planets and make meaningful choices with well-written NPCs and party members while blasting through aliens with a variety of weapons and skills.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation, Xbox

Eric Watson

Eric Watson

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