Celebrate Five Years Of The Nintendo Switch With Its Five Best Games That Aren’t Mario Or Zelda

The Nintendo Switch released five years ago and it became clear right away that Nintendo had another hit on its hands. While Sony and Microsoft do everything they can to push the technology of video games to its breaking point, Nintendo continues to carve out a strong niche as an alternative option. The Switch is nowhere close to the most powerful console on the market, but the ability to play its games on a TV or on the go in handheld mode is a unique feature that fans love.

Of course, it helps that the Switch has a really strong library of exclusive games. If there is one advantage that Nintendo will always have over its competitors, it’s a history of great IPs. Two of the most obvious ones are Mario and Zelda — if someone wanted, they could exclusively play nothing but Mario and Zelda games on the Switch and get lost in two of the best series in gaming. Despite that, we wanted to find five incredible games on the Switch that don’t feature Mario or Zelda in any way that are exclusive to the console.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Maybe the most important game of 2020, Animal Crossing: New Horizons came at the perfect time for so many people. As the world locked itself inside amid the coronavirus pandemic, people found escape in the world of Animal Crossing. This happy little island asks nothing of the player other than to spend their day however they choose. Want to go pick some fruit, shop at the clothing store, and then spend your evening fishing? Do it. Want to explore uncharted islands, collect resources, and sell them so you can buy an even bigger house? Go right ahead.

New Horizons is one of the best games on the Switch, not only because of the timing of its release, but because it is the perfect game to make use of the Switch’s ability to be played on the TV or in handheld mode. It’s a great game to experience on either setting and it’s fun to bring a Switch over to a friend’s house and explore each other’s islands. Even better, the game has received numerous updates since launch giving a constant reason to come back and keep playing. It’s a delightful game and one that is a must have in every Switch owner’s library.

Metroid Dread

The first new 2D/side scrolling Metroid game in 19 years. Nintendo’s relationship with Metroid has always been odd, with the game being popular enough to spin off into its own genre but never selling well enough to be a consistent franchise. So when Nintendo announced a new Metroid game, and one that followed the old 2D formula, fans were unsurprisingly excited.

It was worth the 19 year wait, because it is one of the best Metroid games ever made. Metroid Dread plays extremely well. The action is fun, the exploration feels great, and that old horror tinge the franchise experimented with in Fusion is on full display. It’s not a perfect game by any means, but it’s easily one of the best games on the Switch.

Ring Fit Adventure

Nintendo has a really odd history with trying to get people playing games to exercise. The problem is most of the games have been mediocre at best and flat-out bad at worst. Then came Ring Fit Adventure. Not only is this a game that will make sure the player gets in a good workout, but it’s fun to play, too.

Ring Fit takes the player on a fitness turn-based RPG journey. The plot is very simple, but it’s interesting enough to keep pushing the player forward. Along the way you get stronger, your endurance increases, and by the end, you’ll have gotten in a pretty good workout. It even features a New Game Plus to keep players exercising after they’ve seen credits. There are mini-games to play, and they’ve added a handful of extra features since launch. It’s the best fitness game ever made and a fantastic addition to any Nintendo Switch library.

Golf Story

The strongest aspect of the Nintendo Switch, besides its deep library of IPs, are all the indie games on the console. Most indies aren’t exclusive, but one that is to the Switch is Golf Story. The adventure of Golf Story is fairly simple: A young player wants to get better at golf so they go on a golf RPG-like journey to improve. Along the way, the player will meet some of the funniest written characters on the console, and be put in increasingly weird situations.

The gameplay of Golf Story may push some people away, because it is mainly golf, but the game spices it up with hazards and objectives that are much more exciting than the average round of golf. It’s very similar to to the old Mario Golf Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games in style, but it’s unique enough to stand out on its own. Don’t miss out on one of the best indie games out there.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

The final spot on this list could have gone to one of several games, like Fire Emblem or Splatoon, but it goes to a personal favorite in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The Xenoblade games are some of the best JRPG’s anyone can play, because despite being adventures that easily exceed the 60-hour mark, none of that time ever feels wasted. Exploration is rewarded, quests are a natural part of gameplay instead of coming across like a checklist, and they keep the player engaged throughout the playthrough.

Think about how many games have a cool starting area, the player spends a few hours there, and then they leave to never return to it. Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and other games in that franchise, get around this by having quests and high level monsters naturally bring the player back to these locations. The world will change and grow while this happens, making the player feel like they are in a constantly changing environment. With the first game receiving a Definitive Edition for the Switch and a sequel on the way, there’s never been a better time to get into Xenoblade than now.