I'm playing these Nintendo Switch games over Christmas – and you should too

The best Switch games to try out from 2021, from Mario to Pokémon

Cat Mario Rathalos Samus Aran
(Image credit: Nintendo / Capcom)

The holidays are fast approaching! So, if you are like me in any way, then you can't wait to spend the days curled up on the sofa, playing as many Nintendo Switch games as physically possible. It's what Christmas is all about, right? 

Of course, the biggest question is what to actually play. Nintendo has had another stellar year, delivering tons of fantastic experiences and providing big updates to some of its biggest titles, such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, for example. All of which look even better on the new Switch OLED screen, making it even more tempting to make the leap to the new hardware. 

Thankfully, whatever Switch device you have, there are plenty of titles to choose from. With all that in mind, let's dig into the best Nintendo Switch games to pick up this Christmas and why I personally recommend spending time with them this holiday season. 

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin 

Monster Hunter Stories 2 artwork

(Image credit: Capcom)

Until 2021, I'd never played a Monster Hunter game. Growing up with Pokémon (which we'll come onto), many people have naturally transitioned over to the spinoff series – and I can see why! While the real-time battles and monster collecting are very similar (and just as satisfying), the more story-focused elements and open-world aspects take it to the next level. After originally reviewing the game for PC, I can't wait to dive back in and start another adventure. 

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury 

Bowser's Fury Mario Plessie

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Originally a Wii U game, Nintendo finally ported over Super Mario 3D World to Switch earlier this year, much to the delight of anyone that played this gem of a platformer. Positioning itself somewhere in between classic 2D Mario and modern 3D adventures, this game is the definition of frantic multiplayer action. Players can control either Mario, Luigi, Peach or Toad as each race to be the first to reach the flagpole. 

Furthermore, this deluxe edition arrives with the magnificent Bowser's Fury add-on, which is a new open-world platforming adventure that moulds Super Mario Odyssey with Super Mario Sunshine. I can't lie, the 10-plus magical hours I spent here has pretty much been my gaming highlight of 2021. Just Nintendo at its very best.

Mario Party Superstars

Mario Party Superstars mushroom

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Everyone loves a party (too soon?). With well over a dozen Mario Party games released by Nintendo over the years, Mario Party Superstars is without a doubt the best one in over a decade. Why? Simply because it brings together the best parts of the first three N64 titles and updates them for a modern audience, all while keeping the same addictive gameplay. 

Over 100 of the best mini-games to hit the series are included alongside five classic boards. It's a blast! Great for families, couples and friends who just like a bit of harmless but competitive fun. 

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond / Shining Pearl artwork

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Naturally, the newest entry in the Pokémon series had to be included. These two are actually remakes of the classic Diamond and Pearl titles back on the DS, along with all the bells and whistles. Incredibly faithful to the originals, the biggest difference comes in the form of the art style that has had a massive overhaul, going for a new, adorable chibi-like style. It's very distinctive. 

I've very much been enjoying my evenings exploring the land region of Sinnoh for the very first time, all in preparation for the prequel, Pokémon Legends: Arceus, which is due to hit in January. 

Metroid Dread

Metroid Dread

(Image credit: Nintendo)

MercurySteam's technical showpiece for the Switch OLED went above and beyond. Metroid Dread sees bounty hunter Samus Aran investigate the source of a mysterious signal upon the planet ZDR, only to find herself hunted by the relentless and harrowing E.M.M.I. robots. 

Returning to its 2D roots, the side-scrolling action-adventure is number one on my list to play over the Christmas period and is the main reason I want to upgrade from my launch Switch. After all, a game that's been 15 years in the making deserves only the best. Lauded by critics around the world and the winner of Best Action/Adventure at The Game Awards 2021, this is clearly a special, special game. 

Speaking of which, if you are thinking of picking up a new Nintendo Switch – OLED Model, then make sure to check out T3's official Switch OLED restock tracker

Matt Poskitt
Freelance Writer

Matt is a freelance writer for T3, covering news and keeping up with everything games, entertainment, and all manner of tech. You can find his work across numerous sites across the web, including TechRadar, IGN, GamesRadar, Tom's Guide, Fandom, NME, and more. In his spare time, Matt is an avid cinema-goer, keen runner and average golfer (at best). You can follow him @MattPoskitt64