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    28 Of The Best Nintendo Switch Games To Pick Up As Gifts This Holiday

    Two wonderful new Mario games, a Lovecraftian fishing sim, and more great Switch titles they'll want to boot up immediately and spend hours playing.

    1. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, the sequel to 2017's Breath of the Wild and one of the best games of 2023, period. This open-world adventure has you return to Hyrule as Link and explore the mysterious floating islands above, with a host of new abilities to wield. It's epic, groundbreaking, and an absolutely essential Switch game that's great for all ages. 

    the cover art for the legend of zelda: tears of the kingdom
    screenshot from tears of the kingdom depicting combat
    Amazon

    Tears of the Kingdom, for those who have been living under a rock, is the direct sequel to 2017's mega hit Breath of the Wild, and it was easily the most anticipated Nintendo Switch game this year, maybe even the past *several* years. Graphics- and gameplay-wise, it very much feels like Breath of the Wild, but with more freedom than ever before to manipulate the environment and get creative with how you approach, well, pretty much anything. It's definitely not required that they've played Breath of the Wild before diving into Tears of the Kingdom, although those who played BOTW will recognize many familiar locations and characters.

    Promising review: "I would not recommend this game to anyone who has things to do other than play this game. I neglected all responsibilities to play this for a few weeks straight. Breath of the Wild was amazing, but this makes that game seem like a demo. This game is so packed with content. More story content, more monsters, more areas, more gameplay mechanics, more more more. It’s amazing. Only thing I don’t like about this game is I played it already and can never have the experience of playing it for the first time again." —Jessica Johnson

    Shipping info: Arrives before Christmas with free Prime delivery — check the listing for estimated arrival dates based on your location, and see Amazon's full shipping information here.

    Get it from Amazon for $59.96

    2. Dredge, a Lovecraftian horror fishing game (the genre I didn't know I needed) where you play as a lone fisherman exploring the open seas, visiting coastal villages, upgrading your boat, and (of course) catching fish (some of which are *very* disturbing). Oh, and don't stay out on the open water after sundown, or things start to get weird. Quickly.  

    the box art
    screenshot from the game
    Amazon

    Promising review: "I’m going to sound like a shill here but this is quite honestly the best game I’ve played in a long, long time, indie or not. It satisfies that craving for a good story that you pick up on yourself, the art style is beautiful, and there’s a really good amount of variety that keeps it interesting. Plus, the natural progression of things in the game/story make it one of those games that’s so hard to put down. I love this game so so much, and recommend it to everyone." —Rosa

    Shipping info: Arrives before Christmas with free Prime delivery — check the listing for estimated arrival dates based on your location, and see Amazon's full shipping information here.

    Get it from Amazon for $29.99

    3. Octopath Traveler II — it's a great pick if they love classic turn-based RPGs and a retro pixel art style, presented here in *gorgeous* HD. Reviewers say it improves upon 2018's Octopath Traveler in practically every way, and it's not required that they've played the first game, either. 

    the box art
    screenshot from the game
    Amazon, Nintendo

    Promising review: "If you're looking for a turn-based RPG, Octopath 1 and 2 are both great games, but 2 really improves upon the first game in a lot of ways. The game itself is great; the combat is fun enough without being overly complicated, and the characters are diverse with interesting stories. You have the freedom to play how you want as well, since you can choose to do all eight storylines, or keep it simple and only gather who you want. I'd highly recommend it for any RPG fan. My only 'gripe' with the game is it's extremely grindy, but that's only a bad thing if you're in a rush to finish (which I'm not), lol." —Demmy

    Shipping info: Free expedited Prime shipping available for Prime members, and non-Prime shipping options will still arrive by Christmas (see Amazon's full shipping information here).

    Get it from Amazon for $59.99

    4. Super Mario Wonder, the first traditional Super Mario side-scroller in over 10 years! The classic Mario gameplay is back with exciting new game-changing effects and the largest cast of characters yet, including faves like Luigi, Peach, and Daisy. It'll be great for fans of classic Mario as well as new younger players, thanks to easier playable characters (Yoshi and Nabbit) who can't take damage.

    the box art for super mario bros wonder
    screenshot from super mario wonder
    Amazon

    Promising review: "Super Mario Wonder is a marvelous addition to the Mario franchise, and it has certainly lived up to the hype. As a cool dad, it's been an absolute joy to share this gaming experience with my kids. The gameplay, graphics, story, and multiplayer options make it an all-around fantastic game that bridges the generation gap. Mario continues to be the ultimate family-friendly game, and Super Mario Wonder is no exception. It's a game that cements Mario's status as a beloved icon for all ages." —PrimingFX

    Shipping info: Arrives before Christmas with free delivery — check the listing for estimated arrival dates based on your location, and see Amazon's full shipping information here.

    Get it from Amazon for $59.85

    5. And Super Mario RPG, which is the other new Mario game out this holiday season. It's a fantastic remake of an already fantastic game that originally launched on the SNES in 1996, bringing its satisfying turn-based combat and heartfelt writing to modern audiences on the Switch.  

    the box art for super mario rpg
    screenshot from super mario rpg
    Amazon

    Promising review: "Super Mario RPG for the SNES was the first RPG I played. I fell in love with the humor and the eclectic cast of characters (a cloud that thinks he’s a tadpole, a kleptomaniac crocodile, and a diabolical Santa Claus-like character determined to rule the world just to name a few). Now, decades later, I fell in love with everything about this game again. 

    "The game is basically a graphical remaster of the original with a decent amount of added goodies to entice returning players that want to play Mario’s quirkiest adventure again. All the secret treasures are in the same spots, all the dialogue is mostly the same (shame about the Bruce Lee joke being taken out though) and the gameplay is still fun and sharp. The game looks beautiful and plays smooth. I’m so happy I now get to have this on Switch and I can take it with me anywhere. Because I’m always feeling a little nostalgia." —V.D.M.

    Shipping info: Free expedited Prime shipping available for Prime members, and non-Prime shipping options will still arrive by Christmas (see Amazon's full shipping information here).

    Get it from Amazon for $58

    6. Metroid Prime Remastered that'll let them relive their childhood battling Space Pirates as bounty hunter Samus Aran. This year's remaster feels more like a remake according to fans, honoring the original while updating the visuals and controls for modern audiences. And if they're new to Metroid, this makes a great entry point!

    the box art
    screenshot from metroid prime remastered
    Amazon

    Promising review: "It’s possibly the best remake/remaster I’ve ever played. And the visuals have been elevated to a level and class of its own. Metroid Prime held its own in the visual appearance, still looking gorgeous despite it being from the GC era, but with the modernization of many aspects, the game feels as if it was made for modern control schemes in mind! It’s one of the must-have titles for the Nintendo Switch!" —Leandro Aciar

    Shipping info: Free expedited Prime shipping available for Prime members, and non-Prime shipping options will still arrive by Christmas (see Amazon's full shipping information here).

    Get it from Amazon for $39

    7. Pikmin 4, which introduces two new species of Pikmin (Ice Pikmin and Glow Pikmin), plus a customizable playable character that, per usual, will take control of adorable squads of Pikmin to explore a colorful world, fight enemies, solve puzzles, and more. Whether they're a fan of the series or a total newbie, it's a glorious experience. 

    the box art
    screenshot from pikmin 4
    Amazon

    Promising review: "Game is fantastic as a long-time fan, but I imagine it will be equally fantastic for newcomers. Story is charming but it's a reboot, so no need to know the previous games' plots to understand it. Gameplay is like a more digestible version of the second game, with plenty of quality of life features that make controls feel wonderful on the Switch. There's also a *lot* of content. Nearly half the game is post-credits content; it's amazing how much they packed in here. If I were to gripe about anything, the amount of tutorial and story stuff that interrupts you every two minutes in the beginning of the game does get to be a bit much, but once that slows down, the game is amazing." —Trevor Martin

    Shipping info: Arrives before Christmas with free delivery, and expedited shipping is available too — check the listing for estimated arrival dates based on your location, and see Amazon's full shipping information here.

    Get it from Amazon for $54.94

    8. Spiritfarer, a cozy resource-management sim about death, to put it simply. In it, you play as Stella, whose job is to ferry spirits (who've taken the form of friendly animals) to the afterlife, building them homes on your ship, making their favorite foods, and fulfilling any final requests they have before moving on. With a beautiful, expansive map to explore, fun platforming, and memorable characters you'll fall in love with, Spiritfarer will tug at all of your heartstrings in the best way.

    the box art for spiritfarer
    a screenshot from the game showing the player fishing off the back of a boat
    Amazon

    It's extremely fun moving around the world as Stella — you unlock abilities as the story progresses that makes it easier to jump and glide around the world, and there are countless secrets and hidden areas to discover. Plus, the map is shockingly big — it might seem like it'd be a short game, but you can easily spend 35–40 hours exploring every corner of Spiritfarer's ocean and islands and completing every task. 

    Developer Thunder Lotus also released free DLC in 2021 that added four new characters, new story content, improved co-op, and more, so they'll automatically have access to the definitive version of the game!

    Shipping info: Free expedited Prime shipping available for Prime members, and non-Prime shipping options will still arrive by Christmas (see Amazon's full shipping information here).

    Get it from Amazon for $24.98

    9. Ring Fit Adventure, aka one of the best fitness video games on *any* platform today, let alone Switch — a perfect gift if they like staying active as much as they like winning races in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

    the ring fit adventure set with the knee strap and ring-con attached, with the game on a tv in the background / the physical game box, ring-con, and knee strap
    Jenae Sitzes / BuzzFeed

    Ring Fit offers a great indoor cardio workout with strength training by having you jog (in place) through a gorgeous fantasy world and engage in turn-based combat using IRL exercise moves against fitness-themed monsters. Also, there's a hot bodybuilding dragon in it. 

    Shipping info: Free expedited Prime shipping available for Prime members, and non-Prime shipping options will still arrive by Christmas (see Amazon's full shipping information here).

    Get it from Amazon for $79.99. (Note that this game is best played on a TV, so it's not ideal for the handheld-only Switch Lite.)

    10. Speaking of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe — this enhanced version of Mario Kart 8 is an *essential* title in the Switch library, bringing back all that classic Mario Kart fun you remember having as a kid with dozens of tracks, karts, abilities, and characters to try out as you compete against friends or family (and potentially make enemies of them).

    the mario kart 8 deluxe box art showing mario and several other characters racing
    several characters including mario racing on a track
    Amazon

    If they don't own it yet, there's a pretty good reason to pick up Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in 2023: Nintendo has released the Booster Course Pass, which added 48 (!) remastered tracks from previous Mario Kart games as well as eight additional characters. (They'll need the base game to access this paid DLC.)

    Promising review: "This is honestly my favorite game to play with friends, couch co-op or online. This was the first Switch game I bought when I bought my system and have continuously played it after all these years. It's fun, competitive, enjoyable, and great to pass the time with friends. Have bought several copies of this game as gifts for friends and family. If I could only play one game on my Switch forever, it's probably this one!" —Marcos Villarreal

    Shipping info: Arrives before Christmas with free delivery, and expedited shipping is available too — check the listing for estimated arrival dates based on your location, and see Amazon's full shipping information here.

    Get it from Amazon for $47.99

    The Booster Course Pass is available as a digital download code for $24.99 — or for free with a Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership.

    11. Stardew Valley, the crown jewel of modern farming sims. Aside from just growing crops and developing their farm, they'll befriend (and romance) the villagers of Pelican Town, attend festivals, go fishing, explore mines, and work to restore the local community center to its former glory. 

    a hand holding a copy of stardew valley for switch
    a screenshot of the game showing a farm
    Jenae Sitzes / BuzzFeed, Amazon

    The physical edition comes with an 18-page, full-color instruction manual, and the case has a double-sided cover with a Joja theme on the inside. 

    Anyone who knows me knows I'm always ready to push the Stardew Valley agenda — it's easily one of the best Nintendo Switch games you can buy (even though it's available on practically every other platform, too). Thanks to multiple post-game updates, Stardew Valley is better than ever and simply jam-packed with content and rich with replayability. Plus, its developer is working on a 1.6 update that'll bring even more content to the game, so now's as good a time as any to jump in for the first time!

    Shipping info: Free expedited Prime shipping available for Prime members, and non-Prime shipping options will still arrive by Christmas (see Amazon's full shipping information here).

    Get it from Amazon for $40.99

    12. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet + The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero, a physical edition bundling the latest Pokémon games with their all-new, two-part DLC. Scarlet and Violet offer the most open-ended format the mainline series has ever seen, with three branching story paths and a massive open world with hundreds of Pokémon to discover, all at their own pace and in the order they decide. 

    the cover of the pokemon scarlet / violet bundle
    screenshot from Pokemon scarlet and violet
    Target, Nintendo

    The first part of the DLC, The Teal Mask, released earlier this fall, and the second part, The Indigo Disk, arrives December 14. With this physical bundle, they'll immediately have access to both (though note that The Indigo Disk requires completing the game's main story and The Teal Mask first). In the DLC, they'll explore all-new areas, meet new characters, catch new Pokémon, and, of course, get wrapped up in an all-new story. 

    Shipping info: With standard shipping, arrives within 3–5 business days. Two-day shipping may be available depending on your location. See Target's shipping info here.

    Get the bundle with Pokemon Scarlet or Pokemon Violet from Target for $94.99.