These are the absolute best Nintendo Switch games of all time

Trying to get your hands on the best Nintendo Switch games that have released so far? There are plenty to choose from, and more awesome titles continue to come out every few months. Whether you’re looking for open-world RPGs, fighting games, competitive racers, or local co-op games to share with a friend, Nintendo has you covered. If you want to try six games across all genres, these are the best Nintendo Switch games of all time.
Best Nintendo Switch Games:
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Mario Kart
Pokémon Sword and Shield
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Party
Ring Fit Adventure
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1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons — Best Life Simulator on Nintendo Switch
Bottom line: As we stated in our Animal Crossing: New Horizons review, this game was released just as the world needed it most. It’s a chill life and farming simulator that helps both kids and adult players relax while making friends with animals on a tropical island. You can end up spending hundreds of hours fishing, acquiring furniture, collecting creatures for a museum, upgrading your house, and decorating your island just the way you want it. With its relaxing charm, there’s a reason why this title has been one of the most successful games to launch on the Nintendo Switch.

Adorable art design
Relaxing gameplay
Seasonal activities
Multiplayer options
Harvesting and crafting

Emergency backup limitations
Real-time clock can be restrictive

Animal Crossing might seem like a simple island getaway experience, but it’s a rather complex simulator. The game follows a real-time clock, so when it’s nighttime in real life, the stars are out over your virtual island. Stores and shops within the game have business hours, so you need to plan your time accordingly to see what clothes and furniture are in stock.
New experiences continue to get added every few months, including seasonal activities that coincide with real-world holidays. For instance, during December, the special Animal Crossing Christmas event allows players to wear holiday sweaters, craft Toy Day DIY recipes, and build the perfect Snowman. Plus on Dec. 24, players will be visited by Jingle the Black-Nosed Reindeer, one of Santa’s helpers.
Players arrive on the island with almost nothing to their name but can slowly upgrade their island by taking and paying off loans from Tom Nook, a raccoon tycoon. To earn money, players can collect wood, fish, bugs, and more before selling them to the local store. The rarer the item, the more money players will earn.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Start a new life on a tropical island paradise relaxing with friends, crafting items, and customizing your home and outfits each day. Fall in love with the adorable antics of your animal neighbors and see what exciting things happen throughout the year.

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2. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe — Best racing game on Nintendo Switch
Bottom line: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the bestselling game on Nintendo Switch as well as one of the best multiplayer games on the console. Up to four players can race against each other while sharing one screen; so as we said in our Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review, it’s the perfect party game for friends and family. Choose from a large cast of Nintendo characters and attack your fellow racers with silly weapons like bananas or shells to get ahead. The optional child controls make this a great game for people of all ages.

Smart steering is perfect for younger children
41 characters to choose from
48 colorful tracks to race through
Up to 4-player local multiplayer
Race against others online

Single-player mode isn’t very exciting

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the quintessential racing game on Nintendo Switch. It’s the best selling Switch game of all time, having sold over 28.99 million copies at the time of this article. You can play on your own, or if you have enough Joy-Cons, up to four players can share a screen and compete against each other.
There’s a large cast of 41 popular Nintendo characters, including Link from The Legend of Zelda, Inklings from Splatoon, Bowser from the Mario games, Isabelle from Animal Crossing, and more. Players determine which character they want to be and then decide which kart, wheels, and glider to race with. The various parts influence how fast a kart moves and how well it handles turns, so you have to choose wisely.
One of the things that makes Mario Kart so much more interesting from other racers is the fact that it has a silly, cartoon focus. Someone might be ahead of you, but if you throw a banana just right, you might be able to trip them up and take first place.
Races are challenging-yet-fun for people of all ages, and there are 48 tracks to keep things interesting. There are also plenty of optional controls to help rookie racers out. If you have a young child who wants to play, just turn on Smart Steering to prevent them from falling off the track or bumping into the walls.
By the way, there’s also an augmented reality racing game called Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit. Players race a real-life remote control kart around their homes using the Nintendo Switch while seeing opponents and items on the Switch screen. And as we show in our Mario Kart Live review, it also serves as a really fun cat toy.

Mario Kart

Take part in whacky races while playing as your favorite Nintendo characters. Is someone getting too far in the lead? Throw a green shell their way and see if you can blast past them.

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3. Pokémon Sword / Pokémon Shield — Best turn-based RPG on Nintendo Switch
Bottom line: No Nintendo library is complete without a Pokémon game, and while there are several different ones created for the Nintendo Switch, the one you need for this console is Pokémon Sword or Pokémon Shield. Players run around a fantasy world collecting creatures with elemental abilities like fire, water, and electricity. Strategize your Pokémon’s attacks against your foes’ weaknesses to beat every gym leader and prove that you are the greatest Pokémon trainer of them all. As we said in our Pokémon Sword and Shield review, this game wasn’t as innovative as some people hoped, but it’s still really fun to play.

400 Pokémon to catch
UK-inspired world
Can fight giant Pokémon alongside friends
Nostalgic elements for long-time Pokémon fans
Easy for new fans to get into

Not all Pokémon are in the game
Level-catching limit

Despite its cartoony art style, Pokémon is a hit among all ages and all kinds of gamers. New fans will get sucked into the creature collection aspects and fun combat, while veteran fans will appreciate the nostalgia and brand new experiences that weren’t in previous games. With its wide range of appeal, Pokémon Sword and Shield is one of the best Nintendo Switch games out there.
Players travel around a fun UK-inspired world. As they encounter new locations, they can collect new creatures and battle one of the increasingly tricky gym leaders. The goal is to defeat every gym leader before taking on the champion to prove that you’re the best Pokémon trainer of them all. When you have more gym badges, you’re able to catch Pokémon at higher levels.
There are 400 catchable characters total, but some are only found in Pokémon Sword, while others are only found in Pokémon Shield. To catch all the Pokémon for this game, you will need to trade with other players. Players can trade locally if their Switch consoles are near each other, or if you have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, you can trade with others online.
Many players put in several hours after completing the main storyline trying to figure out how to catch shiny Pokémon, creatures with rare coloring. And the adventure doesn’t have to end there. If players choose to purchase the Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass, they’ll be able to visit two new locations: The Isle of Armor and the Crown Tundra. Here players can face new challenges and catch even more Pokémon than there were in the base game. The Crown Tundra even allows you to capture all of the Legendary Pokémon from past games.
The two sections of the Pokémon DLC were released separately, but they are both out now. To learn more about the expansion pass, read our Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass review.

Pokémon Sword and Shield

Pokémon Sword and Shield feature a brand new Pokémon adventure in the region of Galar. Catch, train, and battle other trainers. There are 400 different Pokémon in the base game, and you can get creatures with special abilities by participating in Max Raid Battles.

4. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate — Best fighting game on Nintendo Switch
Bottom line: This is seriously the ultimate party game for people who love the fighting genre, and as we said in our Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review, we can’t recommend this game enough. Up to eight players can compete against each other on one screen. Choose from a roster of 74 popular characters from various games and then use their specific skill set to defeat your opponents. There’s also a fantastic single-player component as well as online multiplayer modes to keep you entertained even when friends aren’t available.

Supports up to 8 players
74 playable characters
Solo modes and online multiplayer
Optional DLC

Uses peer-to-peer servers
Still no playable Waluigi

Players can unlock 74 playable characters, including favorites like Pikachu, Cloud Strife, Toon Link, Bowser, Star Fox, and more. Each character has their own skillset and signature moves that can be employed to propel you to first place. Unfortunately for many fans, Waluigi still has not been added to the roster.
If you’re interested, you can also purchase the DLC, which includes additional characters, stages, and music. Some of these extra characters have not been revealed yet, so you can get excited as they get announced.
You can play locally with up to eight players as long as you have enough controllers for everyone to use. No friends available at present? No problem. There are plenty of solo game modes to keep you entertained. Sephiroth was recently added as the latest Super Smash Bros. DLC fighter, but three more have yet to be revealed.
Try Classic Mode, a one or two-player survival experience, or Adventure Mode, where you must free the rest of the Smash Bros. Ultimate roster who have been possessed by spirits. If you want help getting the most out of this game, check out our Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tips and tricks guide.
It’s important to note that while the game does support online multiplayer for anyone who has a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, it uses peer-to-peer servers instead of dedicated servers. This means that if someone you’re playing against has a bad internet connection, it can cause serious lag and other complications for all players involved in the match.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Over 70 of gaming’s most iconic characters from Nintendo, Capcom, Konami, Square Enix, and more have been packed into the same game, and they’re all looking for a fight. Up to eight people can battle in this party brawler for the ages.

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5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — Best open-world game on Nintendo Switch
Bottom line: This is the perfect title for anyone who loves action RPGs and open-world adventures. It won Game of the Year at the 2017 Game Awards and has been praised as one of the most clever games created. As we explained in our Breath of the Wild review, the game allows you to solve puzzles and challenges in a variety of ways. Years after it was released, people are still discovering new things to do in-game. If you’re looking to add the best Nintendo Switch games to your library, then you really can’t pass up Breath of the Wild.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

$50 at Amazon
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

$60 at Best Buy
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

$50 at Walmart

Sprawling fantasy world to explore
About 60 hours of gameplay
More than one answer to puzzles
Nods to past Zelda games
Revitalized the Zelda series

Weapons break too easily
No big dungeons

The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo’s most popular IPs, but the latest game in the series took that popularity and blew it out of the water with the stunning masterpiece that is Breath of the Wild.
Players start with absolutely nothing except for some shorts and some vague notion that the main protagonist, Link, has been asleep for 100 years. By exploring the land, you can quickly acquire clothing, weapons, horses, abilities, and items. This is an open-world game, and you could go straight to the main boss if you wanted to. However, Hyrule offers so many exciting locations and secrets to discover that you willingly run off in another direction just to see what’s out there.
The 120 Shrines and four Divine Beasts offer the puzzle-based gameplay we’ve come to know and love in Link’s travels. However, they are much smaller than the dungeons we’ve seen in past Zelda games, which has been a downside for some long-time Zelda fans. Something that makes up for it is that there are often multiple ways to solve puzzles, so you can get creative instead of figuring out what secret tool needs to be used in any given area.
More than anything, Breath of the Wild fills you with wonder and an intense need to explore. Link might only be a tiny Hyrulean in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world, but he can explore it at his own pace and do just about anything he wants along the way. People typically say it takes them about 60 hours to beat the game; you can spend so many more just exploring and discovering new secrets.
It’s also worth noting that a Breath of the Wild sequel is currently in the works. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a prequel called Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity that explains the events that lead up to the story of Breath of the Wild. Instead of being the same kind of open-world adventure, the prequel is a hack and slash game that allows you to play as Zelda, Link, Mipha, Daruk, Urbosa, Impa, and others.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Run around the open world of Hyrule collecting items, gear, and weapons. Will you spend your time scaling the nearby mountain? Taming a wild horse? Taking on powerful enemies?Or maybe experimenting with various cooking ingredients? There is so much to explore and do.

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6. Super Mario Odyssey — Best co-op action RPG on Nintendo Switch
Bottom line: As we said in our Super Mario Odyssey review, this game is an action/platformer that revitalized the Mario series. It employs similar mechanics found in classic games like Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy while introducing several new experiences, such as mind-controlling enemies with a talking hat. You can play on your own or invite a friend to play in co-op mode. The unique worlds are bursting with character, and you can even dress Mario up in various outfits to help him fit into his surroundings.

Quirky locales
Co-op play
New power-up abilities
Open-world exploration
Dress Mario up

Some challenges can be tough
Motion controls can be hard to master

In many ways, Super Mario Odyssey’s gameplay is similar to Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. But in his latest adventure, the plumber must collect Power Moons instead of Stars. He needs them to unlock new locations so he can attempt to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser’s clutches.
After his trusty hat gets destroyed, Mario meets a new friend named Cappy, who can change into various hat forms. With the aid of this new friend, our little mustachioed friend acquires new attacks and abilities previously not seen before in the Mario games. For instance, the ability to throw Cappy and hit enemies at a distance.
You can even play co-op with one person taking control of Mario and the other controlling Cappy. This makes Super Mario Odyssey a fun game to play with your kids, younger siblings, or with one of your friends.
As with most Mario games, this one is full of cheer and vibrant locales. Whether you’re visiting Princess Peach’s castle, checking out a beach perpetually at sunset, or visiting an insanely hot desert, there’s always fun things to see. When you’re done with Super Mario Odyssey, you can also check out Super Mario 3D All-Stars, which is a collection of three classic Mario games for the Nintendo Switch: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. But you’ll need to grab it quickly since it’s only available until March 2021 before going back into the “Nintendo vault.”

Super Mario Odyssey

Princess Peach has been kidnapped (again), and it’s up to Mario and his new friend Cappy to save her. Play through this adventure on your own, or pass a controller to a friend and play in local co-op.

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7. Super Mario Party — Best Party Game for Nintendo Switch
Bottom line: Whether you’re having a get together, sleep over, or family reunion Super Mario Party is one of the quintessential party games on Nintendo Switch. Up to four players play on a virtual board game as their favorite Mushroom Kingdom character and then participate in minigames at the end of each round.

80 minigames
Up to four players
Good replay value
20 characters to choose from

Not as many boards as past games
Can only use a Joy-Con

Super Mario Party is one of those games that you can pick up and play at any time. It’s perfect for family night, birthday parties, get togethers or just about any other occasion. Up to four players can enjoy the game together and choose from a roster of 20 characters. The goal is to rack up as many Stars as you can while going around a virtual board game. At the end of each round, players are slotted into different groups and compete in minigames.
With only four options to choose from, there aren’t nearly as many game boards as in previous Mario Party titles, but there are 80 fun minigames to help shake things up as you go through each round. You’ll need to unlock these minigames as you go, though.
One other big thing to note is that Super Mario Party cannot be played in handheld mode, which makes sense given that it’s supposed to be a group activity. Additionally, players must use a Joy-Con half and cannot use a Pro Controller while playing. As long as you have four Joy-Cons handy, you’ll be able to play with friends.

Super Mario Party

Grab some family and friends: it’s time to party! Super Mario Party brings dozens of mini-games for up to four players. Whether you’re tag-teaming or going all out in a free-for-all competition, it’s all about trying to win and having fun doing it.

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8. Ring Fit Adventure — Best Fitness Game on Nintendo Switch
Bottom line: As we showed in our Ring Fit Adventure review, this fitness game provides an impressive workout. You’ll jog in place with Joy-Con strapped to your leg to make your on-screen character run forward. And then the Ring-Con allows you to work your arms and do various stretches and core exercises. It costs roughly what you’d pay for a one-month gym membership, but you can use it in the safety of your home.

Easy to pick up
Increases difficulty daily
Several workout options
Story distracts your mind from the workout

Adventures can slow workout

Ring Fit Adventure might seem like a workout gimmick that doesn’t actually do much. While it won’t produce a mind-blowing fitness regimen for hardcore workout enthusiasts, it is a fun way to bring cardio, stretches, and even yoga into your daily routine. The best part is you don’t even have to leave the house or get a gym membership to get back into shape.
This fitness game is more expensive than most other Switch offerings because it comes with a Leg Strap and Ring-Con accessory. These devices allow you to slide Joy-Cons into place and then can measure how far you run or how hard you push and pull on the Ring-Con for various exercises.
For those of us who aren’t particularly thrilled by the idea of jogging, there’s also a fun RPG plot for you to focus on to make the workout sessions more interesting. Dragaeux, a super muscular bro type of dragon is causing chaos and it’s up to you to defeat him and his minions… with squats, jogging in place, and ring squeezing. If you’re consistent, this game can really get your heart going and help you get into shape.
Recently, another great Switch workout game called Fitness Boxing 2 also released. Instead of including jogging and crunches, this game has you hold Joy-Cons in either hand and has you punch to the rhythm. It’s another great way to get your heart pumping while distracting you from the unpleasantness of excercising.

Ring Fit Adventure

Get some cardio, stretches, and yoga sessions in while playing Ring Fit Adventure. The game keeps your mind distracted with an engaging RPG while allowing you to get back into shape.

More of the best Nintendo Switch games
The best of the best are listed above, but other amazing Nintendo Switch games are out there. Here are some more of the best Nintendo Switch games you can buy.

Hades’ son is on a mission to escape the Underworld. He’s going to need some assistance from Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, and other Olympian gods in order to fight his way through this hack and slash adventure.

$25 at Nintendo

Splatoon 2 is the sequel to Nintendo’s family-friendly shooter game. Play as Inklings and Octolings and shoot to paint your turf. There is a single-player campaign with tons of content, and the online is always fun.

$50 at Amazon

Luigi is back in Luigi’s Mansion 3! Team up with Gooigi, a doppelganger that can slip through tight spaces, walk on spikes, and help Luigi get through obstacles that would be impossible otherwise. Luigi may be cowardly, but he has more tools and abilities than before to get rid of the spooky ghosts.

$52 at Amazon

The evil King Olly has taken over Princess Peach’s castle and is turning Mushroom Kingdom inhabitants into zombie origami. Now it’s up to Mario and his friends to defeat this enemy and bring peace back to the world. This is a hilarious adventure filled with witty writing and plenty of puzzles.

$60 at Amazon

In Pokémon: Let’s Go, you and your cute companions embark on a journey to become the best team ever. Catch ’em all by yourself or with a partner to cement your status as a legendary Pokémon trainer!

$46 at Amazon

Up to four people can join the fun in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe as you make your way through this side-scrolling platformer. There are over 164 stages to get through in two main game modes.

$58 at Amazon

This remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is done in a super cute visual style, but it carefully recreates everything in the original. Additionally, there is new content to complete with the Chamber Dungeon.

$51 at Amazon

In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, you’ll need to align yourself with one faction at a time, and you are in charge of leading your chosen house to victory. Each house has its own specialty, so choose wisely.

$50 at Amazon

If you have a creative mind and love classic Mario platforming games, then Super Mario Maker 2 is right up your alley. Create your own Mario levels and let your imagination run wild! You can even play the levels created by other players too.

$50 at Amazon

Here’s a beautiful game that prides itself on offering that classic 2D platformer feeling we all grew up on. It’s tough at times, but the reward for your trouble is an immensely fun game with lots to explore.

$15 at Amazon

Grab your tennis racquet and meet Mario on the court. Mario Tennis Aces brings sporting fun for the whole family. Compete with and against Nintendo’s most beloved characters, and immerse yourself by using the Joy-Cons as your make-believe tennis racquet.

$48 at Amazon

Yoshi and friends are back at it again in an adorable craft world made from common household items. Play with a friend and help Yoshi make his way through each stage. Discover all of the secrets that the crafted world has to offer.

$50 at Amazon

Control Donkey Kong and his monkey buddies as you make your way through several side-scrolling levels. Play by yourself or pass a controller to a friend and play together in local co-op.

$81 at Amazon

This game won an award for being the best family game to launch on Nintendo Switch in 2018. And that’s for good reason — it puts one of the biggest family activities in video game form as an epic cooperative effort. You and your family will be racing around the kitchen, trying to serve all the hungry guests.

$29 at Amazon

Quick list of the 20 best Nintendo Switch games
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Pokémon Sword / Pokémon Shield
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Super Mario Odyssey
Splatoon 2
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! / Eevee!
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Super Mario Party
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Super Mario Maker 2
Hollow Knight
Mario Tennis Aces
Paper Mario: The Origami King
Ring Fit Adventure
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Overcooked! 2
Should you buy a digital game or a physical game?
It depends on how you want to play since there are perks on both sides. With digital games, you don’t have to worry about losing an expensive cartridge and don’t have to pack a bunch of physical games up when you travel. Your games get tied to your account, so if you were to lose your Switch, you’d be able to access the digital games you previously purchased after buying a new console. Additionally, going digital means you can download games immediately from the eShop instead of requiring you to wait for an Amazon package to be delivered or making you run to the store for a physical copy.
However, there’s something nice about the tangibility of physical games. Some game cases come with extras like stickers or posters. After you’ve beaten the game, if you decide that you don’t like it enough to keep it, you can always sell the physical copy to a used-goods store and put that money towards acquiring another game.
How to purchase digital games from the Nintendo eShop
For those who decide that you want to go the digital route, here’s how to purchase games from the Nintendo eShop. By the way, you can easily purchase a Nintendo eShop Gift Card for yourself or as a gift for someone else.
From the Nintendo Switch’s main menu, select Nintendo eShop. You’ll be taken to the Featured section of the eShop.
You’ll see various categories like Recent Releases, Great Deals, and Best Sellers. You can also use the search bar at the top of the screen to find a specific game. Tap the image of any game you’re interested in.
Select Proceed to Purchase.
Enter your payment information.
Wait for the game to download. If the game is currently available, you’ll be able to play as soon as it finishes downloading. If the game hasn’t released yet, you’ll be able to play the moment it launches.
Is gameplay different for Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo Switch Lite?
Unlike the Nintendo Switch, the Nintendo Switch Lite doesn’t include detachable Joy-Cons, motion controls, or rumble. Any game that relies on these features won’t work on the Switch Lite unless you have external Joy-Cons or a Pro Controller handy. Also, you cannot play many multiplayer games on the Switch Lite screen unless you also have detached Joy-Cons to pass out to friends.
One other thing: The Nintendo Switch Lite does not have a kickstand, so if you do want to play a game on this system while using external controllers, you’ll definitely want to purchase a Nintendo Switch playstand.
Do you need to buy a microSD card for Nintendo Switch?
We highly recommend that people purchase a microSD card for their Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite, seeing as how these consoles only have 32 GB of internal memory. That means that you’d only have room for up to three large Switch games before running out of space. And if you’re the kind of person who loves taking videos and screenshots of your gameplay, you’ll get even less out of it.
To help you out, here are the best microSD cards for Nintendo Switch. If you’re not sure how much space you need, check out our guide for which size microSD card is best for Nintendo Switch?
Do I need to buy a game’s amiibo?
Nintendo has created hundreds of small figurines with scannable NFC chips inside of them known as amiibo. Thing is, amiibo are not necessary for you to be able to enjoy most Nintendo Switch games. For the most part, these statues are simply fun collector’s items that can unlock small in-game perks when scanned on your Nintendo Switch. However, using certain amiibo scanned with specific games can be very useful.
The Legend of Zelda amiibo, for example, provide some awesome additions to Breath of the Wild. Using specific figures, you can unlock special clothing items, Wolf Link from Twilight Princess who fights alongside you, or even a ridable Epona from Ocarina of Time.
If you want to display these figurines somewhere or really like the perks that come from scanning a specific amiibo you might just want to buy them. Otherwise, these are not a necessary purchase.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Rebecca Spear loves keeping up-to-date with the latest and greatest electronics. She is a life-long gamer and a writer who has written hundreds of online articles over the past four years. On any given day, you’ll find her drawing with her Wacom tablet, playing RPGs, or reading a good book. Hit her up on Twitter: @rrspear

Christine Chan is a staff writer at iMore. She loves her Nintendo Switch and is never seen without it. She knows a thing or two about what battery packs are good for the console.

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