November 28, 2023


  • The Nintendo Switch offers a wide variety of action games, from top-down indies to big-budget shooters, satisfying every daredevil gamer.
  • Games like The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Hollow Knight bring vibrant visuals, challenging puzzles, and immersive worlds to the platform.
  • The Switch is home to noteworthy titles like Metroid Dread and Bayonetta 3, providing players with intense combat, memorable characters, and breathtaking visuals.

Good action games are usually memorable and electrifying blasts from start to finish. They come in all shapes and sizes, though one thing they all have in common is their penchant for huge thrills and bombastic set pieces. Despite Nintendo’s child-friendly leanings, it doesn’t shy away from including a bit of edge-of-your-seat action on its platform.

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The Nintendo Switch has gathered a huge variety of action titles since launch. From top-down indies, big-budget shooters, or even frantic hack-and-slash games starring some of Nintendo’s most beloved characters, there’s an all-out action game to satisfy the daredevil within us.

Updated on August 22, 2023, by Branden Lizardi: The Nintendo Switch remains the premier console for indie games. That level of variety, paired with the company’s famed history for stellar exclusives, means that more and more action games are becoming available all the time. We’ve updated this list to include a few more entries, ensuring it contains all the best action games on the Switch. Enjoy!

Link fighting enemies in The Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a ground-up remake of one of the most beloved games of all time. In true Zelda fashion, this action-adventure game will take you straight back to the 90s.

The 2019 re-release gives the game a gorgeously vibrant coat of paint and makes your revisit to Koholint Island all the more pleasing to the eye. You take control of a freshly animated Link as he explores an open world that’s chock-full of dungeons to explore, classic Zelda puzzles to solve, and tense boss fights.

12 Hyrule Warriors: Age Of Calamity

Link fighting against a large group of Moblins in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is an offshoot of the ever-popular genre of Musou games, otherwise known as the Dynasty Warriors series. It’s a prequel of sorts to Breath of the Wild and is set 100 or so years before the events of the game, where Link and Zelda recruit allies all across Hyrule to stop the evil forces led by Calamity Ganon.

You will take part in large-scale battles while strategically commanding your army to victory. Although lacking a little depth, the moment-to-moment hack-and-slash gameplay feels great, and there’s a huge amount of content to get sucked into, making it well worth a purchase.

11 Hollow Knight

Knight fighting enemies in Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight is a brilliant sidescrolling action platformer that merges some of the most popular genres. Those familiar with Soulslikes will feel right at home with the game’s brilliant skills-based hack-and-slash combat, as well its eerie atmosphere and intriguingly vague lore.

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It also heavily borrows from Metroidvanias, with a huge sprawling cave network to uncover and explore, as well as a variety of traversal upgrades to go back and enter previously inaccessible areas.

10 Astral Chain

Howard using a Legion in combat in Astral Chain

Astral Chain is yet another fantastic title from PlatinumGames’ brilliant library of action games for the Switch. Its frantic combat is set against a futuristic cyberpunk-esque backdrop with all the grandiose set pieces and delightfully unique mechanics you would expect from the prolific developer.

As a detective from a special police task force, it’s your job to investigate and solve cases while exploring and interacting with NPCs. You’ll eventually stumble upon the Astral Plane, where the meat of the awesome combat will take place. Here you’ll be able to summon a variety of Legions to do your bidding, with each coming in different forms and with their own unique combat and traversal abilities.

9 Hades

Hades - Zagreus Mid-Combat Throwing A Spear At An Enemy

There is so much that Hades gets right. This ever-pervasive indie mega-hit merges the best elements from top-down isometric dungeon crawlers and the thrill of satisfyingly difficult action roguelikes. It puts them all under the same mythological umbrella and includes a captivating story that features an exciting assortment of Gods from the Greek pantheon.

The moment-to-moment gameplay feels slick and punchy, allowing you to try out a variety of weapons while allowing you to change up your build on the fly. The visuals are gorgeous, and the story is worth the countless amounts of deaths you’ll experience before the end.

8 Ori And The Will Of The Wisps

Ori standing before a massive bear in Ori and the Will of The Wisps

Ori and the Will of the Wisps managed to do what any game sequel hopes to: capture the magic that made the original game a hit while still improving upon it in a meaningful way. This tremendously beautiful Metroidvania game will entice you with its stunning graphics, keep you pulled in with its fast-paced but tight and fluid combat and controls, and leave its mark on your heart with a touching soundtrack and gripping narrative.

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The Nintendo Switch may not be the ideal platform for this game, with the potential for a lost framerate or rare stutter. Some graphical effects were also dialed down to not overwhelm the hardware. But even then, it’s an absolute treat to the eyes and doesn’t hinder the still-satisfying gameplay.

7 Bayonetta 3

Bayonetta fighting against two Nebulosus in mid-air in Bayonetta 3

The first two Bayonetta games brought the series’ stylishly explosive combat and memorable set of weird and zany characters to the Switch with two very good ports. Bayonetta 3 is no different, upping the ante in every regard and satisfying the desire for more all-out action and wackiness for its fans.

Building upon the brutal combat from the first two games, this time around, Cereza can summon Infernal Demons to dole out some pain and punish her enemies. As a Nintendo Switch exclusive, it runs surprisingly well on the system — especially when taking into consideration the game’s fast-paced nature and more open-ended level design.

6 Doom Eternal

Fighting a variety of enemies in Doom Eternal

Doom Eternal is yet another one of Panic Button’s amazingly inexplicable and unfathomable Nintendo Switch ports. Much like the Switch port of the first Doom (2016) reboot, Eternal allows you to live out your violently depraved fantasies as you battle the demonic forces of Hell in a very bloody fashion. This time around, there are an even greater number and variety of demons to slay and more gear and abilities to play with.

Sure, it suffered a whole host of visual downgrades and only runs at 30fps, but considering it’s running on a fairly underpowered handheld in comparison, it’s a pretty admirable feat. In our minds, Panic Button pulled it off, granting Switch players access to a fantastic experience they would otherwise rarely find on the platform.

5 Pikmin 4

The Red, Yellow, and Blue Pikmin are riding the Onions to say goodbye in the second ending of Pikmin 4. 

It might not seem like an ‘action’ game at first glance. But that level of deception is what makes the Pikmin games so entriging. In Pikmin 4, you play as a Rescue Team Recruit who has to fly to the dangerous PNF-404 to save your coworkers, along with the pilot Olimar. Along the way, you’ll encounter and lead a tiny creature known as Pikmin. Gather more Pikmin and explore various super-small-scale landscapes in search of castaways and treasure alike.

As fun and light hearted as it sounds, you’ll quickly learn that this is anything but a causal experience. Tackling small armies of weirdly named beasts will have you sweating as you try your best to keep each and every Pikmin safe and alive. Intense dangers will occur around every corner, especially if you aren’t prepared. You will learn the meaning of war, and the loss it brings.

4 Metroid Dread

Metroid Dread Raven Beak Laser Field

Serving as a sequel to the classic 2D Metroid games of old, Metroid Dread hearkens back to the series’ glory days. You’ll use Samus’ trusty arm cannon as she blasts and charge beams her way through a variety of formidable foes.

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The combat feels as slick as ever, with brilliantly refined controls, fast-paced movement, and extremely satisfying exploration. The visuals are absolutely stunning, too, with greatly increased production values across the board. The soundtrack and cinematography are top-notch and are paired perfectly with the enhanced color palette of the Nintendo Switch OLED screen. It’s as good as Metroid gets.

3 Monster Hunter Rise

Multiple players fighting and taking down a large monster in Monster Hunter Rise

With the mainstream success of Monster Hunter World, many new players were introduced to the glorious open-ended monster-hunting gameplay that Capcom has perfected over the years. Monster Hunter Rise built upon the excellent quality of life features from World with a few tricks of its own.

You can traverse the open levels and fight on the back of the new Palamute mounts for a bit of canine-infused exploration. Wirebugs allow you to grapple and swing to seemingly inaccessible areas while granting unique interactions with the game’s huge assortment of weapons. This results in many emergent gameplay opportunities in both traversal and combat, giving the player unprecedented freedom with how they tackle the overwhelming variety of creatures.

2 Dead Cells

A screenshot from Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania showing Shanoa in place of The Collector.

Deal Cells comes with an important warning: You’ll play this a lot more than you intend to. A Platforming roguelike, you explore a stylish and mysterious island to discover its secrets. But it’s a dangerous landscape, and your death is inevitable. But with each death, you accrue resources that can be used to permanently upgrade your character and start another run. With super satisfying controls, a stylistic and visually appealing setting, and plenty of replayability, you won’t find much better.

And if the base game isn’t enough, Each of the DLC it’s received over time has been just as highly revered. They each introduce new areas, bosses, upgrades, and weapons. One of them even is a collaboration with the Castlevania series! And none of that is to mention how reasonably priced each DLC is.

1 Metroid Prime Remastered

Samus fighting against a Magmoor in Metroid Prime Remastered

Metroid Prime Remastered is a fully-fledged remaster. All the game’s visual assets have been vastly improved, with better lighting, environmental design, and textures. You can even opt for a different control option that emulates a dual-stick approach akin to most modern shooters.

Gameplay-wise, everything is left virtually untouched, and it feels as good to play as it did back in 2002. All the elements of a brilliant Metroid game are intact here, including the powerful upgrades, expertly crafted level design, unparalleled exploration, and awesome combat. Samus is back.

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