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The best free Nintendo Switch games (that's right, totally free!)
The Nintendo Switch is quickly becoming one of the most successful home consoles of all time. It’s already outsold the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)! That means it is the second-best-selling Nintendo home console ever. If you have one, you likely play it all the time and might need some new game ideas. To help you out, we have a list below of the best free Nintendo Switch games you can get!
If you’re confused, you read that right: these games are totally free, as in you can play them on your Switch today without spending a cent. The developers hope you’ll spend money in the game buying upgrades, more content, and other extras — but the base gameplay is 100% free.
We tried to make our list as well-rounded as possible. You’ll find racing games, platformers, first-person shooters, battle royales, puzzlers, and even pinball simulators. The chances are good that if you like video games, one of these best free Switch games will work for you.
Still don’t own a Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite? They are still tricky to get but click here to try to grab one today. Otherwise, continue on to find out the best free Nintendo Switch games available now!
Best free Nintendo Switch games:
Editor’s note: This list of the best free Nintendo Switch games will be updated regularly as new games launch.
1. Asphalt 9: Legends
There aren’t too many free-to-play racing titles for the Switch, making Asphalt 9: Legends a shoo-in for inclusion on this list of the best free Nintendo Switch games. If you like cars, custom modifications, and riding around in various beautiful environments, this is the game for you!
We’ll be upfront, though — the free version of Asphalt 9: Legends is pretty limiting. Without spending any money, you’ll get a car that you can ride around in various locations, true, but some of those rides will be limited by a timer. Plus, there are so many other cars, mods, and environments to play in, but for those, you’ll need to pony up some cash.
If you play this game and decide you like it, heed our advice and don’t buy individual tokens. Instead, buy the Starting Racer Pack, which gives you tons of blueprints, 200,000 credits, and 300 tokens, which should be more than enough to get you through the bulk of the game without needing to worry about any microtransactions. If all you want to do is drive a cool car, though, you don’t need to spend anything.
Without a doubt, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is one of the best games for the Nintendo Switch. However, that’s a full-price title, so it will set you back at least $50. Enter Brawlhalla, which is like Smash but doesn’t cost anything, making it one of the best free Nintendo Switch games.
As with Super Smash Bros., Brawlhalla lets you pick from dozens of different fighters so you can brawl it out in various environments. It’s a lot simpler than Smash, though, with a bit more restraint on speed and fighting combos. If you like the concept of Smash but find it to be a bit overwhelming, you might like Brawlhalla (and it’s free, so you don’t lose anything by giving it a go).
There are microtransactions in Brawlhalla, but there is no benefit to spending any money other than aesthetics. In other words, it is not a situation where the more you spend, the better chances you have of winning. As long as you don’t care about your characters’ skins or anything like that, you can enjoy the game indefinitely without spending a cent.
3. Color Zen
It’s very appropriate that the word “Zen” is in the title of this game, as that’s the feeling you get playing it. Between the trip-hop-inspired chillout soundtrack to the floating colors smoothly gliding into each other, Color Zen is probably one of the most relaxing games ever.
As with most puzzle games, Color Zen starts incredibly simple and gets more difficult the longer you play. The free version of the game comes with dozens of such levels, and the developers hope you’ll like them enough to want more. That’s where the surprisingly cheap (we’re talking one dollar) DLC packs come in, which offer themed levels to keep you in that Zen moment.
If you like this game a lot and want even more mobility, don’t worry: it’s available on Android, too.
It was inevitable that Fortnite would end up on this list of the best free Nintendo Switch games, as the thing is nothing short of a phenomenon. Although it certainly didn’t invent the battle royale genre, it pretty much defines it at this point, considering how its popularity has grown beyond anyone’s expectations.
We’re not going to go deep into the game as most gamers have played it on any number of the platforms on which you can get it (including Android). Basically, the gameplay is the same as on any other console, it’s just that now it’s on the Switch.
As usual, the game is totally free and will stay that way forever. If you’d like to upgrade your character’s looks in some way, that will cost you some cash, but the game itself can be downloaded right now and played for hundreds of hours without spending a dime.
5. Pokémon Quest
The mainline Pokémon games for the Switch — Pokémon Sword and Shield and the earlier Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee — are some of the best-selling titles on the console. In many respects, Pokémon Quest is not as good as those other games, but Quest has the distinction of being one of the best free Nintendo Switch games, something the other games can’t claim.
As one would expect, Pokémon Quest involves you searching for and befriending Pokémon. However, the distinctive cube-art design of the game makes it look different from other Pokémon titles, and its smaller scale (not to mention microtransactions) makes it feel different, too.
Truth be told, you don’t need to spend any money at all to play Pokémon Quest. However, since so much of the game is based on you making Tumblecube Island your own, the idea of buying some cute things to decorate your base camp with might be too tempting. If you can resist, though, you can easily enjoy Pokémon Quest without spending any cash.
Need more Pokémon in your life? Don’t forget about Pokémon Unite, another free-to-play Nintendo Switch game. It’s the first-ever five-on-five title featuring your favorite Pokémon, and you can battle it out with ranked matches and all-new Unite moves.
6. Rocket League
If you’re unfamiliar with the Rocket League phenomenon, it’s easy to summarize: it’s soccer, but instead of human players, there are super-powered cars. That’s it. That’s the game.
Obviously, the game is a ginormous hit, so that simple description doesn’t do it justice. In September 2020, though, the game went free-to-play, making it one of the best free Nintendo Switch games.
As expected, the game’s monetization strategy revolves around changing the visual look of your car. The good news is that if you’ve already played Rocket League on another console, you can transfer your rankings and trophies across platforms so that they will appear on your Nintendo Switch.
If you get good enough at the game, there’s also a huge global championship sports tournament. Good luck!
7. Super Bomberman R Online
Later on in this article, we’ll tell you about Tetris 99 and Pac-Man 99, both of which allow you to compete against 98 other players online. However, those games require a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online. They are technically free, but that limitation might not work for you.
Thankfully, Super Bomberman R Online doesn’t have this limitation. Without a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, you can battle it out with up to 64 players from all around the world.
The gameplay is similar to old-school Bomberman titles. You drop bombs and collect power-ups and try to get through more levels than your opponents. The only real problem with the SWitch version of this game is loading times — they can be quite excessive. However, the game is free, so who can complain?
8. Tetris 99 & Pac-Man 99
How do you take Tetris — one of the most popular and famous games of all time — and modernize it for something as advanced as the Nintendo Switch? Well, someone thought pitting 99 Tetris players against each other would do the trick. It worked because Tetris 99 is easily one of the best free Nintendo Switch games and might even be the very best of the free Switch games.
If you know how to play Tetris (and honestly, who doesn’t at this point?), you know how to play Tetris 99. The only difference is that you’ll be going up against nearly 100 other players when you play, and only one person is going to walk away as the champion of the round.
Similarly, Pac-Man 99 takes the same principle of Tetris 99 and applies it to the original Pac-Man game.
There is a caveat here: to play Tetris 99 or Pac-Man 99 the way they’re intended, you’ll need to be a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber. This is what enables you to log on to online games. There is a way to play the two games offline against 98 CPU players, but that will cost you a one-time fee of $10 for Tetris and a whopping $22.49 for Pac-Man. Assuming you’re a Switch Online subscriber, though, the free versions are likely all you need.
One of the most popular free-to-play games on the Switch is Warframe. It’s an action RPG with over-the-shoulder third-person controls. Set in the distant future, the game centers on an ancient alien race awoken from suspended animation only to find themselves at war with the various factions.
Most of Warframe’s levels are procedurally generated, but there are some story-specific levels that advance the game’s plot. In general, you run-and-gun your character around, taking out baddies, leveling up, equipping new gear, etc.
Warframe is totally free to play and makes its money the same way as many other games on this list: microtransaction upgrades. However, the good news is that you can earn every upgrade in the game through grinding if you don’t want to spend any cash. This levels the playing field a bit, as every player can access every upgrade — although players with money to burn will advance much quicker.
If you’re looking for another free hero-style shooter, you can try Apex Legends, too. You just have to choose your legend and build your crew as you take on battle royale and arena situations. There are in-game transactions as usual, but it doesn’t take away from the fun you can have.
10. Zaccaria Pinball
This might be the most unexpected entry on this list of the best free Nintendo Switch games. However, there aren’t too many pinball machine sims available on the Switch, and it’s a fun — if oft-overlooked — genre of game.
As one would expect, Zaccaria Pinball lets you play virtual pinball machines. However, what’s really cool is that many of the tables are replicas of actual machines created by Zaccaria, the third-largest pinball machine manufacturer in the world.
Two tables are offered for free play when you download the game (Time Machine and Time Machine Retro). You can also play all the other tables, but they are locked behind a score limiter (meaning you will only be able to play them until you reach the score limit, and then you’ll need to stop). You can pay to unlock more timer-free tables, though, so if there’s one you really love, it is available to you.
However, if you just want to zone out with some pinball, you don’t need to spend anything to enjoy Zaccaria Pinball.
That’s it for our list of the best free Nintendo Switch games. Be sure to bookmark this page so you can see the future updates we make to this list of the best free Switch games!