The 5 Nintendo Switch games to play right now – and 5 more to pre-order

Even amidst a slim launch lineup, you've got options other than Zelda.

Looking for a massive stack of games to bring home with the Nintendo Switch? Look all you want, but you won't find all that many.

Despite being officially teased two full years ago, the Switch isn't launching with a decidedly slim library, and a few of the titles are ports of existing games. One of those games is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Do you know any of the rest off the top of your head?

If not, we're here to help. We've played everything available at launch, and have chosen five day-one games that are definitely worth your time and money. And since Nintendo plans a light, but steady trickle of games in the coming months, we've also picked five games due out in the next few months that you'll definitely want to keep an eye on.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Duh. It's one of just a few totally new games launching for the Switch, and the debut of any core Zelda game is well worth your attention – even one releasing on Wii U on the very same day with minor performance differences between them.

Breath of the Wild brings some big changes to the classic series formula, including opening up a freely explorable world with challenges that you can face in any order, along with new survival elements and other twists. It's beautiful and epic, and may singlehandedly keep your Switch busy for months to come. It may have to, given the size and breadth of the early lineup.

Release date: 3 March

Buy Zelda: Breath of the Wild from Amazon

1-2-Switch

We can't say for sure whether Nintendo's other Switch launcher, 1-2-Switch, will have much staying power, but it's your best early bet for multiplayer antics, as well as showing off some of the less obvious tricks of the hardware.

This party game experience brings together 28 original mini-games, most of which use the detachable Joy-Con controllers in odd and unexpected ways. You'll take part in a duel and never need to look at the screen, or milk cows in a highly suggestive fashion – or utilize the ultra-sensitive HD Rumble functionality to feel as imaginary balls roll within each Joy-Con. This isn't going to be a Wii Sports-sized hit, but it's a big improvement on Wii Play.

Release date: 3 March

Buy 1-2 Switch from Amazon

Fast RMX

True, Fast RMX doesn't have the most exciting of titles, much like Fast Racing Neo before it. Look past the generic branding, however, and you'll find a pretty great anti-gravity racer in the tradition of F-Zero and Wipeout.

Fast RMX even has a bit of an Ikaruga-inspired twist to it, as you'll manage two different kinds of boost and need to switch types to really excel on these loopy tracks. Some of the content from the overlooked Wii U original is here, and everything looks a lot crisper and more detailed in this eShop exclusive.

Release date: 3 March

Snipperclips – Cut it Out, Together!

Nintendo is famed for its big franchises, but the company excels at weird little experiments too. Snipperclips is one of those games, and this first-party eShop release is an odd cooperative puzzler built precisely for the Switch.

Ideally played with a second live player nearby, you can each grab a Joy-Con and control one of the little heroes, Snip and Clip, who must work together to solve each challenge. When they overlap, one can cut a chunk out of the other's body, and they'll do so to fill gaps and complete other objectives. It's totally adorable, to boot.

Release date: 3 March

Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove

We've picked Shovel Knight as one of the best games on both Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, and that's true of any other platform it's on – assuming you like 8-bit-style side-scrolling adventure games. (Of course you do!)

If you've somehow missed this modern homage on any other system, we highly recommend snagging Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, a compilation that includes the full main game and two large expansions. And if you already played it elsewhere and just want to play the brand new expansion, a standalone version of Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment is also available – and exclusive to Switch for a month.

Release date: 3 March

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+

Compared to most of the very colorful and bright games on this list, PC favorite The Binding of Isaac is rather different. This twin-stick shooter, from one of the creators of Super Meat Boy, finds you battling grotesque monsters as a naked child… using your projectile tears.

Even stranger are the biblical overtones, and the inspiration of the creator's experience growing up in a religious family. But behind all of that is a pretty hardcore, roguelike shooter that contorts and evolves with each new game – and punishes players, although they keep coming back. Expect this one out before the end of March.

Release date: March

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

We really liked Mario Kart 8 on Wii U at launch, but the more we played it – and especially after the Zelda and Animal Crossing DLC – we grew to truly love it. And now an expanded version with all of that content and more is coming to Switch.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe really seems like it should be a launch title, but we'll have to wait until 28 April to check out the brand new Battle mode and extra characters on the Switch. If you didn't get the Wii U or play the initial release, Mario Kart 8 puts some cool new twists on the classic formula and will be even more alluring with the option of portability.

Release date: 28 April

Pre-order Mario Kart 8 Deluxe from Nintendo

Arms

Mario Kart is great, but we want new experiences with our new hardware – and Arms looks like a particularly entertaining one. It's essentially Punch-Out!! or boxing from Wii Sports, albeit now with costume-clad heroes with special abilities.

The most obvious of them? Their spring-loaded arms blast across the screen, meaning there's no hanging back or retreating in this long-distance pummel session. And it's all controlled by movements of the Joy-Con motion controllers, so you'll probably get a good workout as you're beating your cartoonish foe to a pulp. We should see this one later this spring.

Release date: "Spring"

Pre-order Arms from Nintendo

TumbleSeed

You might not have heard of this alluring indie game, but it's sure to be on your radar soon. It's a "rolly roguelike" game, which means it's kind of a dungeon crawler – except you'll control an adorable, weaponized seed upwards and across a procedurally generated mountain.

And you'll do so in a very unique way: by raising and lowering a bar that lets the little seed roll from side to side and bounce. It's not going to play like anything you've ever tried before, but TumbleSeed looks like a really creative twist on the genre, not to mention an absolutely dazzling experience. It's due out on Switch (and other platforms) this spring.

Release date: "Spring"

Splatoon 2

More like Splatoon Deluxe than a fully-fledged sequel, Splatoon 2 takes the Wii U's curious original and hopefully opens it up to a wider audience on Switch. As before, these four-on-four battles reimagine the tactical shooter genre as a battle to cover the majority of each map with gooey, vivid paint splotches. Yes, it's very Nintendo.

The full game isn't expected until summer… early summer, we hope… but you'll be able to get a shot at it from 24-26 March thanks to the free "Global Testfire" downloadable demo, which will open up the servers for six one-hour sessions to stress test the servers.

Release date: "Summer" (demo available 24-26 March)