These are the best free Nintendo Switch games available

A round-up of the best free Nintendo Switch games of the year, split across free-to-play games, game demos, and Nintendo Switch Online.

Nathan Lawrence
Oct 25, 2023
Icon Time To Read4 min read

Even though the Nintendo Switch is the cheapest of the current generation of gaming consoles, it’s still good to know that buying a full-priced game to take it for a spin isn’t essential. Similarly, if you already own one, there are a number of ways to pay nothing (or a little) to access some of the best games available on the handheld.

While rumours of the 4K-capable New Nintendo Switch Pro or Switch 2 continue to swirl and the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is behind us, scroll on for the best free games on Nintendo Switch.

Best free Nintendo Switch games

If you want the best free Nintendo Switch games, you’ve got these three options:

  • Nintendo eShop free-to-play games
  • Nintendo eShop demos
  • Nintendo Switch Online subscription
Reviews.org Social Callout
Reviews.org Social Callout

Best Nintendo eShop free-to-play games

Instead of calling them “free-to-play” games, Nintendo prefers to call them “free-to-start” games, which feels more honest in terms of the expectation that you’ll be tempted to spend money in-game to unlock additional content (even if it’s only cosmetic).

Below is our pick of the top 10 free-to-start games on Nintendo Switch:

  • Apex Legends
  • Rocket League
  • Pokémon Café Mix
  • Pac-Man 99
  • Asphalt 9: Legends
  • Fallout Shelter
  • Tetris 99
  • Super Kirby Clash
  • Brawlhalla
  • Warframe
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Best free Nintendo Switch demos

At the time of writing, there were close to 700 Switch games with free downloadable demos. Head to the Nintendo eShop (or check out the list below) for a list of  the most popular free Nintendo Switch demos playable right now.

  • Dave the Diver
  • Monopoly for Nintendo Switch
  • Metroid Dread
  • Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition
  • Spiritfarer
  • Little nightmare II
  • Boomerang Fu
  • LEGO 2K Drive
  • Trials Rising
  • Pikimin 4

What about the best paid Nintendo Switch games?

Exhausted all the Nintendo eShop's free titles? We've sorted the treasure from the trash and rounded up the best Switch games across seven categories: multiplayer, open-world, RPG, FPS, platformer, relaxing and fitness.

Best free Nintendo Switch Online games

Like the respective PlayStation and Xbox networks, you need to pay for an online subscription to play multiplayer on Nintendo Switch. Called ‘Nintendo Switch Online’, the multiplayer subscription service also includes access to an expanding list of free downloadable Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) games.

Signing up for the Nintendo Switch Online service currently costs either $5.95 a month, $11.95 a quarter or $29.95 a year. At the time of writing, there were 63 NES games and 55 SNES games that are totally free to download and play as part of a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.

Best free Nintendo Switch Online NES games

Here’s our pick of the top 10 free NES games that come with a Nintendo Switch Online:

  • Double Dragon
  • Donkey Kong
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Yoshi
  • Metroid
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
  • Kid Icarus
  • Clu Clu Land

Best free Nintendo Switch Online SNES games

Here’s our pick of the top 10 free SNES games that come with a Nintendo Switch Online:

  • Prehistorik Man
  • Super Tennis
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Kirby’s Dream Land 3
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Super Metroid
  • Star Fox
  • F-ZERO
  • Super Punch-Out!!
  • Donkey Kong Country
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Best free Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack games

Back in 2021, Nintendo introduced a second tier to its online offering. Branded as the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack, this pricier subscription service includes everything that a Nintendo Switch Online membership gets you plus access to an expanding list of Nintendo 64, Sega Mega Drive, Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games.

Rather than pay month to month, this upgraded tier of Nintendo's online service is only available on a yearly plan that costs $59.95. At the time of writing, there were 29 Sega Mega Drive games, 22 Nintendo 64 games and 9 Game Boy games that are totally free to download and play as part of a Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription.

Best free Nintendo Switch Online Nintendo 64 games

Here’s our pick of the top 10 free Nintendo 64 games that come with a Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership:

  • Super Mario 64
  • Lylat Wars
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • Mario Kart 64
  • Banjo-Kazooie
  • Pokemon Snap
  • Paper Mario
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
  • GoldenEye 007
  • F Zero X

Best free Nintendo Switch Online Sega Mega Drive games

Here’s our pick of the top 10 free Sega Mega Drive games that come with a Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership:

  • Golden Axe
  • Shining Force
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Altered Beast
  • Toejam & Earl
  • Earthworm Jim
  • Castlevania Bloodline
  • Ecco the Dolphin
  • Phantasy Star IV

Best free Nintendo Switch Online Game Boy games

Here’s our pick of the top 10 free Game Boy games that come with a Nintendo Switch Online membership:

  • Tetris
  • Super Mario Land 2 - 6 Golden Coins
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX
  • GARGOYLE'S QUEST
  • Game & Watch Gallery 3
  • Alone in the Dark - The New Nightmare
  • Metroid II - Return of Samus
  • Wario Land 3
  • Kirby's Dream Land
  • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (coming soon)

Looking for other free games?

Nintendo Switch Online alternatives

Nintendo's online gaming subscription isn't the only membership of its kind out there. Check out the the table below for a round-up of some of the other options and how they compare in terms of value for money.

Service
Monthly price
Online Play
Library size
Features
Platforms
Trial
$9.99
/mo
Yes200+
iOS games
Exclusive game library, online play, family sharing and weekly gamesiPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV
$18.95
/mo
Yes, includes Gold400+
Windows PC, X360, XBO and XSS and XSX
Monthly games, game library, cloud gaming, exclusive discounts and online playPC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X
$10.95
/mo
No400+
X360, XBO and XSS and XSX games
Monthly games, game library, cloud gaming, exclusive discounts and online playXbox One, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X
$10.95
/mo
No400+
Windows PC games
Monthly games, game library, cloud gaming, exclusive discounts and online playPC
PS Plus Essential
$11.95
/mo
Required20+
PS Plus Collection games (only on PS5)
Monthly games, exclusive discounts, game library, game trials, cloud storage and online playPlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
PS Plus ExtraPS Plus Extra
$18.95
/mo
Required400+
PS4 and PS5 games
Monthly games, exclusive discounts, game library, game trials, cloud storage and online playPlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
PS Plus DeluxePS Plus Deluxe
$21.95
/mo
Required800+
PS1, PS2, PSP, PS4 and PS5 games
Monthly games, exclusive discounts, game library, game trials, cloud storage and online playPlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
Nintendo Switch OnlineNintendo Switch Online
$5.95
/mo
Required for select titles100+
NES and SNES games
Online play, classics game library, cloud saves and exclusive member offersNintendo Switch
NSO Expansion PackNintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack
$59.95
/yr
Required for select titles150+
NES, SNES, N64 and SMD games
Online play, classics game library, cloud saves and exclusive member offersNintendo Switch
Google Play Pass LogoGoogle Play Pass
$7.99
/mo
Yes450+
Android games
Game library, app library, family sharing and yearly subscription optionsAndroid smartphones and tablets
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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