Hey, newbie gamer! You probably fumbled upon this article because you’ve found video games too demanding, difficult, or downright frustrating. You aren’t alone. Luckily, the Nintendo Switch has proven a phenomenal starting ground for many beginners.
Maybe you feel discouraged because you downloaded a new battle royale game – only to find yourself facing harassment from an angry ten-year-old through the speakers of your television. Maybe you feel a bit guilty that the Nintendo Switch your kid bought you last year is collecting dust beside that useless panini maker or rusty old canoe.
Let’s not get hung up on why you’ve landed here. It sounds like you may have started your journey into gaming on the wrong foot.
I’d like to remedy that.
Let me soak up all that stress of yours. I’ll take the blame for any rotten children you encountered online. I’ll help you build an understanding of gaming genres with better accessibility. I’ll share a few recommendations of games I’ve personally played and suggested to beginners of all age groups. So let’s start fresh, shall we?
Let’s find some games that you enjoy. The first step is discovering genres that mesh with your tastes. Despite what a million-dollar marketing campaign might suggest, there is no single game for everyone.
I’ll cover the following genres today:
These genres offer excellent entry-level titles bolstered by industry-leading standards in difficulty adjustment options.
There’s a learning curve to everything in life. Picture your new voyage like any other new task on your plate. You’ve overcome so much already. Complex and demanding things like:
You’ve probably noticed that combat-driven themes saturate the gaming market.
But not all games share the same goal. Some games push for high scores, just like the old arcade days. Some games focus wholly on solving puzzles or winning races, too.
I’m going to focus on games with minimal fighting. The goal is to get you comfortable with a controller in your hand. Before long, button inputs will feel like second nature to you. You’ll also be relieved to see that most button layouts are universal in the modern gaming market!
One of the most daunting obstacles in modern gaming is the analog camera. It takes practice. Simultaneously focusing on which buttons to click and which direction to face is wildly overwhelming to a newcomer.
As a general rule of thumb, you want your first couple of games to be 2-dimensional, on rails, or exploration-focused. You won’t need to meet all three criteria at once. Just be mindful. Always check reviews.
I’ll include a couple 3D games in my list today. I don’t think they’re all out of a beginner’s reach. It’s just something I wanted to bring attention to.
There’s an important distinction to make between arcade racers and simulation racers. Racing sims tend to gravitate toward a sensation of realism, making them pretty tough. But arcade racers? They’re likely the best games for helping you develop your new skill.
No moving cameras to worry about here!
If thrilling action titles riddled with explosions seem like something you’d like to play eventually, racing games can get you there down an avenue with minimal resistance. You get to experience exhilarating, fast-paced arcade action with the most straightforward objective there is: Finishing first.
That might sound like it isn’t a big deal, but imagine learning a task with complex rules AND mapping everything to an alien control scheme. That’s too much! Your best bet is to learn to use a controller before tackling complicated rulesets and long tutorials. You already know the rules of a racing game. The scenery is familiar. You know what the gas pedal does.
That’s half the battle!
Even an absolute beginner can feel the thrill of gripping white-knuckle corners – without the risk of totaling a car, without backseat drivers, without sitting in a gazillion-hour line at your local DMV awaiting some specialized license.
Cruis’n Blast is an arcade classic and an absolute riot.
The visual effects are consistently over-the-top. You’ll find yourself driving through shaky earthquakes or witnessing dinosaur rampages like some over-the-top Spielberg film. Don’t let the theatrics scare you off: Cruis’n Blast is, by a wide margin, the easiest racing game on the Nintendo Switch. You won’t smash into any walls here. You also can’t fall off of the track.
No matter what you do, your car keeps its momentum. Did I mention you can drive around in a bus or helicopter?
Kart racers like Mario Kart are notorious for their “rubberband” effect. As the name implies, a player can’t fall too far behind or ahead of other racers, creating a more enthralling video game.
The cartoonish nature of Mario Kart means weapons are flying in a chaotic mess. Tracks often hover in mid-air and embrace tight turns that can send you plummeting to your demise. Luckily, MK8 addresses that and provides players with a turn assist feature by default.
If you already own Mario Kart 8, feel free to check out my guide!
Don’t let the more realistic graphic style scare you off from this title. Burnout Paradise has a similar rubberband effect to Mario Kart. It also does something fascinating and unique: It rewards insane driving habits by granting reckless drivers gratuitous amounts of turbo.
Burnout Paradise provides players with an open world. You can drive around town without the additional pressure of rival racers bullying you – not until you’re ready to queue up for a race.
The controls might feel a little jerky, but it’s to add that “spiraling out of control” effect to the game. The actual difficulty curve is still within your reach!
CTR is tough, but not in a way that scares a new player away.
Crash Bandicoot and his old friends pack more track selections than any other racing game on the platform. Actually, there will be a handful of traits drawing you back in. You’ll be rewarded with ‘Wumpa Fruit’ currency no matter what position you place, and the unlock system will keep you coming back for more!
CTR also offers something no other kart racer does: a complete story mode. You’ll hardly feel like you’re practicing at all.
Yeah, the original OutRun is 100% available on the Nintendo Switch. It’s pretty cheap, too.
Surely, you’ve stepped into an arcade or two back in their heyday. If not, that’s perfectly okay, of course.
If you’re feeling nostalgic for a simpler time with easy button mapping, OutRun is a safe bet. It’ll help you along the way, too! Nostalgia can be a massive driving force to improving as a gamer.
Unfortunately, rail-shooters are a pretty niche genre these days. These are 3D games that set you on a predetermined route, allowing you to move your camera freely while the character automatically follows a trail. Rail-shooters are a great entry point to the world of 3D gaming.
I haven’t played many games in this genre. Most of these titles are gory zombie mayhem games, which isn’t my usual cup of tea. I do have one shimmering exception lined up for you, though!
Odds are, if you haven’t bought a Pokemon game by now, you probably have your reasons.
I’ll respect that decision, but if your reasoning is “It’s weird” or “seems childish,” I’d urge you to reevaluate. Pokemon rose to popularity because it combined our love of animals with fun and traditional fantasy elements.
New Pokemon Snap proves to be the engaging animal safari we always dreamed of exploring while flipping through the pages of ZooBooks or watching a lengthy documentary on Animal Planet. It’s a masterpiece, and you don’t have to worry about the constant threats of danger while playing.
The replayability of these maps is enhanced by an intuitive photo scoring system that screams arcade throwback. This game also holds true to the original formula that took the world by storm back in the N64 days!
Uttering the words “farming simulator” probably leaves an undesirable thick rural taste in your mouth. Honestly, this genre is worth a look. The themes lean heavily into collecting resources, crafting new tools, and building a community. It’s the same hook you’ll see in nearly every video game franchise, but without the incessant baddies diving in to ruin your day.
These games also offer more detailed dialogue and free-roam exploration than any other genre on this list.
You’ll be living out the simple life fantasy – without the odors or early morning ruckus.
I recommend farming simulators to anyone who likes a mellow gaming experience filled with exploration, character growth, and chatting up a few locals.
These games won’t necessarily develop any skills to help you push through Dark Souls or Rocket League. Not everyone wants to make that push anyway.
It’s time for us to embrace the world of pixels once again!
This game was originally the love-child of a one-man development team. Thanks to the phenomenal success of Stardew Valley, the team at ConcernedApe studios has blossomed into something special.
Each day is a free roam experience. You can avoid farming altogether. Nothing is forcing you to participate in community events and build relationships, either.
You can spend each day burrowing through mines or fishing at the docks.
AC:NH blew the doors wide open to casual gamers worldwide. It’s the cornerstone of a chill gaming experience. Collect some bugs, buy new items from the store, decorate your dream island retreat. You’ll make some furry friends along the way. You can even modify the island terrain to your liking. AC:NH passes in real-time, so each day is a fresh new experience with brand new items and events awaiting you!
The pacing in Animal Crossing is so mellow, in fact, that seemingly simple tasks take days to complete.
Don’t let that discourage you, though. The conversational nature of this game helps each little task feel even more rewarding.
Here’s a game with even slower pacing than Animal Crossing. It takes their award-winning formula and slaps a charming new coat of paint on it.
There’s a finite amount of tasks you can accomplish each day, which is handy if you struggle to put a game down after hours of playtime. You also aren’t punished for missing a day since Cozy Grove removed the calendar day formatting we see on AC:NH.
Cozy Grove is bursting with both accessibility and charm. It’s an honest love letter to AC:NH that still retains its own identity.
Incoming 3D farming sim!
Why farm crops when you can breed exotic species of slime? Slime Rancher provides a perfect blend of exploration and ranch development. The game offers plenty of unlockables, and interactions with each species of slime remain robust and unique.
Roam around the vast expanse of the Far, Far Range with a jetpack. Harvest each slime’s plorts for money or advancing your research. It’s an addictive loop, fleshed out with a diverse set of biomes.
I will need to put out a warning, though: Anyone sensitive to motion sickness will struggle with this first-person camera perspective.
RPGs were my entry point into gaming. They weren’t super demanding and placed a lot of depth in world-building, character growth, and all the cataclysmic stuff you’d expect from a role-playing experience. Apocalypses arrive in many settings: medieval, cyberpunk, magical realms, supervillain-infested cityscapes, futuristic dystopian societies, feudal japan, outer space.
You’ll explore a myriad of fantasy realms.
RPGs are boundless. Stories follow a few common tropes that will prepare you for almost any other genre in gaming, too.
Honestly, thanks to the leveling-up system in RPGs, you can find yourself comfortable with just about any title. You’ll have to grind a little to get yourself overleveled early on, but it’s easier than you might expect.
Look, I could gush about Pokemon all day.
Pokémon is so accessible that many gaming veterans complain about the lack of adjustable difficulty. We still come back to it because Pokémon has one of the best gameplay loops in gaming history.
The collection is top-notch. Pokemon boasts over 1,000 unique characters to choose from. Party-building is super refined. Battles are elegantly balanced. Each Pokemon type has fair strengths and weaknesses and access to similarly effective moves. Plus, we can trade with our friends along the way.
Despite my personal complaints, Sword and Shield are currently the most robust Pokémon games on the Nintendo Switch. Other titles are either spin-offs or remakes. I recommend sticking to the main attractions.
While Paper Mario won’t be winning any awards for depth, it’s got a great cast of characters, a vibrant landscape to explore, and one of the easiest combat layouts in all of gaming.
Battles are turn-based, taking place in little ring puzzles where you line enemies up before Mario unleashes his ferocious hammer whack. If the combat puzzles give you any trouble, you can always throw a handful of coins at your Toad companions for some assistance.
Those coins are plentiful.
The story in Origami King is one of the best Nintendo has written. At the start of the game, Olivia comes off as one of the most invasive sidekicks of all time, spelling everything out for us. I regret ever feeling irritated by her by the end of the game.
Super heartfelt, super zany, and outlandishly charming. Paper Mario Origami King isn’t afraid to set you on your course with wickless bomb companions or motorized sneakers.
It’s a little crazy that I can recommend an installment of Fire Emblem to a new gamer, but thanks to adjustable difficulty, it’s finally possible.
First off, this game is deep. I’ll never be able to explain in a tiny little snippet.
FE3H is like chess… on a medieval battlefield. Levels utilize a grid overlay that forges battlefields into boards.
Each character is distinctive. On the battlefield, they offer skills that mirror their character class. Some characters behave like a rook, others like a bishop.
Off of the battlefield, characters have fleshed out backstories that are fully voice acted. They interact with one another frequently, too. You’ll grow attached to them, I promise.
As far as accessibility goes, damage output appears in a preview screen before confirmation, making FE3H a great entry title.
You also have more social simulation aspects than any other game in the genre that’s not named Persona. You’ll make tons of friends.
Here’s the best part: Every portion of the game is skippable – Battles, stat distribution, social elements, exploration. Anything that doesn’t hold your interest can be automated.
So… I heard you like jumping.
Every gamer seems to guide newbies down the path of the platformer.
Back in the dinosaur days of 16-bit graphics, 2D platformers were our only choice. The truth is, even to a seasoned veteran, repetitive death sequences can be infuriating. Nothing is welcoming about watching goblins pursue you with an inexplicable fiery vengeance burning in their eyes, forcing you to restart at the same checkpoint hundreds of times. Getting stuck on a particular level could mean setting the game aside for an eternity.
Then we’re back to square one, and you’ve lost some of your hard-earned money on a regrettable purchase.
Well, they’re not all grudgingly demanding.
Mario’s 3D platforming installment on the Nintendo Switch is oozing with the simplistic charm that made video games popular in the first place. It’s elegant, flaunting some of the tightest, most responsive controls you can find in a platformer.
Mario Odyssey is bursting with identity. It’s often hailed as the best 3D platforming game of all time. You’re granted the uncanny ability to toss a hat, gaining control of a myriad of free-roaming creatures. It keeps the game fresh. There are also hundreds of moons to collect, making Mario Odyssey an ideal choice for short-burst sessions.
What I really love about Mario Odyssey is the vibrant level design. Each level is bustling with new sights to behold, new minigames to conquer, and plenty of opportunities to find enough moons to press forward to the next level.
You won’t get stuck in this platformer. It’s as forgiving as they come.
There’s a meme floating around claiming that a rock could play the newest Yoshi game. That’s because of the safety-mode toggle.
Overall, Yoshi’s Crafted World beats Mario in ease of play, but I’d argue it isn’t quite as blissfully fun as Odyssey.
This title does have a few things going for it, though. It’s a 2D side scroller. It also borrows elements from the art of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, which was a major hit back in its day.
Then there’s the biggest perk of all: Yoshi’s Crafted World has couch co-op!
Before you go writing Kirby And The Forgotten Land as a game tailored to 5-year-olds, take a moment to imagine what the perfect family game would be.
Sure, the cuteness factor and bright colors are tailored to hold the attention of a small child. But it’s okay for adults to enjoy cute and colorful, too. This game is engaging, silly, and perfectly docile. Among the many exciting abilities that Kirby can absorb (by eating, by the way… I’m fairly certain Kirby is my spirit animal) he now gains access to Mouthful Mode.
Waddle Dees rejoice! That means cars, vending machines, traffic cones, scissor lifts, and various other everyday contraptions are no longer safe from the ferocious wrath of our adorable pink blob.
I’m also giving Kirby some bonus points for having a very responsive automatic camera in a 3D space.
If you do have kids: Here’s a review I wrote about Kirby’s influence on children.
Mario and his companions might feel childish to many gamers, though. If you want some story-driven works of art, you’ll want to keep an eye out for indie platformers. Indie games don’t overstay their welcome and are often leagues ahead of the market in terms of accessibility.
Here’s a list of personal recommendations:
Gris is free of death and danger.
It delivers a mellow and evocative story that whispers serenity directly into your ear. There’s no dialogue to muddle the experience.
The artwork in Gris is fluid, gradually evolving as you progress through the game. I can’t stress it enough: Gris packs itself with enough raw emotion to make you feel like you just walked out of the Sundance Film Festival.
Although this game is on the shorter side of things. You can probably beat it in an afternoon. It’s still worth the asking price, and you’ll grow as a gamer in the process.
This game is a serious throwback to when platformers were a simple echo chamber of iconic and loveable animals – out to collect sets of letters or gems.
In Lucky’s case, we’re hunting for grimoires. But Lucky has adapted to modern times. He can burrow underground, as foxes yearn to do. His movement is fluid, and the levels are polished. Super Lucky’s Tale is simple, refined, and outright fun for any platformer enthusiast.
Talk some gibberish with worms, hunt for the fated Book of Ages, and enjoy a relaxing trip around the world of New Super Lucky’s Tale, if that’s your jam.
We’re Inching into the territory of the Metroidvania genre here, which is traditionally pretty hard.
Don’t feel discouraged by this. Ori fires off special heat-seeking bullets that take an edge off of difficulty. That makes Ori and The Blind Forest the perfect entry point to these run-and-gun style 2D platformers that focus on exploration, character upgrades, and a ton of backtracking. Who knows, you might walk away craving more Metroidvania games upon completion. Ori brings a heartfelt silent narrative to the party. It also has a sequel if you limp away craving more once you’ve mastered this quest.
While Inside is more challenging than the other games in this post, it isn’t unapproachable for a newcomer.
About a dozen chase scenes can feel downright terrifying, but your progress saves upon entering a new room, which is a welcome inclusion.
I can’t praise the presentation of this game enough. Clever use of stylized shadows combined with a somber, eerie setting makes this puzzle-platformer a permanent mainstay in my most lucid gaming memories. Most scenes are painted entirely by spotlights actively hunting for you. And this game remains mysterious until its very last moments.
Inside is a masterpiece.
Puzzlers are equally common suggestions for newbie gamers. The button mapping on puzzle games will always be straightforward. The music and core gameplay are usually pretty relaxing. These games are a great choice if solving visual riddles is your jam.
There aren’t very many pure puzzle games buzzing around these days. Puzzles are generally lumped into action RPGs or used as a tool to break up the pacing in ultra-violent franchises. It’s a lot like watching new movie releases. Sure, now and then, we get a new flick that has you walking away questioning your ideas of reality. More often, though, you’ll see trailers for new Marvel movies or a film about cops and robbers.
Puzzle games come with a lot of pros. Jogging your brain is a pretty fulfilling use of time. These games also tend to move at whatever pace you feel comfortable with. There’s significant merit to those “Aha!” lightbulb moments. I’d argue they’ll overshadow your frustrations of learning control schemes completely.
Tetris is still the undisputed champion of the puzzle genre. It’s simple, paced wonderfully, and refreshingly addictive!
There’s a reason Tetris remains in the top 3 best-selling game of all time. No tutorials required, no lengthy cutscenes. You just hop in, get your fill, and shut it down at your leisure.
Tetris 99 is predominantly a free-to-play online multiplayer game, but you can purchase single-player modes for around $20. It’s a reasonable price for unlocking a tried-and-true classic.
Here’s a short and sweet puzzle game. Untitled Goose Game has you partaking in the hilariously mischievous antics of a goose.
You’ll laugh throughout the entire experience.
Each puzzle is a series of pranks pulled on unsuspecting humans. Miraculously, with each successful trick, our evil goose protagonist serendipitously waltzes to the next stage. Untitled Goose Game supports co-op play and lasts the typical player around 5 hours.
I honestly can’t recommend this game enough!
Death squared is a brutal set of cooperative movement puzzles. Here’s the catch: your treasured crash-test allies inadvertently set off traps targeting you while attempting to aid your escape. You can play alone or with up to four friends. If you play Death Squared solo, each cute little cube companion will occupy one analog stick.
Death Squared offers a simple gameplay loop, but each puzzle remains surprisingly fresh. The background dialog is a constant hilarious exchange between an overworked developer and his robot friend.
World of Goo is a bridge-building puzzle game backed by serene music and an adorable aesthetic. Recklessly stacking your squishy round buddies results in a tumbling tower of devastation!
World of Goo will consistently put your structural integrity to the test, keeping music tranquil and harmonious throughout its stay.
A handful of fireflies float around, functioning as an “undo” button. World of Goo utilizes touch or motion controls on the Switch, knocking that pesky controller conundrum out of the equation entirely. There aren’t any limitations like lives on the line. You’re free to try and fail as much as you’d like.
Chicory is a light indie game with a coloring-book aesthetic. This game is fully aware of its tone, and the story delivers itself perfectly.
Chicory is virtually combat-free, aside from a handful of boss fights at the end of chapters. I can comfortably recommend this game because the menu includes options like invincibility during boss segments or the opportunity to outright skip battles.
Feel like resting your head in the comfort of a coloring book? Chicory acknowledges your desires and takes it a step above expectation.
Yes, you can summon Lovecraftian beasts such as Cthulhu in this game. Did you expect otherwise?
Imagine if a game permitted you to type in any tool in existence, and it just spawned right in front of you, perfectly functional and all!
Well, guess fricken’ what?
Scribblenauts comes pretty dang close. Proper nouns are generally a no-go, but you can use a plethora of items like jetpacks or sea creatures to solve small puzzles at your leisure. The goalposts are a little oversimplified, but the sheer novelty of generating millions of fresh new items from your notebook makes this gaming experience truly unique.
Look, if you’re reading this article, chances are you have a TON of responsibilities on your plate. You aren’t super invested in gaming, right? You’re probably just searching for a few minutes a day to unwind.
Gaming gets a bad wrap for requiring a heavy time investment. Sometimes people might claim it’s overly intoxicating or habit-forming. There are plenty of easy, casual, bite-sized experiences out there awaiting your half-hour unwinding session.
I understand where you’re coming from. A hobby isn’t necessarily a lifestyle. Not everybody has the time to dump 80 hours into staring at a screen. Not everybody strives to, either. That’s a crucial point to make for adult gaming, in particular. Your instincts probably tell you to buy games that you can flip on and off at a moment’s notice.
Gaming shouldn’t be a chore, so let’s not treat it like one. You don’t want to feel like you’re restarting every time a toddler gets a hold of the controller. You don’t want to feel obliged to take a day off of work just to make it through some convoluted first cutscene – I’m looking at you, Metal Gear Solid 5.
Sometimes all you need is a simple household hit like Mario Kart or a nice distracting puzzle, like World of Goo. Don’t let some angsty teenage gamer bully you into thinking otherwise!
So, get out there and enjoy your new hobby, and don’t be afraid to enjoy it at your own pace.