Earlier this month Nintendo released its first major Switch iteration in over two years with the Switch OLED model. It has a few benefits, like an improved kickstand, a bump in portable audio quality, double the internal storage and a LAN connector on the dock, but the main feature is in the name. Yep, it’s the larger OLED screen, the first panel of its type we’ve seen in Nintendo portable hardware, although it’s also made a lot of people reminisce about the original PS Vita model, too.
Unlike a standard LED display which requires separate backlighting, an OLED screen illuminates each pixel individually, resulting in more vibrant, clearer image and better contrast. This is noticeable at all ends of the scale, whether it’s deeper blacks or brighter light colours, with the goal being to show each extreme with greater clarity. As you can imagine, it helps give some extra ‘pop’ to the most colourful games in the Switch library.
Does a game’s inclusion on this list mean it now looks and feels rubbish on a standard Switch or Switch Lite? Of course not! Every single one of the games below is a winner wherever and however you play, and if you’re playing in docked mode there’ll be no difference whatsoever. If you’re mainly a portable player, though, this selection of Switch games will look and sound particularly lovely on the newest console — to the point where once you’ve tried them on Switch OLED, it might be tough to go back.
So, with that in mind here are a whole bunch of games that we think really show off the new system’s screen and also take advantage of some other improved features…
Though originally a Wii U title from way back in May 2014, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is still a real looker on Switch courtesy of its smooth performance and bright, bulbous visuals. All of those designs look excellent on the new system, with tracks like Rainbow Road and Electrodrome being among many stand-outs on the slightly larger OLED screen.
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The painterly style and gorgeous colour palette of this excellent HD version of Capcom’s RPG adventure is beautiful on any screen, but the inky sumi-e-inspired visuals look particularly lovely on Switch OLED. Many of the staff that went on to form PlatinumGames were on the original Okami team at Clover, and it remains a must-play experience.
There were a few contenders for the ‘Arcade Archives‘ spot, but we’ve opted for the classic that provided a breakthrough for Nintendo and introduced us to ‘Jump Man’ himself. Especially in TATE mode (but standard orientation also works), the crisp colours and extremely convincing black of the OLED screen — which will make the sprites-on-black-background of any 8-bit classic jump out at you — can truly make it feel like you’re playing a miniaturised arcade version of Donkey Kong. Just, you know, crisper-lookin’.
The Switch has a lot of shmups, but this classic from Treasure is right up there among the best thanks to its smart concept, stylish visuals and intense challenge. It also supports TATE mode (playing vertically), so if you have a third-party stand to hold your system — and there’s apparently a revised OLED version of the excellent Flip Grip in the works — it’s a great way to enjoy the game, while the improved screen will help you track the many projectiles as the action heats up.
Publisher: Enhance Games / Developer: Resonair
This is not just Tetris, it’s important to note, as the experience in Tetris Effect: Connected blends the core gameplay with a sense of journey and immersion. It’s a beautiful game with a lot of colour and fancy particle effects, which unsurprisingly really pop on the OLED screen. Headphones are recommended, but the improved speakers on the new console are also a fine way to get this game’s audio into your ear holes.
The critically acclaimed new entry in the Metroid series is a very moody, atmospheric experience. It’s also a great showcase of the key differences that OLED technology offers, with intense blacks and notable contrasts in the environments. Oh, and the boss fights, with those cinematic moments, look stunning.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
This is perhaps Nintendo’s most vibrant series in recent years — an impressive achievement considering the incredible spectrum of its output — and Splatoon was at the vanguard of demonstrating the company’s improvements in developing HD-quality titles on Wii U. It’s a game all about colour after all, and Splatoon 2 still has an active online player base if you’re feeling competitive.
If, like us, you’re out of practice, Salmon Run and the story mode are good ways to get back into it; this is a title that really shows what the Switch OLED screen is all about.
This fantastic beat ’em up not only brings to mind and builds upon its predecessors, but takes the IP forward. The development teams were brave enough to shift the franchise to a beautiful hand-drawn aesthetic full of bold lines and popping colours. On top of that, the Switch version is terrifically smooth, so this is an ideal title to revisit for another playthrough, especially when you consider the various free and paid updates that now enhance the game.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: PlatinumGames
This Switch exclusive remains one of the system’s best action titles, with some RPG and puzzle-solving elements contributing nicely. Though its resolution can dive at times in portable mode when on-screen effects are at their busiest, the sci-fi cyberpunk aesthetic looks fantastic, whether in a city or the mysterious alternate dimension.
Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Christian Whitehead
With its modernised HD presentation of chunky 16-bit pixels, Sonic Mania is a gorgeous game for retro gamers or indeed younger players that enjoy the aesthetic. A brilliant platformer, and in terms of its look on the OLED, its colours look fantastic as expected, but the eagle-eyed may notice less ‘movement blur’ in play courtesy of the screen’s technology, too. In short, it’s never looked better.