Wanna see what your new console can do? Boot these up first
So you’ve unboxed your fancy new Nintendo Switch OLED and you’re looking to see your investment pay off. What games are really going to show off the new model’s enhancements? The question is surprisingly tricky!
The thing about an OLED screen is that while it will perform better than an LCD screen, the differences will be far more noticeable in certain circumstances than others. Very colorful games, or games with super high contrast, will definitely pop on the OLED screen, whereas games with a more realistic or muted aesthetic won’t look too much different than they do on the old LCD screen.
To that end, we’ve curated a selection of games that best showcase the might of the OLED model Nintendo Switch.
We’ll start with the obvious one. Metroid Dread launched alongside the OLED and is probably the best demonstration of what the new hardware is capable of. Dread’s blend of extremely dark shadows and bright, neon laser blasts makes for a stunning demonstration of the new screen. (Try playing Dread in handheld mode and then switch to docked mode on a non-OLED TV, and the difference will be obvious.)
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
The best-selling Switch game of all time, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, is also a fantastic showpiece for the OLED Switch. The game’s colorful characters and levels are considerably more vibrant on an OLED screen. Even something as simple as Mario’s hat will make you question whether you had truly known the color of Mario’s hat before this.
While Mario Kart 8 Deluxe shows off Mario in the best light, basically all of the Mushroom Kingdom games look great on the OLED, so don’t forget to boot up Odyssey, Bowser’s Fury, or any of the games in Super Mario 3D All-Stars (if you bought it in time).
Surprise released for Nintendo Switch in 2018, Hollow Knight remains one of the best games on the platform and one of the best Metroidvanias ever made. It’s also great for showing off the power of the OLED, thanks to its 2D artwork, which emphasizes hard, dark lines around most of the characters, alongside environments that constantly play with light and shadow. If you’ve been waiting for a reason to pick this game up, the OLED is an extremely good excuse.
Tetris Effect Connected
How do you improve on Tetris after nearly 40 years? Somehow, Tetris Effect found a way with its trippy visuals and satisfying twists to the core gameplay. The game took a while to arrive on Switch, but now the latest version, Tetris Effect Connected, is here. Many levels begin with a pure black background that slowly springs to life as you complete lines, and that visual feast looks stunning on the OLED. Watching as dolphins zoom through a galaxy while you complete a Decahexatris is a sight to behold.
Polygon’s pick for game of the year in 2020 has always been a stunner, regardless of the platform you play it on. But Hades is also well-suited for the OLED model’s enhancements. The game’s art style utilizes colorful, cel-shaded characters surrounded by hard, black outlines, and as a result, everything just pops. Whether that makes the Chthonic gods even hotter is a question you’ll have to answer for yourself.
Diablo 2 Resurrected
This remake of one of the most successful hack-’n-slash RPGs of all time looks solid on an OLED screen, though it does take some time to reach the areas that perform best (specifically the game’s darker, torch-lit dungeons). We’ve included it on this list mainly because of the OLED model’s larger screen size. In handheld mode on a normal Switch or a Switch Lite, Diablo 2’s text and UI elements are easily lost and muddied. While the OLED Switch’s screen isn’t that much larger, the increase in size makes this game far more playable.
This adorable indie game about taking photographs plays out entirely in black and white. You know what the OLED does really, really well? Contrast, of course! And what could be more contrast-y than black and white? It also helps that TOEM’s simple graphical style allows the game to run at a native 720 resolution, which makes the whole thing super crisp and clear.
Spelunky HD & Spelunky 2
If you can stomach some intense platforming difficulty, Spelunky HD and Spelunky 2, released on Switch just a couple months ago, are both lovely demonstrations of the OLED screen. The colorful, 2D sprites of both games sparkle on the OLED, but if you’re looking to really be impressed, keep playing until you get to a dreaded dark level. These areas are almost entirely black, but lit with occasional torches and glowing bugs. Holy cow, talk about a perfect storm for the OLED model!
Tails of Iron
If you ever wanted to play a tough, 2D Souls-like but wished that it featured a bunch of mice fighting frogs in a medieval setting (voiced by the guy who played Geralt in the Witcher games!), Tails of Iron is for you. It looks incredible on the OLED Switch, thanks to its hand-drawn, 2D artwork, which is some of the best we’ve seen in recent memory. Just beware: despite the adorable aspect of mice wearing clothes, this game gets grim very fast.
This strange arcade-racer-turned-console game features giant, underground yetis and playable hammerhead sharks. Cruis’n Blast is so outrageous and over-the-top that traditional concepts of “good graphics” don’t really apply here. The game throws basically every color palate at you, seemingly all at once, which is sure to give your OLED Switch (and your eyes) a workout. There are very few racers on the Switch that can match its vibrancy, and it thankfully runs great in handheld mode, so you can really use it as a showpiece for the OLED screen.