- The Nintendo Switch has moved away from motion controls and focused more on traditional control schemes, despite having superior motion technology in the Joy-Cons.
- However, some of the best games on the Switch effectively utilize motion controls, such as Super Mario 3D All-Stars and The Legend Of Zelda Skyward Sword HD.
- Other notable Switch games with motion controls include Fitness Boxing, Just Dance 2022, Surgeon Simulator, and Neonwall.
The Nintendo Switch seems pretty far removed from the motion-controlled phenomenon that was the Wii, when it comes to the intuitive, inventive control schemes. While Nintendo’s latest console still incorporates motion controls, it’s largely taken a back seat in favor of more traditional control schemes. The hybrid functionality and HD rumble have taken center stage as the technological selling points, rather than 3D motion. It’s a bit ironic, considering the superior motion tech of the Joy-Cons.
Still, there do exist some hints of this memorable motion-laced era of gaming for the Switch. A number of its titles use gyro or pointer controls to aminor degree, and some use this tech in a creative, nuanced, or intuitive fashion. With that said, here are some of the greatest games to take advantage of these motion controls most effectively.
Updated September 16, 2023 by PJ Molloy: 2023 is the year that keeps on giving for the Nintendo Switch, and the list of incredible Switch games keeps growing. Since the library of games is continuously expanding, it’s no surprise that the number of excellent Nintendo Switch motion games keeps growing, too.
There’s a lot of interest in motion controls right now thanks to WarioWare Move It, the series’ triumphant return to motion controls since WarioWare Smooth Moves on the Wii. With all the hype surrounding the game, now is a great time to catch up on all the other Switch games that make excellent use of the Joy-Cons’ motion controls.
23 Super Mario 3D All-Stars
It’s a shame that Super Mario 3D All-Stars has been taken off the Switch eShop because the motion controls in this collection’s version of Super Mario Galaxy do the original justice. The game has you point the Joy-Con at the TV to control a cursor that picks up Star Bits around Mario.
The alternative way to play is handheld mode, which requires you to take your hand off the buttons to swipe your finger across the screen. Needless to say, this method is endlessly cumbersome. The best way to play Super Mario Galaxy on the Switch is to utilize the Joy-Con’s motion controls, allowing intuitive, uninterrupted gameplay.
22 Metroid Prime Remastered
Metroid Prime Remastered was one of the best surprises of 2023. This incredible remaster added a new fancy coat of paint to the visuals and included multiple control schemes to emulate the GameCube and Wii versions. If you haven’t tried the motion controls yet, you’re in for a real treat.
Playing Metroid Prime with motion controls opens up a whole world of possibilities for combat. You can aim Samus’ gun with more freedom and precision than ever. This control scheme reinvented the series on the Wii, and it’s hard to imagine a Metroid Prime game without it.
21 The Legend Of Zelda Skyward Sword HD
Many people prefer to turn motion controls off, but The Legend Of Zelda Skyward Sword HD is a rare case where the motion controls are the preferred way to play. You swing the Joy-Con to make Link swing his sword. It’s astounding to see how precise Link mimics your movements, allowing you to attack in any direction.
The sword is mapped to the right joystick if you’re playing in handheld mode. While it works fine, it’s nowhere near as precise as the motion controls. If you want the full experience, try it with motion. Just make sure you hold the Joy-Con tightly.
20 Fitness Boxing
If you can imagine a fusion of Wii Boxing, Wii Fit, and Dance Dance Revolution, it would probably be akin to this “exergaming” title by Japanese studio Imagineer. Fitness Boxing entices you to return for daily workouts with progression charts and logs—serving more as a virtual workout simulator than a video game.
There’s plenty of sweaty fun to be had here, as this quasi-rhythm game has you swiftly performing punches and dodges on cue to several catchy tunes. These infectious songs range from Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne to LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem. While it’s rather simple and rough around the edges, this is one of the more fun and intense ways to burn calories this side of Ring Fit Adventure.
19 Clubhouse Games
Not unlike certain Mario Party games, NDcube’s Clubhouse Games stresses quantity over quality with this hodgepodge of over 50 card, board, and minigames. There’s a good chance you’ll find roughly 20 games you like, ten that you love, and four or five that you just can’t put down.
And for that alone, this social game for Switch is well worth it. It’s a neat bonus that some games incorporate motion controls well. Some do it subtly, like the very tactile-feeling dice rolls of Yacht Dice, though a few implement it superbly as a key feature of the game—namely Darts, Bowling, and Fishing.
18 Mario Golf: Super Rush
Many fans have been seeking an expansion or evolution of Wii Golf and its fluid, precise motion controls. Thankfully, Camelot and Nintendo mostly hit a hole-in-one with this Mario Golf outing on Switch. Mario Golf: Super Rush taps into the arcade-style vibe the Mario sports games are known for, especially with additions like the chaotic Speed Golf mode.
At the same time, there is plenty of nuance to be found in the motion control element and a general respect for precision and detail. It doesn’t hurt that Mario Golf: Super Rush remains one of the prettier, most vibrant games on the Switch.
17 Nintendo Switch Sports
Though it doesn’t quite have that lightning-in-a-bottle, revolutionary feel this time around, the Switch rendition of Wii Sports shines as a great sports title and one of the best Switch games with motion controls.
Like its predecessor, the dynamic yet simple motion controls breathe life into this charming game. While feeling comfortably familiar with the return of favorites like tennis and bowling, this entry mixes things up with soccer, volleyball, and surprisingly fun badminton. Another major selling point is the implementation of online support, which fits this social party game like a glove.
16 Just Dance 2022
When it comes to notable Switch motion control games, it’s hard not to think of this enjoyable dance-till-you-drop title. The colorful, psychedelic visuals are as appealing as they’ve ever been, and the track list of 46 new songs contains fun, catchy jams. Tracks range from Imagine Dragons’ Believer to Funk by Meghan Trainor.
Holding the Joy-Cons separately makes for a particularly intuitive and comfortable way to play this established dance series. It’s not perfect, but Just Dance 2022 does a fine job of picking up an array of both subtle and exaggerated movements. Critics have praised this entry as having one of the stronger, more diverse libraries, along with some of the most intense dances seen in the Just Dance series.
15 Surgeon Simulator
This squeamishly realistic surgery-based game didn’t make a ton of noise when it hit Steam in 2013. Yet, the game suits the Switch and its nuanced gyro controls quite well. Surgeon Simulator feels akin to a bloodier, more authentic version of the game Operation.
You tinker with various tools and equipment as you work on patients, making precise movements with the Joy-Cons. The motion controls can occasionally be wonky but hold a unique, surprisingly precise feel compared to other Switch motion games. There’s even a co-op mode that allows another person to lend a hand.
This vibrant and colorful puzzle platformer by JanduSoft S.L. incorporates motion controls inventively, adding a unique dimension to the experience. Despite being a stripped-down indie title, Neonwall shines as one of the more interesting Switch motion games.
The gyro controls of each Joy-Con translate directly to the two paddles you use to guide a colored ball from A to B. The catch? Platforms and obstacles are also color-coded, so you need to tinker with objects and the ball to match up the colors to progress. It’s an appealing concept, made more compelling by the smooth, innovative gyro support.
13 Doom (2016)
Like most Nintendo Switch motion games, Doom doesn’t overuse motion control — but still offers it as a neat, immersive way to control for those who desire it. For a game that stresses gritty realism and cinematic bombast, this compliments the experience quite well.
Given that this feature was tacked on as part of an update, aiming with motion controls feels surprisingly smooth and refined. Scrambling to aim for a monster’s head with the Joy-Con gyro controls makes this game all the more engaging and heart-poundingly thrilling.
12 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
While Mario Kart Wii highlighted the fun novelty of using the Wii Remote as a makeshift steering wheel, Mario Kart 8 dialed things back to crisp, traditional controls. However, you can still use the more sensitive and precise gyroscopic tech of the Joy-Cons in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Switch.
While you can opt for joystick control, the motion steering feels sharper than ever and even more intuitive. The result is a satisfying arcade-like sense of immersion, especially when using a wheel peripheral. You can even use this functionality in handheld mode, and it works quite well — though you may get a few funny looks when playing in public.
11 Resident Evil: Revelations
One of the few Switch motion games that feels like a true throwback to the Wii era is Capcom’s Resident Evil Revelation. This isn’t simply because it’s a last-gen port, but because this Resident Evil game uses a sharp system of pointing and aiming with the Joy-Cons rather than simply gyro.
Using these controllers to aim and fire your weapon at incoming zombies feels akin to the arcade light-gun experience. You can even bust out melee hits and reload with simple motions, further adding to its intuitive nature.
10 Overwatch 2
Blizzard’s colorful hero-based shooter, Overwatch, seemed like a great fit for the family-friendly Switch, and the studio finally made this pairing a reality in late 2019. Aside from the portability, one addition that has drawn people in is the motion controls. While serious Overwatch fans are more likely to stick with the crisper, more traditional control schemes, motion is implemented surprisingly well here.
Not only is pointing and aiming smooth and responsive, but Blizzard also offers the ability to tweak and refine the sensitivity and mechanics in various ways. In addition to the normal sensitivity slider, there’s a new gyro submenu which has options like Gyro Aim Assist.
9 Super Mario Odyssey
As with most 3D Mario games, Nintendo injected just enough novel, innovative elements to enhance the game without overwhelming it. This is the case with Super Mario Odyssey.
Many moves in this game revolve around throwing your cap, so solid motion controls are key. Thankfully, Nintendo delivers. You can do a variety of simple or more nuanced flicks of the Joy-Cons to toss Cappy around in different ways. These quick translations on screen, coupled with the HD rumble, feel great and add some pizazz to the gameplay.
8 Ring Fit Adventure
Following Wii Fit a decade earlier, Nintendo managed to outdo themselves with a more active fitness game that truly feels like a workout. It helps that the nuanced use of motion controls can detect your positioning and subtle movements. This forces you to do complete, correct movements while playing.
It’s impressive to see all the ways you can manipulate and control the Ring-Con when fastening the Joy-Con into it. It recognizes many degrees of force, movement, and positioning, creating a bizarrely immersive experience. Even the simple Leg-Strap works well, offering a nice lower-body compliment that recognizes your leg positioning when doing exercises like squats.
Gamers were captivated by this impressive showcase of the Joy-Con’s abilities following the March 2017 launch of the Switch. While 1-2-Switch received mixed reviews that cited its demo-like simplicity, it still stands out as one of the more technologically impressive Switch games in terms of motion controls and tactile feel.
In addition to showing off the new vibration tech, the game offers a slew of goofy minigames that pick up the most subtle motions. These range from a virtual table tennis showdown to a sandwich-eating contest that uses an infrared tracking sensor to pick up your mouth movements. Wii Sports —eat your heart out!
6 Luigi’s Mansion 3
This spooky Mario spin-off series has always been known for trying new things, dating back to the original Luigi’s Mansion and its pressure-sensitive triggers that control the power of the vacuum. This continues with Luigi’s Mansion 3, which changes the setting to a ghost-infested hotel, adds more variety to the gameplay, and emphasizes multiplayer modes.
Mario’s often-neglected brother comes equipped with a more advanced Poltergust vacuum this time. This is further enhanced by the tasteful use of gyro controls, which allow Luigi to adjust the angle of his vacuum while sucking up ghosts, similar to Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon on Nintendo 3DS.
5 Super Mario Party
Super Mario Party favors having several fun, silly minigames over in-depth gameplay. Still, the motion controls used in some of these minigames are surprisingly refined. Not only is this 2018 party game the first Mario Party to bring online features, but it’s also one of the best Switch games with motion controls.
Several minigames take advantage of the Joy-Con tech — from simple dice rolls to petting Wigglers to flipping sizzling steak cubes. This creatively-implemented motion only adds to the fun and laughter in this colorful party game.
4 Splatoon 3
Like Overwatch, Nintendo’s sequel to the hit game Splatoon is a rare example of a shooter flourishing with or without motion controls. Unlike Blizzard’s game, Splatoon 3 uses motion controls so well that game director Tsubasa Sakaguchi revealed that most people use these features rather than turning them off.
And it’s easy to see why, as the game stresses splattering ink everywhere and making a mess rather than swift precision. The cohesion of joystick movement while using the smooth, steady gyro controls to aim makes for a fresh control scheme. Most people find the motion controls even more swift, smoother, and precise than traditional joystick-aiming.