Nintendo Switch Review 2020: Best Stress Relief Games

A few years ago, I was working for a not-to-be-named publisher, experiencing serious burnout. One that I’ve slowly tried to recover from. Shopping didn’t help. Baking didn’t help. Exercising didn’t help. What actually did the trick were the silly phone games I played on my train commute home. My husband realized this before I did, and bought me a Nintendo Switch—and it changed my life forever.

Whenever I’d had a long day, I’d play for an hour or so and instantly feel recharged. That’s because the Switch is unlike any other gaming system—it’s a hybrid between an old-school Gameboy and a Nintendo Wii (you can move around when you play, or you can curl up in a ball and be just as effective). Its games, at least the ones I’m into, have names like Yoshi’s Crafted World, Animal Crossing, and Kirby Star Allies. Their premises? To “adventure in a world made of everyday objects—like boxes and paper cups” or “making friends out of foes.” They’re cotton candy for your eyes—and incredibly therapeutic to play.

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For me, the appeal of video games is that I can focus on one task at a time—and when playing kid-friendly games, I can complete those tasks and feel a sense of accomplishment. As Glamour commerce writer, Talia Abbas, puts it: “I get this laser focus where I’m fully absorbed in this trippy, Gravity’s Rainbow-like world where none of the adult things I could or should be worried about matter for a few hours.”

There are plenty of studies (like this or this one) that discuss the verity of certain video games relieving stress, but you don’t have to take it from science or me—you can also take it from Chrissy Teigen, one of the console’s biggest fans.

She couldn’t be bothered to put her Switch away at an NBA game:

She was distraught when she lost it:

And John Legend was clearly elated to have it returned:

To help you be more like me Chrissy, here’s a non-gamer’s review of some games you can download right onto your Switch. Warning: I’m not interested in violent games or anything that doesn’t take a Dylan’s Candy Shop color palette, so these won’t apply to those of you who would want to download The Witcher.

A true gem. There are almost a dozen worlds, including a beach world, a frozen world, and a cloud world. Yes, they’re all as lovely as they sound. Yoshi does not figure heavily in this one as your vehicle/best friend, but you get a super cute hat as your little sidekick. I played this game like it was a job and it still took me a long time to beat.

Animal Crossing is like next-level Care Bears and even though this version won’t come out until March 20, it’s already the number one best-selling game in the Nintendo Switch store. If it’s anything like previous versions, it’s going to be the most relaxing time I spend in front of my TV. The characters build houses, shake trees for treasure, and create their own outfits like tiny Frauline Marias. You can also fish, visit museums, and catch butterflies. Bliss.

Not sure what the “Ultimate” means, but it’s just like the old version with tons of new characters, like children who run around with paint cans and paint rollers (but, honestly, they stress me out). I’d recommend going with Kirby or Pikachu as you fighter—you can customize their colors and outfits.

Like Super Smash Bros., this is a souped-up version of the classic game. It’s. So. Fun. Does my husband play with me? No, but I don’t care because there are varying ways you can play the courses and keep yourself entertained. I highly recommend choosing any of the “baby” characters as your driver. They have pacifiers and look adorable on motorcycles. A close second is the pink chrome Peach that gives off major Barbie-meets-Kylie-Minogue vibes.

This game is for…serious video game players. It’s what you call an RPG, which means “role-playing game.” (I guess that’s different than literally every other kind.) Either way, you run around with Link and climb trees and buildings in this gigantic, Avatar-esque world. It’s soothing, albeit a little boring at times, and instead of following along with the actual narrative, I just spent a lot of money dyeing Link’s clothing fun colors.

The Nintendo Switch is one of the best—and most used—gifts I’ve ever gotten. No, it’s not a substitute for therapy, or for making some realizations about work-life balance, but it helps me tune out the craziness. And while I may be holed up in my house for the foreseeable future, Mario can take me to a moon inhabited by tiny bunnies, which isn’t a bad place to be.

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Shanna Shipin is the commerce editor at Glamour. Follow her @shannashipin on Instagram.

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