Are you a Nintendo Switch owner looking to try out some new games? With so many titles available on the Switch eShop, it can be tough deciding what to buy. That‘s where downloading free demos comes in handy!
In this guide, we‘ll explore 15 of the best Nintendo Switch demos available now. I‘ve played through each demo, so I can give you my hands-on impressions. Read on to discover some great games you can sample before buying!
1. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is one of the most popular and best-selling games on the Nintendo Switch, having sold over 52 million copies worldwide. The game features classic Mario Kart racing action, with beautiful HD graphics, a massive roster of characters, and a refined selection of tracks.
According to Nintendo, over 68% of Switch owners have purchased Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. But if you haven‘t took the plunge yet, the free demo gives you a chance to try it out first.
The demo lets you race as Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Yoshi on two tracks – one retro track from the SNES and one new track. It provides a quick taste of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe‘s tight controls, item strategy, and racing excitement. I found the demo to be a blast, though very short at about 5 minutes per track.
Length: About 5 minutes per track
Includes: 2 tracks, 4 characters
My Take: This first-party demo whets your appetite for the full experience. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a must-own multiplayer delight for Switch gamers.
2. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Captain Toad originally debuted in Super Mario 3D World before Nintendo decided to give Toad his own starring role. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker launched on the Wii U in 2014 before getting ported to Switch in 2018.
The game features clever, compact puzzle levels based around rotating the camera and tapping the touchscreen to navigate Toad safely to the star at the end. Instead of jumping, you move Captain Toad around small 3D dioramas while avoiding enemies and hazards.
According to critics, Treasure Tracker provides a more relaxed, thoughtful experience compared to traditional Mario platformers. The demo includes four miniature puzzle levels from the full game. I found them to be cute, clever, and not too difficult – a nice change of pace from more intense games.
Length: ~15 minutes
Includes: 4 levels
My Take: The demo gives a good feel for Captain Toad‘s gameplay. Fans of slower puzzle games should give it a shot.
3. Kirby Star Allies
Kirby Star Allies released for the Switch in 2018 and features the lovable pink puffball on a new adventure making friends and combining abilities. Up to four players can team up, with Kirby able to copy enemy powers like sword, whip, and ice.
The demo was fairly generous, containing three full levels along with access to a CPU ally you can summon. The platforming action is colorful and on the easygoing side – a good fit for younger gamers.
I had fun playing the demo solo and really enjoyed the frantic four player multiplayer with family members. The demo captures the cheerful personality and laidback platforming the series is known for.
Length: ~30 minutes
Includes: 3 levels + CPU ally
My Take: Anyone interested in a relaxing platformer should try the Kirby Star Allies demo. Great for testing co-op too!
4. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age is one of the most critically acclaimed JRPGs in recent memory, earning praise for its storytelling, visual aesthetic, and classic turn-based combat. The game provides over 50 hours of content – and the demo offers a very healthy vertical slice.
Not only does the demo allow you to transfer saves to the full game, it provides about 3 hours of playtime. You can create your hero character, battle monsters, gain experience points, and get acquainted with crafting and skill trees. I found this peek at Dragon Quest XI S made me eager to keep playing and experience more of its charm and story.
Length: ~3 hours
Includes: Character creation, starting area and dungeon
My Take: This substantial demo nicely encapsulates the magic of Dragon Quest XI S. Worth playing even if you‘re new to the genre.
5. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
For fans of hack-and-slash action games, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a delight. The game uses Dynasty Warriors combat where you take control of Link, Zelda, and other characters to mow down hundreds of enemies on screen.
According to Nintendo, Age of Calamity incorporates lore from Breath of the Wild and is set 100 years before that game. The demo provides about 25 minutes of gameplay that lets you play the first chapter as both Link and Impa.
I found the demo captured the large-scale battles the series is known for. If you want over-the-top combat violence paired with Zelda lore, the demo is definitely worth checking out.
Length: ~25 minutes
Includes: 1st chapter (2 missions)
My Take: Big recommend for fans of hack-and-slash looking for a Zelda flavor.
6. Cadence of Hyrule
For fans of rhythm games, Cadence of Hyrule expertly blends The Legend of Zelda universe with the gameplay of Crypt of the NecroDancer. In the game, you move and attack to the beat of the soundtrack.
The demo provides a nice chunk of content including puzzles to solve on an overworld area along with three unique dungeons that each have their own music themes. I found the mix of rhythm mechanics with Zelda gameplay to be highly satisfying. The musical dungeons provided a challenge along with toe-tapping beats.
Length: ~60 minutes
Includes: Overworld area, 3 dungeons
My Take: I was hooked by the demo – the rhythmic gameplay mixed with Zelda makes this a standout.
7. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX
The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series sends you into randomly generated dungeons as a team of cute Pokemon. For Rescue Team DX, you play as a human who awakens in the Pokemon world transformed into your choice of 16 starter Pokemon.
Along with exploring dungeons, you‘ll befriend other Pokemon to join your rescue team and even build your own base camp. The Switch remake uses an attractive storybook art style for the visuals.
The demo provides about 2 hours of playtime, giving a great feel for the overall gameplay loop. I enjoyed the mix of dungeon crawling and Pokemon collection aspects. If you couldn‘t get into the mainline Pokemon RPGs but enjoy dungeon games, give the Mystery Dungeon demo a shot.
Length: ~2 hours
Includes: Early game dungeons + mechanics
My Take: Nice for gauging if you‘ll like the gameplay and world. Full game expands significantly.
8. Super Kirby Clash
Super Kirby Clash is an online multiplayer action game that‘s free-to-start. A party of four Kirby characters battle giant boss enemies using melee and magic attacks. There are RPG elements as well – you can collect gems and use them to craft weapons and armor.
The demo provides three epic boss battles that do a great job showcasing the accessible brawler gameplay. I had a blast teaming up with a friend locally to take down the third boss – it felt like a lite version of Monster Hunter. Just keep in mind you need to purchase the full game to unlock all content.
Length: ~15 minutes per boss
Includes: 3 bosses
My Take: Solid multiplayer boss battles, but full version requires payment to unlock more.
9. Splatoon 2
Splatoon 2 has become one of Nintendo‘s most popular multiplayer franchises on Switch, selling over 12 million copies worldwide. The colorful paint-based shooter experience doesn‘t involve traditional weapons or violence.
Instead, teams of Inklings compete in Turf War matches to cover more ground in their team‘s ink color. The demo allows you to play online Turf War matches so you can get first-hand experience with Splatoon 2‘s fast-paced, team-based ink spraying action.
I found the demo helpful for assessing if Splatoon 2‘s unique take on competitive shooting appeals to you. The controls take adjustment from other shooters, so playing online is the best way to gauge your interest.
Length: Play online Turf Wars matches
Includes: Online multiplayer access
My Take: Great for properly evaluating Splatoon 2‘s competitive scene and distinct gameplay style.
One of the more unique first-party games in the Switch library, Arms is a quirky fighting game where players equip extendable arms on colorful characters and duke it out. You can play using motion controls or traditional buttons – either way you‘ll be block, jabbing, and curving punches.
For a fighting game demo, Arms is extremely generous. You get access to seven playable fighters, each with their own abilities, for online matches. I was impressed by how much content is available. You can really get a feel for the mechanics and competiveness against human opponents.
Length: Varies based on playtime
Includes: 7 playable fighters + online multiplayer
My Take: Excellent demo – with 7 fighters and online play you can thoroughly test Arms‘ gameplay.
11. Octopath Traveler
Octopath Traveler enraptured audiences with its HD-2D graphical style and deep turn-based RPG combat when it launched as a Switch exclusive in 2018. Since then, over 3 million copies have been sold worldwide.
The demo provides about 3 hours of game time, with a short segment for all eight of Octopath Traveler‘s protagonists. You‘re able to experience the stories, combat, and exploration gameplay that gives this RPG its charm.
I found the robust demo let me properly experience Octopath‘s world and systems first-hand. It left me eager to keep playing more. If old-school JRPGs are your thing, download this demo ASAP.
Length: ~3 hours
Includes: All 8 character prologues
My Take: One of the most substantial demos on the eShop. Highly recommend JRPG fans try it.
12. Pikmin 3 Deluxe
Pikmin 3 originally released on the Wii U before getting ported to Switch in 2020. The real-time strategy series has you explore colorful alien worlds and solve environmental puzzles using adorable plant creatures called Pikmin.
The demo provides about 2 hours of Story mode gameplay across three planets. This gives a great feel for Pikmin 3‘s worldbuilding, creative mission design, and strategic puzzling the series is revered for.
I found the demo captured the franchise‘s charm nicely. However, the full scope of Pikmin‘s puzzle solving and mission variety can‘t quite be contained in a demo. Still, franchise fans shouldn‘t miss it.
Length: ~2 hours
Includes: Story mode sections
My Take: Nice vertical slice of Pikmin 3 gameplay, but full game goes much deeper.
13. Monster Hunter Rise
Monster Hunter Rise takes the addictive monster hunting action Capcom‘s series is known for and adds new mobility options such as the Wirebug grappling hook. Using one of the game‘s 14 weapon types, you take down beasts and use their parts to craft weapons and armor.
The demo provides about 5 hours of content including training missions, monster battles, and multiplayer. I was impressed by how much gameplay is available. You can really get a feel for the weapons and take on challenges like the enormous dragon Magnamalo.
Length: ~5 hours
Includes: Training, 14 weapon types, monsters
My Take: Extremely robust demo that lets you properly evaluate Monster Hunter Rise‘s hunting loop.
14. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a turn-based tactical game with XCOM-like gameplay and a story that mashes up the Mushroom Kingdom with Ubisoft‘s Rabbids. The demo includes the entire first world, providing over 3 hours of content.
I was delighted and charmed by how much this demo gives you. You‘re able to fully experience the gameplay systems, humor, and setting that makes Mario + Rabbids special. If you have any interest in strategy games, the demo is a must play.
Length: ~3 hours
Includes: World 1
My Take: Playing through the full first world showcases Kingdom Battle‘s personality and gameplay extremely well.
Give These Great Demos a Shot!
Trying before buying is always smart, and these Nintendo Switch demos make it easy by providing tons of gameplay. I highly recommend downloading any that interest you. You may just discover your new favorite game!
Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite Switch demo I didn‘t include. I‘m always looking for new gaming experiences.
So what are you waiting for? Get downloading! Your next gaming obsession could be just a demo away.