The Nintendo Switch has a huge library of games, and the console is pretty well suited for the city building genre.
The unique features of the platform make it perfect for casual games, and there’s increased potential for city building games on Switch too.
Unlike with many other genres, city building games can often play better here than on other consoles. Between the touch screen and unique controls, you can get closer to the mouse and keyboard experience, which can be a lot better than the funky control schemes that have plagued the genre on traditional consoles.
While the Switch might not be the most powerful console, these games can get pretty impressive once you’ve expanded your city.
This list is going to run through the best city building games on Switch. We’ll go in reverse order, finishing with the most impressive city builders on the Switch – but don’t skip straight to the end, there are some real diamonds along the way.
9. Mini Motorways
Mini Motorways is a minimalist entry into the traffic-based city builder. The art style and gameplay of the game are all stripped back. However, it’s still a fun and engaging experience that has a lot of depth in its simplicity.
Mini Motorways tasks you with designing a transport network for different-sized communities. You’ll need to design the entire city around the way that traffic flows.
The motorways will connect various buildings in the city to keep people moving. As the city grows and upgrades, you’ll have to upgrade your roads and motorways too.
The maps in this game that you’re tasked with outfitting for transport are based around various places from around the world. While the simplistic graphics stay the same, there’s a real sense of variety in all of these locales.
The visuals and soundtrack of the game are both designed to help make it a relaxing experience. They help to really make this stand out. While buildings are just represented symbolically, you get a good idea of the city growing.
Mini Motorways is a more basic back approach to the city builder genre. However, it’s one of the best city building Switch games for a reason; this is a real competitor against more complex builders for sheer fun.
8. Civilization VI
Civilization VI is a title here that isn’t a traditional city builder, but it’s got some key mechanics from that genre and is just an undeniably good game.
Civ is a series of strategy games where you build and grow an empire. It’s comparable to a much more evolved form of risk. You can try to wage war, but you can also simply try to expand and keep your population happy.
Civ VI reinvents how the game handles cities. You now have complete control to build them up with specific layouts and designs. Every district now needs to be placed on a separate tile on the game map. This makes space and resource management a much bigger part of the game.
If you build a poorly structured city, your residents will be unhappy. This can snowball. It’s common for beginners to suffer big setbacks in continent-wide wars because they neglected to build enough zoos or amenities in their cities.
There’s a lot more to Civ VI than just building a city. There’s diplomacy, war, and tech progression as you raise a city from one group of travelers to an empire. However, it has become an important part of the strategy in this title.
Combat is an important part of strategy here. Even if you’re aiming for peace, you need to be able to defend yourself when it’s your turn.
The DLC for this expands this even further. If you pick those up too, you can use a well-built city to lure other cities’ populations into defecting to your empire. This opens up even more routes to victory.
Civilization has become a much fuller experience with city building added in. If you’re looking for city building along with other elements, it’s a great pick for Switch players.
Islanders is an indie game that takes a different approach to city builders. Rather than building up complex population needs and economic systems, this is based around minimalism.
Players work with procedurally generated islands here. On each one, you have to place buildings from an inventory across the island. These placements award you points that let you progress.
Getting more points unlocks more buildings. It also restores your inventory of buildings to place and eventually lets you move on to the next island.
Rather than getting one spot to build into a utopia, Islanders had you moving on from your creations pretty frequently. The goal of the game is to continue to move from island to island, racking up a higher score.
As a minimalist city building game on Switch, it encourages you to not get too attached to any one city. That goes against a lot of the natural instincts for this genre, so it’s a fun change of pace for fans of the genre.
Islanders has a minimalist art style and nice calm soundtrack that helps make it something special. This might not have the wider economic management of other games, but it’s one of the best city building games on Nintendo Switch in its own way.
6. Spacebase Startopia
Spacebase Startopia is the top city building game on the switch if you want a title that goes beyond our current cities on earth. This is a building game that features some real-time strategy, economic management, and building in a space setting.
As the name implies, Spacebase Startopia is set aboard a space station. You’re building out this space station’s decks to better develop it.
Alongside city building, you’ll have to keep the people safe.
There are eight different alien races featured along with invaders that can try to topple your control of the space station. You’re not just building up your own station, but competing with others for resources along with trading.
The city building aspect is divided between the three different decks. You’ll need to pay attention to the morale of visitors, your resource and economic management, and safety if you want to survive in the harsh environment of outer space.
Spacebase Startopia even has some more complicated combat aspects. Defending your space station is a vital part of continuing your journey.
A space station has different needs and this title does a good job of feeling fresh for the genre. It’s a great pick if you want a Switch city building game that’s bigger than the earth.
Townscaper is an indie city building game on Switch. It allows you to build a variety of locales, everything from small villages to big cities.
The game has more options for building a quant and charming place than most city builders do. There’s less focus on aligning everything perfectly on a grid and more on free play.
The grid to place builds is irregular. Your creations aren’t going to look like highly planned modern cities with neatly laid out blocks. Instead, there’s a bit more character and space to build a city with an older feel.
This makes a change from the standard efficiency-first approach. It is definitely fun for those who like the creativity of building a city more than getting into the details of how everyday life works.
If you’re looking for one with a bit more creativity and a calm tone, then Townscraper is one of the best city building games on Switch for you.
4. Prison Architect
Prison Architect is a type of city building game that’s a bit more focused than constructing an entire city! This one has you running a prison alone, but there’s a lot of depth here.
The task in Prison Architect is to construct a prison that is escape-proof. You’ll also be in charge of keeping inmates safe and secure from each other though.
Their needs don’t just stop at staying alive. A great prison should be keeping the inhabitants healthy. That’s along with the vital task of actually helping them be reformed to fit better into society once they’re released.
Prison Architect is great for anyone who likes to get chaotic with their designs. You can make a well-functioning prison, or you can test out cruel and unusual experiments in design. Whatever you want to do, you can build it here.
The Escape Mode DLC is a great addition to this title too. It allows you to play as a prisoner in one of the built prisons and try to find a way to escape. This adds a whole new element to the game, putting you in the shoes of an NPC in your creation along with the building mode.
Prison Architect isn’t the most traditional city builder, but it has plenty to offer nonetheless.
3. Airborne Kingdom
Airborne Kingdom is a fun city builder that has the unique novelty of being set in the skies. You’re building a floating city among the clouds.
The gameplay is a mix between building and management. The population of your city has taken to a floating island of buildings to begin their journey. This adds the unique mechanic of making your city one that roams.
Your floating island moves around the map as the game processes. The map below is procedurally generated and new for every game. It can go around three different areas with 12 separate cities to work with.
You’ll have to find the resources that you need to expand as you move around. That’s while keeping your city perfectly balanced, fulfilling the needs and wants of the population.
The goal is to unite the population below into one nation by attracting migrants from other cities. However, they each come with new needs and wants, so you have to expand to cater to more and more people. These responsibilities can snowball until your city is a huge sprawling island.
There are campaign modes here for more structured play along with a sandbox where you can get creative. This is a different take, but a creative approach that ultimately makes for one of the best city building games on Switch.
2. Cities Skylines
Cities Skylines is one of the most impressive and well-known city builders. The entire simulation is more accessible than ever, making for one of the most expansive games in the genre.
Skylines lets you build a modern city with staggering detail to control. There isn’t a major gimmick or twist here. Instead, it just applies crazy depth to all of the standard features of a city builder.
Players have much more expansive economic options over the city as a whole. You have to really drill down into the micro level of how the everyday life of the citizens works.
The transport system in Cities Skylines is particularly worth noting. Players will have to logically think about how traffic in the city works and ensure their roads don’t lead to congestion.
The game is in-depth with its building and it might take a while to get a handle on it. However, with enough time put in you can master all of the tools at your deposal and build an impressive city.
Cities Skylines is a decent port over to the Switch. The controls are nicely moved onto the controllers. Although, the game can suffer some slowdown once the city gets particularly expansive. This can be frustrating, and it seems to be the trade-off for the Switch version of the demanding game.
With the depth on offer and with previous performance issues a thing of the past, Cities Skylines would be many gamers’ number one pick for the best city building game on Switch.
1. Tropico 6
The Tropico series of games are great city builders that take a fun theme and really run with it. You build a city and take care of it through numerous eras, trying to keep the citizens happy and expand the city.
The big difference between Tropico and the other Switch city building games covered here is that Tropico is set in a banana republic. The game has a lot of fun with this theming.
The policies you set, events that happen, and builds you can place are all built around this concept. You guide a banana republic from its colonial days through independence and the Cold War.
The end goal is to come out of this international upheaval as a country that’s capable of standing on its own in the worldwide community. You get to choose which way you take the island politically though.
The game might be a city builder, but you have an entire island on which to build your society. This iteration of the series even allows you to work with multiple islands at once, expanding the options for big you can get and how creatively you can work.
Tropico 6 features expanded options for building a city than in past games. There are more buildings, deeper economics, and resource management. There’s also a return to deeper politics here, with players able to make election speeches.
The game is ported nicely to the Switch. It allows you to use the touch screen in tablet mode for easier navigation. The inputs have been mapped to a controller about as well as they can be.
This is my favorite city building game on Switch, so if you’re interested in creating in a lively historical period, with plenty of personality added, definitely give this one a try.