Frankly, there are way too many Nintendo Switch games out there for any one person to reasonably play. Originally this story began as a usual update to our last feature on cool Nintendo Switch games to play right now. But the list got so big so quickly I had to spin it off into its own thing. And this isn’t even talking about the bevy of Switch games Nintendo’s just revealed at the last packed direct. Of course, there are more than just new Switch games on the horizon. The new, smaller, cheaper Nintendo Switch Lite releases later this month as well. So whether you play them on your TV or that new portable-only model, here are some Switch games worth considering.
As far as Nintendo comparisons go, The Touryst is probably most similar to the cult NES game StarTropics. But since some folks consider that game to be a Zelda clone, you can picture The Touryst as a tropical Zelda clone, too. The “overworld” as it were is a series of vacation-friendly islands complete with party-goers, photo-ops, and mysterious monuments. Completing some kind of puzzle on the island, like diving underwater to guide fish toward statues, then unlocks the monument and its dungeon-esque series of challenges. It’s all very chill. The tilt-shift voxel aesthetics is absolutely gorgeous with a shockingly small file size. The only thing that occasionally gets in the way of the mood is how actually tricky the platforming gets.
Trover Saves The Universe
With Rick and Morty back for season four, there was no better time to bring back Justin Roiland’s comedy platformer that takes place on various alien worlds essentially ripped from that series. And Trover Saves the Universe is very funny. I pushed forward just to hear whatever rambling riffs the characters would spout next. However, this is also very much a VR game. Many jokes are just papering over the mechanical limits of the form like the player character being an alien stuck in a chair. Outside of that context certain aspects of the gameplay, like the limited combat and heavy emphasis on finding new viewing angles, don’t hold up so well.
Jackbox Party Pack 6
Considering that Jackbox Party Pack games are best played with friends in living rooms (and can only be played with internet connections) playing it on the portable-only Switch Lite might not actually be ideal. But whatever, this was our best opportunity to remind you that these are still some of the best, funniest, most endearingly social local multiplayer experiences you can find. There’s another standard trivia game, a game about grouping your friends into categories, as well as a Mafia-esque game where players attempt to find one hidden saboteur. But to me these games are always at their best when they encourage creative writing and improv comedy, which you get in a game about defining fake words as well as a game about being a straight-up comedian on a boat.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine
Obviously I’m completely biased when it comes to Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, seeing as I wrote one of the characters. But if you want to play a game about traveling across America as a giant skeleton, and actually take it on the go, well now you can.
My problem with roguelikes has always been the lack of real progression. But who’s looking for progression out of a game where you bounce balls off of blocks? So with a smattering roguelike ideas, Holedown makes an already replayable genre even more addictive. Like Breakout meets Downwell, players try to smash as many blocks as possible through well-angled shots. Certain blocks absorb more hits than others and if the slowly rising blocks reach the surface it’s game over. If you’re good enough each run grants you crystals that unlock new skills like extra balls, extra crystal capacity, and extra planets to explore. So during your next run you have even more power to dig even deeper. It’s a real virtuous cycle.
We already told you a lot of our thoughts on Sparklite in an earlier preview, but the final result is an action-packed little 2D Zelda clone with cute retro visuals. I particularly enjoyed the variety of explosives. But the repeating roguelike structure is especially painful for a world I otherwise wanted to explore deeply and uninterrupted. Cadence of Hyrule pulled off this balance better.
So in case Pokemon, Luigi’s Mansion, and Link’s Awakening weren’t enough, Nintendo randomly slipped in another little first-party game for the holiday season. In practice, The Stretchers is a pretty straightforward Overcooked-esque arcade co-op game. But actually breaking down all of its mechanics leaves me about as dizzy as the victims you rescue.
You play as a pair of paramedics, either you and a friend or you controlling each character with one analog stick. It’s like Brothers but with wacky physics comedy instead of emotional depth. No matter what you’ll need coordination to find and scoop up all the victims at various perilous locations like saw mills and choppy beach shores. Missions are timed and you reach them by actually driving from your base across the little open-world. For one more comparison, it’s like Crazy Taxi for ambulances. And it’s really neat!
Ghostbusters: The Video Game
It may not be Batman: Arkham Asylum but Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a pretty admirable attempt at making a good, big, licensed video game. It’s fitting that this remaster is ten years old, back when licensed games like that still existed. Bill Murray is here and that’s pretty wild, even if Ernie Hudson low-key delivers the best performance. Physically slamming and trapping ghosts doesn’t quite feel as tactile as it should, but levels get good use out of other Proton Pack functions like spraying slime and tracking invisible objects. A Ghostbusters game in a post-Gears of War third-person shooter era is just such a slam dunk that it’s okay this game doesn’t try as hard as it could’ve. I do wish though we also got a remaster of the Wii version and its stylized art style that probably aged a lot better than this. That version also let you play as a lady Ghostbuster. Just saying.
Killer Queen Black
Killer Queen is a modern indie arcade game, so of course literally no one has played it. But it’s great! And it’s still great in Killer Queen Black. In this competitive, team based… platformer(?) players either control one of several dutiful workers or a single powerful yet vulnerable queen. Beat the other team by either killing the queen, hoarding enough berries, or moving a snail across the finish line. And keeping track of all of these potential objectives, each moving at different paces, makes each match a fantastic fracas of shifting strategies and skill. On Switch you can play online, including the nifty streaming feature following whichever team is “black” after killing the previous black team. But we do wish the full eight-player local experience didn’t require two whole consoles.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair
The original Yooka-Laylee was diet Banjo-Kazooie whereas Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is diet Donkey Kong Country, fitting as those games all share the same Rare developers. But Donkey Kong Country is better than Banjo-Kazooie, and moving to 2D improves Yooka-Laylee as well. I like so much of the core here. The top-down overworld full of puzzles. The beautiful organic levels that you can morph into different forms. The titular brutal final gauntlet level you can play whenever you choose. It’s just little issues that eat away at my enjoyment like the weightless jumps, levels that run out of ideas before they end, and overworld obstacles that halt momentum. Again, it’s diet. Not quite the full thing.
I’ve only played the first Trine game and found Trine 4 to be quite familiar. But based on fan reactions to the games in-between, that sounds like a good thing. You seamlessly swap between three different characters using their unique powers to solve sidescrolling environmental puzzles. Summon a box with the wizard, freeze it in place with the thief’s ice arrows, and use the knight’s shield to reflect a beam of light into the glass. Solutions are often very clever, and the game has so much physics jank with its otherwise immaculate storybook presentation that you feel like you’re breaking things in a good way. But levels are so long, and the overall uses for your abilities so similar, that it became a bit tiresome.
The Bradwell Conspiracy
The Bradwell Conspiracy is a first-person adventure game with a setting and gimmick that could’ve rivaled Portal. Trapped inside a history museum in the future, players use a handheld 3D printer that absorbs raw material and craft useful objects stored in memory. The game doesn’t totally waste its potential. Museums are an inherently fun and maze-like place to navigate while printing boards beneath my feet to cross gaps was pretty empowering. But the solutions are rarely creative enough to justify your relative lack of freedom. And supplemental mechanics, like taking pictures of your environment to send back to your helper on the other end of the phone, feel similarly under-cooked. Plus the framerate on Switch specifically is genuinely tough to look at.
Asphalt 9: Legends
While I wait in vain for a proper Need for Speed or Burnout game on Switch, Asphalt 9: Legends offers arcade street racing thrills of its own. The sense of speed and highly polished visuals are as impressive as you would hope for a franchise that has essentially dominated the genre on mobile for years. Unfortunately, it also carries over its mobile monetization tactics, forcing players to deal with packs of paid cards to unlock new vehicles. Considering how short most tracks in a circuit, you’ll want those extra vehicles just to keep things interesting. Better pay up! Better stay always online!
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Spyro Reignited Trilogy gives the purple dragon the same lavish makeover Crash Bandicoot got. Fortunately, the core games are better. You can still feel the early PlayStation 1 roots as developers figured out what fun players could have in 3D beyond just running around collecting trinkets. But Spyro’s movement, from his four-legged trot to his ramming charge to his fire breath to his surprisingly technical and advanced for the time gliding, just feel good, which is key in a platformer. The levels, while basic, have a bite-sized nature that works on the go.
Creature in the Well
As far as weird pinball-based action games go, Creature in the Well makes Yoku’s Island Express look downright traditional. In this sketchy wasteland players travel through different dungeons playing hack and slash pinball tables. Your “score” is an energy currency that unlocks new rooms, giving you a lot of freedom with how to proceed. And between the constant projectiles and ability to charge and aim shots, it’s like you have multiball all the time. Or imagine an entire game made of that boss fight where you and the enemy hit a ball of energy back and forth like tennis. As novel as this all is though, the concept is maybe stretched just a little too thin by the end.
Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise
Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise collects all five episodes of the mobile espionage adventure game. And its clever puzzles do make you feel like a superspy. Instead of a sprawling tedious journey where you talk to people and figure out increasingly obscure item combinations, Agent A keeps things manageable by presenting puzzles in what are basically self-contained escape room scenarios. Get out of this small space with whatever you can find like a diamond to refract lasers or a magnet to pull a key from an aquarium. That’s not to say you won’t run into dilemmas. I enjoyed the puzzles that initially seem like red herrings before you realize their relevance much later. But the condensed nature keeps things from getting too frustrating. The downside is the game can feel pretty lonely and bare in these sparse rooms with no other characters and only your own internal monologue. The illustrated cutscenes are nice but few and far between.
Superhot is the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years, so much so that the original release made it onto my 2016 game of the year list. And it’s still great on Nintendo Switch. Time only moves when you do so frantic firefights in this first-person shooter instead play out like a turn-based strategy game, an abstract concept matched by abstract visuals. It’s exceedingly clever. The motion controls make lining up shots even more methodical. And the mind-bending gameplay is surpassed by an even more mind-bending story that definitely doesn’t need to go as hard as it does. Super. Hot.
Hotline Miami Collection
It’s clear now that Hotline Miami is one of the most influential modern indie games. Countless others have ripped off its potent blend of incredibly fast and brutal action that isn’t afraid to make players quickly repeat levels over and over again. And its violent nightmare Florida late 80s drug haze music and visuals are still unmatched. That said, this was my first time playing the sequel also included in this collection. And it’s bad. The tedious sprawling levels ruin what works about these mechanics. But at least the original still slaps!
First of all, Duke Nukem being in this game for no reason whatsoever is the best crossover of its kind since Star Fox in Starlink. It helps too that Bulletstorm is an exponentially better game than, say, Duke Nukem Forever. After crash landing on a planet full of crazed feral space tourists(?) the game just gets right to the point and tells you to slaughter them all. There’s even an in-game explanation for the points you earn to unlock new skills. The shooting itself is tight but the combat’s real creativity comes from the push-pull action of reeling in enemies with your whip and brutally Sparta kicking them away. The world is a canvas of carnage, and a good-looking one that at.
Risk of Rain 2
Risk of Rain 2 takes the multiplayer roguelike RPG shooter formula of the first game and moves it into the third dimension. So props for that ambition. It has a kind of budget No Man’s Sky look too that works well with the randomized areas. The third-person shooting itself is just fine, but I like the floaty almost platformer style controls. You’re asked to do a lot of exploring in somewhat confusing landscapes so at least you can get around well. And customizing your loadout with different cooldown skills like rapid blasts or quick dodges makes combat pretty expressive. It’s just a shame this is a roguelike that wipes clean any sense of progression.
River City Girls
If The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa was too dour and artsy for you, check out this peppy bubbly official new entry in the Kunio-Kun franchise. River City Girls feels like the Sonic Mania of River City Ransom, a loving fan project that’s a modernized memory. It helps that the production value is off the charts with great vocal tracks and exquisite pixel animation from WayForward. But it’s not all surface level. The fighting system is incredibly deep, taking ideas from fighting games or Devil May Cry. And you’ll have to really learn all of your moves because the game is tough.
Almost too tough. At times I felt like I had no chance unless I had a partner or did some grinding for experience and cash for healing items in the open world. And as fun as it is to pull off elaborate combos with tight input timing windows (parry into upgraded light attack string into heavy haymaker into calling in a recruited assist character) that level of required technical finesse can get exhausting in a beat ‘em up with hordes of characters to take on at once.
As someone who spends all day writing and promoting headlines for actual news, I worried Headliner: NoviNews might hit too close to home. It does, but you should still play it. The game resembles Papers, Please but for fraught political journalism instead of immigration. As a journalist in an unstable future country the stories you choose to publish can drastically change the national mood. I tried to balance skepticism of genetic mod therapy while not giving into nationalistic hate of the foreigners behind those mods. I pushed for universal health care and fought back against sketchy energy drink companies even if it meant losing funding. I even had time to take care of a dog.
Has it been long enough since Diablo 3 came to Switch? The makers of Torchlight 2 hope so because this fantasy action-RPG scratches precisely the same loot itch. In fact, before Diablo 3’s various updates, many considered Torchlight 2 the better game. And I can see that. Action is snappy, loot is plentiful, dungeons are sprawling, and the quests are suitably epic yet manageable. You can even team up with a unicorn pet when fighting monsters. If you’re still having trouble deciding, for some reason Torchlight 2, despite looking very good, has a file size a fraction of Diablo’s.
PC Building Simulator
We already went through the looking glass by streaming PC Building Simulator with folks who actually build and tests PCs for a living. Now things get extra meta when this game about building the beefiest rigs possible comes to the weakest modern console. But it’s not just a lark. With the real-world brands and in-depth construction mechanics, the game gives you creative freedom and an actual realistic consumer tech education. While messing around with liquid cooling the boot errors I got in the game definitely gave me flashbacks to real life. There’s even a little Stardew Valley-esque campaign about running the computer repair shop. Like many sim games though, the experience is so dry that you need to already be into the premise to have fun.
Heave Ho takes the comedically difficult movement mechanics of something like QWOP or Getting Over It and brings it to a wacky multiplayer party platformer. Gauge your momentum, swing, and grab onto surface with one hand for dear life. Use that other hand to toss your friends forward. Create a chain of cooperation. Ruin it by farting. The multiplayer is sheer chaos but even as a single-player game the treacherous march forward will have you laughing and screaming at the same time.
If Super Mario Maker 2 has you ready to make more games on Switch, Fuze is the next step up and then some. If you want to learn to code this piece of software has you straight up writing code on your Switch. It’s pretty daunting at first and has you reaching for your keyboard. Fortunately, there are lots of tutorials and included assets to help you get started. You can freely look and mess around with the code of included games from a range of 2D and 3D genres. Once you do develop something you’re proud of, you can share it. But again, prepare yourself for a pretty uncompromising educational tool.