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The 60 Best Nintendo Switch Games

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It isn’t easy choosing the Best Nintendo Switch Games.

It seems only yesterday that the Nintendo Switch was released. The excitement of opening up a new box and unwrapping a new console complete with a new adventure in the Legend of Zelda saga is now a distant memory. The Nintendo Switch has conveyed a multitude of emotions in its first year, from the adrenaline of ARMS to the easy-going nature of Super Mario Odyssey, from the expanse of Hyrule to the closed confines of Mario + Rabbids, there hasn’t been a reason not to take your Nintendo Switch on every journey with you.

To celebrate the Nintendo Switch’s first two years, the Goomba Stomp staff have updated the list of our favorite games we’ve played so far on the Switch. Let’s hope for many more joyous moments ahead!

The Best Nintendo Switch Games (Top 60)

ARMS 60. ARMS

Nintendo is no stranger to dabbling in party-style games with a competitive edge, such as the long-running Super Smash Bros. series, the burst in recent years with Splatoon and, to a degree, even Mario Kart.

But, while it might be easy to put 2017’s ARMS next to these aforementioned titles in Nintendo’s resumé (and it might fair to say it probably does belong at the end of the day),the title does things a bit differently.

The gameplay of ARMS is a bit unusual when compared to other types of fighting games, as it gives players control over characters from a third-person point of view, with a strong emphasis on agility and reflexes alone, and without much — if anything — in the way of moves or combos. In essence, it’s a modern amalgamation of “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots” mixed with a bit of Nintendo’s own Punch-Out!! series.

In ARMS, you take control of a number of different characters with specific abilities and movement speeds that set them apart, and each character controls differently enough for there to be a good variety in playstyles. However, the game isn’t exactly obvious or easy to understand and get the hang of, mostly because it’s unlike anything you’ve probably played before.

Fortunately, the game isn’t bound to just motion controls, which might have been miscommunicated to a lot of people when it was first announced. In fact, I’ve hardly ever played the game with motion controls (though apparently some of the top players of the game prefer it!).

Regardless, ARMS is a lot more straight-forward as a fighting game, without much flair or variety beyond its core, focused gameplay. This isn’t a negative, as ARMS’ focus on what it does well works for those who give the game enough of a commitment to understanding its mechanics.

ARMS shines the most as an online experience, and is not much of a local “party” game. This makes it a lot more niche than other competitive games under Nintendo’s banner, and perhaps has been a detriment to lack of broader success. But, for those who do enjoy it, ARMS is an addictive, unique (especially for Nintendo) competitive experience that I hope we see more of going in the future. (Maxwell N)

snipperclips Best Nintendo Switch Games59. Snipperclips
Nintendo’s puzzle games usually sidle into the room without much fanfare, aiming to be nice little distractions from major releases, unburdened by the pressure to perform. That wasn’t the case with Snipperclips, however, which was immediately thrust into the spotlight as one of the Switch’s launch titles. This family-friendly cut-up was tasked with showing the new console’s appeal in the portable co-op arena, and thanks to some clever conundrums, inventive gameplay, and a quirky vibe, it largely succeeded. Snipperclips sees players working together to solve puzzles by slicing away at each other to create useful shapes. Need to get a ball into a hoop? Make a scoop out of your partner’s body. Want to pop that annoying balloon? Carve a sharp point by chopping away at their head. There are no limits to how you can scissor away at the creepy/adorable heroes (Snip and Clip), and so solutions are often limited only by your collective imagination.

Of course, that can easily lead to scissor fights that result in chaotic slashing for the fun of it, but what Snipperclips does so well is actually emphasized teamwork. While the game is playable by one person, a big part of the enjoyment is participating in all the goofy shenanigans gaming buddies will get into by experimenting. Simple controls mean anyone can play, and with two joy-cons included with every Switch, this game is ready for multiplayer right out of the box. It’s the kind of concept that fits perfectly with Nintendo’s sales pitch, a wonderful demonstration of the console’s ability to deliver entertainment anywhere. While it might not have quite the replay value or length as some other puzzlers (though DLC has fixed that somewhat), Snipperclips offers a fun-filled co-op experience that shines while it lasts. (Patrick Murphy)

Wulverblade

58. Wulverblade

The side-scrolling brawler seemed lost in time, just a memory of the 90s. Games like Streets of Rage and Double Dragon are timeless classics for those that grew up in that era, as is one of the best games on the Sega Megadrive, Golden Axe, that Wulverblade is so inspired by. Wulverblade is unashamedly trapped in the vortex of the arcade era, motivated by the nostalgic memories of many childhoods, creating a beautifully animated, modernized side-scroller for the 21st century.

Set in 120 AD, during the Roman occupation of Britain, Wulverblade gives you the sword of what closely resembles a Pict (although described as a Northern Briton) resisting the legions of the Roman Empire, which is no small feat. The treachery of the Britons that ally with the Romans antagonizes the main hero, Caradoc, to take the fight to the Romans. He is joined by the brute Brennus, as well as the menacing Merida-inspired Guinevere to return Britannia to the Brits.

Wulverblade’s lack of hand-holding is perhaps one of its strongest elements. Side-scrolling brawlers are supposed to be relentless and unforgiving, and Wulverblade doesn’t say sorry to anyone. It never questions itself, and instead only answers with more intense brute intense force, punishing hesitancy with a swift blow. For the seasoned gamer looking for a challenge, Wulverblade is a must(James Baker)

Best Nintendo Switch Games Iconoclasts

57. Iconoclasts

If there’s one thing that Iconoclasts delivers on in droves, it’s personality. From the start of the deceptively somber title screen, developer Joakim Sandberg makes it clear that his game is anything but cookie-cutter. Instead, players experience a lovingly handcrafted puzzle-platformer that screams passion, design chops, and years behind the controller.

Iconoclasts’ story has grand ambitions. Players assume the role of Robin, a young mechanic wanted by the government for following in her father’s footsteps and helping those in need. The tale takes some interesting turns and provides plenty of lore between a healthy amount of dialogue with NPCs and little notes/documents contextually scattered throughout the world.

However, the overarching narrative isn’t the reason to play Iconoclasts. That honor belongs to the game’s masterful level design, imaginative puzzles, and top-notch production values. Though players start out quite outclassed with a simple stun gun and eventually a giant wrench, both of these receive upgrades throughout the course of the 12-15-hour campaign that completely changes how players can interact with the environment. This is to say nothing of the combat, which itself contains puzzle elements when figuring out how to approach different enemy types (especially when it comes to boss battles). All of this is brought to life via some of the best sprite-based animations I’ve ever seen in a video game.

Iconoclasts ended up being one of the best-feeling games I played on the Switch. It controls like a dream, and the occasional weapon upgrades are meaningful and fully fleshed out. The supporting characters are all well-written (even generic lackeys) and genuinely fun to watch interact with each other. Iconoclasts‘ story isn’t anything to write home about, but its world-building, character dialogue, tight gameplay mechanics and gorgeous pixel work more than make up for it. (Brent Middleton)

Disgaea-5-Complete-Review-1

56. Disgaea 5 Complete

Some of the best Strategy-RPGs aren’t necessarily known for their story as much as their characters (i.e. Fire Emblem), and Disgaea 5 Complete is no exception. Main protagonist Killia is a serious, stoic demon, constantly keeping the player guessing about his mysterious past as he’s pulled into working with Princess Seraphina to overthrow a tyrant attempting to rule over all of Hell. The rest of the party is full of quirky and lovable characters led by over-the-top Seraphina, meathead Red Magnus, and sweetheart Usalia. Despite lacking traditional cutscenes, all the characters are all brilliantly brought to life through rock-solid VO, expressive character sprites, and fully voice-acted static story sequences featuring beautiful high-definition 2D character portraits. The campaign is full of campy, lighthearted humor that refuses to stop until it has you cracking a smile.

Outside of its memorable characters, Disgaea 5 is all about its classic strategic gameplay. Players move up to 10 party members around a massive variety of grid-based levels and battle it out using loads of different attacks and abilities. The name of the game is carefully positioning team members to execute chain attacks in an attempt to wipe out the enemy while clinching the stage’s “top bonus” reward. Disgaea 5 features almost 50 classes of fighters to choose from, each with their own special attacks and evilities. The gameplay is routinely kept fresh by way of varying battlefield elevations, environmental effects, and status effect changes via Geo Symbols.

Disgaea 5 Complete is truly the hardcore tactical RPG that the Switch needed in lieu of Fire Emblem last year. The main campaign is lengthy, the battle system is deep, there’s a surprisingly robust amount of player and hub customization, and with the ability to level up each individual piece of gear, the game never truly ends. If you love silly yet fleshed-out characters, top-notch tactical gameplay, and a seemingly infinite amount of stats to keep track of, Disgaea 5 Complete is a total must-buy. (Brent Middleton)

Mulaka

55. Mulaka

Mulaka will be a first for many, a slice of Mexico’s rich history that gamers haven’t often savored, a taste of the past that will inspire our own curiosity. Based on the ancient Tarahumara tribe in Northern Mexico, players embark on a journey as a Tarahumara Shaman — known as a Sukurúame — while seeking the power of the demigods to conquer the environment and defeat the soul-eating creatures from Tarahumara lore.

The Legend of Zelda inspiration can be seen throughout Mulaka, from its angular Nintendo 64 graphics similar to Ocarina of Time to its bumbling NPCs that have a variety of personalities and customs. The artwork is clean and simple, and yet beautiful at the same time, allowing the player to easily immerse themselves in unfamiliar territory.

The beauty of Mulaka is its unique setting, familiar gameplay, and the joy it unleashes through every pixel. Mulaka has opened up a whole new world, delivering a game that you feel like you’ve played before but able to maintain a mystery. This is the beginning of great things for the developers, Lienzo, and there will already be huge anticipation as to how they push the series forward and continue our journey across Mexico.  (James Baker)

Best Switch Games Mr Shifty

54. Mr. Shifty

Entertainment media has a long history of borrowing and reworking existing ideas. The indie games sphere has most certainly adopted this as its de facto mantra, and we are frequently the benefactors of genre refinement. This can be detrimental to genres that are oversaturated (looking at you, Metroidvania), but when a genre is as niche as the one that seemingly contains only Hotline Miami, tinkering with that formula certainly wouldn’t go amiss. Enter Mr. Shifty — the version of Hotline Miami with gore turned down, and phase-shifting turned right up.

Much like its obvious influence, Mr. Shifty is played from a top-down perspective, as players are tasked with moving from room to room and taking out large numbers of enemies along the way. You don’t use any guns in Shifty, but thanks to the eponymous hero’s shift ability, you won’t miss them. At the press of a button, he can shift through walls, bullets, and even enemies, allowing for breathless movement around a combat area, flanking enemies and dodging bullets like a demigod. Taking out enemies also fills a meter that, when full, grants a slow-mo ability that automatically activates when Shifty next gets shot at, and sees him flying through the level like Fry on 100 cups of coffee.

This isn’t to say the game is easy. Shifty might have superpowers, but he ain’t no bullet sponge, and a single hit from an enemy will bring the proceedings to an abrupt end. As is to be expected, it’ll take a fair amount of trial and error to complete a stage, but this all adds to the fun of trying to figure out the most effective and/or stylish way to reach the goal. It straddles that line of repetition and addictiveness really well, especially when bolstered by the Switch’s handheld capabilities. I still don’t know what this Hotline Miami/Superhot genre is called, but Mr. Shifty is a very able addition to it. (Alex Aldridge)

Best Switch Games Dandara

53. Dandara

For as many twists and turns as they take, the stale caverns of the Metroidvania genre rarely alter course from formula, the tried-and-true gameplay rarely strays from the established path, so when something like Dandara comes along, its minor deviations can feel like a breath of fresh air. Instead of the usual running and gunning, the titular protagonist here must plot her course through the various rooms by employing a multi-directional dash that allows her to reach to certain areas on the floor, ceiling, and walls to which she can stick (think Spider-Man crossed with Nightcrawler). This unique method of movement makes every room and battle almost its own puzzle, adding a layer of strategy even to traversal, and ensures that players pay close attention to their surroundings — which is perfect for finding secrets.

Add to that a curious visual design that is at the same time incongruous yet clear in its visions, and there’s a funky vibe going on here. One minute Dandara is fighting giant bugs in a pixelated pine tree forest, and the next she’s shooting cat soldiers amidst rundown urban streets, all while a cosmic backdrop frames the action. Yet, it all makes sense, and Dandara conveys its story with focused melancholy and a tinge of hope. The action can get clunky during the few bullet hell sections, but mastering the movement leads to the thrilling satisfaction of ricocheting through the world at ease — and points the genre toward the discovery of new ways to explore. (Patrick Murphy)

52. Nintendo Labo

Just when you thought Nintendo couldn’t get any more ‘Nintendo,’ they made up Labo. Labo is less a singular game and more of a catch-all for various software and related peripherals that are cardboard cut-out kits for the Switch. Thus far, there has been a variety kit, a robot kit, a vehicle kit, and a forthcoming VR kit. While most of the software has been well-executed, it has also been a little shallow, and there has yet to be a single game that has captured the hearts and minds of cardboard enthusiasts. Instead, it is the unique experience that is building a cardboard fishing rod or robot that makes Labo something special. And that experience is infused with Nintendo quality and charm. While perhaps more aimed at kids and quirky adults, Labo is unlike anything out there, and is definitely a special addition to the Switch. (Marty Allen)

Best Nintendo Switch Games Kirby Star Allies 

51. Kirby Star Allies

Kirby Star Allies feels strange when compared to the rest of the Switch’s lineup. It doesn’t change around its franchise’s formula as dramatically as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or innovate on series traditions as well as Super Mario Odyssey. It’s not as expansive as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or as polarizing as Pokémon Let’s Go. It feels like the same Kirby game that Nintendo fans have been playing since Kirby’s Adventure released on the NES in 1993, a factor that might explain why the pink puffball’s latest adventure didn’t exactly light up Metacritic upon release.

But, sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with more of the same.

Coming from the American South, Kirby Star Allies reminds me of old-fashioned, Southern comfort food. Both have been around for what feels like forever, they rarely change, and they aren’t exactly the trendiest items in their respective categories. However, they’re both satisfying, filling, and spirit-lifting after a long day at work. Certainly, Star Allies could have done more; it lacks a sense of spunk and creativity that every Nintendo franchise has found in the past few years, and its technical performance leaves much to be desired. But, like one doesn’t scowl at the calorie count of a twelve-inch dinner plate piled with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and biscuits, one also shouldn’t scowl at one of Nintendo’s most conservative franchises for refusing to innovate.

Sure, Kirby Star Allies is more of the same easy-going platforming that fans have seen for the past twenty-five plus years, but with Nintendo innovating on nearly every one of their franchises and introducing new elements that aren’t always popular with longtime fans, more of the same lovable Kirby we’ve grown to love over the years isn’t exactly a bad thing. (Izsak Barnette)

50. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon

As far as Kickstarter stretch goals go, this is a Cristiano Ronaldo bicycle kick. Koji Igarashi and Inti Creates promised an 8-bit spin-off from Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, and drive a stake through my heart if they didn’t deliver. Curse of the Moon looks, sounds, and feels just like the 8-bit Castlevania titles on NES. Players can swap between four different characters (a la Castlevania III) on the fly as they progress through a handful of beautifully crafted levels — each of which culminates with a challenging boss fight.

It strikes a real chord for the talent Igarashi possesses when it comes to effortlessly crafting titles within the genre he helped to define. What could be dismissed as a throwaway, token effort to appease the backers of the main event ends up as a very sufficient starter to the main course. It’s got everything a game of this type should have: the moody castles, the pulsating chiptune soundtrack, restrictive jumping, whips, candles to be destroyed — it’s all here, and it functions on a much higher level than a simple box-ticking exercise. Thanks to the decades of experience gained in the aftermath of the titles it apes, Curse of the Moon feels respectful and refined in equal measure.

The game might not necessarily be very long, but levels have multiple routes, and there are three difficulty levels, which is more than enough for the incredibly meager asking price. What’s more, this is the exact type of game speed-runners love, and I’m sure it’ll appear to be destroyed at a GDQ in no time. Until then, we mere mortals can enjoy one of the more satisfying retro throwbacks of the year. (Alex Aldridge)

FooorKids

49. Floor Kids

Over the last 30 years, the combination of hip-hop and video games has had decidedly mixed results often failing to translate across the gaming medium, thanks to many cheap cash-ins by artists and video game companies looking to make a quick buck. That’s not the case with Floor Kids, a labour of love from Montreal-based duo JonJon and Kid Koala. This indie breakdancing game from Merj Media, released on the Nintendo Switch in late December, is one of the best games you’ll find on the console to date, mixing likable personalities and wall-to-wall toe-tapping music to paint a picture of a subculture that promotes diversity among its audience. It happens to be one of the freshest gaming experiences for quite a while, and you don’t need to be a hip-hop fan to appreciate it. Even as it pays earnest homage to turntablists and beat jugglers, Floor Kids is great fun, stitched together with energy, intelligence, and verve, and enhanced by a surplus of breakbeats that will make you want to get up and dance.

Floor Kids is a welcome addition to the Switch library. On the surface, it’s a fun rhythm game that’s easy to grasp, but if you dig deeper, Floor Kids does a superb job showing the form’s incredible complexity and technical diversity, and makes a persuasive case for breakdancing as both an art form and a form of self-expression. All in all, Floor Kids is one of the most enjoyable experiences we’ve come across in gaming as a whole. Those gamers who would automatically bypass a hip-hop rhythm game should give Floor Kids a second look. (Ricky D)

48. Slime-san

Slime-san is a deceiving game at face value. Browsing the myriad of indies on the Switch eShop, one might mistake it for just another retro-style game without any real identity. With today’s focus on high fidelity graphics, it can be easy to forget that strong gameplay is what separates a decent game from a stellar one. That one elusive factor is what made Slime-san hands-down the best indie platformer on the eShop before Celeste rewrote the script earlier this year.

Everything in Slime-San‘s design has a purpose. The game’s striking three-color art style isn’t just unique — it’s also ingrained into the game’s mechanics. White surfaces are neutral, green surfaces can be phased through, and red surfaces mean instant death. Over the course of 400 rooms (or 800 for those brave enough to weather New Game+) Slime-San consistently finds ways to twist those mechanics in ways that keep players on their toes. Just like any great platformer, Slime-san manages to masterfully tread the line between tough and unfair; if you find yourself repeatedly dying at a certain jump or obstacle, you always know it’s your fault.

Remember earlier when I mentioned retro-style games without a strong identity? Slime-san manages to set itself apart with endearing little characters and a vibrant, seedy world. The majority of the game consists of platforming your way back up through a giant worm that’s swallowed Slime-san and his bird pal whole, but those looking for more context can find it. Developer Fabraz took the time to create fully realized, explorable environments both inside and outside of the worm, each complete with a colorful cast of characters, as well as a few extra areas that go a long way in adding personality to an otherwise straightforward collection of platforming challenges. It’s the entirely unnecessary yet wholly welcome additions like these that make Slime-san feel like a true labor of love. If you like challenging, innovative platformers that have personality in spades, you can’t go wrong with this one. (Brent Middleton)

Best Switch Games Wandersong

47. Wandersong

The power of song will save us all.

Among the prodigious heap of wonderful Switch titles, a simple little indie called Wandersong tells a heartfelt story, and sings a tune all its own. The game begins with players trying to pick up a sacred sword to slay an intimidating beast. You’re terrible with that sword, really just no good at all. The thing is, you’re a bard. Your voice is your tool, your weapon, and your heart, and you sing your way through the problems of the land. Mean ghosts? Troublesome demons? Unruly pirates? Sing a song.

At one point, your grumpy friend (who is a witch) insists on using magic to take down a nasty beast. You insist on trying to talk to the monster. It works. Throughout the game, you sail the seas, start a band, meet some mermaids, fly through the air on a broomstick, fail a lot, make many friends, and keep picking yourself back up while singing again and again. It plays wonderfully and looks great, with a cutout style reminiscent of Paper Mario and Steven Universe, but with an identity all its own.

The mechanics are simple but effective — an 8-pointed color wheel controls pitch and tone. But the folks who created this title — Greg Labanov and friends — manage to keep the simple idea fun with gameplay twists. As the story progresses, they turn tropes of the hero’s journey on their head in order to craft an engaging and beautiful tale about the power of hope and friendship. It all could come across as too sugary, but the developers are self-aware, keeping the heart of the game front and center. The result is a fun and meaningful game that dares to embrace a message of love and non-violence, a notion that is always welcome. You can keep your rugged cowboys — I’ll be singing over here.  (Marty Allen)

Best Switch Games Gris

46. GRIS

GRIS follows the emotional journey of a young girl through an ethereal watercolor world, beginning with the main character losing her voice, while all color in the world around her is also removed. As you progress through the game, individual colors are added back in at certain points as the landscape slowly begins to spring back to life.

At its core, GRIS is a platforming adventure with light puzzle elements. As you navigate the serene environments, you will encounter scenarios that require you to use any abilities you’ve gathered along the way in order to progress. Certain areas aren’t accessible when first approached, only to open up later when players gain the correct ability. The game is also designed in such a way that encourages exploration, as it does not tell you where your next ability or objective lies. Much of the narrative is open to interpretation, which gives the experience an even more unique, art-like approach.

The music in GRIS accompanies the visuals perfectly, with each area creating a different auditory experience. Some areas are filled with a full string orchestra, while others may include the delicate notes of a single piano as you journey through the world.

GRIS is a beautiful experience that plays similarly to games like Journey, ABZÛ and Flower. There are limited action sequences, with the majority of the game filled with moments that tie visuals and sound together in a way that words simply don’t do justice. (Matthew Adler)

Ape Out Review

45.  Ape Out

In Ape Out, Gabe Cuzzillo and his small team have crafted something unique that comes highly recommended. This game is equal parts beautiful, thoughtful, exhilarating, and fun. The sum of its parts is a creation that is all-too-rare in games — something fresh and unlike anything else. I found myself thinking about it when I wasn’t playing it, and unable to put the controller down in order to give each board ‘just one more try.’ To have that gameplay experience put together with so much artistic flair makes for the kind of experience that is worth killing for. Again and again and again.

Ape Out is a rhythmic pulse of thrust-push-kill fun. Ape Out is the kick drum rolling right into to the snare and a crash just as you crush that guard a hair before he pulls the trigger. Ape Out is blood trailing behind you when you can’t take another shot, then crossing through the green door of freedom and into the jungle beyond at the last moment. (Marty Allen)

44. Wargroove

Wargroove is an epic, beautiful love letter to the lost (but not forgotten) classic strategy series, Advance Wars. Following the same formula of Nintendo’s collaboration with Intelligent Systems, Wargroove tells the story of the trials and tribulations of Princess Marcia as she leads her kingdom in the wake of her father’s assassination. Players will recruit troops, capture towns, fight the undead, and — if you play as well I do — get stuck on the same missions for hours.

Wargroove is not an easy game, and sometimes it’s not even a fair one. Objectives may change in the middle of a battle, making a difficult fight almost impossible — until you replay it, knowing what’s coming, and beat it without a modicum of effort. Some units never seem to be worth their excessive cost, and map design often doesn’t allow for the interesting positioning tactics that the game otherwise tries to encourage. The story — while better than anything put forward by Advance Wars — is nothing to write home about, either.

However, objectives are mixed up at a decent rate between missions, stopping the game from getting too repetitive during overly long, socially-unacceptable binge sessions. New units are introduced at a healthy rate, and the game is absolutely loaded with content. There are three separate single-player modes (including the brilliant “Puzzle Mode,” in which the player has one turn to win a battle from a predefined position), and each requires a significant time investment to complete. On top of that, there is online and local multiplayer for up to 4 players, and it’s possible to craft not only your own maps, but your own entire campaigns.

Above all else, Wargroove is a wonderfully produced game with tense battles, gorgeous sprite work, a generous amount of content, and absolutely tons of heart. It hearkens back to an era when games were simpler, but no less wonderful affairs. It’s an expression of pure joy, and while there will be some debate as to whether it manages to live up to the legacy of its obvious inspiration, Wargroove is a worthy investment for any fan of classic turn-based strategy. (Rowan Ryder)

Mega Man 11 Review

43. Mega Man 11

Mega Man 11 proved two things: that the nonsensical numbering system of Mega Man games means absolutely nothing at this stage, and that Capcom has finally figured out a way to make a really good Mega Man game without having to resort to a NES engine.

Mega Man 11 won’t look instantly familiar to veteran players. Its visual style caused more consternation that the game could potentially share more similarities to the terrible Mighty Number 9. Luckily, despite its neon-tinged HD visuals, the game feels just like home for Mega Man fans. A home filled with misery, frustration, and death. So, a funeral home I guess?

Effortlessly recounting the physics and feel of the NES classics, Mega Man 11 is how the game should have been modernized a generation ago. Capcom wasn’t satisfied with just a faithful graduation to a jazzed-up graphical style, and made several changes to add fresh mechanics and subvert expectations. Unlocked weapons now completely alter Mega Man’s appearance (rather than a simple color palette swap) and feel more significant than ever before. The Double Gear System, allowing Mega Man to power up his weapons or slow down time for a finite period, was a brilliant way to make the game both more interesting and more welcoming to newcomers.

Of course, it’s not that welcoming, as Mega Man 11 is just as difficult as we’ve all come to expect. Some bosses now have several forms; the as giant, hulking mechs filling the screen are a far cry from Sheep Man. Thankfully (and in direct opposition to an absolutely dreadful save system), Dr. Light’s shop can be accessed after any game over to stock up on helpful powers and extra lives to ensure the mere mortal can actually complete the game. It’s not how the hardcore players do it, but some of us have other things to do with our lives, right? (Alex Aldridge)

42. Yoku’s Island Express

Yoku’s Island Express is a tiny, bite-sized game of incredibly good original content. Originally released for the Nintendo Switch in late May of 2018, this adorable game is a total mash between a Metroidvania and pinball. Upon hearing that, it doesn’t sound like it would work as a concept, especially because the game is utterly cute, but it absolutely does, like mixing together something salty with something sweet. You play as Yoku, a dung beetle who washes up on a small island and is immediately put in charge of the local postal service. The laid-back lifestyle Yoku was hoping for is quickly diminished as the “God Eater” begins killing the island deities. Yoku must find the leaders of three religious factions and bring them together for a ceremony of healing.

The mechanics operate like an open-world exploration mixed with pinball, then mixed with platforming. I personally binged this game in one day after I picked up; it was nothing less than addicting, and as soon as I put my Switch down to take a break, I’d be reaching for it minutes later and play for another handful of hours. This quick indie game is a must-have for any switch library, and can even help brighten your life in a tiny way. (Katrina Lind)

Night In The Woods

41. Night In The Woods

Defining what a game is can be a tricky thing. Indies have been at the forefront of experimenting with exactly what that definition can be. Night in the Woods is ostensibly a narrative adventure game in the same vein as Oxenfree and Life is Strange. While it tells a heartfelt story, it does so in a way that only a video game could.
The story follows Mae, a lackadaisical college dropout utterly intent on avoiding responsibility. She returns home to Possum Springs, a dying town strangling the life out of its inhabitants. Here she whiles away the hours, coming to terms with her past, present, and future. Along the way, she sees old friends and faces, confronting unpleasant facts whether she wants to or not.

The game offers a fairly tactile experience, especially for a narrative title. At random points in the story, simple game mechanics pop up. Sometimes it’s swinging a bat at flying fluorescent lights, other times it’s reaching out a gangly paw for a slice of pizza.

The art style for Night in the Woods is somewhere between Richard Scarry and Wes Anderson. It lives in a stylized reality where humanoid cats walk on electric lines and hang out at the local Snack Falcon. Dreamy synth and offbeat folk punk paint a picture of life going by at a snail’s pace.

While comparisons may be drawn to Oxenfree and Life is Strange, I’d argue that Night in the Woods does what they do, but better. It tells a wholly unremarkable story about wholly unremarkable people in a wholly unremarkable town. But therein lie the most interesting bits. Where Oxenfree and Life is Strange frame their narratives around extraordinary circumstances, Night in the Woods wallows in banality.

Night in the Woods, while undoubtedly a game, also captures an experience. It makes you invested in its characters, but it does so by reaching for something unabashedly boring and human. Unlike other narrative games about millennials, Night in the Woods doesn’t come up with a magical solution that solves all your problems. Rather, it shows you how you can cope with them. (Kyle Rogacion)

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Dark Souls Remastered Review Nintendo Switch

Over the course of the last decade a lot of games have made large and influential impacts on the medium of gaming but few have done so as significantly or triumphantly as Dark Souls

The pseudo-sequel to Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls took the framework of the original title and altered it considerably. Gone were the many individual stages and hub area, replaced by a massive open world that continuously unfolded, via shortcuts and environmental changes, like a massive metroidvania style map. 

Dark Souls also doubled down on nearly every aspect of the original. The lore and world-building were elaborated on considerably, making the land of Lordran feel more lived in and expansive. An entire backstory for the game, one that went back thousands of years, was created and unfolded through small environmental details and item descriptions. 

Dark-Souls-Remastered-Darkroot-Garden

The bosses were bigger, meaner and more challenging, with some of them ranking right up there with the best of all time. Even standard enemies seemed to grow more deadly as the game went on, with many of them actually being bosses you’d faced at an earlier time in the game. Tiny details like this didn’t just make the player feel more powerful, they added to the outright scale of the entire game.

Still, if we’re here to talk about the biggest influence Dark Souls had on the gaming world, we have to talk about the online system. While the abilities to write messages and summon help were available in Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls improved on and enhanced these features to the point where they changed the game considerably. 

The wider player base made the online components work more consistently as well. Rarely were players left standing around for 15-20 minutes waiting to summon or be summoned for a boss fight. There were more messages on the ground to lead (or mislead) players, and the animated spirits of dead players warned of the hundreds of ways you might die while playing through the game. 

Dark Souls

The addictive nature of the game and its rewarding gameplay loop would lead to the establishment of the Souls-like genre. Like with metroidvania, there are few compliments a game can receive that are as rewarding as having an entire genre named for them.

Since 2011, the year of Dark Souls’ release, dozens of Souls-likes have emerged from the ether, each with their own little tweaks on the formula. Salt and Sanctuary went 2D,The Surge added a sci-fi angle, and Nioh went for a feudal Japanese aesthetic, to name just a few. 

Either way, Dark Souls’ influence has been long felt in the gaming industry ever since. Despite the hardcore difficulty and intense learning curve, gamers are still flocking to the series, and the genre it spawned, in massive numbers. For this reason alone, Dark Souls will live on forever in the annals of gaming history. 

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Game Reviews

‘Riverbond’ Review: Colorful Hack’n’Slash Chaos

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Sometimes a little bit of mindless smashing is just what people play video games for, and if some light sword-swinging, spear-stabbing, laser-shooting giant hand-slapping action that crumbles a destructible world into tiny blocks sounds like a pleasant way to spend a few hours, then Riverbond might just satisfy that urge. Though its short campaign can get a little repetitive by the end, colorful voxel levels and quirky characters generally make this rampaging romp a button-mashing good time, especially if you bring along a few friends.

Riverbond grass

There really isn’t much of a story here outside something about some mystical leaders being imprisoned by a knight, and Riverbond lets players choose from its eight levels in Mega Man fashion, so don’t go in expecting some sort of narrative thread. Instead, each land has its own mini-situation going on, whether that involves eradicating some hostile pig warriors or reading library books or freeing numerous rabbit villagers scattered about, the narrative motivation is pretty light here. That doesn’t mean that these stages don’t each have their various charms, however, as several punnily named NPCs will blurt out humorous bits of dialogue that work well as breezy pit stops between all the cubic carnage.

Developer Cococucumber has also wisely created plenty of visual variety for their fantastical world, as players will find their polygonal hero traversing the lush greenery of grassy plains, the wooden piers of a ship’s dockyard, the surrounding battlements of a medieval castle, and the craggy outcroppings of a snowy mountain, among other locations, each with a distinct theme. Many of the trees or bridges or crates or whatever else happens to be lying around are completely destructible, able to be razed to the ground with enough brute force. Occasionally the physics involved in these crumbling structures helps gain access to jewels or other loot, but this mechanic mostly just their for the visual appeal one gets from cascading blocks; Riverbond isn’t exactly deep in its design.

Riverbond boss

That shallowness also applies to the basic gameplay, which pretty much involves hacking or shooting enemies and environments to pieces, activating whatever task happens to be the main goal for each sub-stage, then moving on or scouring around a bit for treasure before finally arriving at a boss. Though there are plenty of different weapons to find, they generally fall into only a few categories: small swinging implements that allow for quick slashes, large swinging implements that are slow but deal heavier damage, spears that offer quick jabs, or guns that…shoot stuff. There are some variations among these in speed, power, and possible side effects (a gun that fired electricity is somewhat weak, but sticks to opponents and gives off an extra, devastating burst), but once an agreeable weapon is found, there is little reason to give it up outside experimentation.

Still, there is a rhythmic pleasure to be found in games like this when they are done right, and Riverbond mostly comes through with tight controls, hummable tunes, and twisting levels that do a good job of mixing in some verticality to mask the repetitiveness. It’s easy for up to four players to get in on the dungeon-crawling-like pixelated slaughter, and the amount of blocks exploding onscreen can make for some fun and frenzied fireworks, especially when whomping on one of the game’s giant bosses. A plethora of skins for the hero are also discoverable, with at least one or two tucked away in locations both obvious and less so around each sub-stage. These goofy characters exist purely for aesthetic reasons, but those who prefer wiping out legions of enemies dressed as Shovel Knight or a sentient watermelon slice will be able to fulfill that fantasy.

Riverbond bears

By the end, the repetitive fights and quests can make Rivebond feel a little same-y, but the experience wraps up quickly without dragging things out. This may disappoint players looking for a more involved adventure, but those who sometimes find relaxation by going on autopilot — especially with some buddies on the couch — will appreciate how well the block-smashing basics are done here.

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Game Reviews

‘Earthnight’ Review: Hit the Dragon Running

Between its lush visuals and its constantly evolving gameplay, Earthnight never gets old, from the first dragon you slay to the hundredth.

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Earthnight

In Earthnight, you do one thing: run. There’s not much more to do in this roguelike auto-runner but to dash across the backs of massive dragons to reach their heads and strike them down. This may be an extremely simple gameplay loop, but Earthnight pulls it off with such elegance and style. Between its lush comic book visuals and its constantly evolving gameplay, it creates an experience that never gets old, from the first dragon you slay to the hundredth.

Dragons have descended from space and are wreaking havoc upon humanity. No one is powerful enough to take them down – except for the two-player characters, Sydney and Stanley, of course. As the chosen ones to save the human race, they must board a spaceship and drop from the heavens while slaying as many dragons on your way down as they can. For every defeated creature, they’ll be rewarded with water – an extremely precious resource in the wake of the dragon apocalypse. This resource can be exchanged for upgrades that make the next run that much better.

This simple story forms the basis for a similarly basic, yet engaging gameplay loop. Each time you dive from your spaceship, you’ll see an assortment of dragons to land on. Once you make a landing, you’ll dash across its back and avoid the obstacles it throws at you before reaching its head, where you’ll strike the final blow. Earthnight is procedurally generated, so every time you leap down from your home base, there’s a different set of dragons to face, making each run feel unique. There are often special rewards for hunting specific breeds of dragon, so it’s always exciting to see the new set of creatures before you and hunt for the one you need at any given moment.

Earthnight is an acrobatic, dragon-hunting ballet that only becomes more beautifully extravagant with every run.”

Earthnight

Landing on the dragons is only the first step to slaying them. Entire hordes of monsters live on their backs, and in true auto-runner fashion, they’ll rush at you with reckless abandon from the very start. During the game’s first few runs, the onrush of enemies can feel overwhelming. Massive crowds of them will burst forth at once, and it can feel impossible to survive their onslaughts. However, this is where Earthnight begins to truly shine. The more dragons you slay, the more upgrade items become available, which are either given as rewards for slaying specific dragons or can be purchased with the water you’ve gained in each run. Many of these feel essentially vital for progression – some allow you to kill certain enemies just by touching them, whereas others can grant you an additional jump, both of which are much appreciated in the utter chaos of obstacles found on each dragon.

Procedural generation can often result in bland or repetitive level design, but it’s this item progression system that keeps Earthnight from ever feeling dry. It creates a constant sense of improvement: with more items in your arsenal after each new defeated dragon, you’ll be able to descend even further in the next run. This makes every level that much more exciting: with more power under your belt, there are greater possibilities for defeating enemies, stacking up combos, or climbing high above the dragons. It becomes an acrobatic, dragon-hunting ballet that only becomes more beautifully extravagant with every run.

Earthnight

At its very best, Earthnight feels like a rhythm game. With the perfect upgrades for each level, it becomes only natural to bounce off of enemies’ heads and soar through the heavens with an almost musical flow. The vibrant chiptune soundtrack certainly helps with this. Packed full of driving beats and memorable melodies with a mixture of chiptune and modern instrumentation, the music makes it easy to charge forward through whatever each level will throw your way.

That is not to say that Earthnight never feels too chaotic for its own good – rather, there are some points where its flood of enemies and obstacles can feel too random or overwhelming, to the point where it can be hard to keep track of your character or feel as if it’s impossible to avoid enemies. Sometimes the game can’t even keep up with itself, with the performance beginning to chug once enemies crowd the screen too much, at least in the Switch version. However, this is the exception, rather than the rule, and for the most part, simply making good use of its upgrades and reacting quickly to the challenges before you will serve you well in your dragon-slaying quest.

Earthnight

Earthnight is a race that’s worth running time and time again.”

It certainly helps that Earthnight is a visual treat as well. It adopts a striking comic book style, in which nearly every frame of animation is lovingly hand-drawn and loaded with detail. Sometimes these details feel a bit excessive – some characters are almost grotesquely detailed, with the faces of the bobble-headed protagonists sometimes seeming too elaborate for comfort. However, in general, it’s a gorgeous game, with its luscious backdrops of deep space and high sky, along with creative monsters and dragon designs that only get more outlandish and spectacular the farther down you soar.

Earthnight is a competent auto-runner that might not revolutionize its genre, but it makes up for this simplicity by elegantly executing its core gameplay loop so that it constantly changes yet remains endlessly addictive. Its excellent visual and audio presentation helps to make it all the more engrossing, while it strikes the perfect balance between randomized level design and permanent progression thanks to its items and upgrades system. At times it may get too chaotic for its own good, but all told, Earthnight is a race that’s worth running time and time again.

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