Let’s round up some of the best early indie titles for the Nintendo Switch.
The Nintendo Switch is in its infancy. We’re all currently early adopters, which can be a rough time. There are many indie games trickling in, but which ones are worth it? Thankfully for you, I waste a lot of money on games that I barely get time to play. Here’s some of the standout software.
Note: I can’t include EVERY game in this list! There are definitely some good ones that didn’t make the cut. Also, this page is for indie titles, so you won’t see Arms or Disgaea mentioned here!
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
I’m beating a dead horse at this point: if you haven’t played Shovel Knight yet, you need to, lest I hunt you down in your sleep. Even if you already own it, a portable version on the Switch may still entice you. Either way, Shovel Knight remains one of the greatest Mega Man-esque games on the market. Its quirky items, characters, music, and settings make it a joy to play. It’s also received two free DLC updates since launch, and will be getting one more within the next year. It just keeps giving!
If you like music and rhythm games because they contain licensed music that you can sing along to, don’t try Thumper. However, if you enjoy them for their playstyle, difficulty, and the fact that they let you bee-bop and groove to a beat, you’re in luck. Thumper is comprised of some truly guttural, unsettling industrial tracks, which complement its fast gameplay quite well. You’ll die a lot. You may even have nightmares, thanks to the weird atmosphere and soundtrack. Although it’s safe to call Thumper a weird game, it’s also very fun.
Oceanhorn – Monster of Uncharted Seas
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is better than words can say. Yet if you want that traditional, top-down, puzzle-solving experience, it may not scratch an itch. Oceanhorn, however, is the backscratcher you need. It’s a nice tribute to the older, top-down Zelda games, which have no real parallel on the Nintendo Switch. Break some pots, slay some enemies, and relive your childhood.
Ever heard of a mobile app named Ridiculous Fishing? It’s a brilliantly bizarre little game developed by Greg Wohlwend. He’s also brought his genius to the Switch by creating a…seed-rolling roguelike? TumbleSeed tasks players with guiding a seed up a mountain by using odd rolling and planting mechanics. Despite being pretty difficult, TumbleSeed is also one of the most charming and rewarding games for the Nintendo Switch.
Look, Cave Story+ is $30 on the Switch. I know, that’s probably a little too much. But if you really get the hankering for a good game regardless of price, try it out. Cave Story is essentially a lite-Metroidvania: you explore linear zones and caves, and obtain different weapons and story endings based on how you play. It sports a fantastic art style and soundtrack, along with a few cute characters.
The Jackbox Party Pack 3
The Jackbox series is known as the “digital ‘party game’ series,” so to speak. The Jackbox Party Pack 3 carries that name proudly, and lets players take the experience on-the-go with their Nintendo Switch. The game itself is a hybrid: the five minigames it contains are technically played on your phone, while the television/Switch simply acts as a display for everyone’s antics. Though its indie status is up in the air, it’s definitely a hoot-and-a-half with friends and family—just be careful with your dark humor.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
Maybe you don’t feel like replaying Shovel Knight or Cave Story. Or maybe you already did, and want more platformers! Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is the newest entry from developer WayForward, and it’s quickly evident that they understand how to make an engaging and compelling Metroidvania. If you’re searching for another quirky title with retro-inspired mechanics, look no further.
The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+
It can be said that The Binding of Isaac played a large role in the revitalization of the roguelike scene. Players control Isaac, a small naked child, as he explores his basement and fights the horrors within. Taking cues from twin-stick shooters and Zelda both, Isaac feels familiar yet new. While the game launched long ago on PC and consoles, it feels right at home on the Switch due to the console’s easy portability.