The 12 Best Switch Games You Might've Missed In 2017
Nintendo has had a fantastic year packed with a wealth of high-quality Switch games to keep you happy for hundreds of hours, but there are also plenty of other developers with great games on Switch that you may have overlooked. So if you've managed to finish The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, don't fret: there are excellent fighting games, RPGs, and platformers waiting for you in the eShop.
What are some of your favorite games this year that you think others might've missed? Let us know in the comments below. And if you're looking for game recommendations you might've missed on other platforms, you can check out our features focusing on the best Xbox One games, best PS4 games, and the best PC games. You can also check out our feature focusing on the best games you might've missed in 2017 in general.
Cave Story +
Cave Story was one of the early indie gems when it debuted on PC in 2004, and its popularity there eventually led to console (Wii) and handheld ports (PSP and DS). There was even a 3D remake for 3DS. Nintendo Switch is the most recent recipient--based on the 2011 PC upgrade, Cave Story+--and it is packed with all of the features die-hard Cave Story fans want, including both 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios, and alternate soundtracks.
But why all the excitement over a game that appears pretty simple from the outside looking in? Nevermind that the original version was made by a lone developer (Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya) in their spare time: Cave Story delivers personable characters and familiar retro action in an 8- meets-16-bit world. Though clearly inspired by select Metroid and Castlevania games, Cave Story's spirit is distinct and positively quaint. And with Cave Story+ on Switch, it finally gets the physical release it deserves, with a full-color manual, and soundtrack, among other packed-in goodies.
Nintendo, or at the very least Shigeru Miyamoto, has made one thing clear: F-Zero is a series that's as good as dead. The last proper F-Zero game was F-Zero GX, released 14 years ago for the GameCube, with repeated requests for a new game shot down by Nintendo time and time again.
Thankfully, Nintendo fans aren't entirely out of luck when it comes to high-speed racing games. In comes Fast RMX, an upgraded port of Wii U's Fast Racing Neo. This fast (duh), futuristic game offers 30 tracks and 15 vehicles, as well as online and local multiplayer options, and it features both shield and boost mechanics that closely mirror F-Zero in practice. No, it doesn't have Captain Falcon, but Fast RMX manages to capture the thrilling speed and, to an extent, the attitude of F-Zero GX--with a little influence from the WipeOut series' eye for graphic design.
Garou: Mark of the Wolves
One of the great joys of owning a Nintendo Switch is having access to excellent ports of Neo Geo games courtesy of Hamster Corp., a Japanese company with a solid track record of bringing arcade games to modern consoles. Neo Geo games--real Neo Geo games--can cost hundreds of dollars on the secondhand market. But for $8 a pop, you can play games like Garou: Mark of the Wolves at home and on the go on Switch.
That game in particular is perhaps one of the first Neo Geo ports you should try, though be warned: it may set a bar so high that other Neo Geo games appear quaint by comparison. Mark of the Wolves enjoys a spot in the upper-echelon of pre-HD fighting games for its incredible style and sense of speed. It still holds up as a deep and enjoyable fighting game today, 18 years after its debut, and on a system with few fighting games, it's a no-brainer for Switch owners itching for a little competition.
Gonner is a procedurally generated action platformer, and quite the looker, with surreal neon chalk lines outlining abstract environments that come together and break apart as you trot and hop across its stages. Enemies aren't particularly cunning, but they are numerous and overwhelming in the face of your gun's limited ammunition. Gonner gets difficult pretty quickly, and thus becomes a game where you chase high scores, and tailor new sets of abilities to eek out a new strategy with each successive attempt. It's kept interesting despite its simple mechanics by the procedurally generated levels that not only come together, but ultimately work together too. In other words: it's more than random for randomness' sake alone. You may never see everything it has to offer, but any time spent with Gonner is an enjoyable test of skill and a feast for the senses worth seeking out.
Graceful Explosion Machine
Graceful Explosion Machine falls into the category of frantic, 2D spaceship shooters, but it's not quite a bullet-hell experience--no dense curtains of seemingly unavoidable projectiles here. Still, it offers a challenge that speaks to the little Space Invader player in us all, albeit in a controlled environment.
Rather than waiting for wave after wave of enemies to come your way, you pilot a (cute) spaceship through corridors and face off against swarms of enemies using both traditional laser cannons and a small but varied selection of special weapons. Dashing--boosting through groups of enemies--is an empowering and useful tactic that recalls the feeling of playing Resogun, a great game for a dev to draw inspiration. The trick to Graceful Explosion Machine is to quickly juggle your various weapons while also boosting through groups of increasingly stronger enemies, and once it's under your skin, the dance is an adrenaline-rush fight to survive, and to climb the leaderboards. As far as Switch games are concerned, this is one of the best examples of arcade action you can currently find.
I Am Setsuna
Tokyo RPG Factory is a studio that exists for the sole purpose of creating new RPGs that are inspired by classics of the genre, such as I Am Setsuna's basis in Chrono Trigger. I Am Setsuna can't match its inspiration's stellar reputation, but it is a worthwhile RPG with an old-school heart. If anything, it stands out for its somber atmosphere, accentuated by tragic plot points and drearily whimsical piano orchestration. If hearing the title "Chrono Trigger" gets you all worked up and you happen to own a Switch, you should give I Am Setsuna a try.
Severed is a traditional dungeon-crawling RPG with modern sensibilities. Its mechanics favor touchscreen devices, not simply for the sake of convenience, but to facilitate a combat system with demanding enemies that must be cut in the right location at the right time with a well-placed swipe of your finger. On Switch, Severed gets a slight upgrade from the Vita version, and a big upgrade from the iPhone version, thanks to the system's larger display.
Beyond the clever integration of touchscreen controls and traditional gameplay, Severed presents the fascinating tale of Sasha, a one-armed warrior with a magical sword, caught in a hellish dreamscape in search of her loved ones. The monsters she faces are creatively nasty, accentuated by developer Drinkbox Studio's easily identifiable visual style, with sharp edges and expressive use of color. It's no surprise then that Severed makes a strong first impression, but it's not a fluke: the game is just as interesting to play as it is to look at. It's everything you'd expect from a dungeon crawler, but thanks to Drinkbox's inventive spirit, it's also packed with interesting motifs and ideas that you never see coming.
Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment
Shovel Knight is 8-bit gaming not as it was--glitchy and fuzzy--but as we choose to remember it--pixelated, vibrant, and cleverly detailed. The sequel-by-expansion, Specter of Torment, is a similar retro action-platformer that is by all appearances on par with the original. The key difference is that the star, the lead character you control, is a villain from the first game: Specter Knight. His identity obviously plays into a narrative differently than Shovel Knight's did, but more importantly, Specter Knight moves and attacks in new ways, too.
This is all to say that Specter of Torment is an excuse to revisit Shovel Knight's wonderfully nostalgic world and undergo a new range of challenges that call upon a unique set of skills. And the reason it's worth playing at all is because developer Yacht Club Games' work rises above the team's inspirations, and ultimately our rose-tinted memories as well. If you see any value at all in classic 2D platformers, Shovel Knight and Specter of Torment will more than likely make your day.
At first glance, Snake Pass' colorful art style makes it seem reminiscent of classic Rare platformers like Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64. However, its mechanics differ wildly from those games; there's no jumping here. You control a snake named Noodle, maneuvering and curling around objects with his serpentine body, navigating intricate obstacles to reach collectibles, and solving a multitude of physics-based puzzles. The challenges you encounter are each meticulously crafted around Noodle's unconventional physicality, demanding you to know the ins and outs of his physics to fully master. It's quite unlike many games out there, which is more than enough reason for you to check it out, if only to discover how charming and different it is.
Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together
Snipperclips may not have the name recognition of Mario Kart or Splatoon, but this unassuming little Eshop game remains one of the best multiplayer experiences on Switch. Its premise is deceptively simple: players control a paper-like character and must snip each other into the appropriate shapes to solve puzzles. These start out easy enough; early challenges will have you simply trying to fit into a designated shape. However, the puzzles quickly ramp up in complexity, requiring some clever thinking and precise snipping to complete; one has players trying to retrieve and pop a balloon, while another challenges them with figuring out how to throw a basketball into a hoop.
While the entire game can be played solo, Snipperclips is undoubtedly meant to be played with friends. The game supports up to four players, and trying to snip each other into the right shapes is surprisingly addictive, hilarious, and maddening all at the same time. This is accentuated by the game's charming animations; it's impossible not to smile at the faces your character makes when it squats or gets snipped. Snipperclips is the perfect showpiece for Switch's "play anywhere" portability and one of the hidden gems in the console's growing library.
Do you remember when rhythm games were in style? It's been awhile, but that doesn't mean the genre is devoid of potential. No game in the past few years has proven the relevance of music as a driving force in game design as successfully as Thumper, the so-called rhythm-violence game from developer Drool.
Mechanically, Thumper is a simple call and response game with added layers of complexity as you complete subsequent stages. Spiritually, Thumper is a disturbance. It heaves and crashes with unbridled intensity, with tracks that grow faster and time signatures more irregular the deeper you venture into its well of madness. Call it dramatic, but this is the effect Thumper's relentless speed and atmosphere can have on a person--the perfect argument to give it a try. They say music soothes the savage beast, but in Thumper's case, music makes way for the savage beast within us all. Play it on a TV, play it in VR, play it pressed up against your face on Switch; however you can, play Thumper.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap
Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is a game that sets out to bring the retro platforming adventuring series to the present day, while also celebrating its beginnings in the classic era. As a full remake of the original of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap for the Sega Master System and TurboGrafix-16, it features a brand new artstyle that's lush and vivid, giving off a greater depth in its atmosphere--along with a fully orchestral soundtrack based on the original music. In keeping with its respect for the original, the remake allows you to shift between classic and modern styles of music and graphics on the fly. Feel like playing the original game in HD? You can do that, but if you're feeling crazy, you can mix things up and play with modern graphics along with retro sound and music. It even allows old passwords from the classic game to be used again, just like the old days. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is a wonderful send-up to the classic era, while showing that retro titles still hold up incredibly well to this day.