The new year has been good to the Nintendo Switch. The console/handheld hybrid has enjoyed a lofty time on the market already, but a slew of promising ports in the first few months of the year has eased Christmas 2019 adopters into a healthy diet of new titles to enjoy.
Ports of existing gems like To the Moon and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encoure cover two sides of the RPG market, whereas the newly completed Kentucky Route Zero has something for those who like to settle down with a classic point-and-click adventure. Whatever you’re in the market for, we rounded up the best Nintendo Switch games you can find, with just the right amount of context to fuel your next obsession.
PlatinumGames has established itself as one of the best action game studios in the world, with critical darlings like Bayonetta 2 and the existential Nier: Automata. Automata lead designer Takahisa Taura was given his first chance to direct with the Switch-exclusive Astral Chain, which doubles down on the insane action that PlatinumGames has prided itself on for the last decade. Rather than the post-apocalypse, you’re in a bustling city that is under attack by mysterious interdimensional forces, and it’s up to you to stop it.
You won’t work alone, however, as Astral Chain pairs the protagonist with several “Legion” characters who can attack in unison. This mix of direct and indirect combat is at the heart of the game, but you will also investigate mysteries and solve puzzles along the way. And you can pet the game’s dog-like Legion, so you know it’s good.
Hotline Miami Collection
One of the most stylish and innovative action games to release in the last decade, the original Hotline Miami was oozing with ’80s Miami Vice flair, but it was its ridiculously tough shooting combat that won players over. With death coming swiftly for both you and your enemies, it demands your full attention, and its bundled with the sequel Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number on Switch. Of course, as you play you will have to ask yourself a tough question: “Do you like hurting other people?”
The Switch itself is also an ideal platform for the game, as its simple control scheme doesn’t need a full-sized controller to be used effectively. All you need are your wits and your attention span, because failing to notice the positions of all the enemies in a building will be your downfall. If that happens at the end of a stage, it’s absolutely devastating, and will give you the angry burst of energy and drive you’ll need to beat it on the next try.
My Friend Pedro
What do you get when you combine the precision-shot action of Hotline Miami, the acrobatics of Trials, and the slow-motion bullet time effect from the Max Payne series? If that formula also includes one sentient banana, then you are either tripping on acid or playing My Friend Pedro. Split across several creative and perplexing levels, your goal is simple: Kill everyone and reach the exit. That’s easier said than done, of course, especially when turrets are locking onto your position to deliver a torrential downpour of bullets.
My Friend Pedro is the perfect game to play in the Switch’s handheld mode, too, because a level typically only takes a few minutes to complete. A surreal story gradually unravels as you progress, and special vehicular sections offer a nice burst of all-out action that differs from the methodical play of the rest of the game.
Enter the Gungeon
Developed by Dodge Roll and published by renowned indie studio Devolver Digital, Enter the Gungeon is one of the Switch’s absolute must-play indie titles. Enter the Gungeon is a challenging dungeon crawler with twitchy shooting mechanics and copious amounts of loot to uncover. It’s also a roguelike, though not in the traditional sense. All rooms stay the same, but the enemies, treasure, and location of the rooms are randomly generated.
Working your way deeper and deeper into the dungeon is a difficult task filled with worthwhile rewards. With great mechanics, entertaining lore, and mysteries to discover in every dark corner, Enter the Gungeon is an enthralling action experience. Although available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, the top-down retro aesthetic feels great when playing in handheld mode on the Nintendo Switch.
The original Splatoon reinvented the multiplayer shooter by taking the emphasis off of simply eliminating enemies, and its unique ink-spraying online matches were unlike anything we had ever seen before. The Switch sequel, Splatoon 2, largely sticks to the formula we saw previously, but its inventive new multiplayer maps and weapons make the game even more engaging. The game’s humor is also back in full force, with puns galore and user-created artwork that is both hilarious and terrifying.
For those more interested in playing cooperatively, the Salmon Run mode is a great addition to Splatoon 2. Groups of four players must collect golden eggs while fending off waves of evil Salmonids, and it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. Just make sure all your friends have their own systems, as the game doesn’t support split-screen multiplayer.
Ape Out is a top-down kill fest starring an ape that makes humans explode into a pile of blood-soaked limbs. The latest game from Devolver Digital is simplistic but wonderful. In each of the game’s four chapters, you’re tasked with navigating an ape from captivity to freedom. The road to freedom is paved with gun-wielding guards that will shoot rather than ask questions. Thankfully, you can turn every guard into mush by shoving them, or you can use them as body shields before tossing them aside.
Ape Out maintains an addictive rhythm thanks to its jazzy soundtrack that interacts with what is happening on screen. Snare drums beat continuously, picking up the pace when in danger, and cymbals crash to mark the deaths of enemies. Ape is challenging but never feels unfair. Randomization keeps each successive retry feel as intense as the last.