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 memory that celebrates its first birthday. 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 birthday, the Goomba Stomp staff have chosen 50 of our favorite games we’ve played so far on the Switch. Let’s hope for another 50 joyous moments for the year ahead!
50. NBA Playgrounds
49. Dragonquest Builders
43. Earth Atlantis
42. World of Goo
41. Crypt of the Necrodancer
40. Blaster Master Zero
37. Nine Parchments
36. Axiom Verge
35. Layers of Fear
34. Super Meat Boy
33. The Binding of Isaac
Genre: Action Shoot em’ Up
Released by the French indie studio The Game Bakers, the fast-paced action game Furi, is a combination of Hack and Slash swordplay, twin-stick shooting, and non-stop action. It’s also a game consisting entirely of boss fights of escalating difficulty. There are no levels to explore, no disposable cannon fodder, and no puzzles to solve. It’s essentially a series of extremely difficult boss fights strung together by extremely stylish animated cutscenes.
To note that Furi is not for everyone is to belabor the obvious. Not that any game will please everyone but truth be told, Furi is one of those games that a small percentage of gamers will appreciate. On the surface, Furi may seem like it’s all about style but dig deeper and you’ll appreciate the level of craftsmanship that went into making this indie gem – that is, if you have the patience and skill to progress far enough.
Furi is a difficult game to enjoy because it’s so damn difficult. To enjoy Furi is to master your attack, a process that will involve having to start over and over again, and in turn, causing immense frustration. Regardless, Furi is the product of a studio to watch out for and may prove to be one of the more rewarding and rage-inducing gaming experiences in many a year. (Ricky D)
Genre: Action Sidescroller
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, not forgetting 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. 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 and 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, only answers with more brute and more intense force, punishing hesitancy with a swift blow. For the seasoned gamer looking for a challenge, Wulverblade is a must. (James Baker)
Genre: Action Adventure
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 3-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 keeps 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 game 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 and a few extra areas that go a long way in adding personality to an otherwise straightforward collection of platforming challenges. It’s entirely unnecessary yet wholly welcome additions like these that made 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)
Genre: Action Adventure
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)
Genre: Platform Adventure
Owlboy, a love letter to adventure platformers of gaming past, is a game almost a decade in the making. It actually took the five-man team at D-Pad Studio nine years to finish the game before it launched on PC last year – and while that may seem like an unusual amount of time to create an indie game (especially one that consists of roughly ten hours of gameplay), the hard work paid off in spades. For a retro 2D, Metroidvania-style indie game that places a heavy focus on exploration and combat, you would be forgiven to think that Owlboy has nothing new to bring to the table, but in fact, Owlboy at its best, boasts qualities that are usually missing in platformers: tingling observations, unforced comedy, an engaging story and quirky, enduring charm.
While everything about Owlboy is done with extraordinary care, what really sets Owlboy apart is it’s the story and writing. What we have here is an exceptionally well-crafted coming-of-age tale full of really dark moments, and some heart-wrenching scenes. It follows the story of young Otus, our mute protagonist who studies under his domineering mentor Asio, a curmudgeonly owl who routinely criticizes our feathered hero and chastises his inability to speak. What at first seems like a simple 2D platformer quickly reveals an incredibly deep, plot involving ancient owl societies, dark secrets, abuse and a recurring theme of failure. When sky-pirates attack the peaceful surroundings of Otus’ world – threatening to destroy the city and steal powerful relics in the process – he teams up with a military mechanic, Geddy, and other trusty companions he meets along the way to put a stop to the pirates before their home is destroyed. From its heartbreaking opening (a sequence of cold verbal abuse leaving Otus with his head bowed), to its equally devastating conclusion, Owlboy ends up being an extraordinarily intimate portrait of a life unfolding and an exceptional, unconventional game in which a boy with a disability must overcome his insecurities, find courage, and more importantly gain confidence to save those he loves. (Ricky D)
25. Disgaea 5 Complete
Genre: Tactical RPG
If there’s one thing Disgaea 5 Complete isn’t lacking, it’s personality. 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 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 of 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. For more, check out my full written review here. (Brent Middleton)
24. Pokken Tournament DX
Whether you’re in it to catch ‘em all, battle to be the best like no one ever was, or simply love the world, the lasting impact of the infinitely popular game series Pokémon can’t be understated. However, the turn-based RPG nature of the games leaves a lot to the imagination when considering Pokémon battles. Don’t get me wrong; I love the turn-based battle mechanics central to the main series titles. However, the concept of a Pokémon fighting game where players could control their favorite Pokémon in bouts for glory has long been dreamed of, and it’s surprising that it took so long for that to appear. The wait, however, was worth it. Pokkén Tournament, from the makers of the popular fighting franchise, Tekken, not only fulfills a long term wish of Poké-fanatics, but is a brilliantly novel new fighter, apart from the Pokémon brand but all the more brilliant for its clever fan service and celebration of the franchise. At the game’s core is a colorful cast of Pocket Monsters comprised of fan favorites and a blend of the franchise’s many types of Pokémon. Each Pokémon has its own unique move set, despite being grouped into one of four categories of fighter: Standard, Power, Technical, or Speed, types assigned to give a general impression of how the character will play. Despite having a roster of totally unique characters, and two variations of featured Pokémon that play completely differently than the Pokémon they’re based on, Pokkén is remarkable for its overall balance and ease of use. Mastery of its unique characteristics, however, will separate the simple trainer from the Pokémon Master.
Most notably, Pokkén Tournament DX features two different styles of battle in a single match. The first, Field Phase, is a free range, 3D arena mode where players can traverse the entire map. Dual Phase plays more like a standard 2D fighter. Both phases impact character move sets and play to character strengths differently, and only by landing a heavy hit can a player shift phases. Consequently, mastery means having a handle on a Pokémon’s move set regardless of phase. Fairly unique to fighters, Pokkén Tournament also features Support Sets, duos of Pokémon that can be summoned once a specific meter has been filled. These support Pokémon feature varying charge times and abilities, and provide an interesting level of strategy, as only one Pokémon can be selected per round, while the other will be fully ready for the following round, providing a decent amount of strategy and plotting on the part of the player. The game also features a Synergy Meter that allows Pokémon to unleash a special move or transformation when ready, and feature some fantastically designed cut scenes when these moves are pulled off. The result of all of this is a diverse fighter featuring some of the most recognizable Pokémon around, enjoyable fighting mechanics and gameplay including a sort of rock, paper, scissors take on different move types, exciting special moves, fun supports, and an incredibly unique phase system to keep players on their toes. Pokkén Tournament DX is a fun fighting diversion for fans of the franchise, and a refreshing fighting escapade for fans of the genre craving something new. (Tim Maison)
23. Darkest Dungeon
Similarly intense and oppressive, but lacking any particular need for rhythm, is Darkest Dungeon, a tactical, squad-based dungeon crawler with team management mechanics. It features permadeath, so your many heroes are always at risk, and there’s no savescumming to pull them back from death, making it especially devastating to lose a high-level hero you’ve been with for some time. But not only is mortality an issue, so is sanity. A heavily Lovecraftian game, Darkest Dungeon inflicts all kinds of mental and emotional strain on your heroes, leaving you to manage who risks going back into the dungeon and who sits the next one out.
With awesome Mignola-esque artwork, the actual best narration ever by Wayne June, and brutally tactical combat, Darkest Dungeon is not only one of the best indies in years, but one of the best games, period. (Michael Riser)
22. Floor Kids
Genre: Breakdance Battle
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. The 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)
21. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
Genre: Platform Action Adventure
Sometimes an axe is too heavy, or a sword is out of reach, and so you’re left to fight like a peasant with a shovel. Occasionally, the ridiculous can be an utter genius, and Shovel Knight blurs the boundaries of ingenuity. Shovel Knight is equally humble in its celebration of retro gaming and innovative in its fresh approach to game design. Your shovel is a versatile piece of equipment that isn’t just used to defeat foes. Much like in real life, its capability to dig provides opportunities to find treasure which upgrades your equipment. This furthers your valiant mission to defeat the Enchantress and save the Order of No Quarter from themselves. An Indie game published by Yacht Club Games, it began as a successful Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign and has since created a legacy of its own. (James Baker)