Planning to buy the Nintendo Switch? Before you throw $300 at Nintendo, we highly suggest checking out the games the console offers beyond The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Frankly speaking, the Switch is just a glorified Breath of the Wild gaming machine right now. The best time to buy the Switch is probably next year. But if you insist on buying one this year, here are the best non-Zelda games that you can play on the console.
1. Splatoon 2
Splatoon 2 is the most recent first-party title for the Switch, released in July with matching neon pink and neon green Joy-Cons, which are infinitely cooler than the default gray controllers. It is the sequel to Splatoon, a 2015 title for the Wii U. Once again, it centers on Inklings, characters with the ability to shape-shift between human and squid forms.
Splatoon 2 is a team-based shooter game seen from a third-person perspective. Since it is a Nintendo shooter game, it doesn’t really involve violence similar to other shooter games on other platforms. Characters use ink-loaded weapons, which are used to attack enemies and spray ink all over the map. The color of the ink is based on team affiliation.
Weapons can be used while in humanoid form. When in squid form, players can dive into the ink that represents their team to recharge weapons and move around the map faster. Splatoon 2 places less focus on individual glory, encouraging players to work cohesively with teammates in order to meet objectives. The game features both local and online multiplayer, though the former doesn’t support split-screen mode, a real bummer for players looking to make Splatoon 2 a staple at house parties.
With over 8 million copies sold worldwide, Mario Kart 8 is the best-selling Wii U title. It was an instant hit when it was released back in 2014, featuring an extremely fun gameplay that is accessible to both veterans and newcomers to the series. So what does Nintendo do for an encore? By creating an enhanced port that makes the game even better than the original.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the enhanced port for the Switch. It includes all the DLC content previously released for the Wii U version. Aside from technical improvements, the Switch version also comes with additional content and a few changes to the gameplay. Five new characters enter the fray in this version, which includes characters from Splatoon.
The most notable gameplay change comes in the form of the revamped Battle Mode. The new Battle Mode now closely resembles the Battle Mode in previous installments in the series. The original Battle Mode is actually considered one of the few negatives in the Wii U version. Nintendo basically erased that with the Switch version. If you missed out on the original Mario Kart 8, we definitely recommend picking up Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. You won’t regret it.
Bummed out that Splatoon 2 eschewed split-screen multiplayer? Check out Arms instead. Like Splatoon 2, Arms is a first-party title for the Switch. It was released last June, earning positive reviews from both critics and fans. It is Nintendo’s early representative in the fighting genre, similar to how Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2 represent Nintendo in the racing genre and online shooter genre, respectively.
Arms is a fighting game that features characters with springy arms. Battles take place in a 3D arena similar to Pokken Tournament. Unlike other fighting games, up to four players can participate in a single local match, presented in split-screen mode. This makes it an excellent game to play during house parties. Four players can participate in 2-on-2 matches. A free-for-all mode is also available in three-player and four-player modes.
Players can fight using either the Joy-Con motion controls or the typical button input employed in other fighting games. You can think of Arms as the Switch version of the boxing game in Wii Sports. Players can launch punches, throw opponents, and block incoming attacks using motion controls, making Arms a highly interactive experience. Though single-player mode is also available, Arms is best played in multiplayer mode, preferably with real-life friends.
4. I Am Setsuna
I Am Setsuna by Tokyo RPG Factory is one of the best RPGs on PS4. The Switch version launched alongside the console back in March, giving players another option to experience the charming RPG on-the-go (the game is also available on PS Vita). Published by Square Enix, I Am Setsuna is a turn-based RPG that harkens back to the golden age of RPGs, drawing inspiration from early Final Fantasy titles and Chrono Trigger.
The battle system features the Active Time Battle System first introduced in Final Fantasy IV. The ATB gauge dictates the action of each character during battles. In battle, players can command each character to use a regular attack, cast a special ability, or use an item. Similar to Chrono Trigger, characters can also perform combos using specific abilities.
I Am Setsuna centers on the titular character, Setsuna, who sets out on a pilgrimage in order to sacrifice herself and get rid of the demons plaguing her snowy homeland. The story has a sad tone, though not excessively sappy. If you love a good turn-based RPG with a well-written story, I Am Setsuna is definitely a must-play title.
Disgaea 5 Complete was a launch title for the Switch in Japan. The package includes the base game and all the DLC content, making it the definitive edition. Originally released in 2015, Disgaea 5 is a tactical RPG. It is the sixth installment in the Disgaea series – Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness counts as a main installment, hence the confusing numbering.
The core gameplay from previous Disgaea titles remains intact in Disgaea 5. Battles play out on a grid-based map where the player and the AI take turns moving units around the map. Playable characters include unique units such as the main cast and player-created units. Characters can attack using weapons and cast special skills or abilities during battles, not unlike in a traditional RPG.
Aside from the returning gameplay mechanics, Disgaea 5 also introduces new mechanics such as the revenge system and the ability to combine skills to unleash more powerful skills. As with other Disgaea titles, Disgaea 5 is infused with humor, though it falls short compared to previous installments, especially the original game. Grinding for stats and levels still plays a huge part in the gameplay, making Disgaea 5 an excellent game to spend more than 100 hours on while we wait for the Switch game library to grow bigger.
Still can’t get enough of Minecraft on PC, consoles, and mobiles? Try the recently released Nintendo Switch Edition of the hit sandbox game. Released in digital format last May, Minecraft NSE can be played in all Switch modes, which includes TV and handheld modes. It features both online and local multiplayer, with the latter also available in split-screen mode, though the screen size of the main unit makes split-screen a bit of a squint-fest in tabletop mode.
It was also announced at E3 2017 that the Switch will be part of the “Better Together Update,” which aims to bring together players from all Minecraft versions. Except for the PS4 version, because Sony is apparently allergic to all-in cross-platform multiplayer.
In Minecraft NSE, players have access to the Super Mario Mash-up Pack, which contains a number of goodies such as skins, blocks, and textures based on the Mario franchise. Feel free to create the Mushroom Kingdom in the game using all the Mario-themed tools. The gameplay is pretty much the same. Players have total freedom in the game. They can build structures, collect resources, hunt enemies, and take part in challenges or mini-games. In Minecraft, adventures are created by the players.
The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ is a Switch port of The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, a roguelike game based on the Biblical story of the same name. Rebirth is actually a remake. The original was first released in 2011 for PC. In order to bring the game to consoles and to improve the overall quality, developer Edmund McMillen teamed up with California-based publisher Nicalis to work on the remake.
Rebirth was released in 2014, followed by a couple of expansion packs, Afterbirth and Afterbirth+, in October 2015 and January 2017, respectively. The Switch version includes both expansion packs, which makes it the ultimate edition until the developer decides to release another complete package in the future.
The gameplay centers on the titular character, Isaac, who must fight his way through a series of dungeons populated by monsters. The game is notable for bringing a good amount of difficulty to the table. Dungeon levels are procedurally-generated, so you can’t rely on memory to master each level. Permanent death is also featured, forcing players to restart after the playable character bites the dust. If you’re looking for a challenging game, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ is currently the best one available for Switch.
Shovel Knight is a 2D platformer inspired by classic NES platformers such as Mega Man and Super Mario Bros. It was developed by indie studio Yacht Club Games, which used the crowdfunding site Kickstarter to get the game off the ground. Like Disgaea 5 Complete and I Am Setsuna, the Switch version of Shovel Knight launched alongside the console back in March.
Shovel Knight features charming 8-bit graphics, making it an excellent source of nostalgia for fans of old-school NES platformers. Players progress through the game by completing levels using the titular character. Boss battles greet the player at the end of levels. The main weapon of the Shovel Knight is, well, a shovel, which can be used to attack enemies and dig up treasures.
Though the ultimate goal is to complete each level, the game places heavy emphasis on collecting treasures. Players can obtain treasures through various means. This includes defeating enemies and finding treasure chests scattered in every level. Using money earned throughout the game, players can purchase upgrades and items to make the Shovel Knight more durable and effective. If you want a fun game that pays homage to classic NES platformers, you can’t go wrong with Shovel Knight.
Looking for a trippy experience on the Switch? Thumper is the only game that can deliver that experience. Thumper is a rhythm game developed by Drool, a two-man team featuring Brian Gibson, the bassist of the American band Lightning Bolt. Gibson primarily worked on the music while programmer Marc Flury handled the technical areas.
Thumper was originally released last year for the PC, PS4, and PS VR, with the Switch version arriving last May. Considered one of the best rhythm games around, Thumper features a space beetle as the playable character. Aided by the background music, players must successfully press a button to hit glowing prompts scattered in every level. While doing so, players must also navigate the space beetle to deal with obstacles along the way.
The atmosphere in Thumper is unlike any other rhythm game out there. The visuals look psychedelic, which is perfectly complemented by the music. If you have a history of seizures, we suggest consulting with a doctor first as the trippy visuals might trigger a seizure. And we definitely don’t recommend playing Thumper in total darkness unless you want to experience severe headaches or migraines.
Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is an updated port of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, with the gameplay largely based on Super Street Fighter II Turbo, the fifth entry in the Street Fighter II sub-series. You can think of it as the ultimate edition of Street Fighter II.
The game features high-definition graphics, though a classic mode is also available for those looking for more servings of nostalgia. Aside from the graphics, the music and character voices have also been reworked, with the latter now featuring the Japanese voices from Street Fighter IV. Again, players have the option to play with the original sounds.
Featuring a tweaked gameplay, this updated version of Street Fighter II comes with two additional characters in the form of Evil Ryu and Violent Ken, two characters not present in the original release. Both of them aren’t exactly “new” as they were already introduced in other games. Though The Final Challengers comes with excellent changes to the original, the deal-breaker is that it comes with an outrageous price tag.
Admit it, the list wasn’t all that impressive. But these games are the best ones we’ve got right now. If you still haven’t picked up a Switch, we highly suggest waiting until 2018 when the game library is more populated with games not ported from other gaming platforms.
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