Nintendo recently treated us to another
Nindies Showcase, highlighting some of the most exciting upcoming Switch eShop games from independent developers. When these titles hit Nintendo’s online store, they’ll be joining an already robust arsenal of top-notch games from talented developers. You may have bought your Switch for first-party Nintendo masterpieces like Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, but there has been a steady flow of incredible games from smaller teams in between the AAA releases, and some of them are simply too good to pass up. Here’s five must-have indie games on Nintendo Switch!
If you’re a
Metroid fan and you haven’t picked up Axiom Verge yet, what are you doing with your life? Axiom Verge hits you right out of the gate with an eerily compelling sci-fi soundtrack and a retro-styled cutscene that would feel right at home on Super Nintendo or SEGA Genesis. Then it quickly drops you into a massive, alien overworld, and your adventure begins.
Axiom Verge combines the incredible explorability of a game like Super Metroid with an intriguing narrative told partially through cutscenes and partially by the ancient writings you find hidden throughout the land of Sudra. Each of the game’s nine sprawling regions has its own unique flora and fauna, color scheme, background design, and music that perfectly sets the tone for what lies within. You’ll want to explore every inch and uncover every secret.
On top of excellent level design,
Axiom Verge features a wide variety of upgrades, items, and weapons. Some are needed to progress through the game, but many are optional rewards gifted to the player for diligent exploration. With dozens of guns to choose from, there’s a weapon for every scenario and play style. You’ll want to grab as many as you can, because boss fights are intense, heart-pounding endurance matches with massive monsters.
Axiom Verge was crafted virtually singlehandedly by developer Tom Happ, making its high quality even more astounding. It’s not only one of my favorite indies on Switch, but one of my favorite games of all time. If you want to know even more about this impressive Metroidvania adventure, you can check out a full review here.
Current price: $20
Ittle Dew 2
The award-winning Breath of the Wild should be enough to scratch your itch for massive 3D Zelda games for awhile, but what about a more traditional top-down experience? That’s where Ittle Dew 2 comes in. Battle monsters, explore an exotic island, and tackle eight main dungeons (with just as many secret dungeons and special dungeons) in any order you want, all on a quest for loot and a magic raft.
Puzzles are where Ittle Dew 2 truly shines. Each dungeon is filled with a variety of imaginative puzzles that will challenge your brain. Protagonist Ittle is armed with four tools for puzzle-solving: a melee weapon for smackin’ stuff, a ring that creates blocks of ice and freezes enemies, a wand that can be used to move blocks from a distance, and good ol’ handy dynamite.These same items are used for bashing baddies as well. Ittle Dew 2‘s combat isn’t as polished as Zelda‘s, but it’s serviceable for a game that’s more focused on challenging your mind.
Exploring the island is an absolute joy in Ittle Dew 2. Each dungeon is part of its own unique, themed region, like the candy-coated shores of Sweetwater Coast or the Old West Pepperpain Prairie with its rivers of hot sauce. Each region also has its own distinct music, and every track is terribly catchy. The inhabitants of the island are all amusing, with Ittle Dew and her companion Tippsie often bantering with them in a way that reminds me of Banjo and Kazooie. It all combines for a charming atmosphere.
On Nintendo Switch you’ll even get some extra content in the form of the Dream World. This new region contains five exclusive dungeons that each present a unique challenge by only allowing you to use certain items. As you progress through these new challenges, you’ll collect cards that give you background info on the various characters and NPCs in the game, adding to the lore. If you want to know more about this Zelda-inspired island adventure, you can check out a full review here.
Current price: $30
Mighty Gunvolt Burst
Mighty No. 9, how you failed us. What was supposed to be a beautiful spiritual successor to Mega Man felt like a sloppy and soulless knock-off, but thankfully something good came out of all that bad. Mighty Gunvolt Burst is something of a de-make of Mighty No. 9 crossed over with Inti Creates’ Azure Striker Gunvolt series. Mighty No. 9‘s levels have been redesigned in an 8-bit style, and they can be traversed as either Beck or Gunvolt, with Ekoro joining after launch as DLC.
The run and gun gameplay feels much closer to
Mega Man right out of the gate, but the game’s real hook is its weapon system. Rather than following the typical formula of “beat a boss and steal its weapon,” Mighty Gunvolt Burst unlocks all the different weapon types from the beginning, but they’re all fairly puny to start out. As you progress through the game, you unlock upgrades that can be equipped to your gun by spending cost points. You can make your shots bigger, faster, dissipating, homing, and so much more.
Mighty Gunvolt Burst is an addicting action-platformer with the right blend of that classic feel and new features. It’s a little on the short side, but unlocking new weapon upgrades, experimenting with customization, and replaying levels for high scores will keep you engaged.
Current price: $10
I picked up Golf Story on a whim a few days ago, and I haven’t been able to put it down since. I’ve never been a huge fan of golf sims, but I remember having some fun with some of the simpler ones like Mario Golf: Advance Tour years ago on Game Boy Advance. After hearing some good things from friends and colleagues, I decided to give Golf Story a shot, and I got a lot more than just a golf game!
The story follows a former golfer returning to the sport for the first time in 20 years. You’re determined to make it big, but right now you can’t even get the coach at the dumpiest course around to train you! By engaging with the local inhabitants of Wellworn Grove and taking on their quests and golfing challenges, you’ll make connections, level up (increasing stats like power and accuracy), and make a name for yourself in the world of golf.
Quests range from battling an army of evil skeletons to tracking bothersome moles back to their hideout to smashing pumpkins because a possessed, talking stone said you should. The game has an off-beat sense of humor that, at its best times, reminds me of a tamer
EarthBound. Early in the game, challenges are just tutorials to teach you the basics and some useful techniques, but as you progress, NPCs will come up with progressively harder shots for you to tackle.
Golf Story is also much larger than I expected, as you’ll eventually leave Wellworn Grove to travel to other themed locations, such as the sunny Bermuda Isles or the frozen Coldwind Wastes. There are eight total areas, and each one is packed with a variety of colorful characters, side quests, challenges, and collectibles. Each area also has an official golf course (which you can replay as many times as you’d like to try to improve your score), as well as some smaller courses and a “secret course” provided by an NPC. There’s tons to do from start to finish, and you’ll be having fun the whole way.
Current price: $15
I’ve always been a fan of action-platformers like Mega Man X and Metroid, but I’m a lot more hesitant to pick up a game where the platforming itself is the game’s greatest antagonist. Tough-as-nails platformers that require precisely timed jumps through never-ending death traps have always been frustrating to me, but something about Celeste caught my eye during the January Nintendo Direct. I decided to give it a try a few weeks later, and it quickly became one of my favorite Switch games.
Celeste drew me in with a beautiful pixel art style and an engrossing soundtrack that’s equal parts soothing and haunting. Unlike many platformers, it also features a fairly impactful story. You play as a young woman named Madeline on a journey of self-discovery, and more literally, on a journey up a treacherous mountain. Madeline’s frustration and determination matches your own as you take on progressively harder challenges that will test your wits, your timing, and your sanity.
Thankfully, the game isn’t unfairly punishing. Levels are lengthy and comprised of multiple challenges, but each challenge is short, usually spanning only a screen or two. Much like
Super Meat Boy, you’ll instantly respawn at the start of a challenge after death. This means there’s no frustrating wait times between deaths, which is important due to the fact that you’re going to be dying a lot. If you find yourself too stumped to go on, the game’s Assist Mode allows you to allows you to modify the rules to reduce its difficulty. This includes options such as slowing the game speed, granting yourself invincibility or infinite stamina, and skipping chapters entirely. I never used this mode on my original playthrough, which means I died over 2,000 times reaching the mountain’s summit. I’m glad I toughed it out, because the feeling of conquering a brutal challenge after numerous failures is exhilarating.
Celeste also excels in the area of content, as every single level has an alternate, harder version called a B-Side that you can unlock. I’ve already put around 15 hours into the game, and I’ve only beaten half of the total levels. Throw in the challenge of getting a 100% rate for collectibles, and you’ve got a game that will keep challenging you long after the credit roll. If you want to find out more about this beautiful, brutal mountain-climbing adventure, you can check out a full review here.
Current price: $20