10 Existing Indies that Need a Home on the Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch has been on store shelves (more or less) for a little over a month, and with only one large-profile release thus far I’ve been padding my collection with smaller indie titles. I love The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but variety is, indeed, a spice of life.

Even with its (not necessarily) smaller library of games, variety is something the Switch has going for it. New Frontier Days ~Founding Pioneers~ offers a bite-sized city builder. Blaster Master Zero and Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove hearken back to the 2D platformers of yesteryear. VOEZ is a touch-based rhythm game. Fast RMX offers futuristic arcade racing. Even SNK is embracing the Switch’s potential by releasing a large handful of their older Neo-Geo titles, like Metal Slug 3, Waku Waku 7, and King of Fighters ’98.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying tinyBuild’s Mr. Shifty, which is a bit like Hotline Miami if Nightcrawler was the main character (I know this description is getting old, but it’s a good one). I’ve also gotten pretty obsessed with Vertexpop’s 2D shoot-em-up Graceful Explosion Machine, thanks to a little friendly leaderboard competition I have going with a few folks on Twitter.

That being said, though, there are still a plethora of indie titles that exist on other platforms that I’d love to revisit on the Nintendo Switch. Here are the 10 I’d like to see the most.

1: Risk of Rain

A 2D class-based rogue-lite full of insane power-ups, a brilliant take on difficulty ramping, and one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. Risk of Rain is an astounding co-op experience that, in my opinion, perfected the risk-versus-reward approach to XP and loot gains, and refrains from ever having a dull moment.

You see, the longer you’re alive, the higher the difficulty scales. Do you take your time and scour the earlier levels for upgrades, risking a relentless assault from tougher elite monsters later on? Or will you blaze forward to make the late-game potentially easier, risking death and dismemberment early on by being severely under-geared and under-leveled?

The co-op nature of Risk of Rain (which can be played entirely solo, by the way) could make great use of the Switch’s independent JoyCon controllers.

2: Axiom Verge

Axiom Verge is the greatest Metroid experience since Super Metroid on SNES. It’s a love letter in every sense of the word, developed and composed entirely by Tom Happ. As Trace, you’ll explore a labyrinthine map while collecting powerful new weapons and upgrades, tackling boss monsters, and unlocking new areas along the way. The soundtrack is also pure ear-sex.

Once a PS4 exclusive, Axiom Verge has since made its way to Wii U, Vita, Xbox One, and PC, and with Nintendo clearly uninterested in revisiting Metroid in any meaningful capacity, the least they could do is bring this masterpiece to the Switch.

3: Duck Game

Similar to TowerFall, Duck Game is a competitive 2D arena game for up to four players. Arenas vary in size, the weapon variety borderlines on the absurd, and there’s even a dedicated “quack” button. This was my go-to jam on the Ouya (you remember that thing, right?), and although it lacked the stiff polish of TowerFall I still found myself going back to Duck Game far more often.

As a competitive local experience with minimal button usage, this is another perfect fit for the Switch’s independent JoyCon mode of play. There’s also a level editor and online multiplayer, further increasing the game’s replay value.

4: Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax

This batshit 2D bullethell blends traditional chaotic shmup excitement with the class-based co-op feel of games like Destiny. Stardust Galaxy Warriors boasts a stellar Mega Man-esque soundtrack, a comedic story mode, tons of power-ups to purchase, and nearly as many specific difficulty sliders as a modern sports game.

Like a few others in this list, Stellar Climax’s local co-op would be perfect for the Switch’s independent JoyCon mode.

5: Crawl

Crawl is a pixelated Lovecraftian take on PVE/PVP hybrid games like Evolve, where one player acts as a dungeon-exploring hero while everyone else on the couch controls the monsters and traps. Whoever kills the hero becomes the hero, which continues until someone manages to defeat the stage’s final boss. It’s like a visceral game of tag, but with bloody meat chunks and sharp weapons.

I had the opportunity to review Crawl on PC about 2 years ago and now that the game is out of Steam’s Early Access, I’d love to see its recent PS4 and Xbox One console release include the Nintendo Switch. Again, using minimal buttons and focusing on local mayhem, Crawl is absolutely perfect for the Switch’s dual JoyCon mode.

6: Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy has been around long enough that it doesn’t really need an introduction. It’s one of the most rewarding rogue-lites in the history of the genre, respecting the player by making every failure feel like a rewarding learning experience.

While most rogue-likes thrive on crushing the player’s soul ad nauseum, Rogue Legacy allows you to unlock permanent statistical upgrades, armor, and weapons, and even pay in-game currency to lock the dungeon’s layout in place to avoid randomization altogether. It’s a brilliant game that offers a tremendous amount of replay value, and if the Vita version was any indication, Rogue Legacy is best played on a handheld.

7: Claire: Extended Cut

Claire is a 2D pixelated horror title heavily influenced by the Silent Hill series. If that doesn’t have your attention already, there’s nothing I can do for you here. It’s beautifully crafted with haunting, sometimes blood-soaked environments, and has one of the most impressive sound compositions I’ve experienced in a horror game since Silent Hill 3. Akira Yamaoka would be proud.

Bringing a splash of horror to the Switch would only expand that “variety” buzzword I’ve been emphasizing. I adored the game on PS4 and revisited it again on Vita, where it was just as horrific. I’m sure it’d be no different on Switch.

8: Hyper Light Drifter

This action/adventure game is visually inspired by the pixelated games of yesteryear, but the gameplay is fast and tactical in a way that feels incredibly modern. I’m really struggling to come up with a better explanation that does the game justice, and I hate comparing every challenging game to Dark Souls.

For starters, Hyper Light Drifter is insanely beautiful, oozing with character and vibrant neons. The environments are meticulously crafted pixel-by-pixel and the soundtrack feeds the experience by emphasizing the game’s cautious exploration and intense combat.

Hyper Light Drifter was originally scheduled to release on Vita and Wii U alongside PS4, Xbox One, and PC, but those versions were unfortunately canceled by Heart Machine last September. Hopefully, we’ll see it land on the Switch eventually. It seems like the perfect fit for a handheld.

9: Nuclear Throne

This is a challenging roguelike shooter full of power-up infused mutants, deadly weapons, and randomization, where you thwart hordes of baddies while making your way deeper and deeper in search of the titular Nuclear Throne.

Much like The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ on the Switch, there’s plenty of unlockable characters and no run is ever the same. This makes it a great pick-up-and-play game, which it’s been proven to be on my Vita. With Nuclear Throne offering a local co-op mode, it’s a perfect fit for the Switch’s independent JoyCon when you have friends over.

10: Salt & Sanctuary

Salt & Sanctuary is a respectable 2D take on the Dark Souls formula with a dash of Castlevania sprinkled in for good measure. Combat is equally weighty, environments are dark and haunting, you collect “salt” instead of souls, and parry and dodge your way through some challenging boss encounters, but Ska Studios have enough going on here to make it a standout title.

The Souls-like has just made its way to the Vita after being available on PS4 for more than a year, yet, while I’m appreciative of the effort, the smaller display screen feels a bit too claustrophobic for my liking. It’s still a lot of fun, but I keep thinking how much more I’d be enjoying it on the Switch instead.

***

There’s clearly more than 10 indies deserving of a home on Nintendo’s new handheld/home console hybrid. These are the ones that I’d not only have the most fun with but also seem to fit well into the Switch’s hardware offerings.

What about you folks? What existing indies would you like to see make their way to the Switch?

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27 thoughts on “10 Existing Indies that Need a Home on the Nintendo Switch

  1. Awesome list! I still have to finish Axiom Verge.. I swear I think that game is on every console going back to the Atari. I do recall reading that they were waiting on Nintendo approval.

    Salt & Sanctuary would be great as well, I’m planning on a physical copy when it’s available (for Vita) but on the beautiful Switch screen, oh boy, that would be fantatic.

    I’d also like to see more bullet-hells, personally, as I got into them a bit on the Vita. Super Stardust Delta came to mind and I’m wondering if the Stardust game you listed is a part of that series? Either way, the more the merrier!

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    1. From what I gathered on Twitter near the Switch’s launch, Tom Happ didn’t get a Switch dev kit to port it over. Hopefully that changes soon.

      The Switch has spoiled me, in terms of handheld gaming. After using for a month it’s been tough going back to the Vita. It feels so tiny to hold and the screen is smaller than what I’m used to now. I still love my Vita, always will, but now I want everything on the Switch instead. Migrating libraries is good.

      Super Stardust is great, but entirely different. Stardust Galaxy Warriors is incredible, though, so give it a look on your console of choice. It won’t disappoint.

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      1. Agreed on the Switch spoiling the other handhelds! The Vita is still a good size and feels good in my hands, but I’m dreading going back to my New 3DS. I might have to un-retire my New 3DS XL for Ever Oasis and Pikmin!

        I’m also getting to the point where I’m hoping that everything comes out on Switch, rather than Vita/3DS. Why develop for the old console when you can develop for the new, is my line of thinking.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. When I travel, I’d also just like to have everything under as little roofs as possible. The Switch’s premise is fantastic, despite it being weaker than the PS4 and Xbox One. But there are plenty of indie titles to pad their big releases and if they play it smart the Switch could be the best place to play them instead of the Vita.

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          1. Hah! I just left a near-identical comment on NeoGaf in response to the Monster Hunter Stories announcement… I’m about ready to retire my 3DS to be honest. It’s been a good run but 240p on a tiny screen just doesn’t cut it after playing portable freaken open-world Zelda. Happy to say the Vita is still doing it for me!

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            1. I have the Ocarina and Majora’s Mask 3D remaster, both Fire Emblem: Fates games, Dragon Quest VII & VIII, and Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse in my 3DS backlog, so I’m in it for the long haul. But I don’t think I’ll buy anything else for it. I accidentally left my 3DS XL plugged in for a month (sidetracked by school, the Switch, etc) and now the battery dies within 24 hours. I don’t want to invest $200 in another 3DS either.

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            2. One of my main reasons for buying a New 3DS last fall was because I was convinced my XL battery was toast from 800+ hours of gameplay. Turns out, the 3DS just sucks at battery life.

              No joke – I’ve played Exist Archive on my Vita every day this week, to and from work on the hourlong bus ride, and it is at 60% battery. Have not charged it a single time.

              It doesn’t even make sense.

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            3. My Vita has been in rest mode for over a month and a half and it’s at 60% battery. I don’t recall my 3DS being THIS bad at keeping a charge, but yeah, 3DS has always lasted far less time off the charger.

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    1. I almost put Bastion on the list, but it was narrowly edged out. Transistor is also incredible. Basically any good bite-sized adventure, like Titan Souls, Crypt of the NecroDancer, Meltdown, Amazing Frog?, and Momodora would be rad on Switch. Give me all the retro love.

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    1. Thanks! I had a lot of fun with Crawl a few years back and I’m sure they’ve added all sorts of goodies since then. Since the game requires multiple people to play, the Switch seems perfect. It comes with two controllers right out of the box.

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  2. What? Nothing from Black Forest Games!?!?!? Blasphemy!

    I kid. I kid.

    Though I do feel Rogue Stormers, and Giana Sisters would be great games to play on the Switch. Particularly for those who missed them on the PC or other consoles when they were new.

    Some others I’d like to see would be VVVVVV, Ultionus: A tale of petty revenge, and I think some of the AA indie games would also be a good fit. I wouldn’t mind seeing NWI put their upcoming remaster of Insurgency on the Switch. I think Torn Banner’s upcoming Mirage could even work. I’ve been playing the beta, and like what I’m seeing so far. If the final game turns out great, it could be popular there too since historically new IPs seem to do nicely for themselves on a new console. At least Redout is getting a port, and I hope it does well. It’s a REALLY good racer.

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  3. I would very much agree with those, especially the multiplayer centric ones. I mentioned Invisigun Heroes recently as a multiplayer focussed game that could work here.
    Hyper Light Drifter would also be a fantastic fit. Even better if it were made to run at 60fps!

    Liked by 1 person

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