We've got a soft spot for ARMS, and we're not ashamed to take any opportunity to highlight it as an underappreciated gem in the Switch's considerable catalogue. The demo gives you a good idea of the main gameplay and you can play it without limit, although it does spit you out of the Grand Prix at a certain point. Go on, there's no 'arm in it!
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Tinykin (Switch eShop)
While we wait for Pikmin 4 to finally make it to Switch, why not give Tinykin a go? This gorgeously-animated puzzle-platformer draws its inspiration from the Pikmin games, but puts its own spin on the genre, with a story about bugs taking over a house. Give it a try to see if you gel with its more story-led, dialogue-heavy reimagining of a beloved Nintendo classic.
Live A Live (Switch)
Live A Live can be a bit of a hard sell, but the existence of a demo helps a bunch. This underrated early '90s JRPG flew under the radar, but this glossy remake gives it a lick of HD-2D paint to create something that feels modern without being weighed down by some slightly outdated JRPG mechanics. The demo lets you play through the start of three of the game's chapters, and your save data will carry over if you decide to buy the full game.
ANNO: Mutationem (Switch eShop)
This 2D-3D cyberpunk action-adventure is perfect for fans of Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell, and Neon Genesis Evangelion, all of which serve as inspiration for ANNO: Mutationem's neon-bright world. If you're only slightly a fan of any of the aforementioned media, or you're not wholly convinced by cyberpunk, then give ANNO's DEMO a go. It's free!
Card Shark (Switch eShop)
Card Shark is a beautiful, weird little game from the makers of Tinder-meets-kingdom-strategy game Reigns, only this one is about watching other people play cards, and helping one of them cheat through an elaborate system of tricks. Only you can decide if this memorisation puzzler is your cup of tea, but lucky for you, there's a demo, so you can learn two things: One, how to cheat at cards, and two, if you like the game.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land (Switch)
If you're not entirely sure if HAL Lab's post-apocalyptic take on the pink puff is your jam, then check out the beefy demo for Kirby and the Forgotten Land before you buy. With access to the tutorial stage, a normal stage, and a boss stage — all from the early game — this demo will give you a nice, varied taste of all that the game has to offer. As a bonus, playing through the demo will get you two Present Codes for the full version of Kirby and the Forgotten Land, which unlock extra items for Kirby to use.
If it's some classic 2D Kirby that you are after, then the Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe demo might be up your street instead. Hey, you can never have too much Kirby!
TRIANGLE STRATEGY (Switch)
The demo of Square Enix's HD-2D JRPG with a terrible name, Triangle Strategy, gives you a taste of the first three chapters. You'll get to meet Serenoa, the heir to a great house, Frederica, his betrothed, and a handful of the characters you can play as later in the game.
Metroid Dread (Switch)
The Metroid series was taking a long nap before the release of Metroid Dread in late 2021 (which coincided with the release of the Switch OLED), but everyone loved it, so it worked out just fine. But if you're not a Metroid fan already, and you want to see what all the fuss is about, then this free demo will give you just a taste of Samus' adventures. It's a substantial demo, too, with a boss fight to beat and a "rookie mode" to ease in new players.
NEO: The World Ends With You (Switch)
A sequel to the excellent DS cult classic, NEO: The World Ends With You doesn't require that you play the first game (although you'll enjoy the story more if you do) — but you might want to play the free demo before you jump in feet first to this colossal, 40+ hour action-RPG. It covers the first two days of the story, lets you get up to level 15, and takes about two hours to complete. Good news: If you do decide to buy the full game, your save data will carry over, so that's at least two hours that you won't have to play twice!
Game Builder Garage (Switch)
Although Nintendo's game development experimentation didn't do gangbusters, we still love Game Builder Garage for what it tries to do. It's a bright, bouncy, and user-friendly introduction to programming that's ideal for kids and adults alike. Of course, like many games on this list, it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, so a demo is the perfect way to test it out.
Hypnospace Outlaw (Switch eShop)
Some games are hard to describe, and need to be seen to be believed. Hypnospace Outlaw is one of those. It's a goofy sleuthing game set in '90s-style cyberspace, and mostly consists of you interacting with MySpace-esque web pages run by idiot 14-year-olds. That might sound a bit dull. It's not. Play the demo, and you'll see what we mean.
AI: The Somnium Files (Switch)
AI: The Somnium Files is the brilliant brainchild of writer and director Kotaro Uchikoshi, who you may know from the Zero Escape games, 999, Virtue's Last Reward, and Zero Time Dilemma. In a similar vein, AI is all about murders, mysteries, and untrustworthy memories, and it's also a long game with a lot of reading. This demo gives you a chance to experience the two sides of the game: The investigation part, and the Somnium part, in which you dive into a person's traumatised brain to solve puzzles and reveal secrets.
I never find myself trying out demos. I have a pretty good feel for what I like and what I don't at this point and there's usually enough information available online to be able to tell if I'll like a game or not without needing to try it for myself. Plus it just annoys me having anything that isn't a full game in my play activity.
ARMS is only demo you'll ever need in life.
pretty sure it isn`t
Vostok Inc. was a demo I liked, I found the retail version real cheap and spent 25+ hours on it. I also bought Disgaea 5 Complete, Yoshi's Crafted World, Dragon Quest Builders 2 and Jacob Jazz's Baobabs Mausoleum after playing the demos.
Recently, I enjoyed the demos to Infini, Tangle Tower, Wunderling, Kunai, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III, Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories, and Dandy Dungeon: Legend of Brave Yamada.
Demos are great for selling me on a game, and I wish there were more of them. There are some I still need to get to as well, like Mr. Driller, Dragon Quest XI S, and Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair.
I think every game should have a demo. I have been burnt on good looking and well received games which I have hated while playing, so a demo is always welcome. Good article!
Aren't demo's just free to play games with immovable pay walls though? And game without demo's just pay to play gambling with real money on whether you'd enjoy them or not? (these aren't necessarily my opinions of them, just another way to see it)
@mesome713 I'd argue against that as well, I've played demo's ofgames I was pretty sure I'd get, to find out I didn't want them, and the exact opposite as well. So that's money saved on the games I wouldn't have liked that could go to the games I wouldn't have considered without a demo but enjoyed a lot. Also, on 3DS, I got a lot of play time in the early days playing the different demo's / pilot versions of Resident Evil Revelations.
So you clicked on a link which portends to be a showcase of demos just to tell us your extra niche opinion on how they don't suit you? A curious cat that; most people aren't swift to delve into niche games based on a review of someone else's subjective taste. The demo is positioned in such a way as to bridge the gap between our expectations and the developers mission to deliver on them. It's actually one of the most pro consumer tools shy of piracy, to determine whether the game's premise was actually a marketing ploy. So I think they are a necessary and inescapable part of the space. Whether you use them or not is kind of beside the point, especially for such an innocuous thing as free software.
Wait what!? There’s a demo for bravely default 2! 🤯 well I didn’t know that
@BenAV I loved demo's back on PS1 and PC win95/98 era. but now I don't care.. i want the full experience
Huge obvious miss is Super Mega Baseball 3.
You can play unlimited online games with the demo!
Unlimited games of what many feel is the best baseball game on any platform!
It's definitely a high value for a free demo.
@San_D @mesome713 I wish the yooka laylee Impossible lair demo was available at launch because I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise ( I didn’t like it)
I regularly play the Puyo Puyo Tetris demo. Have been for three years. Never felt the need to buy the game though!
Other than the obvious picks, Hob, Yoku’s Island Express, and Fitness Boxing are tremendous games you will wind up buying. The latter was a complete pandemic lifesaver until I finally got Ring Fit last week.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 should be on here. Another large demo where progress carries over.
@sandman89 Thankfully I waited, and didn't like the demo of Impossible Lair. Money saved. How I wish Hollow Knight had a demo - it may be unpopular opinion, but it didn't click with me at all.
@San_D 😱🥰 I don’t like hollow knight either! I also wasted money on that! 😆
The Forgotton Anne demo is great. Bought it & loved the game.
Not on Switch, but the most generous demo I’ve encountered was Pocket Card Jockey on 3DS. I don’t think there was a limit in how long you could play your horse, and there wasn’t that much more to the full game beyond what was in the demo. I eventually bought the full game after enjoying the demo for a good 12 hours. It is a fantastic game
"and one of the finest soundtracks we’ve heard in a JRPG"
What? Dragon Quest XI's soundtrack is absolutely atrocious. I love the game, it's my favourite game on switch, but that soundtrack is just awful. And the composer is a homophobic piece of *****, too.
Pretty much every game from Square Enix has the best demos you´ll find on the Switch XD. Dragon Quest XI, Trials of Mana, Octopath Traveler, Bravely Default 2, Dragon Quest Builders 2... Many hours you can add to the main game once you get it (except Bravely, obviously).
Also, try out the Ori and the Blind Forest demo, guys!
I loved the Dragon Quest XI demo. It convinced me to get the game. It didn't look that great in the trailers but the demo showed me how good it is. If you haven't played Dragon Quest XI but are interested, try the demo!
@mesome713 I tried it and didn´t like it at all XD. ARMS is not for me, definitely, and it´s weird, because I enjoy nearly every Nintendo game out there.
I recommend Trials of mana and Dragon quest xi. Both outstanding games
I am so thankful for the Dragon Quest demo. I hated it so much and it saved me $60!
Strangely, I never thought of looking for demos on the Switch... There are a bunch of games on this list I should really try - Ori, Hob, Puyo Puyo Tetris, Cadence. Looks like I’ll be busy for the next few hours (providing my joy-con drift ain’t too bad)
Captain Toad and Bad North are so damn good!!! So are the other games on this page, but those two are just amazingly fun and beautiful games.
I loved Yoshi's Crafted World so much. One of the best 50 bucks I ever spent. Also, I didn't know Trials of Mana had a demo. I might need to give that one a go!
@sandman89 I am going to have to download it as well!
I vaguely remember trying the original Bravely Default demo on 3DS, and it was kicking my a** right out of the chute, so I passed. Probably would have passed on BD 2 without a demo, but really enjoyed and finished the demo (except for 'extra' boss at end), and look forward to it's release.
For anyone enjoying Trials of Mana demo, be warned that some of the later boss battles in full game get tough and frustrating trying to keep AI party members alive, depending on the makeup of your party. I was playing on third highest difficulty ('normal' I think) and didn't want to turn it down just to compensate for sketchy AI (IMO).
The Dragon Quest XI S demo sold me on the game, what a massive demo that was, I enjoyed the Hob demo too. I downloaded the Trials of Mana one but didn't really get started on it properly - Bravely Default 2 I wasn't really feeling at all.
Forgot to mention earlier - while not exactly demos, game jam builds of games have also led me to buy the full release of Celeste and Baba is You specifically, and some games, such as Bug Fables, have demos on PC. Hopefully in the future, more demos come to the eShop and Nintendo remembers NSO game trials are a thing outside of Japan...
It’s not mentioned in the article, but my son and I enjoyed the Cat Quest II demo, and bought the full game after playing.
@OptometristLime Uh, okay? It's not like I said that they shouldn't exist or anything.
Dragon Quest 11 is one of my favorite DQ games.
01001010 01101111 01100101 01101100 00100000 01000100 01101001 01100101 01110011 00100000 01001100 01001111 01010101 00110010
i would also add :
Ai: the somnium files
@BenAV - Outside the play activity, I am the same. However, I do muddy my own waters sometimes cause I have a pension to intentionally play aweful games.
They should have also put down MHGU too
I remember being a kid and replaying the same demos over and over on a PS1 demo disk I had. Good memories.
@mesome713 well said.
Touryst is one of the best games on switch.
I'd throw in there snipperclips, cat quest 2, invisigun, ninjin and 99 vidas
Yeah I totally got carried away there, wasn't in the best mood tbh and I shouldn't have posted like that. Next time will be sure to consider the context fully and not jump to any conclusions.
@OptometristLime All good.
@San_D Me too on Hollow Knight. My last attempt at a metroidvania and unfortunately I found it dull. Glad I'm not the only one!
@SoManyHaveDied I tried the Invisigun demo on a whim and absolutely loved it. Good example of demos working to get you to try games you'd otherwise not go for. Bought the full version (and joined the Discord) - it's so underrated, and full of content.
@Milton_Burle @sandman89 I too had given up on metroidvanias after Hollow Knight, but then I got Dead Cells, it's just too good. It's exactly what I felt Hollow Knight wasn't - fun. And you don't really need to go looking for a random line of lore and fight some boring monsters en route and die and fight your ghost and those same monsters and so on...
I loved the dragon quest demo but I really need to be fully briefed on turn based combat and how to get the best out of it, I never played any of those back in the day, so I was really just guessing and hoping for the best and couldn't get past that annoying gargoyle near the broken bridge.
@Milton_Burle Ironically I bought the game on an eshop sale without even knowing it had a demo. but i ended up loving it. some characters are kinda hard to use tho
You can skip getting the Blaster Master Zero demo and just buy it, it and its sequel are gaming perfection (well IMHO anyway 😉).
I usually try out the demos for JRPGs and not much else, I usually have a good idea of what I want and get those games — the Touryst is a good example where I skipped the demo cuz I knew I’d love the game
@SoManyHaveDied Agreed re: some characters. Chronos FTW.
@San_D Was considering Dead Cells as a lot of people rave about it. That might just tempt me.
@Milton_Burle Dead Cells is many games in one. The movement/platforming is like Prince of Persia lite, the character's stomp is like Donkey Kong, gears are immensely varied - I can literally play it like semi-Chess, where I deploy traps and run away while the monsters have no way to escape those or I can blast through enemies using heavy weapons. The combinations are so interesting and unique, it's a shame that this game doesn't have a demo - I believe a lot of people on the fence would buy it after minutes. Heavily recommended!
I'm quite glad that demos have become so much more common than they used to be. I'm not really into playing demos of games which I know for sure I would like, but sometimes there's stuff like the recent Diofield Chronicles or Harvestella demos which I never would have even tried if not for the demo, and for the latter I actually enjoyed it to the point where I do want to get it.
Imo a game should have a demo to qualify getting onto the eshop
Deltarune chapters 1+2 is a demo..
There's quite a few games on that list that I never would have purchased but ended up getting after trying the demo.
If more games had a demo or a refund option within the first hour of play, I'd definitely buy more.
@OptometristLime well said, I really like demos. I just tried the Youropa demo and saved money. I liked the look, I like the game play feel, but... the mechanics I don't like. I was dying in ways I didn't understand, and I wouldn't have known it until I bought it.
For a gamer like me who has limited time and money, demos are so worthwhile.
@Ironcore Part of me agrees with you, but another part wonders how hard it is for developers to create a demo. I imagine it takes considerable work to take a portion of the game and deliver it in that format. So, I am appreciative when they do provide a demo.
@WoomyNNYes its been a while since I played and loved Forgotton Anne! I thought it was great. My only sore spot was after game when I wasn't able to get most of the songs by going back and finding secret things. But overall it was fantastic!
I think one of the best 'demos' on Switch by far is Miitopia's. Not only does it give you a nice taster of what to expect in regards to gameplay and tone, it just straight up gives you the big selling point of the Switch port (insane customisation) for free. It's what led to the game's demo absolutely exploding in popularity when it initally released back last year and I would highly recommend it to anyone with even a smidgen of creative talent!
I think I played through the Just Shapes & Beats demo at least three times before I caved and bought it full price, which I almost never do for indies. And the Dragon Quest XI demo really gives you a ridiculous amount of content for free. I ended up not liking the full game as much as I thought I would, but the demo still left quite an impression.
There are plenty of other demos worth checking out, too. I'd throw in Moonlighter, Monster Hunter Rise, Boxboy+Boxgirl, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, Foregone, Snipperclips, Blossom Tales, Flat Heroes, and Nine Parchments. I'd also like to shout out The Rusty Sword, since it's technically a demo for a full game that may or may not ever exist, even though it costs $1.
Best demos on Switch in my experience so far have been:
*Honourable Mention: the Game Trial for Captain Toad Treasure Tracker (I was actually able to finish that game in a week, just before the trial expired by committing to doing 5 or so levels a night)
.. Hope Nintendo and others continue to put out substantial demos of AAA games where progress carries over into the actual release.
... Wun can only hope.
There are so many games that I’m interested in on sale. I’m really wanting to play Xenoblade 2 though, so I might hold off. Moonlighter is really tempting, but I’m not sure
More and more games need demos, I've been burned to many times with games I thought I'd like but then realized they were garbage or clunky messes with fantastic concepts. Saying that I simply adored the Tinykin demo and never bought that 🤷♂️🤣 but still, ALL games to have demos!
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition and Trials of Mana are both amazing games!
I'd recommend these and currently playing DQXI again now
@Rudra42 Woah there, chill.
Any chance we get this sale in EU? Would love to buy some of those game
What I quite like is that the earlier article on demos was like a demo for this piece.
I'm disappointed not to see Bayonetta Origins in this list - I think it is the best type of demo because it's for a high profile series but the gameplay is a new idea so the demo is the perfect opportunity to check out the gameplay for slightly interested people so they can decide if they want to buy the game or not. For me the game was an insta-buy after playing the demo (I was undecided before) and I could imagine others would play 10 minutes and decide to save their pennies which is equally useful.
I do think the games in this list all had great demos (I played most of them) in that they give a useful taste of the game. Some of them I played and immediately bought the game, many others (such as Mario Strikers) I played and decided I definitely didn't want to buy the game. And of course many of the demos were just interesting enough to wishlist the game for maybe later.
I would almost want to add the Balan Wonderworld demo to this list just because it successfully saved money for a lot of people who would have otherwise bought the game and regretted it 😝 However, that demo served the customer but perhaps not the company; the ideal demo would be good for both because otherwise the companies won't make demos.
Demos typically convince me NOT to buy a game that I'm on the fence about. The two big exceptions have been Pikmin 3 (on Wii U) and Tinykin (on Switch).
In fact, I avoided Pikmin since the series began because I had zero interest. But once the demo for P3 came to Wii U, it convinced me to buy Pikmin 3 for Wii U and later Switch, plus Pikmin 1&2 for Wii, plus Pikmin 1&2 on Wii U. That was the most effective demo ever 😄
More games should have demos, just let us have a wee try to see what it's like, some games may get more sales from people that aren't sure if they'll like it or not. It might've stopped me buying a few games that I thought I'd like too 🤣
Worth mentioning that Dragon Quest Builders 2's current "Jumbo" demo lets you play until just before the end of the game's first major island/story arc, roughly the first 15-20 hours of the game. And like most of SE's demos on Switch, that progress carries over into the full game.
A good demo is surely the one that prevented you from buying a bad game!
If a good demo is ultimately a good game... just buy the game?
With the free games and demos alone on Switch, + 1 or 2 big titles like Mario Kart and BOTW, you really can get along just fine. Don't need much more than that.
Lunistice has my fluffy baby seal of approval
I own 15 of the games on this list and with at least half of them, there's no way I would have bought them if I hadn't got to try them first.
Demos do occasionally put me off a game I was going to buy: Age of Calamity, Pikmin 3 and Mario Strikers but for the most part, they encourage me to spend more money.
The other thing that would make me purchase more games is if Nintendo followed Microsofts lead and allowed gamers to get a refund on digital games they don't like if played less than 2 hours.
My son recommended Arise to me. It is on sale quite often and is a really great game. Money well spent.
It might be time to update the blurb on Bravely Default II - that game has been out for some time now. I typically only download and play a demo for a game I have on my wish list already, but that's more an issue with lack of free time than lack of desire to try these games out. I recently downloaded and played the demo for OT2, and that was fantastic. I also recall playing the Yoshi demo and taking it off of my wishlist as a result.
Yes but it’s a demo I have 200+ hours in
(I have a problem)
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