Updated for 2021. Feel free to let us know in the comments if there's something missing that you think deserves a spot. Otherwise, enjoy!
The library of games on Nintendo Switch has expanded rapidly since the console launched back in 2017 and it now boasts a huge number of great games in practically every genre. Keeping up with all the releases coming to the Switch eShop on a weekly basis can be a challenge, but what a fantastic problem to have!
We've already examined the vast quantity of great shmups available on Nintendo's platform, but now we're looking at the best Run 'n' Gun shooters on Switch. These are games that put a projectile weapon in your hands and have you running around a top-down or side-scrolling level blasting seven bells out of aliens, robots or anything that moves.
From old-school re-releases and compilation to neo-classics and nostalgic throwbacks, charge that arm cannon and settle down for the best Switch run and gun games, in no particular order.
Blazing Chrome (Switch eShop)
The 21st century version of Contra we were hoping Contra: Rogue Corps would be, Blazing Chrome is exactly what you're looking for if you’re after old-school thrills - as long as you’re up for the challenge, that is. With all the set pieces, tight control and epic gameplay you could wish for, this is one of the finest 2D action games on the console.
Mega Man 11 (Switch)
Following the spectacular disappointment of Mighty No. 9 — a game we're still owed a copy of on 3DS, believe it or not — Capcom's return of the blue bomber showed everyone how it should be done. This is a worthy follow up for the beloved character and one that you'll enjoy whether you've played instalments 1-10 or never before touched a Mega Man.
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Contra Anniversary Collection (Switch eShop)
For those of us disheartened by how rubbish Contra: Rogue Corps turned out, at least Konami saw fit to put out this collection of classic Contras. Contra Anniversary Collection is a wonderful little package of the arcade originals and the 8- and 16-bit entries. With top-notch emulation courtesy of M2, this is arguably Konami's most satisfying anniversary collection to date.
Huntdown (Switch eShop)
This throwback to run 'n' gun arcade shooters of the 16-bit era is an absolute joy. Inspired by the past but throwing a good dollop of modern features and an excellent soundtrack into the mix, Huntdown comes highly recommended to anybody who glances at the screenshots and thinks to themselves 'yeah, that looks all right'. It's much better than 'all right' - it's bloody brilliant.
Mega Man Legacy Collection (Switch eShop)
Another collection of classics, Mega Man Legacy Collection brings together the NES entries in the series (that's the original Mega Man up to Mega Man 6) and presents them beautifully on Switch. Digital Eclipse also added a bunch of extras and challenges, as well as a very handy rewind feature if you don't have time to master the moves you'll need to defeat every Robot Master. These games feature some of the best music of the 8-bit era, so we'd recommend adding this to your Switch collection if only for that.
Metal Slug X (Neo Geo)
You can't go too far wrong with Metal Slug, and Metal Slug X is arguably the pinnacle of the series. Essentially an updated, 'special' version of Metal Slug 2, this Neo Geo classic still looks and feels fantastic on Switch, and Hamster has done its usual bang-up job on the port.
Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX (Switch eShop)
Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX is a thoroughly enjoyable, rewarding and charming game from Inti Creates, the studio that brought us the Mega Man Zero series (more on that soon) and several other entries on this list. It's a shorter, easier ride than veterans may desire, but would be a great way for newbies to get involved with the genre.
Kero Blaster (Switch eShop)
Kero Blaster is a Japanese indie release that looks back to the golden era of run and gun games, replicating the deep and satisfying mechanics of the classics with a modern touch that makes it a little more approachable to genre newcomers than some of the others here. You also get to control a gun-toting frog. Who could possibly resist that?
Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack (Switch)
A solid pair from Inti Creates, Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack gives the two 3DS games an HD makeover for Switch with HD Rumble and all the DLC. They're not perfect ports, and if you've played them before on 3DS there's not much to recommend double dipping, but otherwise this is a very enjoyable pair of shooters.
Mega Man X Legacy Collection (Switch eShop)
Mega Man X Legacy Collection is a fantastic re-release of the first four games in the series which comes with the now-familiar archival content and a new X Challenge mode. Short of going back in time and playing these 16-/32-bit games at release, this is arguably the finest way to experience these games nowadays.
Broforce (Switch eShop)
Broforce is filled with '80s movie caricatures and winks to Hollywood's most explosive of decades. Check your brain at the door and sit back for a hilarious dose of run 'n' gun action that demands very little of you (other than that you have an absolute blast).
Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch eShop)
Mighty Gunvolt Burst is the game everyone wishes Mighty No. 9 was (can you tell that we're bitter about never receiving our 3DS code?) and comes courtesy of Inti Creates. It improves on the original Mighty Gunvolt and looks to the classic 8-bit Mega Man games for inspiration, delivering a very enjoyable retro-flavoured nostalgia trip while also throwing in some fresh ideas of its own.
Mechstermination Force, my dudes
Where's The Legend of Dark Witch? I'd put that on there. I even liked it more than Kero Blaster.
Despite really liking them, i absolutely suck at this genre. Cuphead was good but boy did i struggle on some bits. I didnt ever complete it despite getting to the final 3rd part of the map.
Highly recommend every Inti and capcom game on this list, especially Megaman Z/ZX collection and Luminous Avenger.
I recommend Cuphead too but Im pretty sure the people interested probably already played or are going to someday.
Cuphead and Mega Man are classics and some of my all time favourites, but imo Huntdown is the top choice. With its difficulty options, it's a bit more accessible to new players and those anxious of paying for something that's too hard.
While not technically a run and gun game (it's more like run and slash, or run and fireball), if you like the Mega Man Zero games, you should try Dragon Marked for Death.
@StuartGipp Oh, good shout! It shall be done (in the morning)
I would LOVE Cuphead to be a Run & Gun, but... It is not. Except for a few levels, it's all about killing bosses. I don't know if it should be in this list, honestly.
Awesome game though, the art style is brilliant and the controls are perfect.
Still waiting on that physical Cuphead.
Cuphead far and away is my fave. Broforce and Huntdown after that however
I'm still waiting for the Mega Man Legacy Collection Collection
Valfaris is super underrated!
When is cuphead going to be physical
Add me to those waiting for physical Cuphead.
Kero Blaster gets my love. One of my favorites.
Huntdown is definitely at the top for me. I hope DLC will be added someday, and possibly more variety in the environments.
Huntdown is awesome. Should be much, much higher in the list.
For the record, Cuphead sucks. Why is it even on the list? It's a boss-rush game, not a run&gun. Beside being in the wrong genre aside, how is it better than something like Contra classics? Let alone the more modern variants?
I know everyone seems to love the graphics in Cuphead, and it's a great aesthetic done well, don't get me wrong, but aside from that the controls are easily on a par with a cheap ZXSpectrum game (using a Kempston joystick that's been chewed by a dog) and I just found it so meh when I actually played it. Perhaps it was overhyped. I don't know.
To me it feels like instead of just being inspired by the classic cartoons of the time they're trying to evoke, they've tried to create a game that plays as though it was an arcade cabinet built in the 50's with dogdick controls and a scheming proprietor's eye as to how many pennies you're going to have to shove into it to complete the damn thing.
What the Switch really needs is a proper, modern, spiritual successor to Rolling Thunder. That can replace Cuphead at the top, we can juggle Huntdown and Contra Classics higher, and everyone will be happy. Or at least I will, which is the everyone I care about.
Vote for Gunlord here.
Cuphead is King. Has completely set the standard for the genre
@StuartGipp yes! Such a good game
Blazing Chrome was very sweet. Put it on your watch list at least. I got it for very cheap, under $5. Bro Force looks to be $3.74 USD on the eshop right now.
I’m not saying it’s a bad game but man I despise the Megaman games, Could possibly be that I suck at them.
Great list, it’s great to see so many of Inti Creates games on there, they really know how to do this genre well.
Cave Story would be my goto pick for this genre.
@Kidfunkadelic83 me too. I really want to play Cuphead, but I am terrible. Doubt I would put more than an hour or two into it.
@rockodoodle once you get used to it and learn the patterns its a absolutely fantastic game. You start unlocking perks as well and they really help. Its a very tricky game but its so satisfying when you beat a boss or level. One of the most addictive "one last go" games ive played.
@Kidfunkadelic83 I need someone to play it with....
Added Gunlord X and Mechstermination Force
@StuartGipp It isn't a Run-n-Gun though, in the classic sense that all of these others are.
Can't wait for huntdown DLC.
@YANDMAN I'd argue that if Cuphead counts so does Mechstermination Force, but it's not a big deal, really. Cuphead does have discrete run n' gun stages which MF doesn't.
To parrot others, Cuphead wins. It has a old time vibe that just charms (and moderately alarms), on top of the great gameplay.
Hope to see Sunset Riders soon on this list!
@StuartGipp Thoroughly enjoyed Mechastermination, it doesn't get enough praise!
good list, but I gotta say:
Metal Slug 3 > Metal Slug X
Blazing Chrome was basically every Contra game I've ever played, so it got a "meh" from me. The bike level in the snow made me quit the game, just wasn't worth it. I think Joy Masher nailed it with Odallus, though. That was good from start to finish.
Looking at how many people love cuphead more than most other classics somehow show, what a huge achievement cuphead really is. Because in terms of gameplay, its "just" another very good shooter. But due to the presentation it wins over audiences who might never have played those pixelated retro-classics while basically delivering a good compilation of arcade classics.
There might be some old arcade otakus acting like those cuphead kids will never know REAL games, but I think its a perfect milestone to start off a new generation and if cuphead represents a fundament to build on, thats just absolutely great news for this genre.
If I just wouldn't suck so hard at this game, hehe.
Valfaris is a huge omission. A far better game than the 6/10 it was awarded here. 9/10 from me and a better game than most on this list.
But Panzer Paladin though? It needs some love here…
Does Blaster Master Zero 2 really fit the criteria for being a "Run and Gun"?
I love Megaman 11, really great game. I hope that Capcom makes Megaman X 9, another one of my favorite Megaman series.
You're missing the Turrican Collection. Gunlord X is practically Turrican 2 in disguise (great game by the way)
Why no GnG Resurrection? That’s a traditional run n gun.
Bleed and Bleed 2 were both fun games. I would add them over a few choices on this list.
Blazing Chrome and Huntdown are both incredible. I also think Valfaris deserves to be here, even though it's balls hard and I've never beaten it. Personally my fav Metal Slug is 3. I love the zombies and the weird crab mutants.
Blazing chrome, Hunt down, are the best two for me. Especially Blazing chrome, the best Contra clone personally. Nothing beats the original Contra series but its very close !!!
Mighty Switch Force games are still top quality
Not to mention Ghosts 'n Goblins and Ghouls 'n Ghosts on Capcom Arcade Stadium or Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts on NSO.
Panzer Paladin's great, but I wouldn't call it a "Run and Gun". You can throw your weapons but that's not really the primary attack mechanic.
That reminds me of when NL did snake pass for like 150 Dollars and did the same for every other game on the list.
I feel like Cuphead is actually a half hour long game that the devs padded with friggin' hard gameplay to bloat it out. I need to give it another try but I don't feel like hating it any more. It is a remarkable achievement in art undoubtedly.
@Kidfunkadelic83 Same here. I've been playing Cuphead on and off for two years and still haven't beat it. Don't care though. I remember playing games in the 80s without finishing them. It was always the experience not the end game.
Classic Contra games are the king of run n gun. Very surprised Gunstar heroes isnt on here, I would say its better then most on this list. Cuphead is amazing as well.
I can't believe Fury Unleashed doesn't get a mention! Easily my favourite run n gun. Beautiful art, great music, rogue - lite structure & just received an online multiplayer patch. Check it out!
I just love cuphead so much! So much so, I'm slowly doing a 100%, I did the bird, and all of area one and two, I think? Its such a good game.
afaik "boss rush game" is not a gameplay genre, cuphead is clearly a run and gun. I'm surprised at the negativity here.
@Dethmunk I agree with you. I'm an average standard gamer, and I want to love Cuphead, but yeah the difficulty is mental and I rarely visit it now.
Weirdly though, I'm really enjoying Jump King. Which is also insanely difficult. But you can quickly have a go on that and get up to a new area, it never feels like a brick wall to progress.
bro force! BRO FORCE!!! What a terrific romp that game is. Bromando is my fav bro. Yours?
@Kidfunkadelic83 I hit a wall on Cuphead for a while then on vacation I bought it for Switch and eventually beat it! It’s one of my favourite games of the last decade. I have a much harder time with the megaman x games for some reason. Cuphead is just so damn beautiful too, i bought the artbook.
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