Xeno Crisis (Switch)

Xeno Crisis (Switch)Xeno Crisis (Switch)
Publisher: Bitmap Bureau / Developer: Bitmap Bureau
Release Date: 28th Oct 2019 (USA) / 28th Oct 2019 (UK/EU)

Inspired by: Robotron: 2084, Smash TV

Xeno Crisis feels like a lost classic from a bygone era of gaming – a brilliant twin-stick arena shooter which wears its influences on its blood-drenched sleeve. The stern challenge may prove to be off-putting for casual players, but it rewards dedication with some of the most intense and addictive blasting action you can find in the genre. Convince a fellow player to join in and you've got the makings of a co-op classic.

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom (Switch)

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom (Switch)Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom (Switch)
Publisher: FDG Entertainment / Developer: Game Atelier
Release Date: 4th Dec 2018 (USA) / 4th Dec 2018 (UK/EU)

Inspired by: the Wonder Boy series

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is a tremendous accomplishment. It’s a gorgeous looking game with a fantastic soundtrack and does its spiritual predecessors proud by nailing the Wonder Boy mechanics while still offering something that will appeal to modern audiences. As long as you can appreciate that it’s still very much an old-school game at heart and you’re going to get some 8-bit era platforming trickiness as a result, you’re going to thoroughly enjoy playing through this adventure for the 12-15 hours it’ll take you to beat it. It may not be Wonder Boy by name, but it’s definitely wonderful by nature.

Special mention: Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap - Technically a remake/port of the Master System's Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, Dotemu's incredible work felt like so much more than a port-and-paintover job. It really is peerless in terms of bringing back a retro game with optional improvements and enhancements that make it feel as fresh as the day it was released. With totally reworked art and music that transforms the game without changing the underlying mechanics, it's really very good and we urge you to try it out.

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The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors (Switch)

The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors (Switch)The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors (Switch)
Publisher: ININ Games / Developer: ININ Games
Release Date: 15th Oct 2019 (USA) / 30th Aug 2019 (UK/EU)

Inspired by: Ninja Warriors, Final Fight...

They say you can never really go back – the game might still be there, but nostalgia mixes with memories and creates something more intoxicating in the mind than it really was. Go back to the SNES Ninja Warriors now and it’s still fun, but it’s stuck in the square box of a 4:3 screen, the animation doesn’t stand out like it did and one-player-only looks weak alongside the other Final Fight tribute acts of the day. But when you see The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors, it’s somehow exactly what you remember: huge, lush backdrops, silky animation, and tight, mob-levelling ninja moves. It makes you feel like being a kid again and, as such, this game stands as yet another essential Switch release you really should own.

Octopath Traveler (Switch)

Octopath Traveler (Switch)Octopath Traveler (Switch)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: 13th Jul 2018 (USA) / 13th Jul 2018 (UK/EU)

Inspired by: Classic 16-bit JRPGs

Octopath Traveler was developed by the Square Enix studio behind Bravely Default, and boy does it live up to those high expectations. From its dazzling art style to its mechanics, it's the kind of game that keeps an eye on the past while walking bravely into the future. All elements link together perfectly to make for a harmonious and immersive experience that you’ll find difficult to put down. We’d recommend Octopath Traveler to both fans and newcomers of RPGs; it does a fantastic job of straddling that line of accessibility and depth, satisfying both camps with its dizzying amount of content. Classic-inspired gameplay, an orchestrated soundtrack, and a unique approach to storytelling make this a game that you won’t want to miss.

River City Girls (Switch eShop)

River City Girls (Switch eShop)River City Girls (Switch eShop)
Publisher: WayForward / Developer: WayForward
Release Date: 5th Sep 2019 (USA) / 5th Sep 2019 (UK/EU)

Inspired by: River City Ransom and the Kunio-kun series

Whether you’re playing alone or teaming up with a friend in co-op mode, River City Girls is up there with Scott Pilgrim vs The World as a visually superb, aurally fantastic, out-and-out love letter to the beat 'em up genre. Fans of River City Ransom and other Kunio-kun games will adore how it respects the past but makes it relevant today, while those new to the series will simply find a hugely enjoyable and infectiously cheerful scrapper.

The Eternal Castle [Remastered] (Switch eShop)

The Eternal Castle [Remastered] (Switch eShop)The Eternal Castle [Remastered] (Switch eShop)
Publisher: TFL Studios / Developer: TFL Studios
Release Date: 15th May 2020 (USA) / 21st Aug 2020 (UK/EU)

Inspired by: Another World, Flashback and other cinematic platformers

The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED] is a neo-retro masterpiece. Even if you play the game from start to finish just once in a single sitting and never come back to it, this minimalist post-apocalyptic epic will stay with you for years to come. Obviously, if you're not a fan of classic 'cinematic' platformers like Another World and Flashback and their prioritising of look-and-feel over control responsiveness, then you may want to approach with caution. If you're looking for the next true evolution of that genre, though, look no further. They just don’t make them like this any more… and we found ourselves wondering 'why not?'.

Wallachia: Reign Of Dracula (Switch)

Wallachia: Reign Of Dracula (Switch)Wallachia: Reign Of Dracula (Switch)
Publisher: No Gravity Games / Developer: Migami Games
Release Date: 29th Oct 2020 (USA)

Inspired by: Castlevania, Contra

It might be more old-school than other similar games, but Wallachia: Reign of Dracula still offers rewarding action, skilful level design, and some excellent music. With Konami seemingly content to sleep on its popular Castlevania series for the time being – outside of smartphone games, of course – this (alongside the likes of Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon and its sequel) might be as close as we're likely to get to a brand-new "old-school" Castlevania outing on Switch. It's a good job, then, that Migami Games knows Konami's franchise so well that it has created a truly convincing imitation – but one which has enough ideas of its own to stand out from its inspiration.

Cyber Shadow (Switch eShop)

Cyber Shadow (Switch eShop)Cyber Shadow (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Yacht Club Games / Developer: Mechanical Head Studios
Release Date: 26th Jan 2021 (USA) / 26th Jan 2021 (UK/EU)

Inspired by: Ninja Gaiden

If you consider yourself a fan of retro action platformers, you owe it to yourself to pick up Cyber Shadow. It’s clear in virtually every facet of Cyber Shadow’s design that this project was a labour of love and that its designer is intimately familiar with what makes the stalwarts of this beloved genre so great. Well-built levels, authentic presentation, tight controls and a high difficulty all combine to make this a supreme and focused experience, and one that we can easily say is well worth your time. Mechanical Head Studios has set a high bar with its inaugural release.

Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection (Switch eShop)

Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection (Switch eShop)Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Capcom / Developer: Capcom
Release Date: 25th Feb 2021 (USA) / 25th Feb 2021 (UK/EU)

Inspired by: *long stare*

A resurrection for a classic series, this gives you fewer mod-cons than you might be expecting — if you can’t stand the thought of tackling a game through an arduous process of restarts, walk away now. There are points in the campaign where it comes close to overstepping the mark, and you do wonder why some sections need to be quite so drawn out, but although its difficulty isn’t going to be for everyone, the game remains solidly coordinated, upholding the series ethos of practice-based progression via old disciplines and new processes.

Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection is Tokuro Fujiwara’s love letter to a thirty-five-year-old series that’s famous for burying mortal men, and it’s a job done exceptionally well. If challenge is what you live for, toughen up, don that mental armour, and take up the mantle like a lance. If you put in the time and effort, Ghosts ’n Goblins Resurrection will see you reap the most valuable of gaming accomplishments: the prestige of victory.

Steel Assault (Switch eShop)

Steel Assault (Switch eShop)Steel Assault (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Tribute Games / Developer: Zenovia
Release Date: 28th Sep 2021 (USA) / 28th Sep 2021 (UK/EU)

Inspired by: Classic Castlevanias

Steel Assault is like a bite of an extremely delicious, well-seasoned steak. Just one bite. It lingers in your mind and makes you wish for more, yet in some respects, that’s much better than if you were given the whole thing and took it for granted. If you liked the snappy action and ridiculous difficulty of may old arcade classics, then Steel Assault is absolutely something you should look into. It’s absurd, it’s fun, it’s hard. And it’s short. It doesn’t offer up much more once you've reached the end, but what’s here is intensely well-executed, and we’d definitely recommend you give it a go.

Infernax (Switch eShop)

Infernax (Switch eShop)Infernax (Switch eShop)
Publisher: The Arcade Crew / Developer: Berzerk Studio
Release Date: 14th Feb 2022 (USA) / 14th Feb 2022 (UK/EU)

Inspired by: Ninja Gaiden, Zelda II, classic Castlevanias

While Infernax is tough, it's resolutely fair — you can't really make the game 'easy', but you can absolutely mitigate the difficulty or take a break doing something else when you get stuck. Don't expect a simple ride, though, and don't expect to take the right decisions on a first playthrough - not that anything seems particularly 'right' in this beautifully bloody little world. It's only familiarity that lets Infernax down — there's nothing really new here, but it's all done and delivered so well that you won't really care unless you're desperate for a completely fresh experience. In which case why play a faux-retro NES throwback to begin with? A cut above most efforts in the subgenre, Infernax both demands and requires attention.

Memory, all alone in the moonlight... Oh, sorry — we just had a flashback to watching Cats last Christmas. Fortunately the selection of games above brings back far better memories. The past decade or so has been filled with retro-inspired gems and Switch hosts a great many of them. What modern games press your nostalgia buttons? Let us now your personal favourites below.

This article is one of our Switch Essentials guides which cover a wide variety of genres, including the Best Switch FPS Games, the Best Switch RPGs, the Best Switch Games For Kids, the Best Switch Couch Co-Op Games and the Best Switch Fitness and Exercise Games. We can also help out hunting down the Best Switch Horror Games, the Best Switch Racing Games, the Best Switch Action-RPGs, the Best Nintendo Switch Roguelikes, Roguelites and Run-Based Games, the Best Free Switch Games, the Best Remakes And Remasters, the Best Switch Music And Rhythm Games, Best Feel-Good Switch Games, Best Switch Open-World Games, Best Switch Soulslike Games, Best LGBTQ+ Switch Games, and even Games to Play After You've Finished Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Whatever your favourite genre, we've got you covered: Strategy Games, Metroidvanias, Puzzle Games, Party Games, Online Multiplayer Games, Local Wireless Multiplayer Games, Shmups, Twin-Stick Shooters, Visual Novels, Kart Racers, Fighting Games, Football Games, Funny Games, Golf Games, 'Walking Sims' And Narrative Games, Switch Games For Lovers And Lonely Hearts, Detective Games, Hidden Gems, 2D Platformers, 3D Platformers, Puzzle Platformers, Tabletop Mode Games, Run and Gun Games, LEGO Games, Sports Games, Survival Games, Beat 'Em Ups, Camera Games, Chill Games, Family Games, Retro-Inspired Games, Short Games, Card Games and Deck-Builders, and Life Sims And Farming Games.

Still hungry for more? Elsewhere we look at Wholesome Games, TATE Mode Games, Flight Sim and Space Combat, Point and Click Adventure Games, and the Best Switch Exclusives, as well as Every Arcade Archives Game, Every ACA Neo Geo Game, Every SEGA AGES Game On Switch, plus the Best Switch Ports, Best Wii U-To-Switch Ports, Best Switch Collections And Compilations, Best Cheap Switch Games, Best Switch Demos, Games That Are Better On Switch OLED, Switch Games Under $10, $20, $50, and Switch games with the Best Soundtracks and the Best Graphics. Phew!

If you're looking for the best Switch games regardless of genre, our reader-voted selection of the Best Nintendo Switch Games should help you out, and you can also find the Best Nintendo Switch Games of 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. And finally, if you're interested in other Nintendo consoles and retro games, check out the Best Game Boy Games, Best GBC Games, Best GBA Games, Best Nintendo DS Games, Best Nintendo 3DS Games, Best NES Games, Best SNES Games, Best N64 Games, Best GameCube Games, and Best Wii Games, and Best Wii U Games, as well as Every Available Nintendo Switch Online Retro Game, and ranked lists of Every Nintendo Switch Online NES, SNES, N64 and Sega Genesis / Mega Drive Game.