It's taken a while, but as with most other genres since Switch launched back in 2017, Nintendo's console has steadily built a good library of flight combat games. Whether you're shooting bogeys and blasting your way though the clouds or the cosmos, there's a host of quality dogfighting games available.
All the games here lean heavily towards the arcade-y end of the scale — you won't find any hardcore flight simulations here — but below we've rounded up, in no particular order, the very best 3D (or simulated 3D) flight sim and flight combat Switch games we've come across.
For some unknown reason, Bandai Namco's excellent Ace Combat series is still MIA on Nintendo's console, and we've yet to see a fully-fledged, brand new Star Fox on the system either, although Ubisoft's underrated Starlink: Battle for Atlas offers a cracking Star Fox fix on Switch — see below for more details.
If you're into 2D aircraft-based shooting, you may want to peruse our selection of the best Switch shmups. Here, though — while we wait for Ace Combat or the Star Fox crew to land (or, if we're really dreaming, Rogue Squadron to somehow shoot its way out of the vaults with an HD remake) — grab your goggles, leg it to the airfield and strap yourself in for the best flight combat games on Nintendo Switch.
Don't worry, we'll be back home in time for tea and medals. Tally bally-ho!
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While it lacks any storyline and the randomised nature of the missions may strike some as lazy, arcade-style dogfighter Sky Rogue has plenty of gameplay where it counts. The jet combat action is superb, aided by excellent controls, a wide range of weapons and plenty of stuff to unlock. The 12-stage campaign mode will keep you coming back for quite some time – thanks largely to the unique roguelike approach where death means losing everything, but the experience gained means a better chance of success next time around – and the ability to rope in a friend in co-op adds even more longevity. Granted, when you do eventually complete the game there's not a great deal to bring you back, but it will take quite some time and effort to reach that point – and you'll have had such a blast you won't feel short-changed.
Despite that glaring lack of online multiplayer — and a slightly awkward off-screen targeting system — Skies Of Fury DX brings a slice of fun, fast and furious dogfighting to Switch. Whether you’re playing on your own through its 100 campaign missions or shooting your friend’s biplane to smithereens in local multiplayer, it’s one addition to Switch’s digital library of plane-based battlers.
Manticore: Galaxy on Fire is an outstanding example of mobile-to-Switch done right. A gorgeous looking, content-heavy slice of space shooting action with a deep plot, set in a lore filled universe that has matured over years since the Galaxy on Fire series premiered in the mobile market. It has niche appear, but if this itches your trigger finger, jump right in and be prepared for some great space antics ahead, hunting down alien criminals we're fairly sure were named when the developer’s cat ran over their keyboards. See you, space cowboys.
With its exclusive use of some substantial Star Fox content that gets you in the cockpit of an Arwing on Switch, you’re getting the best version of Starlink: Battle for Atlas on Nintendo's console. And with a more accessible and ultimately enjoyable version of No Man’s Sky's gameplay mechanics and Mass Effect’s original vision, you’re getting one of the best dogfighting/space exploration games you can buy outside of Elite: Dangerous. Its gameplay loop does run out of steam after a while thanks to the required grind, but with a surprisingly ungreedy approach to content access and toys-to-life integration, Starlink makes you think there might be some life in the genre yet. What's more, you can pick it up for a pittance now — it's certainly worth investigation.
While we're on the subject, Star Fox 2 was previously exclusive to the Super Nintendo Classic Mini console but is now also part of the SNES catalogue available to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. This game was fully developed for the Super Nintendo but shelved at the last minute when Nintendo saw the writing on the wall for 16-bit 3D graphics.
The original game is a classic, and its use of the Super FX chip resulted in an experience that felt awe-inspiring to anybody who witnessed it on their SNES back in 1993. Its unreleased sequel is a fascinating curio and fans of the series will enjoy seeing the ideas that began here and eventually saw the light of day in other games. This includes sections where you're able to move freely in every direction as you would in the 'All-Range mode' in later games.
If you're not one to forgive frame rates in the single digits, you may want to look elsewhere. However, having this is museum piece in your hands is an utter treat and anyone with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription and an interest in space combat should set aside a couple of hours for Star Fox 2.
Despite its unyielding nature and curiously juxtaposing approach to its characters, Bomber Crew is a sometimes thrilling and constantly rewarding title. It's a half-flight/half-management sim title, so be prepared for more than just dogfighting. Favouring roguelite progression, strategy and resource management over frantic arcade-style combat, if you can get past the simple, cute visuals and steep learning curve you’ll find a rich, intense and satisfying experience here.
Space Crew, Runner Duck Games' space-based follow-up, is also pretty good.
While reminding us just how much we’d love to see FTL on Switch, Everspace manages to carve out an impressive identity for itself as you warp between sectors steadily increasing your arsenal and skill-level. With gratifying space combat, an addictive roguelite core loop and even some light, entertaining writing along the way, it performs admirably – though not flawlessly – on Nintendo’s console. We had a hell of a time with it and this port does a cracking job of preserving the full experience on a handheld.
An action-packed arcade title with a greater focus on offensive play than the likes of After Burner. G-LOC's first-ever home release is a welcome one. It's got a couple of frustrating stages and, as is the case with most arcade games, it has longevity issues, but as long as you don't mind playing the same short series of stages over and over again to edge yourself up the online rankings, it's a good way to pass 10 minutes at a time and a classic dose of old school fighter jet action on Switch.
Another entry from the Nintendo Switch Online SNES catalogue available to subscribers, Pilotwings is a relaxing salve of a game that requires equal parts concentration and relaxation - a perfect antidote to the distractions of the times we live in. Balancing accessibility and skill-based gameplay in that time-honoured Nintendo way, it's a great title to return to on Switch, especially given the series' lack of new entries of late.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is a wonderfully well-realised and stylish slice of space-sim action set in a satisfyingly seedy galaxy full of untrustworthy scum and illegal activity. The dogfighting action here is wonderfully tight and engaging thanks to the game's clever auto-pursuit mechanic, resulting in explosive ship-to-ship combat that allows you to get up close and personal, tracking your prey without much of the laborious fuss of other efforts in the genre. Juno Markev may not be the most exciting of protagonists and the story doesn't really come to much in the end, but there's a ton of side missions and a dynamic economy and morality system to keep you busy as you slowly unravel the mystery behind who killed her husband and left her for dead. Overall, this one's an easy recommendation for space-sim fans, dogfighting fiends and anyone else looking to indulge their inner space rebel.
Let us know your favourites from above in the comments below and feel free to nominate any other deserving candidates. We'll be updating this great new flight combat games arrive on Switch.
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 Free 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, Shmups, Fighting Games, Hidden Gems, 2D Platformers, 3D Platformers, Sports Games, Beat 'Em Ups, Chill Games, Family Games, Retro-Inspired Games, Short Games, and the Best Switch Exclusives, as well as Every Arcade Archives Game, Every ACA Neo Geo Game and Every SEGA AGES Game On Switch.
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, and 2019. And finally, if you're interested in other Nintendo consoles and retro games, check out the Best Game Boy Games, Best Nintendo DS Games, Best Nintendo 3DS Games, and the Best GameCube Games, as well as Every Nintendo Switch Online NES Game and Every Nintendo Switch Online SNES Game.