Dead Cells (Switch)

Dead Cells (Switch)
Dead Cells (Switch)
Publisher: Motion Twin / Developer: Motion Twin
Release Date: 7th Aug 2018 (USA) / 7th Aug 2018 (UK/EU)

Dead Cells is a masterclass in excellent roguelite design, mixing together nonstop intense action sequences, gorgeous vistas, and an addictive loop of unlocks and rewards into a beautiful experience that no Switch owner should be without, even the ones who don't like roguelites — in which case we apologise for all the roguelites, but still urge you to check this one out! There are dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of content here, and though some sense of repetition can creep in every now and then, it’s remarkable how fresh Dead Cells stays throughout all those hours.

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Thumper (Switch eShop)

Thumper (Switch eShop)
Thumper (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Drool / Developer: Drool
Release Date: 18th May 2017 (USA) / 18th May 2017 (UK/EU)

Thumper is fantastic; an extravagant rhythm experience that's also a brutal assault on the senses. It's extremely difficult — painfully so at times — yet it'll constantly draw you back to retry tough stages over and over again. Even when that's done, the drive for better ranks remains simply because the game compels you to play on. The only real flaw is that it offers so little respite, but for those up for the challenge, it's a wonderful — and wonderfully gruelling — gaming experience. Looks peachy on the OLED Switch, too.

Ikaruga (Switch eShop)

Ikaruga (Switch eShop)
Ikaruga (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Nicalis / Developer: Treasure
Release Date: 29th May 2018 (USA) / 29th May 2018 (UK/EU)

Ikaruga's unique double polarity gimmick stealthily introduces puzzle-solving mechanics into a bullet hell shmup, one that really can be hell if you're lacking the skills to avoid the spills. Beyond portability, what truly elevates this Switch version above all others is the possibility of throwing a Joy-Con to a friend for a spot of co-op play anytime, anywhere in tabletop mode. It really is the perfect shmup on the perfect system. Just not one to be approached lightly.

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)

If you consider yourself a fan of hard-as-nails 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 Mechanical Head Studios is intimately familiar with what makes the stalwarts of this beloved genre — namely the Ninja Gaiden trilogy — 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.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Switch)

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Switch)
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Switch)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Retro Studios
Release Date: 4th May 2018 (USA) / 4th May 2018 (UK/EU)

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze may be one of the most refined and enjoyable platformers money can buy, with beautiful levels and brilliantly responsive characters — and the inclusion of Funky Kong brought some balance for those who have less experience with brutally tough platformers — but it remains just that: a brutally tough platformer. It's streamlined, rewarding, and immensely good fun, and any fan of 2D platformers simply has to get this game, but don't be expecting an easy ride.

Shin Megami Tensei V (Switch)

Shin Megami Tensei V (Switch)
Shin Megami Tensei V (Switch)
Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Atlus
Release Date: 12th Nov 2021 (USA) / 12th Nov 2021 (UK/EU)

Shin Megami Tensei V delivers on all the aspects that have made the series thus far so popular with fans — namely through its high difficulty, heavy narrative themes, and expansive team-building options — while polishing up and tightening the weaker aspects. Things like a more easily navigable map and more difficulty options to cater to players of all skill levels comfortably make this the most approachable entry and a good entry point into this oft-overlooked series.

If you're a sucker for punishment, Shin Megami Tensei III has a reputation for being a real toughie, with fewer mod cons to dilute its delicious difficulty.

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)

If you can’t stand the thought of tackling a game through an arduous process of restarts, walk away now (although if you're delving into a 'Hardest Games On Switch' list, one would assume that isn't the case). Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection is Tokuro Fujiwara’s love letter to a 35-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.

Super Meat Boy (Switch eShop)

Super Meat Boy (Switch eShop)
Super Meat Boy (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Blitworks / Developer: Team Meat
Release Date: 11th Jan 2018 (USA) / 11th Jan 2018 (UK/EU)

Super Meat Boy's short but challenging levels are a perfect fit for portable play, and the famously difficult indie game runs perfectly on Switch. The tight platforming mechanics and wealth of hidden warp zones, bandages, and playable characters are enough to keep you coming back for more after you fall and fail, and fall and fail, and fall and fail again. Squishy.

Enter the Gungeon (Switch eShop)

Enter the Gungeon (Switch eShop)
Enter the Gungeon (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Devolver Digital / Developer: Dodge Roll
Release Date: 14th Dec 2017 (USA) / 18th Dec 2017 (UK/EU)

Another game with the likeness of Rogue about it, Enter The Gungeon is a brilliantly tactile, endlessly replayable twin-stick affair that sits right up there with the best indie games on Nintendo Switch. With satisfying combat, random levels, and an endless supply of inventive weapons, items, and secrets, it's always a total joy to play, even when it's totally kicking your backside.

Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)

Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)
Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 28th Jun 2019 (USA) / 28th Jun 2019 (UK/EU)

The beauty of Super Mario Maker 2 is that levels can be as hard as you want to make them.

For the uninitiated, super-tough 'Kaizo' levels have become a genre of their own, with makers constructing nigh-on impossible gauntlets which require specialist skills to complete. Even with full knowledge of what's in store and the moves required to navigate the level, it can take the designers themselves countless hours to finish the level and upload it to Nintendo's servers.

The course in the tweet above might seem difficult, but comparatively speaking that's child's play. Some Kaizo levels can get so complicated that it's difficult to parse what's going on. If you feel like weeping at the sheer complexity of them, you can check out what we mean in GrandPOOBear's video of ChainChompBraden's attempt to upload a Mario Maker 1 course before the servers went offline (language warning on that link).

Dark Souls suddenly seems like a baby game for babies.


Thanks for making it to the end. We're off to Drangleic for some R&R. Think we've missed something that's hard as nails but also a great game? Let us know below and we may well add to the list above.

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.