Inspired by: Advance Wars
As far as strategy games are concerned on the Switch, Wargroove is one of the best titles you can find on the eShop. Extremely deep and diverse strategy gameplay, ridiculous amounts of replayability, and charming presentation all combine to make this one an easy recommendation to anybody looking for a deep and cerebral experience for their Switch. Advance Wars may only exist nowadays in our memories, but Wargroove stands as a worthy successor to the franchise; if Intelligent Systems does ever decide to revive its cult classic series, it’s going to have some stiff competition to contend with thanks to Chucklefish's efforts.
Inspired by: old Neo Geo Pocket Color brawlers from the Fatal Fury, Samurai Shodown and King of Fighters series, among others
Pocket Rumble's arcade mode is slight, but it's a useful training tool. Multiplayer is where the game excels, though, thanks to a diverse (albeit small) lineup of characters. Fighting games can be complicated things, off-putting to newcomers with their wide array of moves and techniques, but Cardboard Robot Games has crafted a fun and easy to learn experience here, bundled up in a wonderfully nostalgic audio-visual imitation of the old Neo Geo Pocket Color brawlers. By employing just two attack buttons and simplifying the special moves, it may not offer as much depth as some fighting games, but there's still enough to keep even a genre veteran happy here. Working well with any controller, the game is good fun and perfectly suited for quick bursts of play, whether that be in online battles or playing tabletop against friends.
Inspired by: the Donkey Kong Country series
With games like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze keeping the series alive with new custodians at the helm (Retro Studios, in that case), Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair provides a glimpse at where the original developers from the Rareware days might have steered the DKC series. Mixing in some top-down adventuring into the platforming to change the pace up a bit, Playtonic's 2.5D sequel strikes a wonderful balance which offers the best of both worlds. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a fantastic platformer that pays tribute to Rare's past and we absolutely adore it.
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Inspired by: Macross (anime), '80s twin stick arcade games
GALAK-Z isn’t a game for everyone: its rogue-lite nature, its high difficulty level and its punishing policy on death (even in its easier Arcade mode) will infuriate some players who are just expecting a quick blast of non-stop action, or a standard twin-stick shooter, for that matter - it isn't. Treat it like the slower-paced exploration and survival game it’s supposed to be, though, and your patience will be rewarded with some genuinely satisfying space combat and a wide variety of customisable parts (not to mention its brilliant mech upgrade), all wrapped up in a fantastic ‘80s style aesthetic.
Undertale is a brilliant and smartly designed game that understands well what makes a good RPG work; so much so that it can upend expectations and deliver something that’s almost a satire of the genre. It surprises you often and in many unique ways with excellently written characters, a genre-bending battle system and a solid soundtrack that make this one an easy recommendation, especially to RPG lovers. Do yourself a favour and give this one a download.
A spiritual successor to pinball classics Alien Crush and Devil's Crush, Demon's Tilt isn't going to be to everybody's tastes with its single table, often obtuse mechanics and sometimes brutal difficulty, but if you have even the slightest interest in pinball games then you really should check this out. While more tables would have been welcome and it's a shame that some of the visual effects have been toned down on Switch, what we have here is a game of stunning depth and complexity which rewards methodical players who aren't afraid to invest a lot of time learning all of the secrets and hidden tactics. The ability to play the game in portrait mode makes this Switch port even more appealing.
Who says the beat 'em up is dead? Fight’N Rage is one of the must-own action games on Nintendo’s console. Its surprisingly deep and satisfyingly weighty combat engine combined with three strong and varied player characters and a host of cleverly-designed enemies elevate it above the usual button-mashing experience perhaps expected of entries in this genre. It’s got an excellent arcade mode that branches off in various directions as you make your way to the final boss battle, as well as a ton of unlockable modes and extras to keep you coming back for more. Whether you’re a learned fan of old-school beat ’em ups or you just like pummelling the life out of mutant punk pussycats and monkeys dressed as Bruce Lee, you owe it to yourself to experience what Sebastian Garcia has created here; it’s easily one of the best beat’em ups we’ve played.
Gorgeous to behold and equally delightful to play, Timespinner is yet another top-notch Metroidvania to add to the list on Switch. A lack of tough exploration challenges and an under-utilised time-freeze gimmick aside, it succeeds in using the popular genre as a vehicle for a genuinely intriguing science-fantasy tale that will motivate players to explore every inch of its fantastic pixel-art world.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Inspired by: River City Ransom and the Kunio-kun series
Not since Scott Pilgrim vs The World was released nine years ago have we played such an entertaining, satisfying beat ‘em up. Whether you’re playing alone or teaming up with a friend in co-op mode, River City Girls is a visually superb, aurally fantastic, out-and-out love letter to the 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.
Memory, all alone in the moonlight... Oh, sorry - we just had a flashback to watching Cats over 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.