Top 10 Indie Games for Nintendo Switch [Best Recommendations]

With the release of the Wii U and 3DS, Nintendo strived to appeal to the indie game community through their "Nindies". The encouragement from Nintendo toward the indie game community luckily continued upon the release of the Nintendo Switch, with some of the console's most notable release titles being indie games. The incentive for short-and-sweet indie games was pushed further than ever before, as the Switch's primary function is as a portable console, fitting perfectly with the general playstyle and length of many indie games. Whether you're playing these games on your television or on a train, they are incredibly enjoyable and are sure to keep your Switch busy even after the next AAA has hit the shelves!

10. Little Inferno

  • System/Platform: PC, Wii U, iOS, Android, Switch
  • Publisher: Tomorrow Corporation
  • Developer: Tomorrow Corporation
  • Release Date: Mar. 16th, 2017.

The best genre to describe Little Inferno is puzzle game, but even that doesn't truly explain the game itself. In Little Inferno, the player is a small child who has just purchased his own Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace, and their main objective is to burn various objects. The creator of the fireplace gives the player various catalogs in order to buy items that can also be burnt. Catalogs are rewarded by burning different objects together in order to complete combos - which is where the main puzzle element comes into play. Combos can be a combination of any two/three items in the game, with the only hints being the combo names themselves.

Where Little Inferno's charm truly kicks in is in how cathartic the game feels. While the gameplay seems shallow at first, burning different items and testing out combinations can feel almost relaxing. If the sensation of burning objects isn't enough, there is a surprising host of side-characters who communicate with you via letters that slowly uncover the difficulties other fireplace owners have to go through, as well as give a hint as to what is truly happening in a world where the main center of entertainment is a fireplace and matches. The game can be very odd at times, but it's that weird and eerie nature which makes Little Inferno such a unique and addicting game.


9. Mighty Gunvolt Burst

  • System/Platform: 3DS, Switch
  • Developer: Inti Creates CO.
  • Publisher: Inti Creates CO.
  • Release Date: Jun. 15th, 2017

Following the events of both Mighty No. 9 and Azure Striker Gunvolt, either Beck or Gunvolt (depending on the character chosen at the beginning) are exploring a virtual world, with Gunvolt being mysteriously transported to the world while Beck was sent by his creator, Dr. White. Once they defeat a large robot, they are met with a mysterious figure - the character which you didn't choose to play as! In both stories, the shadowy version of the opposite character will challenge Beck/Gunvolt to take on the various Mighty numbers in order to eventually have a duel against each other. Armed with only their basic weaponry and skills, the characters go on a journey to defeat the robots in order to get some answers and prove which one of them is superior!

With how Mighty No. 9 was received upon launch in mid-2016, it is no surprise that many were hesitant to try out Mighty Gunvolt Burst. However, these doubts are quickly squashed since Mighty Gunvolt Burst is a major improvement on Mighty No. 9, as well as a great entry in the Azure Striker franchise. Mighty Gunvolt Burst takes the traditional Mega Man formula and refines it with spectacular level design and controls, while adding their own spin on the genre with the inclusion of a rich weapon customization system. There are so many different permutations to weapon options - projectile type, speed, ricochet, etc. - that it'd take an article by itself to list all the possibilities. These options are a welcome addition to the typical formula, allowing for more player choice than ever before.

While starting off very similarly, Beck and Gunvolt both deviate drastically when it comes to their play styles. Each character gets a range of different abilities, with the most important being the mid-air movement abilities. Beck gets a mid-air dash allowing for very quick traversal of a level once the dash has been mastered. Gunvolt gets a much more traditional double jump, which allows for much more vertical movement during tougher platforming segments. The level of options available allows for players who prefer either playstyle to be able to play through Mighty Gunvolt Burst and have a great time. Mighty Gunvolt Burst should not be overlooked and is an immediate purchase for any retro platformer fans!


8. Snake Pass

  • System/Platform: PC, PS4, XBO, Switch
  • Developer: Sumo Digital
  • Publisher: Sumo Digital
  • Release Date: NA: Mar. 28th, 2017. PAL: Mar. 29th, 2017

Snake Pass is an extremely light-hearted puzzle platformer with one of the more odd control schemes of recent years. Snake Pass can initially be hard to parse due to the primary mode of transportation being a slither, which controls exactly as a slithering snake would. However, the snake controls are surprisingly intuitive as they allow players to coil around the environment with ease, and there is even a Hummingbird companion which is there to help pull the player up for the slightly more harrowing puzzles. The main level design of Snake Pass is also very open, allowing for the players to tackle multiple directions and challenges at their own pace and even letting players bypass puzzles in ways that may not be intended. The general aesthetic of Snake Pass is extremely relaxing and serene, meshing well with the slow-paced and methodical gameplay style. Snake Pass is trying something new with the controls, and it succeeds in giving gamers an enjoyable and calm puzzle platformer which is unlike anything we've ever seen before.


7. World of Goo

  • System/Platform: PC, Wii. iOS. Android, BlackBerry OS, Switch
  • Developer: 2D Boy
  • Publisher: 2D Boy. (Switch) Tomorrow Corporation
  • Release Date: (Switch) NA: Mar. 16th, 2017. PAL: Mar. 23rd, 2017. JP: May. 25th, 2017

Goo Balls are all over the world - sleeping the day away as very little bothers them. However, they are suddenly awoken by a mysterious pipe, vacuuming in any goo that approach. Curious as to what these pipes entail, the Goo Balls build structures and bridges out of each other in order to get sucked in and transported to the World of Goo Corporations! While the Goo Balls continue to willingly get transported to the Corporation, something much stranger and more sinister is going on with the corporation and how they use Goo Balls.

World of Goo is one of the most unique and interesting puzzle indie games to come out in recent years. Goo Balls are able to form structures by being grabbed onto and pulled towards another set of Goo Balls that are already connected. Initially, World of Goo starts off similarly to a bridge building game, but that quickly goes out the window with the introduction of various different types of Goo Balls. As the game progresses, multiple types show up, each with their own different attributes that help diversify the gameplay further. World of Goo also doesn't pull back on the difficulty, with some puzzles as early as Chapter 2 being very hard to wrap your head around initially - making it all the more fun when you finally figure out how to get the goo to the pipe. World of Goo is a wonderful puzzle game which taxes players with its unique mechanics, but is also incredibly fun due to how different it is.


6. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

  • System/Platform:PC, PS4, PSV, XBO, Wii U, Switch
  • Developer: WayForward Technologies
  • Publisher: WayForward Technologies
  • Release Date: (Switch) Jun. 8th, 2017

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is one of the most stylistically spectacular 2D platformers to come out in recent years. Each level has its own self-contained story to enjoy, with the overarching plot coming together near the latter half of the game. Perhaps the biggest strength of Half-Genie Hero is the identity the game has built up for itself. The graphical style for Shantae is unlike any other 2D platformer, with the animation quality and sprite-work being gorgeous and tremendously enhancing an already fun platforming experience. This is pushed further by the writing of Shantae, which is generally light-hearted and humorous, further emphasizing the care-free and fun nature of Half-Genie Hero and the series as a whole.

Shantae's main form of transportation is through various animal transformations, each with their own gimmicks that can be used on the fly in order to traverse levels more easily and uncover secrets available only to a particular animal form. These transformations help further spice up the levels, and are an extremely fun gameplay mechanic which rewards going back and searching an area that was previously inaccessible. When in human form, the controls are tight and responsive, allowing for great platforming sequences through the colorful world. Half-Genie Hero is an immensely enjoyable platformer due to both the great gameplay and the charm, thanks in large part to the amount of effort that WayForward put into creating one of the best aesthetics for a platformer in ages.


5. Fast RMX

  • System/Platform: Switch
  • Developer: Shin'en Multimedia
  • Publisher: Shin'en Multimedia
  • Release Date: Mar. 3rd, 2017

Fast RMX is one of the few racing games currently available on the Switch, and it is an amazing one at that. Fast RMX is a return to the typical high-speed racing genre, with the main options in the game being to race in a tournament or on a specific track. Fast RMX dives you right into the high-octane zero gravity racing that is reminiscent of classics such as F-Zero. Due to the zero-gravity nature of the vehicles, Fast RMX is floatier when compared to the controls of a traditional racer, but that isn't a problem as the game is very easy to get into once you play for a bit, and the excitement of racing against either CPU's or other friends is sure to kick up almost immediately after starting your first race.

In order to keep up the speed, Fast RMX features a boost mechanic, with the boost meter being filled up by orbs scattered across the field. This boost mechanic is further supplemented by various boost paths along the tracks, with each boost path corresponding to either blue or orange. In order to get the most out of these paths, you must change your vehicle's color to match the one on the floor - incentivizing both quick reaction time and memorization of the tracks. While simple, the color mechanic adds a layer of complexity that can keep both casual and experienced players on their toes, as they are essential for getting quick times and beating out the competition. Fast RMX is very accessible to every crowd, but by no means is it an easy game - with mastery of tracks and mechanics being of utmost importance. For any fans looking for an exciting racer to test their skills, Fast RMX is the clear choice.


4. Cave Story +

  • System/Platform: PC, Switch
  • Developer: Nicalis, Studio Pixel
  • Publisher: Nicalis
  • Release Date: (Switch) NA: Jun. 20th, 2017 PAL: Jul. 20th, 2017

Quote wakes up in a mysterious cave with no memories as to how he got there. After exploring the cave, he finds a weapon named the Polar Star. Once Quote explores a bit more, he ends up dropping in on the conversation between two mysterious bunny-like creatures. These creatures are called Mimiga, and they are currently being attacked and kidnapped by an evil doctor and his minions! After confronting the bad guys, Quote is sent on a quest to find out more about the Doctor's plans, and what he may be doing to the Mimiga he has kidnapped. Quote's adventure goes through many turns as he tries to stop the Doctor from kidnapping the Mimiga, as well as figure out what is up with the Doctor's mysterious demon crown.

When speaking of classic indie games, the first to pop into the minds of many is Cave Story, and that status is well-deserved, as Cave Story is an insanely fun action platformer with some unique mechanics and a surprisingly dark story considering the tone. The main mechanic differentiating Cave Story from other games in its genre is the weapon leveling system. Each weapon can be leveled up to three times, but rather than putting points into them, the player must pick up triangle drops from enemies. Weapons level up fairly quickly, but taking any damage will reduce the amount of energy a weapon has and eventually degrade it. The degradation prevents players from simply rushing through the game, and adds a layer of complexity and challenge that would not be present otherwise. Otherwise, Cave Story is a mash-up of a few different types of action-platformers, with the main inspiration coming from games such as Metroid. Cave Story was a gem when it originally came out, and is still one of the most critically acclaimed and influential indie games on the market, so a purchase is definitely warranted to own one of the most renowned indie games ever made.


3. Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+

  • System/Platform: PC, PS4, PSV, XBO, iOS, Wii U, N3DS, Switch
  • Developer: Nicalis
  • Publisher: Nicalis
  • Release Date: (Switch) NA: Mar. 17, 2017. PAL: Sept. 7th, 2017

Isaac lives a simple life of playing with toys and drawing pictures while his mom watches Christian broadcast on the television. One day, Isaac's mother hears a voice from above, claiming to be God and telling her that Isaac has become corrupted by sin and must be sacrificed. Isaac overhears this conversation between his mother and God and quickly looks around his room for an escape, finding a trap door under his rug. Isaac quickly jumps into the trap door, which leads into a basement underneath his house teeming with monsters and grotesque creatures. Isaac must fight his way through the depths of his basement in order to face his mother once and for all, while also learning how to confront his true inner demons.

Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth + is a bundle of both Binding of Isaac Rebirth and the two DLCs which released later, Afterbirth and Afterbirth+. Binding of Isaac: Rebirth by itself is one of the most entertaining rouge-lite games to ever come out, and there is even more content to swallow with Afterbirth+. The core gameplay of Binding of Isaac is that of a traditional top-down twin-stick shooter in which you control Isaac (or one of his various personas) through his basement, collecting items in order to become stronger with each run. Being a rogue-lite, Binding of Isaac resets upon death with the only features that carry on to future runs being any unlockables you may have discovered on the way. Rebirth is by no means an easy game, constantly testing both awareness of enemy patterns and room layouts while also forcing players to experiment with new items and item synergies in order to potentially get that game-breaking combination that they have been striving for.

The two expansions add a whole host of features to an already stellar game. Both expansions add a total of 164 different items, each with their own unique synergies that allow for even more ridiculous outcomes than Rebirth by itself. Afterbirth+ also adds multiple new characters, each with their own quirks that make them different than any other Isaac character from before. Without a doubt, the most substantial addition in Afterbirth+ is Greed Mode, an entirely separate game mode which puts the players in a wave-based horde mode, with the main way of obtaining items now being through coins that drop every wave. Greed Mode is a welcome change of pace from the traditional Isaac formula for players who may be looking for a more condensed and fast-paced experience. All of these additions make the Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ the best way to play through one of the most revered indie games of all time.


2. Snipperclips

  • System/Platform: Switch
  • Developer: SFB Games
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: Mar. 3rd, 2017

Snipperclips is one of the most entertaining cooperative games on the market right now, and certainly the most fun you can have with a friend on the Switch. Each player controls their own avatar using one of the Switch's joy-con controllers, and the avatars must cut each other into various shapes in order to solve puzzles. The player can reform themselves or reverse any cut previously made, and they automatically regenerate from being cut too much - so the only real risk with overcutting is some wasted time.

What sounds like a simple premise becomes more complex as you progress, and the real meat of the game is in how you choose to approach each situation with your friend. Typically, there is no set way to complete a puzzle in Snipperclips - a puzzle can require you to guide an object of a particular shape (such as a pencil), and you can choose to snip your friend into an appropriate shape, or any other shape you feel would work. The game is an absolute blast because those satisfying moments of solving a puzzle are further amplified by the joy of doing it with a companion. Snipperclips is an absolute must-play for any Switch owner and their friends, and is one of the strongest Switch titles to date.


1. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove

  • System/Platform: PC, Fire TV, PS3, PS4, PSV, XBO, 3DS, Wii U, Switch
  • Developer: Yacht Club Games
  • Publisher: Yacht Club Games
  • Release Date: (Switch) Mar. 3rd, 2017

Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove comes with three different campaigns (as well as a fourth one soon to release for free), each with their own playable characters, stories, and gameplay styles. Shovel of Hope is the main campaign, which features Shovel Knight, a knight who dedicates his life to fighting the evils of the land along with his companion, Shield Knight. When a mysterious tower appeared, Shovel Knight and Shield Knight went to explore it, only for Shovel Knight to be knocked unconscious with Shield Knight nowhere to be found. In order to restore peace to the land and find his partner, Shovel Knight takes up his shovel against the evil Order of No Quarter and their leader - the Enchantress!

Despite each campaign fitting into one game, Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove edition could have been released as four entirely separate games and it would be perfectly justified. The reason for this is the amount of effort that Yacht Club Games put into making sure that each campaign felt vastly different from the last. Shovel Knight controls like a much more traditional platforming character, with his shovel aiding him in taking out enemies at close ranges along with his multitude of magical abilities. Plague Knight's gameplay style is entirely different, with Plague Knight instead using bombs to both attack enemies at longer ranges as well as exploding his way through the environment at high speeds. Specter Knight's main mode of attack and exploration is his Dash Slash - an ability which allows Specter Knight to lock onto an enemy or object and slash at them in order to fly across the air.

The amount of work that went into each campaign of Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is apparent as soon as the character is selected - with no two campaigns feeling remotely similar once started. Levels are the same in name only - with each level keeping the same general aesthetic and theme throughout the three campaigns, but being vastly different in terms of layout depending on which campaign is being played. However, each campaign is so much fun to play through that the similarities that they do share don't take away from any of the charm and fun that Shovel Knight is known for. Upon release, Shovel Knight was one of the best indie games to come out on every platform that it arrived to, and the Switch is certainly no exception as the game has only improved with age.


Final Thoughts

Nintendo's massive push towards the indie game market is one of the largest appeals for the Switch, as these types of games fit right in with the system. Each one of these games, as well as many other fantastic indies not included, offer up something to the Switch that wasn't present before and makes for a much more versatile and enjoyable gaming experience. As the indie game library expands even further, there will be even more games hitting the system that will make it even harder to only pick 10 out of the gems available. Whether you are in the mood for a retro action platformer or a simple puzzle game, the Switch has you covered! Of course, there are some indie games that weren't mentioned on this list, and we'd love to hear you talk about them in the comments section! Along with your favorite indie game currently on the Switch, make sure to comment what is one that you are most looking forward to being released on the system!

Ed Moreno

Writer

Author: Ed Moreno

Aspiring SoCal writer with an unhealthy obsession for rougelite games. I can typically be found in my room, either working away at an article or playing video games until the middle of the night. When I finally decide to go outside, I love to explore and travel to see new places and experience things I hadn't prior.

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