Once the dust had settled on the Nintendo Switch launch, initial fears that there would be a chronic lack of games releasing in the new console’s first year, thankfully, were largely unfounded. There’s still arguably a lack of big AAA releases, but making up for this is a swathe of studio and indie content that should at least keep gamers going between now and Super Mario Odyssey (because there’s no point pretending that’s not the title everybody’s waiting for).
But amongst those other games, Nintendo has announced, which are worth a look? It’s time to delve into these lesser known titles (you know, the ones that aren’t Zelda or Mario) and give them the chance they deserve.
Lego City Undercover
April 4, 2017
Maybe your only goal when buying games for your kids is some much-needed peace-and-quiet. If on the off-chance, you’d like to share in their enjoyment and actually play through something with them, Lego City Undercover is exactly the game for you. It takes the cute, brightly colored accessibility of the Lego games, and crosses it with a bustling, genuinely fun-to-inhabit open world city -- you know, the sort of thing you’d normally find in the Grand Theft Auto series. There’s tons to explore and discover, quests to complete, and a liberal dash of that knowing Lego humor that has always been the highlight of the otherwise pretty banal licensed games. Yes, this is a port, and practically nobody bought the original, but don’t let that put you off; it originally came out on Wii U, where there was basically nobody to actually buy the game anyway. That fact that it’s getting a second chance is a good thing, I promise.
If you never played 2012’s Retro City Rampage, you missed a treat. This single player 8-bit homage was originally developed by a single guy, yet it managed to fit and entire GTA-sized open world into its tiny constraints, along with a boatload of action movie, video game and ‘80s pop-culture parodies. Shakedown Hawaii is that studio’s next game, this time taking the action into the SNES-era 16-bit world, and adding deeper gameplay, more detailed graphics, and an even bigger, more feature-packed world. It’s a timed exclusive too, so the Switch will be the only place to play it initially. We’re totally on board.
Disgaea 5 Complete
May 23, 2017
If you’re into JRPGs, there’s no greater time-sink, and the Disgaea series, with its moreish combination of in-depth tactics and over-the-top graphical intensity, is right up there with the most addictive. This version gathers together the PS4 original with all its DLC for a staggering 100+ hours of potential gameplay, which is insane by anyone’s standards. And now that you can take the gameplay on the road with the Switch, you might actually have the time to wring that much gameplay out of it. Hooray!
May 26, 2017
Rime is one of those anomalies that comes along from time to time in the gaming world; a game that appears to have stared into the production abyss, and lived to tell the tale. This intriguingly Zelda-esque title was originally greenlit by Microsoft, before eventually being rejected, then picked up by Sony as a PlayStation exclusive, before finally the rights were handed back to the developers, Tequila Works, who now aim to release the title on Xbox One, PS4, and the Nintendo Switch. The game boasts some of the most stirring cell-shaded art direction since The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and has also drawn comparisons with such critical darlings as Journey and The Last Guardian. This third-person puzzling curiosity could be the surprise hit of the year when this hits in May, scratching the itch left behind by Breath of the Wild for the many millions who grabbed Link’s latest adventure and were left wanting more.
Another port, but another worthwhile one. It’s difficult to explain the strange beast that is Thumper, but I’m going to go with ‘part rhythm game, part relentless, drug-fuelled nightmare.' Your little shiny beetle tears along at an incredible pace while you move the stick and hit buttons in time with obstacles that meet you on your track, all the while composing a kind of terrifying, oppressive music while you do it. Yes, that sounds like utter nonsense, and it’s true that Thumper is absolutely the sort of game that needs to be played rather than described, even if just to experience the unique terror of hurtling towards the mouth of giant, demonic chrome head. It was highly rated by many in 2016 as one of the best games of the year, and the Switch version promises everything the original has, plus a steady 60fps and integration for Nintendo’s new HD rumble tech.
Sonic is back! And this time…it’s actually good! That should probably be the tagline for this new take on the 2D Sonic games of old, as longtime fans of the series looking to revisit those glory days have been disappointed time and time again in recent years by successive mediocre releases. Optimism is once again high for Mania, as the team behind the game are completely devoted to recapturing what made the original Genesis (Mega Drive) titles such enduring classics. Here’s hoping they crack that elusive feeling of momentum and inertia that was somehow lacking in the decent but ultimately inferior Sonic The Hedgehog 4.
Steamworld Dig 2
The original Steamworld Dig became something of a sleeper hit when it released on 3DS in August of 2013, its cute Metroidvania-like blend of cave exploration, combat, and upgrades making it a favorite with fans of the genre. With the sequel, developers Image & Form have brought back what made the original such a success, and also added a bunch of new features, including new enemy types, tons of new earned upgrades, and of course, greatly improved visuals that keep the retro style of the original, while making use of the Switch’s much improved hardware.
Each of these titles has a chance to, at best, be a phenomenal hit in the waiting, or at worse, be an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. Because you’re going to need something to play between now and Fall when big game season for the Switch begins in earnest.