Battle Princess Madelyn
Battle Princess Madelyn feels like a Ghouls ‘n Ghosts superfan’s passion project, and that’s kind of what it is.
Battle Princess Madelyn is a 2D action game that follows the journey of Princess Madelyn, a knight in training, and her dog Fritzy. It should feel familiar to any fan of similar run and gun/platformer games of the time such as the aforementioned Ghouls ‘n and Ghosts and its precursor Ghosts ‘n Goblins as it aims to emulate the gameplay of that era.
It’s no surprise that the game isn’t more well known, coming from a smaller less established studio and appealing to fans of a niche genre.
The lead developer, Christopher Obritsch, named the game after his daughter as it was she who inspired him to create it. The idea occurred when his daughter told him that girls can’t be knights. The story is built on this basis of empowerment, and Madelyn is a surprisingly bad-ass protagonist.
Battle Princess Madelyn is at the top of this list as it falls short in some areas, yet it provides a solid experience for those in the right niche who want a new take on some old classics. You may not have heard of Causal Bit Games before, but their first title leaves a good impression.
Snake Pass is a 3D physics-based puzzle platform game, which has been on the Switch for just over a year now (since 2018). Sumo digital’s game offers a challenging experience, instructing the player to ‘think like a snake’ when twisting through levels. Snake Pass utilizes Unreal Engine 4 and looks stunning even in docked mode.
The physics in the game are unlike any other. After all, not many games have the player control a snake to begin with. The game is somewhat reminiscent of Human Fall Flat – in that its physics are complex but really fun to mess with.
Considering its complex controls, the gameplay and movement are surprisingly fluid. When controlling ‘Noodle’ the adorable snake full of personality – the player has to balance movement speed (which is generated by moving from side to side) and grip (by wrapping around said obstacle) in order to reach all of the collectibles. The player controls noodle using the left control stick to direct his head. On Switch, the X button is used to dive down while the A button is used to lift his head – such as when climbing stairs/obstacles or when swimming.
Ultimately, Snake Pass carves out an experience that is completely its own, which is what makes it deserving of a place on this list.
Moonlighter is another rogue-like on Switch which puts an interesting spin on things. In the game, you play as Will from a town named Rynoka. During the day, the player runs his shop, but by night you explore dungeons in support of your business – collecting items to sell and battling enemies as you go.
Shopkeeping requires you to consider Moonlighter’s economy, as customers react to prices differently. Dungeon exploration is fun and addictive, as Moonlighter’s rooms are reminiscent of The Binding of Isaac.
Rooms can quickly become complex, and each time you play the patterns of rooms change, similarly to the caves in Stardew Valley, although there are ways around this.
Moonlighter has four different worlds with unique enemies in each, and a guardian boss at the end of each world. There are five weapon types such as swords and bows, and you can select two of these at any one time to switch between.
Moonlighter’s gorgeous pixelated art style is like a more retro Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. The game has a catchy soundtrack to top it all off, conveying different moods dependent on environment and to accompany vendors across town.
SteamWorld Dig 2
To some, SteamWorld Dig 2 is underwhelming in the shadow of its predecessor SteamWorld Dig – as it trades its randomized worlds for a more linear experience.
However, SteamWorld Dig 2 vastly improves on the original in numerous ways despite this fact, offering a really solid Metroidvania-style experience.
SteamWorld Dig 2 has improved visuals, and looks surprisingly sharp, particularly in handheld mode. The new protagonist, Dorothy, doesn’t have a lot of story behind her but is a joy to play thanks to her unlockable abilities which improve movement and other skills.
Whether you will enjoy this one more than the previous game is really a matter of preference, as both games offer a solid experience in different ways. SteamWorld Dig offers a more spontaneous and addictive experience, whereas SteamWorld Dig 2 is a more linear Metroidvania. This ultimately results in SteamWorld Dig 2 having a much more detailed and rich world, in exchange for the lack of spontaneity when making the leap from procedurally generated worlds.
Owlboy is a Metroidvania with fun platforming and combat. The game’s score is exciting and heroic, as it perfectly accompanies Otus and friends on this brave adventure.
It’s another pixel-art style game to make this list, but it arguably has the most unique look. Owlboy’s artwork feels straight out of a pixelated Studio-Ghibli movie, and its host of quirky characters make it feel like one.
Lovable characters represent abilities in this game, which makes for a better alternative than simply just swapping abilities or weapons.
Otus, the protagonist of Owlboy, carries these characters to utilize their abilities. One of these companions is Geddy, the first gunner Otus meets. His blaster is useful in combat and feels smooth and precise. Owlboy’s characters are well fleshed out and feel three-dimensional, not just additions to the story, but rather real people.
Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker
Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker was a spin-off action puzzle game first released on Wii U, and like many other Wii U titles, it did not get the attention it deserved. After arriving on Switch, the game has been opened up to a much wider audience, receiving recognition for its charming design and gorgeous levels.
The game follows Captain Toad as he tracks down treasure and tries to survive enemies, as well as dangerous environments. Some levels have Toad and Toadette travel in a minecart while firing turnips at enemies and coins. Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker manages to pack a lot of content into its bite-sized levels which makes its pricing feel like a steal despite being a port.
The game also has a variety of collectibles, as finding coins, Golden Mushrooms, and gems give the player a range of replayability options. On top of this, there is a hide and seek mode in which the player searches for pixel toad hidden cleverly in each level after its completion, some of which are really puzzling and provide a nice challenging aspect to break up the general low difficulty.
The Switch version added a few new features, and recently introduced bigger features such as co-op multiplayer and paid DLC containing all new levels. In the game, you play as both Toad and Toadette, rotating throughout the course of the story. In the new co-op mode, both characters are playable, giving players yet another way to experience Captain Toad’s adventure.
Wargroove sees the player play as one of 12+ Commanders from four warring factions. The retro turn-based combat is a love letter to Advance Wars – and more than just a stand-in before we see the return of the real thing. Chucklefish ensures Wargroove is something different, despite its ties to other entries in the genre.
The level editor is arguably the most impressive addition, although more comfortable on PC. The developers claim to have used this tool to develop the game themselves, and this seems to be true, and if so is very impressive. Players can create whole campaigns through the use of this tool, which allows for endless replayability.
Multiplayer allows players to challenge their friends. Both local and online play is great – with online multiplayer utilizing cross-play. Leaving matches mid game and returning later are also a really useful addition – meaning, if players wish, they can participate in multiple games at once.
Some missions are lengthy – which may be a turn off for some as missions can go on for upwards of an hour. The story is subtle and simple but isn’t anything special as it exists mainly to justify the gameplay. Arcade mode sees you pick a commander and play through fights in smaller maps and is one of the games strongest points, as its design is well suited to quick and short-form content as a break from the long-form campaign.
Hyper Light Drifter
Hyper Light Drifter is a 2D Action RPG in which the player controls Drifter – a mysterious blue-skinned warrior. Drifter is equipped for both close combat and ranged combat, so the player can opt to slash enemies or blast them from a safer distance depending on their playstyle and types of enemy nearby. Drifter’s gun recharges after hitting enemies, so sometimes slashing enemies in close combat is a must.
Avoiding spoilers, the game tackles quite a dark topic which is beautifully explored through gameplay. Hyper Light Drifter tells a story without its characters saying anything, which is no easy task.
Disasterpeace’s stunning soundtrack is on par with Lena Raine’s Celeste OST, as the music in this game really makes the world that much more interesting and believable. Hyper Light Drifter first launched on PC in 2016, then made its way onto PS4 and Xbox One later in the year.
If you decide to pick up the game, check out our Tips and Tricks for Beginners which should help you navigate what can at first be a daunting world.
Gris is a 2D Platformer which follows the journey of a young girl with the same name who is ‘dealing with a painful experience in her life’. Gris is short yet provides a heart-wrenching story in one or two sittings.
Gris does strike up memories of Journey and mobile-game Monument Valley, mostly through its ambient and mellow environment which can at times be devastating and dark, but the games overall style is unique. Nomada Studios’ first title is not easily forgotten and shows promise for the studio in the future.
The game’s stunning art style is one of the most gorgeous on the Switch as the game looks like a watercolor painting. Gris is yet another of these titles with a great soundtrack that is really memorable and fitting for the story.
Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is a 2D adventure game which follows the story of Mae, a recent college dropout, as she returns to her hometown and discovers some strange and disturbing happenings.
The player controls Mae day-by-day as she rekindles her old friendships and tries to get to the bottom of what’s going on in Possum Springs – a small town with a lot of depth and places to explore. Possum Springs is also home to some really great characters, some of which are funny and others terrifying.
Night in the Woods offers some interesting and dark social politics, as the characters survive working their dead-end jobs in the Rust-Belt. The coming-of-age story is relatable for most, and the game tackles mental illness openly and honestly.
Night in the Woods is somewhat of a ghost-story on top of all this, and the combination of all these issues is what keeps players hooked.
Night in the Woods offers a fully fledged experience for its price with a ton of replayability options. As Mae, the player can opt which friends to journey with each day, so you can’t see everything in your first playthrough, making the game far more replayable for those interested in uncovering more secrets.
Night in the Woods might be somewhat well known, but rarely appears in the Eshop charts or in lists of the Switch’s best sellers – despite being a stellar experience for those who can handle the pacing and lack of combat.