The Nintendo Switch has crossed the one year mark. With sales surpassing even the wildest expectations of everyone in gaming, the system brought Nintendo back from the brink of irrelevance after the debacle of the WiiU. A couple months ago we looked at some key features the Switch would do well to add or tweak now that it’s had sufficient time to get its feet wet. Last month we looked at the two biggest titles to released for the Switch, thus far—Zelda and Mario—and how they perfectly book-ended the company saving year of 2017.
Let’s take things in a different direction on this, the one year anniversary month of the system.
Zelda and Mario are the bread and butter of Nintendo consoles. They’re the award-show winners, the big sales-grabbers, the titles that typically define a system. When you think N64 you think Mario 64 and Ocarina. When you think Gamecube, you think Wind Waker. When you think NES you think Mario Bros. They are the ambassadors of Nintendo’s various systems.
But they are only two games (so far) on the Switch, and the Switch has many more.
Mario and Zelda are huge, big budgeted (for Nintendo games, at least) marathon games that will take you dozens of hours to finish, if not hundreds to completely master. On the other side of the spectrum are those games that cost a quarter as much, take a tenth as long, yet often pack…let’s be generous and say…85% of the fun and wonder of Mario and Zelda. If you’re looking for a system to give you the definitive Mario and Zelda gaming experience, the Switch is your system. But what about after you beat those games?
If you’re looking for a system packed full of reasonably priced indie gaming experiences, the Switch is still your system.
Too many games these days are overpriced for the fun-factor they offer. They are often overstuffed with unnecessary padding simply to lengthen the gameplay experience and to trick the purchaser into thinking he’s gotten his money worth. They are often oversaturated according to a particular genre, with every AAA publisher trying either to out-FPS the other one, or out-sandbox each other. If you just stick to the full-priced franchise games from publishers you know you can start to see the gaming industry as a grey, lifeless corporate blob, churning out the same repetitive titles over and over with just a different number or subtitle slapped to the end of it.
Wait, are we talking games or movies?
A lot of the same problems apply to both forms of entertainment. The trouble with movies is, the independent scene is very hard to tap into and there’s not a good system in place to filter out the bad from the good or get much feedback on films that you may be interested in. There’s also the trouble with how expensive it is to make even a decent movie these days; more often than not a movie made on the cheap looks and feels cheap. It’s not easy to fake things like lighting and score.
With gaming, it’s a different story. There are a ton of indie games on the Switch that offer just as much fun as the best AAA games, but at a fraction of the cost (to develop or buy). In fact, that’s what’s so remarkable about the independent gaming scene: It consistently illustrates just how overpriced and poorly-developed most AAA titles really are. Many big brand publishers seem to think games need to have budgets and production values of major franchise motion pictures, meanwhile a game like Shovel Knight comes along and puts gameplay and “fun” first, without over the top cinematics or big online multiplayer death matches that end up lagging and suffering from tedious server issues.
If you just want to play a “game” and have “fun” then look to Switch…
Looking for a racing game?
Check out FAST RMX: In one sentence it’s “the best of F-Zero and Wipeout.” Fast paced action, slick graphics, tight controls, easy pick up and go gameplay, it’s exactly what a “game” should be. No unnecessary story mode or overly complicated customization modes. It’s a game. You play it. What else is there to say? It’s a quarter of the price of whatever the latest AAA racing game is, and probably twice as fun anyway.
Looking for a game to recapture that “Wii” era party fun?
Check out SNIPPERCLIPS: In one sentence it’s “part puzzle game, part screaming match with your partner.” There has never been a co-op game quite like this. Not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not Super Mario 3D World. Nothing in between. You and your partner team up to solve challenges built around your ability to “snip” each other into various shapes. Mayhem will ensue. This game will end families. On the other hand it’s also one of the most simple, pick up and knock off twenty minutes games out there, and with enough Nintendo charm you’d think it was an in-house production.
Looking for an old school shooter?
Check out GRACEFUL EXPLOSION MACHINE. In one sentence it’s “Gradius in both directions.” The enemies come at you, then loop around and come at the back of you, forcing you to move all over the screen to pick off the hundreds of little jerks flying around before they get you. True to the genre it’s a one-hit kill, but you get lots of special items to help you. Also true to its old school roots, this game is hard. It’s throw your controller hard. It’s put the Switch down and step away to reevaluate your life’s choices for a few minutes hard. But that just makes the victories that much sweeter.
Looking for an adventure game?
I already mentioned SHOVEL KNIGHT but it’s fantastic enough to mention twice. It’s a few years old but if you haven’t experienced it you certainly should. In one sentence it’s “the best of the NES era in 2D platform gaming, with all of the worst of that era stripped away.” It’s a little bit Mega Man, a little bit Mario 3, a little bit Contra and a little bit Castlevania. Imagine if gaming never went to the third dimension, with ballooning budgets and broken controls, this is the kind of stuff we’d be getting on the regular.
Looking for Metroid?
Axiom Verge is out. Get it. In one sentence: “It’s Metroid without the trademarked stuff.”
In just one year, the Nintendo Switch has not only surpassed the amount of consoles that the WiiU sold in its whole lifespan, it has arguably matched the number of excellent titles to own. WiiU may not have been a bread maker Nintendo wanted but it had a lot of great titles to enjoy; they were just spread out with long delays in between. That’s not a problem with Switch. Whatever gaps there are in between First Party titles are offset by the plethora of killer indie games to play.
The eShop is waiting, gamers.