With the Nintendo Switch nearing 15 million (yes, million, with an M) units sold in less than a year and surpassing the entire lifetime sales of the Wii U, it’s safe to say the Switch is on a trajectory to be a tremendous hit. That in mind, there have been massive successes like Doom, The Binding of Isaac, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. In addition, however, many digital-only eShop titles have taken the world by storm, critically and commercially. Although many eShop games have been on other platforms, their presence on Switch have been met with praise. We have compiled a list of the best Nintendo Switch eShop games. Keep in mind, these games are not necessarily a list of best selling games, but rather, fan-favorites.
From Drinkbox Studios, the team that brought us Guacamelee, this first-person dungeon crawler has a unique premise. The main mechanic has the player swiping on the touch screen to attack enemies. However, it gets more complex than it sounds. Certain enemies will be weak to different elements, as well as having to change attack patterns. The art style is beautiful, and reminiscent of the team’s previous work. Even more interesting is that since this is a touchscreen-based game, it can only be played in handheld mode. This was a game that many people missed, since it debuted on Wii U, and we’re excited that more people get to play it now.
9. Steamworld Dig 2
Following the success of the first game, Steamworld Dig 2 is exactly what a sequel should be. The characters are weird and memorable; the gameplay loop is addicting, and the progression system is satisfying. Like the name suggests, Steamworld Dig 2 has the player digging down to collect treasure. The addicting part is that the more the player digs, the more treasure they can collect. This treasure is used to upgrade abilities like a better ax, longer light battery (it gets dark down in the caves), and even the ability to glide. The game isn’t just about digging, though. There is a surprisingly deep combat system which comes in handy, especially when facing the bosses. While this game doesn’t really do anything new, it does everything well, and that’s what matters.
This cute little puzzle game had the benefit of being a launch title and it definitely exposed more people to it. The player takes on the role of a shape made out of construction paper. The idea is to cut the other player (it’s only construction paper, don’t worry) into a shape that will unlock the exit for the level. It’s not as easy as it sounds, though. The players can be rotated and cut as much as desired, so toward the end of the game it can get tough. Trying to work together with a friend (Or group of friends) to get through these levels is beyond memorable. While the game can be played single-player, it’s more fun with a friend, which is great because the system is built for multiplayer. If you’re looking for a fun, cute, multiplayer game, don’t sleep on Snipperclips. (Yes, there is a physical version of this, but since it launched digitally only, it’s still worth including.)
The music/rhythm game genre has been on a decline since the Guitar Hero days, so it’s refreshing to play a modern one that’s actually good. Unlike many music games, though, this does not feature licensed songs or even any recognizable instruments. All the sounds are based on the environment. The player takes control of a beetle moving down a track, interacting with the world. It gets tricky fairly early on, as the player must perform precise button combinations in order to avoid taking damage. The boss battles are some of the most visually unique artistic pieces out there. It’s a mixture of surrealism and a dream. Even though music games aren’t as popular anymore, Thumper is not one to skip.
Love it or hate it, Minecraft still reigns in its popularity. It’s easy to see why, too. With its accessibility and easy-going tone (most of the time) the Minecraft phenomenon will always be remembered for its popularity. What’s nice is that this game can be difficult if a player chooses. Or, one can causally build without worrying about being attacked by mobs. Still, the sense of accomplishment is ever present when a structure is finally completed. Minecraft brings people together, encourages creativity and exploration, and appeals to a wide audience ranging from causal to hardcore. It’s hard to imagine someone who hasn’t at least heard of Minecraft, but if you haven’t, please check it out.
5. A Night in the Woods
This game is for people who enjoy a more narrative-focused experience. A Night in the Woods is an adventure game, featuring an anthropomorphic cast. The main character, a cat named Mae, is a college dropout who returns home to reconnect with friends. What’s great about this is that it’s wonderfully written. Some of the character interactions had me laughing out loud, something that doesn’t happen much in the games medium. The art style is charming, and while the tone is seemly light-hearted and chipper, the game does cover serious tones such as depression and change. It’s not for everyone, but for people looking for a witty, cute, and relatable story, A Night in the Woods is a great choice, especially on Switch.
4. Stardew Valley
This is a game that many people have lost hundreds of hours to. It’s hard to imagine a farming game being that captivating, but Stardew Valley is just that. It takes many aspects of similar games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing and blends in RPG mechanics. Since this game features a season cycle, as well as a day/night cycle, time management plays a huge role. Gathering resources to build and plant crops is a common practice, but so is interacting with NPCs in the town. Couple that with having to earn currency and explore procedurally generated caves, and you get a deep farming simulator. Like other games on this list, it’s not for everyone, but for fans of farming games, Stardew Valley is recommended.
It seems like every year a random little indie game takes the world by storm. For 2018, that game is Celeste. This 2D platformer follows a woman, Madeline, in her quest to get up Celeste mountain. It’s a simple enough premise, but the platforming gets complex and challenging. This game is in the same category as Super Meat Boy or Cuphead, especially in terms of difficulty. There are sections in the game that require such precision and resilience that it’s understandable that not everyone will have the skill to get through it. However, there is such a sense of satisfaction when a difficult area is overcome that it’s well worth the frustration. There are many platformers out there, but this one falls in the upper echelon, alongside games like Mario and Sonic. Please don’t pass on this one, if nothing else for the impeccable level design.
2. Golf Story
Golf isn’t an exciting sport, and even the idea of an indie sports game sounds underwhelming (sorry sports fans). But Golf Story is different. It takes all the traditional golf game ideas and throws them out the window. The secret to making a good golf game? Make the player do a whole bunch of other stuff that doesn’t involve golfing. That’s a bit of hyperbole, but the point is that there is way more to this than just golf. The writing is laugh-out-loud funny, from characters literally telling players to give up at golfing because they’re so bad, to cavemen advising the character to collect all the mean turtles. This game, like many others on this list, has a sense of charm. And all of that aside, the golfing is solid, too. It’s akin to Hot Shots Golf (Everybody’s Golf now), but from a top-down perspective. Many of the quests involve golfing but stray far away from just hitting the ball in the hole. While the mechanics of golf are still there, Golf Story likes to make fun of golf in a self-aware kind of way, a much-needed inclusion, especially given the subject matter.
Ah, Shovel Knight. Sure, no game is perfect, but Shovel Knight comes pretty darn close. The balance of difficulty and fairness makes this game such a rewarding experience. Developer Yacht Club did an AMAZING job of giving callback to old retro style games but getting rid of outdated mechanics. Everything from the music, sounds, levels, and art style screams 8-bit NES game. The player, Shovel Knight (go figure) must traverse levels by solving minor puzzles, platforming, and defeating enemies. Each level ends with a challenging boss fight that usually encompasses a new mechanic learned from the level. Depending on how the player chooses to spend money, these fights can be brutally difficult. It’s encouraged to save up money for health upgrades and extra magic slots to make it more manageable. Shovel Knight was a 2014 Game of the Year contender for a reason, so please don’t miss out on the definitive version of it on Switch.
Please check out the companion video to get a closer look at these awesome games.