The Switch's Hidden Gems

#1

So many games get dumped into the eShop that it’s hard to sort through and find the good ones. Have you found any Switch games that have been massively fun and engaging, but didn’t receive the hype it deserved? Get the word out here!

(Some of these probably already came out on Steam or something first, but I’m mostly Switching instead of Steaming these days.)

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles - a very relaxing exploration game. No enemies to worry about. You can trade with folks, establish farms, adopt animals, craft stuff, etc etc, basically it’s one of those “hey, live in this game for a little while” games. Or you can just follow the story and ignore all that. It’s a good experience either way. I’m getting fed up with crafting & farming games, and this one has a nice balance.

Nightshade - an otome game, and the best one I’ve played. The player character isn’t a completely helpless damsel with no personality, there’s voice acting and mouth movements, the artwork is gorgeous, and it has a unique branching mechanic. Some routes are better than others. My fave was Hanzo. Oh yeah, you’re from a clan of ninjas and the sengoku era has just ended.

Food Truck Tycoon - it’s my first type of “cook and serve things in a very rushed manner” game that I’ve played. Maybe there are games that do this better, but I had a lot of fun with this one. Right now I’m trying to wrap my head around Cook, Serve, Delicious 2. So much more stuff is going on in that game compared to FTT. Things unlock little by little in FTT, giving you time to get used to one style of cooking before adding another thing for you to keep track of.

Bad Dream: Coma - a spooky point-and-click game with a sketchy art style. Some of the puzzles are a bit mind-bending. It was a lot of fun! And very spooky. Multiple endings. There’s a sequel, Bad Dream: Fever, that I enjoyed, but not as much as Coma.

The Room - a puzzle game with touch controls and an intriguing story to keep you going. It has multiple sequels, but they aren’t on the Switch (yet?).

#2

I’m quite partial to Blaster Master Zero – Inti Creates took the Sunsoft classic and really brought it up to speed, staying true to the original but making it more accessible to modern sensibilities. They also, charmingly enough, fused the disparate Japanese and English storylines together, which is a thing that must be experienced to be appreciated. Plus they shoehorned a love interest in there, which amounts to a very large amount of story work done on a game that really didn’t need a story to begin with. My only gripe would be that the difficulty of the boss fights has been taken down too far; the original Blaster Master was hard to the point that some of the bosses almost couldn’t be beaten without exploiting the grenade bug, but in Zero some of them are literally so easy you can beat them before they even start moving. That’s a bit wackeroo.

There’s also Blaster Master Zero 2, which build upon the original and improves on it in a bunch of ways. But I’m mad at it right now because it has this one annoying boss I’m not enjoying one bit.

I’m a big fan of Lizardcube’s remake of Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, which is possibly the best-looking video game of all time. So much care was put into the visuals that it almost seems like a sin to switch to “retro” mode, whereas normally I like those sorts of things. The sound is just as good, too. As for the game, well, it’s Wonder Boy, which is a pretty good time.

The Longest Five Minutes I think is fantastic, though it didn’t review very well and I don’t think anybody but me actually bought it. It’s sort of a distillation of the JRPG genre into bite-sized, arcade-style levels, where you begin with a preset party with specific levels and gear (and no impact from anything you’ve done in previous levels), and you have to complete a simple quest. The framing device is the final boss battle, wherein the main character has suddenly lost his memories, and needs to get them back or the party is doomed. It’s more interesting – and more intricate – than it seems at first, has charming retro graphics, and has reasonably clever dialogue.

#3

I’ve been having a lot of fun with Marble It Up!, which is a spiritual sequel to the Xbox 360 game Marble Blast Ultra. If you haven’t played that, Marble It Up is similar to Super Monkey Ball - you control a ball that you roll around various courses, and try to get from the start to the goal. It doesn’t take too long to get through every course, but the game gives you medals based on how fast you get through courses, so I’ve been playing it a lot trying to get the highest rank on each level. Plus there’s secret unlockables to find in most of the levels, and they’ve been adding new content pretty regularly.

My brother is a big fan of Sushi Strikers, which seems to have passed under everyone’s radar. I haven’t played it myself but I know he felt like it got way less attention than it deserved.

Yonder and The Longest Five Minutes both sound like games I should check out - I’ll put em on my backlog!