The 'Shroom:Issue 150/Switch It Up!
Switch It Up!Written by Epic Nitwit
Hey folks, welcome to a new guest section I’m writing called “Switch It Up!” We all know about some of the great quality games that are on the Switch, from mainstream hits, like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, to indie darlings, like Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove and Celeste. However, there are actually over 2000 games released for the Switch, and it can be kind of hard to find good games to play in that seemingly endless ocean of content. So I thought it would be fun to dig into my personal Switch library and dig out some great games that might not have the same level of recognition as the big hitters, but are still definitely worth having an look at if you’d like to “Switch up” your gaming habits. Without further ado, let’s jump into it!
The first game on the list has been around since the Switch’s early days. Originally a mobile game, Voez is a rhythm game which is played primarily through the touchscreen, where you have to tap icons in time with the rhythm, as they travel along lines from top to bottom of the screen (a button mode was added in an update post-launch, but I personally feel that the original touch controls are the proper and definitive way to play). The main thing that sets its control scheme apart is the fact that the lines that the icons travel along actually move, appear and disappear as the song progresses. This means that, while you might start with four lines, you might end up with 6 or 7 later in the song, and they often move about the screen in ways that match the rhythm. It’s not really something that can be explained very well, so if you’d like to see it in action, you can download a demo off the eShop for free. The game contains over 200 songs (albeit not ones that you’re likely to have heard of, but there’s still some good ones in there), and they’ve intermittently added new songs throughout the years since it launched, completely for free, which is a far better deal than the mobile version which has all the typical monetisation style you’d expect from that kind of market. If you like rhythm games and don’t mind playing a game on your Switch which is mostly based on the touchscreen, then I’d highly recommend giving this one a look.
Blaster Master Zero
A remake of the original NES title developed by Inti Creates, Blaster Master Zero is another title that’s been around since the Switch’s early days. It’s something of a Metroidvania, where you travel around a map in a large tank named Sophia III, blasting monsters and finding entrances to caves and dungeons. Once you’ve found one, you can exit your tank and head inside, where the gameplay switches to a top-down shooter-type game, where you can continue running around and blasting monsters. The game has a fairly lengthy campaign spread across a variety of areas, and you can use various weapons and upgrades as the game progresses. It’s also got a few extra modes, and if you have some spare cash, there’s DLC for crossover characters that come from other indie games, each bringing their own unique playstyle. Just like Voez, there’s a demo available for this one too, so you can try before you buy. It’s a really solid retro-style game, and it has a nice cheap pricetag to boot And if you buy it and find yourself wanting more, you can always take a look at its recently released sequel, Blaster Master Zero 2.
Yoku’s Island Express
Have you ever found yourself playing a pinball game and thinking “Man, I wish this was a Metroidvania”? Well, have I got the game for you. Yoku’s Island Express allows you to play as a mail-delivering dung beetle rolling a big stone around the island he now lives in. It’s a Metroidvania where the world is traversed by going through various pinball areas, and it’s a barrel of fun launching yourself around the map, and finding new abilities and items to help you along your way as you take a journey to save the island and it’s various inhabitants that you meet along the way. There’s really not much else to say about it. The game looks and sounds amazing, it plays well, and it’s just an all-around great game. If the premise sounds intriguing to you, give it a shot or take a look at the demo on the eShop!
This game comes up with another unconventional mashup of genres – although this time there’s some precedent for it. Golf Story is part golf, part RPG, and particularly takes a lot of inspiration from Mario Golf for the Game Boy Color! It stars a down on his luck golfer, who sets out to reignite his passion for golfing after having given up the sport years ago. It’s got solid golf gameplay, with all the levelling systems, equipment (like golf clubs) and side quests that you’d expect from an RPG. Add in some great writing with a very distinctly Australian sense of humour, and you get a wonderful game that feels like it takes the best of both genres it’s borrowing from to create something completely new.
Wandersong is a very interesting game. I initially picked it up because I love rhythm games, and from what I knew of the game it seemed like this would be one. After having played the game, I would say it’s more like a puzzle/adventure game that uses music to build atmosphere and tell a story, as well as for a few puzzles. The main draw of the game is that you play as a bard, who sets out to save the world and solve everyone’s problems through optimism, happiness and – of course – song! The main gameplay involves using the right stick to sing a note, which can be selected in one of eight directions. You then use this to solve various puzzles, some music based (like repeating the notes sung by a bird), some not (like using the right stick to make nearby platforms move). Rhythm aficionados might be a little disappointed by the lack of serious, intense rhythm-based gameplay, but that’s honestly not what Wandersong is about. It’s more about the journey you take: the people you meet, the places you see, the things you do. The focus is more on delivering a positive message of unity and love and other warm fuzzy stuff like that, and between its cute artstyle and charming writing, it does a fantastic job of doing so. Although the rhythm-based aspects of the game fall short sometimes, if you want to play a game with a heart-warming feel-good story and memorable characters, you can’t go wrong with Wandersong.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
It’s a big trend in the entertainment industry to remake things, whether it be movies, TV series, or even games. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is one such remake. It takes a classic Master System game and gives it a fresh coat of paint, with beautiful hand-drawn visuals and newly orchestrated music. Apart from a few additions such as a female playable character and new difficulty options, the gameplay itself is the same as the original, and while that sometimes shows with a decent level of difficulty and some level design oddities (a couple of impossible-to-see doors, for instance), there’s still a great game in here, featuring a variety of abilities to learn and a large, non-linear map to explore. As an added bonus, you can also switch to the original graphics and music at the press of a button, which is a fun way to compare just how much has gone into remaking this game. If you like the gameplay of the retro games of old, but want something that looks and sounds a lot nicer, this one is sure to delight you.
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition
Ok, this one I’m kind of cheating on… I don’t actually own Guacamelee on my Switch (although I do own the sequel on it, and the only reason I haven’t got the OG is because I already have it on 4 other platforms…), but I can absolutely vouch for this amazing, incredible game. You play as a Mexican man named Jaun, who has to save El Presidente’s daughter from an evil charro skeleton by becoming a luchador. Along the way, you unlock new fighting moves and new abilities that allow you to traverse the large, interconnected world. The fighting gameplay is great fun, and the gameplay is nicely complimented by the odd combination of the wonderful Mexico-inspired world, charming writing and a whole load of video game and meme references (it’s not as bad as it sounds, I promise). Despite half the games on this list being Metroidvanias, I’m actually very bad at finishing most games in this genre, but Guacamelee is a game that I just keep coming back to, not only finishing it, but also 100%ing it. If you’re a fan of Metroidvanias or Mexico and you haven’t already played this, then please stop what you’re doing right now and go play this. I promise it’s worth it.
The Bit.Trip series has had a long history on Nintendo consoles, dating all the way back to WiiWare and even getting a trophy in Smash 4, and now the third of their “Runner” games has hit the Switch, with their simplest name yet. If you’ve played Bit.Trip Runner before, you should know what to expect: play as Captain Video (or a selection of other characters) and jump, kick and slide your way through a variety of levels that you automatically run through. That being said, the game certainly isn’t stale by any means. It introduces new moves, expands on the idea of multiple paths that it first introduced in Runner 2, and even features new vehicle segments like flying on a rocket or riding a minecart (some of which are even fully 3D). Each level has two main paths and a variety of items to collect apart from the usual gold bars, meaning that there’s plenty to do even after your initial run through. The are also particularly impressive, featuring fully-3D worlds with a very distinctly wacky, and sometimes gross, visual style throughout the game, and each of the three worlds makes fully use of the setting within which they take place (for instance, the food based world has you running outside dodging donuts in one level, and running inside of a fridge in another). The music is also outstanding, and it’s awesome hearing it get more intense as you progress through the level. The game is a little bit on the difficult side, but with a post-game update, the developers added in more checkpoints, as well as a variety of difficulty options (such as lessening enemies) to fiddle with if it’s too hard for you (or too easy!). Despite it being just an auto-runner, don’t be fooled: Runner3 is a fully-featured game, and it’s a great load of fun (plus it has Charles Martinet in it!)
Box Boy + Box Girl
While this one technically isn’t really an indie game, seeing as it’s made by famed Kirby developer HAL Laboratory, it still carries what I’d like to call the spirit of an indie game, so I’m including it here. Box Boy + Box Girl is the latest title in a cute little series of video games that started on the 3DS starring a little box named Qbby, who has the ability to make boxes to solve puzzles and complete stages. While the premise may seem simple, there’s an endless variety of ways in which the game is able to put a new spin on the concept. The game features various worlds which are all split into bite-sized levels, perfect for playing on the go, and each world features its own level ‘gimmick’, like using boxes to press buttons, or using them to ‘snake’ through small corridors. The presentation and visuals are charming in their simplicity, and the music does a good job of fitting the vibe of the game. Add to that a brand-new co-op mode and some extra levels that you can unlock post-game, as well as lots of bonus costumes and comics, and you get the most fully-featured Box Boy game to date, and at a price point that’s pretty low even for indie titles. If any of that sounds interesting to you, definitely pick this one up, or at least try out the free demo on the eShop.
Crypt of the Necrodancer
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Cadence of Hyrule, the unprecedented new game that crosses Zelda with the dungeon-crawling rhythm gameplay of Crypt of the Necrodancer, and now I’m gonna tell you all about the original game that it was inspired by/is a sequel to! Crypt of the Necrodancer is a dungeon crawling roguelike that is played entirely to the beat of the music. You enter randomly-generated dungeons, and traverse them to the beat, encountering monsters of various kinds. Each enemy has it’s own pattern of behaviour and itself moves to the beat, so you have to learn how they act and make quick decisions during encounters to ensure that you survive. It’s quite a difficult game, but it’s also an absolute blast to play through. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s a whole boatload of weapons, items, characters who change the dynamic of the game entirely, and game modes to play through, which makes for limitless options to play. Of course, a rhythm game isn’t complete without a good soundtrack, and boy does this game deliver. It’s got a banging soundtrack by Danny Baranowsky of Super Meat Boy and Binding of Isaac fame, plus it has alternate arrangements by various different people which can be swapped to at any time (and, weirdly enough, it also has a special Dangan Ronpa soundtrack, plus character skins, which means you could play this game as Monokuma while bopping to some DR jams if you wanted to). It’s not a game for everyone, but if you like rhythm games, then I implore you to give this one a shot if you haven’t already. It’s absolutely amazing and can keep you entertained for hours with all the content it has.
So there you have it, a whole selection of different games that I think are worth your while. I hope you leave this article inspired to check out something new… or maybe you yourself have some Switch games you’d like to tell the world to play! I probably won’t be writing this section again for a long while since I need to play some more games first (like the recently released Untitled Goose Game!), but if you feel like it’s something you’d like to do, or if you’d like to do something similar, feel free to apply for it. Until then, so long and happy gaming!