The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best video games ever. And that’s lovely. But when it’s going to cost you over $300 to play it on your new home console/portable gaming tablet when you could have just bought it for the Wii U, it’d be nice if there were some other things worth playing, too, to make you feel better about blowing all that cash.
Thankfully, despite the launch being dominated by the universal acclaim for Link’s latest, there are a bunch of other games worthy of your time and money. Here’s our guide to the rest of Nintendo Switch’s launch titles.
The Best Exclusives
Fast RMX, $19.99
F-Zero was brilliant, and this is F-Zero. Well, it’s not F-Zero. But it is. It’s superfast space cars whizzing around bashing into walls and doing turbo boost shenanigans all over the shop. There’s even a “Hero Mode” where boost energy is also shield energy. It’s F-Zero. If you want a racing game, but you can’t wait until Mario Kart 8 Deluxe lands at the end of April, this will more than satisfactorily scratch that itch until then, and beyond.
Classic quirky Nintendo, even if it started out life as an indie flash game. A cerebral cooperative multiplayer, the core mechanics (two shapes cut bits out of each other to solve single screen puzzles) take just moments to pick up, but the many ways the game twists their usage will have you constantly pulling your hair out in frustration/delight. It can also be played solo, which is lucky, as your partner is almost certainly going to leave you when you shout at them for not standing still while you cut a hole in their face.
The Ones You Might Have Missed Elsewhere
Yes, this is a free smartphone game from last year and, yes, twenty-five bucks DOES sound like a lot to pay for that, but if you haven’t played it before and you like a rhythm action game, it’s a really good one. One of the first games on the Switch to shun your TV (this only works in touchscreen tablet mode), it’s perfect to dip into on your commute. With a range of difficulties to suit any player, and a great soundtrack of tunes you’ve almost certainly never heard before, it gets two screen-bashing thumbs up from us.
I Am Setsuna, $69.23
This popped up on PS4, PS Vita, and PC last year, and if you’re a fan of the Active Time Battle system found in classic SNES RPGs like Final Fantasy 4 and Chrono Trigger, this’ll be right up your street. Of course, with Zelda eating up your time, you might not fancy another “wander around and fight things” game, but if you do, this is well worth a gander.
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, $24.99
Another title that sets out to evoke the spirit of games from yesteryear, Shovel Knight has quite rightly received critical acclaim for its NES-platformer playstyle. If you’ve already enjoyed the original, you can grab the latest installment, Specter of Torment, exclusively on Switch for $9.99. Fair warning, though, if you already own the original on another system, you’ll be getting Specter of Torment as a FREE update in April, so you might want to hold off if you’re trying to minimize your spending.
Neo Geo Games
From games that spiritually emulate old games to actual emulation. Somewhat unexpectedly, given there’s no Virtual Console on Switch (for now, at least), there were FIVE Neo Geo games available on day one. Of these, two (Metal Slug 3, Shock Troopers) are run-and-gun games, while three (King of Fighters ’98, Waku Waku 7, World Heroes Perfect) are fighters. If you fancy one of each, we’d opt for King of Fighters ’98 and Metal Slug 3 (giant crabs!). Whichever one(s) you get though, there’s a strong selection of options to enhance your retro experience, such as difficulty tweaks, manuals so you don’t have to go on the internet to find out how to pull off special moves, and a bunch of filters to help your massive 4k TV look and sound like a knackered old CRT screen.
The Full Price Ones
Super Bomberman R, $49.99
It’s not bad, but $49.99 for essentially the same game we’ve all been playing for decades is a big ask, however pretty it looks. Plus, there’s been a number of early reports of lag issues (we found it unplayable in online multiplayer), so it’s worth holding off until patches are released and the price inevitably drops.
Just Dance 2017, $53.37
No point me wasting any time on this one. If you like these games, you’ll no doubt buy this and have a lovely time. If you don’t, there is nothing I could say that would make you part with $54.
1-2 Switch, $49.96
Remember Wii Sports? Great, wasn’t it? Remember Wii Play? You bought it second hand for a buck from CEX out of curiosity, played it once at Christmas when your parents came over, had a laugh, then left it on the shelf collecting dust. This is more the latter.
No, Thank You Very Much
New Frontier Days: Founding Pioneers
I really want to like this one. I really do. An isometric town-building simulation game is right up my street. Start off with a bit of land and an axe, and end up with a thriving metropolis. Perfect. But I can’t work out how to throw away rubbish when my little people do jobs, and the rubbish makes them game-ruining-ly sad. I’ve played the tutorial three times, hoping I missed something. I’ve tried searching online. I. CANNOT. WORK. IT. OUT. The U.I. and control scheme are a little bit counter-intuitive at times too, and the whole thing feels like a port of an unreleased smartphone game, BUT if you can tell me how to throw away the trash, I’d probably love it.
Vroom in the Night Sky
“Magical girl. Riding a motorcycle. Flying in the sky!” declares the promo video. I mean… is it …is it bad on purpose? Is it hilarious if you’re on drugs? Is this what the young people like now? I honestly have no idea what’s going on here. But I’m 37. Maybe this is as popular with tweens as Ed Sheeran. Personally, I’d rather boil up a vat of stinging nettles and wasp bottoms, and inject the liquid into my nipples than boot this game up again. Your mileage may vary.
Do you like playing the board game Othello? If you do, this is the board game Othello. If you don’t like playing the board game Othello, congratulations—you have just saved enough money to buy a pint.
Get Shovel Knight if you’ve not played it before.
Buy Bomberman once the bugs are fixed and the price drops.
Buy 1-2 Switch for a few bucks just before Christmas and nod to yourself in memory of my wise advice to you all the way back in March.
Tell me what Vroom in the Night Sky even is.
Steve McNeil is co-creator of, and team captain on, Dara O Briain’s Go 8-Bit. You can find him on Twitter, here.