TATE mode – or ‘portrait’ mode if you prefer – is just one of the features that make the Nintendo Switch such an attractive system for players. While TATE games are, by and large, found in the shmup genre, there are a few notable exceptions on Switch which use the thinner-yet-taller aspect ratio to create unique and thrilling gameplay experiences.
We’ve pulled together all of the best TATE-ready games in this handy list, so if you’re playing on a stand, with the Flip Grip or with a monitor turned on its side, you’ll find plenty of options here.
Publisher: indienova / Developer: Screambox Studio
While it lacks the arcade pedigree that makes other Switch-based shmups so popular, AngerForce: Reloaded has clearly been put together by a team that understands what makes this long-established genre so appealing. It offers tight gameplay, fantastic visuals and a stern challenge, but the addition of a rich Campaign mode – which rewards repeat play via a series of unlockable upgrades and abilities – extends AngerForce: Reloaded’s lifespan considerably. Fans of the genre should ignore the lack of a big-name IP and pick this up as soon as possible, while newcomers can be assured that the gently-scaling challenge of the story mode offers a perfect introduction – and like all good vertically-scrolling shooters, it has a TATE mode.
Publisher: Dispatch Games / Developer: Success
Psyvariar Delta truly is a comprehensive package that combines all the features from both Medium Unit and Revision, giving the player the chance to customize the experience in a way that has never been possible in prior releases. Add in the graphical upgrade, TATE support, an exclusive level, a new optional character to use and smooth performance either docked or portable, and this becomes a must-have for any Switch-owning shooter fan.
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ESP Ra.De. Psi goes beyond the industry standard and lays waste to pretty much every other shmup on the Nintendo Switch. With Arcade Plus mode removing the previous frustrations of the troublesome boss milking scoring system, ESP Ra.De. Psi cleans up to be a massively underrated classic that effortlessly earns the title of the best shmup on the Nintendo Switch – and believe us, it looks glorious in TATE mode. Hopefully, this superb package will see a western release in the fullness of time so an even wider audience can sample its myriad delights.
Publisher: Devolver Digital / Developer: Moppin
Downwell is an excellent port of a game that feels like it’s found a natural home on Switch thanks to a plethora of control options and the console’s natural facility with vertical orientation. Short of popping your 4K TV on its side, Switch offers the very best way to play this superb game. Its roguelike structure and twitch platforming might not be for everyone, but you should really give it a chance. For our money, it’s a modern classic that should be in everyone’s collection.
At only a couple of bucks per game it’s hard to complain too much about Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection, especially when there’s only really one stinker in the pack. If you aren’t a fan of classic arcade shoot ‘em ups then there isn’t really much for you here: the Castlevania or Contra collections might be more to your taste. If you like your shmups though, there are seven iconic vintage examples of the genre here and they perform flawlessly. You’ll still have a decent time playing through them all, even though the lack of online leaderboards, lack of high score saving and general lack of options certainly make its budget price feel justified. Thankfully, TATE support – added shortly after release – sweetens the deal.
Ikaruga is not so highly revered by chance, despite its near accidental creation. It is the result of a combination between an incredibly talented team making the most of excellent hardware, bringing in the unique double polarity gimmick that stealthy introduces puzzle-solving mechanics into a bullet hell shmup. So it’s no great surprise it not only remains an incredibly compelling experience but it lands smoothly at the top of the shmup list in Nintendo’s hybrid console library. Beyond portability what truly drives this version above previous ports of the game is the possibility of throwing a Joy-Con to a friend for a spot of co-op play anytime, anywhere as easy as your ship switches polarity. TATE support really takes things to the next level.
Strikers 1945 II is a lot like the first (already great) game, but improves on it thanks to its frantic gameplay and a new approach to charged attacks. Two-player is a lot of fun whether played on the big screen or undocked in TATE mode with detached Joy-Con and trying to improve on your high score adds plenty of replayability. The game could benefit from an online high scoreboard, but Strikers 1945 II is a joy to play through each time and is one of the best shmups available from the growing range on Switch. The first Strikers 1945 is still worth a look, too.
It plays a lot like the other Psikyo shmups that are on Switch, but that’s no bad thing considering how well put together they are. Gunbird 2 also adds a risky close-range move and some new point-scoring opportunities. Finding ways to improve your score adds replayability, but even if you have no interest in high-score chasing there’s a lot of fun to be had here. Gunbird 2 joins the growing list of great shmups on Switch, and shouldn’t be missed if you’re a fan of the genre. You should check out the original Gunbird too, which is also on Switch – and also comes with TATE support, just like the sequel.