It’s been a busy 20 months since Nintendo Switch first launched back in 2017 and Switch gamers have been spoiled for choice when it comes to great games to play. In stark contrast to the lean years of Nintendo’s previous console, it’s been hard to keep up with the excellent Switch titles coming from every direction, whether first-party classics, third-party ports or indie gem after indie gem.
With that in mind, we’ve put together the following list of 18 games that we feel fell through the cracks or got a little lost in the crowd – the best hidden gems on Switch from 2019. It’s a big mix of genres and styles, but for one reason or another we feel that they fell off the radar too quickly and deserve to be highlighted again before 2020 delivers another wave of games.
If any of these games are already part of your Switch library, congratulations! If, however, they passed you by, consider visiting the eShop and hunting down a few of these.
Publisher: Horberg Productions / Developer: Horberg Productions
While certainly less of a head-turner than something like Cuphead (which released in close proximity to this), Mechstermination Force is a more approachable take on boss rush platforming, with less of an emphasis on twitch-based, pixel-perfect precision. The game is peppered with ingenious design and amusing writing and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with it. We’d recommend it as a more accessible alternative to (or appetiser for) Studio MDHR’s game. If you enjoyed Gunman Clive, this is a great expansion on the concept and well worth investigating.
Publisher: Playful Entertainment Inc. / Developer: Playful Entertainment Inc.
One of the surprise announcements this year alongside the other previously Xbox-exclusive games that have arrived on Switch, New Super Lucky’s Tale is a solid port of an underrated platformer with a greatly improved camera. It’s a little on the short side and may not provide much of a challenge to more hardened gamers – and if you already own it on Xbox One there really isn’t enough new here to warrant a second purchase – but what makes it worth a look is its uncanny ability to make you smile, and this is something that can’t be overlooked, especially in modern times. It’s exactly the sort of tonic we love and an excellent addition to Switch’s library of platformers.
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Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Tarsier Studios
The Stretchers was an unexpected delight, perfectly timed to brighten up the long, dark winter days when it dropped on to the eShop without warning in November. Tarsier has taken all its experience working on the likes of Ragdoll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic and LittleBigPlanet and brought it together to deliver a ridiculously OTT ragdoll puzzle riot that works well in solo but is on another level when enjoyed with a friend in co-op. Missions are varied and lend themselves perfectly to moments of hilarious slapstick, and there’s a couple of real standout moments scattered across the course of proceedings that will have you laughing all the way to the end.
Its slightly generic look might mean it doesn’t stand out in the crowd, but Nintendo published this one and we’d recommend investigating it if you’re into your couch co-op Switch games.
Publisher: Devolver Digital / Developer: Doinksoft
With tight controls, retro-styled minimal art style and a superb sense of progression, Gato Roboto is the perfect Metroidvania to play whilst you’re waiting for an actual Metroid or appropriate Castlevania game. Only its difficulty leaves a bit to be desired at times – anybody with a lick of experience will likely breeze through it in no time, and its quality is such that you may end up wishing it lasted a little longer. Nevertheless, it’s chock full of meaningful upgrades, secrets and spectacular boss battles to keep you joyously busy for a few hours.
Publisher: Devolver Digital / Developer: Gabe Cuzzillo
You probably made a mental note to check out before getting distracted by something else. If that sounds familiar, do yourself a favour and hunt it down – the Nintendo eShop would be a considerably more exciting and interesting place if it were packed full of games like Ape Out. It’s a refreshingly original experience that more than deserves a place in any Switch owner’s library. Difficult, frenetic gameplay, a strong art direction, and an even stronger jazz drum soundtrack make this the sort of memorable game that you’ll likely keep coming back to over and over for another few runs in arcade mode. We’d give Ape Out a strong recommendation to anyone looking for a distinct and unforgettable game for their Switch collection; it’s a bit of an acquired taste, but well worth your time.
Publisher: Devolver Digital / Developer: Le Cartel Studio
Heave Ho doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights of Snipperclips, but it’s still one of the best couch co-op titles to hit the Switch. It encourages communication and careful planning, but remains utterly chaotic and achingly hilarious, with a fantastic selection of unique costumes to unlock as you progress. The fact that you’ll face the same stages whether you’re playing multiplayer or single player is a disappointment, but it’s great fun whatever way you decide to play it.
Publisher: Team17 / Developer: The Game Kitchen
Blasphemous is a beautifully crafted Soulslike/Metroidvania action game set in a delightfully unhinged, deliriously gory world filled with well-designed enemies, satisfyingly meaty combat and some truly memorable and grotesque boss battles. Platforming sections are uniformly well-crafted and the whole thing comes together to create one of the most visually arresting and solidly enjoyable action titles currently available on Switch. Spanish developers The Game Kitchen have created a nightmare world in Cvstodia, one that will truly test your combat and platforming skills and leave you begging for more come that final bloody battle.
Publisher: ININ Games / Developer: ININ Games
They say you can never really go back – the game might still be there, but nostalgia mixes with memories and creates something more intoxicating in the mind than it really was. Go back to the SNES Ninja Warriors now and it’s still fun, but it’s stuck in the square box of a 4:3 screen, the animation doesn’t stand out like it did and one-player-only looks weak alongside the other Final Fight tribute acts of the day. But when you see The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors, it’s somehow exactly what you remember: huge, lush backdrops, silky animation, and tight, mob-levelling ninja moves. It makes you feel like being a kid again and, as such, this game stands as yet another essential Switch release you really should own.
Publisher: Bandai Namco / Developer: Level-5
It’s quite something when a game of this stature gets overlooked, but that’s arguably what happened when this port launched back in September. That’s a shame, because Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is an experience unlike any other on the Switch, expertly blending standard RPG tropes with a heartwarming story, innovative art style, and an immersive soundtrack composed by some of the best in the business. In more ways than one, this is a ‘dream project’ that’s very existence is a gift to fans of the genre the world over. Although it falls short of being an undisputed masterpiece, with pacing issues and shoddy AI dragging down an otherwise pitch perfect experience, this still proves to be lightyears ahead of many other RPGs. If you consider yourself a fan of the genre – or even if you’re just looking to get your feet wet – you owe it to yourself to give Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch a shot.