Nintendo Switch is overflowing with fantastic first-party games. However, players don’t always have the time or money to invest in big AAA experiences. Fortunately, Nintendo’s online store is also a great place to find amazing, affordable games from independent developers. If you find it hard to spot treasure in a sea of hundreds of eShop games, we’re here to help! Here’s a list of six indies recommended by the Nintendo Enthusiast staff.
Aaero: Complete Edition
Aaero is an indie rhythm action game. OK, wait . . . hear me out. I know rhythm action games have a bad reputation but this one is different. You don’t need to be a musical savant to complete Aaero. It plays more like an arcade game with rhythm action elements. There are two types of sections to every level. One section tasks you with piloting a spaceship along a ribbon of light that reflects an element of the music. It may be the melody or the bass line but the line will move with the pitch, whether it goes up or down. The other section requires you to target and shoot numerous enemies. As the difficulty ramps up, you will get a combination of these with you having to shoot some enemies while guiding your spaceship.
One of the things that make or breaks a rhythm action game is the soundtrack. Mad Fellows might be a small studio (it’s just two guys) but they’ve attracted some real talent to provide the music. It’s all EDM and features artists like Flux Pavilion, Katy B, and Noisia. The soundtrack is so good that even my wife, who has no interest in EDM, likes it. I defy anyone to play the first level, set to Flux Pavilion’s track Bass Cannon, and not have it stuck in your head.
Above all, Aaero is a simple idea done well. Yes, it’s clearly taken influence from games like Rez and Guitar/DJ/Band Hero but the way it blends them feels fresh. The rhythm action genre is a little stale and Aaero shakes it up. It connects the music and action in a way that is superior to nearly any other game I’ve played. The boss battles add a nice change of pace and the leaderboards can lead to some serious bragging rights. If you like EDM, enjoy rhythm action games, or just have a soul, then I heartily recommend Aaero.
Recommended by Steve Clist
I am a huge fan of Supergiant Games. Everything they have released so far is indie gold in my eyes. All that started with Bastion when it originally released in 2011 for the Xbox 360. Now you can experience it on your Nintendo Switch. And guess what? It’s still great to play after all these years.
Bastion is an isometric top-down action RPG. When first playing through the game, it’s hard not to smile as the narrator makes mention of the things you do such as smashing furniture or falling off the edge of the world. It’s just one of many moving pieces in this game that gives it that shiny polish that wasn’t common for indie games when it originally released. There’s also the amazing music done by the talented Darren Korb and the art style by Jen Zee. It was this game that really solidified what Supergiant Games was all about.
It’s not just aesthetics either. The combat is super fun and addictive, especially when combining different melee weapons, ranged weapons, and abilities. Bastion encourages you to mix and match your tools to have the right ones for the task at hand. If a lighter Diablo-like experience sounds like your jam, do yourself a favor and give this a go. Even if you played it before, it’s worth the trip back.
Recommended by David Giltinan
Ittle Dew 2
If you’re excited about the Link’s Awakening remake coming to Switch, then Ittle Dew 2 is perfect for you. This indie adventure is heavily inspired by the Zelda franchise, and it’s one of the best tributes. The plot is simple, so don’t worry if you missed the first game. You’ve washed up on a strange and exotic island, so get to looting! The story is thin, but the characters shine with witty banter that’s reminiscent of Banjo-Kazooie.
Exploring this game world is an absolute joy. The island is divided up into eight unique and vibrant areas, like the candy-coated shores of Sweetwater Coast or the Old West Pepperpain Prairie with its rivers of hot sauce. Each of these areas has its own puzzle-filled dungeon with a matching theme, and there are also numerous secret dungeons. Best of all, you can play them in any order! Every gorgeous section of the island comes with its own theme music, and I’m still humming those catchy tunes to this day.
The combat isn’t quite as satisfying as Zelda, but Ittle Dew 2 is a treasure trove of excellent brain teasers. Each weapon you collect doubles as a puzzle-solving tool. The ice ring can freeze enemies solid, but it’s equally useful for weighing down switches with ice blocks. As you fight and solve your way through the island, you’ll eventually uncover its deep, dark secrets. It’s an adventure that’s well worth your time. The Nintendo Switch version even includes an exclusive area called the Dream World. Here you can tackle five new dungeons full of item-specific challenges. Beating these dungeons unlocks character cards that reveal hidden lore.
Recommended by Ben Lamoreux
Marble It Up!
Marble It Up! is a spiritual successor to the Marble Blast Ultra series, made by many of the same developers. The game is a fantastic love letter to a quirky genre, perfectly encompassing the sheer fun and replayability necessary to make a great marble roller. This wonderful game, which looks to keep getting better with free DLC map packs, is an amazing helping of marble rolling goodness.
Loaded with a few dozen mind-bending stages, Marble It Up! has players roll a marble through an obstacle course as quickly as possible. Once you finish all the maps, you can go back through again and again to try and perfect your times. Slowly shaving seconds off your runs is one of the most addictive experiences to be found on the Switch. The intricate levels and scattered power-ups leave tons of potential for absurd jumps and shortcuts, and the medals, leaderboards, unlockable marble skins, and quick restart button all make Marble It Up! highly replayable.
The massive Super Monkey Ball-sized hole in my heart was partially filled by Marble It Up! That is saying a lot, but it’s an easy statement to make thanks to Marble It Up’s pleasing aesthetic, jammin’ soundtrack, tight controls, and wonderful map design. It is everything a marble roller needs to be, and I am really excited to see how this game continues to grow in the future.
Recommended by Andrew Rockett
Strikey Sisters is the indie game I find myself returning to the most often on Switch these days. Anytime I’m waiting for a new game to download, I play Strikey Sisters in the interim. It’s a perfect game to pick up and play for a few minutes at a time and feel satisfied afterward.
Essentially, the game is just Breakout with monsters, a fantasy theme, and pixel-perfect SNES-like graphics, but it’s so well executed. The graphics are vibrant and attractive. The monsters that get in your way are diverse and engaging. The power-ups make a strategic difference, and replaying levels to acquire all the collectibles has become a fun pastime for me. Plus, the whole game can be played with (aside from the directional buttons) just A and B buttons!
Between its simplicity and the ability to play the whole story co-op, Strikey Sisters is a fantastic game for anyone to play together. Casual and hardcore gamers alike, young and old and everything in-between, can start playing this right away and have fun. But I play the game mostly alone and have had a blast with it anyway.
Recommended by John Friscia
TowerFall’s original release back in 2013 was marred by virtue of being an Ouya exclusive. Since then, however, the 8-bit action game has been ported many other consoles and finally found its way to the Nintendo Switch last year. While its single-player is a bit underwhelming, where TowerFall truly shines is its multiplayer.
TowerFall’s multiplayer is simple, fast, and can get extremely competitive. Up to six players are placed in an arena and have to be the last one standing. Players can shoot each other with arrows, jump on each other’s heads, or simply wait for everyone else to slip up and shoot themselves. Match rules are completely customizable. If players want item-filled chaos or some “No items, Final Destination, Fox only”-style intensity, it’s all up to them.
Players can easily tag in-and-out so it’s ironically much better for parties than Mario Party. The gameplay is easy to pick up, so someone could go from a newbie to a master in a few short matches. The minimalistic control scheme is also very Joy-Con friendly, which proves that its true home is on the Switch.
Recommended by Mark Kelly