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The 13 biggest indie games coming to Nintendo Switch

Prevent your Switch from just becoming a Zelda machine.


AJ Moser

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 3, 2017   Updated on May 24, 2021, 9:54 pm CDT

Nintendo’s new Switch console is finally out in the wild, bringing brand new Nintendo titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 1-2 Switch on day one. Other big titles on the horizon include Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2, but we aren’t sure just when exactly we can get our hands on those games. If you’ve already picked up a brand new Switch, or are considering one, you’re going to want games to play both on the go and at home.

To alleviate the long wait for the system’s exciting first-party exclusives, Nintendo has partnered with many smaller developers to bring a surprising number of independent games to its new console. Following a presentation prior to the system’s release, we’ve compiled a list of the indie games you shouldn’t overlook.

1) Runner3

The Runner series of games has a very simple premise, one that Nintendo even borrowed for its mobile experiment, Super Mario Run. But what the games have lacked in complexity they make up for in sheer enjoyment. The colorful, cartoony visuals lend themselves to the fast-paced infinite running and item-collecting adventure that fans adore. The Bit.Trip.Runner. Games may have picked up steam on other platforms, but this game is launching exclusively for Nintendo Switch in the fall.

2) The Escapists 2

As you may have guessed from the title, The Escapists is a game centered around a crew attempting to break out of prison. Players need to think creatively and cooperate to make their daring plans succeed, and the drop-in, drop-out multiplayer is perfectly suited for Switch’s removable and easy to hand off controllers. Look for this sequel later in the year.

3) Dandara

The Metroidvania genre has established clearly-defined parameters for nostalgia-heavy 2D action games, but this title from Long Hat House adds several twists. Billed as a directionless, gravity-bending adventure built specifically with the Switch in mind, Dandara is coming sometime this summer.

4) Flipping Death

In this charming 2D platformer, you play as Penny, a girl who has just met her unfortunate demise. However, in the town of Flatwood Peaks, it seems that Death is on vacation. You’re tasked with helping various ghostly spirits around with whatever personal problems they seem to be going through. This title from Zoink Games will bring its unique art style and sense of personality to the Nintendo Switch at some point in 2017.

5) SteamWorld Dig 2

The first SteamWorld Dig title debuted on the 3DS, and went on to be a massive success in the world of indie games. Players control a steam-powered robot with the goal of excavating out a forgotten mine. This sequel comes again from Swedish developer Image & Form, and promises more of the same platforming action when it launches this summer.

6) Blaster Master Zero

The original Blaster Master debuted on the NES in 1988, and the series hasn’t seen an update since 2010’s Blaster Master Overdrive on the Wii. This iteration for the Nintendo Switch uses the original game as a source of inspiration, but adds new characters and gameplay elements. You won’t have to wait long to pick up this nostalgic title, as it is releasing on March 9.

7) Shakedown Hawaii 

A spiritual successor to the popular arcade-style Retro City Rampage, this tropical 16-bit shooter lets you bring total destruction to a colorful island setting. Players will need to build up an empire and fight crime on their island. Shakedown Hawaii hits Nintendo Switch first in April.

8) Mr. Shifty 

The fast-paced action of TinyBuild’s latest project bears resemblance to the frenetic violence of Hotline Miami, but with a twist. Mr. Shifty gives players the ability to teleport around various rooms as they attempt to break into a heavily guarded bank. Scheduled for an April launch, the title will debut on Switch.

9) Wargroove

Advance Wars fans might see the closest thing they will ever get to an official sequel in Chucklefish Games’ Wargroove. With a heavy focus on turn-based tactics, this retro-style game is sure to please hardcore strategists. Multiplayer modes will also be available when it hits later this year.

10) Stardew Valley

One of the biggest surprise hits last year was this farming-centric simulation from Concerned Ape games. In Stardew Valley, players need to manage their town and relationships with its inhabitants. If you haven’t played this indie darling yet, you can try out the brand new multiplayer features when it comes to Switch this summer.

11) Overcooked: Special Edition

Nintendo Switch allows for quick and simple local co-op, and there might not be a better title to showcase this than Overcooked. The sometimes stressful, high-stakes game of cooking and coordination resonated with audiences on PS4 and Xbox One last year. This version includes DLC and new content coming later this year.

12) Yooka Laylee

It is only fitting that a game so inspired by Banjo Kazooie come to Nintendo’s new system, bringing colorful characters and cartoony worlds to explore. This Kickstarter-funded title feels right out of the Nintendo 64 era, and should be right at home on the Switch. Though the game will hit other platforms in April, a release date for Switch hasn’t yet been confirmed.

13) Shovel Knight

Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight is a love letter to the difficult, rewarding 2D games of the 8-Bit era, and you can grab all the title’s multiple quests for Nintendo Switch right now. If you’ve experienced the retro action for yourself before, you can grab the latest campaign, Specter of Torment, as a standalone piece of content as well.

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*First Published: Mar 3, 2017, 11:32 am CST