Hello gentle readers, and welcome to yet another special edition of SwitchArcade. Since Mikhail and I already ran through a lot of the usual Best of 2019 content last week, I had to get a bit creative for this final article of the year. Well, not that creative. The truth is that the Nintendo Switch had a lot of cool games released for it this year, and there are plenty of games outside of my top ten that I think are very good. As such, I’ve decided to put together a list of 10 games released in 2019 that many of you probably didn’t play. Got any suggestions of your own? Comment below! The more good games we all get a heads-up on, the better.
Before we get into it, I want to mention that the Switch content I do for TouchArcade is largely funded through the TouchArcade Patreon. If you appreciate these articles and want them to keep coming until the cows come home, please consider subscribing. If you aren’t able to use Patreon or don’t want to for whatever reason, Jared outlined some other ways to support TouchArcade in this post. Thank you for your time and kindness. Now, on to the games!
The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors ($19.99)
Like the excellent Wild Guns Reloaded, this is an expanded remake of a classic Super NES game. The subject this time around is The Ninja Warriors, which itself was a re-imagining of an arcade title. The Ninja Warriors (the Super NES version, that is) is one of those games that isn’t known by many, but is absolutely beloved by those who do know it. You select your robot ninja of choice and head out into side-scrolling stages filled with enemies to bash around. That may sound like any other beat-em-up of the era, but where The Ninja Warriors separates itself is in its deliberate pace, complex mechanics, and single plane of action. The Ninja Saviors updates and juices up every aspect of the original and even adds a couple of interesting new playable characters. It’s an amazing action game that feels quite unique among its peers.
Dandy Dungeon: The Legend of Brave Yamada ($18.99)
Okay, I’ll admit that a lot of you probably have played Dandy Dungeon in some form or another. But that’s likely because I’ve banged on this particular drum more than once before, both when it released on mobile and when it came to the Switch. This clever creation from the fine folks at Onion Games is an odd hybrid of puzzle game, RPG, and simulation. It’s also an extremely charming piece of commentary on the game industry and the process of game development from a team that has been in the trenches for quite a while. The lovable loser who serves as the protagonist of the adventure certainly makes for a different sort of hero. Add in the fact that the game is absolutely stuffed to the brim with stuff to do and things to collect and you end up with something weird, lovely, and well-worth your time and money.
Toridama: Brave Challenge ($5.00)
I can’t say for sure if we’ll ever see another game in the Wario Ware series, but I’m certain we’ll keep on seeing releases of collections of quick-fire mini-games come along now and then. Toridama shares a lot of strengths with those quirky games. You have a bunch of timing-based mini-games that demand split-second reactions. The bizarre sense of humor that pervades Wario Ware is healthily sprinkled throughout Toridama. Now, it’s not exactly the same deal. This game isn’t just about passing or failing the mini-games but rather pushing your luck about as far as your nerves will allow. The multiplayer mode is especially fun, but you can get a lot of joy out of Toridama even if you’re playing alone.
The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa ($14.99)
Sometimes a game is more than the sum of its parts, and that’s definitely how I would describe The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa. The game is clearly inspired by Technos Japan’s Kunio-kun/River City series, but the fighting mechanics may well be the least impressive part of it. Taking over the day-to-day life of young hooligan Ringo Ishikawa, you have to decide how to spend your time each day as you head towards the end of your high school life. Will you spend time studying to try to improve your grades? Attend classes to appease your teacher? Or are you going to blow off school to hang out with your friends, smoke outside the local convenience store, or get into fights in the park? It’s up to you to guide Ringo as you see fit. The sense of atmosphere in this game is great, and the bittersweet taste of the narrative makes for a truly compelling experience.
Heave Ho ($9.99)
Sure, I’ve already talked about this game elsewhere. I’m doing it again. I love Heave Ho. I don’t know how you could play this game with other people and not have fun with it. The way the controls so intuitively match the action on-screen makes it easy for even novice players to understand. Squeeze the left shoulder button to grab on with your left hand. Squeeze the right shoulder button to grab on with your right. Move the stick to sway your body. Hit face buttons to make weird noises. All you have to do is reach the goal, but everyone has to reach it. So you end up with stronger players trying to fling the less-skilled players along, something that could come off as a chore but instead ends up being hilariously fun. The only drawback is that it’s not nearly as good when you’re playing alone.
The Switch has a lot of roguelites available on it, but relatively few actual roguelikes. Tangledeep probably isn’t as orthodox an entry in that genre as some fans may like, but I think most players will appreciate that it uses lush graphics instead of ASCII symbols and offers some alternate difficulty settings for those who want them. Its challenging turn-by-turn gameplay, wealth of interesting job classes, skills, and items, and nasty enemies make for a tense, enjoyable experience that checks off all the important boxes and then some when it comes to the genre. Chunsoft has been shy about putting Mystery Dungeon games on the Switch for reasons I can’t possibly fathom, but you know what? Tangledeep scratches the itch nicely.
Mechstermination Force ($11.99)
As much as Gunman Clive was in the right place in the right time when it became a huge underdog hit on the Nintendo 3DS, I feel like Mechstermination Force was a victim of unfortunate timing. Just ahead of its early April release date, Cuphead was announced to be coming to the Switch in late April. As another run-and-gun game with big, challenging bosses, Mechstermination Force suddenly found itself up against some very stiff competition. And it’s too bad, because Mechstermination Force is an awful lot of fun. It’s a clear homage to the 16-bit Contra games in a similar fashion to how Gunman Clive was an ode to 8-bit Mega Man games, with massive multi-stage bosses to battle either alone or with a friend. If you like action games and missed this one, be sure to swing back around and give it a try.
Muse Dash ($29.99)
There are plenty of good music games on the Nintendo Switch, and I feel like most of them have found their audience quite well. I’m not as certain that Muse Dash did, and while it’s not in the upper crust of the genre on the system, it’s a very good game with a ton of content to enjoy. The running component adds a useful visual element that helps me nail the beats, and the difficulty ramps up nicely as you play. Now, it’s certainly narrow in terms of the types of music it presents, but its quantity within that niche is more than respectable. It’s even bigger than when it first launched, thanks to some free updates that it has received. Just a fun little feel-good button-tapper.
Artifact Adventure Gaiden DX ($9.99)
This is another unusual RPG that needs a little time to open up properly. It’s well-worth giving it that time, however. The battle system is an advanced take on the likes of Drancia and Slayin’, meaning it’s fast, fun, and easy to pick up and drop at your leisure. Outside of the battles, there are so many little side-quests and threads to follow up on that you can keep yourself busy until the cataclysm arrives. You’ll have to make a lot of choices, and sometimes there is no clearly correct answer. Speaking of the cataclysm, that’s another interesting aspect of this game. Basically, you get to choose when you’re ready to head into the end game. So go out and get strong until you feel you’re strong enough, then talk to the king to head out for the finale. It’s an oddly compelling package if you take the time to learn the way it all works.
Iron Crypticle ($9.99)
It was nice to see a few solid stabs at making homages to the classic Midway treat Smash TV this year. I could name any of them and you’d likely have a good time with the results, but I’ll focus on Iron Crypticle because it feels like it got the least attention when it came out. This takes the room-by-room twin-stick action of the arcade classic and takes it to a fantasy setting. There are enough twists to make the game feel like its own thing, but the core appeal lands exactly the way it ought to. With so many high-quality twin-stick shooters on the Switch, there are lots of great titles to choose from. Iron Crypticle is one of them.
Well, there we go. Ten more things to spend your hard-earned dollars on. You may already own some of these, but I’m hoping there are at least a few things here that you haven’t heard about before. Honestly, I could probably have done a list of twenty or thirty games without even thinking all that hard about it, but we’ll save some of those for another time. I hope you all have a Happy New Year, and as always, thanks for reading!