Wednesday, January 19

Top 60 / Best Indie Competitive Multiplayer Games on Nintendo Switch

Last Updated: 1/19/22!

Super Mega Baseball 3 [Metalhead Software] - Getting right down to it there’s just something about the Super Mega Baseball series that taps into what love and nostalgia I have for baseball as a sport, particularly in video game form. While I could see where some sports fans could be irritated by the lack of MLB teams and players for me it takes me back to the days of playing games on the NES or in the arcade against friends, though obviously the degree of complexity on all levels has appropriately increased. What then seals the deal, and what impressed me so much about this title, is how scalable the experience is in terms of depth and difficulty. If you just want to just kick around in some exhibition games, great. A whole season? Sure. Manage a franchise including all of the trades, potentials for injury hardships, and customizing just about anything you can think of? Without the worries of a license it’s all available to you. Throw in the ego system which will allow you to tune the difficulty up or down incrementally as your skills grow and it can remain as easy or tough as you choose. The statement that this is the best baseball title without question on Switch may be easy for lack of any legitimate competition whatsoever but more than that it is one of the best baseball games I’ve ever played, period.

Skullgirls 2nd Encore [Lab Zero Games] - While I’ve consistently heard nothing but great things about Skullgirls from my friends who are massive fighting fans up until PAX this year I’d never gotten to check it out myself. Watching the game being played it’s hard not to be impressed by the diverse and beautifully-animated characters, some of which have some of the craziest moves and specials I think I’ve seen. It’s also very apparent that this is a pretty technical fighter, which was where my one real concern with the game cropped up. What’s a bit shocking though is that in general for someone like me who has played a fair number of fighters for the most part the moves that trigger the on-screen chaos feel natural and mostly intuitive. Simply experimenting on the fly moves and even combos seemed to come to me pretty easily. From there it’s all about the flow of gameplay and the best word to describe it is intense. Solo players should appreciate the story mode that provides some background for the very odd menagerie of fighters, but everyone should appreciate the choice to go 1-on-1 or up to 3-on-3, providing for plenty of opportunities for changing tactics and generally catering the matches to your liking. Available online play is definitely appreciated, though it’s important to note that even great indie titles on Switch don’t tend to have online communities that survive for long. While there have been very good indie fighters on the Switch I actually think this one is the best.

Killer Queen Black [Liquid Bit] - After having heard so much about this killer multiplayer arcade title I was interested to see what the fuss was all about. While the core of the game is ultimately reliant on playing with as many as 7 other people (4 to a side) in this case the developers have gone the extra mile to ensure it can be played across platforms so availability shouldn’t be as much of an issue as we sometimes see with Switch-exclusive multiplayer titles. One note is that there’s definitely a learning curve, and thankfully there are a multitude of offline tutorials that try to break everything down from the multiple paths to victory, to what roles people can play, to simply learning how to follow what’s going on since things tend to get hectic. While it may feel a bit on the simpler side, depending on your taste, this is a game that just about anyone should be able to pick up and get in to and it absolutely offers up a both a co-op and competitive multiplayer experience that nothing out there can rival.

Duck Game [Landon Podbielski] - As long as you’re able to find people to play with whether locally or online Duck Game one of the best multiplayer experiences you’ll find on the system. It’s diverse, deep, has many times the volume of content you’ll find in any of its competitors, and it maintains a brisk pace whether in the match or loading the next stage. While some AI ducks to fill in gaps or quack against would help provide a little extra longevity or fun when you’re on the go, there’s still no denying that Duck Game is at the top of the Switch multiplayer food chain.

Flat Heroes [Parallel Circles] - While it may look visually pretty simple, featuring geometric shapes for the most part and a very clean design, the gameplay is surprisingly versatile and challenging. You'll quickly find your little cube has a nimbleness and flow akin to Super Meat Boy and all of those moves will get put to the test over the lengthy campaign. You can then take those skills to Survival mode to put them to the ultimate test or take on your friends in some surprisingly varied local multiplayer modes as well.

Jackbox Party Pack 7 [Jackbox Studios] - My family and I have become massive fans of the Jackbox games over time, having played through each party pack at some point. The unique format, where you’ll be using your phones (or a tablet, or a laptop) as controllers is what makes it a very versatile game at parties as pretty well everyone should already be ready to play. Most games are geared for a minimum of 3 people (though I’d say most you need a minimum of 4 to be remotely fun) up to usually 8 but the provision to allow additional people into the game as the audience is a great feature that can get loads of extra people along to enjoy the ride and vote for their favorites.

Quiplash [Jackbox Games] - I’m so pleased that Jackbox Games has decided to release my absolute favorite game of theirs as a stand-alone title now on Switch. I’ve been a huge fan of this series (it has already gotten one sequel, and a third will be a part of their next Party Pack as well) since the get-go, mainly because it’s a game ripe with opportunity for hilarity. Players will be paired with one another randomly and given 2 prompts in each round, with the goal being to come up with the best answer that will make people laugh and vote for you. The more votes you get, the higher you’ll score, with a bonus if you’re able to snag all votes for yourself in a given round. On the adult end of the scale I’ve played this with groups back to back with Cards Against Humanity and even as notorious as that game is for laughs (only in card form, there’s currently no digital version on Switch) everyone agreed that Quiplash did a more consistent job of delivering the goods, and that’s likely because there are no limits on what your answer can be, aside from the level of taste the people you’re playing with may have. Current hot topics, known group history, even details from the current party or game may all come into play, it’s all a matter of how quickly you can pull together a clever answer that’s better than your opponent’s. With a very fair price, I’d consider the absolute best value of a party game on the eShop by far.

My Singing Monsters Playground [Big Blue Bubble Inc] - With release timing that isn’t ideal in such close proximity to the latest Mario Party, and having been let down by many titles attempting to steal even a sliver of its oxygen, Playground is actually a pleasant surprise. If you’re looking for the full boardgame conceit that does add some strategy and flavor to the proceedings, this will sadly disappoint. However, if you or your family trends towards impatience and just want to get down to the action, this is a game that will absolutely have everyone covered. Tackling a series of mini games which get actively chosen by the person in last place (a nice touch), you and your friends will compete in a surprising variety of free-for-all, 2-on-2, and 3-on-1 events, trying to earn gems that will help determine the final winner. For the most part you can consider it Mario Party without any of the board aspects and you’d have the right general idea. The mini games themselves tend to be the star here, and having seen so many games try to compete in this space and fail miserably it’s terrific to see one that’s trying its hardest to mix together enough variety, simplicity, fun, and complexity all at once to justify participation by people of pretty well any skill level. In the end Mario and company don’t really need to fear this title if you’re a fan and are willing to pay up for the fun. If, however, you’re looking to get a taste of that action at a lower price point and are willing to sacrifice some polish and nuance this is a great option to be aware is out there.

Skydrift Infinity [Digital Reality] - One of the subgenres I’ll say I’m most disappointed having seen ride off into the sunset in recent generations is combat racing. It seems that the Mario Kart series has pretty well dominated that general space for quite some time and aside from people trying to replicate that formula (and generally failing) there hasn’t been much to choose from. That changes with Skydrift Infinity, which doesn’t just entertain with some great competitive combat, but also throws in the fact that you’re trying to do this in the air, adding to the challenge. You’ll work through a variety of events raging from being focused on speed, to combat as everyone fights to end up in first, to elimination races where you’ll be in a constant struggle to keep yourself out of last. Not everything is perfect, I do wish there were more tracks available (though at least they make full use of what they have with reverse races) and in some cases it can be pretty easy to lose track of where you’re supposed to go and where the boundaries are for you to race in, but the thrill of maneuvering through tight spaces, dodging buildings, and then blowing up your enemies helps to make up for it. If you’ve been feeling the need to race and blow some stuff up this will do a fair job of scratching that specific itch.

Spellbreak [Proletariat, Inc] - Have you been feeling like Fortnite has become a bit played out? I have… though I think I felt that way pretty early since I always considered the quick-build types complete BS but I digress. Spellbreak is hoping that whatever your grievances may be with that mega-successful free-to-play juggernaut that you’ll give it a look, and considering the price of admission being nothing I think they’ve put together a total package that justifies taking the time. There are absolutely elements in the match structure and gameplay that are the same, dropped onto a large island, there’s a storm that will continue to encroach in order to force players to fight each other within a reasonable time frame, and options to run solo or with others. Where the game veers off into its own territory is where I really appreciate the differences though. In place of weapons everyone is desperate to grab to have any shot of survival Spellbreak instead goes with a magical base, with you choosing which element you want as your core and then allowing you to pick up a secondary gauntlet for another elemental power to compliment. Where the creativity comes in is how you can make combined use of these powers in some situations, opening the door to some more interesting tactical choices when you’re attacking or even evading enemies. Fortnite veterans who aren’t put off by the differences should quickly feel right at home, but even people new to these sorts of games should find the learning curve reasonably accessible. Since it’s cross-platform in theory there shouldn’t be an issue in finding opponents, so get out there and get some spellcasting on!

BlazBlue: Central Fiction [Arc System Works] - If you’re looking for a rock solid fighting game experience that’s quite approachable and has a large roster of characters that isn’t Smash, BlazBlue is very much worth checking out. The more you’d appreciate the various storylines and narrative silliness the more the package has to offer, but the best case scenario would obviously be having someone local to play with to get the most out of it. If you have last year’s Cross Tag Battle it’s a tougher call. There are some nice new characters and nuances to the fighting but I’d say unless you’re interested in the narrative content it may be a stretch. Regardless, it’s a high quality and approachable fighting game that’s a great alternative to the more well-known series out there.

Crystal Crisis [Nicalis] - All in all Crystal Crisis is a game laser-focused on a specific style of play that absolutely delivers a great value with various modes, characters, and quite a bit of personality as well. While it is always more fun to match up against human competitors the mode variants at least make playing solo feel a bit different as you work to unlock everything. Online play is exciting and works well enough, the question is always sustained support but the inclusion of it is welcome. If you’re looking to get your puzzle on in style Crystal Crisis serves up an eclectic group of characters to choose from, plenty of visual flair, and all for a reasonable price. Puzzle fans should definitely give it a look.

Meow Motors [ArtVostok] - Though there’s no question that this is a “budget racer” that can’t compete with a premium genre-defining title, Meow Motors holds its own very respectably. In pretty well every area it addresses the failings of its competition, providing racing that’s varied, nuanced, and satisfying. It looks very respectable, runs smoothly, and sucked me in pretty easily with engaging play I’ve been missing in this space for quite some time. If you’ve been itching for a viable alternative to Mario Kart for a price that won’t hurt your wallet, Meow Motors is absolutely the indie racer to go with.

Swords & Soldiers 2: Shawarmageddon [Ronimo Games] - All in all Sword & Soldiers 2 is a clear step up from its predecessor in pretty well every way. Artistically it is far more elaborate and full of character, the campaign storyline is as odd and silly as ever, the units are far more diverse and interesting, and the inclusion of online multiplayer is a cherry on top. While it may err a bit on catering to the lighter side of strategy make no mistake, the game is capable of being as complex as you can handle if you’re playing against another human, even if the solo challenge may not be as impressive. It’s well worth adding to your library if you’re in search of something fun but still satisfying in between bigger titles.

Rocket League [Psyonix] - As a game that I've already spent well over 2000 hours playing on the PC I'm thrilled that Nintendo fans finally have their opportunity to play this excellent title. While the concept of rocket-powered cars roughly playing soccer may seem ridiculous, once you get your first taste of airtime and scoring crazy goals or making last-second saves you may well get hooked as so many others have already. While getting started isn't too hard even hundreds of hours in there will always be new skills and tricks for you to master. While compromises on the visuals had to be made to get it on the console the focus on the buttery frame rate was the proper choice in priorities. If you've never given it a try it is well worth checking out.

Rocket Fist [Bitten Toast Games] - Delivering fast and pretty hectic action Rocket Fist reminds me most of playing Super Bomberman on the SNES and having a great time with my friends. Playing out like a fast-paced arena-based game of dodgeball you'll try to control fists and ricochet them off the walls to hit your opponents while you try to keep out of trouble yourself. Add on a pretty terrific single-player campaign, complete with the incredibly cool and fun Uncle Knuckle, and Rocket Fist has a lot to offer for an affordable price.

Worms: W.M.D. [Team17] - While some of the installments of the Worms franchise haven't always delivered fresh changes WMD both looks incredible and adds a number of elements that make it stand out. Crafting adds a strategic component to matches and generally allows the early phase to remain more traditional before the more lethal and ridiculous weapons begin to come into use. Vehicles like the tank, helicopter, and mech suit provide temptation as well as they can change the match quickly if used well. Finally, there are some bonus single-player campaigns that are legitimately difficult and worthwhile in their own right. Even if you've been away from the franchise for some time, or you've never given it a try, this is an installment worth giving a shot.

Jackbox Party Pack 2 [Jackbox Games] - In general the Jackbox Party Packs are all a lot of fun and which one you'll prefer will probably have more to do with the personal preferences of you and the people you're playing with. Over time the pack my own family has tended towards the most is Party Pack 2, in particular for its inclusion of versions of Quiplash and Fibbage, but mostly because my kids absolutely love the weirdo Earwax. One player will choose an odd prompt and the rest will be given several descriptions of sounds to choose from. The goal is to pick 2 sounds that best represent the prompt and given the random nature of what you have to work with this can force people to be a bit creative. If you have a large group one great feature of all Jackbox packs is that beyond the limits on players for each game everyone else can join in as members of the audience to vote. All are a lot of fun and a great way to liven up your party.

Squabble [Atomic Realm] - I’ve stated before that when it comes to local multiplayer games my family has become pretty jaded over time, too often having been burned by all-too-familiar mechanics or just bland play that gets repetitive far too quickly. To pretty well everyone’s surprise Squabble took a well-worn general format and made it come to life though, leveraging a pretty diverse set of weapons you can grab, but then further sweetening the deal by having both a primary and secondary use for each item to spice things up and introduce a bit of strategy. There’s no question that the play is hectic, but if you’re smart and make effective use of what you’re given there’s no need to button mash and panic. The additional Capture the Flag mode also works well, using a layout that has more than one path and which sets the stage for tense match-ups. There may be a question of longevity potentially, as alternative stages that get unlocked can only add so much to the mix, but I’d imagine if you stick to bursts of play a competitive group of friends should be able to continue to have fun with this one for quite some time.

Stick Fight: The Game [Landfall] - Oh how perilous the eShop is in the budget category, filled with games that look like they could be promising but with many letting you down. On the flipside of that  you have Stick Fight, a title that’s very unassuming in its appearance but that uses that formula to heavily under-promise and over-deliver on the experience. There’s not much to know about playing this multiplayer brawler (which works wonderfully locally but also online… we’ll see how long it can last though, as is always the issue with small games with online play), you’re able to jump and attack and that’s really all you generally need. Sure, you can grab a variety of weapons to then do some serious damage with (careful, some of them can be lethal to you as well), but if you’re quick and determined some flailing and luck can be a highly effective strategy no matter what weapon your opponents may have. Where the game gets to the next level though is really with its loads of arenas and settings that really change things up. In some cases the environment itself is outright lethal and simple survival will be necessary, in others the best strategy may be to destroy the environment and hope you can leave yourself somewhere to land. Heck, there are also times simply standing still and letting your opponents get themselves killed is a legit strategy. Considering the budget price this title carries it absolutely delivers a superb multiplayer experience that’ll have you and some friends fighting to wear the crown. If only it would do some stat collection to see a breakdown of who won, by how much, and a bunch of fun additional facts about the chaos!

Super Arcade Football [OutOfTheBit] - With the general lack of options for sporting experiences on the Switch, it’s always great to see a new contender enter the ring. In the case of Super Arcade Football, definitely with an emphasis on the word Arcade, people looking for depth will likely be disappointed, but if you’re just looking for a good time that keeps things simple (but still challenging) it can be surprisingly engaging. Forgoing the use of multiple buttons for different moves or actions here you’ll stick to one button for passing, shooting, and tackling… and once you get used to things you’ll find you’re able to put at least a little bit of a curve on the ball as well to at least introduce some nuance to things. Matches are short, changing weather conditions at times are a nice touch but don’t fundamentally mess with things too much, and starred objectives that change for each match add an element of challenge to the mix to keep everything from running together completely. Throw in the ability to play with someone else (locally, or online if you’re lucky) and though this isn’t a full-blown sim by any means it’s surprisingly engaging and delivers some fun for a budget price.

What the Dub? [Wide Right Games] - There are absolutely some amazing party games out there on the Switch to enjoy with friends, but if you’re on a tight budget perhaps the general need to buy them in bigger, and thus more expensive, packs makes them feel like a risk. Going ala carte is more convenient but unfortunately there aren’t that many inexpensive and funny options out there. Thankfully you can now get What the Dub and have a blast, all for less than $10. Granted, there’s only style of play but fortunately it’s a good one sure to spark creativity and laughs. Everyone will be shown the same incomplete brief clip with the dialogue for typically just one actor omitted. Your goal is to come up with something funny for them to say that will win you votes and the admiration of your peers. Depending on how quick thinking you and your friends are the results most certainly could vary, but the sound of the automated speech person reciting your line in its typically stilted fashion can sometimes add yet another element to enjoy.

Destrobots [7Levels] - With loads of local multiplayer titles out there on Switch it’s a tough business to find a way to stand out in the crowd. In the case of Destrobots, for me, the fact that it feels like it takes a page from the Bomberman series, while playing in a completely different way, helps it pretty effectively towards that goal. Taking control of your bot you’ll have the ability to shoot twin-stick style (though not with precise analog aiming, instead with strictly 8 directions possible) or use a spin move to try to deflect incoming fire or at a melee attack. A variety of offensive and defensive power-ups will continue to appear around the arena, helping to incentivize everyone to stay on the move rather than trying to hold any given position for long. Aside from the power-ups it’s the game’s stages, with many featuring special elements that make play both more strategic and unpredictable, that give me some Bomberman vibes and help to give the game more longevity than its average competing title. Add in the fact that it sports a very fair budget price makes it worthwhile for anyone looking for a game to enjoy with some friends.

Knight Squad [Chainsawesome Games] - I’ll just put it right out there, while I love the spirit of the movement to bring back local co-op games and the part the Switch has to play in it reviewing the average title in the space can be brutal. With a spotty history of some really lackluster titles that start to feel the same my family has become skeptical at best when I tell them we have a game to play together. That said, when I hit ones that offer up something better-than-average it makes me appreciate them all the more. Where Knight Squad succeeds isn’t necessarily through originality or innovation, though some of its modes are clever in how they’re set up, it instead takes a very kitchen sink approach… and on the whole it works more than it doesn’t. With support for up to 8 players, and with the ability to make as many or few of those bots as you’d like, you’ll have your pick of a surprising number of modes that include playing solo or as teams, a surprising number of power-ups that can quickly turn the tides if used well, and plenty of fun top-down chaos. Given its pretty reasonable price and overall variety I walked away impressed, and given how jaded I can tend to be with this sort of title that’s a bit of an achievement in itself.

Super Tennis Blast [Unfinished Pixel] - All in all for a budget-friendly price Super Tennis Blast delivers a very solid traditional tennis experience with a bit of extra flavor thrown in to boot. While it obviously lacks the depth and complexity of the likes of Mario and his friends it implements the fundamentals very well and is obviously just a fraction of the price. If you and your family or friends have been looking for a multiplayer sports game to play against each other it’s definitely worth considering.

Blade Strangers [Studio Saizensen] - Without a doubt the biggest surprise for me was this title from the folks at Nicalis, starting out with a new fighter combining characters from a number of properties. The inclusion of as unlikely of fighting characters as Shovel Knight and even more oddly Isaac could have been a throw-away move but they all played surprisingly well in their own ways. Throw in a definite sense of style with powerful metered combos and it was a lot of fun.

GRIP Combat Racing [Caged Element Inc] - Combat racing has always been something I've enjoyed and it's also a style of play that's challenging to get right. While its not without its flaws GRIP absolutely puts in the work to make for a thrilling and crazy bit of racing carnage. Its gravity-defying tracks set the base stage well but it's definitely the fun weapons and intense moments you get while under fire that make it fun.

Pocket Rumble [Cardboard Robot Games] - As a whole Pocket Rumble stands up very well as an extremely budget-friendly fighter that has few frills but delivers what is most crucial. Looking and playing great whether in docked or handheld mode it’s light, easy to get into, and has a surprisingly-diverse roster with some very unusual characters. Throw in Online support that even competitive games with higher prices have been known to lack or implement with higher instability and it very much delivers a fair value for its humble price tag.

Runbow [13AM Games] - While this is a hold-over from the previous generation this multiplayer runner is a lot of fun. Though in principle it's a pretty simple affair the color-changing platforms and power-ups more often than not result in the winner simply being the lone, or at least the longest-lasting, survivor of the race. Its single-player mode is also challenging fun but whether locally or online this is a terrific party game pretty much anyone can understand pretty quickly.

Tricky Towers [WeirdBeard] - Offering up a mix of iconic tetronimoes with a tower-building mechanic and some real concerns with gravity and your creation topping over this title can make for a lot of fun with friends. You'll get to choose between helping yourself or hurting your opponents when you get power-ups and certainly sending a massive version of one of the pieces to an opponent's screen can make for a bit of evil fun if it catches them by surprise. A very different kind of fun with a more cerebral edge to it.

Varion [Rundisc] - While there are quite a lot of multiplayer arena shooters to choose from they're often hard to tell apart from one another. Varion smartly adds a wrinkle to the formula that changes things up significantly, you'll only be able to destroy your opponents with shots that have ricocheted off a wall first. Match this up with some minorly maze-like arenas and you have the makings of a multiplayer game that requires a bit more skill, or at least a healthy dose of luck, and that easily stands out from the more run-of-the-mill competition on the eShop.

Crawl [Powerhoof] - Probably one of the most balanced and creative local multiplayer competitive games I've played Crawl does a whole lot right, setting the stage for frantic fun with you and up to 3 friends. Each of you is trying to play as the hero, set on reaching Level 10, facing the final boss, and escaping the dungeons. The trick is that everyone else will play as spirits, capable of triggering traps or summoning monsters to try to bring the hero down. As the hero levels up to maintain balance the spirits are given wrath points that they can use to upgrade their monsters to make them decidedly more lethal. What's fun is how the dynamic among the spirit players quickly shifts from being cooperative at first to a free-for-all as the heroes health wanes, with each wanting to strike the killing blow to take over and have their shot at glory. Inventive and intense fun for a group of competitive friends!

Mantis Burn Racing [VooFoo Studios] - If you're a fan of tight controls, drifting, and top-down racing ala Micro Machines and the like Mantis Burn Racing is a game you'll want to check out. While the original campaign mode can get a bit dry and repetitive in spots the DLC pack snow, hover, and battle packs really even out the whole package to provide a little something for all tastes. I personally preferred the carnage of the battle mode but high-speed thrills were also exciting and challenging in the others. The addition of well-implemented online play is the icing on the cake.

Tumblestone [The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild] - All said Tumblestone is a very strong contender in the action puzzler space and sets itself apart by not trying to imitate what is successful and instead finds its own way, and it does so quite successfully. The emphasis moreso on puzzle solving is an engaging twist but that’s not to say that the game slows down or is meditative. In mutli-player mode I can assure you it is quite the opposite as the sounds of everyone in my family very rapidly pressing buttons to set up matches was very audible and other than that people generally made no sounds as they were that intensely concentrating on trying to win. As I said the need for precision and seeing patterns so that you don’t trap yourself are both absolutely vital and it makes for compelling gaming sessions. If you really love great puzzle titles Tumblestone is a title you won’t want to miss!

Use Your Words [Smiling Buddha Games] - Taking the format that the folks at Jackbox pretty well perfected Use Your Words isn't a collection of distinct mini games, it is instead played as a single game with 3 types of rounds. The highlight is Sub the Title, which plays out a bit like your own version of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Given an often odd clip of a foreign film each player will be challenged to create their own subtitles for the scene. With some clips that are already a bit ridiculous this tends to get creative juices flowing. The other two modes, involving assigning newspaper headlines to some odd pictures and a fill-in-the-blank mode round out the fun. The pacing can be a little slow but if you give it a chance it can be a lot of fun.

BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle [Arc System Works] - In the end I’d consider BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle a pretty impressive fighting game that will easily fill the void left by a lack of a Marvel Vs. Capcom action. If you’re looking to get your fight on and want something full of energy and excitement it handily delivers the goods, has an impressive roster, and is generally as n00b-friendly a fighter as I think I’ve ever played.

Jackbox Party Pack 5 [Jackbox Games] - The Jackbox crew have returned with another diverse batch of games meant to be played with a bunch of friends. This time they've returned with a new edition of the trivia game that started it all, You Don't Know Jack, a creative title where you'll be trying to concoct inventions to solve odd problems, of all things a robotic rap battle, a game where you goal is to avoid consensus, and even their very first attempt at an action game as well. Pretty well guaranteed to have at least one game that will connect with about any crowd these titles are a consistent source of party fun.

Fly Together! [Northplay ApS] - While perhaps not the bread and butter of the typical Switch gamer’s library titles that have a bit more of a casual feel can be a great way to unwind. Fly Together, as its name implies, even ups the ante with its value by throwing in support for multiplayer which is really where the experience shines the brightest and distinguishes itself from previous games of this type. It’s a game all about controlling the flight path of multiple planes between multiple color-coded airports. While this starts out simply enough, as you keep adding in more flights to manage at once, one that move through your area that aren’t under your control, and some unpredictable weather events, it gets to be a challenge if you want to keep earning all your stars. To help you’ll slowly amass a load of aircraft that are crucial in different conditions for optimizing your success. Solo or better with friends, this is a casual strategy game that delivers some fun without letting the stress level get too high.

Gang Beasts [Boneloaf] - Both “wacky physics” and local multiplayer games have a tendency to suffer from people having extremely positive or negative views of them, either embracing and “getting” the style of play or likely despising it. The fact that Gang Beasts mashes them both together in one pretty silly package is a credit to having some confidence or just plain nerve, and while nuanced fighting fans will likely find playing it akin to fingernails on a chalkboard, if you’re able to take a step back and embrace the button-mashy goofiness of it there’s still just enough strategy in flailing and taking down enemies to give it some appeal. A few modes help flesh it out further (including one co-op) with some variety, and you could hope the potential for some online play would throw some challenges your way periodically, but the joy here is really about in-person play, laughing, smack talking, and making a ruckus as the on-screen action plays itself out. If you’re looking for a good time with some friends who maybe aren’t the most able gamers, Gang Beasts has a lot going for it.

Knight Squad 2 [Chainsawesome Games] - The original Knight Squad was a pleasant surprise, delivering pretty easy-to-grasp local multiplayer game that worked well whether people worked in teams or went free-for-all across a variety of modes. Matching that with a pretty reasonable price and it was a refreshing mix of action and some strategy that stood apart from many of its contemporaries. Enter the sequel, which refines pretty well everything just a bit, adding some spit, polish, and new options… but for people who already have the original it’s not clear there’s quite enough here to warrant picking it up. So it’s an odd situation. There’s no doubt this is an improved version of the original, so it’s the version to pick up given the choice, but it may not have big enough changes to warrant a purchase from fans of the original.

Baron: Fur Is Gonna Fly [dogMelon Pty Ltd] - Local multiplayer games on Switch pretty well span every flavor and level of quality, making the task of bringing a new one to the eShop and get recognized a challenge. In the case of Baron: Fur is Gonna Fly first and foremost I’m happy it isn’t yet another straight up platform shooter or brawler/slasher. Instead, it is a side view dogfighting game where you’ll need to dive, loop, and maneuver your way to victory, shooting down your enemies while trying to keep your own aircraft aloft. While the controls aren’t terribly complex I’ll give credit that with the small number of moves you have at your disposal there’s room for nuance and certainly the varied special attacks you can use are generally unique and often humorous. Going the extra mile there are even some single-player modes to explore, helping to add some extra longevity. Weirdly enough my major shout out for the game, though, is for its original soundtrack which has an era appropriate sound but features songs about the game’s characters. It’s sometimes the small things, but the music was consistently funny and demonstrates the care the development team took in going all in on making the game the best it could be.

Swimsanity [Decoy Games] - Multiplayer games on Switch have really just about become a challenge for me to review in many regards. Due to their abundance and a general lack of any serious differentiation at a core level between many of them it’s hard to generate enthusiasm for new ones that come along. To be sure that’s where Swimsanity’s greatest strength lies, whether you’ll fall in love with all of its modes and variations is a fair question, but there’s no denying that aside from being underwater the developers have gone to some efforts to give it a unique and distinctive feel. Probably the greatest strength it has is playing one of its competitive multiplayer modes, most of which can be played as a free-for-all or in teams. The controls are generally easy to pick up and understand, the action tends to be pretty quick, and the power-ups generally find the balance of being able to turn the momentum around when well utilized without being a guarantee of success. The co-op modes are also worth noting since they’re pretty far outside of the norm you’ll find in indie multiplayer titles, but even with that in mind they’re comparatively not able to sustain much excitement past a few rounds generally. It’s great that you’re able to take on some of this solo, but aside from it being a good way to master the controls and some nuance nobody should be looking to buy it if they’d mostly be playing alone. While online matchmaking does work I’d say the interface could/should be refined a bit more for accessibility and consistency since it can be cumbersome and isn’t what I’d consider inherently intuitive either. If you’re strapped to find a reasonably traditional and better-than-average multiplayer game to enjoy with friends it’s a fair bet, just temper your expectations from getting too high and you shouldn’t be disappointed.

Blazing Beaks [Applava] - To the game’s credit, the monsters tend to be quite unique and it can be tricky. There’s much more of a learning curve to understanding how best to approach things, learning which weapons and gear suits you best and what you think you can handle. The feel of the game is just about as unique as its look and I’m a bit on the fence on whether that’s ultimately a good or bad thing. Different is always welcome but there’s just something about the overall feel of the game that isn’t as approachable or fun for me, though I’m struggling to put a finger on it. In the end if you’re feeling a bit bored with the ordinary this is a shooter well worth considering, just be aware that it’s not as easy a recommend as several other comparable shooters on the system. I do appreciate the change of pace it offers though, even if it isn’t ultimately what I’d prefer.

Day and Night [Ridiculous Games] - Action puzzlers are a challenge to get right as they need to have their own sense of personality to differentiate from the pack but don’t want to risk going too far afield with their core gameplay for fear of alienating people. Day and Night walks that tightrope pretty effectively, offering up what feels like a mix of concepts from multiple familiar classics and then throwing in a variety of elements that complicate matters in ways that make sense but are generally new. The main hook revolves around both a day and night, as well as a seasonal cycle, setting the foundation for you never being able to truly be comfortable and needing to be mindful of what will happen when things shift. Dormant blocks belonging to another cycle will activate as the time of day changes and if you or your opponent were able to do some decent planning amidst the chaos of blocks falling that can quickly turn things around. In addition the game’s power-ups can be very effective and often provide a choice of slamming them down to use immediately or letting them fall slowly to sit dormant until triggered, providing even more room for strategy. Throw in both a story mode and challenges for people to play through solo and this is a puzzler chock full of challenges and fun.

Roof Rage [Early Melon] - OK, Smash fans, hear me out. When it comes to fast-paced and somewhat crazy fighting Smash tends to be in a class all its own. That said, I’m here to tell you that someone has managed to capture a fair amount of that energy and surprising depth and put it into a budget pixel fighter. Roof Rage may just have a stable of pretty familiar and generic fighters overall by appearance but its fighting action is a pleasant surprise, especially when combining the pretty diverse combatants with the numerous stage layouts you’ll contend with. In general fighters feel responsive, their individual attacks have enough variety to encourage experimentation, and for the most part the game exceeds what I would have expected from a title at this pretty humble price point. If you’ve been looking for something with the spirit of Smash to enjoy with some friends and can live without the wild and wacky power-ups Roof Rage may be a great choice for your next throwdown.

Starblox Inc [IlluminationGames] - With iconic titles like Tetris, Puyo Puyo, Lumines, and others out there in the action puzzle genre it can be a tricky business to establish yourself. Too often games fall into the trap of seeming to start with a base mimicking one of these classics and then settling for being a variation on that theme. Starblox Inc tackles originality by blending genres, in this case by pairing with fighting, and the result may not be for everyone but it’s at least fresh and different. You and your opponent will each have your own puzzle to work on and will try to grab pieces that are falling and then quickly arrange them to complete matches. Where the challenge comes in is that instead of working on the puzzles in isolation and then triggering attacks on each other you’ll be attacking each other directly as you try to vie for pieces. In many ways it’s a subtle change but the resultant gameplay is pretty different in an often aggressive way. Granted, this is either a mechanic you’ll embrace or be less enthused with, but you’ve got to give credit for shaking up the norm.

Super Treasure Arena [Headup Games] - While its 5 classes, 6 arenas, and 2 modes won’t equate to endless and terribly diverse fun, credit goes to the developers for being smart with how they set the stage to go with all of that. If it weren’t for the rules, some smart layouts, and the potential those bring for some smart and strategic play Super Treasure Arena would blend in with the rest of the crowd. Instead, it manages to break away from the pack a bit with a very reasonable price and potential for smart gameplay.

Invisiballs [Digital Kingdom] - Overall, I was surprised how positively my family reacted to Invisiballs. They’ve become pretty jaded with mutliplayer action games so when their initial skepticism melted away quickly to be replaced by whoops and yelling about who got who it was a sure sign the game was onto something. That said there’s also no getting around the limitation of really needing 4 people to be an optimum experience. A 2 or 3-player match can be done but it is far more of a cat and mouse game followed by quick bursts of attacks until someone gets a kill. Only when you have a full roster do you have enough going on that you begin to see a wider variety of strategies in play and the game hitting its stride. A great option if you regularly have some friends or family around to play with though.

Light Fingers [Numizmatic] - In the end if you’re looking for a unique experience to share with some family or friends the primary board game mode in Light Fingers is refreshingly different and looks incredible as a whole. The control shortcomings are a frustration, especially if you can only play by yourself, but as long as everyone is roughly on the same page at least it’s generally fair. While it may not have nailed down everything perfectly there’s enough to discover and enjoy that it’s worth checking out to enjoy with some friends.

NBA 2K Playgrounds [Saber Interactive] - At the end of the day until someone decides to give reviving the NBA Jam franchise a shot once more NBA 2K Playgrounds is your best option for arcade-style basketball. Where last year this was still true I would have struggled to give that version a positive review. This year the core game has improved enough that the recommendation is easier to give, but just understand what you’re getting if you’re unwilling to pony up additional cash to get everything unlocked right away. With as many characters as there and the slow speed of the grind to accumulate currency the odds of you unlocking your favorite players are dicey at best, at least anytime soon. That said, if you’re more about the core play than the aesthetics of it all and enjoy some good arcade basketball this is the best (though also the only) game in town.

Nidhogg 2 [Messhof] - Nidhogg 2 is a really tricky game to score because it seems like such a hit or miss, love it or hate it, kind of experience. If you don’t have anyone to play with I’d caution you on considering the purchase as there’s really no meaningful solo play and even if you do find online matches there’s something lost in the experience even if you’re able to get into some nice and tense matches. Even if you’ve got some friends to play with I’d say the odds are equal that you could really get a kick out of the experience or have it fall flat. Credit to the developer, it’s some of the very small touches like being able to reflect shots that give what seems to be a very shallow game surprising depth, it all comes down to the experience you’re looking for though.

Windjammers [DotEmu] - As a warning, for at least the first week after launch online play won’t yet be available but it appears the intent is to have the game patched shortly after launch. Assuming that online play, since the game is pretty straight-forward, won’t have crippling problems I’d consider it a “nice to have” but ultimately availability of other players will be a wild card beyond the first week or two after the game’s release… so there’s no way to predict what net positive or negative effect it will have ultimately. If you’re an old fan from the arcades or are looking for a cheaper and less elaborate sports title you can enjoy with a friend Windjammers plays well and is a solid game for what it is. If online is critical to whether you’re interested be sure to keep an eye out for news on its availability and quality somewhere around the 30th hopefully to get a more refined answer.

Party Golf [Giant Margarita] - In truth the name Party Golf is deceiving, while there are modes that play a lot like a simple golf game the true fun in this title is switching up the rules to play a number of pretty unusual variants. Control generally couldn't be easier, you pick your angle and power with the analog stick and then fire. Rules will generally dictate that the first person to get to the hole gets the most points but if you keep exploring the game options you'll find all sorts of ways to have fun with some friends.

Party Planet [Teyon] - When Party Planet was announced I’ll admit to feeling some level of nervousness. Game packs like this have a history of crashing and burning critically even while they may be widely purchased by families in search of something to play together. I’m happy to report that overall I found the collection of games offered to be pretty impressive, even if often derivative, and fun to play both solo and with the family. The diverse selection of games should, in terms of both style and skill required, practically guarantee that there will be something that just about anyone, no matter the age, should enjoy.

The Sisters: Party of the Year [Microids] - Let’s face it, when it comes to mini game collections and their quality on Nintendo consoles there have been franchises like Mario Party or WarioWare on one end of the spectrum (though Mario Party has had its troubles, without a doubt) and pretty much everything on the other extreme end that simply don’t work well. While PoTY may be lacking in some of the refinement and features that could make it more capable of contending with those first-party powerhouses for more than a round or two I will say that among the category of “everything else” it shines unusually brightly, especially if you’re looking to play with your family of all ages. Most of the events and challenges are simple enough, and many are also very relatable involving household chores or activities and that helps add to the fun. What also shows some extra effort is a competent single-player adventure version where you’ll play as one of the title sisters, competing all around town to have the honor of throwing the said Party of the Year. While maybe a bit rough around the edges, if you’re a fan of Nintendo’s party titles but are looking for roughly the next best thing out there this may be the strongest secondary choice out there.

Boomerang Fu [Cranky Watermelon Pty Ltd] - OK, so yeah, it’s another local multiplayer game. Normally that means my jaded family will take some time to check the game out but ultimately find that it doesn’t inspire much fun or excitement. While I wish overall there was more to Boomerang Fu in terms of content I can’t fault what it has going for it though. While it may seem like a very simple distinction (it is), the choice of everyone’s base weapon of choice being a boomerang turns out to make all the difference. While most local multiplayer titles end up with everyone either slashing or shooting each other the boomerang allows for both and since there’s only one throwing it can be a very strategic decision. Will you be able to quickly get it back if you miss? Even if you may kill your opponent will it being out of your hands leave you vulnerable to someone close by who may capitalize on you being distracted? Aside from the weaponry another aspect I appreciate is the variety in the arenas you’ll find yourself in, with some having elements you can trigger to cause some chaos and others having elements like ice to change things up. Throw in options for team play or everyone for themselves as well as a few rule tweak provisions and while there may not be a ton here to enjoy what there is turns out to be quite a bit of fun.

Cake Bash [Coatsink Software] - There’s always something a bit entertaining about games that mix cuteness with a little bit of mean brutality and that core silliness seems to be part of the driving force behind Cake Bash. Everyone will play as a cheery little confectionery in a bakery window, with seemingly not a care in the world, until it’s announced that someone is coming and will only buy the cake with the most gummies on it… and from that point it’s a free-for-all. Whether playing locally with friends, subbing in some bots, or trying to see if anyone is out there to play online the game tries its best to have you covered for competition, and while there aren’t loads of different play modes there’s an earnest attempt to make them each distinct while maintaining a culinary theme of some sort. These range from events that feel a bit like mini games from the likes of Mario Party to arena brawlers with different variations to try to keep the play from getting stale too quickly. The mix overall seems to do a fair job of mixing skill-based challenges with an element of luck, hopefully opening the door to everyone having a pretty fair chance of winning. With the space being so full of very similar multiplayer brawlers and shooters Cake Bash does enough right to sweeten the deal and warrant a look.

Ponpu [Purple Tree Studio] - While the Bomberman series is undoubtedly well-known for its terrific competitive multiplayer matches there’s no denying that its characters themselves are a bit lacking in personality and its single-player efforts to date have been inconsistent as a whole. Ponpu absolutely borrows liberally from that franchise when it comes to core concepts, with play generally revolving around blowing up walls and enemies with your bombs, but with its distinctive art style there’s no denying that it has a fat greater attempt at personality hands down. The solo campaign also happens to be pretty challenging and enjoyable in itself, making for a pretty pleasant surprise and helping it stand apart from the competition. The fun thankfully also carries over into the various multiplayer modes, with some being for teams and others being a free-for-all, but all working with the classic foundation but layering a smart element or two to help each distinguish themselves from one another. It’s a wonderful weirdo surprise, no doubt.

Cel Damage HD [Pseudo Interactive] - Will you enjoy Cel Damage HD? If your focus is more on frantic action and less on racing, blowing up your friend with an explosive sheep only to have them come back and slice you up with a buzzsaw, the answer is likely yes. If you’re only ever going to play the game solo the value proposition drops substantially, though at least play against bots is supported and you can kick them around for a few hours while you unlock everything. However, in an eShop full of local multiplayer titles that tend to be hard to separate from one another within a week or two of playing them, Cel Damage HD absolutely stands out both visually and in terms of gameplay from the pack and that makes it noteworthy.

Munchkin: Quacked Quest [Asmodee Digital] - When it comes to local multiplayer games on the Switch there tend to be pretty set patterns in what is available. Unfortunately, this can make it not only difficult to differentiate many titles, it also sort of makes you settle into a feeling that there aren’t many new ideas out there. Aside from its inherent silly nature that’s where Quacked Quest at least puts up a good fight and tries to shake things up with some variability and simply unusual challenges to engage in. Granted, if you’re trying to play this without some friends it’s not very fun, but if you’ve got some fellow gamers around and you’re looking for some hack and slash silliness and action it can be an odd and fun time, and at least feels like something different. Slash, grab, shove, make a madcap run for the chicken… the experience is at least pretty fresh as a whole even if not necessarily always great.

This list will continue to grow and be pruned as time goes on, as well as numerous other lists that try to keep track of all of the best titles the Nintendo Switch has to offer in the Indie space!