Tuesday, January 18

Top 60 / Best Indie Co-Op Multiplayer Games on Nintendo Switch


Last Updated: 1/18/22!

Moving Out [SMG Studio] - While the Overcooked series is famously (or is it infamously?) known to many fans of local multiplayer I’ll admit that I consider one of its weaknesses to be broad approachability. There are just enough mechanics and features in it that manage to frustrate more than they generally entertain that after the first few levels I struggled to keep my family and friends on board. Working with some ideas roughly in the same vein, and certainly sharing some aesthetic qualities on a general level, Moving Out can be challenging but I also consider it to be more fair and thus more likely to be fun with a larger audience. In it you and your friends will play as movers who must get all manner of furniture and knick knacks out of a house and onto your truck. No surprise, it quickly can get more complicated as you’ll need to work together to get larger and more awkward pieces out. The good news is that if you’re willing to perhaps forgo a bonus and offend your customers you can also have a ton of fun busting up the place in the process, breaking windows and disregarding best practices in the name of shaving off seconds. Throw in bonus objectives that range from mildly challenging to silly that vary from stage to stage, and while people could get a little more tense early on as everyone learned the ropes for the most part it was a room full of smiles as everyone locked into their niches and got things done. Highly recommended for approachable family fun!


Overcooked! All You Can Eat [Ghost Town Games Ltd] - Possibly one of the best games to challenge and entertain determined groups either locally or online in this generation, Overcooked started strong and at this point where they’ve brought everything together into one package it’s tough not to be impressed. With the original, the sequel, and all associated DLC packed in there’s a whole menagerie of characters to choose from, a ton of locales and challenges to tackle, and a host of options both local and online for matching up to cooperate or compete with others. What I truly appreciate is how the challenge is still very much there for more seasoned groups but there’s also a terrific assist mode that will change everything into being much more casual and family-friendly as well, opening the door to anyone being able to enjoy plenty of prepping, chopping, cooking, cleaning, and serving. If you’ve already got both games this may be unnecessary but if you’ve been waiting to dive in or only have one of the titles this is a terrific excuse to get a great amount of content at a bargain price all in one.


Phogs [Bit Loom Games] - While I love great challenging roguelikes and other titles geared towards the hardcore set I’ll fladly admit that well-made family-friendly fare always puts a smile on my face. I originally got to play Phogs at PAX East 2 years ago and just in that 20 minute demo I got excited about the game’s potential with its super-cute look, characters, and style. Now, with it finally making its way to Switch, I’m thrilled with the final result. It’s smart, intuitive, adorable, and I think (most critically) highly accessible without necessarily feeling “easy” either… something that’s a rare combination even among the more than a thousand indie games I’ve played on the system. At the base you’re controlling a two-headed dog, with either you controlling them in parallel solo (doing that left/right brain thing) or with you and a friend each controlling one end. There generally aren’t many controls to learn, you’ll be concerned with movement, grabbing things with your mouth, and stretching when necessary. What’s great, though, is how creatively the game works within those general limitations to create different puzzle opportunities. If one head grabs a lightbulb the other can shine light on things, if the one end grabs a water source the other can control the flow of water like a hose. These variations keep levels generally feeling fresh with new scenarios, but the dynamic where one person’s job is to grab and hold something is also a great way to take some pressure off of a less experienced gamer in the pair, leaving the tougher or more nuanced controls to the more capable one. Of course, if you’re equally paired you can always alternate who does what as well. All in all there’s much more to this game than its cute factor (though that’s undeniable) that deserves recognition, Phogs is a smart and highly-accessible co-op puzzle experience that delivers all-ages fun and some great creative variety.


Heave Ho [Le Cartel Studio] - While having played so many indie games on the Switch is interesting and exposes you to all sorts of takes on multiple genres one admitted downside is that it can also make you a bit jaded. When it comes to my family, who are often asked to partake in helping me evaluate multiplayer games, I’d say the rate of that happening is far more accelerated. Conceptually Heave Ho may be simple, working solo or with up to 3 friends to simply grab and swing your way from the start to the finish line without falling, hitting spikes, or meeting your splattery demise in some other way. However, there’s a certain charm to it that pretty well immediately made everyone laugh and have a good time. Even after repeatedly getting frustrated in certain spots, especially when trying to keep from dropping costume-unlocking coins that can up the challenge significantly at times, the fun cut through the difficulties for everyone. Solo does work, and is great for honing your skills, but the game is absolutely meant to be played with friends, the more the better. Overall, this may be the best and most accessible multiplayer co-op game on the system.


Streets of Rage 4 [DotEmu] - Right out of the gate I had an admission to make, when it comes to the beat-em-up genre I’m firmly a Final Fight guy, always have been. With that out of the way I’ll quickly make a bold (but having played the game quite a bit, very simple) declaration… even with no allegiance to the Streets of Rage franchise this is hands down the best overall beat-em-up I’ve ever had the pleasure to play. It looks amazing, each of the characters have similar but distinctive moves you’ll need to really dial into to be effective, it supports both local and online multiplayer, it’s tough but not often cheap, and it has a truckload of content to explore and unlock. Not only does it manage this laundry list all in the same package, in pretty well every area I’d say it outclasses the competition (sometimes handily) across the board as well. For fans of the genre this is your Holy Grail, and for anyone who has ever wondered why people enjoy beat-em-ups this is the best example of what it has to offer, though it may spoil you if you decide you like what you see since it stands a fair distance above its competition. If ever there was a brawler that could justify a perfect score it’s this one.


Assault Android Cactus+ [Witch Beam] - Absolutely one of the games I had wished for the most to come to Switch since the system launched, Assault Android Cactus is a next to perfect arcade-style twin-stick shooter. Complete with intense action, big and challenging boss fights, and 9 distinct characters who each have their own primary and secondary weapons the game is full of opportunities to go back and have some more fun. The Switch version even added an additional Campaign+ mode that further ups the ante for challenge, also making it the best edition of the game out there!


Cuphead [Studio MDHR] - With a mix of brutal boss battles and challenging run and gun sections Cuphead is notorious for being a tough game. While the degree of difficulty is well-known for a reason, that isn’t to say that the majority of the game is impossible by any means. Much like certain classic games like Punch-Out in particular, the key to success is careful observation, learning the enemy patterns and then getting a comfort level for executing what needs to get done. The fact that it will additionally be remembered as one of the most visually fascinating games of the generation is just icing on the cake, no matter how incredible it looks it wouldn’t be well-regarded if the gameplay wasn’t there to match.


Strange Brigade [Rebellion] - Having played through the full campaign of Strange Brigade with my daughter on PC, and having a terrific time with it, I was overjoyed to see this announced for Switch. While there’s no doubt that graphically things have been pulled back a bit from my top-notch graphics card I was impressed with the look and performance of the Switch version… though as always portably the sacrifices are a bit more pronounced. Whether solo or with others online or locally you’ll be tackling some old-school mummified enemies of various kinds, looking for secrets, working out puzzles, and generally being a badass in the classic Indiana Jones-esque sort of manner. While this is a shooter without a doubt the pacing is much slower than you’d normally find, with a focus on accuracy, making use of a wide variety of traps that are pretty well everywhere, and your occasional special skill that can get you out of a jam. On top of the action a highlight for me is the running commentary from the classically styled narrator who reinforces the older period things are taking place in and injecting all sorts of funny commentary on different going on throughout. If you’re looking for a shooter that’s simply in a class of its own I’d definitely recommend joining up with the Strange Brigade.


River City Girls [WayForward] - While the beat-em-up genre was absolutely a staple of both the arcades and the early console days more recently titles have been few and far between. The great news is that if you’ve been aching for a new excuse to dust off your brawler skills and smack some bad guys around River City Girls is easily among the best offerings available on the Switch. In general reminding me of the excellent Scott Pilgrim beat-em-up from a number of years ago there’s a quality to the presentation, action, and obvious love for the genre here that’s unmistakable and it’s a blast to play solo or with a friend. Of course if you’re someone who’ll simply settle into what combos work and fail to make full use of your attacks the that continue to unlock as you progress it will probably feel repetitive but that’s simply the nature of the beast and it won’t have been for the game’s lack of trying to give you new moves to work with as you level up.


Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince [Frozenbyte, Inc] - A quick admission, while I’ve always appreciated the beauty of the Trine series overall I was just never much of a fan of the overall experience. Through some alchemy, or maybe my tastes as a gamer have evolved, that makes my experience with Trine 4 a wonderful surprise. Smart, absolutely stacked with puzzles, and though somewhat repetitive continually changing things up in small ways I appreciate it is an action puzzling dream, and all the better if you can enjoy it with a friend. As always, each of your 3 core characters have specific abilities that you’ll need to use in concert with one another to chip away at obstacles and discover hidden goodies that seem to be present every few steps. Though I’ll admit the combat, when it happens, is clunky, this is a game first and foremost about challenging your mind and it absolutely manages to do that on a pretty well continuous basis throughout. Far more than just resting on being a pretty game (my typical feeling about the rest of the series), this is one of the most satisfying titles I’ve played this year.


Just Shapes and Beats [Berzerk Studio] - Possibly one of the more bizarre titles I played in 2018, Just Shapes and Beats pretty well gives away its secret in the title. While that may sound very simple and it's gameplay mostly emphasizes merely trying to avoid getting hit, there's no denying that doing it all with so much style makes for a lot of fun. Playable with friends locally or others online there's also an element of teamwork you'll find as players are able to save each other when someone gets knocked out. Full of some great tracks, colorful designs, and a ton of personality this is an outstanding title deserving of attention.


Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime [Asteroid Base] - While it is certainly playable, enjoyable, and challenging as a single-player game where Lovers really shines is in playing with friends and family. You'll each need to move around your ship to control the various stations whether the engines, shields, guns, or bigger cannon to defeat bad guys and save cute bunnies from their cages. Extra exploration and time taken increases your risk of failure but will also have you on the path to upgrading faster and as you progress you may find every extra bit of help you can have necessary. Colorful, fun, and sure to encourage a lot of yelling (hopefully mostly positive), it's a good time.


Bonkies [Crunching Koalas] - While my family and I have become quite jaded with multiplayer titles, since so many of them fall into pretty predictable gameplay, there are sometimes games that do something new that are worth getting excited for. Bonkies, thankfully, is one such title that offers up an unusual construction challenge involving monkeys, jetpacks, and robot arms. The name of the game is definitely precision, whether that involves feathering your boost, working quickly and efficiently to get pieces in place, or taking special care with special blocks that have a tendency to blow up everything you’ve worked for if you fail to take care. What sets the game apart further is that unlike the majority of multiplayer-focused games out there you absolutely can play through the game Solo and still find it quite challenging and enjoyable, you’ll just be fighting with yourself rather than your family and friends. It’s really two very different games through those lenses, with one being about technique and precision and the other layering on some serious communication and coordination, also understanding who the best people are for specific tasks since mistakes can be so calamitous. Unfortunately, if you’re playing with younger or less experienced gamers this may make Bonkies a poor choice unless they’re quick studies, but if your group is up for a unique challenge this offers both frustration and fun in pretty equal measure.


Clone Drone in the Danger Zone [Doborog Games] - One genre that’s lacking in depth and variety on the Switch has definitely been fighters. Sure, there are both some AAA and indie efforts that will let you throw down in the traditional 2D sphere, whether more serious or a bit casual, but there aren’t many games that dare to break the mold. Clone Drone is a title that does just that, moving play into 3D voxel-based arenas where you’ll play as a sort of robotic gladiator, taking on foes and various lethal traps in mortal combat where your goal is to take out the opposition using whatever weapons you have available to you. Even if you’re unable to get an instant killing blow the good news is that partial damage like hacked away limbs will still help make your job easier but those same vulnerabilities can work against your own surprisingly fragile bot as well. The roguelike format is challenging and can be fun, at least for a little while, but it’s the multiplayer options that include both cooperative and competitive that show the extra effort and give the title additional distinction. I doubt it will appeal to everyone, and learning to hone your technique with the somewhat limited core attacks and weapons can be tough when there’s not a ton to work with, but there’s just something unique about being in an arena with some other people trying to survive, with both excitement and sometimes silliness playing out in the process.


Earth Defense Force: World Brothers [YUKE] - While I’ve generally heard good things about the Earth Defense Force series, to date it’s one that I’ve never had the pleasure to check out. But I’ll tell you what, it pretty quickly and easily turned me into a fan. It’s all about giant bugs and kaiju-sized monsters, the end of the world, and blowing everything in sight up real good… and while perhaps that doesn’t make it terribly nuanced it sure can be a blast (quite literally). While I obviously can’t contrast it with previous entries or comment on how it has either evolved or stagnated in the greater series, viewed as a stand-alone title I’m impressed by the great voxel-based look which works perfectly for maximum destruction, the pretty wide variety of compatriots you’ll rescue along the way to continue to add more diversity into your squad, and the bonkers story that makes no attempt at all to let concepts like reality enter into the mix. Best yet, you can enjoy it with friends or even online, though as always I’ll throw in the caveat that online support for Switch games outside of the massive AAA titles tends to come and go in a hurry. All in all it’s a great and ridiculous distraction from all of the troubles you may have, allowing you to lock in, destroy everything you see, and embrace the controlled chaos of it all.


Biped [NExT Studios] - I first encountered Biped at PAX East, repeatedly walking by the booth on the way to other appointments and seeing small crowds forming and having a great time. Later, when I finally got to take it for a spin with one of the reps on-hand at the booth I could see why. For a game featuring two robots as the protagonists there’s somehow something very cute and endearing about their look, mannerisms, and the way they scoot around. By contrast, at least in the time I got with the title, I was a bit taken aback by how tricky the experience could be. Now, having played the final product the good news is that some of what I’d faced was from later in the experience and though there’s no doubt Biped won’t be a cakewalk for anyone it consistently manages to be surprising with smart level design, generally superb controls, and just enough variety in its relatively short duration to keep you engaged. I think the best feature it has is that while typically co-op games struggle to provide a solid experience if you have to play them solo, in general Biped does such a great job at it that you could assume it isn’t necessarily meant to be a co-op game. There’s no doubt that in some circumstances the controls, where you use each joystick to carefully move either leg, can be a bit touchy but with so much precision required in some puzzles you’ll work through that’s not necessarily a surprise. Regardless, whether solo or co-op Biped is easily one of the best action puzzlers of the year on the Switch… just be ready for some challenges (which is a good thing).


Knights and Bikes [Foam Sword Games] - Memories from my childhood, while often involving playing games on a variety of systems or in arcades, involve a pretty heavy dose of riding my bike and trying to find ways to make exploring fun. Knights and Bikes absolutely taps into that idea, pairing the somewhat unlikely friends Demelza and Nessa on the somewhat secluded island of Penfurzy. Aside from being a bit of an odd bird you’ll find that Demelza is struggling with being raised by only her father after the death of her mother. To help cope with that the answer is a grand adventure in the spirit of the likes of The Goonies, searching for a fabled treasure while trying to thwart an ancient threat possessing the people of the island. What the game does well is blend together some novel and fun combat with a hefty dose of exploration, as well as move effectively between lighthearted silliness and more reflective emotional moments. The result is an experience that sticks with you, which with so many titles out there vying for your attention can be tough to accomplish. While it’s playable as a solo experience it really does shine in co-op, though I’ll admit a few of the puzzles can require tricky leaps of faith that can be a challenge either way. That minor gripe aside this is a game with a load of laughs, childlike wonder, and heartfelt moments that’s absolutely worth your time.


Sky Racket [Double Dash Studios] - This is one of those games where with the elevator pitch alone I was revved up and ready to go. A retro-styled mash up of shmup bullet dodging and breakout? Where do I sign up? Fortunately, though granted the experience isn’t necessarily a long one (and I’d say it’s a mistake not to have online leaderboards to encourage people to replay stages to compete on scores), Sky Racket’s execution justifies the excitement. Not only does it look like a long lost title from the 16-bit era, there’s just a whimsical quality to it that lines up with that time as well, making it feel like a bit of a lost classic. I’d say the experience is equally good solo or with a friend, though paired you’ll probably want to be sure your skills are at least comparable to keep some frustrations at bay. If you’ve been bemoaning there simply not being enough innovation in the market you owe it to yourself to partake of this great and unique indie gem.


Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons [Starbreeze] - Whether played solo or with a friend Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons makes for a thoughtful and generally satisfying puzzle adventure. The world and its characters are generally endearing, the puzzles simply have a different and more organic feel than much of the competition, and though it may not be a long journey it also doesn’t overstay its welcome. Throw in a fair amount of heart all along the way and it’s well worth enjoying on Switch.


Unruly Heroes [Magic Design Studios] - Especially considering it’s pretty modest price Unruly Heroes is a rock-solid platformer that looks phenomenal and plays well whether you’re taking it on by your lonesome or with some friends. The degree of difficulty generally feels well-balanced, the gameplay has a number of surprising variations along the way, and there’s a sense of style that permeates it and helps it be memorable. While perhaps not quite a flawless title it’s certainly worth a good look if you’ve been searching for a worthwhile platformer.


Guns, Gore, And Cannoli 2 [Crazy Monkey Studios] - Another sequel that took what worked in the original and then made it better on all levels, this side-scrolling zombie-blaster is terrific fun whether you're solo or playing with friends. The 360 degree aiming feels great, the level design and progression are creative and often unpredictable, and the violence makes for a bloody good time.


Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes [Steel Crate Games] - Who knew that disarming a bomb could be so difficult and tense? With only one person actively trying to work on the bomb while pretty well everyone else around is trying to help by reading through a manual full of instructions chaos can easily reign if you don't set some ground rules for success. Clear and careful communication are essential to getting through this one alive and as you'd expect time is always working against you as you try not to make any fatal mistakes.


Speed Brawl [Double Stallion Games] - Taking the genre to a slightly different destination with its focus on combos and keeping things moving Speed Brawl can be a lot of challenging fun. Upgrades, some tricky enemy designs, and the ability to tag out one of your fighters for another give it a controlled chaos kind of feel at times. The fact that each brawler you acquire plays differently makes determining which two you go with on any given level a serious choice to consider, and generally prevents the gameplay from getting stale.


Stardust Galaxy Warriors [Dreamloop Games] - To think that when this title snuck onto the eShop I almost missed it. Since I'd not heard of it in advance of its release I almost didn't reach out for it since it was a busy time of year. I'm very glad that I didn't miss it though as it was one of the best shooters I played in 2018. Whether you're playing solo or co-op with some friends the number of different mechs and weapons you have to choose from to customize your builds open the door to repeat playthroughs and experimentation. With all sorts of ways to tune the degree of challenge as well it's a highly accessible shooter to people at all levels of experience with the genre.


The Adventure Pals [Massive Monster] - With a look and quirky sense of humor that feels like it came from a Cartoon Network show, The Adventure Pals is a silly platforming adventure full of surprises and some smart gameplay. The fact that the challenge generally remains pretty modest and the abundance of weird characters and situations consistently brought a smile to my face made it an easy game to consider for this category.


Death Squared [SMG Studio] - If you've felt like puzzle games have become a bit stale and predictable over the years, with many of them using well-known mechanics to simply create variations on a known theme, you'll want to check out Death Squared. It's amazing how first adding a second person (or pitting you against yourself) to the mix and forcing careful coordination and teamwork can really liven things up. Add in some clever and sometimes diabolical leaps of faith that are necessary to discover the game's secrets and progress and it makes for one of the best puzzle games I've played in years. If you really want to push the limits of your sanity try the collection of 4 player puzzles as well, it makes for a lot of laughing, yelling, and fun.


B.ARK [TicToc Games] - What can I say, when you throw some cute pups into a game you’ve got my attention. B.ARK, as pained as that acronym seemed to have been to construct, is a side-scrolling shooter with classic arcade roots but certainly some modern flair as well. Whether playing solo (which is a bit tougher) or with some friends, it’s colorful, has some great enemy and boss designs, and tends to keep you busy dodging bullets and being careful about how and when to deploy your charged shots and power-ups. My one warning would be that to look at it parents could be thinking it’s so cute and may be a fun match for younger gamers. You could go that route, but this is a legitimately challenging shooter even by default so unless they’re the type that grits their teeth and is determined to “git gud” this may not be as solid a match as you could think based on its colorful look and cute characters. If you’re into shooters and appreciate games that are willing to deviate from the old-school and plain spaceship formula to have a little more fun though it’s a great match.


KeyWe [Stonewheat & Sons] - Cooperative games that rely on a mix of careful communication and a fair degree of control dexterity have really come into fashion, when done well, on the Switch. KeyWe may be one of the most unusual ones to date, with you and a friend each taking control of one of these odd birds as they try to use their limited abilities to help keep a local post office up and running. With a handful of mailroom tasks that vary in their details, as well as a number of more offbeat and silly overtime activities to participate in there’s quite a bit more variety than you’d assume to the game since your little kiwi buddies are severely limited in their inherent capabilities. While the game can be played solo, to a degree, that really does rob the game of the majority of its charm, with the goal being to either bring friends together or rip them apart as they struggle to both plan and adapt on the fly in order to keep efficiency up and everything delivered on time. If various forms of food prep have become a bit stale and you and a buddy are looking for a new challenge this provides ample opportunity for some fun and frustration as well.


Shing! [Mass Creation] - When it comes to beat-em-ups the Switch has really fleshed its line-up out since the early days, which generally makes it tougher for new titles to make a strong impression with something new. The people behind Shing have done just that though, offering up an experience that may generally adhere to the gameplay elements you’d expect but that approaches the controls in a completely unique way. While you do have the option to go the traditional button route in order to execute your attacks the new way is to instead use the right stick, whether using simple directions or swiping moves, and that really does give the gameplay a unique sort of flow. To boot, some of the tactics you’ll need to use for specific enemies and most bosses are generally a step above the norm, requiring a bit more care and planning than simply button-mashing your way through all of your problems. Throw in the ability to play with up to 3 friends, or to freely switch between the game’s 4 characters as you play to be sure to tackle enemies with the style that may be most effective in the moment and it’s a challenging and very unique experience for what’s typically a more straightforward genre.


Tunche [LEAP Game Studios] - With its attractively-animated characters and environments, Tunche absolutely doesn’t look like any other beat-em-up on the system. Throw in the fact that a roguelike spirit beats in its heart and it doesn’t quite play like any other as well, and depending on your perspective that may be a good or a bad thing. For anyone not familiar with roguelikes, what that means is that out of the gate your character’s attacks won’t be quite as varied as you’re used to and certainly not as powerful, leading to some inevitable grinding to be done on your way to success. The positive is that once you’ve locked into your favorite character you can somewhat cater the way they play to your own preferences. One complaint is that you can’t really try out a given character’s style without taking them on a run and that their skill progression, since their styles vary, also doesn’t carry over… meaning if you like to experiment it’s going to be a tough per-character grind to discover what works for you. That said, for the most part the action is quick, your enemies don’t generally fit into the traditional generic molds so much of the experience feels fresh, and the ability to have some friends play along is welcome since you can usually use some help.


Very Very Valet [Toyful Games] - Blending together time management sims, an injection of Crazy Taxi road silliness, and (ideally) multiplayer madness, Very Very Valet is a unique title on Switch that can offer quite a bit of silly fun unlike pretty much anything on the system. Your goal will generally be to take cars from incoming customers, depositing them somewhere (you don’t need to use the lot if you don’t want to), and then getting their cars back to them when they’re done with their dinner. While this starts out relatively simply it very quickly gets to be a hectic mess and that’s where you’ll ideally be able to play with at least one other person since solo I don’t know that the game does a great job of scaling things down as you progress. Throw in surprises in the form of alternative levels that will have you engaging in even more ridiculous activities and this is a terrific change of pace and style in multiplayer games that people should enjoy.


Bake 'n Switch [Streamline Games] - While there’s no doubt that the Overcooked franchise has been wildly successful, and can be an absolute blast to play with friends or family, in terms of accessibility I’d say it’s a mixed bag. Not only does the chaos and switching between many tasks require some level of coordination and cooperation, there’s a certain degree of pressure and challenge to it that may be too much for less experienced gamers. I think that’s where Bake ‘n Switch comes in and delivers an alternative that can be similar, and still gets to be more and more challenging as it goes, but feels a bit more friendly since it helps reduce the individual chaos a bit by making it easier for each person to lock into set roles. The character you choose isn’t just cosmetic, that decision also defines (to a degree) what you’re best at, with your special ability even further reinforcing that. Now, if people get hung up on picking a character they like visually but are uninterested in which role they should then play (fighting off mold, combining breads, baking, etc) that may backfire a bit but if you’re looking to optimize your potential for success everyone should do their best to stay roughly within the roles and run with it. One notable thing the game doesn’t have is an ability to play it solo, though. You’ll need to have someone to play with locally or a friend you know you can hook up with online (sorry, currently there’s no matchmaking) and for some this may be a dealbreaker so it’s important to note. However, if you’re looking for something to meet up and play with friends periodically online or have people over for some fun playing together this may be a more broadly accessible answer to cooperative (or competitive if you like) kitchen cookery.


Ibb & Obb [Sparpweed] - Local co-op games are obviously pretty well-represented on the Switch, and they range from light and silly to pretty involved at times. The bulk I’d wager somewhere on the easier end of the spectrum, whether in terms of their puzzles or at least mechanically, benefitting people who are perhaps playing with a less seasoned gamer. Ibb and Obb is by no means inaccessible to the more casual crowd but it doesn’t take long before it is clear that both players are going to need to be able to think through their puzzles and then be able to execute as well to proceed. While the stronger player can usually opt to take the “tougher road” to move things forward here the game uses colored gates to essentially force both players to tackle challenging spots evenly, a move I appreciate. For such a visually simple title that provides little in the way of direct guidance it’s also surprisingly intuitive, typically doing a great job of easing you into new concepts like the need to use momentum and then expecting you to be able to apply that to more complicated situations. While best suited to local co-op play there’s an option to hook up with someone online as well, which is a nice touch but undoubtedly will make things tougher without direct communication as you’ll need to work together almost constantly. While it may be on the harder side if you’re playing with a more casual friend this is one of the better co-op titles on the system.


Vitamin Connection [WayForward] - One thing that’s certainly interesting about the Switch is that somehow it has managed to inspire new types of gameplay at times with its portability, easy-to-share design, and built-in motion controls. Now, granted, the results of the experiments that seem to have stemmed from these features have varied pretty wildly, but when it all comes together it can be pretty exciting. In general that’s how it feels in the case of Vitamin Connection, a title that has an upbeat and cheery color scheme (of a familiar pairing of colors, mind you), soundtrack, and gameplay that blends careful maneuvering, rotating your ship, some shooting, and a few other touches that together make the game not quite like anything else I’ve played. The fact that you can choose to tackle it solo or with a friend is also a terrific feature, and in either case you’ll be presented with challenges, albeit generally different ones in terms of the controls and what you’ll need to have under control. In the case of solo play the challenge will be a degree of left/right brain thinking, managing to have steady control of your ship and to not allow yourself to get distracted. With co-op the challenge will very much be to either somehow be in synch with one another or to use a fair amount of precise and hopefully constructive language to coordinate. With a satisfying story mode (which includes a New Game+ variation) that sports a weido silly story and a gameplay mix of puzzle, action, and even shooting elements, and then add co-op and mini games where you can revisit key parts of the story with unique variations and this is a full fledged experience that should be highly accessible for just about anyone who likes to have fun and laugh while being challenged


Blazing Chrome [JoyMasher] - As a huge fan of the classic arcade run n’ gun shooters I hold Contra in very high regard, so it’s always a thrill when someone manages to put out a title that can give it a run for its money. While there have been some titles that have nailed the retro look of this iconic series most have come up a bit short in the feel department, never quite capturing the level of difficulty, variety, and hard core gunning action that made it legendary. Armed with a variety of weapons and crucial power-ups you’ll be hard pressed to get through to the end as you’ll need to overcome swarms of enemies, some tricky traversals, and tough bosses. However, if you’ve been thirsting for something that kicks you down and makes you keep coming back for more this title absolutely delivers.


Cat Quest II [The Gentlebros] - Meow let me tell you about a purrfect game for fans of furry cuteness and action RPG action. While perhaps it isn’t a very radical shift from the original title it does bring more content, cat punnery, and the ability to play with a friend to the table (or at least shift between two characters who can be geared up to combat different situations). Much like the first one this is a game that revolves heavily on a stick and move strategy, with combat mostly consisting of you getting up close with melee and then dodge rolling out of the way when your enemies attack. You’re also able to work with ranged magic though and depending on the foe you face you’ll want and need to change things up. It’s a pretty light and fun experience, though a bit grindy for sure, but it should make for fun if cute action is what you’re seeking.


Pikuniku [Sectordub] - Pikuniku is generally over too quickly, both solo and in co-op, and it may be too simplistic or silly for some folks but for me it was a joy pretty well the entire time. Focused on discovery, some creativity, and filled with strange surprises and quirks, it absolutely feels at home on the Switch and would probably work for people of any age or skill level if they simply have some patience. I’d love to see a sequel with even more funky fun, and am hoping to see more easygoing titles like it on Switch in the coming year.


Super Cane Magic Zero [STUDIO EVIL] - Though it’s not an experience everyone will enjoy Super Cane Magic Zero does more right than wrong and is simply a game that does its own thing without apologies, something I can respect. Mechanically it may be a bit sloppy and there can be a lack of coherence at times, but there’s just an energetic and weird enthusiasm to everything that makes it easier to overlook faults. If you’re looking to laugh and enjoy yourself exploring a weird and colorful world and experimenting with everything there is to do it’s definitely worth checking out.


Aegis Defenders [GUTS Department] - Mixing together action platforming with tower defense, Aegis Defenders has a style all its own. While the game works well as a single-player experience sharing the responsibilities with a friend ends up making things much more manageable and fun. Work together to set up a sturdy defense and conquer the game's challenges together.


BroForce [Free Lives] - While playing with friends adds a layer of frustration, and potential for brutal trolling, to the mix, Broforce gets absolutely crazy when you play with friends (or online). You'll play as super-charged versions of a load of classic heroes from the 80s and 90s, each using their unique flavors of firepower and violence to cut through a variety of environments. While the on-screen action can get intense and even confusing there's plenty of opportunity to laugh and have fun with this crazy shooter.


Gelly Break [Wild River] - If I were to tell you that there was a game this year that managed to blend together elements of smart 3D platforming with twin-stick shooting I probably would have laughed. If you then told me that two people working as a team, each controlling one aspect of that pairing of genre feels, could have a great time doing it I would have been amazed. Gelly Break is an odd bird and mixes a colorful and light feel with some clever and challenging play, the fact that it can appeal to 2 gamers that have different preferences in play makes it a treat.


Joggernauts [Space Mace] - While the 20-ish levels the game offers across 3 worlds doesn’t seem like much getting through many of them will take some serious coordination and perhaps even planning. Especially if you want to grab both trophies and all of the goodies along the way to help unlock new characters and some fun you’ll need to work for it. While you’ll probably be best off playing with a group that’s at least roughly in the same class in terms of core skills with time probably just about anyone can get the hang of the relatively simple controls as long as everyone works together. Or, just for giggles, it can be fun to sometimes royally screw people up as well.


Ninjin - Clash of Carrots [Pocket Trap] - This is another title changing up the classic formula, combining elements of a runner with the mechanics of a brawler. Positioning on the screen, smart use of your attacks, and choosing the right weapon from an array of all sorts of silly choices are the keys to your success. Silly, light, and simply a lot of fun (though still certainly challenging), Ninjin is breath of fresh air for the genre.


Victor Vran [Haemimont Games] - While it’s inevitable for Victor Vran to be compared to the series that obviously inspired it presuming that it is merely a clone or some lesser attempt would be a mistake. It may borrow elements, but aside from having great core gameplay it also does some things very differently, and even as someone who had invested hundreds of hours into the Diablo series I appreciate there being a strong competitor out there that has dared to be different. If you’re seeking some challenging and satisfying action RPG gameplay on the Switch, Victor Vran absolutely delivers.


Wizard of Legend [Contingent99] - Even with as many roguelikes as I’ve played Wizard of Legend is a bit of a surprise, but that cuts both ways. On the one hand, if you take the time to collect a sizable number of spells the sheer variety of what’s in the game guarantees that at some point you’ll likely find a combination that suits your style and even personal sense of flair. One the other, given the random nature of what you’re offered, with bad luck it could take quite a while until you find that mix and you’ll be feeling like you’re never quite clicking while in combat. It’s interesting because while mid-run you’ll sometimes have an opportunity to change out or add to your spells, unlike most roguelikes you can really play with your base configuration to try to suit it to your style of play. If you’re up for a pretty substantial challenge, Wizard of Legend provides that in spades and given that its feel is absolutely unique that helps to blunt the fact that it can also be frustrating as you try to put together your ideal build.


Hammerwatch [Crackshell] - While many games have tried to emulate the look and feel of Gauntlet over the years I don’t think any that I’ve played have nailed it quite as well, overall, as Hammerwatch. Through the game’s two beefy campaigns I was thoroughly sucked in by the action and the various puzzles and hidden rooms had me scouring every corner of the maps for secrets. If you’ve had an itch for a quality action-oriented dungeon crawler that is also very accessible it is easy to recommend.


Mayhem Brawler [Hero Concept] - When I originally saw the art for this game I’ll have to admit I was a bit put off by its blatant similarities to the recent (and outright excellent) Streets of Rage 4, fearing this would feel like a derivative sort of cut and paste job. I’m happy to say that though it has much in common with that recent remake (though its general depth in the moves department is a fair distance behind), that isn’t to say that it doesn’t take some pains to set itself apart. You’ll choose one of 3 characters to start with, each of them playing pretty differently with a more agile fighter, a brawler, and someone pretty well smack dab in the middle to round it out. Your objective, in general terms, is just to steamroll your way through the underworld, beating down anyone in your way, searching for answers to what’s going down in your city. I will credit the developers with the smart move of setting up decisions at the end of most chapters which give you choices on how to proceed. At a minimum the fact that this gives you an excellent reason to return for multiple runs to see how things work out differently when you make alternative options is a smart move. Status conditions and some great unexpected villain types also raise the game above the likes of the established norm to throw in some unexpected challenges in places, requiring a bit more nuance in your fighting. It may not quite have reliable mainstream appeal, but for genre fans it’s definitely worthy of a look.


Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos [Heliocentric Studios] - As a huge fan of roguelikes and someone who appreciates games that can bring people together I’ll come out and say I have mixed feelings on this title, though as a whole I think it gets more right than wrong. Working as a sort of rogue-ified version of the 16-bit likes of Link to the Past you’ll find yourself in a world of procedurally-generated dungeons to conquer, loot to collect, and also dead bodies to pile up… and many of them will be those of your fallen heroes. The fact that you can party up locally or online is a plus, and a pretty unique feature within the genre, so that’s very much appreciated and playing with others helps make up for the absolute lack of any real story which really just charges you with soldiering on because of “loot and reasons” pretty much. All that said, I can’t help but feel like the experience is a patch (or a few) away from realizing its potential. In its current state the early game and meta progression are painfully slow and that makes for too much dying mixed with a lot of repetition. Having to unlock each class and upgrade them to make them viable feels like an unneeded chore and with so many choices inundating you for upgrades the overall experience feels unfocused. Throw in a tendency towards cheap deaths to traps (and freaking snakes in pots) and rather than it feeling like you’ve died because you need to refine your skills it feels a bit like it’s purposely slowing you down just because it can. There’s a lot in the game to like and as time goes on hopefully some targeted patching will help it meet its full potential.


Bubble Bobble 4 Friends [ININ Games] - As a massive fan of the original Bubble Bobble both in the arcades and at home on the NES I was thrilled to hear the series was getting a new lease on life. Thrilled to see that there was a means to play the original very conveniently in this new iteration I actually went and played a bit of it first just to get that warm hug of being reacquainted with its simple-but-challenging and ever-charming play. In terms of the new version there’s no doubt that visually it is now more in-line with current standards and looks attractive. Not content with it only being able to be played with a friend you also now can play with up to 4 people, and when matched with the family-friendly nature of the series that should be great for families. My complaint would be that though this new version is fun enough and charming in its own right I still think I’d prefer to play the original comparatively, there’s just something in that special sauce that hasn’t come over in the modern translation. Perhaps for people without the nostalgia for the original this will be more of a hit though, it’s cute, challenging enough, and has enough that it does its own way to differentiate itself while not walking away from the formula the series is known for completely. It does have a free update planned for later in the year as well so hopefully that can add to the fun.


Relic Hunters Zero: Remix [Rogue Snail] - With the abundance of twin-stick roguelike shooters on the Switch it makes for tough competition if you want to make a big splash in the space with a new title. Featuring a decidedly retro look, on one level there’s a simplicity to Relic Hunters Zero that works well. You’ll dive into areas, shoot everything down, grab gear and ammo, and dig for relics and other loot to help your metagame progression. While you only start with 2 classes to choose from, the game has quite a few more to unlock, some of which even have pretty different perks that can make them fun to take for a spin. The issue? The grind to get going, get access to those different characters, and really feel like the game meets its potential takes quite a bit of time and grinding, and unfortunately the formula begins to get stale at a rate faster than you’ll unlock things. Granted, this can be overcome through diligence, but a system where the game would throw you a bone or two more quickly so you get a taste of what’s to come with more work may have been a better plan. Limited to only the starting characters and gear, and not being given any real direction on what to do or when you’ll get access to more, stumbling through different modes that feel too similar starts to feel unrewarding.


Rez Plz [Long Neck Games] - This is a title I originally saw at PAX and that impressed me with its morbid sense of humor and somewhat clever puzzling. I say clever mainly because a central mechanic in the game is sacrificing one of the two brothers you control in order to progress. Whether they’re needing to impale themselves on spikes or jump into lava to serve as a platform for the other brother to safely progress the idea, though you’ll then be able to bring them right back (assuming you have enough crystals) and keep going. Of course, there are times where you may lose track of the active need to sacrifice one of your characters, thinking instead you’ll be able to skill your way past an obstacle, but the more you kill each other the less this is likely to happen. It’s probably a game best played and enjoyed with a friend, if nothing else this can make the fight over who gets to die more fun and you can simply better coordinate, though at times when you need to move further apart there can be confusion over who is controlling the screen and having the other player stay still. Going it solo is possible, just at times a bit more tedious, as you won’t have coordination in movements, you’ll need to continue to switch between brothers and position them individually. If you appreciate some humor to go with your puzzle platforming, and are looking for a fun time with someone else, this may be a great match.


Battle Planet: Judgement Day [EuroVideo Medien] - As a huge arcade-style twin-stick roguelike shooter fan this is a title planted firmly in my wheelhouse. Feeling a bit like arcade shooter meets Super Mario Galaxy, the space for fighting enemies and disarming bombs is always a bit limited so you’ll need to quickly get your bearings and keep on the move, taking advantage of the terrain whenever you can or at least trying to avoid areas with things like lava to try to keep yourself out of trouble. Progression across runs is supported, thankfully, so there can be a bit of a grind until you feel like you’re more in control of things but that’s par for the roguelike course. Each of the 3 characters does play a bit differently so you’ll likely settle into a favorite and then work to max them out, and if you’re able to play with a friend you can really eat up the competition working to complement each other strategically. While there’s nothing in particular that absolutely drives this to the top of my list for the genre (keeping in mind there are quite a number of amazing titles that serve as competition) I love Battle Planet’s change of pace and style and would happily recommend it if you think it looks like it would suit your tastes.


Catastronauts! [Inertia Game Studios] - While there are similarities here to Overcooked, Catastronauts is very much its own distinct experience and will require your full attention to be successful. Rather than being so many distinct tasks you need to complete in sequence and looking to optimize performing those tasks Catastronauts focuses on setting mayhem into motion and forcing you to adapt. Smart positioning, keeping your critical tools close at hand, and transitioning quickly between working on offense and then keeping your ship in one piece are the keys to success. While the pressure of the experience may not be for everyone it makes for a thrilling and unique challenge.


Earthfall: Alien Horde [Nimble] - When it comes to co-op PvE gameplay I don’t think any other title has managed to top the Left 4 Dead series, even though the last entry was released a solid decade ago. It’s plainly obvious that the makers of Earthfall are well aware who rules the genre roost as right out of the gate there are a staggering number of similarities in the structure and mechanics of this title. Once you get past the shock of what in many regards feels almost like a shameless rip-off of that title you’ll begin to notice some great additions though, particularly when it comes to strategic opportunities. Barricades and turrets are just two of the great additions Earthfall adds to the mix and they’re absolutely great ideas that are well-implemented and help it stand apart from its source of inspiration.  Considering Valve is unlikely to port Left 4 Dead to Switch (or do anything other than make money on Steam anymore it seems) and there’s nothing else like it on Switch, Earthfall: Alien Horde is a great choice if you’ve been itching for some squad-based co-op FPS action.


Hive Jump [Graphite Lab] - I really appreciate the core bones of what Hive Jump offers, and for the first few hours while I was still getting into my groove it was quite a bit of fun. Familiarity, once it sets in, really wears on the experience though and while taking down the hive queen is a challenge there’s simply a lot of repetition to be had getting there which ends up feeling a bit pointless and for its own sake. With some support things get a bit chaotic and busy but the ability to have some more diverse builds that compliment each other does change things up a bit so that’s a plus. I’d love to see a more fleshed out sequel with more enemy variety and surprises, the core experience is there and it’s a good one, there’s just no missing the grind once it sets in.


Monkey Barrels [Good-Feel] - While run and gun shooters tend to be a side-scrolling affair Monkey Barrels proves it’s a formula that works well from a top-down perspective with twin-stick controls as well. Whereas most games with this scheme on Switch have been arcade or roguelike in nature in this case you’re on a mission to save your friend, making a bit more of an adventure. You’ll move along shooting up enemies, dealing with bosses, and powering up your armaments to ensure you’re able to keep pace with your enemies. Just to add to the fun you can take on the game solo or with some friends as well.


Full Metal Furies [Cellar Door Games] - As a game that you can enjoy with a group of friends (the more the merrier) Full Metal Furies is a unique take on a beat-em-up, peppering in some ranged characters elements of action RPG progression as well. It’s smart, sassy, and really forces you to work together to get through some tough spots that will require coordination. Unfortunately as a solo experience it suffers and ends up almost being a completely different game in the process, relatively forcing you to favor use of your melee characters and then hoping your ranged ones don’t become liabilities when you use them. If you have a group that’s looking for an action-based challenge with personality it’s a solid choice though.


Pode [Henchman & Goon] - Overall, if you’ve been searching for a terrific game to play with a non-gaming partner Pode may be among the best options on the system. For people who aren’t hardcore gamers the more casual pace will probably be welcome and as long as one person has at least moderate gaming skills the ability to shift control back and forth will come in handy. Certainly aesthetically it’s delightful, the sense of discovery is a consistent joy, and the generally fair but challenging puzzles have some air of originality to them that’s welcome. Pode is a wonderful game for couples and general puzzle fans alike.


Nine Parchments [Frozenbyte, Inc] - While not everything in it is quite to its final level of polish (a patch is planned for early 2018) Nine Parchments is an extremely attractive, challenging, and fun game. While you can go it alone partying up can allow people to specialize their wizards and more efficiently inflict damage. Strategy plays a key role in defeating enemies as they'll have resistances and tactics that will require you to change things up to succeed and even break out your melee attack once in a while. Varied and challenging it's well worth looking at, especially once its rough edges have been sorted out with the single save file currently holding it back.


Putty Pals [Harmonious Games] - I don't recall ever playing a game that was quite as family-friendly while also as cooperatively-focused and challenging as Putty Pals. You'll need to work together either controlling each pal independently yourself (this gets challenging as you get deeper into the game) or with the help of a friend. Making clever use of a relatively restricted set of moves you'll be jumping, swinging, and bouncing together through each level and if you're up for a challenge unlocked zones and speed run modes crank up the difficulty for more experienced pairs as well.



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!