SAN FRANCISCO - Two years in, the Nintendo Switch has established itself as the definitive indie games console -- and that trend shows no signs of slowing down in 2019.
Nintendo’s hybrid console is getting a slew of hot indies in the coming months, from long awaited ports like Cuphead to exciting new experiences like Katana Zero and Stranger Things 3: The Game. Now that we've gotten a chance to go hands-on with a chunk of this year's "Nindies" lineup at GDC 2019, here are some of the biggest small games that should be on every Switch fan’s radar.
With its charming 1930s Disney-inspired art style and tight, hard-as-nails platforming, Cuphead has felt like it's belonged on a Nintendo machine since it first launched in 2017. That's finally happening on April 18, when Studio MDHR's beloved hand-drawn 2D action romp hits the Switch. Cuphead looks and feels just as great (and is just as punishing) on Switch as it is on other platforms, and the game's Switch release will come with a variety of new updates, including the ability to play as sidekick character Mugman in single-player mode. And thanks to Microsoft'swillingness to play nice with other platforms, you'll be able to earn Xbox Live achievements in the Switch version of the game shortly after launch. - Mike Andronico
Stranger Things 3: The Game
Stranger Things on Netflix is a retro throwback to the movies of the '80s; it's only fitting that its video game adaptation should be a retro throwback as well. Stranger Things 3 isn't a sequel to two other games; it's just a title to denote that the game follows the events of the show's upcoming third season. That means you'll take control of series mainstays like Sheriff Jim Hopper and Joyce Byers as they investigate bizarre events in Hawkins, Indiana. As an isometric co-op action/puzzle game, Stranger Things 3 pits you against sunglass-wearing ruffians, complicated locked-door puzzles and limited healing resources. But you'll also get to control 12 different characters as you plumb each level to reveal a variety of well-hidden secrets. - Marshall Honorof
Creature in the Well
"Pinball meets The Legend of Zelda" is a mashup I never thought I'd see, but it's exactly what makes Creature in the Well so special. This top-down dungeon crawler challenges you to bounce energy orbs off of a variety of obstacles to awaken an ancient facility, creating an addicting gameplay flow that has you ricochet balls at just the right angle in order to gather enough energy to progress -- all while thwarting bosses and solving puzzles. - Mike Andronico
Taking part in the gig economy is tough; doing so when you're the only human taxi driver left in the fleet is tougher. Neo Cab casts you as cab-driver Lina in the futuristic city of Los Ojos, California, where autonomous cars have just about superseded flesh-and-blood motorists. The game is a narrative, dialogue-driven adventure title, where you can take on a variety of different passengers, learn their stories and see how their commentary affects your own emotions. Will you keep your feelings in check in order to earn a good review, or let the dismissive populace know how you really feel in order to strike a blow against the dehumanizing rideshare industry? Either choice is viable, and interesting. - Marshall Honorof
Challenging, stylish 2D action games are a dime a dozen on Nintendo Switch, which makes it all the more impressive that Katana Zero manages to stand out from the pack. This striking samurai sidescroller offers unforgiving, one-hit-kill gameplay that forces you to master a variety of satisfying combat moves that include slashes, dodges, wall jumps and the ability to slow time. The whole experience is wrapped up in an irresistible future-noir art style, a bumping synth soundtrack, and an intriguing story complete with interactive dialogue. - Mike Andronico
My Friend Pedro
Imagine a super-stylish mix of Max Payne and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. Now imagine that all the action is being directed by a talking banana with a smiley face, and you've got a pretty good idea of what to expect in My Friend Pedro. You play as a not-entirely-stable protagonist who wages a one-man war against the entire criminal underworld, mostly because a talking banana named Pedro told him to. Don't think too hard about that part. Instead, focus on the incredibly satisfying bullet-time gameplay, which lets you bounce off a wall, slow down time, do a mid-air flip, aim pistols in two directions simultaneously, and gun down a whole roomful of gangsters in satisfying slow-mo. If nothing else, it's probably the only action/crime game to feature a banana as a main character. - Marshall Honorof
Part twin stick shooter, part underwater Smash Bros, Swimsanity has the potential to be the Switch’s next multiplayer sensation. This raucous multiplayer combat game supports both co-op and competitive play for up to four players both locally and online, allowing you to team up against hordes of sea creatures or try to take your friends out with a variety of cool aquatic attacks. With eight game modes and tons of challenges to complete, Swimsanity is shaping up to be a great party game -- especially since its landing this summer. - Mike Andronico
In Bloodroots, you'll die in one hit, but so will your enemies. That makes it immensely satisfying - and also incredibly risky - to launch yourself headfirst into its colorful world, armed with a variety of swords, hatchets, logs, cart wheels, vases, carrots and rubber ducks. You play as Mr. Wolf: a high-energy warrior on a lightly justified mission of destruction. What sets Bloodroots apart from similar fast-paced action games is that each weapon changes Mr. Wolf's movement style. Swords will propel you forward in a straight line, while ladders can help you scale walls and run faster. Experimentation is the key to victory, but each weapon has only a few uses, so you can't play favorites for too long. - Marshall Honorof
Be sure to check out our GDC 2019 hub page for all of the latest gaming news and hands-on impressions straight out of San Francisco.
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