By: Andrew Lister
Welcome to the next installment of Tuesday Top Five! From time to time I'll be coming up with a Top 5 spanning a number of geeky topics. This week I'm sharing my love for the Nintendo Switch by giving my personal five best indie titles!
The Nintendo Switch has been out for about four months, and the system has already shown that nothing can keep the company that Mario built down. Even though the Wii U (despite it being a solid and fun system) wasn't the success that Nintendo was looking for, the Switch has already sold nearly 5 million systems in a short amount of time. That number will only increase as we have a Mario + Rabbids RPG and Super Mario Odyssey launch before the Christmas season.
Even though most people are going to buy first party games like Breath of the Wild, Arms, and Splatoon 2, there are a number of indie games available to play via the eShop. Sure, most of these games have already been released on PS4, XBox, or PC, but the Switch's ability to play on a big screen AND on the go makes indie games a perfect match for Nintendo's newest console.
Below you'll find my personal Top 5 indie games currently out on The Switch. As always, let me know your favorite indie games on the system below in the comments or on our Discord. By the way, you can enter to win a $25 gift card over on our #contest channel on our Discord! Join today and vote for your favorite Questionable Endeavor show!
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#5 - Shephy
At first glance, one might be inclined to skip right over this game. A card game on a video game console? Sounds boring, right?
Well, you're absolutely wrong. Shephy is a digital version of the Japanese card game created by Bouken. The game, though seemingly simple, holds an interesting level of depth. This single-player game asks players to multiply their single sheep at the start of the game to the goal of 1,000 by the game's end.
You have exactly three rounds to accomplish this feat, and it's done through playing cards from your deck filled with both positive and negative effects. Even though you always play with the same cards every time, there's quite a bit of strategy to be had here. The first time I played, I think I managed to get about 50 sheep. After being so thoroughly trounced, I was determined to do better the next time around. It took me about four times through to finally win the game.
The game offers some challenge modes, which adds a bit more replay value to an already cheap game. Yes, the game will only set you back $4.99 in the US, and it also allows you to play in a number of languages, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and English.
Is this going to be a game for everyone? Absolutely not. Are you a fan of board games and are looking for something affordable and a bit off the beaten path? Then Shephy is for you!
#4 - Overcooked Special Edition
This is the only game on the list that I actually haven't had the chance to play yet. So why in the world did it make it to my #4 spot? Because it looks like one of the most enjoyable and frantic couch co-op games ever!
So what is Overcooked? In short, it's a cooperative game where players work together to gather and chop up ingredients, toss them in cooking pot, and serve them up to hungry restaurant customers.
Sounds simple enough, right? Sure, things start out fairly easy. However, as you progress through the levels, the stages start to change in multiple ways. Instead of a big open kitchen, some levels add labyrinthine paths and cooking surfaces. Other environments change with surfaces moving around or the ground itself raising up and blocking you off from your fellow chefs.
My husband and occasional Tooning Japanese bonus episode host Ray and I are going to play as soon as we can, and knowing how badly things went when we recently streamed the co-op version of Portal 2, I can only imagine that the chaotic nature of the game will test the strength of our marriage.
You, too, can ruin your relationships and have a ton of laughs by downloading the definitive version of the game for $19.99 on the Switch eShop.
#3 - Cave Story +
Yeah, Cave Story is a game first released in 2004; however, this updated version of the classic is a great addition to the Nintendo Switch. This 2D shooter is a true challenge of a game right from the start. It's not afraid to just throw you in and let you die multiple times right off the bat. The game's tough difficulty is half the fun.
The other half of the enjoyment is the strange world in which you find yourself. You're new to a strange underground civilization surrounded by a race of angry rabbit-human creatures that have a penchant for technology. As an outsider, you have to figure out who the good characters are and who are the true villains while navigating through some very interesting and challenging level designs.
Not only are the levels themselves well designed, but the combat is an absolute blast! You start out with a simply gun, but as you go through, you gain more weapons like a missile launcher, ranged melee weaponry, and fireballs. Certain situations call for switching between different weapons in order to progress.
Not only do you have several weapons among your arsenal, but each one can be leveled up through collecting items from defeated enemies. The weapons start out as their weakest Level 1 form, and they can go as high as Level 3. For example, instead of a single Level 1 missile, Level 3 shoots several that even hone in toward the enemy. Instead of just shooting, the fully-leveled gun can be used to shoot downward and launch yourself like a jet-pack into the air and over great distances.
You can certainly get a digital copy of the game, but the physical version comes with a number of really cool bonuses, such as a soundtrack mini CD, a full-color game book, and a keychain and pouch. Sadly, I didn't get the keychain and pouch in mine (Feel free to send me one if you read this, Nicalis), so I'm not sure if it was a packaging mistake or a limited edition thing. However, these bonus items make the $29.99 price tag well worth it.
#2 - Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
I had never played a game in the Shantae series before this one. After reading a positive number of reviews on the game, I decided to give it a shot for only $19.99.
Shantae centers around a world right out of the Arabian Nights, and you play a half-genie that tries to save the town from a number of evils. However, the townspeople don't seem to want your help, and they've even gone out and found a new genie to take your place! How rude!
Shantae has a number of ways to deal with her opponents and to traverse the levels. First of all, she attacks with her very long hair. Snapping it like a whip, she can dispatch every enemy foolish enough to cross her path.
Aside from her hair, she has the really cool power to transform into different animals and mythological creatures. Each new form she takes allows her myriad abilities, such as flight, fitting through small areas, clinging to surfaces, swimming, and increased jumping distance. You must utilize these abilities throughout a fairly small number of levels, and each new form helps you unlock new areas within every map. Some people might be turned off by the constant backtracking through old levels, but to my completionist mindset it kept me playing toward collecting all the items and forms to get to every inch of the maps.
My other favorite aspects of the game are the level of humor and the tough boss battles. The game is filled with really witty and punny dialogue, and it makes sure not to take itself too seriously. For example, one of the baddies constantly breaks the 4th wall like Deadpool. When asked about how he survived being blown to smithereens earlier in the game, the big red squid grins and states, "Naaaaaah, you get over the explosions and screen clearing blast after a while."
The battles at the end of each level are fun, and once you figure out the pattern or best way to handle it, there's a real sense of accomplishment. The only flaw is that if you're as meticulous as I am, you can acquire abilities that make the final boss a real breeze, which was a little bit of a letdown.
That aside, Shantae made me fall in love with the series, and I'll be on the lookout to play some of her other adventures, old and new.
#1 - Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
If you've never played Shovel Knight, then you've done yourself a great disservice. Available not just on the Switch, but multiple platforms, this Kickstarter-funded game has proven that not all ventures on the crowd funding giant are weary ones.
Bringing that retro, side-scrolling feel into the modern era, Yacht Club Games' Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove provides three solid games for players to enjoy. I'd recommend starting with the original and classic game Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope. In this game, you command Shovel Knight, a heroic knight in blue armor brandishing a shovel as a weapon. You'll smash enemies with your garden tool, drive it down on their heads like a pogo-stick, and fight your way through a number of tough bosses and infuriating levels on your way to save the love of your life, fellow badass Shield Knight.
The game isn't just a series of levels to get through. You'll also collect a number of items, abilities, and even go through some very interesting flashback sequences to help build upon a very well crafted and engaging story.
Once you finish the main game, you can play through two more titles set in the same world, Plague of Shadows and Specter of Torment. Each game centers around a different villainous character that Shovel Knight defeats during his adventure. Of the two, Specter of Torment is the far superior experience, and I'd even venture to say it's an overall better game than the original.
What makes these games a unique experience? Each involves a complete re-design of the original levels, brand new abilities, and their own individual storylines to draw players in. Each game feels familiar, but at the same time they're completely new. That's something very hard to accomplish and should be applauded.
For the price of $24.99, you get all three games, challenge modes, multiplayer, and even a New Game Plus option for each one. If you've never played the series or have only played the original, you should really get on board and give these games a shot. Oh, and did I mention the music of this game is retro as hell and super amazing and catchy? Trust me. You won't be disappointed!
We'll be back sometime soon for another Tuesday Top 5 article! Be sure to check back and let us know what you think about my rankings in the comments below and/or on our Discord!
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