Modern consoles, including Nintendo Switch, have a small but decent number of character action games. But what is a character action game? They're games with a focus on fast-paced, often over-the-top combat. They're also known as spectacle fighters. More commonly, they're just called "hack and slash" games.
For how popular and acclaimed they can be, character action games are pretty niche. This isn't as big a market as people might think. Despite that, there's enough of a mix of underrated, popular, older and newer titles on Nintendo's popular console for fans craving some heated action on the go.
So here are the five best character action or hack & slash games on Nintendo's little portable.
These Nintendo Switch games will keep you on the edge of your seat
5) Astral Chain
Perhaps the biggest new Nintendo IP since 2015's Splatoon, Astral Chain spices up Nintendo's first-party catalog with something aimed more towards core gamers. Released in 2019 as a Switch exclusive, the game takes place in a cyberpunk setting.
Players play as a member of the Neuron Police Task Force, which aims to protect civilians from interdimensional creatures called Chimeras. For this purpose, they use modified, friendly Chimeras of their own called Legions.
This is where the core gameplay loop comes in. Players control both the protagonist and their Legion simultaneously. This indeed adds to the level of learning curve not present in games of this type, but once it clicks, there's no going back.
For example, players can tangle up enemies using the chain link that binds the Legion and its master together. There are different Legions to command and swap on the fly, each with various utilities in and out of combat.
Players will also explore the megacity called Ark, collect resources and engage in sidequests. It's fundamentally more of a JRPG but maintains the oh-so-exciting DNA of character action games that developer Platinum Games is known for.
4) Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition
Hyrule Warriors was an unexpected collaboration but a welcome one. Nintendo's Legend of Zelda setting with exhilarating combat from Koei Tecmo's Warriors games was a unique idea. First released in 2014 for Nintendo Wii U, it has a brand new (albeit non-canon) take on the series lore.
Cia, a sorceress and keeper of powerful artifacts known as the Triforce, has been corrupted by Ganon's influence and ends up wreaking havoc across the fantasy land of Hyrule. Armed with the Triforce of courage, our hero Link must stop her.
Upon release, the game wowed with its level of ambition and amount of content. With DLCs, the game received new story campaigns, characters, weapons, costumes, etc. 2018's Definitive Edition bundles all goodies into one big package for Switch.
It boasts a higher resolution and performance than the Wii U version, as well as content from the 2016 3DS enhanced port Hyrule Warriors Legends. Fans itching for a time sink with hundreds of enemies to mow down with the help of dozens of unique Zelda characters. Look no further than this one.
There is also a sequel, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which is more ambitious - in more ways than one. But that one acts as a prequel to 2017's mainline game Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, while this Wii U remaster is a standalone spin-off.
3) Okami HD
An underrated gem, Okami was first released in 2006 on PS2 to critical acclaim but flopped commercially. The game eventually garnered cult-classic status, especially with the PS3 remaster Okami HD.
This enhancement came to Nintendo Switch in 2018 and is still one of the best games on any platform. Developed by Clover Studios, whose key members ended up creating Platinum Games, Okami HD is a fresh experience despite its influence.
The sun goddess Amaterasu is incarnated in wolf form after an evil being is set free and ends up corrupting the land of Nippon. This Legend of Zelda-inspired journey will tour players through a world shaped by Japanese myths and folklore.
At the same time, it blesses gamers with a fresh take on combo-based action combat. The game's main draw is the Celestial Brush, which pauses and overlays the visuals with a parchment filter that allows players to draw shapes and strokes.
Specific strokes manifest into in-game effects, like creating a cherry bomb for combat or summoning elements like fire or water. Besides that, the wolf's equipped celestial weapon is more than handy in mincing mythical creatures and bosses of all kinds.
After a Nintendo DS sequel, the series might return in the future if Kamiya-san's promise made back in 2019 comes to fruition.
2) Bayonetta 2
Originally launched as a Nintendo Wii U exclusive in 2014, the sequel to the underrated PS3/Xbox 360 game Bayonetta was universally praised.
After her friend Jeanne is captured and taken to the underworld of Inferno, the sassy witch Bayonetta must bring her back at all costs. The game followed in the footsteps of its predecessor while improving upon it in many ways.
Developer Platinum Games went off on all fronts to deliver a grander experience with bigger and crazier set pieces. The hack & slash, weapons driven combat, and game as a whole are more polished. There's a larger variety of supernatural enemies to cut and slice through.
Overall, the badass, almost Dante-esque personality of protagonist Bayonetta is a joy to watch every time she's on-screen. On that note, fans of Capcom's Devil May Cry games shouldn't miss this one as the series creator Hideki Kamiya supervised the project and conceived the original game.
The upcoming third entry, Bayonetta 3, will yet again be Nintendo exclusive, this time on the Switch.
1) Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition
For some odd reason, Capcom's remastered HD Collection of the first three Devil May Cry (or DMC) games are split separately on Switch. Regardless, Devil May Cry 3 SE is by far the best of the bunch and arguably still the best game in the series.
It was initially launched on the PS2 in 2005 and acts as a prequel to the first DMC game. Set a decade ago in an enchanted tower called Temen-ni-gru, the story centers on the dysfunctional relationship between Dante and his brother Vergil. Combat is brutal and stylish yet has depth that stands the test of time, just like the 3D Ninja Gaiden games.
Developer Capcom brings some neat additions to the remaster. This includes a Free Style mode allowing Dante to switch between each Style (combat method) on the fly. It is a game-changer, honestly, as it allows for even more flexibility and combat depth.
Players can also engage in an arcade-style two-player co-op mode. Here, each player controls one character (Dante or Vergil) to mow down spawning waves of enemies. DMC3SE on Nintendo Switch is not just the best hack & slash on the handheld, but the best version of the game, period.