The Nintendo Switch has made a name for itself as a haven for certain types of games. These include RPGs, co-op-centric titles and yes, Metroidvanias, which have been popularized by the rise of indie games as well as the influence of Nintendo's own Metroid series.
Metroidvanias are usually platformers with a non-linear world layout. These often include an item or ability-based progression system. Here, acquiring new powers gradually opens up the world for players by letting them access new areas with the help of new abilities. With many examples of the genre on the Switch already, and many more to come, let's take a look at the best examples on the platform - minus obvious picks such as Metroid Dread and Hollow Knight, of course.
Some of the best Metroidvania picks on the Nintendo Switch
5) Axiom Verge 2
Axiom Verge 2 was last year's grand sequel to 2015's cult-classic sci-fi Metroidvania. This time, players control Indra, who finds herself on a parallel Earth that she encountered in Antarctica. This other dimension called "Overworld" also has an alternate digitized version called the Breach. Players will traverse both maps with their unique layouts and enemies while solving puzzles and gaining powers to progress further.
Compared to the previous entry, Indra's base combat arsenal is relatively sparse, with a pickaxe and boomerang attack. She also has a drone that can be piloted remotely to reach areas that she cannot get to, which proves invaluable while exploring the two dimensions. Hacking is also an option to deal with enemies and puzzle solving.
Overall, it is a fresh experience for the genre that Metroid fans should not miss.
4) Cave Story+
Released way back in 2004 on PC, Cave Story is an example of an evergreen Metroidvania that's fondly remembered by the few that played it. The 'Plus' enhanced version was released in 2011 for PC, and a Nintendo Switch version followed in 2017.
Players wake up among the rabbit-esque Mimiga race, found within the cavernous structure of the floating island that the game takes place on. A mysterious red flower is turning the race of furry creators hostile, while an army of robots has infiltrated the island in search of a powerful artifact called the Demon Crown.
It has all the staples of a Metroidvania, with labyrinthine levels and tons of baddies to defeat. But what makes it unique is the level-up system for its weapons. Killing enemies causes enemies to drop experience pickups that gradually boost the weapon's power and levels it up. However, taking damage decreases earned experience, thereby weakening the player. It's quite an unqiue setup that promotes defensive play. Players will also encounter NPCs and challenging bosses on the island.
3) Guacamelee! 2
Taking place a few years after the first Metroidvania game, Guacamelee! 2 puts players back in the boots of supernatural luchador Juan. Trouble is brewing again, with a new enemy Salvador threatening the multi-dimensional Mexiverse, and Juan has to stop him. The game retains many elements of the original while improving on them by adding its own systems to the mix.
Throughout the course of the game, Juan will reacquire many of the beloved moves and abilities from the first game, including the ability to turn into a chicken to fit into tight spaces. As for new features, players can avail of hooks throughout the levels to fling Juan in the desired direction, not unlike the Ori games. The dimension-switching ability also makes a comeback, but with a greater challenge, as the level design is tougher all around. Up to four-player local co-op is also present, including split-Joycon play. Though given the game's high challenge level, some puzzles would be tough to do in co-op.
Blasphemous is similar to the Dark Souls games, with a dreary world where everything wants to take a bite out of you. However, it sets itself apart with its beautiful but unnerving pixel art and incredibly violent imagery, which can be unsettling for some. Playing as the Penitent One, players must undertake a harrowing pilgrimage in this Metroidvania. It takes place in the land of Cvstodia, with its architectural design and religious undertones seemingly influenced by Christian mythology.
Everything else is a different story, with a variety of demons and evil spirits to kill and execute. The Penitent One, armed with a sword, can tear down foes as well as parry brutal attacks from baddies. Spells can also be cast but use Fervor, which can be built up by melee-damaging enemies. The game is quite punishing, with enemies and bosses keeping the pressure on players along with the platforming challenges. Players can also avail of upgrades, discover collectibles, and interact with NPCs for side quests.
1) Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Arguably one of the most hyped Kickstarters ever, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (ROTN) is a love letter to the Konami Castlevania game it takes after: Symphony of the Night (SOTN). As a spiritual succesor from Castlevania creator Koji Igarashi, players control a woman named Miriam during 18th-century England. Here, alchemists use humans as guinea pigs bound with demonic crystals to be turned into a Shardbinder. After awakening from slumber, a Starbinder named Miriam must stop Gebel and his demon army who seek to destroy everything.
As a 2.5D sidecroller Metroidvania, it borrows many elements from SOTN. There are many areas to explore, from village outskirts to the insides of huge castles. All of these are littered with enemies of various kinds, and defeating them may grant Miriam a shard containing that monster's power. It also retains the RPG elements of SOTN with different weapons, accessories, gear, and more, to equip. The acclaimed Metroidvaia launched with performance issues on the Switch, but they have since been patched. It's a treat for fans of all things Metroid and Castlevania.
On a related note, the game is getting a crossover with Ubisoft's Child of Light, where players can use protagonist Aurora of the cult-classic RPG in combat.