The Nintendo Switch has made a name for itself as a haven for certain types of games. These include RPGs, co-op 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 generally 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 to players, allowing them to access new areas using new abilities. With plenty of 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 the obvious picks like Metroid Dread and Hollow Knight, of course.
Some of the best Metroidvania picks on the Nintendo Switch
5) Axiom Rod 2
Axiom Verge 2 was last year’s big sequel to 2015’s cult classic sci-fi Metroidvania. This time, players control Indra, who finds herself on a parallel Earth she encountered in Antarctica. This alternate dimension called “Overworld” also has an alternate digitized version called 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 basic combat arsenal is relatively sparse, featuring a pickaxe and boomerang attack. She also has a drone that can be piloted remotely to reach inaccessible areas, which proves invaluable when exploring two dimensions. Hacking is also an option to deal with enemies and solve puzzles.
All in all, it’s a new experience for the genre that Metroid fans shouldn’t miss.
4) History of the cave +
Released in 2004 on PC, Cave Story is an example of an evergreen Metroidvania fondly remembered by the few people who played it. The enhanced “Plus” version was released in 2011 for PC, and a Nintendo Switch version followed in 2017.
Players awaken among the rabbit-like Mimiga race found in the cavernous structure of the floating island on which the game takes place. A mysterious red flower makes the furry designer race hostile, while an army of robots infiltrated the island in search of a powerful artifact called the Demon Crown.
It has all the basics of a Metroidvania, with maze-like levels and tons of baddies to defeat. But what makes it unique is its weapon upgrade system. Killing enemies causes enemies to drop experience pickups which gradually increase weapon power and level it up. However, taking damage decreases the experience gained, thus weakening the player. It’s a pretty unique setup that favors defensive play. Players will also encounter challenging NPCs and bosses on the island.
3) Guacamele! 2
Taking place a few years after the first Metroidvania game, Guacamelee! 2 puts players in the shoes of the supernatural luchador Juan. Trouble is brewing again, with a new enemy Salvador threatening the multidimensional Mexiverse, and Juan must stop him. The game retains many elements of the original while enhancing them by adding its own systems to the mix.
Throughout the game, Juan will reacquire many beloved moves and abilities from the first game, including the ability to transform into a chicken to fit into tight spaces. As for the new features, players can take advantage of hooks through levels to launch Juan in the desired direction, much like the Ori games. The dimension-shifting ability also makes a return, but with a greater challenge, as level design is more difficult all around. Local co-op up to four players is also present, including split-Joycon play. Although given the high challenge level of the game, some puzzles would be difficult to solve in co-op.
Blasphemous is similar to Dark Souls games, with a dreary world where everything wants to bite you. However, it stands out for its beautiful but unnerving pixel art and incredibly violent imagery, which may be unsettling for some. Playing as the Penitent, players must undertake a harrowing pilgrimage through this Metroidvania. It is set 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 slay and execute. The Penitent, armed with a sword, can cut down his enemies and parry the brutal attacks of the bad guys. Spells can also be cast, but use fervor, which can be built up by enemies dealing melee damage. The game is pretty harrowing, with enemies and bosses keeping the pressure on players as well as platforming challenges. Players can also benefit from upgrades, discover collectibles, and interact with NPCs for side quests.
1) Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Arguably one of the most hyped Kickstarters of all time, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (ROTN) is a love letter to the Konami Castlevania game it takes after: Symphony of the Night (SOTN). As the spiritual successor to Castlevania’s creator, Koji Igarashi, players control a woman named Miriam during 18th century England. Here, the alchemists use humans as guinea pigs bound with demonic crystals to be transformed into a Shardbinder. After waking from sleep, a Starbinder named Miriam must stop Gebel and his army of demons who seek to destroy everything.
As a 2.5D Metroidvania sidecroller, it borrows many elements from SOTN. There are many areas to explore, from the outskirts of the village to inside the huge castles. All of these are littered with enemies of all kinds, and defeating them can grant Miriam a shard containing this monster’s power. It also retains the RPG elements of SOTN with different weapons, attachments, gear and more to equip. The famous Metroidvaia launched with performance issues on the Switch, but they have since been fixed. It’s a treat for Metroid and Castlevania fans.
On a related note, the game is getting a crossover with Ubisoft’s Child of Light, where players can use the cult classic RPG protagonist Aurora in battle.