'Switch'-ing to the definitive nostalgic console

 8 June 2018  |   24 July 2018

The Nintendo Switch has been on active duty here for longer than I can remember myself playing on any of my previous home consoles. Of course the Wii had it’s Virtual Console service where Nintendo forced you to pay another 5 EUR for NES, 8 EUR for SNES and 10 EUR for N64 games that were carefully, week by week, re-released. It must have been the fourth time I’ve bought the Legend of Zelda: a Link to the Past. I’m a sucker for retro stuff (hence this website) so naturally I started nagging as the Switch doesn’t support this kind of retroness (yet).

I’ve never been a great fan of emulation: playing games on a system that wasn’t the target platform. It’s great for games that you otherwise would never be able to play like Mother 3 that never makes it’s way to the European Union, but otherwise playing a GBA game on the Wii U doesn’t include that pure nostalgia rush you’d get while gripping a “real” Gameboy (modified or not). That’s not to say that I didn’t take part in this: I knew my way well around https://gbatemp.net/.

That got me thinking, what is it with these old games that make me happy when I play them? Is it purely because of the “retroness”, the big buttons on yellowed plastic with short cables that require you to sit close to your TV? No! It’s the difference between the words retro and nostalgic. “Nostalgic” throws me back in time and make me re-appreciate the goodness of yore.

There are a lot of amazing new games, for newer consoles, that are still brimming with nostalgia! The reason I’d pick a Switch over any other console that also runs these games is simple: it’s a handheld! TV occupied by your wife? No problem. Want to show off during a break at work? No problem. Just want to be comfortable in a chair without a big screen? No problem. It’s such a powerful concept that’s especially great with 2D games that don’t have too much details. The Switch screen is simply perfect for those games.

To give you an example, Inti creates’ Castlevania: Curse of the Moon that was released this month has made more sales on the Nintendo Switch than other systems combined:

  • Switch – 56%
  • Steam – 19%
  • PlayStation 4 – 17%
  • 3DS – 4%
  • PlayStation Vita – 4%

Castlev-erm, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon

Of course the average Playstation 4 gamer is not looking for a hardcore 8-BIT 2D platformer but for the next iteration of Call of Duty. As another example, Ron Gilbert tweets “Switch our the best selling console for Thimbleweed Park.”. Of course it is, it’s a perfect match!

So let’s take a look at what kind of nostalgia the Switch brings.

The following list is subjectively compiled and contains only a fraction of the games that interest me. I’ll keep on adding stuff when playing and discovering more. Some games are indicated by 8 (NES), 16 (SNES) or 32 (N64) BIT to give you an idea on what era it’s dedicated to. If a game does not evoke a nostalgic feeling (in me), it’s not part of this list.

Platforming

Classicvania

Inspired by: Castlevania I-III, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, Mega Man

  • Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (8)
  • Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (8)
  • Alwa’s awekening (8)

Metroidvania

Inspired by: Super Metroid, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Heavyweight metroidvania’s:

  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (TBA) (16)
  • Dandara (16)
  • The Mummy Demastered (16)
  • Cave Story+
  • Axiom Verge (8)
  • Hollow Knight
  • Xeodrifter

Light metroidvania’s: (some form of backtracking and upgrades required. These can be open world games or more level-based)

  • Wonder Boy: Dragon’s Trap (8)
  • Fox ‘n Forests (16) - actually inspired by MegaDrive games
  • Shantae: Pirate’s Curse, 12 genie
  • Steamworld Dig (2): inspired by Spelunky
  • Owlboy: more puzzling and platforming
  • Iconoclasts: more puzzling and platforming

Action platforming

Inspired by: Contra, Metal Slug, Mega Man

  • Blaster Master Zero

Softcore 2D platforming

Inspired by Sonic, Kirby, Mario Bros

  • Sonic Mania (16)
  • Rayman Legends
  • Kirby Star Allies
  • Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze (could be hard- or softcore)

Hardcode 2D platforming

Inspired by: Mario Bros, Mega Man

A new subgenre called Masocore platformers emerged from these games, also inspired by classicvania’s.

  • Celeste
  • Super Meat Boy
  • Slime San

Celeste

Hardcore 3D platforming

Inspired by: Mario 64

  • Yooka Laylee (64)
  • Spyro (TBA) (64)
  • Crash Bandicoot Trilogy (64)
  • Super Mario Odyssey

Rogueli(k)(t)e

Another new subgenre that is not quite new but gained a lot of attention the last few years and created some excellent games.

  • Wizard of Legend
  • Enter the Gungeon
  • Crypt of the Necrodancer

Strategy “war” games

Inspired by: Worms

  • Worms: WMD
  • Steamworld: Heist

Adventure games

Simulations

Inspired by: Harvest Moon

  • Stardew Valley

Point & Click

Inspired by: Monkey Island

  • Thimbleweed Park
  • The Journey Down (this one even has Grim Fandango looks)
  • Detective Gallo
  • Night in the Woods

Roleplaying

Octopath Traveller

Strategy RPGs

Inspired by: Final Fantasy Tactics, X-Com

  • The Banner Saga 12
  • Disgaea 5
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
  • Mercenaries Sage chronicles

Hack & Slash

Inspired by: Diablo

  • Titan Quest

Classic Western RPGs

Inspired by: Might and Magic, Baldur’s Gate

  • Darkest Dungeon
  • Pillars of Eternity II (TBA)

Classic JRPGs

Inspired by: Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest

  • Octopath Traveller
  • Romancing SaGa 2
  • I am Setsuna
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2