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Underappreciated gems in the Switch eShop you need to play

The Nintendo Switch has only been out since 2017, but there are already truckloads of great games you can play on it. There are the Nintendo-published exclusives, of course, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Super Mario Odyssey. There are major third-party releases worth checking out, too, such as ports of DoomSid Meier's Civilization 6, and Fortnite. And then there are the indies, which have overrun the Nintendo eShop to the point where some games are bound to fly under the radar.

Those titles are the ones we want to highlight here: the games that might not have gotten coverage on big video game websites but are still worth playing.

For every Celeste, there's an interesting and unique platformer that you probably haven't heard of. For every Undertale, there's another RPG that offers a fresh spin on the genre — yet hasn't gotten the credit it deserves. We get it: the eShop has a discoverability problem, and it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff without a helping hand. So below, we'll aim to cover the best of the games that aren't being talked about.

Here are the underappreciated gems in the Switch eShop you need to play.

Dandara isn't your standard platformer

We've come a long way from the early days of Metroid and Castlevania. Those two platformers, which combined to form the term Metroidvania, have spawned countless clones and inspired new takes on their tried and true formulas. Games like Axiom VergeGuacamelee!, and Ori and the Blind Forest are notable, recent examples of how far the genre has come.

Now we'd like you to try another one on for size. It's called Dandara.

Dandara sticks to the Metroidvania script with its platforming, power-ups, and secret areas, yet deviates in terms of movement. As the lead character, Dandara, you don't run or jump as you might in other Metroidvania titles. Instead, your movement is confined to white spaces, which you must use to shift yourself around the playable space and progress forward. That alone is enough to set Dandara apart, and in a category of games that can sometimes feel a little too similar, the one-of-a-kind experience found in Dandara earns it a spot on this list.

Nintendo Life had this to say: "Dandara is a 2D Metroidvania platformer that's admirably intent on doing things differently, from its Brazilian folklore-infused narrative to its unorthodox and touchscreen-friendly controls." If you haven't given it a look yet, now's the time.

Glass Masquerade is a soothing puzzle game

Hey, we get it. Sometimes you're just not in the mood for another shooter. Sometimes you're all platformed out, or you don't have the energy to deal with an intense boss battle. Sometimes you just want to relax and take in an experience that's a little more laid back and a little less taxing on your motor functions. The Switch has a lot of games that can meet your needs in this department, but few are as downright soothing as the one we're talking about next: Glass Masquerade.

If something like Fortnite is an energy drink for your Nintendo Switch, Glass Masquerade is a comforting cup of tea.

The premise of Glass Masquerade is simple: you're presented a stained-glass puzzle that needs to be completed with pieces you access via a spinning table. The puzzles themselves borrow heavily from the art deco period and are absolutely mesmerizing. Even better, the game's lighting tricks actually made the stained glass look all-too-real, as though you're sitting right there, searching out the right piece to complete the puzzle.

According to Nintendo Times, "If you're in the mood to chill out, listen to a great mellow soundtrack provided in the game, and build some elegant puzzles, you've got a solid purchase here." We'll second that.

Downwell is simple and infinite

If you've forgotten the old adage "Don't judge a book by its cover," now's the time to remember it. Plenty of games these days borrow the art styles of yore, leaning into a retro look even though the graphical prowess of current-generation hardware can do far more. An older-looking game with today's game design ideas can still provide a fun and entertaining experience, and that's why we've really enjoyed a throwback to the past called Downwell.

And true to its name, Downwell is all about going down.

In Downwell, you play as an unnamed character who descends into the depths of a well, hoping to discover what's at the bottom. Each run is procedurally generated, so the game offers infinite playbility in that regard. And there are rogue-like aspects to Downwell, too, which means that you'll explore, collect items and likely die a few times, but each playthrough will make you an even more capable player, ready to take on the challenges that await the next time you enter the well.

Plus, the game can be played with your Switch turned on its side, giving you an even larger view. That's just cool.

Destructoid said that Downwell "feels as if it was designed from the ground up for the Nintendo Switch," despite being a port. And since it usually costs just a few bucks, there's no reason you should go on without at least giving it a try.

Lumines Remastered is a classic reborn

It sure feels like we're in a new era for puzzle games, doesn't it? Tetris Effect was one of the best games of 2018. Tetris 99 is somehow in the battle royale discussion along with Apex Legends and Fortnite. Puzzlers have sometimes felt like an appetizer — something you snack on while waiting for the more substantial main course. But it seems like puzzle games are now getting their due, and for that reason, this one shouldn't be forgotten.

We're talking about Lumines Remastered, a PlayStation 2-era title that's now been remastered for the Nintendo Switch.

If you're a Tetris veteran, you'll pick up on the mission in Lumines Remastered quickly. All you have to do is place blocks in their most advantageous place, ensuring that the various colors on the blocks line up to make a 2 by 2 square. That, like making a line in Tetris, will clear them. It sounds simple, but as any Tetris player will tell you, there are many, many miles between a new Tetris player and a master, with plenty of room to grow.

Eurogamer said Lumines Remastered is "as potent a puzzler as it's ever been, and in this it's as close to perfection as it's ever been." If you somehow missed this one back in the day and you're in the market for a new puzzle game, Lumines Remastered is definitely worth a look.

Flipping Death is more than just its art (but its art is pretty great)

We're suckers for games with stunning artwork, and on the Switch, there is no shortage of them. You have to admit that the art inside a game like Hollow Knight really draws you into the game's world. And you have to admire something like Dead Cells that can successfully straddle the line and create a look that is somehow modern and retro at the same time.

There are a lot of reasons to like Flipping Death outside of its art. But that's likely the first thing you'll notice.

Flipping Death is a puzzle platformer about a girl named Penny who, rather unfortunately, finds herself dead and somehow in the shoes of the Grim Reaper himself. But it's not all bad: Penny discovers that she can exist in the worlds of the living and the dead by simply "flipping" between them. From there, she's tasked with moving about the world, solving puzzles and helping the dead find solace in the afterlife.

The characters in Flipping Death are 2D entities, almost as though they're paper cut-outs. Yet they exist in a space with dimensions and depth. The levels somehow feel like a pop-up book with moving parts, and when you combine that with the game's puzzle and platforming elements, you get a game that isn't easily compared to anything else.

IGN called Flipping Death "a delightfully absurd and funny adventure game in which things are never quite as they seem." Why not give it a shot?

Fast RMX will the F-Zero void in your life

Would you like to take a guess at when the last F-Zero game was released? It was actually back in 2004, with a title called F-Zero Climax. And that game, much to the dismay of ultra-fast racing fans everywhere, never made it to the United States. The F-Zero franchise, aside from Captain Falcon's inclusion in the Super Smash Bros. series, has largely fallen by the wayside, and Nintendo seems to have no interest in reviving it, either.

So a development studio called Shin'en took a stab at it with an F-Zero-esque game called Fast RMX.

If you weren't on the rather small Nintendo Wii U bandwagon, you likely missed out on Fast Racing Neo, the studio's first effort. Fast RMX is basically a built-out version of that game, sticking to the Fast Racing Neo recipe while sprinkling in a few new ingredients for good measure. If you miss the high-speed, high-stakes racing found in F-Zero and lament Nintendo's uncaring attitude toward the franchise, you'll find more than enough in this $20 title to get your anti-gravity adrenaline fix.

Destructoid felt that the game could've used an online mode — which is fair — but ultimately decided that "the sheer amount of things to do is well worth the small asking price." If you can do without online connectivity in exchange for getting a fast, futuristic racer on Switch, you might find Fast RMX can fill that F-Zero-shaped hole in your heart just fine.

Severed has been around for a bit, but it's still unique

We mentioned Guacamelee! earlier as a game that's made a name for itself in the world of Metroidvanias. But did you know that Drinkbox Studios, the developers behind that title, also released another game that isn't as well known? It was initially a Vita game, but eventually made its way over to the Wii U and 3DS. And now it's on the Nintendo Switch, feeling as great for that platform as it has for any of its previous homes.

It's called Severed, and believe us when we tell you the name is very fitting.

Severed fancies itself an RPG of sorts, but makes use of the Nintendo Switch's touchscreen more than you might've encountered in any other RPGs you played. Battles take place in real time, and you don't use buttons, but rather your fingers on the touchscreen to slash away at enemies, potentially severing their body parts in the process. Along with this unique control scheme, Severed has interesting bosses to battle, a variety of puzzles to solve, and a soundtrack that — like Guacamelee!'s — really brings the game to life.

Severed is worth the couple of bucks you might have lying around. Nintendo Life called it "a joy to behold from start to finish," so if it's not part of your collection yet, it's definitely something you should consider adding.

Owlboy is a decade-long triumph

This next game took the developers behind it, D-Pad Studio, ten years to make. It came out in early 2018, so you can do the math. That's early 2008 — when the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii were very much alive, and the only portable on the market was the Nintendo DS. Graphics were in a very different place then. Who knows where D-Pad Studio thought this game would end up. But it's here, today, ready for you to play. And it's on the Nintendo Switch.

It's Owlboy, and thanks to its timeless art style, it still looks fantastic.

Owlboy is a platformer-adventure game that looks every bit like it could've come out on the Super Nintendo if not for its more detailed pixel artwork. And it's a breath of fresh air, too. Owlboy doesn't just lean on what makes a platformer a platformer. It does its best to weave together a story you'll care about, with characters you'll experience a full range of emotions with. And when it does get down to the platforming, that aspect of the game is very good and very fun.

Here's what GameSpot had to say about the title: "This is more than a treat for fans of old-school games; Owlboy is a heartfelt experience that will touch anyone with an affinity for great art and storytelling." We agree.

Shantae & the Pirate's Curse is the masterpiece you've been missing

When it comes to criminally underrated platformers, the Shantae series stands out as one of the biggest. The franchise has diehard fans, sure, but it often gets overlooked in the grand scheme. We could get another original Shantae, with vibrant new worlds and new challenges to face, but what's that to a port of a Wii U Super Mario game, right? Criminal, we tell you. Criminal.

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse deserves your love.

To start, Pirate's Curse is just as much a Metroidvania as it is anything else. You might not get a sense of it at first glance, but this game rewards exploration and encourages you to skip all around the world map to revisit old areas and discover new secrets. On top of that, Shantae herself is constantly growing more powerful through upgrades, picking up gems throughout the campaign and trading them for better weapons and abilities. And she uses her hair as a weapon. How can you beat that?

Here's what Nintendo Life had to say: "We'd give this game a strong recommendation to anybody who hasn't played it yet and would still encourage veterans to consider double dipping." Yes, Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is a port. But if you haven't played it yet, it's new to you, right?

Play Minit for a minute

Sometimes a video game comes along that truly turns a concept on its ear. Like, imagine this for example: a game that plays very much in the style of The Legend of Zelda yet only gives you a single minute to accomplish anything before dying. That would certainly change the way you played, right? It would introduce a sense of urgency to the experience where you might otherwise wander around aimlessly, exploring every nook and cranny.

That is Minit for you. And it plays just as we described.

The fun in Minit is derived from learning what not to do, never doing that again, and eventually discovering the correct path to follow or course of action to take. The game does save your progress when you start over, so if you open up a new path in one run, you can scurry back there upon restarting and progress a little further. And then you just keep on playing, and keep on learning through trial by error — minute by minute. Regardless of how it sounds, it's delightful.

"Everything about Minit should feel overwhelming. It doesn't," said Destructoid in its review. "Instead, everything feels attainable in due time. There's this weird and perfect harmony about knowing you're rushed and also not caring. It's liberating." And we'll add: it shouldn't be missed.

Golf Story is an epic quest about swinging clubs

Are you on the lookout for a never-before-seen take on the RPG genre? What about a fairly decent golf game for your Nintendo Switch — would you like one of those, too? How about a game that somehow manages to smash the two of them together, creating something that sounds bizarre but ultimately nails it?

That is Golf Story in a nutshell. You're a golfer and a fighter — the best of both worlds.

Golf Story tells the tale of an underachieving golfer who is trying desperately to go pro. And there's some golf here, sure. You'll use your clubs to hit a ball with the eventual goal of putting that ball into a hole. But you'll also take on a range of enemies by putting your golf skills to work — anything and anyone from pesky rodents to rival golfers and lots of things in between. More importantly — over a game that spans eight areas and a plethora of golf courses — you'll keep chasing that dream. The game is quirky but it works.

Here's GameSpot's opinion: "Switch has had a swathe of indies hit its eShop recently, but if you're looking for something that'll give you satisfaction in terms of an interesting story and a rewarding mechanic, then Golf Story is certainly par for the course." Trade your sword in for a sand wedge and give this baby a go.

Explore the wonders of the deep in Abzu

It's not often that a video game can make you feel something without saying a word. So when a game pulls it off – Journey and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons come to mind — they're worth recognizing. This game deserves to be right up there with those other two titles, and though it's had plenty of time to grab everyone's attention, we've come to the conclusion that it simply hasn't gotten its due.

So if you have a Nintendo Switch, you absolutely must play Abzu.

Abzu will take you all of two hours to get through — if you aren't going for total completion, anyway — and every second of it feels magical. It involves exploration. It involves puzzle solving. It'll take you deep into the caverns beneath the ocean. And along the way, you'll meet all sorts of underwater sea creatures who will either aid you or aim to hinder you on your journey. And some of those creatures? They will take your breath away.

According to ComicBook, Abzu is "short but definitely sweet, and an experience you shouldn't miss." Rather than spoil the best bits, we'd rather just have you play Abzu yourself. So kindly go do that now.