After almost a year on store shelves, the Nintendo Switch has surpassed most players’ expectations in terms of reception and sales figures. A fair portion of the Switch’s success has to do a steady stream of impressive games, but we think the Switch’s dual identity as both a home console and portable powerhouse has driven people to the platform in droves. While the Switch has many excellent games, some of them are better suited to gaming on the go than others. Whether you’re planning a trip or simply have a long commute, these are our picks for the best Switch games to play while traveling.
Yacht Club Games‘ 2014 hit Shovel Knight has only gotten better with age, and the 16-bit retro platformer feels right at home in handheld mode on Switch. Even when Shovel Knight initially launched on Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and PC, it felt made for a portable screen — excelling on both the Wii U tablet and Nintendo 3DS. With a brighter screen and resolution on Switch, Shovel Knight looks and plays the part of versions that later launched on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Shovel Knight‘s levels are perfect for on-the-go sessions. Finish one on the bus ride to work, and then get back at it on your lunch break. It also helps that the game keeps on giving long after you finish the meaty campaign. On Switch, Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove comes with the original adventure and two additional campaigns, Plague of Shadows and Specter of Torment (the latter is available as a separate purchase on Switch, but we recommend springing for the complete package). Additionally, the upcoming King of Cards campaign will launch as free DLC in early 2018. Shovel Knight is gorgeous, challenging, and addictive, and the experience is tailor-made for Switch.
Puzzle games are natural fits for portable gaming, and Puyo Puyo Tetris is one of the best and deepest puzzlers to come along in a number of years. Combining two iconic franchises — Tetris and Puyo Puyo (formerly known as Puyo Pop in North America) — Puyo Puyo Tetris gives players a bevy of different ways to play. Naturally, you can enjoy traditional Tetris or Puyo Puyo, but the game truly shines when these two puzzlers collide in one format. There is a mode where the game board persistently switches between Puyo Puyo blobs and Tetris blocks, and then there’s one where the two co-mingle on the same board. The Switch’s spacious screen takes advantage of computer versus modes, which display up to four players. Throw in a lengthy campaign that utilizes all game modes and Puyo Puyo Tetris quickly reveals itself as a time sink perfect for both short and long commutes. It’s the type of game you’ll want in your traveling case at all times.
The unlikely pairing of the Mushroom Kingdom and Ubisoft’s bizarre Rabbids turned out to be one of the best AAA games on Switch to date. Basically boiling down to Mario meets XCOM, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle‘s tactical grid battles hit their stride when played in handheld mode. Not only is it one of the prettier games realized on the Switch’s tablet, but it also feels like it was designed with the screen in mind. The field of view matches what is seen on television screens, and it doesn’t lose a step performance-wise. Even while at home, we prefer to play Kingdom Battle in handheld mode. If you’re in a public setting while playing, it may be hard to maintain your laughter; Kingdom Battle is filled with some surprisingly good comedic moments and riffs on the Mushroom Kingdom. It’s one of our favorite Switch games so far, and it just happens to be one of the best AAA games to play while traveling.
Described by developer Drool as a “rhythm violence” game, in Thumper you play as a metallic beetle coursing down a narrow, winding track surrounded by darkness. We describe Thumper as a mix of action and rhythm, but one thing is for sure, no matter how you classify it: You must pay attention at all times. Thumper moves incredibly quickly and you have to make split-second decisions on turns and attack maneuvers to make it to the next level. Of its three original platforms — PS4, PSVR, and PC — the PSVR version stood out thanks to the immersion that allows for the feeling of closeness to the track. The Switch version does a phenomenal job of replicating that immersion when played in handheld mode. Replicating the feeling of being close to the action while eliminating surrounding distractions, holding the Switch’s tablet device gets you right in the thick of it. We strongly recommend you wear headphones while playing on Switch. Sound is a must, and the dramatic clanging of metal may startle those around you.