Flipping Death, Snake Pass, and more!
Earlier this week, Nintendo confirmed a huge list of indie games coming to the Switch. These “Nindies,” as Nintendo calls them, range from beloved indies already out on other platforms, like Stardew Valley, to all-new titles announced exclusively for the Switch, like Runner 3.
At the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco this week, we got some hands-on time with a select few of the Switch’s indie game line-up. Here were some of our favorites.
Blaster Master Zero
The most important thing to know about Blaster Master Zero is that it feels a lot like the original Blaster Master. Platforming and shooting in your tank is tight and responsive, and the open exploration and challenging combat in the “dungeon” areas are sure to please fans of the NES classic. Artistically, the game is wrapped in Inti Creates signature style and has a decidedly 8-bit Gunvolt vibe. — Zach Ryan
Flipping Death is a comic adventure game where you play as Penny Doewood, a young girl who finds herself in the land of the dead. We don’t have the full details behind what happened to her or why she’s holding Death’s scythe, but we got to run around and solve a few puzzles in this Burton-esque adventure. Penny can use her scythe to teleport to higher places on the map. She can also communicate with ghosts and try to solve their problems.
In trying to help the dead, you get to have fun by poking fun at the living. By collecting energy, you can possess people and flip back into that world. Since these two planes of existence are connected, actions in one can affect the other. But what fun would possession be without the ability to have some fun? You can read the mind of any person you jump into and hear clues and funny opinions about the people around you. You can also take advantage of each persons unique talents to solve funny logic puzzles. In one sequence, we made a kid with a popsicle run around licking people in the street before we used his talented tongue to paint a boat (don’t ask!). So far, Flipping Death has tickled our interest with its humorous sequences and charming world. — Jose Otero
Graceful Explosion Machine
Even a couple minutes into its cartoony, arcade-style shmup action, Graceful Explosion Machine certainly lives up to its name. With a maximum of four weapons at your disposal at any given time and a quick-turn system that makes zipping back and forth between waves of enemies a breeze, this colorful, side-scrolling shooter is a stylish and chaotic good time. — Chloi Rad
Mr. Shifty blends the top-down view of Hotline Miami, but gives you the power to teleport à la X-Men’s Nightcrawler. Shifty is on a mission to pull off the ultimate heist, and these teleportation powers let you zip around the room and toy with enemies in a satisfying way. But you’re not overpowered! If you’re hit by a single bullet, then it’s a one-way trip to the Game Over screen.
You can chain up to five teleports back-to-back before you run out of energy and leave yourself vulnerable. But if you can build up enough momentum through combos, your reward is a slow motion state where you can get around even faster to wail on enemies. Mr. Shifty’s combat is solid, but we’ve only seen the opening levels so far. We’re eager to see what other devious combat puzzles lie in store. — Jose Otero
Equal parts early GTA and Retro City Rampage, Shakedown Hawaii is a tongue-in-cheek satire that draws as much inspiration from Last Week Tonight as it does from Hotline Miami. You play as an aging boardroom executive, and when white collar crimes just aren’t enough to keep your cash flowing, you decide to take matters into your own hands. The result? A fast-paced twin stick shooter with a gorgeous 16-bit isometric art style and some seriously funny mission objectives. In my brief hands-on, I shot my way through a Farmer’s Market looking for odd fruit to market as the next “Superfood” and busted up an artificial sweetener racket in order to further line my pockets. I also ran over a ton of pedestrians. — Zach Ryan
Snake Pass is a bright, vibrant combination of Banjo-Kazooie, Littlebigplanet, and Captain Toad… but with snakes. Developer Sumo Digital’s physics-based platformer pulls from the collectathons of the 64-bit era by dropping you into a super colorful world filled with doodads and knickknacks to gather up. There are no enemies to harm you, so the main goal is navigation, platforming, and puzzle solving.
The key here is that you play as a snake, which controls differently than any other game I’ve ever played. You need to slither back and forth to gain momentum, twist your body around objects to climb, and in times of peril, summon a cool bird buddy to swoop in and lift you up a bit. The entire thing is surrounded by a wonderfully charming soundtrack by ex-Rare composer David Wise, meaning that this is pretty much a game made for me. — Marty Sliva
Tumbleseed is a deceptively cute game about scaling a mountain, but what makes this so-called “rolly roguelike” unique is the arcade-style balancing mechanism at its core. To move, you roll your little “tumbleseed” around obstacles by adjusting the height of a horizontal beam using the left and right analog sticks. The control scheme is easy to understand, but tough to master, especially as the dangers become more complicated to deal with.
This plays particularly well on the Nintendo Switch, thanks to the “HD rumble” of the Joy-Con. Being able to feel the particular texture of each unique tumbleseed, and sense where it is on the beam or how fast it’s rolling, is an awesome feature that feels like a perfect fit for the Switch. — Chloi Rad