Have Nintendo Gift Cards? Buy Yourself These Fun, Cheap Switch Games
If you're anything like us, you got a Nintendo gift card or two during your holiday unwrapping—and now you're faced with the question of how to spend them.
While you could go for one of Nintendo's iconic mainline titles and drop $60 all in one place, we happen to love stretching our buck with lesser-known games and indie titles, which also happen to be way cheaper. Keep scrolling for our favorite great Switch titles for anyone on a budget, all for less than $30:
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain: $29.99
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain is a brand new brain-training game that's sure to get you hooked. It includes 20 different minigames, which test your smarts in Identify, Memorize, Analyze, Compute and Visualize categories, and it is so satisfying to return to them every day to see your skills improve in real time. And the best part is that you can play competitively with friends and family, with custom difficulty levels to even the playing field. It's a great way to boost your brain and have a ton of fun all at once.
Cadence of Hyrule: Curse of the NecroDancer: $24.99
We're still not over the fact that Curse of the NecroDancer and The Legend of Zelda got an epic team-up in this title, and it's one of our favorite Zelda games to date. In this rhythm-based adventure game, you can play as Cadence, Link and Zelda as they quest through treacherous dungeons and discover the secrets hidden within them in order to defeat the evil musician Octavo. He's cursed the entire kingdom of Hyrule to follow a rhythm and guides his army, and you must follow it—to the tune of classic Zelda tracks—in order to defeat them all.
Hades: $24.99 (currently on sale for $16.24!)
There's a good reason Hades has won multiple Game of the Year awards. This ingenious hack-and-slash roguelike game sees players taking on the role of Zagreus, the son of Hades, who tries again and again to escape his father's realm by making his way through room after room of dangerous enemies and traps. Each time he dies, he returns home to start his trial all over again, but with new knowledge, accumulated treasures and a little help from the gods of Olympus, he eventually might find success—and learn a bit about the gods, and himself, along the way.
Chicory just might be our game of the year for 2021. It takes place in a world that's black and white, except for the splashes of bold color added to it by a paintbrush-toting chosen one called the Wielder. But when the previous Wielder, Chicory, abandons her brush, it's up to you to take it on and address the creepy and mysterious new problems plaguing the province of Picnic. The game is reminiscent of a classic 2D Zelda adventure, if Zelda let you paint the world and manipulate the land like a Splatoon game, while also being a powerful tale about empathy, and a meaningful exploration about depression, imposter syndrome and learning to live authentically.
Untitled Goose Game: $19.99
Untitled Goose Game may be a short adventure, but it's worth every moment. In the game, you take on the role of a goose who just wants to cause problems, with a special to-do list of activities designed to harass the local townsfolk, from farmers to bespectacled boys to restauranteurs. Being a horrible goose never gets old, and with the classical piano score that changes depending on how much trouble you're getting into, every minute is a delight. And we highly recommend playing the two-player mode with your most mischievous friend.
Looking for the chillest of chill games? Definitely check out Unpacking, a game about moving, and taking belongings out of boxes to find where they fit into your new homes. The premise may sound simple, but the game is surprisingly poignant, and as you fit the puzzle pieces of your life into place with each subsequent move, you'll also create your own little story about this person's life, and discover who they are as a person of your own imagining.
Boyfriend Dungeon: $19.99 (currently on sale for $16.99!)
Boyfriend Dungeon is the genre mashup we'd been waiting for all of our lives, combining a dating simulator with a dungeon crawler—but that's not all. Each of your weapons isn't just a weapon. They're also a person that you can date, and by using them in battle and courting them outside of dungeons, you can build up your relationship to become the strongest wielder around, all while uncovering a greater mystery about why weapons are turning up injured in town.
SkateBIRD: $19.99 (currently on sale for $16.99!)
What's better than skateboarding games? Skateboarding games with tiny, adorable birds as the skaters. SkateBIRD takes all of the classic elements of games like the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series and makes them extra cute by turning everyday areas into massive skating arenas and populating them with tiny birds on a mission. The game just feels great to play, and the soundtrack of ska, jazz, hip-hop and pop-punk will get stuck in your head way after you put the game down.
Garden Story: $19.99 (currently on sale for $15.99!)
We'll warn you now—Garden Story can be pretty addictive. This RPG stars a grape called Concord, who's appointed the title of Guardian and tasked with conquering the Rot that are invading his idyllic garden world. Over the course of the game, you'll be slaying baddies, finishing quests and collecting all kinds of resources to exchange for items that will make you stronger and help you progress. It's so easy to get caught up in the satisfying gameplay loop, and it also helps that the game's vibrant pixel art is so darn cute.
TOEM: $19.99 (currently on sale for $15.99!)
TOEM is a quirky indie title about a sheep with a camera, who sets off to witness a coming-of-age event called TOEM. However, to get to the mountains where it takes place, you'll have to keep taking the bus to the next town over, and in order to take the bus, you'll need to accomplish some good deeds for the locals in each town. Lucky for you, lots of people are in need of a little help, and you'd be surprised how many of their problems can be solved with your trusty camera. The result is a feel-good game about helping others and bringing people together, and when you finally do see TOEM, it really is a sight to behold.
Cuphead: $19.99 (currently on sale for $13.99!)
Cuphead may be a notoriously difficult game, but that's what makes it so satisfying. It's a unique run and gun adventure game with an emphasis on challenging boss fights that'll test your memory and your hand-eye coordination, but it's not just really fun. It's also notable for its totally hand-drawn animation, evoking '30s cartoons, and its jazz ensemble soundtrack that brings every scene to life.
Overcooked Special Edition: $19.99 (currently on sale for $1.99!)
Overcooked Special Edition is probably the most stressful game on this list, but we think the experience is well worth it. This cooperative game, which supports one to four players, is full-on cooking chaos, with your chefs working to prep, cook and serve meals in an ever-changing kitchen environment. While this one just might test your relationships, it can also bring you together, and it never stops being a blast.
Hollow Knight: $15
Hollow Knight is one of our favorite Metroidvanias of all time, and we still can't believe it's only $15. The game follows an unnamed bug knight, with his trusty nail weapon, and you must explore the massive, sprawling Hallownest to unlock new abilities that make him stronger and grant him access to new areas. Expect to discover gorgeous environments, a bold and memorable cast of characters and tough boss fights that will take you dozens of attempts to complete as you discover Hallownest secrets and find out the true story behind the legendary Hollow Knight.
Coffee Talk: $12.99
If you prefer storytelling and characterization in your games over quick reflexes, we highly recommend Coffee Talk. In the game, you're a coffee shop owner in Seattle with some interesting clientele, including vampires, elves, orcs and more. As you play, you get to know your customers quite well as you discover their stories—as well as their likes and dislikes when it comes to coffee. It's up to you to choose the ingredients that go in every cup, and there just might be some surprises in store for you if you can find the perfect blend for certain customers.
If Found…: $12.99 (currently on sale for $7.79!)
If Found… is another powerful narrative game, telling the story of a young trans woman named Kasio living in Ireland in the '90s. As she struggles with her direction in life and tries to figure out who she's meant to be, players uncover her story by erasing the writing and images within her journal. It's quite an emotional and personal journey for both Kasio and the player, and it's unlike anything else we've played on the Switch.
Part Time UFO: $8.99
Part Time UFO may not look like a particularly complex game on the surface, but it's one we keep coming back to again and again. In the game, you take on the titular part-time UFO, named Jobsky, and are tasked with doing all kinds of jobs using only your handy-dandy claw. The real fun lies in not just doing the jobs but completing the secret parameters that also unlock medals, which give you points that let you buy costumes with different abilities. Plus, the theme song is just too cute to resist.
Also got a Switch OLED for the holiday? Click HERE to find out how to import all of your saves—including Animal Crossing: New Horizons.