If you own a Nintendo Switch, you really owe it to yourself to buy heavy-hitters like Super Mario Odyssey and Zelda: Breath of the Wild – but beyond those games, you don’t have to break the bank to keep up a steady stream of gaming on the go.
The Switch’s digital eShop is pretty packed with great games now, and many of them can be had for very little cash at all. In fact, we’ve picked 25 games that we love that all sell for £17/US$20 or less apiece, including indie favourites and multi-million-selling smashes alike. A lot of the games featured here regularly go on sale too, so keep your eyes peeled and you might be able to pick up a few of them for even less dosh.
You can’t go wrong with any of these, so if you’re seeking something fun and affordable that you can download right now, then give these a whirl. And if you’re looking for the most amazing Switch games regardless of asking price, click here for our must-play picks.
Additional words by Matt Tate
Surely we can all agree that Sonic the Hedgehog peaked in the mid-’90s, and despite a few close calls of replicating his 16-bit success, the blue blur hasn’t seen a successful, Mario-like transition into the modern era. And Sega apparently agrees, finally, because Sonic Mania feels like a lost relic dug up from the archives.
To be clear: Sonic Mania is a brand new game released in 2017, but it’s built in the exacting mould of the Mega Drive classics, from look to gameplay and level design. And that’s a very good thing, of course. It’s light on new ideas, but we don’t really trust Sega to try and transform this proven formula anymore: Sonic Mania does a sharp impression of the classics, and it’s a perfect fit for handheld play on the Switch.
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Rocket League is already one of the most entertaining games you can play on a console or PC, and now with this Nintendo Switch port, we can play its brilliant blend of arcade driving and football wherever we are. It’s a speedy, rules-relaxed take on 3v3 football at its core, but instead of hustling down the pitch on your own two feet, you’ll zoom around in a rocket-boosted car.
And it can fly, too, with aerial play taking a big role in the equation, along with driving along the walls. Rocket League‘s online play is second to none in terms of quick-hit entertainment, with basketball, hockey, and other variants joining the footie fun. The visuals take a slight hit from other platforms, but fuzzy graphics can’t kill the excitement.
Cuphead is one of the most charming games we’ve ever seen in action, but don’t let it colorful cartoon allure make you think that it’s an easy, breezy distraction for kids.
Nope, Cuphead is tough as nails. Inspired by the classic cartoon style of the 1930s, this critically acclaimed indie smash plays out as a boss rush, with you facing increasingly difficult foes with each new area. It began life on Xbox One, but feels perfectly suited for the small screen of the Switch.
Looking for something a bit slower-paced to play while lounging in bed or on the couch? Try Stardew Valley, the celebrated indie fave that’s now made its way over to Switch. Inspired by the classic Harvest Moon games, Stardew Valley is a low-key farming simulation that finds you taking over the family farm and keeping it afloat – but there’s quite a bit more than that.
Stardew Valley also puts a lot of its focus on what’s happening outside of your estate, as you build relationships with locals, hunt for treasure, battle against an overbearing retail store chain, and even try to find love. It’s not exactly action-packed, but it is super charming and can be thoroughly addicting as well.
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The battle royale craze took an unexpected twist with Tetris 99, transforming the classic (and still brilliant) puzzle phenomenon into a 99-player, all-out fight for survival and supremacy.
It’s still Tetris at its core, thankfully, but now you’re frantically clearing lines to send junk blocks to random online opponents’ boards as they do the same to you. Who will be left standing at the end? This Nintendo-published download is a freebie for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, but you can also download it and buy the DLC to unlock offline-only modes for anyone to play.
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The legend has finally arrived on Switch. Capcom’s Okami first hit PlayStation 2 in 2007, and the Legend of Zelda-inspired quest is arguably one of the grandest modern adventures of our time, delivering sweeping visuals and encounters across a mystical land.
As Amaterasu, a white wolf and sun goddess, you’ll use your powerful Celestial Brush to battle enemies, solve puzzles, and alter the world around you, while the Japanese sumi-e inspired cel-shaded art style is just as stunning today as it was more than a decade ago. This is arguably the best version to date, too, since the Switch’s touch screen improves the Brush controls.
Fortnite is by far the cheapest game on this list… because it’s absolutely free! That might be a bit of a cheat, admittedly, but we’re rolling with it anyway. Fortnite has optional in-app purchases for cosmetic items, but the core game won’t cost you a single coin to play.
And you’ll find no shortage of competition here, of course: Fortnite is massively popular right now, as the 100-player battle royale experience is addictive and endlessly compelling, challenging you to blast and build as you survive the chaotic scramble. This PC and console hit is just as entertaining on Switch, and perhaps more so thanks to its added portability.
Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 PLUS
One of the first truly addictive arcade games, Pac-Man cabinets gobbled almost as many coins as the on-screen blob devoured dots. Pac has seen countless versions, remakes and spin-offs over the years, but Championship Edition took the original maze-based eat-em-up and added new routes to memorise, an addictive soundtrack, and overhauled graphics that look just as spangly on the Switch as they do on other platforms.
That giant PLUS in the title? That’s for the exclusive two player mode which is only available on Nintendo’s handheld. If one player gets pounced on by the series’ trademark Ghosts Inky, Blinky, Pinky or Clyde, the other player can come to the rescue so you can keep aiming for that high score. Load times are nice and speedy, there are plenty of puzzles and challenges to chomp your way through, and the all-important score attack mode is just as one-more-go addictive as ever.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Published by Microsoft, believe it or not, Ori and the Blind Forest manages to be both heartbreaking and heart-pumping, weaving emotional storytelling amidst a stunning, action-packed campaign.
This 2D side-scroller folds in Metroid-like elements as you open up the beautiful world while jumping, climbing, solving puzzles, and facing off against massive creatures. Hopefully we get the recent sequel Ori and the Will of the Wisps on Switch too.
Into the Breach
Into the Breach might look like a long-lost Super Nintendo game at a glance, but this new indie game offers more than enough strategic depth for today’s players. Developed by the same team behind the brilliant FTL: Faster Than Light, Into the Breach is a turn-based tactical game in which futuristic mechs go back through time to stop an alien menace.
And it brings in some unique twists along the way. For example, you’ll know what the aliens’ next moves are – so it’s on you to concoct the right strategy to stop them. And if you fail a mission, your pilots must go further back in time to start over again, albeit with the abilities and experience you’ve accrued thus far. It’s a worthy Switch time sink for strategy fans.
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Dry, traditional golfing simulations can turn tedious, but Golf Story isn’t that game: this indie original is an on-the-go delight. Essentially, it’s a throwback to the old three-click style of arcade golf, seen in Everybody’s Golf and Mario Golf, only viewed through a 16-bit lens. Oh, and you can freely explore the terrain – and launch golf balls at everything you see.
Truth be told, Golf Story is more a role-playing adventure than a dedicated golfing game, as you attempt to elevate an amateur player to pro status. You’ll swing for the greens across eight different courses, but also chat with surly characters, complete odd jobs, and spend plenty of time not in competition. It strikes just the right balance between golf and… well, not golf.
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Rhythm games with plastic instruments are seemingly dead for good, but the genre has gone back to basics as indie developers find new ways to pair pulsing music with button taps. And Thumper is one of the very best we’ve ever played. It’s also probably the most thoroughly intense of the bunch, with freaky sights and sounds alike.
You’ll control a glossy “space beetle” hurtling through a psychedelic pathway, all while zipping towards an enormous monster on the horizon. To get there, you’ll need to press buttons in time and shunt off of hard turns to maintain your momentum – and then ultimately bash the huge foe to keep zipping on to the next area. It’s so fast and frenzied that it might honestly freak you out a bit.
Yoku’s Island Express
Haven’t you always wanted to play a game about an insect postmaster? You haven’t? Well, even so, you really ought to consider checking out Yoku’s Island Express, one of the freshest games we’ve seen on Switch so far.
Yoku’s Island Express manages to find the unexpected middle ground between a pinball game and a 2D platformer, as you bound your letter-carrying bug and his rolling ball around a world designed to keep him flinging about. We can safely say that you’ve never played anything quite like this, both in premise and gameplay alike, but it’s a real charmer.
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Katamari Damacy Reroll
The legend is back! One of the strangest games of all time makes the move from PlayStation 2 to Switch in Katamari Damacy Reroll, which is just as bewildering and amazing today.
What’s the deal? See, in Katamari Damacy, you roll an ever-growing ball of real-world items, garbage, vehicles, people, and more as you attempt to make the biggest ball possible… and then send it into space as a star to appease your very strange space-father. It’s a delight.
Tetris is legendary as a portable puzzle experience, of course – and believe it or not, Lumines deserves much the same kind of attention in the modern era. This block-based puzzler began life on the PSP some years back, but now it’s back and looking better than ever thanks to Lumines Remastered on Switch.
Lumines makes some fun tweaks to the block-dropping formula. This time around, you’ll guide 2×2 square chunks onto the board in the hopes of connecting and clearing big blocks of the same colour – and a rotating selection of skins changes the look, sound, and pace of the game, keeping things lively even an hour deep into a high-score run.
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An extra train commute might be the last thing you want to add to your day, but Mini Metro makes an engrossing game out of it – even if it just looks like lines and basic shapes on the screen.
Mini Metro challenges you to build and grow an efficient subway system starting with just a couple of stations. Gradually, you’ll add new lines and track to connect the stations, and will have to expand intelligently to keep commuters moving and arriving to their respective destinations in time. The minimal approach is decidedly low-key and keeps the game from feeling overwhelming, yet Mini Metro is hardly easy after the first minutes of an attempt.
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The Switch has its fair share of must-play 2D platformers, including Shovel Knight and Sonic Mania, but you can go ahead and add Hollow Knight to that list. You might not have heard of this little indie gem, but it’s been racking up critical acclaim on the play-anywhere device.
This speedy, side-scrolling slasher finds you navigating underground caverns, with a Metroid-like map of interconnected areas to explore. Compelling combat pairs well with the allure of exploration, while the slick hand-drawn graphics and charming atmosphere pull you in deep. This one’s tough, but plenty rewarding.
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A Short Hike
A modern-day classic that you can play through in one joyous afternoon, A Short Hike is exactly what it says it is. You play as Claire, an anthropomorphic bird attempting to hike to the summit of a mountain on an island to get mobile phone reception. How very millennial.
But A Short Hike is an open-world exploration game, so while your main quest doesn’t take very long to achieve, you’ll run into countless distractions along the way, all of them best discovered for yourself. With its gorgeous pixelated visual style, fun flying and climbing mechanics and relaxed approach to open-world design, A Short Hike is a really special little game that feels right at home on Switch.
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Switch games don’t all have to be cute and charming; in fact, Limbo is downright unsettling. Waking in a dim and dark forest, you’ll command a young boy as he explores the path ahead… and quickly encounters perplexing puzzles, spiky obstacles, and a towering spider.
Despite its monochromatic colour scheme, Limbo oozes atmosphere and the environmental conundrums remain steadily compelling until the memorable finale. Playdead’s similar successor Inside is also on Switch, but it’s twice the price – so start here and then you’ll probably feel motivated to pony up for the next entry.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale
Or, Colouring Book: The Game. In this delightful top-down adventure game you play as a little dog (named after your favourite food) who comes into possession of the magical paintbrush that’s supposed to be wielded by the titular artist, Chicory. With the world devoid of colour, it’s up to you to overcome crippling self-doubt and restore it missing vibrancy.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale is an extremely polished old-school Zelda-like that consistently serves up fun puzzles, zany characters to befriend and surprisingly memorable boss fights. And it all sits underneath a painting mechanic that works perfectly with the Switch’s touchscreen. Come for the colouring in, stay for the genuinely affecting messages about impostor syndrome and creativity.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Bioware’s legendary Star Wars RPG is being remade for modern hardware, so now is the perfect time to either revisit the original, or discover its superb storytelling for the first time. Set thousands of years before the events of the Star Wars films, you play as the last hope of the Jedi Order, with the Republic on the brink of falling to the Sith.
Bioware’s signature choice-based gameplay is a massive part of the KOTOR experience, allowing you to mould the kind of Jedi you want to be. And while the turn-based combat shows its age, any Star Wars fan owes it to themself to play this game. Happily, the rock solid Switch port is as good a way of doing so as you’ll find.
It’s a good time to be a fan of skateboarding games, and while OlliOlli World is our current pick of the genre, you can have plenty of four-wheeled fun for under a fiver. The Ramp is an unapologetically stripped back skateboarding game.
There are no missions, no high scores to chase and no unlockable gear. The Ramp – described by its maker as a “digital toy” -is instead focused solely on achieving that zen-like flow state that makes real-life skateboarding so compelling. It’s just you and a half-pipe. Try not to fall flat on your face.
TOEM is a game about taking photos and helping people, and that’s about it. And we love it. Deserving winner of the Debut Game award at 2022’s BAFTA Games awards, TOEM is a bite-sized adventure game in which you travel between a series of beautifully hand-drawn diorama-like levels armed with nothing more than a point-and-shoot camera. There is a grand finale, but we don’t dare spoil it,
Along the way you’ll bump into a host of oddball characters, most of them needing a problem solved, and conveniently the solution very often involves presenting them with your carefully framed photographs. TOEM is a delightfully breezy and very welcoming game, but it’s also a completionists’ dream, and you’ll likely still have plenty of challenges to hoover up when the credits roll. The black and white visuals look superb on the Switch OLED’s display too.
Final Fantasy VII
Do you really still need selling on this one? (The Switch version is great.)
Where to buy
We’ve raved about Death’s Door in several other places on this fine website, and we’re very happy to do it again. It’s another unmistakably Zelda-like action-adventure game in which you play as a crow who reaps souls for a living. But a very bad day at the office sends you off on an epic journey into a twisted fantasyland to take on creatures that have found a way of cheating death.
We first played Death’s Door on Xbox, and were immediately taken by its tricky but never unfair combat, ingenious world design and dry sense of humour. It’s an ideal handheld game, though, so pick it up on Switch if you haven’t already.