Retro gaming is currently experiencing a surge in popularity, with a strong revival of the lo-fi gaming style. When it comes to Pixel Art games on the Nintendo Switch, there are some standout titles that have received high acclaim from Metacritic.
In a world where realism dominates the gaming landscape, it’s refreshing to immerse oneself in the nostalgia of 8-bit and 16-bit visuals. The classic graphics of the SNES and Sega Genesis may be considered retro, but they have transcended the ’90s and remain captivating to this day.
Numerous modern games have embraced vintage-style graphics, and the Nintendo Switch has become a hub for such experiences. For those seeking a modern take on the retro aesthetic, we present ten games that feature charming retro graphics, all of which have been reviewed by Metacritic.
As of April 12th, 2022, the Nintendo Switch continues to attract a plethora of pixel art indie games, with new releases appearing regularly. The review scores of these pixel art games, as evaluated by Metacritic, are accurate as of the update of this article. Given the vast number of Nintendo Switch games that showcase the beloved pixel art style, particularly within the indie scene, this list could easily expand. To offer a more comprehensive selection, here are a couple of additional games worth considering.
Dead Cells (89)
Dead Cells stands as an exceptional indie game in the realm of pixel art, offering a captivating blend of seamless movement, exhilarating combat, and a remarkable sense of progression. Regarded as one of the finest roguelike experiences available on the Nintendo Switch, Dead Cells immerses players in a world where they must navigate through eerie medieval environments, confront cunning adversaries, and deftly evade an array of treacherous traps.
The pixel art style employed in Dead Cells is nothing short of breathtaking, captivating players with its vibrant palette and visuals that burst to life on the screen. Despite the game’s high-speed gameplay and minimal downtime, the level of artistic detail exhibited in the characters, backgrounds, and everything in between is truly astounding. It serves as a testament to the immense skill and craftsmanship poured into the game’s aesthetics.
Enter the Gungeon (87)
Enter the Gungeon provides a distinctive roguelike experience on the Nintendo Switch, focusing on a vast assortment of firearms, as implied by its name. This captivating game takes players on an adventure through unforgiving dungeons, where they must wield an array of extraordinary and potent weapons. It’s worth noting that even the adversaries within the game possess bullet and gun-related characteristics.
Distinguished by its top-down, isometric perspective, Enter the Gungeon stands out among the multitude of pixel art games available on the Switch. The graphical style of this game is truly captivating, showcasing mesmerizing weapon animations, immersive lighting effects, and mind-boggling particle effects. With each turn, Enter the Gungeon presents challenging obstacles, but it also continually rewards players with new weapons, upgrades, and diverse gameplay possibilities.
The Mummy: Demastered (75)
Prepare yourself, as the term “Metroidvania” will be frequently mentioned throughout this compilation. However, unlike most games of this genre that lean heavily towards the Metroid side, the delightful creation by Wayforward Studios strikes a more harmonious balance between the two. Picture the menacing creatures reminiscent of Castlevania paired with the engaging gunplay of Metroid.
Drawing inspiration from the reimagined version of The Mummy, it’s intriguing to discover that an eerie film can translate into an enjoyable gaming experience. As players assume the role of a Prodigium Agent, they embark on a mission to thwart Princess Amunet and her army of the undead, venturing through ruins, graveyards, and even the depths of the London Underground. Although the bosses may prove to be formidable adversaries, this still manages to provide a commendable escapade filled with thrilling zombie encounters.
Within the realms of possibility lies a peculiar duality—being both captivatingly beautiful and unnervingly repulsive. Blasphemous boldly affirms this notion, presenting gamers with an experience that may require a resilient constitution. This action platformer seamlessly intertwines combat reminiscent of Dark Souls with nightmarish visuals reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch’s unsettling paintings.
Embarking on a journey through Blasphemous entails hacking, slashing, and delving into a somber and macabre world that draws inspiration from Renaissance art, as well as Gothic and religious iconography. The formidable bosses that await are bound to evoke a sense of dread, serving as prime examples of nightmarish imagery. Furthermore, the combat itself exhibits a level of gore that defies expectations for a 16-bit game. If you seek a two-dimensional counterpart to the unforgiving nature of Dark Souls, Blasphemous may well be the answer to your quest.
Octopath Traveler (83)
During the glorious era of the SNES, one particular genre that gained immense popularity was the captivating realm of JRPGs, known for their immersive narratives and engaging gameplay. Titles like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III, and Earthbound stood out, offering enchanting adventures, memorable characters, and mesmerizing worlds that drew players in. Now, on the Switch, we have the pleasure of experiencing Octopath Traveler.
This remarkable game showcases a unique blend of 2D sprite work and intricately designed 3D backgrounds, resulting in a vast and fantastical world awaiting exploration. With a diverse cast of eight distinctive characters to select from, Octopath Traveler promises a profound and enthralling journey. While it may not surpass the legendary status of Chrono Trigger, it undeniably stands among the finest JRPGs available on the Switch, ready to captivate players with its immersive storytelling and captivating gameplay mechanics.
Katana Zero (83)
For those who found Hotline Miami intriguing but yearned for a blend of samurai swords rather than animal masks, Katana Zero is a game that demands your attention. This exceptional title seamlessly merges elements of action, stealth, crime noir, and a blood-soaked homage to Kill Bill, resulting in a captivating and truly distinctive experience.
Within this cyberpunk realm of hack-and-slash, you assume the role of a neon-drenched samurai warrior navigating a city plagued by crime. Both you and your adversaries meet a swift demise with a single strike, emphasizing the need for flawless planning and execution in your approach. While death is an inevitable companion on this journey, the visually stimulating spectacle that unfolds before your eyes compensates for the transience of life. Prepare yourself for an immersive adventure that blends genres and offers a thrilling display of swordplay and strategic prowess.
Sonic Mania (86)
While it may feel like a bit of a cheat to include a character such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Mania takes the iconic blue blur back to its origins in a thrilling 2D platformer. Sonic dashes through beloved stages like Green Hill Zone and Stardust Speedway, taking on the notorious Dr. Eggman and his mechanical minions with an explosive force.
If this all sounds strangely familiar, that’s because Sonic Mania serves as a heartfelt homage to the essence of Sonic games. Given the hedgehog’s recent stumbles in the realm of three-dimensional adventures, encountering him in a classic and recognizable form feels like a refreshing gust of wind.
The Messenger (86)
In this captivating action platformer, you’ll discover a delightful surprise that offers double the gameplay and a stunning visual experience. The Messenger not only pays homage to the retro platformers of yesteryears but also presents two distinct styles of pixel art graphics for your enjoyment. Prepare yourself for a true test of your ninja skills as you navigate through its challenging levels and intricate layouts.
The initial stages of the game present a classic 8-bit platforming adventure, reminiscent of the original Ninja Gaiden. However, as you reach the midway point, The Messenger cleverly transitions into a captivating 16-bit Metroidvania experience. This unique twist adds a new layer of complexity, offering both a formidable challenge and breathtaking visuals. Rest assured, the message of this game is loud and clear: prepare to be captivated by its undeniable charm and innovation.
Hyperlight Drifter (88)
Imagine if A Link to the Past plunged into a post-apocalyptic sci-fi/fantasy aftermath—that’s the essence of Hyperlight Drifter. Describing the game’s feel is a challenge in itself, requiring more time than we have to spare.
Hyperlight Drifter goes beyond being a mere sci-fi adventure; it offers an immersive experience. In the role of the Drifter, you’ll engage in intense hacking, slashing, and shooting, navigating a treacherous planet while striving to prevent its complete consumption by an ominous malevolence. There are no dialogues, no narrations, and no explicit context. Your understanding of the world is left open to your interpretation, inviting you to delve deep into the game’s enigmatic universe.
Cave Story (88)
Imagine taking the captivating and somewhat claustrophobic gameplay of Super Metroid and blending it together with the endearing characters and emotionally resonant storytelling found in Undertale. The result would likely resemble the fascinating world of Cave Story. This unique gem of a game evokes the sensation of being a small fish in a vast ocean, yet its platforming challenges and engrossing narrative will continually beckon you back for more.
Within Cave Story’s peculiar yet captivating storyline, you’ll encounter abandoned robots, eccentric scientists, and an enigmatic race of rabbit-like beings. As you delve into the depths of this subterranean realm, the full story behind these mysterious elements unfolds. Armed with a trusty blaster and your adept platforming skills, the responsibility falls upon you to escape the labyrinthine caves and put an end to the wicked plans of an evil doctor.
Shovel Knight (91)
Now, we arrive at a truly captivating addition to our compilation, the enduringly eccentric and undeniably charming Shovel Knight. Embracing the enchantment of 8-bit graphics, this timeless gem, along with its remarkable downloadable content (DLC), draws inspiration from the very best that the platformer genre has to offer. In fact, we confidently assert that it stands among the pinnacle of platforming excellence.
Shovel Knight pays homage to beloved NES classics such as Mega Man 2, DuckTales, and even incorporates a touch of Castlevania. Furthermore, it artfully blends these influences with the delightful absurdity reminiscent of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. With your trusty shovel in hand, embark on an adventure that will undoubtedly rank among the greatest experiences in the indie gaming realm.
In the realm of indie gaming, few titles have garnered as much acclaim and discussion as Celeste. This captivating 8-bit Metroidvania not only boasts mesmerizing visuals but also offers an exhilarating gameplay experience that tantalizes and challenges players. Its stunning artistic style adds to its allure, creating an almost hypnotic effect that draws players deeper into its world of adventure and exploration.
When it comes to Celeste, two words truly encapsulate its essence: challenge and control. The game’s mechanics are easy to grasp initially, but mastering them proves to be a formidable task. Death may come swiftly and frequently, but each setback is swiftly followed by a fresh start, fueling a relentless pursuit of progress. These elements are seamlessly intertwined with an unexpectedly emotional narrative, elevating Celeste to the status of a true masterpiece that leaves an indelible impact on the player.
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