The Best Switch eShop Games of 2017

We break down the best games in the fledgling digital marketplace!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 01/02/2018 07:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

As much of a success as Wii was when it launched back in 2006, it’s still pretty astounding the rollicking roller coaster of a debut that Switch has had. While there are plenty of delightful games that dropped in cartridge form on the hybrid console, there are practically just as many that appeared exclusively on Switch’s eShop. It was difficult to whittle down the best titles to grace the digital storefront but, after some deliberation, we finally came to a consensus. If you have some eShop gift cards burning a hole in your wallet, use this list as a starting point for what you should consider downloading!


BEST SWITCH ESHOP GAME

SteamWorld Dig 2

Developer Image & Form is three for three with this, its third entry in the delightful SteamWorld universe of games. SteamWorld Dig 2 impresses on a number of fronts. From a gameplay perspective, this game expands upon the basic formula of the first SteamWorld Dig, which did a masterful job of sucking players into a loop of exploring the labyrinthine mines below the surface, digging up ore and gems, selling them, and then powering up their gear. The debut here of the returning Dorothy as the main protagonist of the game made the sting of the loss of Rusty much easier to deal with; she’s plucky and engaging, bringing a different tone to the proceedings as a result.

It doesn’t hurt that SteamWorld Dig 2 is a downright gorgeous game. Switch might be “underpowered” in some ways compared to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but the console has it where it counts, particularly given that it can be taken on the road, unlike its competitors. Image & Form packed in a metric ton of detail into the world of SteamWorld Dig 2, making what could have been bland and uninteresting caves look instead like works of art. Thanks to the game’s hand drawn aesthetic, this is easily one of the most gorgeous titles in the eShop. Joined with the seemingly countless ways to upgrade Dorothy’s gear, this is a title that will hook players from the outset and not let go until the credits roll. There’s also some payoff for fans who have played both SteamWorld Dig and Heist, so keep them peepers open and see if you can spot the connections!


BEST SWITCH ESHOP GAME RUNNERS-UP

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is the result of the efforts of a single developer: Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone; hard to believe given the level of polish and quality that’s present here. Stardew Valley takes the best of Harvest Moon’s farming simulation and relationship-building elements and combines them with the ability to explore procedurally-generated caves where ore can be mined and monsters battled. It’s this last element that helps Stardew Valley to differentiate itself from its spiritual inspiration and stand on its own two feet as a game. There are refinements to the Harvest Moon formula that also further help to distinguish Stardew Valley, like a simplified calendar system that breaks a year into four, 28-day long months that comprise each of the seasons. Stardew Valley has no set time for when objectives need to be met, or which ones, so players are free to experience the game as they see fit and go about things at their own pace. It’s a wonderful experience that clearly benefited from the four years its creator endeavored to develop it.

Yooka-Laylee

Playtonic Games isn’t a household name at this point, but if it keeps producing games like Yooka-Laylee it soon will be. Famously Kickstarted to great success, fans have been waiting on tenterhooks for Yooka-Laylee to come to a Nintendo console. First it was headed to Wii U, but with the arrival of Switch (and insurmountable technical issues porting the title to the former console) Playtonic quickly switched tracks and decided to bring the game to Nintendo’s hybrid system. It’s been a bit of a wait, but the time spent polishing Yooka-Laylee has definitely been worth it. This spiritual successor to the Banjo-Kazooie series is every bit as engaging as those N64 platformers, boasting the same witty writing, clever level design, and stunning visuals that those titles had. With a staff full of Rare expatriates it makes sense, but given the failure of crowdfunded darlings like Mighty No. 9, we’re all quite fortunate to have received this gem of a game.


HONORABLE MENTIONS

Rocket League

Who knew that soccer and race cars would prove to be a match akin to peanut butter and jelly? Apparently, developer Psyonix did, as Rocket League has been doing gangbusters in the video game industry since its debut in 2015. The title has finally made its way to Switch, bringing with it all the updates and DLC that have graced other platforms, along with a couple of exclusive goodies in the form of Nintendo-themed racers. Throw in cross-platform play and the ability to experience the game on the go, and this is easily one of the best ways to play Rocket League out there.

Snipperclips

Launch titles can get a bad rap after the fact, generally because they can tend to be either cash grabs trying to lure in unknowing consumers, rough around the edges because the hardware is new and the development team was still learning how to code for the platform, or an unfortunate mix of both. Thankfully, Snipperclips is an example of how to make a launch title with legs, as it expertly utilizes the elements of Switch’s hardware that make it special. Whether it’s the motion controls of the Joy-Con controllers or the ability to play co-op, Snipperclips remains an engaging play to this day. Be sure to give the sequel/DLC pack Snipperclips Plus for even more fun.

Sonic Mania

Now this was a long time coming. A snappy, over the top, head rush of 2D platforming that felt like it was pulled straight from Sonic’s days on Sega Genesis. Sonic Mania takes everything that fans loved in his various 1990s outings and melds them into a symphony of speed, color, and a killer soundtrack. Ironically, this beauty was developed not by Sonic Team, but Christian Whitehead, along with PagodaWest Games and Headcannon. Taking Sonic from the hands of Sega itself was a wise decision, as Whitehead in particular (who has previously produced fabulous mobile ports of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic CD) simply understands what it is about the character and his games that continues to draw fans in. Along with rejiggered classic Zones and stages, there are also plenty of new ones mixed in, as well, meaning fans new and old alike will find something to love here. Let’s hope there’s a Sonic Mania 2 in our future!


What’s your take?

Thanks for checking out our selection for the best Switch eShop games of 2017. What games did you download in 2017? Did you agree with our choices? Let us know in the comments!

One Response to “The Best Switch eShop Games of 2017”

  • 694 points
    OG75 says...

    I enjoyed every game on this list. (Well actually I’m holding out for the Rocket League cartridge). If there were even more honorable mentions, I might hand them out to “Golf Story”, “Blossom Tales”, “Blaster Master” and “Graceful Explosion Machine”. Gotta love the Switch’s e-Shop and it hasn’t even been out for a year yet.

    Oh and while it’s only a demo, “Octopath Traveler” may be one of the most enjoyable items I’ve downloaded to my Switch. Can’t wait for the full title.

    Happy New Year!

    Thumb up 2

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