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Side-scrolling games are classic, and few systems can compare to the massive roster of titles that the Nintendo Switch has within the genre!
#27 Kirby Star Allies
We’ll start with a Nintendo title featuring a character that everyone is familiar with. It’s Kirby! Yes, the adorable pink puffball is a staple in the Nintendo lineup, and he has multiple Switch games. Kirby Star Allies was released in 2018 and was a big hit with gamers!
The main hook of the title is that Kirby needs help from “allies,” who happen to be some of his greatest enemies! Waddle Dees, Meta Knight, and King Dedede are the main ones, but you can make friends with others too! That way, your friends can jump in and have some great co-op action with you!
#26 Super Punch Patrol
Beat’em up titles were at one time a focal point of the gaming world. They were simple to make, fun to play through, and you had a lot of options on how to construct them.
Super Punch Patrol is an example of a modern take on the genre, and with a unique art style all its own. You play Anders Punch. Yeah, that’s his real name, a police chief who is tired of the crime on his streets. So what is he to do? He goes out onto the streets and punches the lights out of every criminal he finds!
Sounds like a plan, so make it happen!
Icey is a fast-paced action title where things go in the direction you want or the direction the narrator wants. Confused?
The game has a narrator that will “guide” you on where to go. But you can ignore that voice and go in the direction you desire. As for who Icey is, that’s another thing you’ll figure out over time. Or possibly not. Again, it’s up to you to decide where the story goes.
That being said, the fast-paced combat is a constant in the game, and you’ll enjoy it as you cut through enemies and challenge massive bosses.
So jump in and see where the game takes you!
Are you ready to ink some bad guys? No, we’re not talking about THAT OTHER ink game/games you can play on Switch. We’re talking about Splasher!
The game, which was definitely inspired by those other titles, focuses on you being a worker known as a Splasher. You and your kin work at a factory. But one day, your boss turns on you and tries to get rid of everyone! So you must use your ink cannon to quickly make your way through the company and stand up to the boss so you can free your people!
Think fast, be quick with your movements, and save the day!
Welcome to Broforce, where being “tame” is overrated, and your job is to unleash freedom on the world by having the biggest weapons to blow away your enemies. Sound like fun?
If so, you’ll be able to play the game with three other people and swarm through levels with an array of weapons that match the insane nature of the characters. Everything in the level is destructible. So if you think something is in your way, just get rid of it! Work with your partners and the terrain to tear through the enemy forces and complete your mission!
Then, go design your own levels to have a blast in!
#22 Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack
If you want more bang for your buck with purchases, you need to get the Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack!
The pack brings you the two games featuring Gunvolt from the 3DS to the Switch in one place so you can play them back-to-back! The game offers plenty of challenges too, so you’ll have your hands full with both. The game puts you in a world where you play an “adept” Gunvolt who can wield electricity like no other.
You’ll use his powers to free the world from an evil conglomerate! The upgrades for the switch shine via getting 60 VPS, better UI, all the DLC and more!
#21 Guacamelee 2
Ladies and gentlemen, Juan Aguacate, is back! Guacamelee 2 embraces everything that the beloved first title did and cranks things up to eleven for a new main event.
You’ll once again explore a world full of references to Mexican culture and lore, and you’ll do it while fighting skeleton hordes as only a luchador can! Unleash familiar wrestling moves while also learning new ones to be even more effective in battle!
A unique cast of characters will help the game further stick out in your mind. You won’t want to miss a second. So don your mask, and prepare to fight for the people in Guacamelee 2!
#20 Streets of Rage 4
We already showed you one beat ’em title on our list, and now we’re showing off Streets of Rage 4. The fourth entry in the beloved franchise upgrades all that came before, all the while bringing back all that fans loved previously, so if you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll love this.
For example, the game stars the three protagonists from past titles via Alex, Adam, and Blaze. One of the twists is that they’ve never looked better. They, and the rest of the world, are now hand-drawn to allow for crisp visuals and animations.
The gameplay is upgraded too, and you’ll love beating up foes no matter who you play as across the game’s twelve stages.
PlayDead is one of the masters of side-scrolling games for multiple reasons. The first reason is aesthetics. Their words are always dark yet oddly beautiful and full of depth. The second is that their titles are filled with narrative-driven action that will make you wonder what’s going on until the very end of the story.
Their titles are revered, and Inside is one of the ones that have stood out the most. You are a young boy who is being hunted for unknown reasons. You find yourself heading to a building where dark things are going on. You’ll work your way through it to the heart of the project to learn the dark truth that awaits you.
Will you be able to survive what the game throws at you?
#18 Mark of the Ninja
Plenty of video games offer you the chance to be a ninja. But in Mark of the Ninja, you’ll have the ultimate opportunity to be the ultimate ninja of your choosing. The game gives you cursed tattoos that expand your senses and abilities, and you must unleash this new power on unsuspecting foes.
But what kind of ninja will you be? Will you choose the path of shadows and attempt to go unnoticed by all enemies so you can make your way to your true targets easily?
Or shall you be the brutal silent killer? One that unleashes fury from the unknown and makes his victims wonder who killed them.
Choose your playstyle, and show the world what kind of ninja you are!
#17 Spelunky 2
The sequel to the beloved platformer title, Spelunky 2, takes things to a new level by bringing in the “next generation of explorers” for you to have fun with!
But here’s one of the big twists, they’re on the moon! That means you’ll have a literal new “world” to explore as you dive into the many layers of the moon and see what you can find. Therein lies another twist with the game. Each level has multiple ways that you can work through it.
You’ll also make a base camp that’ll expand while you play. You can meet new characters and tame animals you meet, and there’s plenty to find on the moon to keep you occupied for a while.
#16 Super Meat Boy
Super Meat Boy is arguably one of the most challenging side-scrolling titles ever made. The game is unrelenting in its difficulty, and you will make your fingers bleed at times trying to get from the beginning of the level to the end. But that relief in the end will be worth it! Right?
In the game, you play as a meat creature who is trying to save his girlfriend from a villain. That journey will take him across 300 levels and through multiple boss fights. Each level and boss will present their own challenges to overcome. Of course, whether you make it through said challenges depends on your skills.
There are secrets within the levels, a level editor, and more!
#15 The Messenger
The Messenger is a fun twist on the 2D side-scrolling genre. Typically, you have one visual style as you play the game. But here? You have two.
You’re a ninja whose clan has been attacked by a demon horde. To survive, you must deliver a scroll that will save them. But as you make your way through the world, you’ll go through portals that’ll transport you from an 8-bit world to a 16-bit one, and vice-versa. Through your travels, you’ll learn more about the world, the truth about the message you carry, and fight many dangers along the way.
Do you think you can deliver the message?
#14 Hollow Knight
Here’s another side-scroller that embraces the Metroidvania model and takes it to extensive lengths! Hollow Knight features you going to an ancient lost kingdom and trying to learn the secrets that lie underneath it.
There is much within the kingdom, but not all is good. You must explore, fight off creatures, make friends where you can, and see what treasures you can secure. Adding to that, the game has expansive DLC content that gives you new music, additional story, more bosses to fight, and more!
Plus, a sequel is on the way. So you’ll want to play this one so you can enjoy the next one.
#13 Yoshi’s Crafted World
Are you ready to enjoy another title featuring everyone’s favorite green dinosaur? In Yoshi’s Crafted World, Yoshi will have to travel through a land made of cardboard to stop a villainous plot!
Specifically, Kamek and Baby Bowser have tried to steal a powerful stone but have shattered it in the process! As such, Yoshi and his allies must collect them before the duo does!
The fun part of the game isn’t just going through the world but seeing both sides of it. You’ll will play levels forwards and backward to find all the items within and get the most out of the game.
Behold one of the best video games of our generation. So why is Celeste so low after all that praise? Well, like many games on this list, the platformer loves its difficulty. So you will find a challenge in helping the young Madeline ascend the mountain known as Celeste and get the peace she needs.
As you climb the mountain, you’ll need to make your way through 700+ screens, and a single mistake can lead to your death! But don’t drown in sorrow when you die. Instead, get right back in the game and force your way up that mountain!
Then, do the “B-Side” of the game for even more difficulty!
#11 Mega Man 11
It took a long time, but the Blue Bomber finally returned with Mega Man 11. The franchise’s best-selling game features Mega Man again going up against the dastardly Dr. Wily and his Robot Masters!
Take on each level and traverse the traps and dangers to make it to the final boss. After you beat them, acquire their powers so that you can take on more enemies in later levels! But that’s not all. There are new abilities like the Double Gear, which will further expand what Mega Man can do!
If you’re ready for another classic game featuring a classic character, get Mega Man 11!
#10 Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
The Shovel Knight franchise started as a Kickstarter title from Yacht Club Games and later expanded into a series of titles that are still coming out.
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove collects the first three adventures from the series and puts them into one conveniently priced package for you to get.
The main title focuses on the Shovel Knight. After a tower where a friend was lost emerges out of nowhere, he must venture across the land and see if his lost companion is there. Along the way, he’ll fight old friends and deadly rivals who seek to impede him! So use your shovel and other items to beat them back and complete your quest!
#9 New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
Believe it or not, Mario has not had a proper 2D game made for the Nintendo Switch. Another title was made that was close, but it’s not what people think about when talking about the plumber’s franchise.
The good news is that a port of a 2D title from the Wii U era came to Switch via New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. The game includes both the main game and the Luigi content that was added later on.
Bowser has once again captured Princess Peach, and it’ll be up to Mario and his friends to save them. You can play the game in co-op mode to expand the experience and have fun with friends.
#8 Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is one of several ports from the Wii U to the Nintendo Switch. But that’s not a bad thing because the Wii U game was an incredible title, and now Switch owners can experience it themselves.
The second title in the line from Retro Studios has Donkey Kong and his family going up against fierce Vikings! They have frozen DK’s island, so the family must fight to free themselves from their icy grasp!
For the first time ever, you’ll get to play as Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong, and Cranky Kong! So pick the ones you want to play at and free your home!
#7 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is another beat ’em up title, but it sent shockwaves throughout the gaming space by how good it was upon release.
It would’ve been easy for the dev team to replicate the old-school TMNT games that arcade and early console users played. But instead, they took those games and upgraded them far beyond what they could’ve done.
For example, you can have six players in the game simultaneously! There are also special moves that each character can do. The hand-drawn style also adds to the game’s quality, and you’ll feel like you’re at the arcades once again.
#6 Ori and The Blind Forest
There have been many misconceptions about side-scroller games over the years. One of them is that these games can’t have proper “emotional depth” due to their side-scrolling nature. Ori and The Blind Forest put that theory down hard the moment it came out.
You play as a small creature named Ori, who lives in a dying forest. Now an orphan, Ori must venture through the forest and navigate its dangers to save others and protect their home.
With a beautifully rendered art style and tight gameplay, Ori’s first title impressed many when it came out, and fans were thrilled when it arrived on Switch.
Anyone who said that side-scroller games were a “dying breed” outside of Mario and Sonic games clearly didn’t see Cuphead coming and making a big impact.
The game was made by a duo who had such faith in their idea that they put everything on the line to make it. The result was an old-school game visually but with the brutal difficulty of modern titles. Everyone who has played the game has loved it, and the developers made back their money in spades. They even got a Netflix show starring their characters!
The best part is the final content has been released for the game. So if you get it now, you’ll have the complete experience.
#4 Super Mario Maker 2
While many of the games we’ve discussed on this list have various amounts of content, Super Mario Maker 2 is a title that potentially has infinite amounts of content.
The reason is tied into the bones of the game. You’re given a blank slate and told to make a Mario level that fits your desires. You can do it with various items, enemies, obstacles, and so on from the franchise. You can even style it in 2D or 3D graphics to make it look like your favorite game from the series.
The creativity that has been displayed since the game’s launch is incredible. So make your levels, and then try out other players’ levels!
#3 Sonic Mania
Yes, we’re putting the Blue Blur ahead of Mario on this list, and for a good reason! While the last entry is an amazing title that fans can improve, Sonic Mania was fan-made. SEGA helped bring it to life in the end, but the fans put everything they could into the game to make it shine.
The title is a remix of previous titles featuring Sonic. The goal was to show that the 2D gameplay of yesteryear was what Sonic fans wanted to play. The result is a fast-paced side-scroller that is both familiar and fresh at the same time. You can see the love and detail put into the game, and you’ll feel like you’re on the Sega Genesis again, even though you’re on the Switch.
#2 Kirby and the Forgotten Land
While not your traditional Kirby side-scroller, Kirby and the Forgotten Land was a wonderfully delightful title that many are still talking about today.
In the game, Kirby gets sucked into another dimension. When he arrives, he learns that the Waddle Dees are getting kidnapped by the Beast Pack for an unknown purpose. Kirby must delve deep into this forgotten land and unlock new abilities to help carry him through!
One such ability is “Mouthful Mode,” where he’ll absorb specific items to unlock all-new transformations!
You’ll love the new aesthetic of the game as the title opens up the world a little bit and allows for more freedom of movement and fun than ever before!
#1 Metroid Dread
It was hard to figure out who to put in the top spot on our list, but we decided to go with a side-scroller that wowed people with how great it was and how it breathed life into a stagnant franchise.
Metroid Dread was a title 15 years in the making, and it finally came out with wonderful results on the Switch. The game is canonically the latest in the story of Samus Aran, and she’ll be tested as she heads to a world that appears to have the dreaded X-Parasite.
But immediately upon landing on the planet, she blacks out and winds up deep beneath the planet. Now she must fight through the planet and learn the truth of what’s happening.