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The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

The Nintendo Switch has plenty of amazing AAA games you can pick up in stores at full price, but if you’re looking to save a little cash, the console has also become one of the best places to find affordable titles. From racing games to platformers and even full-on role-playing adventures, there is something available for practically every thrifty player, and with cross-platform play enabled on some of the games, you can even play with your pals on Xbox One. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games at or below $20.

Celeste

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

Celeste is an absolute steal at 20 bucks. Why? It’s one of the best games on Switch. Period.

Celeste is both a stellar platformer and an inspiring tale about depression and anxiety. You play as Madeline, a young woman determined to climb to the top of Celeste Mountain to regain her sense of self. The mountain offers a perilous test, though, one that requires you to string together jump sequences to clear each screen.

Like all great platformers, it’s simple to get the hang of but challenging to master. Madeline and the supporting cast shines through insightful writing and gameplay that often mirrors her current emotional state. Climbing to the top of Celeste Mountain is immensely satisfying the first time. And if you’re up to the even more trying challenge, you can do it all over again through unlockable bonus chapters.

If you’re not sold yet, just know that we awarded Celeste a 10/10 in our review.

Into the Breach

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

Into the Breach is a small-scale turn-based strategy game from the team behind FTL: Faster Than Light. In an intriguing twists, losing all your precious few units, brings the game back to the start in the same fashion as a rogue-like. Rather than taking out all the enemies on the board, the name of the game is protecting your power grids.

Each round only lasts a few turns, but a lot can happen in the span of just a few minutes. The result is a tactics game that requires you to think ahead, from the very beginning, in order to make it out alive with your infrastructure intact. The more you play Into the Breach, the more you discover its staggering depth.

Like Celeste, we awarded Into the Breach a 10/10 in our review. It’s an absolute must-play for strategy fans.

Katana Zero

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

Taking cues from Hotline Miami, Katana Zero is the latest game published by Devolver Digital to blow our minds. You’re a mysterious samurai, trapped in a neo-noir world. Armed with a blade, a dodge move, and the ability to slow down time, you must clear out baddies of all kinds throughout a selection of sidescrolling levels. You can slow time to deflect bullets, belting them back for a flashy kill.

In Katana Zero, one hit and it’s game over. The same goes for all enemies outside of bosses. The gameplay is a mix of stylish action, stealth, and puzzler, as figuring out the order to strike is just as important as the execution. One neat thing is that each level is a simulation, a plan for how you would perform the contracts. So “dying,” simply rewinds the tape to the start of the room.

On top of the wonderful gameplay, the story and visuals are top notch. Katana Zero is the full package, and it’s only 15 bucks.

Cuphead

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

Cuphead is one of the most impressive development feats in recent memory. The 2017 game from StudioMDHR dazzled at launch with astounding 1930s cartoon visuals and sounds. It’s even more impressive that it runs just as well on Switch, in both console and handheld modes.

Cuphead is essentially a boss rush, with a handful of run and gun levels breaking up the big showdowns. Each boss feels unique and challenging, which makes the entire experience a joy even when you’re struggling. Though Cuphead is a difficult game, its minimalistic mechanics and subtle encouragement compel you to keep going even when things look bleak. And you can even play with a friend to let Cuphead’s brother Mugman get in on the soul-collecting, too.

Cuphead is worth buying simply to gawk at, but it’s also one of the best sidescrolling action games on Switch.

The End is Nigh

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

The End is Nigh is a lot like Super Meat Boy in that each level is bite-sized and you’ll die hundreds, if not thousands, of times. That makes sense, considering Super Meat Boy co-creator Edmund McMillen designed it. In The End is Nigh, you work your way through a series of dreary worlds as Ash, a small blob who just wants to play his favorite video game.

The End is Nigh features slick, tight controls that fans of Super Meat Boy will feel familiar with. While you cannot wall jump, you can grab onto ledges, a vital skill for advancing past obstacles and enemies. The End is Nigh is perfect for short spurts, as you can literally make progress in just a few seconds. But, trust us, it’s hard to put down once you get going.

Hollow Knight

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

This 2D Metroidvania became one of the Switch’s biggest indie hits when it launched Summer 2018. Hollow Knight has been compared to Dark Souls for its challenging combat and exploration system that often sees you stumbling into hidden areas. You play as a diminutive insect knight armed with a needle sword.

The exploration is really what makes Hollow Knight stand out. The map is absolutely massive, with a bunch of unique biomes that become open to you as you unlock new abilities. Danger is always near, as enemies can lay waste to you rather quickly, and boss fights prove to be a huge challenge. Hollow Knight gradually reveals itself to be one of the most well-rounded, engaging Metroidvania’s ever made the further you progress. You can easily sink more than 50 hours into this mystifying world without even realizing how long you’ve been playing.

Night in the Woods

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

If you’re a fan of dark comedy, look no further than Night in the Woods, a wonderful sidescroller starring a town of anthropomorphic animals. In Night in the Woods, you step into the paws of Mae, a cat and college dropout, who heads home to Possum Springs. The problem is that the town and the animals who raised her aren’t what she remembers.

Night in the Woods isn’t a challenging game, as it’s action mainly involves talking to the animal of Possum Springs. In this respect, it’s closer to an old school point-and-click adventure game. Night in the Woods will make you laugh — a lot — but it also has a poignant and sobering message beneath its surface.

Rocket League

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

Typically, sports and racing video games don’t cross over, regardless of their combined category at The Game Awards. The skills to play a sport like soccer or basketball are far different than the ones necessary to control a rocket-powered automobile, but Psyonix managed to meld the two into the worldwide phenomenon that is Rocket League.

Essentially soccer with small cars substituting for players, the game has managed to attract a considerable competitive scene, with the top players capable of ridiculous acrobatics as they attempt to knock the ball into their opponents’ net. On the Switch, you’ll be able to play the game anywhere you go, and with Xbox One cross-play the game has a sizable community to compete against.

SteamWorld Dig 2

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

The “Metroidvania” genre has a long history on Nintendo consoles, and there are few developers who have mastered it as much as Image & Form. SteamWorld Dig 2 builds on the addictive mining adventures of the original game, filled with secrets to discover and enemies to defeat. With upgrades available for your gear, a hookshot straight out of Zelda for exploring larger areas, and tight, polished platforming, you can easily play it until the battery on your Switch dies, but that’s when you can dock your system and use the Joy-Con controller to continue the action. Its bright and unique take on the Old West offers a nice change of pace from the science-fiction and fantasy typically seen in the genre, and there are plenty of surprises in store.

Battle Chef Brigade

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

Aside from Monolith Soft’s Xenoblade Chronicles 2, there aren’t too many role-playing games available on the Switch right now, and Battle Chef Brigade fills that void in a very unique way. Part cooking game, you must create delicious dishes using a “match three” system similar to series like Bejeweled or Candy crush, but before you can cook, you must hunt.

In this segment, Battle Chef Brigade is an old-school 2D action-role-playing game, with storybook-like backgrounds and sharp animations. There are two playable chefs, Mina and Thrash, both of whom are voice acted, and the game even includes “puzzle rush” and “break the dish” modes if you want to compete against your friends on the leaderboards.

Stardew Valley

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

The Harvest Moon series had been in a downward slump for years when first-time developer Eric Barone decided it was time to inject new life into the farming genre. Stardew Valley is much more than a basic Harvest Moon knockoff, however.

With a cast of memorable characters and a charming story, it’s a world just as immersive as anything created by BioWare or Bethesda, and the game continues to be updated with additional farming features. Once you’re done improving your town and choosing a marriage partner, you can even explore dangerous dungeons to battle monsters and find hidden treasure.

Golf Story

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

We live in an era of yearly sports titles with incremental changes to rosters, a few additional features or modes, and a new coat of paint. Golf Story thumbs its nose at these trends, with a game that is part golf and part role-playing adventure.

Similar to Mario Tennis on the Game Boy Color, the game is supported by a unique cast of characters to meet, and your golfing isn’t limited to the course. Nearly every location you visit will have a challenge to complete, such as launching a drive into a hard-to-reach area, and the eight different environments are wildly different from each other. It might not offer the most realistic form of golf, but it is the most enjoyable.

Oxenfree

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

Growing up is tough, and it’s made even harder when there’s a time-shifting supernatural entity looming over your head. In Oxenfree, a group of teenagers vacation to a secluded island, hoping to enjoy themselves before they’re forced to return to everyday life. Instead, they watch each other die, relive traumatic events of the past, and attempt to solve the mystery surrounding the island’s true nature.

There isn’t much “action” to speak of in Oxenfree, as the game’s main mechanic is a simple dialogue-choice system, but it allows you to make subtle changes to characters’ personalities based on how you want them to be used in the story. Short and straightforward, it’s the perfect game to take with you on the go.

Ape Out

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

In Ape Out, you play as a large orange gorilla during his attempt to escape captivity from four different scenarios. Yes, the evil humans just keep locking him in cages and guarding him with a serious arsenal at their disposal. Luckily, you have tremendous strength and can turn the guards into puddles of blood and limbs with one well-timed push. From a top-down perspective, you navigate winding hallways, all the while a jazzy drumbeat plays in the background. When you kill an enemy, cymbals produce a tingling crash.

Ape Out is simplistic in that you only use two triggers — to push or grab enemies — and the thumbstick. This winds up working out in Ape Out’s favor, as it harks back to the wonderful streamlined nature of arcade games. Thanks to randomized levels, Ape Out‘s challenge persists throughout and makes each run as exciting as the last. Ape Out is a stylish, addictive action game that manages to make each moment an intense thrill.

Thumper

The best Nintendo Switch games you can get for under $20

The Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode makes it a perfect spot to play rhythm games, and Thumper’s unique brand of “rhythm violence” puts a new spin on a genre that seemed to have no room for innovation.

As you make your way through each stage and its bumping jams, you’ll destroy objects in the environment and watch them explode into a pleasant mist of particle effects, and the audio cues make it the perfect choice to play when you’re using headphones. We wouldn’t recommend it if you’re going on particularly bumpy car rides, however, as the quick movements might lead to a queasy stomach.

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