SEATTLE – While I'm not the first person to make this observation, Nintendo has gone out of its way to highlight Switch ports of games you've probably already played. I'd be a little more skeptical of this, save for the fact that the Big N has chosen some excellent games to highlight. Bastion, Into the Breach, Transistor, TowerFall and Hyper Light Drifter are among the latest round of indie games to merit Switch ports, and they work just as well as you remember.
I got to check out these games firsthand at Nintendo's PAX West 2018 Nindies event. Even though I'd played most of them before, I couldn't help but notice how well they fit the Switch platform and ethos.
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To be fair, Nintendo has been pretty good about keeping a steady stream of meaty first-party games. The Switch debuted alongside The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, while Super Mario Odyssey followed a few months later. We've seen Splatoon 2, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and the surprisingly good Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. But if you want tons of quality games on a regular basis, you've got to check out the indie scene.
As stated above, Bastion, Into the Breach, Transistor, TowerFall and Hyper Light Drifter are either available now on the Switch, or will make their way there soon. And there's a very good chance you've played one – or all – of them before. To be sure, there's always a certain level of disappointment that comes with the announcement of a port rather than a whole new game. But Switch ports offer two advantages that you don't often get with a simple re-release.
The first, of course, is the ability to play games on the go. Take Hyper Light Drifter, for example. This 2D action/RPG looks and plays great on TV and computer screens. But imagine taking it on a long bus or plane trip, complete with a pair of headphones to experience the immersive, creative soundtrack. The Switch has a limited battery life, to be sure, but the few hours you could wring out of the experience would fly by – and you could experience it without all the distractions you invariably find at home.
Another advantage of the Switch is that the system makes ad-hoc multiplayer ridiculously easy. Take TowerFall, for example. This ultra-fast party game pits four adventurers against one another on a single side-scrolling screen, to see who can be the last man standing amidst a volley of deadly arrows. It's fast, furious and insanely easy to pick up and put down. Imagine showing this off at a relative's house during an otherwise-quiet family holiday; you'd be the toast of the evening.
Finally, it's easy to swallow the prospect of replaying beloved indie games; they're usually short and inexpensive. If you wanted an excuse to play an old favorite again, buying it on a new console is not strictly necessary, but it's usually as good a reason as any.
Of course, if you had your fill of these games the first time around, there's no need to buy them again. It's fair to hold onto your money for the next big release – and it's also fair to roll your eyes and wonder why so many of the Switch's best indie games have been around for years on other platforms.
But during the event, I idly asked a fellow reporter, "How many of these games am I realistically going to buy again?"
She replied, "All of them." She may have a point.