7 lesser-known Nintendo Switch games that could get big fast

Once you get a Nintendo Switch, you kind of don't want to play games on anything else. That could be a problem if it was just Mario, Link, and company that you could undock and take with you on your daily adventures. But the Nintendo independent games showcase at PAX West this year made it clear that this little system is adaptable far beyond its dock and sliding Joy-Cons; turn-based fantasy warfare sat alongside old-school brawlers, down the corner from first-person exploration RPGs. Out of the 20 upcoming Nintendo Switch games at the showcase, these seven definitely deserve a spot near the top of your eShop wishlist.

Super Meat Boy Forever

Release date: TBC 2018

People begged for a version of Super Meat Boy that could work on mobile, so Team Meat answered with the multiplatform Super Meat Boy Forever - and though it's a runner game without the precision directional control of the original's sublime platforming, it still feels like a cut above the runners you might've played before. As Meat Boy or Bandage Girl, you need to time jumps, slides, and air dashes (using a mere two inputs) to rescue your adorable offspring Nugget from that dastardly Dr. Fetus. Critically, the levels aren't endless or procedurally generated: they're handcrafted to test the limits of your sawblade-avoiding reflexes, designed in that magical way (similar to Runner 3) where overcoming each grueling challenge feels just within reach, and you'll definitely get it on the next run. As in classic Super Meat Boy, there's a punishingly difficult Dark World counterpart to every level - but they also have three increasingly difficult Light World iterations, so there's effectively four challenges to conquer for each stage. I'd personally take Super Meat Boy Forever's speed, simplicity, and sawblade obsession over Super Mario Run any day of the week.

Wargroove

Release date: 2018

Back in the Game Boy Advance days, the Advance Wars series eased players into complex military tactics with an approachable grid-based battle system and charismatic commander characters. Now Wargroove is looking to do the same on Nintendo Switch with knights instead of tanks. Battles pit legions of adorable little soldiers against one another on big, colorful warzones, cutting away to more detailed (but equally adorable) close-in representations for skirmishes and fortress sieges. Rival commanders banter as their units trade blows and control of resource-giving settlements alike, and it's all good fun until the dragons show up. Hopefully they're on your side.

Nine Parchments

Release date: 2017

What if everybody in Gauntlet was the wizard? That's kind of the idea behind Nine Parchments, the new four-player co-op game from the developers of the Trine trilogy. With nary a warrior or elven ranger in sight, there's room for more nuance in the magical combat system system: switch between spells to capitalize on enemies' elemental weaknesses or combine your magical beams into a massive, screen-sweeping crossed stream. Oh, and there's friendly fire, because magical mishaps are all part of the fun of being a wizard (you can always revive your friends after you 'accidentally' freeze them to death).

Light Fingers

Release date: 2018

Light Fingers is a fantasy board game played by a group of scoundrels on a clockwork game board: roll the dice, explore the board, grab loot, and don't get caught. Successfully stealing treasure raises your infamy and sends the city guard after you; luckily, you can lose the heat if you lay low long enough. Your fellow players are the ones you really have to look out for: not only can they steal your unsecured loot by beating you in a game of quick-draw button presses, they can even manipulate dungeon traps to make your little looting life misery. This should be a fun one to play with your friends/future enemies.

Dragon: Marked for Death

Release date: Winter 2017

Originally envisioned as a 3DS title, Dragon Marked For Death is now a Switch-exclusive action RPG that fuses classic brawling with amazingly detailed anime art. It's playable in solo but best in up to four-player co-op, where you and your band of adventurers can party up locally or online to conquer expansive dungeons are equal parts combat and explorative platforming. Rather than the straightforward left-to-right brawling of something like Dragon's Crown, Dragon Marked For Death has you battling your way through levels with plenty of space to traverse in every direction as you hunt treasure and slay fantastical creatures. The thoughtfully paced combat evokes fond memories of Maple Story with its straight 2D perspective and plentiful verticality, while the striking sprite work is on par with that of Dungeon Fighter Online. Much of the art team worked on the fantastic Mega Man Zero series, which explains all the characters' dynamic designs and stylish animations.

Runner 3

Release date: Q1 2018

As with its predecessors, Runner 3 looks so innocent, with its vibrantly colorful visuals, bouncy animations, and invigorating tunes that become increasingly peppy as your progress through the constantly scrolling levels. But beneath that sugary exterior is a challenge that can push you to the brink if you're dead-set on perfection, turning completionists into masochists who will merrily replay a stage until they've fully conquered it. Along with the pursuit of high scores and a perfect run where you snag every gold bar, you can also go for the incredibly difficult blue gem route (which effectively acts like another difficulty level with just how precise you need to be to survive). Whichever path you choose, you'll encounter new gimmicks to mix up your musical run, like piloting a plane or driving a car from a behind-the-back perspective. The world themes are delightfully bizarre, including a land full of freakishly large breakfast items and a horror domain riddled with flying eyeballs, and you can even dig into some story elements if you so choose (like accepting a quest from a horribly disfigured fish who can still talk despite being turned into canned tuna).

Away: Journey to the Unexpected

Release date: Q1 2018

The first-person RPG adventuring of Away reminds me of playing classic PS1 platformers like Spyro and Croc, with its plucky characters and colorful world full of hidden gold pieces to collect for the sheer pleasure of it (and sure, to have a little spending money). It's almost like a family-friendly Skyrim on a much smaller scale: you play a young adventurer swinging around a wooden stick in first-person, but you can open up new attacks via NPCs you coax to join your party with the correct dialogue choices. The miniature-yet-open level designs just beg to be explored, and the Akira Toriyama-esque anime character designs have a great Doom effect going for them, animated as cartoony 2D cutouts that always turns to face you as you galavant around the 3D space.

Can't stand the wait? Check out our list of the best Nintendo Switch games you can play right now.