We all have our favourites, but this is my current list for some of the best shoot ’em ups on the Nintendo Switch. That’s right, one of those features/lists as I’ve accumulated a fair amount of games on the Switch now, so thought I’d list some of the best.
To put it into perspective on what to expect, my favourite shoot ’em ups are the likes of Gradius, R-Type and the classic Space Invaders. I wouldn’t consider myself an aficionado as the point of most of these games is to get a high score, and mine are usually mediocre.
For me, a shoot ’em up needs to be void of any overthinking and pure survival instincts of avoiding projectiles, impossible structures and overpowered bosses. Shoot ’em ups needn’t be button mashers, but there’s no point being snobby should your thumb be firmly pressed on the shoot button throughout.
Without further ado, here are my top picks for the best shoot ’em ups on the Nintendo Switch.
The Best Shoot ’em Ups On The Nintendo Switch
R-Type Dimensions EX
One of the grandaddies of the shoot ’em up, this R-Type iteration features the original visuals and some revamped super duper improvements for a new generation, or those who wanted to see their favourite side-scroller in HD.
Choose from 2D or 3D in some classic scenes, with a revamped soundtrack, but regardless of how good this looks, this one is a classic and a must for any collection.
I’m surprised I still haven’t written a review about this one, so rather than waste some words on it now, let’s just say that this should be near the top of your list if you’re into old school shmups.
Jets ‘n’ Guns 2
Choose from weapons that fire from the front of the ship, the back – even a number of bombs, including my favourite, the Travolta. But perhaps the best part, for a customisation fan such as myself, is the choice when it comes to choosing the appearance of your ship. It’s purely cosmetic, of course, but flying is space in a Tomcat is wicked.
Putting the customisations to one side, the gameplay is very enjoyable. Sure, it’s the usual side-scrolling affair, and while there’s a story, it’s a little forgettable at times (sorry). If you’re into your prog metal, or whatever genre it comes under, you might be a fan of the soundtrack too.
Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo
Hands down one of my favourite indie shooters and highly recommended if you haven’t played it yet: Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo. I reviewed this on the Switch and developers Bare Knuckle Development kindly game me a PS4 code which I gave away, but I wish I had kept for myself as it’s PS5 compatible (and I need a decent shoot ’em up for my brand spanking new console).
Anyway, I’m not repeating the title in fear of RSI, but this game features plenty of game modes and upgrades that make it pretty moreish. Featuring survival-based missions where you have to last as long as you can to rescuing astronauts, it all boils down to having the best looking ship, and there’s a plethora to choose from.
What appealed to me most about this game wasn’t the fact that it was an indie shooter, but it resembled all those Amiga games I grew up on, almost always with an excellent soundtrack. Check out the exclusive music on the YouTube playlist, as provided by Electric Fan Death.
As a fan of Wings of Fury back on the Amiga 500 in the 1840s, I was eager to play Aircraft Evolution, thinking it might be either a homage or evolution (forgive the pun) to the title. It’s probably more of the former, but for all its simplicity, it’s a lot of fun.
You start the game with a Wright Brothers type plane, all the way up to tech bordering on alien technology – you certainly battle against in towards the end.
While Aircraft Evolution isn’t going to change the way you look at your life, it will entertain for a couple of days if you binge it, or a couple of weeks if you pace yourself. It’s not incredibly demanding, and despite the grind, it’s an enjoyable title. The only caveat is you’re unlikely to come back to it often once you unlock everything, but it makes a change to this feature being full of spaceships, eh?
A low-key Asteroids-like shooter, there’s a bit of a twist with this vector shooter as the incoming attacks are entirely self-inflicted. Your squid of a ship repeatedly fires out of its arse, and these ballistics follow the gravitational pull of the mini-planet you occupy.
There’s no stopping or hanging around to gather your thoughts as this title from Apt Games is continually in motion; as you edge your way to a safe spot on the screen, a flurry of neon plasma thingamajigs head your way, and your only option is to evade or fire a bomb last minute.
While this isn’t your traditional shoot ’em up as the enemy is essentially you, it has all the hallmarks of bullet hell, agility that would make a gazelle get a complex and a simple presentation where all you need to do is stay alive and concentrate on getting the best time.
I haven’t played this in the Switch but did review it on the PC and in all honesty, there’s going to be zero difference in the game. You don’t need an RTX 3080 for it, so the Switch can take it easy.
Another relatively low-key indie title, this time it’s courtesy of a futuristic jet and sky pirates in Jet Lancer, from Armor Game Studios, developed by Vladimir Fedyushkin.
Arguably a bit different from the conventional shoot ’em ups in this shortlist, in Jet Lancer you play as Ash as she battles baddies in the sky in pixel art-like dogfights, with little 3D mission selection screens to take you to the next area, not necessarily in order.
Despite its low key presentation, this game is pretty ferocious implementing jet thrusters to weave in and out of the enemies and their trails of missile smoke and other such dangers. A decent alternative to the usual game found in this list.
Rigid Force Redux
The final entry on the list as a) I only wanted to keep it brief, and b) I need a top-up on my drink and writing this through the perspective of a tumbler, Rigid Force Redux is a great game to finish on.
Again, this is another no-frills side-scroller in that it’s not jam-packed with features and instead follows the classic R-Type model and builds upon it. Rigid Force Redux from com8com1 Games is one of my personal favourites and practically everything I look for in a shoot ’em up.
The handling is great, the level design is tweaked to be just about right in that it’s not too taxing, not too boring with endless waves of the same enemies – it’s probably one of the best looking shooters on the Nintendo Switch in my opinion.
Reset The Leaderboards
So there you have it. Not the most definitive of lists, but these are my personal favourites when speaking of the Switch. Generally speaking, my go-to games on the Switch tend to be beat ’em ups or puzzles, and surprisingly, point and click games as there’s so many to choose from.
When it comes to shoot ’em ups however, I like to keep it mostly old school and rough and ready gameplay. Presentation isn’t essential, but as you can see from the above, it certainly helps – as does a decent soundtrack.
What do you think? Any missing? There’s bound to be, and while I’d say write a comment in the bottom, I’m not going to read it. Instead, send me an email in the contact form or send me a message on Twitter. I’m thinking of updating this list as I go along, but there’s another 40 or so features in the pipeline, plus the news and reviews…
Thank you for your time.