With the original Metroid created by Nintendo, released on the NES, and spawning an entire genre of adventure platformers, it only makes sense that this genre would flourish on the popular Nintendo Switch.
What's a Metroidvania game? Taking heavy inspiration from the Metroid and Castlevania franchises, Metroidvanias are sidescrolling platformers that encourage exploration across an open world of interconnected screens.
As you explore the world, you'll acquire new tools and gain access to new abilities that allow you to reach previously unreachable areas. And while Metroid and Castlevania lean heavily into horror themes, modern Metroidvania games have branched out in all kinds of ways.
Here are my picks for the best Metroidvania games you can play on the Nintendo Switch and why they stand out as great.
8. Lost Ruins
The best Metroidvania games always come with a sense of isolation to them. They drive home the point that these games are about exploration of a strange place while alone and relying only on your wits for survival.
Lost Ruins does a great job of that as you take control of a lost woman searching for a way out of the dark labyrinth she finds herself in. It's dark and dangerous. Exploration is key. All signs of a great Metroidvania game.
The Shantae series has been going strong for more than 20 years, and the latest entry called Shantae and the Seven Sirens is easily the best of the bunch.
The heroine is fun and charming, the action is challenging but manageable, and the game keeps a fast pace with all the power-ups so that you never get bored. Everything that WayForward learned from their previous games is here, resulting in a polished and well-balanced game experience.
6. Cave Story+
Amnesia is a common theme in Metroidvania games, allowing the player to discover the world around the characters along with them.
Cave Story+ uses this trope to great effect as players take control of an adorable and lost little robot named Quote as he tries to figure out who and where he is.
The original game was made by a single person in their spare time and you can feel the labor of love in every frame and pixel as you explore the world. It's really one of the best indie games ever.
Ori and the Blind Forest was already an indie darling when it released on PC, but the Nintendo Switch version is the definitive version of the game. The sequel (Ori and the Will of the Wisps) is also excellent, but nothing quite beats the excitement and feel of the original.
The world of Ori and the Blind Forest is ethereal and beautiful, while the slowly escalating powers of Ori and his companion Sein give players consistent rewards for their efforts. Playing this game on the Nintendo Switch is a different experience—the better experience.
Everything about Owlboy is designed to draw in fans of the Metroidvania genre. It has beautiful artwork, it has challenging but well-designed platforming mechanics, and it has an engrossing story that unfolds slowly as you explore the world.
The lore of Owlboy stands out as compelling and deep, giving players plenty to dig into hour after hour as they unlock new powers.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night was always going to appeal to players of the Metroidvania genre, given that the team that created it was also behind the original Castlevania series. They knew what fans were looking for.
To lift the curse inflicted on her, Miriam heads off to a castle that's infested with demons so that she can do a little bit of housecleaning. The combat is challenging but never feels unfair, and some of the powers are incredibly satisfying to unleash on your enemies.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is very much a spiritual successor to old-school Castlevania games in its feel and appearance, right down to the naming scheme of the game itself. But strangely enough, once you play it, you'll see that its gameplay is actually closer to that of Metroid.
Many people consider Hollow Knight to be the best Metroidvania game of all time, and it's easy to see why! The art is gorgeous. The gameplay is tight and brilliantly designed. The story is perfectly woven throughout the game, encouraging players to explore the world's corners.
However, what really sets Hollow Knight apart from the rest of the genre is how much content it provides. You can easily spend 25+ hours on the main story, and an additional 35+ hours if you're a completionist.
Many people believed that Samus's time had passed. With Metroid Prime 4 seemingly delayed forever, the greatest bounty hunter in the galaxy appeared to be relegated to gaming's nostalgic past.
But then Metroid Dread dropped in 2021 and reminded everyone of the brilliance of this franchise that launched the genre in the first place.
Metroid Dread combines everything we love about the genre—the wide-scale exploration, the sense of isolation, the hunt for power-ups, the difficult boss fights—and gives it the upgraded look of a modern AAA game.
This is Samus's biggest 2D adventure ever, and it's already her best-selling game of all time. It has breathed new life into a franchise that had seen more downs than ups in recent years, and we have no qualms in crowning it the best Metroidvania game for the Nintendo Switch.