The 9 Best Classic Video Games to Play on the Nintendo Switch

Love classic games but getting sick of playing the same old same old? Check out these lesser-known gems.
Image credit: Matteo Grobberio/Unsplash

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The Nintendo Switch is a great system for playing retro games. Even just paying for the Nintendo Switch Online service gets you a sizable library of NES and SNES games. That said, there’s more to retro gaming than just Mario and Sonic.

Whether you’re looking for games that you haven’t played before or trying to find a great game you can’t remember, there’s sure to be something on here you’ll have fun playing. As a bonus, none of these games are particularly expensive.

1. Gunbird 2

Gunbird 2 Nintendo Switch Gameplay

You might recognize this game if you played shoot ’em ups on the Dreamcast or PlayStation 2 in the early 2000s. Gunbird 2 is a vertical scrolling shooter from the masters at Psikyo. While shooters of this type may seem the same from game to game, this varies things by throwing the first few levels at you in random order, meaning playthroughs feel varied.

Buy Gunbird 2 via Nintendo eShop

2. Zero Gunner 2

Zero Gunner 2 Nintendo Switch Gameplay

Zero Gunner 2 is like a look at what multi-direction shooters might have become if twin-stick controls never took off. This game sees enemies coming at you from all over the screen, but aiming works unusually: You need to hold a button while moving to turn your ship to aim at the enemies. While this sounds counterintutive, it becomes second nature quite quickly. Despite being a remake of a Japan-only Dreamcast remake from 2001, the graphics hold up rather well.

Buy Zero Gunner 2 via Nintendo eShop

3. Puyo Puyo 2

Sega Ages Puyo Puyo Tsu 『ぷよぷよ通』 First 29 Minutes on Nintendo Switch - First Look - Gameplay

While I’m sure hardcore fans notice major differences, all of the Puyo Puyo games I’ve played have felt similar, including this one. That said, this Sega Ages re-release for the switch has some neat extra features and costs the same low price as other Sega Ages titles. If the only Puyo Puyo you’ve played is Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, it’s worth giving this one a shot.

Buy Puyo Puyo 2 via Nintendo eShop

4. Puzzle Bobble

ACA NEOGEO Puzzle Bobble (Switch) First Look on Nintendo Switch - Gameplay

Free bubble shooter games are available all over the web, and chances are good you’ve played one. What you might not know is that all of these are based on a game, and that game is Puzzle Bobble. Instead of a bland background with plain bubbles, you get cool friendly dragon things and a catchy soundtrack. If you own a Switch and love puzzle games, this is one to check out.

Buy Puzzle Bobble via Nintendo eShop

5. Phantasy Star

Phantasy Star Sega Ages • Launch Trailer • Switch

While the Phantasy Star name might be well-known, the game itself isn’t nearly as well-known as the sequels that followed it or the spin-off, Phantasy Star Online. This is somewhat of a relic, as it’s a turn-based RPG from a time where the genre hadn’t really figured everything out yet, but it’s worth playing just to see what early examples of the genre had to offer.

Buy Phantasy Star via Nintendo eShop

6. Money Puzzle Exchanger

ACA NeoGeo: Money Puzzle Exchanger Gameplay | Switch PS4 XboxOne

Another overlooked puzzle game, this arcade gem has you adding up various coins to make larger amounts. Think of the mobile game Threes, only replace the tiles with coins, make it much more anime-inspired, and change the gameplay entirely. Okay, it’s really nothing at all like Threes, but if you likely puzzle games where numbers keep ticking higher, check out Money Puzzle Exchanger.

Buy Money Puzzle Exchanger via Nintendo eShop

7. King of the Monsters 2

ACA NEOGEO King of the Monsters 2 (Switch) First Look on Nintendo Switch - Gameplay

If you like fighting games more on the wrestling side but aren’t a fan of actual wrestling, A.) You have very specific tastes. B.) You’ll probably love this game. This game is all about big monsters fighting, well, big monsters. This is the Neogeo arcade version, which is generally considered superior to the Genesis version.

Buy King of the Monsters 2 via Nintendo eShop

8. Fantasy Zone

Sega Ages Fantasy Zone 『ファンタジーゾーン』 First 21 Minutes on Nintendo Switch - First Look - Gameplay

Another Sega Ages re-release, Fantasy Zone is a side-scrolling shooter that plays unlike most other scrolling shooters. As the name implies, this takes place not in space but above a brightly colored world with supremely goofy enemies. As you explore the world, you’ll eventually wrap around right back to where you were, which gives it a very different feel.

Buy Fantasy Zone via Nintendo eShop

9. Demon’s Crest

NS Super Nintendo - Nintendo Switch Online - #16: Demon's Crest

The only game on this list included in the SNES app available to subscribers of the Nintendo Switch Online service, Demon’s Crest is an action platformer with light RPG elements. What really makes it worth seeing is its setting and style. The game is short if you know how to get through it, but complex enough that you won’t rush through it on your initial playthrough.

Check out more awesome NES and SNES games on Nintendo Switch Online!

Looking for More Retro Games?

If this doesn’t begin to fulfill your thirst for classic games, don’t worry. Take a look at our list of awesome retro game collections.

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