Indie games have gotten a considerable boost across multiple platforms in recent years, with Steam Greenlight giving us new games daily, Sony and Microsoft opening up to indie developers more than ever with the latest PlayStation and Xbox consoles, and even Nintendo featuring a slew of indie games on its eShop on both the 3DS and Wii U. Unfortunately, a lot of the games on the 3DS and Wii U eShop get overlooked in favor of the newest Mario, Zelda or Pokemon, so here are the 10 Best Indie Games on Nintendo’s eShop.
Yumi’s Odd OdysseyNintendo 3DS
Yumi’s Odd Odyssey is the latest in a series of mostly Japan-only games in which you play as Yumi, a small child with a fishing rod that let’s her get around. The story here is really left up to interpretation, as the focus is on the gameplay. Odd Odyssey is a puzzle platformer at heart with one great, innovative mechanic: Yumi’s fishing rod. You use this rod to swing across gaps, slingshot yourself to higher areas, rapel down platforms, and even snag fish monster enemies. The game’s simplistic and cute 3D visuals, as well as its calm and ambient music, are a nice offset to the difficulty of the game and surprising challenge it offers. The boss battles in the game are another welcome change of pace, as they aren’t always cut and dry affairs. Yumi’s Odd Odyssey is a fantastic addition to any gamer’s library.
Gunman Clive is a sidescrolling platformer/shooter in the vein of Mega Man or Contra games. The twist here is that it takes place in a wild west setting with the main character being Clive, a cowboy. The game features a very unique visual style reminiscent of an old 1800s textbook with its sketched look and sepia tone. The gameplay and level design are very similar to Mega Man games, complete with disappearing blocks and moving platforms, although none of it feels out of place in a western setting. The music is great, and like the rest of the game, fits in perfectly while being a bit unconventional. While the game is quite short, it’s a great value and Gunman Clive is a shooter that’s worth its weight in lead.
Squids Odyssey might feel like a more fleshed out Angry Birds game at first, but after a few minutes of playing it you’ll see that much more lies beneath the surface. Squids might have similar slingshot type mechanics to Angry Birds, with multiple projectile types as well, but that’s where the similarities end. Squids has a leveling and party system, meaning that you can bring a different group of squids into each level and improve them over time through leveling and stat boosts. This makes for tons of replayability, since the squids all have different personalities, even though they all belong to one of four classes. The visuals are colorful and cartoony which is fitting for the light gameplay and the cheery and catchy music compliment them well. Squids Odyssey is a great game for those looking for a simple yet challenging experience.
Nano Assault Neo is an excellent shooter and almost criminally overlooked game. The tried and true sci-fi premise of a small ship being shrunk down and traveling through a human body to eliminate a disease is done very well here. Nano Assault is a gorgeous game and takes full advantage of the Wii U’s hardware, but graphics aren’t everything. The game’s fast-paced and action-intensive gameplay is like a mix between Geometry Wars and Starfox. Each stage is a different cell being attacked by different germs and viruses that you have to eliminate to move on or face a boss. The bosses are as much fun to shoot down as they are nice to look at in this game. Nano Assault’s music is intense and gives the game a very appropriate arcade feeling. This is a great game for anyone who wants a fast and frantic shooter that’s also great to look at.
Denpa Men 3: Rise of the DigitollNintendo 3DS
While the first two iterations of the Denpa Men RPG’s were solid but admittedly lacking games, Denpa Men 3 seems to be the indie JRPG we’ve all been waiting for. Denpa Men 3 is a traditional JRPG at its core but with lots of charm and character that really set it apart as a unique experience. The game has a unique mechanic in that you can “capture” other Denpa Men by using the 3DS AR features to find Denpa Men in real life locations such as your house, cafes, and many other places. This allows you find many new and random characters and adds to the game’s replayability. Turn-based combat and dungeon exploration is the game’s main focus, and here it’s done in a very fast and streamlined way, which is refreshing. The game’s visuals are adorably colorful and quirky, from the scenery and level design right down to the enemies themselves. This game is a great addition to any RPG lover’s collection, especially if you love funny, quirky games.
Abyss is a surprisingly challenging and atmospheric game wrapped up in a neat little package. What this game lacks in story and plot it makes up for in visuals and simple, yet compelling gameplay. Abyss’ gameplay consists of navigating an underwater maze and collecting glowing orbs along the way. Fans of games like LocoRoco will feel right at home with the stylized visuals and simple gameplay. The music only adds to the game’s calm yet brooding mood and does a lot with very simple yet ambient sounds. The game might not feature enemies or bosses, but the challenge comes from mastering the game’s controls and navigating through stage hazards. This game never strays from the core mechanics, and that’s where it shines. The simplicity and focus on gameplay alone makes Abyss an ambient and mysterious experience.
Mighty Switch Force 2Wii U, Nintendo 3DS
Wayforward is known for making great looking, fun sidescrollers and Mighty Switch Force 2 is no exception. This game combines puzzle-like mechanics of activating and deactivating blocks, using your water gun to put out fires on blocks and dissolving muddy blocks with more traditional run-and-gun platforming. This makes for very fast and varied gameplay that never gets dull thanks to fantastic pixel art visuals and a great soundtrack to keep the pace. The level design is really where Mighty Switch Force outshines other puzzle platformers in that it manages to be challenging while not becoming frustrating or even worse, repetitive. Mighty Switch Force 2 is a great game that is easy to recommend to fans of sidescrollers and fans of great games in general.
Liberation Maiden Nintendo 3DS
This game earns a lot of credibility by being co-developed by Suda51, but its spot on this list is well deserved. Liberation Maiden puts you in the shoes of the president of Japan as she uses her mech to save the country (and the planet) from conduits that are eating away at the Earth. The gameplay is a mix of a top-down bullet hell shooter and a third-person dogfighting game. What Liberation Maiden does best is keep the gameplay fresh and fun even when it becomes hard to track all of the lasers and enemies on screen. While the game does pose a challenge at times and demands mastery of the controls, especially against bosses, it’s a great game for anyone looking for a fast, intense and difficult game.
Scram Kitty and His Buddy on RailsWii U
It’s a bit hard to accurately place Scram Kitty in any one genre, and that’s not a bad thing. Scram Kitty is a top-down shooter where you are literally on rails. The gameplay is typical bullet hell-type action with the added twist of navigating magnetic rails around a stage to rescue cats and grab collectibles along branching paths. The game’s visuals are akin to that of a futuristic city bathed in neon light without feeling too cluttered and busy. The colorful visuals combined with the light and catchy techno-driven soundtrack complement the game’s fast pace and high difficulty. The game’s overall challenge ramps up significantly throughout the levels, making mastery of the controls almost mandatory for completion of some later levels. Scram Kitty is perfect for people seeking a meaty challenge in a visually attractive package.
Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo TaleNintendo 3DS
While this game may not have the action or combat that its name suggests, it delivers in another category, story. The gameplay in Attack of the Friday Monsters is simple enough, you walk around and talk to people and perform simple fetch quest type of objectives to further the story. The narrative takes place from the point of view of a child living in Japan and a lot of the plot involves blurring the line from childlike fantasy and grim reality masked by a child’s innocence. The game has gorgeous visuals with pre-rendered backdrops on every screen, similar to old point-and-click adventures and a great, moody soundtrack. Attack of the Friday Monsters is a great narrative driven game, albeit a bit on the short side, that any fan of point-and-click games such as the Walking Dead or Back to the Future would love.