If you haven’t already noticed, there’s been a recent increase in demand for the Nintendo Switch, and it’s resulted in a worldwide shortage of the console. The late March release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons coinciding with the onset of the current COVID-19 pandemic created a bigger demand for the console than Nintendo was prepared for, and at the moment it might be tough to find a Switch for sale, let alone a seller that’s open and willing to deliver to your home.
If you’re one of the many wanting to get their hands on a Switch but can’t seem to find one up for sale, then I’ve got some good news for you: as long as you have a PC, a Mac, or any other console, there are a couple of games that’ll surely scratch that Switch itch of yours in the meantime.
Here are five video game alternatives to some of the Switch’s greatest hits that you can play on other platforms.
A game for people who want to play: Pokémon Sword and Shield
For many Pokémon fans, a brand new Pokémon game can be reason enough to buy a Nintendo console. The Pokémon games, much like the Smash Bros. and Zelda franchises have been a big help to Nintendo over the years when it comes to console sales, as late and great former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata put it, “Software sells hardware”. Pokémon Sword and Shield, however, were met with some apprehension by fans when it was announced that they wouldn’t be including every Pokémon in the series’ history.
While Sword and Shield managed to avoid becoming a sales flop, it must have prevented more than a few gamers from making a console purchase just to play the games. It was during this time that Temtem was announced and released on Steam as an Early Access game.
Temtem, as many of its Steam reviews say, is “everything a Pokémon game should be,” and its gameplay is just as engaging and fun as any Pokémon game. Temtem was able to capitalize on the negative reception of Sword and Shield’s Pokedex cut, and it now enjoys a sizeable player base because of its fun gameplay rather than its competition’s bad rep. While Temtem may find it hard to compete against the Pokémon series’ iconic characters, it does well to improve and refine the original Pokémon game formula. Best of all, it’s available on PC.
A game for people who want to play: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Platform: PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a landmark achievement for Nintendo games, as its open-world exploration and gameplay mechanics highlighted all the good things about the Nintendo Switch while also being able to compete with the experience of other consoles’ flagship games, like God of War for the PS4 and the Halo games for the Xbox. One would be hard-pressed to think of a game that could replicate the experience of playing Breath of the Wild, but if you’ve played the PS2 classic Okami, you’d know that it’s the perfect alternative for those who just can’t get a Switch yet.
Okami HD is the remastered version of Okami, with completely remade visuals and full 30 FPS gameplay that enhance the original’s stellar art style that derives from traditional Japanese sumi-e (watercolor) paintings. Okami HD is a faithful remaster that, aside from its visual upgrades for current-gen consoles, does little to change the already perfect original game. In Okami HD, you travel through the ancient land of Nippon filled with creatures and characters from Japanese folklore. It’s a visual treat that’s only made better by the game’s unique gameplay and combat mechanics, most notably the Celestial Brush, which lets you draw on the screen to create changes in the environment in real-time.
Developed by the director-producer duo of Hideki Kamiya and Atsushi Inaba, who are now part of game dev studio PlatinumGames (known for Nier: Automata, Bayonetta, and Astral Chain, among others), Okami HD is an action-packed game in a beautifully drawn package. And if you didn’t know, it was actually directly inspired by the Zelda franchise. You can get Okami HD on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One, and when you finally get your hands on a Switch, there’s also a Switch port for it.
A game for people who want to play: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Platform: PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
The Smash Bros. games are the ultimate party games, and few things can bring a group of people closer than a grand battle on a small floating stage. The success of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate can be attributed to its fantastic combination of well-loved characters, a multiplayer system that allows up to eight players, and combat controls that manage to be accessible while also maintaining a deep learning curve for more competitive players. What’s not to love about it?
Well, maybe the only flaw of the Smash Bros. games is that they’re only available on Nintendo consoles. With a huge roster of Nintendo-exclusive characters and the games consistently having a positive effect on console sales, it’s understandable why Nintendo would choose to keep one of its bestselling series as an exclusive. But this is an article for the Switch-less, and for those who seek a Smash Bros. experience, there’s a pretty good alternative for that: Brawlhalla.
Brawlhalla follows the same Smash Bros. formula of an arena that can accommodate up to eight players, with a large selection of characters. It also includes crossover characters from other popular media. In Brawlhalla, you can play as characters from games and shows like Rayman, Adventure Time, and Tomb Raider. You can even play as your favorite WWE wrestler if that’s what tickles your fancy. Then again, how would your opponents see you if you played as John Cena?
Brawlhalla is a free-to-play game that’s available for PC, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, and it’s got full crossplay compatibility for all its ports. It might not be Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but it’s still a pretty good alternative.
A game for people who want to play: Fire Emblem: The Three Houses
Platform: PC, iOS, Android, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Fire Emblem: The Three Houses, like many Nintendo-exclusive games, is another game that’s hard to think of a replacement for. After all, despite the combat and life simulator elements that characterize it as a distinctly JRPG-type game, the sum of all of its parts makes for a unique gameplay experience that could only be Fire Emblem. Or so I thought until I found out about The Banner Saga.
The Banner Saga is a trilogy of role-playing games (I guess we can call it The Banner Saga: The Three Games? No? Okay…) wherein you’re tasked with managing an ensemble of characters as you journey through the war-torn, Viking-inspired landscape. In the Banner Saga games, your choices matter, and each one can decide the fate of your characters, provided that they haven’t already suffered permadeath in battle. There are choices to be made in both dialogue sequences and during combat, and with each game’s campaign lasting a highly replayable 8 to 10 hours, you can always check for the other outcomes in your next playthrough.
The Banner Saga combines the gameplay and role-playing elements of the Fire Emblem games with environments and lore not unlike those found in Game of Thrones, and it’s all executed through a beautifully animated, 90’s-Disney-movie-like art style. If you’re a fan of Fire Emblem’s anime-style art, then it might take a while for you to warm up to The Banner Saga, but they’re both excellent games that rely on choice, and if you’re without a Switch, the choice to play Fire Emblem remains to be unlocked. Fret not, The Banner Saga games won’t disappoint you.
A game for people who want to play: Animal Crossing: New Horizons
If you’re that one person in the friend group who hasn’t bought a Switch yet, then you must be sick of hearing everyone else talk about all the turnip-selling, bug-catching, and clothes-designing that goes on in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. We get it, it’s a cute game that’s a lot of fun and also happens to be everything you need right now.
For us Switch-less folk, the obvious alternative would be Stardew Valley, even though its gameplay is mostly different from the Animal Crossing games. I myself have started a new playthrough of Stardew Valley out of envy of everyone else playing AC:NH, but I stopped halfway through an in-game year, feeling defeated that no matter how much fun I have in Pelican Town, it’s just not Animal Crossing.
It seems that someone heard our envious cries for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and an announcement was made for an upcoming PC game called Hokko Life. It’s shaping up to be the AC:NH clone we’ve been looking for, and it’s even more impressive that it’s being developed primarily by a one-man game studio named Wonderscope AB (real name Robert Tatnell). If the idea of one man creating an Animal Crossing clone worries you, remember that Stardew Valley was also the work of a solo developer. Hokko Life was picked up by game publisher Team17, who also published hit games Overcooked and Blasphemous.
While a release date for Hokko Life is yet to be announced, its early trailers and gameplay footage bear a huge resemblance to AC:NH, and it seems they’ve even got their own bug-catching mechanics. Whether or not Hokko Life manages to live up to the great expectations set upon it, we might soon find out, and you can follow its Steam page to stay updated on its release. Here’s to hoping that the mayor’s name in Hokko Life is Nom Took.
While we might not be able to get our hands on a Nintendo Switch for now, these tough times, like all tough times, shall someday pass, and I’m sure a brand-spanking-new Nintendo Switch awaits us all at our local game stores. In the meantime, give the games listed above a try; maybe the real new horizons are the other games we discover along the way.
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