Side scrolling games have a retro charm that still appeals to players today. Although primarily centered on nostalgia, side scrolling games can provide unique experiences not found in other perspectives.
Genres such as Metroidvania, platformers, and hack and slashes have been a staple of side scrolling games. However, while these genres pair exceptionally well with side scrolling games, they aren’t the only available options.
Side scrolling games tend to attract developers with a lot of love for the classics, but their gameplay mechanics, visual design, and storytelling are revamped with modern sensibilities. From a 16-bit aesthetic to new 3D rendering techniques, side scrolling games on Switch will surely gain new fans.
Without further ado, here are the 14 best side scrolling games on Switch that deserve praise and your attention.
Super Punch Patrol
Beginning with the list is this game that embraced the whole beat-em-troupe called Super Punch Patrol. The game is a 2D beat-em-up that showcases a fascinating visual design that reminds you of comic books.
The game has a simple premise to begin with; however, it delivers addictive gameplay that can pick up players easily. SPP dons the genre very well, making it one of the best side scrolling games on Nintendo Switch that you can play today.
The game adapted traditional beat-em-up mechanics, where you can perform punch and kick attacks that you can incorporate with each other. In addition, you can also grapple enemies and grab weapons on the ground to defeat enemies quickly.
Furthermore, the game also offers different characters that you can use to match your playstyle. For instance, Anders served as the group’s main heavy-duty, tanky grappler specializing in grappling and throwing.
You can’t go wrong with this game, as the game truly delivers a smooth animation between frames for each move. Especially with the game’s mobility, you can dash through spaces without the risk of input delays.
With that said, Super Punch Patrol is a must-have for players who are looking for a casual yet action-packed experience. On top of that, this is also an excellent starter for your side scrolling cravings.
The Messenger will surely take you back from the NES and SNES era of gaming, and it indeed gives players that satisfying nostalgic feel. It is an action platformer that showcases a retro vibe because that switches between an authentic 8-bit art style to a detailed 16-bit visual approach.
The Messenger is a good or, should I say, the perfect Ninja Gaiden clone from the 80s era of video gaming. In addition, the game has a fluid animation even though the game adopted a pixelized aesthetic which is simply mesmerizing to witness.
But of course, the game shines the most for its take on the platforming mechanics from simple to complex level designs. Not to mention a unique feature which you can switch between eras from 8-bit to 16-bit looks while retaining the level’s structure.
The combat system also adds flavor to the game, which adapts a simple hack and slash mechanic, which complements the side-scrolling side of the game. You can slash enemies and deflect projectiles while using different techniques you can buy from the merchant.
Furthermore, you can also perform a move called the Cloud Step, in which you can jump twice while in mid-air after a successful hit to objects and enemies. This feature allows players to compensate for the game’s challenging platforming, which is its center of attraction.
Overall, The Messenger will never disappoint you regarding side-scrolling gameplay galore.
Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack
The chaotic run and gun genre have always felt right at home with side scroller games. Azure Striker Gunvolt cranks the intensity to the highest level. This game is a 2D pixel run and gun side scroller that reminds you of difficult games like the Megaman X in terms of design and premise.
The game is an action-packed extravaganza to its core, successfully combining challenging platforming and shooter mechanics all in one. On top of that, Gunvolt is an excellent pixel game that truly brings out gaming nostalgia.
The game showcases typical run and gun elements as you can shoot regular and charged projectiles at enemies. In addition, however, the game added unique and spectacular skills such as the flash field and dragon sphere, which are effective for defeating enemies.
You can also equip different gears to add to your armaments that are effective in certain circumstances. For instance, changing your bolt to Naga can fire charged shots that can pass through shields and objects.
Furthermore, in a good run and gun-like fashion, the game didn’t shy away from adding spectacular boss fights that remind you of the Megaman X series. And, of course, these boss fights are flashy and challenging as ever.
All in all, Azure Striker Gunvolt is an excellent addition if you crave more fast-paced gameplay and twitchy platforming.
Another one to add to this list is this indie game that will awe you because of its fun gameplay is called Smelter. It is a fantastic combination of an action-platformer with a side of strategy elements.
The game truly brings out the wonders of the 16-bit experience as the game embraced the retro look that performs better in a modern system. On top of that, Smelter has fluid animation complete with a lively soundtrack that also reminds you of the Megaman X games from the 90s.
Smelter is a breath of fresh air as it gives players something to enjoy outside of the side scrolling amusement. The game offers two segments in which players can partake in an action-packed run-n-gun platforming and a tower defense-esque mechanic.
If you’re a hardcore fan of chaotic platforming, then Smelter can weigh that amount of enthusiasm. The game showcases a challenging platforming sequence that comes in complex level designs.
The combat system is fast-paced as ever, as you can smash and shoot while dashing or gliding around while scouring the map in a 2D environment. In addition, Smelter can equip various types of armaments, each of which is designed with different appearances and output.
That said, Smelter is an indie delight and I think it’s one of the best side-scrolling Switch games.
Icey offers a unique interactive story and action-packed gameplay. This game will be an instant hit for most players as the game showcases fast-paced action with an innovative storyline similar to The Stanley’s Parable.
Icey’s visual design is what you can say is a generic one, yet it captivates players with its fun hack and slash combat. Icey also has a dynamic narrator that attempts to lead you to the main plot, but will also comment on your actions if you choose to disobey.
Furthermore, Icey offers multiple endings, each more interesting than the last. Because of its innovative approach to storytelling, players can decide what Icey’s decision may be, which can affect the whole game.
The game showcases fluid action sequences that embrace hack and slash elements that complement the side scrolling perspective. You can perform light to heavy attacks while dashing and jumping through enemies and platforms.
Also, you can perform flashy combos and counterattacks to add depth to the combat system. There are also skills available so you can strengthen Icey’s attacks or unlock unique moves.
Overall, this also makes Icey the best hack and slash game because of its mechanics and premise. Without a doubt, this game will quickly quench your thirst for some side-scrolling galore.
There is something about a real challenging platformer that truly tests your reflex and mastery of the game. While Splasher may look like another side scrolling indie platformer like Super Meat Boy, it offers tight platforming and seamless execution of its straightforward mechanics.
Splasher captures that cartoonish visual design that gives players a fun and vibrant feeling while playing. Not to mention an amusing soundtrack to boot that lights up the atmosphere of this challenging game.
What makes Splasher greatly appreciated is its simple take on the platforming mechanics, opting instead for buttery smooth controls and unrivaled polish. Morever, the game showcases a fast-paced movement incorporated with deadly traps along the way.
Furthermore, the game adapted the controls of simple platforming mechanics such as running and jumping between places. However, it adds something tricky to the gameplay mechanic, you can spray paint on walls and objects to change their properties, similar to Portal 2.
The addition of the paint system changed the scene of this side scrolling platformer, increasing the intricacy of the overall game. For example, each color represents changes in surface properties, and you’ll have to be able to switch between them on the fly.
Splasher’s excellent action platforming and great visual presentation will likely hook more players into this challenging genre.
Mega Man 11
Mega Man is one of the longest running video game franchises that pioneered the action-platformer genre. Until today, this game is widely appreciated because of the nostalgia and action-packed gameplay that the game emits each time you play.
Mega Man 11 is the latest title of this well-known classic that highlights a new 3D environment that gives a fresh look to its predecessors. At the same time, keeping in touch with Mega Man’s classic gameplay mechanics.
On top of that, the game still gives players something to chew on because of its challenging platforming segments. In addition, the game provides plenty of traps and deadly enemies that are annoying at most.
Furthermore, the game’s combat system adapted traditional run-n-gun mechanics while giving new elements for modern audiences. Mega Man’s newest arsenal is the double gear system which can be applied in different scenarios in the game.
You can use the speed or power gear that makes Mega Man harness valuable skills. For example, using the speed gear will slow the perception of time to avoid deadly traps on demand.
All in all, Mega Man 11 is a side scroller game that gives you plenty of challenge and action-packed combat. For completionists out there, get ready for one of the hardest challenges of your life as its extra content is borderline impossible. All in all, this is truly one of the best side scroller games on Switch.
Mother Russia Bleeds
Mother Russia Bleeds will take you on an adrenaline-fueled, hyper-violent action extravaganza throughout alternate Soviet Russia. It is an action beat-em-up game that never disappoints you in terms of pumped-up action and gory finishers while in a 16-bit retro design.
The game offers four characters, each containing their specialties and characteristics. For instance, Boris is the wildcard of the team, who is more adept at grappling while striking.
The game embraced the traditional beat-em-up mechanics, as you can punch, kick, and grapple enemies around the streets. In addition, you can use dash attacks, as well as a powerful heavy attack by holding the attack button.
Mother Russia Bleeds is a challenging game as each level is tuned to its difficulty. Some are easy to accomplish, while the latter stages will make you fight almost endless waves of enemies and deadly obstacles.
The game also allows you to tap in a rampage mode that uses your nekros meter. This mechanic will amp up your damage output and attack speed that can instantly clean up enemies.
Furthermore, Mother Russia Bleeds can be also enjoyed with friends as you can juggle your combos each other.
Cuphead is the most beloved and well-known bullet hell game for modern audiences. The game is famous for its addictive gameplay loop that captures the artistic approach of old cartoons from the 30s era of animation style.
The game gives you that entertaining jazz soundtrack that makes the whole game a tiny bit less stressful while fighting its uber hard bosses. In addition, the game also embraced a television aesthetic that complements the game’s premise.
Gameplay-wise, Cuphead is an embodiment of challenge, as it stands out from the crowd because of its charming level designs and boss encounters. As a result, expect to retry the level multiple times before completing one.
Furthermore, the game’s boss fights are magnificent and challenging, making players excite the most. Each boss is diversely designed and comes in different phases, each tougher than the last.
The game adopts typical run and gun platforming mechanics. Cuphead and Mugman can shoot regular and charged projectiles, dash through the air or between platforms, and parry enemy projectiles according to the color of your character.
With that being said, Cuphead is a game for players who punish themselves with complex gameplay yet are still amused by it.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge is a love letter for fans of classic side scrolling beat-em-ups, and it is widely appreciated due to its nostalgic soundtrack and visual design. Shredder’s Revenge is an instant hit for players as it highlights many action-packed sequences for you to discover.
TMNT, in a word, is simply superb, as the game is full of fighting game references that you would quickly notice. On top of that, the game is a trip down memory lane because of its smoothly animated 16-bit pixel graphics.
Furthermore, the game lets you play one of your favorite TMNT characters to fight crime on the streets of New York. In addition, each character carries a different fighting style reminiscing other moves from notable fighting games such as Street Fighter.
The combat system is simple yet fast-paced to keep the game from being tedious. Additionally, it grasps the beat-em-up elements from head to toe but with a modern twist as you can juggle enemies across your screen.
Also, you can perform a special attack once your meter is full. This attack will drastically change the tide as each special move has different properties that can clear a wave with a single hit.
That said, Shredder’s Revenge is a side scrolling beat-em-up game done right, and is definitely one of the Nintendo Switch’s best side scrollers.
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
There is something about pixel games and their charm, and Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is the best example of a competent throwback game. Shovel Knight is a 2D side scrolling action-adventure that feels like a fiesta of genres but never overwhelms its players.
The game is trendy today because of its 8-bit pixelized graphics that take you back to the NES days of gaming. In addition, the game sends off a big Super Mario vibe because of the level design and gameplay mechanics.
This game is a spectacle platformer that allows players to jump and run from simple to delicate platforms for each level. Not to mention, the game gives a slight action feel to the gameplay as you can attack enemies and dig surfaces using your trusty shovel.
Shovel Knight excels at its challenging gameplay loop, in which players sometimes will get tired of repeating levels repeatedly. Although the game is not challenging, Shovel Knight’s platforming takes time and patience due to the stage’s unpredictability.
However, its challenging gameplay loop gives players a learning curve each time they die on a particular stage. This way, you can memorize patterns to avoid mistakes on your next attempt.
Overall, platforming games are indeed a magnificent dynamic to the side scroller genre, and Shovel Knight is one example of that.
Streets of Rage 4
Another one to enter this list is this bombastic action side-scrolling game, Streets of Rage 4. This game is the fourth entry of the same title and reminds players of how beat-em-up games are still playable today.
Streets of Rage 4 is a throwback to players as it reminds them of old fighting games such as Street Fighter from the early 90s. In addition, the game displays a beautiful comic book vibe because of its 2D animation style that packs a punch every time.
The game is one example of a well-delivered beat-em-up game that highlights staple elements such as punching and grabbing objects and opponents. In addition, it gives players new mechanics such as star moves that serve as a super.
Each character wields different star moves based on their fighting style. For instance, Blaze is the acrobatic striker of the group, where she can flip and use Kikou Shou based on Chun-li’s signature move.
Its exciting gameplay loop experience allows players to wallop and juggle enemies using your flashy combos and special moves. And, of course, with that extremely intense gameplay, it is best played with a partner.
That said, Streets of Rage 4 is the game if you crave non-stop side scrolling action.
Celeste is the ultimate platformer game you want to get your hands on right now. This 2D side-scroller platforming game is one for those seeking severe challenges in laborious gameplay.
The game has picture-perfect 16-bit pixel-style graphics that capture the charm of modern platformers in a retro aesthetic. On top of that, it is also considered one of the best platformers to play if you’re in the mood.
The game is known for its complex-level design and laborious gameplay loop that keeps players continually retrying. However, Celeste is a forgiving game as it allows players to respawn after they die immediately to retry again.
As I said earlier, the game is a platformer that lets you jump and dash between traps and obstacles in the area. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t provide different movesets, to begin with; however, it still carries that fun yet excruciating experience.
All in all, Celeste is an excellent pick if you love a side scroller with multiple layers of challenge.
It is not an excellent side-scrolling list without adding this magnificent and highly acclaimed game called Hollow Knight. This game is beautifully crafted in terms of art direction and gameplay mechanics that awe you each time you play this game.
The game grasps the full might of 2D hand-drawn animation that combines gothic and cutesy art style that blends well together. In addition, its incredible soundtrack brings out the game’s exciting premise.
Its fast-paced movement and stellar combat give players an experience that only this game can deliver.
The game is abundant with surprises because of its Metroidvania elements, as you can discover different passages and secrets along the way. Additionally, there are platforming segments that you can witness that are challenging to give that intense feel.
Furthermore, Hollow Knight shines the most in its enticing boss battles that send off a paramount Soulsbourne atmosphere. Each boss in the game is as challenging as ever, with different phases that change its appearance or attack patterns.
With that said, if you have trouble finding good Switch side-scrolling games that can hook you in immediately, Hollow Knight is the best candidate for that.