I think we’ve all experienced those “oh, THAT looks interesting” moments when browsing for a potential game purchase. Perhaps they were titles that weren’t well received by the masses, or maybe they delved into mechanics that weren’t necessarily our forte. Whatever the case may be, when these titles turn out to be wonderful, rewarding experiences, the feeling of satisfaction is hard to beat. When it comes to Switch RPGs specifically, I’ve had my fair share of these moments. As a reviewer, I’ve tried to put myself in front of games that, historically, might not have been in my first or second string of selections. Because of this, I’ve come to adore certain genres (rogue-likes) and game series (Atelier Arland) that I may have never tried, if it wasn’t for that self-motivating “push.”
Today, I’d like to share a selection of Switch RPGs that have genuinely surprised me in one way or another. They may not be the best games out there – some of these weren’t received well, I can assure you – but they all left a lasting impression, in some way. If anything, I hope it inspires you to go out of your comfort zone – because sometimes, as you will see, that leap of faith is well worth it.
Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland
Despite being around for over two decades now, the Atelier series is something I simply was unaware of until a few months ago. On top of that, my idea of a good time has never consisted of helping cute anime girls fulfill their alchemical aspirations – or so I thought.
I’ve had the genuine pleasure of playing (and reviewing) all of the Atelier Arland titles on Switch thus far, and I’ve had a really good time with them overall. Beneath the surface lies in-depth crafting and time management systems that pair surprisingly well with staple RPG mechanics, like monster slaying, gearing up, and leveling. Never in a million years would I have thought – from afar anyways – that these games would be so enjoyable, but I’m glad I gave them a fair try.
DragonFangZ – The Rose & Dungeon of Time
Although I was first introduced to the rogue-like scene through Castle of the Winds almost two decades ago (which I loved), I would go on to completely abandon the genre thereafter. That is, until DragonFangZ came around, re-kindling that flame once more.
I’ve come to realize that I’m a bit of a rogue-like snob – only those with heavy RPG influences have captured my attention for more than a run or two. DragonFangZ, although definitely rough around the edges, features everything that I could ask for in a rogue-like. While it isn’t my favorite rogue-like on the Switch now, it was absolutely responsible for bringing me back into the fandom of the genre.
Dragon Quest Builders
One of the most delightful surprises of 2018, the first Dragon Quest Builders game, in my opinion, compensated for every gripe I’ve had about free-form building titles over the years. Combining sequences of both free-form and more structured building/crafting objectives with the charm, wit, and aesthetic associated with the Dragon Quest series, this game proved to be something truly special. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend playing the first entry today – its sequel, so far, is proving to be the superior choice of the two – it will always stand out, in my mind, as a wonderful mashup of things I’d never expect to mingle without trouble.
Disgaea 5 Complete
Following up the aforementioned remark about anime aesthetics, the Disgaea series is something I’ve avoided for many years, simply due to how much I despised the look. When the Switch first came out, however, I was itching for a tactical RPG, and Disgaea 5 was one of the first to arrive on the platform. Like the Atelier Arland games, Disgaea 5 is another that shouldn’t be judged at face value, as it is a deeply satisfying strategy title that can provide hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of entertainment.
The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa
As a longtime fan of River City Ransom, the similar look found in The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa immediately caught my eye. And because I built up the game as a RCR-clone in my mind – for whatever reason – I should have been very disappointed upon discovering that the two titles have very little in common, outside of aesthetics and both of them being beat-em-ups.
But I think I like Ringo Ishikawa because of its differences compared to the legendary NES RPG. Its coming-of-age narrative isn’t unheard of, but the conclusion presents a powerful message that players of all ages can relate to. Ringo Ishikawa isn’t going to set the average gamer’s world on fire, but it is certainly worth looking into if you are interested in a more story/character-driven, open world-ish beat-em-up that is very unique within the current Switch lineup.
The Longest Five Minutes
I was pretty hard on The Longest Five Minutes back when I reviewed it in March of last year, and I still stand by my assessment. For me, the game isn’t very exciting to play, but does some very interesting things with its story and delivery. Even so, seeing the story pieces come together over time is indeed rewarding. Without a doubt, The Longest Five Minutes struggles gameplay-wise, yet it still remains one of the more interesting storytelling endeavors I’ve experienced on the Switch.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
I have no problem admitting that I’m not the best at tactical/strategy RPGs. I’m a casual fan at best, and I only very rarely play them through to completion. The XCOM series has been something I’ve admired from afar, but have been too big of a wuss to play myself. Since people often compared the incredibly weird mashup that is Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle to an “XCOM-lite,” I knew I had to give it a go. And boy, did it not disappoint.
What I found in Mario + Rabbids was extremely fun gameplay and lots of genuine laughs between Mario and his various companions, including the Rabbids that I just knew would get on my nerves, but surprisinly didn’t. Despite a game-breaking bug that erased hours of progress – and my desire to play along with it – I had more fun with Mario + Rabbids than I ever thought would have been possible.
What do you think about this list? Are there games you purchased on a whim, only to be pleasantly surprised by the outcome? Let me know!