Free (to Start) Games on the Nintendo Switch!!!

One of the things that held me back from buying a Nintendo Switch when it came out was how much I’d need to spend: around $300 for the unit itself, maybe $50 for a decent-sized memory card, $70 for a Pro Controller, and $60 for each major software title that I wanted (read more here for a more detailed breakdown of what it will cost you). And getting one game isn’t enough – I’d need to get at least two games so that I’d have something to break the monotony of playing just one game over and over.

Now though, that won’t be a problem for anyone who is thinking about getting a Nintendo Switch, thanks to a handful of “free” games that are now available. And I’d like to talk about each one of these games briefly as a guide to anyone who is considering buying a Switch soon, because some of these games are really good ones – I even think that I don’t need to buy any new games until December when Super Smash Bros. Ultimate comes out!

This pinball simulator from Zen Studios came out just a few days after I had gotten my Nintendo Switch (Dec. 2017) and it was a pleasant surprise for me. Pinball FX 3 is actually a free-to-start game, with one free pinball table and several more available for purchase. When it was first released though, it came with two additional tables for free.

There’s not much to say about Pinball FX 3; it’s a pinball game with good graphics and excellent physics, with online leaderboards and tournaments, as well as in-game achievements and a progression system. I’m not a fan of physical pinball games but I did enjoy several pinball videogames in the past, most notably the pinball game that came with Windows XP and Pokemon Pinball for the Gameboy Color, so it was easy for me to enjoy Pinball FX 3 which served as a palate cleanser for me. If you like pinball, you’ll probably like this and may even consider buying additional pinball tables. Otherwise, I’d say Pinball FX 3 is filler and you may opt to just save your precious micro SD card space for other digital downloads.

Also, there are two other pinball simulators that come with at least one free table: Stern Pinball Arcade and The Pinball Arcade. I didn’t bother downloading either because I’m already good with one pinball title.

This game is a roguelike twin-stick shooter – a poor one at that. The fastest way to describe Kitten Squad is it would fit quite nicely amongst all those Shockwave Flash games over at Newgrounds back in the day. In fact, some of those Newgrounds games look and play better than this!

What makes this game even worse is this is full of Peta propaganda and is not suitable for children. I only downloaded this to fill out my Switch library. And to be completely honest, I would rather play Nintendo DS games than waste my time on this. The only reason for anyone to download this would be for novelty. I haven’t deleted this title yet (I’ve got 120+ GB of free space remaining) but once I run out of micro SD card space, Kitten Squad will be the first to go, guaranteed.

This game was released around two weeks before this year’s E3 and surprisingly is the game that I’ve spent the most time on, for reasons that I’ll talk about later. Pokemon Quest is like a light RPG wherein you take one to three Pokemon on expeditions on an uncharted island populated with other Pokemon. Your Pokemon’s attacks and movements are controlled by the game’s AI, but you have the option to control when they are going to use their special attacks.

Like a mobile game, Pokemon Quest has a stamina system that limits play and requires you to wait and recharge in order to play further. Pokemon Quest’s aethestic is reminiscent of Minecraft’s boxy art and features the original 151 Pokemon from Gen 1. This game’s main hook for me is the ability to collect all of the original 151 and because battles are automatic, I usually “play” Pokemon Quest in the background while I’m doing something else like having breakfast or preparing for work.

Right now, I already have 133 Pokemon in my Pokedex so I am still spending time on this game. Pokemon Quest was also released for mobile phones recently, so if you don’t have a Switch but you want another opportunity to have a Pokedex with all 151 Gen 1 Pokemon complete, you can download Pokemon Quest there instead.

Released during this year’s E3, Fallout Shelter is a vault management/simulation game wherein you have control of your very own Vault and it’s dwellers. Initially, the game is focused on building and maintaining the Vault – you need to ensure that you are producing the needed resources and keeping your dwellers happy. Later on, you get the ability to send dwellers on Quests wherein you can find weapons, armor, and recipes. Most of these Quests also have simple storylines, and is the most entertaining part of the game for me.

Fallout Shelter has been available on other platforms, including iOS and Android, for quite some time now so people probably already know enough about this game. I still play this everyday, like having my very own virtual Switch ant farm.

So far, I’ve been talking about some smaller video game titles, but Fortnite is the first heavyweight on this list. One of the more popular battle royale FPS games around, the release of Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch would have been a big announcement during this year’s E3 had it not been leaked a few days prior. The Switch version of Fortnite only has the Battle Royale mode and not Save the World, but Battle Royale itself is truly a big one. Combining the last man standing concept of other battle royale games with structure building aspects of Minecraft truly makes Fortnite stand out among the crowd.

What I like about Fortnite is that it’s not focused on kills – a lot of the achievements that I’ve worked to complete involve things like opening a certain number of treasure chests or “out-surviving” a certain number of players. This is one game that truly makes use of my excellent camping, crouching, and standing still moves – skills that are quite underrated and even frowned upon when playing FPS games. Being able to play in bed but with proper buttons and joysticks is a big bonus.

If I knew that Fortnite would be released for the Nintendo Switch, I wouldn’t have bought as many games as I did because right now, I’m spending so much time on Fortnite, I’m barely making any progress in the games that I actually paid money for.

Finally, another heavyweight video game title is on this list. The free-to-play version of Paladins: Champions of the Realm actually got released for the Nintendo Switch just this week, but a paid version with all the current and upcoming Champions already unlocked has been available since this year’s E3.

Another first person shooter, Paladins is quite different from Fortnite in that it is focused on team-based play and rather than play as generic soldiers, you have a set of Champions that you can play as, each with their own distinct set of abilities. These Champions are classified by different categories, each with their own roles to perform. For a team to win a round in Paladins, it needs to be comprised of the right kind of Champions. Together with Fortnite, Paladins will definitely take up a significant portion of my video game time.

We already have five games available for free on the Nintendo Switch (yes I’m not counting Kitten Squad at all) and that’s not the end of it. Warframe has already been announced for the Switch, and I’m positive that it will not be the last game of it’s kind to be released. The early success of the Switch has been attracting developers to make and release software for Nintendo’s current gen console, so we can expect for even more free-to-play titles to come.

All these free games already available on the Nintendo Switch should help convince people who are thinking about getting one but are still on the fence. Personally, I’m enjoying all of these new games and am looking forward to what’s more to come in the future.

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