The year 2020 saw an amazing spike in video game purchasing and it is no surprise. With people locked down and isolated due to COVID-19, video games are a multi-functioning piece of entertainment. They can provide escapism from current events, provide entertainment from the monotony of never leaving the house, and they can help us stay connected with people we care about.
The Nintendo Switch was especially popular at the start of the pandemic, mostly due to the release of the relaxing island vibes provided by Animal Crossing: New Horizons. This writer remembers searching in vain for a Switch right around April, not wanting to miss out on a game that it seemed literally everyone else in the world was playing. The console, which was released in March of 2017, saw a huge spike in sales and sold over five million units alone between April and June of this past year.
While buying new consoles was popular, the bulk of our video game spending went to content purchases, according to an article in Forbes magazine. A whopping 10.2 billion dollars was spent on physical and digital copies of games as well as gaming-related subscriptions. The article predicted that this trend would continue as people found gaming to be a way to deal with various roadblocks thrown at them by COVID-19.
But now we are fast approaching the one year mark of the pandemic and, for some, spending this much on video games might not seem like the priority it was when we first went into lockdown. For families or individuals who purchased a Switch to play Animal Crossing, there might come a time when venturing out into new gaming territory is desired. But each game can range in price from around $20.00 to $60.00 depending on the title. So what if you want to add more games to your Switch repertoire but are strapped for cash? Lucky for us, there are plenty of free games on the Nintendo Switch that you can download and play right now. This article will focus on four different games but families should search out other options as well. If you have the Nintendo Switch system, there is no need to break the bank at this time. Here are four free games for the Nintendo Switch:
Super Smash Brothers is one of the most successful franchises in the Nintendo family of games. But the game can be a bit pricey, running currently at $59.99 on the Nintendo EStore. If you want a much cheaper alternative to sate your family’s desire to knock each other out, look no further than Brawlhalla. This game is free to download on the Nintendo Switch and certainly scratches the crazy fighting game itch. Brawlhalla uses cartoon-style, larger than life characters who are unique to this game (with some familiar characters thrown in for good measure, such as Finn from Adventure Time and Ray Man from the Ray Man franchise.) Each character has their own backstory and fighting stats and can be customized with different skin options. The game features multiple ways to play, including an arcade mode, Player vs. Player, Online Mode, etc.
Brawlhalla has in-app purchases available but the core set of characters is free to play with.
Asphalt 9 is the newest installment in this racing franchise. This writer has never been much of a racing game fan but was blown away by the graphics and ease of control that this game provides. While there is money to be spent if you want certain cars, the game itself is free to play. Multiple ways of playing include Arcade, Multiplayer, and Daily Challenge, which helps keep the game versatile enough for multiple sessions.
For players who want to connect with someone outside of the four walls of their home, multiplayer allows you to connect with different Asphalt 9 players from all over the world. Or the player can create a “club” and invite their friends. You can then participate in various club challenges together. Asphalt 9 is a perfect game to play if you are tired of sitting in one spot and need to feel like you are really driving through the streets of unknown places once again.
The desire for low-stakes, gentle daily-life games seems to have risen in the passing months. But there’s no reason that a game can’t be calming and fantastical at the same time. Pokemon Cafe Mix is a delightful game where a shopkeeper and an Evee run a cafe for Pokemon. The player leans new recipes,, builds up the rooms in their cafe, and even enlists the help of other Pokemon to create new dishes. The art style is watercolor-like and the sound design makes you feel like you are really in a cafe setting where plates are clanking and milk is being steamed. This game presents a recipe and your job is to collect the ingredients by matching like Pokemon on a game board. Some recipes are trickier than others but none are so complicated that it would discourage younger children.
Pokemon Cafe Mix is a perfect game for the family who wants to feel like they are running an adorable cafe while getting their Pokemon fix at the same time. In-app purchases are available but the essential aspects of the game are all free.
On the complete opposite side of the relaxing, go-at-your-own-pace vibes of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, another game proved to be extremely popular this year: The Last of Us: Part II. In this game, a pandemic is raging across the world, people have broken down into tribes and you need to survive. This type of game confronts the unknown and dark side these many months have brought and some gamers cannot get enough.
While The Last of Us is very popular, it is pretty graphic and not cheap. For Switch owners who want to get a similar vibe with a little less gore (and a little less cash), Fallout Shelter is a good compromise. A resource management game based on the popular Fallout series, Fallout Shelter has the player running a bunker and controlling the movements of all of its inhabitants. You need to build out the shelter, keep the population expanding, venture out in teams to acquire new items, and fend off bandits and large mutated creatures. All of this is done in a cartoon-style so there is very little in the way of violence. This being said, this game is more appropriate for older children. In-app purchases are available but the game itself is completely free to play.
Do you have any free Nintendo Switch games that your family loves? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!