10 best retro games for Nintendo Switch in 2023

Nintendo Switch has been a huge hit for Nintendo with incredible new first-party games, such as The Legend of Zelda- Breath of the Wild. Then there are fantastic video game ports of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 generation that have new life in them via the handheld.

Skyrim, for example, looks like a completely new title now that we can get it on the go. Yet it’s not just these (relatively) modern games that have found an unlikely home on the Nintendo Switch. If you know where to look, you’ll also find some great retro titles from the 8-16 and 32-bit console generations.

There are even some retro PC ports launched! If you’re feeling a little nostalgic for the way the games were, the following are the best retro games for Nintendo Switch in our opinion.

nintendo switch games
nintendo switch games

DOOM 1, 2 and 64

Every main Doom entry is available on Nintendo Switch. This includes Doom 1,2,3, 64, Doom 2016, and Doom Eternal. Only Dooms 1,2 and 64 counts as retro, mind you, but we thought you should know the extent of the games available. Yes, this entry has three titles. Pretend you used Konami code to fool multiple entries in the list.

Doom 1 and 2 not only include great ports of the original games, Bethesda and ID have also added many of Doom’s best mods and conversions and continue to add more as time goes on. Which makes the first two games incredibly affordable. Doom 64 was only available on Nintendo 64 officially. In 2020 it received a PC and console port, which included Switch. It’s also an evil classic Doom experience.

All three of these games are amazing retro shooters where you fill the blood-soaked boots of a lone space marine battling demons on Mars, the moons of Mars, in Hell, and on Earth. Most importantly, you can shoot your friends via LAN or a split-screen game. It’s a “hell” of an explosion!

Duke Nukem 3D- 20th Anniversary World Tour

Another classic shooter from the 32-bit era, this version of Duke Nukem 3D is perhaps our favorite. It’s definitely the best portable version, supplanting the excellent but neglected part of the game to Sony Vita.

Duke Nukem 3D was the rowdy and raunchy shooter that didn’t take itself seriously but still offered a perfect shooter experience. Duke faces an alien invasion and the mass abduction of Earth’s children.

This version of the game offers the classic Duke experience, but also a new real 3D rendering mode and a completely new original episode! It’s a great way to play Duke Nukem on the big screen or on the go.

The Nintendo Online NES and SNES collection

Instead of selling us their classic retro games once again on Switch, Nintendo has decided to offer a library of NES and SNES games to anyone who subscribes to the Nintendo Online service. The service is cheap enough, especially if you’re using the family plan to cover multiple consoles, but you can also try a 7-day trial if you’ve never subscribed before.

It’s worth it just for the cloud save backup feature, but stuck in these two apps are some of the best 8- and 16-bit games ever made. These include big hits like The Legend of Zelda- A Link to the Past and Super Metroid, but also wacky titles like Zelda 2 and StarTropics. It’s great value for money, and every Switch owner should try these retro Nintendo Switch games at least once. Chances are great that you’ll discover (or rediscover) an unforgettable title.

The SEGA® Mega Drive Classics ™ collection

Not to be overtaken by former rival Nintendo, Sega has released their mega-collection of classic titles for the ultra-popular Sega Genesis console (or Mega Drive, whichever comes from).

Instead of charging yourself a monthly fee, you can buy the entire collection outright and keep it forever. This is more than just a collection of ROMs, access the games via a true-to-the-era virtual bedroom, with a shelf full of some of the best games of that generation. This includes Sega mainstays like Sonic the Hedgehog and Golden Ax, but almost any title is worth having.

The emulation is great, but not perfect. However, all but the most demanding purists would not appreciate this excellent collection. It’s worth waiting for it to go on sale, with 50% discounts occurring once or twice a year. Simply add your wish list to the game to receive an alert when the price drops.

Castlevania Anniversary Collection

This is the last collection on the list, but certainly not least. Castlevania is responsible for half of the birth of the “metroidvania” genre and this anniversary collection includes no less than eight classic Castlevania games, starting with the first title.

Also includes Kid Dracula, a game released in Japanese only for GameBoy, but now available in English. The collection includes a “History of Castlevania” book and features such as quick save. So you don’t have to go back to the beginning of a level if a boss blows you away. Which will do it!

Sega Ages Virtua Racing

While this arcade hit received a lackluster port for Sega Genesis and Sega 32X, this is the first time a perfect home port has been released. Not only is it perfect, but it’s also actually a significant improvement over the arcade original, with much sharper graphics and flawless framerates.

Virtual Racing may be short, but it’s addicting and a lot of fun to play with friends. It’s also a historically important retro game for Nintendo Switch, heralding the advent of true 3D graphics in arcades. Definitely take this.

Sega Ages Phantasy Star

Phantasy Star is a significant title in Japanese RPG history, but this first title was strangely hard to find. The three sequels are all part of the aforementioned Genesis Collection, but Sega finally made things right and released a perfectly emulated version of the game as part of the Sega Ages series.

This is a pure, good old dungeon crawler that originally pioneered this branch of the JRPG family tree. It’s still an addicting game to play today and the graphics retain the best of what the 8-bit Sega Master system could accomplish.

Classic Final Fantasy games

[9 FF8]

There is a long list of main Final Fantasy games on Switch, but the only ones we think deserve the “retro” label are numbers 7, 8, and 9. As older titles are not on the system yet.

All three received quality-of-life improvements (like cheats and fast-forward) with Final Fantasy 8 getting a full remaster. All of these games represent the best of the series in different ways, although 8 and 9 don’t get as much love as they deserve. Three epic adventures for little money, who could say no?

Commander Keen in Keen Dreams

The last game on our list isn’t the best of its series, but we think it should be here because it’s actually a reissue of a classic MS-DOS platformer. While consoles tend to get the most attention for this genre of games, ID Software (of Doom fame) has actually made a number of fantastic platform games with boy genius Commander Keen.

For our money, the Goodbye Galaxy sequel is the best game, but Keen Dreams is still a lot of fun and maybe if enough people buy it, Goodbye Galaxy will get the same treatment. Fair warning, there is also a “Definitive Edition” of this game on the Switch eShop. This version of the retro game for Nintendo Switch is more modernized and brings big changes to the title. It’s a nice game in its own right, but if you want the original experience, go for this one.

What are your favorite retro Nintendo Switch games? Let us know in the comments and share the love of retro gaming!

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