Sometimes you just don’t want to spend any money. Which is fair. We’re only human after all. Unlike those game developers, who are not human, and don’t deserve to be paid a single red cent for the many hundreds of hours of hard work they pour into the games we reap incalculable joy from. Why should they?
You don’t want to pay any money, so you go and download a free-to-play game. Because you earned it. You play the game, you enjoy it, you get more involved, more emotionally invested — all the while having a parade of cosmetic items, premium privileges, and membership perks on constant display before you, taunting you, belittling you, making you finally realize that by not wanting to pay any money, you often end up paying a lot of money. Damn developers and their greedy, insidious mind games. They’re the worst.
Thus the solution, friends, is to pay almost no money. Really, sometimes a full dollar is just way too expensive. So let’s look at twenty ways to get some real-deal entertainment without giving any of those greedy, subhuman developers any real compensation for their hard work and dedication to bringing us cutting-edge products and services.
- Released: 31 August 2018
- Developer: Baltoro Games
- Price: $0.20
You might not think of a vintage board game like Ludo when looking for great games to play on the Switch, but there must be something about it, considering the game is still popular — and this is true — a whopping 126 years after it was first invented. It’s a fun game. The fact that people are impressed that Skyrim has maintained a healthy player base these ten years later should encourage you to think twice about scrolling past Ludomania in the Nintendo Store, considering Ludo is, seriously, older than the airplane.
Released: 21 July 2020
Developer: QUByte Interactive
Ubermosh: Black is a top-down bullet hell arcade-style shooter with a distinct, somewhat bizarre style you’re unlikely to forget anytime soon. The game is centered around the Blade Saint as she mows down wave after wave of enemies from the appropriately titled alien species, The Swarm, using her gun to blast them away and her sword to literally slice projectiles. There are four classes to choose from before heading into the randomly generated arena to slay as many enemies as possible in 90 seconds. It’s hectic, fast-paced, and will give you many, many times your money’s worth.
Superbit Blaster XL
Released: 16 March 2020
Developer: Nickervision Studios
Anybody who missed out on the delightful experience of having every quarter you own immediately swallowed by whatever Arcade game has its talons firmly clenched around your soul, Superbit Blaster XL replicates the intense, unforgiving, deeply satisfying experience of those very 1980’s classics. Except with a viable frame rate and updated graphics (not too updated though). Your ship can’t stop moving, your guns can’t stop shooting, and the enemies never stop coming. Yeah, it’s great. And it costs less than a dime, which somehow feels cheaper than free.
Released: 30 June 2020
Developer: QUByte Interactive
If you liked the unceasing assault that was Ubermosh: Black, you will relish the same freak intensity when it’s applied to an endless runner. Swarmriders puts players on an Akira/Tron style bike and sends them forth into an endless void while countless members of the vile Swarm continually… well, swarm after them. The trailer shows you everything you need to know about Swarmriders — lots of enemies, lots of players, clutch maneuvering the whole way through.
Real Drift Racingl
Released: 28 June 2019
Developer: Cool Small Games
The graphics might look a little dated, but for less than 1% of the price of your typical AAA game what you get is solid, arcade style racing gameplay. As the name suggests, the game is all about drifting and racking up as many points as possible on your way to the finish line. Real Drift Racing has all the bells and whistles you’d expect with a racing game: tons of cars to choose from and plenty of customization options, a variety of tracks and numerous ways to tweak your car’s specs to your liking. You really can’t go wrong with a standard issue game that costs less than the change in your pocket.
Over the Top Tower Defense
Released: 06 May 2019
Developer: SMG Studio
One of the most robust games on this list, Over the Top Tower Defense prides itself on just how hard it jumps the shark on the tower defense genre. It also just so happens to feature giant robot sharks, because of course it does. The game uses the familiar nuts and bolts of a solid tower defense game that would be fun enough on their own and adds a veneer of RPG mechanics that give complexity and satisfaction to the hectic gameplay. With 7 classes, dozens of abilities and skills to level up, and plenty of equipment with which to build your distinct three-man squad of heroes, players can expect many hours of very over the top tower defense in the appropriately titled Over the Top Tower Defense.
Released: 29 March 2019
Developer: Drageus Games
Not, it has nothing to do with the seminal sci-fli flick of the same name, but it does have a nigh-limitless procedurally-generated world for you to explore. Event Horizon is something like No Man’s Sky meets Eve Online if it were less online, and presented in the form of a top-down flash game. That statement might not have you tripping over yourself in excitement, but rest assured that if you’re looking for a serious action-adventure exploration game with serious progression and RPG elements, you’d be hard pressed to find Event Horizon’s equal in the sub-dollar range.
Released: 28 February 2020
Developer: Drageus Games
And ode to the classic rogue-likes of old, Skull Rogue is a straightforward, pixelated hack and slash that players can carve a surprising amount of gameplay out of. The premise is simple: Be a skeleton. Fight! Really, it’s that simple, and it’s great fun for those who just want a casual game they can pick up and put down but nonetheless expect a sense of progress from. Like all rogue-likes, the game incorporates quickly escalating difficulty and mounting stakes as you and your enemies grow in power. Skull Rogue has various biomes and enemy-types and grows increasingly unique as time wears on, so anybody in dire need of a traditional and uncomplicated dungeon crawler should look no further than Skull Rogue.
Chameleon Run Deluxe Edition
Released: 14 June 2018
Developer: Hyperbolic Magnetism
Chameleon Run is a fast-paced infinite-runner that’s as easy on the eyes as it is hard on the nerves. Gameplay progresses as a side-scrolling 3D platformer that has players switching to the appropriate color to match oncoming blocks as they make contact with it — sounds simple enough, but once things start to accelerate the color switching and whiteknuckle platforming converge to create a flow state of unbelievable magnitude, players become the eye of the storm. Seriously, if you were a big fan of games like Temple Run, Subway Surfer or Robot Unicorn Attack back in the day, Chameleon Run is their more modern, prettier looking descendant that will that infinite-runner shaped hole in your heart with
The Deer God
Released: 21 December 2017
Developer: Blowfish Studios
The Deer God has to be one of the most visually stunning pixel games ever created, and it seems almost a crime that it can be purchased for less than a dollar. Players find themselves reborn as a deer in the harsh wilds, tasked with one, singular goal: survive. Survive a world where hunters, other animals, and mother nature herself shall show no pity or remorse, and of course spare you no quarter. Run, leap and escape across numerous beautifully crafted environments and delve deeper into a game that is surprisingly impactful for such a simple, straightforward premise.
Released: 27 March 2018
Developer: ISBIT Games
Warp Shift plays out like a tile puzzle in the form of a Pixar movie, and is an absolute steal for the $0.99 price tag. High production-value art direction and an immersive soundtrack make for a deeply engrossing, soothing puzzle game that is an absolutely pleasure to play. The game comes with an interesting story to delve into while enjoying the stress-free adventure-puzzle format that has players shifting around compartments to help guide the protagonist, Pi, and her robot companion out of the ancient chamber they find themselves locked in.
Released: 09 November 2018
It’s Mario. It’s literally just Mario, reskinned with a cutesy humanoid crocodile, and for less than a dollar. And, well, there’s nothing wrong with that. Croc’s World has all the trappings of your usual Mario clone — destructible blocks, shelled enemies to hop-murder, and a whole lot of platforming, valuable-collecting goodness. If you’re a fan of Mario gameplay mechanics, Croc’s World gives you most of the same for less than the coins under your couch cushions.
Released: 31 July 2018
Developer: Paul Cuisset
Flashback is so good, it’s almost disgusting that you can buy it for a dollar. A massive hit back in the 90’s, Flashback is an incredibly beautiful and engrossing platform adventure fueled by a gripping narrative. Set in 2142, scientist Conrad B. Hart escapes from an alien spaceship and finds himself stranded in the hostile lunar jungles of Saturn’s moon, Titan. Battling enemies, uncovering treacherous plots, and making daring escapes are all part and parcel of Flashback’s exciting gameplay. The modern rework gives players the option to experience the 90’s hit in its original, unvarnished form or enjoy an updated “Modern” mode that puts a little more polish on the groundbreaking classic.
Released: 06 December 2019
Developer: Vivid Games
Space Pioneer proves that the only reason we haven’t met the aliens yet is because they saw us first and chose to steer clear. Play as a bounty hunter moving from world to world across a massive universe, laying waste to understandably hostile extraterrestrial locals and completing numerous objectives while progressively upgrading your unfriendliest-neighbor credentials. For less than a buck, you’re getting a well-constructed action game that comes with four-player co-op, a unique art style, tons of enemies and huge boss battles, and a seriously enormous amount of content to play through? What’s there to lose? Other than your life on some distant, unnamed planet surrounded by pissed off, inhuman monstrosities, of course.
Quest for the Golden Duck
Released: 22 Feb 2019
Something like Pac Man meets Rogue, Quest for the Golden Duck drops players into a maze full of golden coins, treasure, and the obligatory monsters hungering for your flesh. The goal of the game is simple — collect all the coins and treasure without being devoured — and hearkens back to the earliest of arcade games. What makes the game a little more fun is the four player PvP where players can choose to play competitively as either humans or monsters. It’s bite sized, simple fun for casual games or younger kids.
Released: 15 November 2018
Developer: Interactive Stone
Something like Bowmasters meets Portal, Tin Boy is a compact and well crafted puzzle-platformer about a… well, tin boy, recently created in a lab by a scientist with a seeming fondness for medieval plate armor, as he undergoes a series of experiments ostensibly designed to test his artificial intelligence. Instead of a portal gun, Tin Boy has a bow and an assortment of specialized arrows that he uses to traverse the levels — everything from explosive arrowheads, grappling hooks, and platformers.
Released: 14 August 2018
Funbox Party is really just three competitive arcade games you’re getting for about ten cents a piece: Up Up, a race to ascend a vertical platformer, Dragon Escape, a tile-based platformer with a series of obstacles, and Microbe, where players act as microbes doing their best to infect an intestine. Yeah… it wasn’t game of the year 2018, but if you’re casually looking for something you and a couple friends can play to pass the time while waiting for something to download on Steam… Funbox Party will do the trick.
Valentina (looks like Terraria sprites)
Released: 08 September 2020
Developer: QUByte Interactive
Valentina is a little like Zelda if it looked and played something like Terraria. Players step into the shoes of the titular Valentina as she ventures across 40+ handcrafted levels, slaying enemies with her bow, traversing dangerous platform puzzles, and colliding with huge bosses. Valentina is a solid, standard issue adventure game that plays out like a classic, high-fantasy adventure for anybody looking for rewarding, fundamentally sound gameplay.
Released: 30 November 2018
Developer: Qubic Games
Doodland is Temple Run if drawn by a disinterested student in the back of a middle school classroom — and we mean that in a good way! It’s a fun, visually distinct platform-runner with a lot of poop jokes and striking hand-drawn visuals. Players pick a unique doodle run like hell through a series of slightly deranged, side-scrolling levels and do their best to stay out of the reaches of whatever monstrosity pursues them from behind. The game is best for younger kids enamored by the idea of a fart-propelled doodle running through hand-drawn cowboy land or across a landscape of rotted teeth. Indeed, Doodland is fun — but best suited for a very specific target audience.
Released: 27 February 2020
Developer: Invisible Collective
Nothing goes better together than anthropomorphic sloths, weapons of mass destruction, and hot, steaming boxes of fresh, fresh pizza. Indeed, Battle Sloths merges the frightening awesomeness of unspeakable PvP violence and delicious junk food, allowing up to four players to battle across a multitude of varied maps with an arsenal of 15 unique weapons to choose from. The game serves up some of the best couch co-op of any game on this list and is designed to promote high-level hijinks as players are forced to use the unique terrain of each map and their own clutch maneuvering in order to claim that fabled last slice of pizza and all the bragging rights that come with it.
There you go! A whole bunch of ways to squeeze the soul-juice out of those accursed game developers without giving them anything financially rewarding to show for their hard work and dedication. If you ever become foolish enough to pay some real money for some larger-scope, bigger-deal games, check out our series on Best Switch Games for Less than 10, 20, and 30 dollars.