Switch ‘N’ Shoot is a space shmup (shoot ’em up) from developer Matt Glanville. It’s wonderfully simple, and terribly addictive. Switch ‘N’ Shoot was previously released for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Recently it was released for Nintendo Switch, and the platform fits this game like a glove.
In Switch ‘N’ Shoot, players take control of an unseen pilot shooting their way through space in a ship. They’re sent on their way by an encouraging squad leader who gives them a random name and wishes them luck. From there, players shoot their way vertically up the screen through descending enemies.
Switch ‘N’ Shoot is unlike other vertical space shooters in that movement and firing weapons are linked together. This is accomplished by tying both functions to a single button. Every time the ship fires, it switches the horizontal direction it’s scrolling. So, if the ship was rolling left and it fires, it will immediately change direction to the right, and vice versa.
This makes the game very simple to control and leaves the player free to strategize with their conscious brain. Rather than volleying as many shots as possible, players must be precise both in order to hit enemies and avoid them.
Switch, Shoot, Repeat
The Switch’s default controls let players use any of the face buttons or any direction on the d-pad to fire the ship’s weapon. The triggers and bumpers control the game’s color scheme on the fly, for some reason. The start and select button flip the screen from regular landscape to TATE, or portrait, mode. The options are very welcome but being able to change them during play makes them a nuisance; it’s easy to accidentally press the shoulder buttons if one is playing in TATE mode. A flip grip likely eliminates this problem.
Despite button woes, TATE mode really makes Switch ‘N’ Shoot feel like an arcade title. The one-button controls, clean graphics, ease of death, and even arcade cabinet style art help, too. I could see myself easily losing dollars at a time to a Switch ‘N’ Shoot cabinet.
As it turns out, that is possible thanks to DSM Arcade. According to their website, “DSM Arcade works directly with independent developers to bring their creations to the arcade scene.” They make a Switch ‘N’ Shoot cabinet for a mere $2,800.
The difficulty balance feels fairer than an arcade, however. It’s possible to die without hitting an enemy first, but that always feels like human error.
As players shoot enemies, they must collect falling coins to power up their ship’s weapon. A small shot becomes a bigger shot, then even bigger, then splits into two shots, then three, then becomes a laser stream. During the laser phase, players need only to focus on moving back and forth to take out enemies. Walls go up, however, that will kill the player instantly if they’re touched.
If the player can collect a coin during this final phase, the ship will go into hyper drive and will begin the loop anew in another sector with faster enemies. This repeats until the boss shows up in sector 4. If the player can defeat the boss, it all starts again, faster.
Trapped in a Wonderful Loop
Switch ‘N’ Shoot is tight, easy to understand, and deceptively difficult to master. It’s a sweet slice of arcade pie. It’s also beautifully addictive; the short sessions along with quick restarts make it paradoxically easy and hard to play in bursts. The Switch itself is a perfect platform for the game since players can switch to TATE mode without a special monitor or TV mount.
On the downside, otherwise excellent options being tied to button presses is a somewhat baffling decision. My favorite way to play was in TATE mode while holding the Switch sideways. However, the odd accidental button press will change the color palette which is annoying.
Although not necessary, the game would benefit greatly from online leaderboards. The leaderboards currently in the game are only the players’ own scores. The random names are cute but being able to compete directly with friends would be even more reason to keep playing.
Overall, Switch ‘N’ Shoot is an excellent addition to any Switch owners’ library. The arcade-like short sessions and simple gameplay lend themselves well to playing on the go. The TATE mode and color options round out this neat little package. For only 4 bucks It’s an easy recommendation.