Top Five 2D Zelda Clones on the Nintendo Switch
Fans of 2D Zelda games were thrilled when Nintendo released the Link’s Awakening remaster in late 2019. In its launch weekend, the game sold over three million copies. The industry praised the upgraded aesthetics as well as Nintendo’s homage to the original game. While players continue to heap nostalgic admiration onto the 1992 remaster, Link’s Awakening is an abbreviated experience. For players familiar with the original game, most are able to roll credits in under 10 hours. Although the Nintendo Switch Online service offers the NES and SNES Zelda games, many Nintendo Switch fans are left wanting more. Thankfully, indie developers have taken notice and ported several 2D Zelda-esque games onto Nintendo’s hybrid platform. The staff at GamingROI deliberated and whittled down our list to a handful of must-play games. So without further adieu, here is GamingROI’s top five 2D Zelda clones on the Nintendo Switch.
#5 Oceanhorn – Monster of Uncharted Seas
Although touted as a 3D experience, Oceanhorn originally released as a mobile game back in 2013. While the visuals make the game feel eerily similar to The Wind Waker, Oceanhorn plays more like a top-down 2D Zelda game rather than a spiritual successor to its Gamecube counterpart. Created by Cornfox & Bros studio, Oceanhorn follows the tale of a young boy who sets out to avenge the death of his father by the hands of a mythical beast. The story is rather simple; however, it is the gameplay that makes Oceanhorn stand out from other 2D Zelda clones. From sailing the vast ocean to adventuring mysterious islands, Oceanhorn has the look and feel of a classic Zelda title.
- Sailing. Though not as robust of a sailing experience as The Wind Waker, Oceanhorn’s boating mechanic closely resembles the Gummi Ship from Kingdom Hearts. To traverse between islands, players will need to navigate the treacherous waters while also employing the boats cannon. Doing so will protect the boy from the harm of enemies and obstacles.
- Adventuring. Traversing the islands and hidden dungeon labyrinths is where Oceanhorn truly begins to feel like a genuine 2D Zelda experience. Overworld obstacles and dungeon mysteries are reminiscent of A Link to the Past and feature block, target, torch, and enemy puzzles.
Finally, items and equipment are exact replicas from prior 2D Zelda games. Dungeons contain new weapons and upgrades, which include many Zelda staples, such as bombs, heart containers, swords, and shields. So if you are looking for a Zelda imitation that feels like a combination of The Wind Waker and A Link to the Past, Oceanhorn might just be for you.
Released during the early days of the Nintendo Switch, Kamiko combines the puzzle-solving adventure of a 2D Zelda game with the hack-and-slash mechanics of a Dynasty Warriors game. Featuring beautiful pixelated sprites and tight combat, the world of Kamiko features four monster-infested worlds armed with evil bosses. At the start of the game, players can choose between one of the game’s three protagonists, who are equipped with unique weapons and skills. Though the game is less than than a few hours long, multiple character options add significant replay value.
- Combos. To solve many of the game’s puzzles, players will need to string together combinations of enemy kills. Doing so will grant players access to new areas and unlock chests containing keys or additional life bars.
- Boss Fights. More so than Oceanhorn, Kamiko’s boss fights are epic and grand. Each of the four world’s antagonists consume a large portion of the screen and appear intimidating and powerful. Players must memorize patterns and exploit windows of opportunity to fell these enormous foes.
Though a bite-sized experience in comparison to other 2D Zelda clones, Kamiko’s pixelated beauty, tight gameplay, and replay-ability make it one of the best experiences on the Nintendo Switch. For only five dollars, players cannot go wrong with this gem.
#3 Ittle Dew 2+
Developed by Scandinavia studio Ludosity, Ittle Dew 2+ is one of the few Zelda clones to receive a physical release. When sailing for new lands and treasure, Ittle, becomes shipwrecked on an island with her companion Tippsie. Armed with only a stick and a burning desire for adventure, Ittle embarks to recover the island’s eight raft pieces. While the hand-drawn art style is intoxicating, Ittle Dew’s gameplay is what sets it apart from other 2D Zelda clones.
- Dungeon Order. Right from the start, Ittle Dew 2+ points players in the direction of the island’s eight dungeons. However, unlike most 2D Zelda games, players can complete the dungeons in any order. While some dungeons are more difficult than others, the game does not prevent players from exploring each are of the map. In many ways, Ittle Dew’s approach to puzzles and dungeons is similar to A Link Between Worlds.
- One of a kind. Whereas Oceanhorn adopts weapons and items from prior Zelda games, Ittle Dew 2+ strives to be different. Instead of a traditional sword and shield, Ittle is armed with only her wit and a strangely powerful stick. While Ittle can acquire new weapons, such as the Force Wand and Fire Sword, neither is required to progress through the game’s eight dungeons. Instead, Ittle Dew 2+ almost forces players to explore the overworld. The dungeon’s are challenging and require players to earn heart pieces and new abilities. Unlike other Zelda games, Ittle Dew 2+ hides these upgrades in the overworld as opposed to its dungeons.
The unique gameplay combined with rewarding overworld exploration make Ittle Dew 2+ one of the best Nintendo Switch indie games. While the game is a bit more pricey than others on this list, Ittle Dew 2+ is a worthy 2D Zelda clone that fans will not want to miss.
#2 Cadence of Hyrule – Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring the Legend of Zelda.
Does it have Zelda in the title? Yes. Did Nintendo officially endorse the game during E3 2019? Yes. But is it a traditional Zelda game developed by Shigeru Miyamoto or Eiji Aonuma? Nope! In fact, Cadence of Hyrule is unlike any other game on this list.
Fans of the original roguelike Crypt of the NecroDancer praise its immersive music and odd gameplay style. Thinking that Zelda would make for a engrossing NecroDancer experience, Ryan Clark asked Nintendo for permission to use its intellectual property in a rhythm-action game. Surprisingly, Nintendo obliged, and Brace Yourself Games created one of the most unique Zelda clones on the Switch.
- Familiar but Different. While most roguelikes are punishing and focus on replayability, Cadence of Hyrule strikes a perfect balance. Each player starts the game with a unique map layout; however, the map does not change after each death. Instead, players are encouraged to learn the intricacies of their map and acquire permanent upgrades. In addition, well-known Zelda items, such as bombs, shovels, and rupees are key provisions, but the gameplay employs a twist. Instead of traditional movements, players must time each action with the beat of the music. While this mechanic initially feels foreign, fans of Zelda can quickly become overwhelmed with nostalgia.
- Feel the Beat. Speaking of nostalgia. Cadence of Hyrule’s most whimsical feature is its music. Based on memorable Zelda tracks, the game features many classics, such as OoT’s Kakariko Village theme and LTTP’s cave melody. The reimagined tracks from this storied franchise just beg fans to play the game with a set of noise-cancelling headphones.
Though not a traditional 2D Zelda experience, Cadence of Hyrule’s unique spin on Zelda music and gameplay make it one of the best indie games on the Nintendo Switch.
#1 Blossom Tales – The Sleeping King.
There is a reason why Castle Pixel still exists. Simply put, this crafty indie developer has a knack for shaping a polished Zelda experience. But in early 2018, publisher FDG had little hope for this troubled independent studio. Thanks to fan nostalgia and the Switch’s portability, Nintendo saved Castle Pixel from certain bankruptcy. In its first three months on the Nintendo Switch, Blossom Tales sold over 20 times more units than on Steam. Why was this success warranted, you might ask? Because Blossom Tales harnesses the best gameplay mechanics from A Link to the Past while improving on its predecessor’s weaknesses. Let’s dive in.
- What is Old is New. Fans of A Link to the Past praise the game’s puzzles and dungeon exploration. While the latter portions of the game are legendary and enthralling, LTTP’s first few dungeons can feel rather shallow. Blossom Tales compresses LTTP’s 12 dungeons into five epic labyrinths. Each segment of the game feels upgraded. Bosses are more challenging. Platforming is tighter but more difficult. Puzzles are nerve-wrecking. Each room has consequence.
- NPCs and World-Building. Unlike the previous four games on this list, Blossom Tales is the only one that offers a vibrant world. Each portion of the map is inhabited by a different race, and populations possess their share of hidden treasures and secrets. By interacting with the various communities, Lily can earn upgrades as well as access to new areas.
In an effort to refrain from spoiling the game, we simply encourage fans of 2D Zelda games to play Blossom Tales. The story, NPCs, gameplay, puzzles, and aesthetic are the best that the indie community has to offer. For only $14.99, Blossom Tales is by far the best 2D Zelda clone on the Nintendo Switch.
And there you have it: GamingROI’s official list of top five 2D Zelda clones on the Nintendo Switch. But we want to know what you think. Have you played any of the indie games listed above? What other 2D Zelda clones are your favorite on the Nintendo Switch? Let us know in the comments below or the social media links on the right. Also, be sure to check out our other news items on Final Fantasy VII Remake, Animal Crossing, Modern Warfare, and more.
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Later in the game, Blossom Tales has cheap, trial-and-error puzzles. I couldn’t stand them.