My family has become obsessed with TowerFall yet again, which is quite the feat for a game that was first released on a now-defunct console five years ago. (Remember the Ouya?)
But the $19.99 version of TowerFall that was just released on the Nintendo Switch feels like the definitive version of the game, partially due to the fact that it comes with all the game’s DLC and a few surprises, like six-player mode. But it’s mostly because the Switch itself feels like it was custom-made for games like TowerFall.
TowerFall is a local multiplayer game — with some single-player trials and challenges that will help you practice your basic skills — in which you battle up to five other people. You start with a limited number of arrows to shoot at the other players, you can catch arrows out of the air and add them to your quiver, and there are also optional variants and pickups you can add or take away from the game. The environment may also add its own wrinkles to strategy or change the rhythm of each round.
Customizing the various options until you feel as if you’ve found the perfect version of TowerFall for you and your friends is part of the fun. Just like every other version, there is no online play. You have to be in the same room to really get the full effect of the competitive nature of TowerFall.
It’s a game that can be hard to describe with words, or even get a handle on seeing it in action. But TowerFall makes sense once you see it in action. Our video overview from 2014, below, does a good job showing off what TowerFall does so well and explains why it’s still one of the best party games currently available.
The Switch release makes it trivial to get a group of people together to play. The system already has two controllers attached, and if you have a Pro controller, that’s three. You don’t even need to connect the console to an external display; TowerFall’s simple but colorful visuals translate well to the Switch’s built-in screen.
The magic of playing on Switch is that it now feels as if a game of TowerFall could break out at any moment. My kids huddle in the corner and play it against each other when anyone else is using the TV in the living room. Getting six controllers together for massive, party-style rounds is simple; everyone I know has a Switch, and by definition, all those folks have at least two controllers. Bringing your system over to a friend’s house if they don’t own the game is as easy as dropping your Switch into their dock. All the friction of getting people together to play has been removed, and the only thing that’s left is joy.
None of this is news, exactly. We know that TowerFall works well, and we’ve known it for years. We know what the Switch does well, and we’ve known that since its release. But the strengths of TowerFall on this system feel like a multiplier. It’s rare to feel this sort of interconnected symmetry between a game and hardware, especially with third-party games.
TowerFall on Switch is the rare indie game that’s such a good fit that it’s almost a selling point for the console itself. After five years, I have yet to get tired of TowerFall in any of its flavors. This one is just the easiest way to bring other people into the obsession.