Who said road trip games could only be like “I spy”? There’s a plethora of great titles to take on the go with you this summer—try these 5 offerings.
As someone who used to huddle over the 4-shade monochrome screen of a brick-style Game Boy in the backseat of the family minivan, travelling with the Nintendo Switch seems like magic. Console-quality games on a handheld device that I can plug into a TV when I get to my destination and keep playing on? Sorcery!
Nintendo’s hybrid console is the successor to the long pedigree of the Game Boy line, and true to its heritage, it offers plenty of great road trip games to keep you occupied on long trips.
5) Tie: Arcade Classics
When you’re stuck in a moving vehicle for long stretches of time, variety can be welcome. Luckily there are a handful of arcade-style compilations available on Switch. These can be kooky, but they cover several genres at once and bring back that old-school vibe, so we kick off this list of road trip games with a three-way tie.
Neo Geo Pocket Color Compilation Vol. 1 may be a collection of games from SNK’s niche handheld, most of the franchises represented within are staple arcade experiences. SNK Vs. Capcom: The Match Of The Millennium pits the two companies’ icons against each other in chibified form, at the head of several fighting game options; two Metal Slug games offer more traditional action; and Big Tournament Golf is an ideal sim for people who aren’t that into golf.
Capcom Fighting Collection makes a good alternative with arguably more identifiable characters. It contains multiple Street Fighter and Darkstalkers offerings, alongside the boss rush-esque Red Earth and the tile-matching Puzzle Fighter II Turbo.
However, if Capcom had combined their two Capcom Arcade Collections into one title, it would have been the clear winner. Either way, there are plenty of ways to call back to the arcade scene to make your trip more entertaining.
4) Picross S series
Publisher Jupiter has quietly been stocking some terrific puzzle experiences on the Nintendo Switch with its Picross S series—which now tallies seven full games, plus an additional Sega-themed title. Picross puzzles, also known as nonograms, are almost a cross between Sudoku and Battleship. The puzzles are presented as blank grids, with numbers at the end of each row and column indicating how many spaces in it need to be filled. Completing the puzzle results in an image.
All of these collections make for great road trip games, packed with no less than 300 puzzles each with escalating complexity. If the core puzzle type isn’t stimulating enough, Picross S2 introduced Mega puzzles with more complex clue, while S3 introduced Color Picross to really make things interesting. Unless you obsess over your completion times, they’re incredibly chill and easy to do in the background while still conversing with your companions.
3) Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics
Of course, maybe your companions want to get in on the fun, so the next few road trip games have more robust multiplayer options. Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics is one of Nintendo’s humblest offerings, yet manages to utilize the various multiplayer forms of their hybrid console in all of its forms. Depending on the game, you can split joycons, pass the system back and forth, lay it in tabletop mode, or even play on individual Switches.
That versatility continues when you reach your destination, too. If you’ve brought along your dock, people of all ages can get into these virtual renditions of timeless board, tabletop, and card games. It harkens back to the Wii’s ability to get everyone, from the kids to grandma, involved.
2) Civilization VI
When it comes to killing time, the Civilization franchise is a notorious hour assassin. Its addictive, “just one more turn before bed, oh crap it’s 3AM” gameplay makes it a king among road trip games. Thankfully, Civilization VI‘s Switch port runs impressively, considering its PC origins.
Local multiplayer is supported between multiple consoles or by passing one system hotseat-style, and its more passive playstyle ensures you don’t have to choose between keeping your eye on the game or looking up to see that landmark fly by. With the sheer scale of content, Civilization VI is almost infinitely replayable, so consider adding it to your travelling library of road trip games.
1) Tetris Effect: Connected
Tetris 99 may steal its thunder for its connection to the Nintendo Switch Online service, but this battle royale spinoff won’t be any use on the road, sans-WiFi. Luckily Tetris Effect: Connected is at hand to fill that void, the quintessential modern version of a quintessential video game.
Tetris was one of the first essential road trip games, even if it was hard to see on that archaic Game Boy screen. Tetris Effect amplifies the presentation a hundredfold, stimulating your senses while testing your mind and reflexes. A variety of modes and unlockables provide incentive, or you can just… play Tetris and vibe. And of course, multiplayer options are present, if your friends also have the game with them.
Just like the Game Boy thirty-plus years ago, the Nintendo Switch has changed the game for travelling, especially with its versatile playing options, and this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Whatever road trip games help you pass the time, safe travels!