As finals week rears its ugly head, common coping mechanisms, like binge-watching TV shows or playing video games, are running rampant. For procrastinators who direct their attention to the latter, the Nintendo Switch is equipped with a wide variety of “byte”-sized avenues to ease your mind of the stressors of school life. This list will cover two of the best free Switch games that may help you calm your nerves without hurting your wallet.
When one thinks of battle royale games, one would normally direct their attention to “Apex Legends” or “Fortnite” rather than to this classic tile-matching game. Still, the chaos of a battle royale game lends itself brilliantly to the strategy of “Tetris 99,” giving a new, competitive edge to the normal style of play.
Each game consists of 99 players and lasts about 10 minutes. Every time a player clears a line of blocks, a corresponding line is sent to another player’s screen. Players use the right analog stick to target specific opponents with these lines, allowing them to strategically sabotage the best players and emerge the last player standing. If you, like me, are not very good at “Tetris,” you can instead distribute who you target to prevent retaliation from any players.
However, the constant disorder might turn off more veteran “Tetris” players, since it turns the game from a therapeutic exercise into an anxious fit of button-mashing that limits play sessions to no more than an hour of adrenaline-charged excitement. If you like the tesselating zen of “Tetris” but enjoy the competitive spontaneity of Fortnite, consider “Tetris 99” for your next study break.
“Deltarune: Chapter 1”
Game developer Toby Fox’s first project after “Undertale” made it to the Switch in late February. Similar to its predecessor, “Deltarune” is a story-driven “bullet hell” and role-playing game (RPG) filled with clever metanarrative, witty dialogue and a banging soundtrack. All of this takes course over about three hours, making it a worthy substitute to your textbook weeknight Netflix binge (or your actual textbook).
In “Deltarune,” you play a young human coexisting in a world with monsters . One day, you and a rowdy classmate named Susie enter the local school’s closet and mysteriously fall into the Dark World, where you are met with playing card motifs and trippy visuals reminiscent of “Alice in Wonderland.” Players must overcome a series of puzzles and zany plot developments as they try to make their way out of the Dark World.
The main form of gameplay is the combat elements. Similarly to a turn-based RPG like “Pokémon” or “Chrono Trigger,” the player must choose actions for each party member to use on enemy Dark World inhabitants. Like “Undertale,” the player has the option to “ACT,” allowing them to talk to and thereby better understanding their enemies, or even spare foes instead of attacking them.
What distinguishes “Deltarune” from an average turn-based RPG is the “bullet hell” aspect of combat, which involves dodging enemy attacks in real time. Each enemy’s attack pattern consists of a series of harmful platforms and projectiles in a small square on the screen. To avoid taking damage from an attack, the player must control a heart-shaped cursor and avoid these hazards. A good player will not take damage from any attack, and more skillful players may quickly learn to dodge them. A great player gets close to the enemy’s attack as these close-range dodges generate tension points (TP) that can be used to perform special attacks in later turns.
“Deltarune” is the first installment of Fox’s promised larger series of games. When this series will continue is completely uncertain, but, if you enjoy “Deltarune,” know that a similar avenue for procrastination might be available by the time you have become a functioning member of society.
Overall, both “Tetris 99” and “Deltarune” push players into a state of flow, that sweet spot between boredom and anxiety, that loss of consciousness associated with an intense session of game playing. Whether you end up fighting for first place in “Tetris 99” or avoiding the complex attack pattern of the secret boss in “Deltarune,” both of these games are great channels for the procrastinating college student.
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Aditya Prakash (20C) is from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, pursuing a double major in neuroscience and behavioral biology and philosophy. He enjoys playing 16-bit indie games and arguing for his pronunciation of the word schedule. He half-jokingly aims to one day join The Onion or Clickhole, but until then he will continue to serve the Wheel.