When the Nintendo Switch launched in 2017, it promised to marry console-quality games with the convenient portability of a handheld device. For the most part, that promise has borne out, changing how we play games in ways both big and small. It’s certainly made air travel less tedious.
Look, before we go further, we’ve gotta address the elephant in the terminal. The covid-19 pandemic is still very much ongoing, showing no signs of abating any time soon. And yet, travel has effectively approached pre-pandemic levels; over the most recent holiday season, as countries around the world grappled with a wave of cases spurred by the omicron variant, an estimated 6.4 million Americans traveled by air, just 12 percent down from a comparable figure for 2019. Is that safe? Jury’s out—the Mayo Clinic notes how viruses don’t spread as easily on planes, thanks to good air filtration—but still, caution is recommended. If you’re planning on flying, do it right. Get vaccinated. Get boosted. Wear a mask. Bring your portable charger. Order the prosecco (instead of whatever watery red JetBlue is hawking).
So, what exactly qualifies a game as fit for a longhaul? Obviously, any Switch game you enjoy does the trick, but let’s get a bit more specific: games that are compelling enough to kill hours in a brutal layover yet not so mechanically intensive that you, say, miss an announcement about your delayed flight getting un-delayed or have to wait just one second to let your window-seat rowmate out. What follows is a roundup of Kotaku-tested recommendations that fit the bill, though note that your mileage may vary if you can’t stand tactical games.