Nintendo Switch – One Year Later
2017 was a banner year for the video game industry. We had huge titles scattered throughout the year like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Persona 5, Assassin’s Creed Origins, PUBG and Wolfenstein 2,along with many others which where all received well by critics and fans alike. But amongst all of that we had one of the biggest comeback stories in the gaming industry in years.
The reinvention of Nintendo as a serious competitive force in the industry once again. This piece is mainly good to be a summary of the main library the Switch has produced in little over 12 months and how the future looks for this fantastic hybrid system!
Nintendo started the year in January with an unveiling event of the new system the Nintendo Switch previously codenamed NX to be released in March and launching with a mammoth release The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. To say this presentation garnered mixed reviews would be an understatement; some were excited for the machine whilst many online weren’t as optimistic.
I for one being a lifelong Nintendo fan was very excited with this showing. One thing Nintendo has done time and time again is prove the doubters wrong and show us why they’re one of the last few originals still breaking new ground in the video game industry.
Launch wise bar the obvious Zelda title there wasn’t much else on the scale of a big release. A few small titles like the awful tech-demo 1, 2, Switch and an average quick play game Super Bomberman R amongst a selection of Nindie style titles too.
This small-ish calibre of launch titles didn’t affect the sales that much as even with the small selection the big game Breath of the Wild already was causing quite the buzz in the video game world with nearly everyone already calling it Game of the Year 3 months into 2017, a title I may add that come the end of the year it still rightly deserves even though we have had a few come close and another from this very same system! If you doubt it you need only read my review of the game here on this site to see how much I loved this game!
A few issues pointed out at launch still haven’t been fixed a year later though which does show clear lacks in the system compared to the other big two in the industry. The lack of a proper online service is still a major bug bear to a lot and with only a tentative date of September 2018 as the release for it in this day and age 18 months after a console launch isn’t really acceptable for a full-fledged online launch in the digital age we are in.
The other major gripe with the system does tie into the online services but unlike the prior we have no answer or address to this situation – voice chat. Two words Nintendo tend to not like, compared to the PSN or Xbox Live which have full voice chat with Nintendo we have a smartphone app and an ugly Splatoon based headset to use in tandem. This isn’t good for a system which has taken the world by storm not being able to have such basic functions needed for co-operative play in 2018.
Nintendo did a fantastic job of pacing out big game releases in 2017 to make sure the audience was there every month of the year and not drop off.
March obviously we started with Breath of the Wild. April gave us a port of Mario Kart 8 called the Deluxe version making it the definitive Mario Kart experience with all previous DLC from 8 included with the revamped Battle Mode.
In May we got Minecraft, Ultra Street Fighter 2 and Disgaea 5. June was a new IP release and a big showing from the January presentation Arms, this was a big misfire for me personally. A smart idea not implanted well for me, this is truly the only ‘main’ Switch game I’ve actively disliked and not being a huge fighting game fan it might’ve played into that one though? Still Nintendo seem to be trying hard still to make Arms a thing going forward. Arms still has legs they’re saying…
July was another huge month for them with the release of Splatoon 2 which came out on my actual birthday which made it a day 1 buy for me. This particular game I had mixed feeling with. I dropped off pretty quick initially as I felt it was too much like the first game and not enough ‘new’ content per se but within the last 4 weeks I have finally dug deep into this one and found a new love for this game.
After finally making some progress with the online and actually unlocking more content and game modes I am now deep into this game and very excited for the Octo Expansion due out this year. This game just falls into the problem of without a full online functionality it feels a step behind other competitive online games like Overwatch, Destiny, PUBG or Fortnite. If it had some of the basic mechanics for voice chat and true matchmaking this could go big in the eSports field but until these are addressed I fear for the longevity of this one.
As we crept into the back half of the year post-E3 and the 6 months mark figures of the sales and the future was showing a positive note for Nintendo going forward with it slowly creeping up to lifetime sales of the Wii U already and gaining big traction in the gaming community with the impending Mario release.
August had one of our first big third-party games come to the system Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, a game that turned out far better than it had any right to be. An XCOM style game with crossover of two franchises you wouldn’t expect to. September was more ports with DragonBall Xenoverse 2, Rayman Legends and Pokken Tournament DX, all good titles nothing to shout home about though.
October though was the flagship month though like March was. We had our first full Mario game on the system Super Mario Odyssey, a game that was universally loved and instantly jumped into the Game of the Year conversation. The fact that Nintendo had not one but two games literally cleaning house in reviews and conversations was something many probably wouldn’t have expected.
With the new Mario game we got a new technique for him with the inclusion of a new character called Cappy, a magical hat that lets you take over certain characters and enemies in the game so essentially if you wanted to be a Cheep-Cheep or a Koopa Trooper you could now. A very deep game with your standard 3D Mario tropes but with a huge post-game section this game instantly became a system and series favourite for me.
I’ve always traditional preferred the 2D Mario games over the 3D ones but this has been the first one in a long time to come close to the enjoyment I felt first playing Super Mario Bros 3 almost 25 years ago! A real tour de force on a system already with an absolute beast of a game like Breath of the Wild already released.
The year closed out in November and December with a few major titles and entries on the system. We had the mammoth Elder Scrolls: Skyrim release on a Nintendo Console for the first time and whilst I love the game and have put a good 20ish hours into this again I do feel a bit burnt out by this game with the amount of releases it has gone through.
Still Bethesda seem all in on Nintendo with Skyrim, and Wolfenstein 2 on the system. which as a fan of the company is great because we also got Doom portable here which considering Doom was my game of the year in 2016 tied with Inside I was more than happy to replay as it’s an absolute gem and runs perfect on the Switch and fits right at home!
The first big true JRPG released in December Xenoblade Chronicles 2, a game many thought would be delayed and wasn’t coming out in year 1. A fantastic game from start to finish and a great addition to the JRPG genre, it sold pretty well too so hopefully living in the age of ports and remakes it may mean we get a port of Xenoblade Chronicles X eventually which overall was the better game but like a lot of Wii U games it has been forgotten due to the nature of that system being a colossal failure.
The start of 2018 has slowed down on the AAA games and more showcased the hidden gems of the system – the Nindies library. The Nindies has been appearing week in week out throughout the year on the Switch and showcase some of the best indie games on the market today.
In the first few months of the year so far we’ve had one of the biggest indie games around Super Meat Boy, a Meat Boy-like climber game Celeste and the crushingly difficult Darkest Dungeon. Having this level of games of the system show Nintendo is once again all in with the indies and with future releases of classics like Inside and Limbo and exclusivity on first release of upcoming Shovel Knight DLC and Shantae DLC we do have some great content coming in the near future.
Overall I don’t think Nintendo could be any happier with how the Switch has turned out in the first 12 months. With them surpassing the lifetime sales of the Wii U in the first year, becoming the fastest selling console launch of all time and cleaning up at all the major game awards shows with Zelda and Mario the future is very bright for the system and as long as they keep the trajectory going the sky is the limit for them. Third party support is back at last for Nintendo, the public are back on their side and we are heading into Year 2 with Metroid Prime 4, Pokémon and Super Smash Bros on the horizon.
E3 in June will be the real test at how the future is going to shape up and how they handle the launch of the Nintendo Online Service as they’re going against some big hitters this year with some flagship titles on other systems releasing this year like God of War, Kingdom Hearts 3, Red Dead Redemption 2 and the always dominating Call of Duty. If they pace themselves well and don’t fall into any unnecessary Nintendo like tropes of over confidence I don’t see how they can fail.
If I was to give the Switch’s first year an arbitrary rating of the first year I’d have to go with a solid 8.5 out of 10. If the online and voice chats issues weren’t there, you could argue it being the strongest first year out of any system launch alas they are though and being 2018 in a digital age we can’t overlook such a major flaw with the system.