Nintendo’s Sophomore Slump

img_6198Earlier this year I wrote a story about the first 12 months of the Nintendo Switch. I rejoiced about the brilliance of the console’s design and a lineup of games that was better than anything I could have ever hoped for. Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey were immediate classics and games like Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle helped to fill out a year where the Switch was on top of the world. I claimed that it was possibly the best ‘first year’ that a console has ever had and that the possibilities were endless as far as where Nintendo could take their revolutionary console next.

Well… the honeymoon is over.

I knew that the first year of the Switch would be a near impossible act to follow, but if you would have told me when I wrote that article that six months later my Switch would be collecting dust I would’ve called you insane. Yet here we are in September and not only have I hardly played my Switch at all this year, but I don’t think I could tell you a single Nintendo Switch exclusive game that’s on the horizon that I’m excited about. How is this even possible?

Mario Tennis Aces

I need to preface this opinion a little bit by saying that I’m not saying that there are no games to play on the Switch, quite the contrary actually as there has been a pretty steady stream of releases over the past several months. My problem is that most of what’s been released falls into a few categories. Wii U rereleases (Hyrule Warriors, DK Tropical Freeze) Disappointing 1st party games (Mario Tennis Aces, Nintendo Labo) and indie games that are coming to the Switch after being available on other platforms. If you didn’t own a Wii U and haven’t been following the indie scene for years, you’re in luck! But for someone like myself you’re left with very few appealing options. I think Octopath Traveller is the one exception, being a brand new, exclusive Switch title that most people seem to really enjoy.

There are two big releases this Fall for Switch with Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu! and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but neither franchise has ever appealed much to me and they don’t seem to be doing much to bring in non-fans. Pokemon is a remake (of sorts) of Pokemon Yellow and Smash is essentially a greatest hits collection of the series. So that leaves me looking to 2019 for the next must-play game. And what game will that be? Good question.

Very little is known about what Nintendo has in store for us in 2019. Yoshi will presumably be released next year and I was a fan of the last game in the series, and Metroid Prime 4 is in development but no release window has been hinted at (plus I would much prefer a 2D sidescroller or 3rd person action game). So until Nintendo pulls back the curtain on their plans there isn’t a whole lot to make me think that my luck will be changing anytime soon.

Pokemon: Let’s Go!

I know many people will probably take issue with this opinion and tell me that they’ve had loads of fun on their Switch this year, and yes a lot of this comes down to personal preferences, but I also think that Nintendo is passing up an opportunity to do something incredibly special with the Switch. They have a catalog of franchises that is probably the best in the entire industry, yet many of the series have been lying dormant for years. Animal Crossing, F-Zero, Pilotwings, Pikmin, Waverace, Star Fox, Mario Maker, New Super Mario Bros., and the list goes on and on. Many of these games may very well be in the pipeline for the Switch but moments like this don’t come around very often and they need to strike while the iron is hot.

They also have one of the best back catalogs around, filled with endless classic games that people adore. Again though, they don’t seem very intent on making these games available. Imagine having a collection of NES, SNES, N64 and GameCube games all in one place to carry with you wherever you go. The potential there is enormous and the fact that it hasn’t already happened is mind-boggling.

I want to love my Switch the way I did last year. This could be remembered as one of the greatest consoles of all time, or it could be looked back on as one of the biggest missed opportunities. Nintendo has always blazed their own path with little regard for what the masses have asked for, and that has proven to be both successful in some cases and disasterous in others. The Switch has already been a huge financial success for Nintendo but selling a ton of hardware doesn’t make a great console, it’s what you’re playing on it that does.

I hope that when it comes to the Switch, Nintendo realizes the opportunity that’s before them and corrects their course so that we can get back on track and finally have the Nintendo console of our dreams, and 2018 can be looked back on as a small speedbump on the road to success.


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