Listen closely and you’ll hear the bell tolling for the Nintendo Switch. After nearly 7 years, the handheld hybrid responsible for restoring the fortunes of gaming’s most venerable company is teeing up its final run of games; and what a joyous line-up it is.
September’s Nintendo Direct featured a mix of titles we already knew of, along with a couple of happy little surprises along the way. Given the reception to The Super Mario Bros. Movie earlier this year, there’s little wonder (see what we did there) that everyone’s favorite plumber in red is leading the charge through what we can safely assume are the console’s final months.
Mario and his friends are being joined by other first-party franchises such as Pokemon, Splatoon, and even F-Zero in seeing the console on its merry way. Third-party support is still going strong too, with Prince of Persia, Sonic, and Dragon Quest games all set to hit the console in the coming months.
On paper, this looks like a banger line-up. And in many ways, it is. It’s just that none of these games have that specific hype factor we so often desire when we gear ourselves up for a Nintendo Direct.
We all suspected that Zelda would be the Switch’s final major release, and now that seems all but confirmed. Sorry all ye faithful holding out for Metroid Prime 4, but it’s time to face the facts: it’s not making it to Switch.
Granted, to not count Super Mario Wonder as a major title might seem mean. It’s the first properly new 2D Mario in some years. It’s clearly got that signature Nintendo polish, and it will absolutely sell by the bucketload. But it’s still 2D Mario, and you can only really get so excited about yet another side-scrolling platformer no matter how great it promises to be.
With development times being as long as they are these days when it comes to AAA games, it’s no surprise that the next mainline Mario, Zelda, and Metroid games will be headed to Nintendo’s next-gen console. Like games development though, bringing a new console to market also isn’t quite as speedy as it once was. Gaps between new generations are necessarily longer as hardware becomes more complex, and global release demands become bigger.
So how does Nintendo choose to plug that gap? With loads of fun, off-beat games that might not have gotten so much of a chance if they were released during the console’s peak.
Typically, the final year of a console’s lifespan is pretty bleak when it comes to any notable releases at all. 2016 saw Twilight Princess HD released on the Wii U, but almost nothing else of note outside of indies. 2012 had a pair of decent RPGs hitting the Wii in Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story, and that was about it. And then there was the Game Cube. Aside from Twilight Princess, which would be released simultaneously as a launch title on the Wii, Baten Kaitos Origins would be the only notable exclusive to hit the GameCube in 2006.
But the Switch seems poised to dodge this trend. Even looking outside of Nintendo’s consoles, when it comes to the sheer breadth of exclusive releases in a console’s final year, there’s nothing remotely comparable to what Switch is promising. These don’t have the look of games that have simply been thrown together and pushed out the door either.
Princess Peach: Showtime isn’t just a reskinned Mario game. It’s an entirely different-looking platformer that’s been built from the ground up to offer something that Nintendo is no doubt hoping will become a successful series in its own right. With the Luigi’s Mansion and Wario Ware series’ proving to be such a success for Nintendo over recent years, it’s about time Peach got her own chance to shine.
Then, there’s Super Mario RPG remake. Re-releasing and refining such a beloved and uniquely stylized game is no easy task, and nobody would’ve blamed Nintendo for just sticking the original game on NSO and calling it a day. Instead, the latest trailer showed off some beautiful pre-rendered cut-scenes and battle animations that almost certainly promise that this will become the definitive way to experience the game.
And let’s not forget Detective Pikachu Returns either. The verdict is out on how well this one will be critically received, and while it’s unlikely to be one of the best Pokemon games on the Switch, it’ll at least be a welcome diversion into the weirder parts of the franchise to tide fans over between the Scarlet & Violet DLCs.
We even got the long awaited announcement that cult favorite Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door was at long last getting a re-release. In an age where games preservation is on shaky ground, it’s a welcome relief to see yet another timeless Nintendo classic make its way to a modern console.
Fans celebrated these announcements, but therre’s even more Nintendo could slip in before the Switch is done. Metroid Prime 2 Remastered is still unconfirmed but can’t be far off, and there’s long been expectations that Wind Waker and Twilight Princess will make their way to the console.
With this year belonging to Tears of the Kingdom, it’s not surprising that they’re still yet to be announced, but it’s also not hard to imagine them filling a Zelda-sized gap in 2024’s release calendar, especially now we know TOTK won’t be getting DLC. Hopefully they’ll also see fit to bring other much-requested titles over to the console such as Kid Icarus: Uprising, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and Tomodachi Life.
Honestly, things couldn’t be looking brighter over at Nintendo. Whether it’s something new, a remaster, or a rerelease, there’s truly something for everyone in their lineup of announced games making up the Switch’s twilight period. It’s a lineup that is every bit Nintendo doing what Nintendo does best, and after a year full of blockbuster epics, I for one can’t wait to dive into Nintendo’s joyous celebration of gaming’s lighter side.