In March 2017, Nintendo launched its new Switch console alongside a huge new “Legend of Zelda” game.
A month later, Nintendo followed up with a “Mario Kart” game.
A few months after that, a new “Splatoon” game arrived.
Then, just before the big holiday shopping season, Nintendo dropped “Super Mario Odyssey” – a brand new, main-series Super Mario game from Nintendo’s top development talent.
In short: 2017 was a big year for Nintendo.
Look no further than the company’s astronomic stock performance in 2017 for an idea of just how big of a year 2017 was:
2018, however, is shaping up to be a lot less exciting by comparison.
Nintendo’s 2018 games line-up is distinctly less impressive than last year:
Between now and December, Nintendo has four first-party games scheduled to launch:
1. “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” – the next entry in the long-running Nintendo fighting game series which features an all-star cast of gaming characters. 2. “Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!” and “Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!” – an updated re-master of “Pokémon Yellow” that comes in two slightly different versions. 3. “Super Mario Party” – the next entry in the multiplayer-focused minigame series starring Nintendo characters. 4. “Mario Tennis Aces” – the next entry in Nintendo’s franchise of popular mascots playing each other in wacky games of tennis arrives June 22.
That’s pretty much it.
There are some big third-party games, like “Octopath Traveller,” and a major addition to “Splatoon 2” just launched (the “Octo Expansion”), and the Nintendo Switch Online service is scheduled to light up this September.
There are a few new things, no doubt.
But it’s a major dropoff from 2017, which had major Nintendo Switch game launches nearly every month. It was always going to be hard for Nintendo to top a year with major new “Mario” and “Legend of Zelda” games, but 2018’s comparative game line-up is a return to the Wii U years of B-tier games sporadically launching.
With 2017’s Switch launch, Nintendo revitalized its two biggest game franchises – Mario and Zelda. 2018’s line-up pushes the pause button on that evolution; it will be at least another year before Nintendo launches the real Pokémon game for Switch, to say nothing of the long-awaited “Metroid Prime 4.”
“Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,” “Super Mario Party,” and “Pokémon: Let’s Go!” are B-tier Nintendo games.
As a lifelong “Smash Bros.” fan, it hurts to admit it – but it’s true: The “Smash Bros.” franchise is a B-tier Nintendo franchise, along the lines of “Kirby” and “Mario Party.”
It’s an incredible game series, but it’s also a fighting game series. It’s inherently limited by its genre, even though it stars literally every major Nintendo character (and loads of minor Nintendo characters, to say nothing of guest characters from non-Nintendo games).
To be clear: “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” is likely to sell quite well, and millions of Switch owners will love it. But it’s unlikely to see the absurdly high numbers that games like “Super Mario Odyssey” and “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” did.
The same could be said for the new “Pokémon: Let’s Go!” games and “Super Mario Party.” The former isn’t the much anticipated new “core” Pokémon title being made for Switch, and the latter is, well, it’s a “Mario Party” game. Both will sell well and entertain millions of people, but it’s unlikely that either will achieve the astronomic impact levels of impact that games like “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” did.
The biggest games in development for the Nintendo Switch are coming in 2019 or later.
Many Nintendo fans are looking beyond 2018.
Nintendo’s “Yoshi” game originally scheduled to launch this year was pushed to 2019, according to Polygon.
And a major new Pokémon game is coming to the Nintendo Switch – the next entry in the main series, in fact – but it’s scheduled to arrive in the second half of 2019. It’s a big deal that the next game in the main series will be on the Switch, considering the entire Pokémon series up to this point has existed solely on Nintendo’s handheld consoles. The first Pokémon game debuted on the original Nintendo Game Boy, and the series continued that tradition through to the most recent release on the Nintendo 3DS.
And what of “Metroid Prime 4”?
That’s the big question. The game was notoriously absent from Nintendo’s big video presentation this week at E3 2018, the annual video game trade show in Los Angeles.
Since announcing the game in a logo at E3 2017, Nintendo’s been quiet about “Metroid Prime 4.” It’s unlikely to arrive in 2017 given its absence from the big show – it’s expected in 2019 or later.
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