I know, right? The guy writing this article is an idiot! Nintendo is having an unbelievable year. Look at those smiling faces playing Mario Kart. Look at the Switch selling out everywhere and Animal Crossing selling a bajillion copies. They’re gonna be fine…
Yes, yes, Animal Crossing has been huge for the Big N, and so far this year everything is looking rosy. Yes, yes, everything will be fine. Later this month they’re releasing a decade-old 70-hour JRPG, everyone loves those! Oh and Bioshock, what a great *checks notes* thirteen-year-old game! I can’t wait…
Now, joking aside, it’s way too easy to dunk on Nintendo. I love them, I love Animal Crossing, and most of all I love obtuse JRPGs. Oh and Bioshock Infinite, I love that too. By the looks of it, my year is packed with great releases. But I’d be wrong to think that there are many others like me. In reality, Xenoblade — while its sequel found real success on the Switch — is an obscure release for us in the West. And while Bioshock, Borderlands, and XCOM are all top-tier series, they’re also all very old.
Nintendo’s year is looking worryingly slim, and, unless they pull out some heavy-hitters, it could take a serious downturn. Also, it’d be good to note I don’t mean a downturn in sales — I’m sure they’re going to do amazingly on that front — I just mean that in terms of releases, this could be the Switch’s worse year yet.
Firstly, I want to explore what is coming out this year, and it’s not a lot. At the time of writing, the Switch has a handful of new releases. I’m counting things like The Outer Worlds or Doom Eternal as ‘new’, even though they’re coming out later than their home console counterparts.
The biggest names are Minecraft Dungeons (May 26), Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics (June 5), The Outer Worlds (June 5), Trails of Cold Steel III (June 30), and Deadly Premonition 2 (July 10). We also have vague 2020 windows for Bravely Default II and No More Heroes III, while Doom Eternal got delayed indefinitely. There are some things to be excited about there, for sure, but they’re all still somewhat niche games. I also can’t wait for Axiom Verge 2, coming late 2020, but it’s by no means a big release. On Thursday, we also got the announcement of a new Paper Mario game, titled The Origami King, coming July 17. Exciting yes, but only the second big original Nintendo game confirmed for 2020.
Nintendo had a big financial breakdown recently, explaining how well their sales have been over the last few months (Animal Crossing sold an unbelievable 13.4m units) as well as laying out some tentative plans for the coming financial year (that’s until March 2021). Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa said that there are games “scheduled to release during this period other than what’s been announced.” Well, that’s good, because if they didn’t announce anything this would be a genuinely dire year for Switch games. But my second question is, what could they possibly announce?
In terms of confirmed games that are in development, it’s unlikely we’ll see anything. I want Metroid Prime 4 just as much as you, but that game restarted development under Retro Studios in January 2019 due to it not meeting Nintendo’s standards. I think it’s impossible they could release it with less than 2 years of development time.
We also got the announcement that the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was in development at their E3 direct last year. While it’s not impossible to think that it could make it out this year — considering it’s been 3 years since the last game and it looks like it will use a lot of the same assets — a recent rumour suggests this isn’t going to be the case. So, in terms of big games we know Nintendo is working on, it’s not looking great.
So how about rumoured releases? Well, at the end of March VGC broke a rumour that we were going to get a lot of Mario games to celebrate the 35th anniversary. This was then corroborated by both Eurogamer and VentureBeat, making it feel pretty reliable. The rumour included Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy remasters — possibly as a bundle — as well as a separate deluxe release for 3D World and a new Paper Mario game. Well, with that Paper Mario game confirmed to be real, it lends massive credence to the rumour. Even so, while it’s a wonderful selection of games, only one of them would be a new title. I can play Super Mario 64 till the cows come home, but I’ve been doing that my whole life.
Other than that, it doesn’t seem like there could be anything else for the Switch this year. With the news that they aren’t going to do a Nintendo Direct in June — as they have done since 2012 — it really does feel like they have little to announce. Furukawa also tempered expectations in the financial report, saying, “considering the working environments between home and office are quite different, it could become increasingly difficult to release our games in line with our current schedule if the situation is prolonged.” For now, at least, the situation really isn’t looking great.
Still, I’m 110 hours into Animal Crossing and still playing every day. And yes, I will spend a hundred or so hours in Xenoblade Chronicles. And obviously, I will end up playing through all the Bioshock games again. But I’m a Nintendo superfan, I’m going to play a lot of games on my Switch. The problem is that Nintendo isn’t offering enough for those who own a Switch just for the exclusives.
If we look at last year, Nintendo published 20 games for the Switch. This included Yoshi’s Crafted World, Super Mario Maker 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Astral Chain, Dragon Quest XII, Luigi’s Mansion 3, and Pokemon Sword & Shield — not to mention the Link’s Awakening remaster and the great smaller games Tetris 99 and Cadence of Hyrule. Most of these games are some of the best on the console, with all but one of them being exclusive. So far this year the only brand new game is Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Paper Mario won’t be enough to fix it. Nintendo has to change that if they want to have a successful year, especially with next-gen consoles just around the corner.
For more Nintendo news, why not check out all the biggest news from April, including the Cooking Mama: Cookstar controversy and the nasty bots aiding the Switch reselling community.