TWELVE months ago, Nintendo were blowing the dice in preparation for one final roll. The Wii U, while beloved by few, was ignored by most – who only had eyes for powerful HD and 4K marvels. “Dead on arrival” crowed the critics, but those long enough in the tooth knew never to write off the House of Mario.
A year on, and Switch is now the fastest selling home console in history, set fair to beat Nintendo’s own record for the original Wii’s lifetime sales. Switch isn’t just a return to form, it’s their best console offering yet, surely having enraged Santa’s hernia this Christmas.
And it’s not just hardware keeping Nintendo swimming, Scrooge McDuck-style, in yen – they’ve been shifting plenty of the soft stuff, too. Over 60 per cent of US owners picked up Super Mario Odyssey, while 55 per cent nabbed Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Yet while barnstormers from Hyrule and the Mushroom Kingdom kept fans busy in 2017, what does Switch’s sophomore year have skulking in its green pipe?
While Metroid Prime 4 is definitely on the way and fan excitement couldn’t be more feverish, we still know next to nothing about it, and I wouldn’t count on a 2018 release. Likewise, Nintendo revealed that it’s working on a brand-new Pokemon title for Switch (well, duh) though details are sketchy.
The Championship division of mascots, however, are flying the flag this year, and one Nintendo character we will be reacquainted with is Kirby. Six years after the bubblegum hero last brightened consoles, Star Allies finally gives the walking whoopee cushion a HD makeover, joining forces with up to three other characters to defeat enemies, steal their powers and solve puzzles.
Due this spring, the adorable puffball will charm players short on years. And continuing the trend of cutesy platformers, Mario’s Simmons-tongued steed Yoshi will star in his own game this year. It’s business as usual as players chuck eggs at enemies and shift camera perspectives to interact with the diorama-style environment.
If they can capture even a fraction of the charm of Yoshi’s Wooly World, Nintendo are on to a winner here.
But it’s not all rainbows and stardust. Postpubescent players jonesing for some ass-kicking will get their fix with Switch-exclusive Bayonetta 3. Expect more scantily clad witch-based fisticuffs and jaw-dropping boss battles, and while there’s no release date set, fans can revisit Bayonetta 2 in remastered form on February 16 along with a free download code for the original.
Mature gamers are also catered for with a Switch port of Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, fending off alternate history Nazis in a blitzkrieg of bullets and welcome glimmer of third-party franchise hope for Nintendo’s relatively underpowered hardware.
Finally, legendary designer Suda51 will break his decade-long retirement from directing with No More Heroes 3. Details are light, but anime-obsessed hero Travis Touchdown returns to the cult series, which will no doubt feature sword battles, wrestling and all manner of Japanese weirdness.
Otaku rejoice, but don’t hold your breath – this is sure to be pushed back to 2019.
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