2018 was a monstrous year for Nintendo. Although, the PlayStation 4 is still the #1 console, the Switch outsold it this year. In Japan, the Switch has outsold the PlayStation Vita in lifetime sales, which remarkable because the Vita had a couple of years head start. The Switch finally got to see more third party support, even if it is in the form of ports. Square-Enix announced the return of the Final Fantasy core games to a Nintendo platform. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Final Fantasy VII, IX, X, and XII were all announced to be releasing in 2019 for the system.
Nintendo’s stable of in house games were on show this year. 2018 marked the return of a spiritually true sequal with Super Mario Party. Fans of the series got to see a return to form with a true singles mode, but it evolved to fit a party atmosphere. The new mini-games were fresh but had a nostalgic feel to them. In a singular setting, Super Mario Party has decent replay value, but get the game into a game night session, and friends will surely be Crashing Game Night to join in on the fun.
For long time Pokemon fans, Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee release in November. In my household we picked up both versions. I have not been a Pokémon fan and the last time I played a Pokémon game was back in the days of Red, Blue, and Yellow. Longtime fans will immediately recognize the store and lore as both versions are a modernization of Pokémon Yellow. The game is fun, but a big downside for me is catching Pokémon in order to level up my Pokémon party. Also for those that do not like motion controls, the game in not truly accessible. Sure, you don’t have to use a joy-con to throw the Pokeball, but you still have to move the system itself in order to target the Pokemon. There is also no support for the Pro controller. For the true Pokémon fans, the Pokeball controller is a great addition. This game will have replay value for them, however for the non-fan, the game will have little replay value.
December saw the release of arguably Nintendo’s most anticipated game of the year, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Even with playing the demo at E3, I felt the game was stunning. It truly shows off how Nintendo in-house teams know how to push the hardware. The controls felt more refined than that of its Wii U counterpart. In a multiplayer environment up close, it was a little bit harder to keep track of your character. The available character marks the most available since the series debuted on the N64. There are now a few more villains to help balance out the cast of heroes in the game. Even with the flaws I found with the game, it is no doubt a big hit. You see groups of friends trying to plan out when to meet at a local shop or to get online to play. This game will definitely be a part of game night for people going forward.
Looking forward to 2019
There are rumors of a Switch hardware refresh that will include better battery life and a better screen. Nintendo has continually stated they are not focused on any new hard, but with Nintendo’s track record of refreshing the 3DS line, I can see there being something there beyond rumor. In a recent Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced the return of Luigi’s Mansion(admittedly one of my favorite games on the GameCube) as well as a new mainline entry in the Animal Crossing series. The Animal Crossing fans, a Switch edition is long overdue as the series skipped the Wii U. Game Freak has also stated there will be a new entry in the Pokémon that will be a unique game instead of a moderization. The game that most fans want more information on is Metroid Prime 4. Retro Studios, the makers of the original trilogy are not involved with this project. Hopefully 2019 will mark the return of Samus to Nintendo home consoles after missing out on the Wii U party.