Nintendo Switch: Year 2 In Review

The Nintendo Switch just finished it’s 2nd Year of availability, and it is undoubtedly a huge success. We continue to hear about the device breaking sales records and it seems like every week new games and more support are announced. But besides sales, how was Year 2 for the Switch? I wanted to go back and Grade the releases by Nintendo, the support and releases by Third Parties, the Indies games released, and the Services and Systems Updates the system got throughout the year.

Nintendo’s Year 1 support was nothing short of amazing, so it was going to be pretty hard for them to keep that momentum in Year 2. Most of their Year 2 line-up was kept in secrecy until 2018, but they still managed to publish a decent amount of games and give us a few surprises.

  • Kirby Star Allies
  • Mario Tennis: Aces
  • Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 01: Variety Kit
  • Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 02: Robot Kit
  • Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 03: Vehicle Kit
  • Pokemon Let’s Go! Evee / Pikachu
  • Pokemon Quest
  • Super Mario Party
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido
  • Splatoon 2: OctoExpansion
  • Xenoblade 2: Torna the Golden Country

I was pretty hyped up for Mario Tennis: Aces and what was promoted as a decent Story Mode, but I came away pretty disappointed in the single player and the gimmicky trick mechanics. Nintendo Labo actually doesn’t get the credit it deserves, but that’s because it’s more of a Toy, and suited more for children. Kirby Star Allies was actually a good Kirby game, especially in co-op, but it didn’t feel like anything special, it was about the norm for the series. The rarely mentioned Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido was actually one of my favorite games from Nintendo this year, as a puzzle game I don’t know if that says more about how I view that game, or Nintendo’s line-up. Splatoon 2: OctoExpansion was a pleasant addition. And while I didn’t play Pokemon Let’s Go! yet, it does look like a solid title, so I can recognize this was one of their top games. Super Mario Party is a huge seller like the rest of the series, but it’s somewhere inbetwwen “ok” and “good”. The biggest release of them all was surely Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and I know, I’m in the minority here, but I have felt like it was just “Meh”

  • Captain Toad Treasure Trackers
  • Donkey Kong Country; Tropical Freeze
  • Go Vacation!
  • Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition
  • NEW Super Mario Bros. Deluxe U

Unlike some, I’m not mad at the Wii U ports, I’m actually happy with being able to revisit these games and have them for portable play. I do however have some complaints about how these were released. Donkey Kong  Country: Tropical Freeze launched on the Wii U in February 2014 with a MSRP of $49.99. When it was released in May 2017 for Switch, it had a MSRP of $59.99. I understand these third party “Switch Taxes” because cartridges cost more than disc, but this is ridiculous for Nintendo to charge $10 more for a 3 year old port. The development costs of porting are much cheaper than their initial Wii U development costs, at the least, this should’ve been released for the same price.

I may be ignorant about this, but Captain Toad: Treasure Trackers seems like the kind of game that would be easy to create content for. I was hoping we’d see a 2018 or early 2019 Captain Toad 2 because of my assumption this was an easier game to develop. The port has some added Mario Odyssey themed levels, but they also stripped out the Mario 3D World levels. Minor complaints, but felt it was worth mentioning. I don’t have issue with the other ports, they’re all fine games.

I personally felt like the year was full of B or C tier titles. Most titles focused on multiplayer, but usually included a restrictive online mode, or one with connection issues. I could feel the absence of new single player games from Nintendo. Although I was let down by Smash Bros Ultimate, I still acknowledge 2018 had a strong finish. Early 2019 didn’t offer anything from Nintendo except New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. Going into Year 2, I knew it was unrealistic to expect Nintendo to match the line-up of Year 1. I still however felt like the year wasn’t a great follow up and thought with a lack of 3DS games, we’d have got more for Switch.

Not only did we see more Third Party support in Year 2, we also started to see more games release alongside other console releases. While I know there are some titles I might’ve forgot to list, I tried to include everything that I thought was notable (please let me know if I missed any). The games I considered “Ports” were ones that had been released at least 12 months before on a previous platform.

  • Atelier Lydie & Suelle (NISA)
  • BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle (Arc System Works)
  • Dragon Ball Fighter Z (Bandai Namco)
  • FIFA 19 (EA)
  • Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk (NISA)
  • Little Dragon’s Cafe (NISA)
  • Mega Man 11 (Capcom)
  • Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (Capcom)
  • NBA 2K19 (2K Games)
  • NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 (2K Games)
  • Octopath Traveler (Square-Enix)
  • Penny Punching Princess (NISA)
  • Shining Resonance Refrain (Sega)
  • SNK Heroines (NISA)
  • Starlink: Battle for Atlas (Ubisoft)
  • Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes (Marvelous!)
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4 (Sega)

Switch may have not received some of the biggest third party hits of the past 12 months, but there were still some quality games I enjoyed or still need to play.  Octopath Traveler was announced alongside the Switch and was the biggest third party exclusive of Year 2. I did not play far into this and do need to dig this out of my backlog, but from my short experience with the game and most accounts online, this was a strong title. Dragon Ball Fighter Z was released in January 2018 on other platforms, and Switch owners had to wait until September, but this was probably the best fighter of 2018 and a very welcome addition to the Switch library. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate had been released in Japan a year earlier, and was now finally in America. I played a few hours of it, but I still struggle to get hooked into the Monster Hunter series. Mega Man 11 really nailed what I was looking for out of a new Mega Man, it is pretty damn hard, but that’s how I remember growing up with the series. This was one of my favorite third party games of the year. Valkyria Chronicles 4 was one of my most anticipated games of the year, I’m huge fan of the series and was glad to see this return to the same mechanics as the original, I highly recommend this for strategy fans. Starlink: Battle for Atlas included a Fox McCloud figure and Arwing plane, the game had it’s issues, but I played through the entire game and was impressed with how much Star Fox content was actually included. Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes had me hyped ever since Suda 51 said he was bringing a game to the Switch, this spin-off was a little unfulfilling, especially after hearing a lot of his ambitions were scaled down due to tough scheduling

  • Battle Chasers: Nightwar (THQ Nordic)
  • de Blob (THQ Nordic)
  • de Blob 2 (THQ Nordic)
  • Diablo III: Eternal Collection (Activision Blizzard)
  • Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory (NISA)
  • Final Fantast IX (Square-Enix)
  • Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition HD (Square-Enix)
  • God Wars: The Complete Edition (NISA)
  • Happy Birthdays (NISA)
  • Harvest Moon: Light of Hope (NISA)
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization VI (2K Games)
  • The Legend of Kay Anniversary (THQ Nordiq)
  • The Lost Child (NISA)
  • Touhou Genso Wanderer: Reloaded (NISA)
  • Wild Guns Reloaded (Natsume)
  • World of Final Fantasy: Maxima (Square-Enix)
  • Y’s VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA (NISA)
  • Yomawari: The Long Night Collection (NISA)

NISA continues to support the system pretty well, they have 8 of the ports on this list, some of them are questionable in quality or reason for being ported, buy Y’s VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA is a great game that I’m glad to see make it’s way to Switch. The other big ports are without a doubt, Diablo III: Eternal Collection and Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, two games notorious for being on PC now playable on a handheld Nintendo device. It was also nice to see Square-Enix bring Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition HD and World of Final Fantasy: Maxima to the Switch.

  • Disgaea 1 Complete (NISA)
  • Katamari Damacy (Reroll)
  • Okami HD (Capcom)
  • Onimusha Warlords (Capcom)
  • Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition (Bandai Namco)
  • The World Ends With You: Final Remix (Square Enix)
  • Toki (Microids)

Katamari FINALLY makes an appearance on a Nintendo system with Katamari Damacy. I love this franchise, so this was by far my favorite Remaster to hit the Switch in Year 2. The World Ends With You: Final Remix got some valid complaints about the need for joycon pointer controls to replace the original DS stylus, but it’s still a welcome game to revisit.

  • Atari Flashback Classics (Atari)
  • Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle (Capcom)
  • Crash Bandicoot Trilogy (Activision Blizzard)
  • Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 + 2 (Capcom)
  • Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 (Capcom)
  • Namco Museum: PAC Arcade (Bandai Namco)
  • SEGA Genesis Collections (Sega)
  • SNK 40th Anniversary Collection (NISA)
  • Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection (Capcom)

I love seeing these collections hit the Switch, these have become the definitive versions of these games due to the ability to play portable or on the big screen. Having the entire mainline Mega Man and the entire Mega Man X series all on one hybrid device is incredible. I’m not that familiar with the Crash Bandicoot series, but this remaster Trilogy is really cool to see on a Nintendo system. The Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection has 12 different Street Fighter games and some of them allow online play, it is a great value. Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle and SEGA Genesis Collections also include online play and this really adds to the replay value of these games, they’re must haves for retro gamers like myself.

The Switch obviously didn’t get the third party support that XBox One and Playstation 4 got, but that’s not entirely their fault. Nintendo’s secrecy around the Switch resulted in them getting development kits late to some of the studios. The Wii U bombed, and it made a lot of publishers take a wait and see approach, and of course the Switch can’t quit handle some of the more powerful games of the PS4/XB1. But I don’t want to grade Third Parties for what isn’t here, but instead for what the Switch did get. There are some entertaining new titles, some respectable ports and classic compilations that shine on a handheld-console hybrid. The third party support in Year 2 was very encouraging, but I expect even more from Year 3.

The Switch has been getting so much indie support, some people try to write the system off as being nothing more than a Nintendo & Indie machine, which I don’t know if that’s necessarily even a bad thing. Like retro re-releases, I think the Switch has become the definitive place to play indies. The Switch can handle almost all of these indie titles without any issue, and of course allow us the ability to play on a TV or handheld.

  • Battle Princess Madelyn (Casual Bit Games)
  • Blade Strangers (Nicalis)
  • Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (Inti Creates)
  • Bomb Chicken (Nitrome)
  • Dead Cells (Motion Twin)
  • Gal*Gun 2 (Inti Creates)
  • Horizon Chase Turbo (Aquiris Game Studio)
  • Iconoclasts (Bitfrost Entertainment)
  • Into The Breach (Subset Games)
  • Mark of the Ninja: Remastered (Klei Entertainment)
  • Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom (FDG Entertainment)
  • Morphie’s Law (Cosmoscope Gmbh)
  • Mutant Football League (Digital Dreams Entertainment)
  • Overcooked 2 (Team17)
  • Penguin Wars (Dispatch Games)
  • Pocket Rumble (Chucklefish)
  • Pool Panic (Adult Swim)
  • R-Type Dimensions EX – (Tozai)
  • Runner 3 (Nicalis)
  • Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San (Nicalis)
  • Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn (Wire Productions)
  • Shikhondo: Soul Eater (DeerFarm)
  • The Escapists 2 (Team17)
  • The Messenger (Devolver Digital)
  • ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove (HumaNature Studios)
  • Trailblazers (Rising Star Games)
  • West of Loathing (Asymmetric)
  • Yoku’s Island Express (Team17)

. Horizon Chase Turbo and Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom are two of my favorite games to come out the past year. Mutant Football League has helped fill the void left by a lack of Madden on the Switch, and it’s one of my most played games of the past year too. So many great games on this list that I can’t recommend enough: The Messenger, Yoku’s Island Express, Toe Jam & Earl: Back in the Groove. A lot of people considered Dead Cells game of the year material, I personally wasn’t a fan of it but there’s an obvious crowd for it.

  • Bendy and the Ink Machine (Rooster Teeth Games)
  • Dust: An Elysian Trail (Limited Run Games)
  • Flinthook (Tribute Games)
  • Gunman Clive HD Collection (Horberg Productions)
  • Hollow Knight (Team Cherry)
  • Layers of Fear Legacy (Aspyr)
  • Night Trap (Limited Run Games)
  • Road Redemption (EQ Games)
  • Runbow (13AM Games)
  • Saturday Morning RPG (Mighty Rabbit Games)
  • Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (WayForward Technologies)
  • Steredenn: Binary Stars (Plug In Digital)
  • Super Meat Boy (BlitWorks)
  • The Escapists (Team17)
  • The Way Remastered (PlayWay)

The Switch is playing catch-up with the other consoles and Steam, and each week it seems like we get more announcement of favorite indies coming to the Switch. Hollow Knight, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, Super Meat Boy and Dust: An Elysian Trail were some big ones to hit the Switch the past year. I was pretty excited about the spiritual successor to Road Rash (Road Redemption) to hit the system as well.

Pretty much every highly anticipated indie was released on the Switch at the same time as other consoles and Steam in Year 2. A lot of previously released indies also ended up on Switch in Year 2 as the console caught up with others. There were even a few console and timed exclusives that hit the Switch through the year. Some of my favorite games of the year were done by indies, it’s hard to ask for much more and was by far the strongest part of the system in Year 2.

Nintendo’s Online Service had been delayed out of Year 1, with some mystery surrounding it well into year 2. There was also a lack of apps, which was fine as the focus was on games. Year 1 included an update that allowed video capture, people had plenty of requests and questions on what they may add in Year 2.

The Switch got halfway through Year 2 before they finally launched their Online Service with all of it’s features. The main additions from the previously free onine service were Cloud Saves, more Nintendo games that supported Voice Chat, and of course the NES Online Service.  The membership cost $20 for a full year, a fair price at an average of $1.67 a month. A way to back-up saves had been desperately needed for the Switch as many people had unfortunately run into situations where they lost all of their saves, and others like myself lived in fear that it would happen to them, the Cloud Saves were our savior. The Voice Chat is still done through the app, and while it now supports most Nintendo games with online functionality, there are still a few Nintendo games missing support and almost all third party games. By far, the best deal in the membership is the NES Online Service, each month gets games added to the library and all of them allow online play, either through co-op, multiplayer or “pass the controller” single player. As Year 2 came to an end, there are 32 NES games on the service, plus the bonus Tetris 99 which is a “Battle Royale” Tetris.

The online service itself still suffers from lag and disconnects, it is still no where near the stable connections fo PSN+ or XBox Live. This was really disappointing to see with Super Smash Bros: Ultimate. Unsure if this is a Network problem, or a hardware problem on the Switch associated with it’s Wi-Fi.

The Switch got a decent amount of Free 2 Play online games in Year 2, particularly the biggest and most popular one, Fortnite. This was huge, it’s been reported it was downloaded for nearly half of all Switches. Other big Free 2 Play games included Paladins, Smite, Warframe and even a Pokemon game in Pokemon Quest.

A lot of people hoped for Netflix, Youtube, Amazon Prime Video, and many other apps to get added to the Switch in Year 2. The only notable app added to the Switch was YouTube. I personally don’t mind, but I know this is something a lot of Switch owners want so it is disappointing to not get anything but YouTube.

I hate to Grade on what we didn’t get, but we really didn’t get anything in the system updates except some new avatars. No folders to sort the games, STILL no messaging (which is desperately needed), no in-console voice chat, no themes, nothing notable. This was very disappointing.

This was by far the biggest disappointment of Nintendo and the Switch in Year 2.  The online service needs to become more stable, messaging needs to be added, and there is definitely a big demand for more Apps.  The NES Online service will grow and rumors indicate SNES games coming too, hopefully this means we will see the services and system functionalities get some higher priority next year.

Nintendo still rode a huge wave of momentum in Year 2 and sold a crazy about of Switches. It is without doubt, a huge success and it’s best days are still ahead. Year 2 was a bit of a calm before the storm, as Year 1 launched the system right, this past year was a reload as the big guns come back for Year 3 and beyond. Third Party support continued to grow through the year, and even more is coming, they’ve had Dev Kits for a while now, and they have confidence in the systems ability to sell games. A couple of big Nintendo games got delayed out of Year 2, specifically Yoshi and Fire Emblem, those would’ve been huge additions, but only if they were ready. Indies are thriving on the Switch and often selling best on the platform, releases are coming out at the same time as the competitors, this is the definitive system for indies. The biggest complaints of the system are by far related to it’s online service, lack of apps, lack of messaging and other features that could’ve been added in system updates. Year 2 understandably fell short of Year 1, and there is a lot better years ahead. While I love my Switch and still had a great time with it ever since release, I didn’t even turn on my PS4 in 2018, I still recognize the Switch’s 2nd Year was a bit average in it’s releases and added functions.

Posted on March 4, 2019, in Thinking Outloud, Write-Ups and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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