Nintendo has been in an interesting position as 2018 draws to a close and 2019 begins. Nintendo had a ridiculous 2017, debuting with some killer software that caused it, along with its novel Switch, to rocket up the charts. The company, almost in shock at the things success, simultaneously dealt with hardware shortages and adjusted its sales goals to a much higher number. 2018 was less meteoric, but Nintendo was able to maintain its momentum by putting forward a few first-party debuts and building its relationships with third parties and indies to create a near-constant stream of high-quality releases. But the big question is 2019. Once Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is out, what does Nintendo have next? It turns out, there isn’t much to worry about.
Nintendo’s September 2018 Nintendo Direct was a smashing success, causing the internet to explode with Nintendo hype in a way it hasn’t since Metroid Prime 4 was announced. We still haven’t heard from that game since, but this Direct added a ton of new stuff to the pile, from Nintendo and elsewhere. In fact, there’s more than enough content for Nintendo to easily coast on through 2018, but it has plenty left itself with games that aren’t quite as big as Super Mario Odyssey or The Legend Zelda, but still big enough to move software sales.
We’re talking Luigi’s Mansion 3, a game I never would have expected, considering the financial disaster that was The Year of Luigi (Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was dope, though, to be fair), Yoshi’s Crafted World, and of course a brand new Animal Crossing. Assuming Metroid Prime 4 and the new Fire Emblem make their goals, that’s even more first party content for 2019. But these games are not, by themselves, why we’re feeling so good about 2019.
Nintendo is officially killing it with third party support. Not only do the “Nindies” keep coming, but Nintendo had some port-flavored bombshells to throw all thoughout the Nintendo Direct. Like, come on. Who would have expected Civilization VI of all things to show up? That series is huge, and aside from Civilization Revolution, something fans see as more of a compromise, hasn’t seen a game console in quite some time. Then you have stuff like Cities Skylines and a whole bunch of digital tabletop games from Asmodee Digital. There was third-party support from places other than Japan, and big companies like EA and Ubisoft came to play.
But speaking of Japan, oh boy. Final Fantasy is landing on the Switch big time. Following Octopath Traveler being such a huge deal, Square Enix seems to be all in on the handheld/console hybrid. To that end, dropped a boatload of Final Fantasy titles. None of these are exclusive, but they do fill in a huge gap, and some of the newer ones are even coming on the same day as their PS4 counterparts. And we can’t forget Bandai Namco bringing Katamari Damacy Reroll to Switch, and not PS4. That’s insane, considering the series made its name on the PlayStation 2 back in the day.
We also can’t forget about the smaller fare. We have Game Freak debuting a new RPG IP, which is just weird. But Town looks great! We also have the port of one of the best Mario games ever, Super Mario Bros. U. It will still be ugly, but the actual levels and gameplay are irreplaceable, and Wii U ports continue to do great in terms of business. People love Nintendo games, but they don’t love Nintendo hardware, until now.
Finally, the 3DS keeps on trucking, and continues to do so with inspired port choices and updates. Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn is a great choice considering how much of an impact Yoshi’s Wooly World made on 3DS, and Bowser’s Inside Story is a classic that deserves a fresh coat of paint. These low-resource ports and remakes will make real easy stocking stuffers for kids who just got a 2DS last year, and of course dorks like me who will eat up new portable games regardless.
There’s so much stuff happening with the Switch now that it almost seems silly in retrospect that I was wondering what the heck was going to come out next for the platform. And heck, in-between all these big releases will be plenty of other games from third parties and Nindies, the kinds that don’t show up on Nintendo Direct streams but get plenty of attention on social media and through niche followings. I almost want things to slow down even just a little bit, because catching up is going to be a real task, especially if I want to use this new wave of ports as an excuse to revisit some Final Fantasy history.