It hasn't exactly been a slow year for the Nintendo Switch, but in the wake of 2017's incredible one-two punch of Zelda and Mario, most of the system's best games have been indies and ports. But if today's Nintendo Direct is any indication, we're about to be hit by a fricking deluge of amazing games for Switch.
Here's a listing just off the top of my head for 2019. Think of how many of these games will be instant buys for most people:
- Luigi's Mansion 3
- Pokemon Gen 8
- Fire Emblem
- Animal Crossing
- Bayonetta 3
- Metroid Prime 4 (probably)
- Another Game Freak RPG that looks pretty darn good called Town
- A whole mess of Final Fantasy games, including ports of Final Fantasy X, X-2, and XII HD
Animal Crossing, Metroid, and Pokemon are all top-tier franchises that will generate a ton of attention when they come out next year (assuming they aren't delayed). Fire Emblem is arguably in that category as well. And Bayonetta 3 is the sequel to one of the best action games ever made.
We're seeing the best case scenario for the Switch play out before our eyes. Japanese developers are rapidly migrating to Switch in the wake of the decline of 3DS and Vita; western developers are rushing to ensure that they have a Switch version of their most popular games, and incredible indies like Hollow Knight, The Messenger, and Celeste are plugging in the empty spots. There's no content gap on this system. There's a content flood.
As usual, though, Nintendo has done the most to propel the success of its console. Most of the best-looking games coming to Switch next year are exclusives, giving it a clear niche apart from the PS4 and Xbox One.
Even the underwhelming-looking Nintendo Switch Online service is unlikely to derail Nintendo's momentum as it roars into 2019. While it's certainly worth criticizing its very slight list of premium features, it's hard to get too worked up about playing the Switch online. The Switch is by definition an offline system that thrives on traditional standbys like couch play. My own Switch gets most of its play on long flights. All of this makes the service and its accompanying subscription fairly easy to ignore.
The NES controllers being exclusive for Nintendo Switch Online members, though? Yeah, that's pretty lame. As usual you have to take the sweet with the sour when dealing with Nintendo.
The flipside to all that is just how many amazing games are on the Switch now, and how many more are on the way. While some of those games have a chance of slipping into 2020, there are plenty more surprises that have yet to be revealed. Who saw gems like Celeste coming back in 2017?
For Nintendo fans, this new golden age feels like sweet vindication after years of dealing with content gaps while supporting the Wii U, GameCube, N64, and even the Wii. Unless you were a DS fan (I was), you invariably had to wait for one or two amazing games per year. Now it's actually hard to keep up with all the great games coming to Switch.
Enjoy it, Nintendo fans. It's been a long time coming.