Welcome to 2019. There’s no turning back. It’s time to look into the future with a steely, unrelenting gaze, and then look down just long enough to scribble our hopes and wishes for game companies in the coming year. Today: Our Wishlist for Nintendo’s 2019.
Around this time last year, I wrote down my expectations for Nintendo’s 2018. Turns out Nintendo had an excellent holiday thanks to huge Switch hits like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokémon Let’s Go, but a few wishes / concerns remain unaddressed. I revised those quibbles for my new list and added some new ones.
Take a break from beating yourself up over whatever New Year’s Resolution you’ve already broken, have a look, and sound off if you agree—or disagree.
New Switch Models
A stellar library coupled with the convenience of handheld gaming equals brisk sales for the Switch. We're coming up on the system's second year of life, however, and it's due for an overhaul.
There are a couple of things Nintendo might consider if it wants to keep the Switch fresh. It can offer us a SKU that boasts a little more technical oomph and improved Joy-Cons. It can also give us a slimmed-down, economical version of the system engineered for true portability (the current Switch is great for long-haul trips, but it's not built for short bus rides filled with jostling bodies).
The Nintendo 3DS is hanging in there, and I don't doubt we'll see continued support for it in 2019 (Atlus and Nintendo alike keep dishing out great RPGs for the little dude). Let's be realistic, though: The 3DS' days are numbered, especially now that the mainline Pokémon games have jumped to the Switch. Nintendo's always dominated the portable market, and despite the Switch's success, it can't be happy about watching its 3DS audience slowly die off.
The Switch's current $300 USD price tag means it's well out of "impulse buy" territory. But a smaller, cheaper Switch that eliminates docking for economy (and offers a variety of collectable designs, a la the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS' varied clamshell etchings) might be an easy purchase to swallow. Even people who own a Switch will see the logic in buying a less pricey Switch for their kids, or for their commute—especially with Animal Crossing on the way.
Big Improvements to Nintendo Switch Online
Nintendo Switch Online is here. Hey, great! It's also kind of a mess! The frequent disconnects and lagging with online games is one thing, but the "eh" selection of NES titles replacing the Wii and Wii U's Virtual Console service is another. The Virtual Console was far from perfect, but at least it was an interesting mix of first- and- third-party games for consoles many North Americans had limited access to, e.g. the Sega Master System and TurboGrafx-16. Much as I like the idea of my Nintendo Switch Online subscription granting me unlimited access to Nintendo's 8-bit catalogue (so I don't have to download Super Mario Bros. 3 for the umpteenth time if I want to play it on Switch), I need to at least see the service's planned SNES games before I get really excited about its potential as a Virtual Console replacement. And, hey, Nintendo? We're paying for your online infrastructure now. No More Lag 2019.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening Redone Like The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Yes, I keep asking for this, and yes, I plan to keep asking until Nintendo makes it happen. It's hard to explain, but my dream of a "Link's Awakening Between Worlds" (or whatever Nintendo wants to call it; "Link's Revenge on the Zucchini People" is fine, just as long as it gets done) feels like a dream in a literal sense. What I mean is, the game doesn't exist, but at the same time it seems real enough to touch. It's hovering on the border between the tangible and ethereal worlds, and it just needs a tiny push before it tumbles into my arms. Soon. Soon. Maybe E3 2019.
In case you need a reminder: A Link Between Worlds slaps. It's one of our top choices for the best Zelda games. If Nintendo truly plans to stretch out the 3DS's life, a similar upgrade for Link's Awakening isn't the worst way fortify the handheld's lineup (psst, Nintendo—an official Mother 3 translation isn't a terrible idea, either).
A Cleaner, More Organized Nintendo eShop
Indie developers are thriving on the Nintendo Switch, but the eShop's cluttered storefront is burying some potential gems. Last Spring, Nintendo promised improvements are coming to the eShop's interface, and it's high time we see those improvements. Steam's best games are being suffocated under a gradually-thickening pile of sludge. It'd be a huge shame to see Nintendo flush the eShop's potential by taking a similarly laissez-faire attitude towards the indies trying to make a living through the Switch.
Something, Anything, about Metroid Prime 4
Last November, Nintendo confirmed Metroid Prime 4 is "Well in development." So, er, hopefully 2019 is the year we see something about Samus' new and thoroughly mysterious adventure. Maybe we'll even get to play the finished product. Whew, a new Pokémon, Animal Crossing, and Metroid Prime game would give Nintendo the Holiday Sales trophy for yet another year.