As the Switch reaches five years old, are its best times behind it? No, the opposite. This year is shaping up to be the biggest for Nintendo’s hybrid hit. Yes, I mean even bigger than its debut year, which gave us Super Mario Odyssey, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Mario + Rabbids and Splatoon 2.
So far, we’ve seen Pokémon Legends: Arceus in January, but that’s just the start of the Pokémon hype train on Switch. Nintendo also announced that a new generation of mainline Pokémon games, Violet and Scarlet, is coming to the console in “Late 2022.”
There aren’t many details, but we’re being promised an open-world adventure, which could mean a new Pokémon game that balances the traditional franchise parts of Sword and Shield with some of the more interesting choices made in Arceus. Also, weed cat.
A fresh Pokémon generation rounds off a lineup of major games (both from Nintendo and its partners) that makes 2022 a year packed with hugely anticipated titles. It starts now: Kirby and the Forgotten Land launches in a few weeks on March 25th.
The big one, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, is still set for a 2022 release, according to Nintendo. An outright sequel is a surprise for the Zelda series and will be set in the same open world of the original. Judging from the teaser trailers so far, the game appears to expand gameplay to the skies above Hyrule, with Link plummeting from the sky in one of the latest teaser trailers. (Something he’s done before in Skyward Sword – also now available on Switch.)
There are more sequels to games that set the tone at launch too. Splatoon 3 is coming this summer, offering more of the same family-friendly multiplayer inky shooter fun. There’s also Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope – a sequel to Mario + Rabbids – a game that shouldn’t have worked, but did. It combined the Mushroom Kingdom and Mario with Ubisoft’s (pretty annoying) Rabbids and wrapped the whole proposition in surprisingly tight XCOM turn-based strategy gameplay. Sparks of Hope is likely to give us more of the same, but with extra characters, weapons and whatever else happens when two franchises clash.
The longest-running wait for a sequel has to be the Switch-exclusive Bayonetta 3. It was first announced back in 2017. Then we heard nothing. Then we complained after E3. Then a month later, a Nintendo Direct broadcast confirmed that Bayonetta 3 did indeed still exist and will be released in 2022. It offers a more mature flavor of action for the console, something that Nintendo hardware has often missed out on in the past.
Beyond the Nintendo mainstays and highly anticipated sequels, there’s more to get excited about, too. I’m a huge Advance Wars fan, and I’m still waiting on Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp to arrive this April. No Man’s Sky is also, somehow, being crammed into the Switch, while an Oxenfree sequel, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Nintendo Switch Sports, a new Mario Strikers title, Fall Guys and, I hope at least, Hollow Knight: Silksong ensure there should be something for everyone, along with the inevitable Zelda sequel purchase.
Pessimists will argue that Nintendo has a reputation for pushing back its promised release dates and, well, that’s happened a few times. Nintendo, like many companies, faced production delays during these ‘unprecedented times’, but in its latest financial reports, both the Zelda sequel and Bayonetta 3 are still listed as “primary” launch titles for the Switch this year.
Just… forget about Metroid Prime 4 for this year. Your guess is as good as mine.