As a dude who uses game releases as a way to make the year go by faster, I can easily say this has been a quick, good year, mostly (October seemed surprisingly long considering it’s my favourite month). But what about Nintendo specifically? I’d like to have a discussion about what their entire 2018 looked like, what came out, what went well and what didn’t. I want it to be a discussion but as I’m criticizing and praising certain aspects, it’s going to come off as a review. Let’s all embrace our inner Reggie and become Nintendo Gods.
The console itself didn’t really do much improving over the year, meaning there weren’t any big interface or hardware changes that were significant. The E-shop got a small overhaul but that was just to make the menus a bit less confusing and to show off a broader scope of games. Perhaps the one thing I’m constantly saying to myself whenever I boot up my Switch is how I wish I could personalize the main menu with different colours or game themes. I’m a huge Octopath Traveler fan and it would have been sweet to have a cool theme that fits with the games aesthetic. It seems like a simple thing Nintendo could do but they just neglect it. PS4 and Xbox have done it for years and I love booting up my Xbox 360 and having my FF13 theme and my PS4 having the Witcher 3 theme. It just makes the system feel more like my own thing that is tailored to my likings. It’s not a big thing, but hey, I’m giving my 2 cents ladies and gentlemen.
As everyone is very aware, it’s the games that drive hardware sales and this year was a bit strange for first party games. There were a ton of great titles, but they were something people would consider “smaller hits”, which I never really understood. People say that Nintendo had a crazy good 2017 because a 3D Mario and Zelda game came out which are the two biggest franchises but I honestly think the games that came out this year were more frequent and consistent. Mario Party, Octopath Traveler, Mario Tennis, Pokemon Let’s Go, Smash Bros, as well as great third party support and EVEN BETTER indie support.
- Super Mario Party is a great game that I play every time I have friends over or when we do a night of drinking and gaming. It’s the ultimate series to play with your friends (and include alcohol) and the newest instalment is a return to the regular form. The Switch is a real crowd pleaser games wise, and just gameplay wise. Many Mario Party fans were not happy with the formula of Mario Party 9 & 10 and Nintendo listened and returned to the older style. The only real downsides about the game were the lack of boards to play on (there is only 4) and there not being an online feature for the actual board play. Nintendo really needs to understand how badly people want to play their games online.
- Octopath Traveler is a gorgeous JRPG that has a unique pixel style art direction. It really built on old-school JRPG mechanics and has a fantastic battle system. The boss fights were challenging and the music made every moment magical and epic. The story was about 8 separate characters who venture out into a massive open world to obtain their dreams, seek revenge, or long lost knowledge. Sadly the 8 stories never really intersect and the characters don’t have a lot of dialogue together, but it’s a very fun, long and challenging journey that any JRPG fan will love.
- Mario Tennis Aces had a lot of things that needed to be worked out when it was first released, like balancing and connectivity issues, but they were later fixed in patches. There is a great selection of characters and courts, and even has a big single-player adventure. It’s just a shame that there aren’t more game modes. I’ll hand it to the developers though, they are still cranking out content for this game and it doesn’t look like they’re slowing down any time yet.
- A lot of people, including myself, were very sceptical of Pokemon Let’s Go when it was first announced, I wasn’t a huge fan of Pokemon Go and I thought they were going to start making all the mainline games like it. I have to hand it to Game Freak though, I liked the Let’s Go formula of gameplay even more than typical Pokemon. Everyone complains that the game is too easy and it’s just watered down, but Pokemon isn’t a hard franchise to begin with, it’s just time consuming. The core gameplay of training your Pokemon and battling them is still there, it’s just some of the mechanics that made Pokemon more competitive that have been taken out of the game. I felt like my 6 year old self again when playing. It was a great game that game Pokemon fans something to play while we waited for the new mainline game in 2019.
- Smash Bros Ultimate is easily the biggest game that Nintendo released this year. There was and still is so much hype surrounding this game and just how big it really is. You rarely see a game with this much content in it, let alone a fighting game. Over 70 fighters, more than 100 stages, and close to 1000 tracks of music, Sakurai truly is a god. The new fighters are great, and I love replaying characters from the older games in the franchise like Young Link and Pichu. Spirits mode is incredibly meaty, and might even be too big, as some of the spirit battles are nothing more than just regular fights. There were SOME issues with the game however, some glaring issues. Like I mentioned earlier, Nintendo still doesn’t understand how to make their games have quality online functionality, as some of their modes just aren’t optimized well enough for people who take Smash a bit more seriously and like to play certain ways. I’m excited to play this game for the next bajillion years though.
Nintendo also got a lot of great third party support in 2018, with the likes of Diablo 3, Dark Souls remastered, Wolfenstein, Crash Bandicoot, Fortnite, and Starlink, just to name a few. I’m not going to go through them all, especially because I haven’t played them all, but this year really proved that companies are going hard on the Switch and they really should be, all of these games sold great!
Another thing about 2018 was that we got a lot of ports… like a lot. I usually never complain about ports, because I would rather play these games on the Switch than anything else, and I missed a lot of games from the Wii U era, but there just weren’t enough big first party games to back up this many ports. It felt like some of these were made to distract us from the fact that a lot of games got pushed back to 2019 and that there were only a few big games this year. It also didn’t help the unfair rep the Switch gets for being called a port machine, but oh well, dumb people will always be dumb.
There is one big, BIG, problem that Nintendo and the Switch had this year though, and that’s the Online Service. It’s bad, I really don’t like it, and I think they handled it horribly. They kept promising us more info and we just kept on waiting until the very last minute and when it was “revealed” they still hadn’t spilled all the details and what we got just wasn’t very special. You get to play games online, it’s cheap, you get to play NES games with online functionality, that’s pretty much it. The fact that it’s so cheap is definitely in it’s favour, because IT IS very cheap, a toddler could afford it. But here’s the thing, I don’t care about NES games, I’ve played Super Mario Bros 3 a ton of times and I have it on almost every other Nintendo console and handheld. I don’t care that these games have online functionality, that still isn’t going to make me play them. Give us N64 games, GAMECUBE GAMES, hell, even SNES games. Things people are literally begging for. The Gamecube library of games is so underappreciated and Nintendo isn’t doing anything with these gems. Plus the online play with most games still isn’t stellar. Most of these online games, like Smash and Mario Tennis, work on a PVP network, so your connection is only as good as the person you’re playing against, which usually isn’t that great. I absolutely bought the online service because it’s so cheap, but Nintendo really needs to shape up when it comes to everything online. Just give the people what they want.
I won’t talk about the 3DS, I didn’t buy any of the games and I barely touched mine the entire year. I do wish it would die out, but I’m glad it’s a cheap options for parents to get their younger kids into gaming. You can get a 2DS for like 100 bucks WITH a game.
There you have it ladies and gentlemen, 2018 was pretty good but it could have been much better. 2019 is looking STELLAR and I can’t wait to play Fire Emblem and Luigi’s Mansion. I hope you all enjoyed your Switch this year, and for those of you who got a new one for Christmas, I recommend Octopath Traveler and Mario Party!