March 3, 2024


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Nintendo gave the Switch an epic send-off in 2023

Nintendo gave the Switch an epic send-off in 2023

The switch comes out with a bang. Ahead of the potential reveal of Nintendo's hybrid handheld successor next year, older consoles have continued to receive a dizzying list of new games in 2023, including The Legend of Zelda: Kingdom Tears, one of the best entries yet in the long-running fantasy adventure series. Last year, the Switch seemed to quietly fade away. 2023 has proven that the barebones console still has a few tricks up its sleeve, once again demonstrating why it's one of the most beloved gaming consoles of all time.

The Switch's story over the past six years has been simple: Create amazing games and players will show up. Affordable consoles that prioritized comfort over specs proved that you don't need teraflops and great online play to sell a console, just an open world. Zelda Or two and reliable drip feed from other excellent first party exclusives. What's striking about the Switch isn't how much it's grown since 2017, but how much it's changed. In 2023, it feels like we've come full circle again, with Nintendo neglecting all expectations of a modern console while instead churning out new hits.

This doesn't mean that the famous Japanese gaming company has backed down. It has done anything but that, branching out into movies, theme parks, and new crossovers. But the stacked 2023 release calendar has bought Nintendo some extra time and good will while sidestepping countless questions about the Switch 2, backwards compatibility, and what the hell happened to it. Metroid Prime 4. An old tablet running on a 2015 graphics chip still has some gas in the tank after all.

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The console itself is the same as before. Instead of new peripherals, accessories, or updated hardware, Nintendo released a special edition Kingdom tears And Mario OLED keys. The program was not similarly affected. Despite six firmware updates, the Switch hasn't received any meaningful new software features in 2023. Something as simple as custom wallpapers are still MIA and party chat remains exclusive to the mobile app for many games. Discord, the third-party social hub, was fully integrated into PlayStation and Xbox this year. But not on the switch. Like Netflix, it doesn't look like the app will be coming to Nintendo's console. What came to the handheld hybrid was great gaming.

Zelda And Mario Save the day again

picture: Nintendo/Kotaku

The Switch was launched in 2017 with Breath of the wild Later that year, Super Mario Odyssey. The star-studded lineup felt like A moment of chance that only happens once in a generationbut Nintendo has managed to replicate that magic to bookend the console's life cycle. Kingdom tears It wasn't just an open world remix Zelda It was a fundamental reworking of it that made building a rocket ship seem as natural as shooting an arrow at Keese. Breath of the wild Allow players to run free in large, beautiful landscapes filled with monsters and puzzles. Kingdom tears It took them underground and into the sky as well, adding a new verticality to a sprawling open world and moving crafting from the menu screen to the natural environment.

Nintendo ended 2023 with Super Mario Bros Wonder, an ultimate return to its 2D platformer roots filled with new mechanics, visual flourishes, and unforgettable side-scrolling set pieces. Dense effect appeared Super Mario MakerPattern-level builds and risky courses along with callbacks Super Mario Bros 3 And Super Mario Worldculminating in a fun game for conservative audiences that nonetheless ended up being the fastest-selling game in franchise history.

These pillars of support make it easy to forget how strong the rest of the Switch release calendar is this year. Things started with Fire Emblem Engaghe Metroid Prime Remastered. Pikmin 4 It caused a sensation in the summer. The return of Detective Pikachu And Super Mario RPG Help wrap up the end of the year. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Keep adding new characters and paths as you go Pokemon Scarlet/Purple And Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Both received major expansions. The Switch also scored big with its timed exclusive console port of Steam Sensation Dave the diverand the releases of many of the year's biggest indie games from Dredge And Space for unbound to Sea of ​​stars And Infidel 2.

The one department where the Switch remains incredibly lacking is third-party ports of popular movies. Fans are used to not getting the latest big budget releases like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor or Diablo IV, but even games that do jumping are noticeably weakened. Planned switch versions of Evil Dead: The Game, Robocop: Rogue CityAnd Marvel Midnight Sun They were all cancelled. while Hogwarts Legacy It eventually arrived after a long delay, but with heavily abstracted images. a surprise Batman Arkham Trilogy The release was also a flop, with painful trade-offs that made it nearly impossible to recommend the collection on underpowered hardware. Clearly, the wizards at Nintendo know something about optimizing games for the Switch that others don't.

Switch online levels up

Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games are displayed on a red background.

picture: Nintendo/Kotaku

Nintendo's multiplayer and vintage library subscription service has added Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games in 2023, answering desperate fans' calls to officially gain access to classic games like The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap And Metroid Fusion once again. New games have been added to the Expansion Pack tier, which still costs $50 per year even as prices for other services rise. The subscription also gave Switch owners access to it Mario Kart 8 DeluxeNew DLC for the new episodic Battle Royale game F-Zero 99.

Since Switch Online is still the only subscription service that doesn't include access to new, modern third-party games, it's harder to say whether it's any more “worth it” in 2023 than it was when it first launched. The number of games selection has doubled with the addition of the N64 library Goldeneye 007 And Pokemon stadium This year, even the NES is getting surprise drops like Tower of Mystery And Devil's worlda maze game designed by Miyamoto that has never before been translated in North America.

Meanwhile, it's becoming clear that the old Switch Online library is a double-edged sword. Users cannot purchase entire games, forcing them to subscribe to the entire package instead of purchasing the few games they actually want to play. They also have to stay subscribed if they don't want to lose access. Stop paying for one month The Legend of Zelda: Majora's mask It is locked again. Games that are ready for a remake or remaster will likely not be added to the service initially, for example Super Mario RPG. Final Fantasy IV And Final Fantasy VI It's an obvious candidate to augment the value of Switch Online's SNES library, but since it's available separately through the Pixel Remaster Collection, the legacy library that subscribers pay for remains woefully incomplete. Of course, all of this could be forgiven if Nintendo finally added it Mother 3.

Nintendo's crackdown on dropouts and fans

The link stops DMCA violations.

picture: Nintendo/Kotaku

It's now common for big first-party Switch games to leak before their official release date, get uploaded online, and spread like wildfire through online backchannels. Fans started mining like games Kingdom tears And Super Mario Bros Wonder For secrets and spoilers more than a week before it's actually available. While Nintendo has maintained a hard line against piracy and leaks alike, subpoenaing entire Discord servers for user data to strengthen its legal case against alleged breaches, the end of the Switch's life may be hastened by… New round of flashcarts Which can facilitate hacking.

And most importantly, Nintendo He seemed to interfere To close the Dolphin GameCube and Wii emulator from Valve's Steam marketplace. The store listing for the long-term project appeared in March. However, by May, Valve removed the listing while the two sides worked out the legal issues. “Nintendo respects the intellectual property rights of other companies and in turn expects others to do the same,” a company spokesperson said. Kotaku on time.

Even more surprising is Nintendo's apparent war on its superfans, from the YouTubers who demo its games to the eSports pros who compete in… Smash Bros. in the end And Splatoon 3. Breath of the wild Content creator Eric “PointCrow” Moreno Nintendo begged to leave him alone after she issued copyright claims against dozens of erotic videos. The campaign appears to target videos with edited content, but also general videos. Later in the year, a change to Nintendo's official competition guidelines was sent out Shock waves through their competitive societies. New rules have emerged banning popular tournaments and prohibiting modified games such as m projectthe popular fan version of Bruce crushed the melee. It's unclear how apparent conflicts with existing competitive communities will be resolved, but in the meantime it feels like a big step backwards for outreach to the company's community.

Will Switch 2 come in 2024?

Mario holds a mysterious key.

picture: Nintendo/Kotaku

All of this brings us to what's in store for Nintendo fans next year. Whether it's the Switch 2, Switch Pro, or an entirely new piece of hardware entirely, it's hard to imagine Nintendo not showing off its new console by the start of its next fiscal year in April 2024. There have been reports of developer demos behind closed doors at Gamescom and specs Hardware that might bring the successor in line with the era of PS4 consoles. President Shuntaro Furukawa He denied that Nintendo was previewing a new device For partners before the holiday, but evidence is still growing for something to come next year. If not, 2024 could be the slowest year for the Switch since launch.

But if it does happen, there's reason to hope that the Switch 2 will provide a smoother transition than the Wii U. “Our goal is to minimize the decline that you typically see in the last year of one cycle and the beginning of the year,” Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser said earlier this year. Another session.” “I can't speak to the potential features of a new platform, but the Nintendo Account is a solid foundation for that communication as we make the transition.”

It's hard to imagine buying a new Nintendo console and starting from scratch at this point. Then again, we're talking about Nintendo. Who knows if the Switch 2 will support 4K, have an OLED display, or even a slot for Switch 1 cartridges. It may not even turn on using the built-in voice chatNot to mention streaming apps. If Nintendo goes the Switch 2 route, it clearly won't be able to capitalize on being the only portable console in town. with Steam, Windows and cloud gaming consoles Spreading everywhere, there will be a lot of competition this time. If it continues to deliver good games like the ones we have in 2023, it will probably be okay.