Great start, but a long way to go.
2017 has already been an extraordinary year in gaming. In the first quarter of this year alone, the phrase “game of the year” has already been thrown around about a handful of games and it doesn’t seem like the stride is going to let up. It has also been one of the strongest years in recent history for Nintendo and with the company’s blazing comeback, it definitely seems likely that they could snatch this year right up. But they’re going to have to work for it.
To really delve into Nintendo’s chances, we have to address the elephant in the room. The Switch released into a market that was fairly divided on whether or not it would succeed and managed to exceed many of its expectations. It’s hard to deny the innovative hardware’s place in the industry with its modular design and overall versatility. This isn’t to say the Switch doesn’t suffer from shortcomings. It’s lack of various media apps sets the device behind its competitors as a multimedia device, the friend code-system is clunky and outdated, and I can’t help but feel I’ll scratch the screen every time I dock and undock the machine. However, despite all this, the Switch’s very successful launch was just what Nintendo needed to jump start their year the right way.
At the end of the day, though, a well-made console means very little if there aren’t games to play on it. This is where Nintendo is really biting the bullet. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was, by almost every account, an absolutely phenomenal game. It invigorated a previously monotonous series by introducing a fresh style to the adventure and arguably darker thematic tones. However, one game doesn’t bring home the win of a year any longer. That just isn’t the gaming landscape we live in anymore. And unfortunately, Breath of the Wild was really the only solid launch game the Switch had. Sure Super Bomberman R was fun and I Am Setsuna is a great RPG, but when compared with the lineup from Sony and the PS4, they just don’t compete with games like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Nier: Automata, Persona 5, or Resident Evil 7.
It’s no surprise that Nintendo games tend to hold more weight with the gaming populace than other games and there are some exciting things to expect from Nintendo later this year. Splatoon 2 has been looking pretty great with all the improvements over the original and Super Mario Odyssey has the makings of another Super Mario 64. The question still remains however, will that be enough? And yes, while we have games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to look forward to, these are older games that many have already played before. Skyrim will be a great test of the system’s hardware, but ultimately it isn’t anything new and certainly isn’t something to get overly excited about. The Switch’s innate lack of third-party support really isn’t doing Nintendo any favors here. Especially with the year seeing the release of some large-scale titles like Mass Effect: Andromeda and Destiny 2.
No matter the pessimistic view one might have, Nintendo does have a serious shot here. There is still plenty of time in the year for important updates to the Switch and the announcement of more title releases this year. If Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey continue the quality set by Breath of the Wild, then three games could likely be enough for Nintendo to take it all. Not to mention the slightly smaller releases like Fire Emblem Warriors and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 having the potential to be total powerhouses. Nintendo’s strength is almost always shown toward the holiday season, so to have this good of an opening for the year is definitely setting them on the right track.
Nintendo has done a very noteworthy job keeping their focus on innovation and this time around it actually seems to be working. But it’ll be incredibly important in the coming months that they remember innovation needs a strong foundation to build from. To their credit, the company does seems to be learning from their mistakes with the Wii and Wii U. But with Sony snowballing out of control with a strong line-up and ever-growing VR support, Nintendo definitely has their work cut out for them.
What do you think Nintendo’s chances are of taking 2017? Leave a comment and let us know!