In just around two weeks from now, the Nintendo Switch leaps onto store shelves everywhere, and it’s bringing along a modest list of launch titles to go with it. Nintendo has already released a list of games to be trickled out over the course of time, including a hefty number of third-party and indie supports. You should never judge a book — or a game — by its cover, but if you absolutely must do so, here are the games on this nerd’s watch list, in no particular order. Keep in mind this list covers games to keep an eye on, not necessarily to buy.
I’m talking about things like 1-2 Switch and Arms. While these basically look like glorified tech demos rather than true games, and may very well be just that, it would be a shame to pass something up based on that alone. Try these out with a friend or in a store demo, and if you like them, buy them. If not, save your money. Time-wasters like these are meant to whet players’ appetites, not serve them a full-course meal, and that’s just what they do.
There’s no need to bring up Sonic’s recent history, we all know what it’s been like. Sonic Mania, however, promises a blast from the past as the blue blur gets in some good old-fashioned side-scrolling action. Details on the other game, Project Sonic 2017 (tentative title), are sparse to nonexistent. Try to keep an open mind, whatever it turns out to be, and don’t get too hung up on what a Sonic game “ought” to be. If Mario can fill different shoe styles, there’s no reason the hedgehog can’t do it, either. After all, speed is just one of his talents, not his only one.
Fire Emblem took off like a rocket the moment Nintendo decided to gamble on bringing it west. It’s become a staple since then, and the Warriors adaptation brings to mind the niche-but-well-received Hyrule Warriors. If the heroes of the FE series looked good in strategy games, imagine what it will be like to witness them mowing down enemies in real-time.
Speaking of niche, here we have Square Enix’s colorful JRPG series. While X is an MMO, XI looks and feels more like what the series is known for – silly puns, monsters ranging from cute to cruel, a vast world, and a merry band of lovable heroes-to-be. The Heroes games change direction again and present a very clear Dynasty Warriors style while also retaining the charm and feel of DQ’s own series.
I don’t think anyone expected Splatoon to burst open as wildly as it did. Don’t let the ink guns and squids fool you – this Wii U title was fast, furious, and a total blast. The controls were adjustable, the characters customizable with gear and a massive arsenal of weapons, and the game continually received free updates and additional content. If you aren’t a squid yet, you should be.
Frankly, the kiddie, cartoony feel might be a turn-off for a large number of potential buyers. This is a shame, as Bomberman games have always revolved around using the titular hero’s explosive prowess to solve increasingly complex puzzles and bring down monstrous foes. For others, the multiplayer is where it’s at, as Bomberman offers so many ways to blow up the person sitting next to you, and for them to get even once you do. Try your best to “switch” off your wince reflex and focus on the gameplay, which is always rife with action and harrowing near-misses.
Xenoblade is one of those unique series that can call to mind other franchises while simultaneously offering an experience all its own. Xenoblade hit the mainstream most recently with the 3DS and Wii U systems, and is well worth a look, especially since Chronicles and Chronicles X were so vastly different despite having almost the same title. Its an adaptable series almost guaranteed to have something you like.
When Atlus teases a new game, we all sit up and take notice. Nothing is known currently about the Switch’s upcoming SMT title, but one thing is certain: if you like your games dark and difficult, this series will not disappoint. There are a lot of RPG games on this list already, but that’s also because they’re some of the most tried-and-true franchises in the Switch’s current library.
Let’s face it — you can’t have a Nintendo console and not have Mario and Zelda games. These are the titles console bundles are made of, and for good reason. One of these two icons is likely the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the word Nintendo.
For what feels like the longest time, fans have pleaded with the big N to extend a friendly hand to the multitude of indie companies and titles already making their way on other consoles. That’s finally happening with the Switch, and gamers everywhere owe it to themselves to pay careful attention to what comes of it. Perfect example: Yooka-Laylee, anyone?
By ports, I mean games like Skyrim, Binding of Isaac, the untitled Pokemon which may or may not be a third Sun/Moon, Skylanders and Minecraft. If you’ve played and beaten these games on another system, there’s probably no compelling reason to do it all over again on here. If not, this is your chance to see what you’ve been missing.
Again, this was a watch list, not a must-buy list. Even I don’t necessarily plan to pick up all of them. They won’t interest everyone, but they’re on here because of what they represent — opportunity. The chance for Nintendo to expand their audience and introduce or re-introduce special gems that may have gone overlooked over the years. The chance for fans to learn about a great new game they didn’t know they wanted. Take a good close look at these and others, because you never know what you’re getting unless you take the time to learn about it.
Matt Eschbach is a PC, Mac and Android indie game developer and fiction writer. His works have won multiple monetary awards from various contests. Graduating college in 2012 with a major in Game Design, Matt spends his time making stuff up and then building it. His favorite hobby… is sleeping.