2022 should be a fantastic year for Nintendo and a return to form for Switch exclusives

From the slate of games Nintendo has on its roster for this year, 2022 could be a truly seminal year for the Japanese gaming giant. Although it has delivered some excellent titles in recent years, the Switch has used remakes and re-releases to balance out a steady rollout of new exclusives. However, that’s definitely not the case for 2022, with Nintendo looking like it’s about to return to form with a whole range of titles due to launch this year. 

In fact, Nintendo hasn’t really had a year like this since the Switch first launched back in 2017. That year saw Nintendo release the Switch with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and a few other niche titles like the utterly brilliant Snipperclips, but then followed it with 12 months of fantastic games. Those included Super Mario Odyssey, Arms, Splatoon 2, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The Switch’s first year on the market was a groundbreaking one, cementing the Switch’s position as a disruptive force in the market. 

The Switch hasn’t had a year quite like 2017 since… but that could all change in 2022. 

Switching into gear

Pokemon Legends Arceus

(Image credit: Nintendo)

In the first three months of 2022 there are three major Switch exclusives, each offering something a little different: Pokemon Legends: Arceus is an early success story for Nintendo; this evolution of the classic formula sold more than 6.5 million copies globally in its first week, making it the Switch’s fastest-selling Pokemon game. Kirby and the Forgotten Land looks like a wondrous celebration of the character’s 30th anniversary, with the hero embarking on a sprawling adventure come March 25. There’s also Triangle Strategy, a brand new tactics game from Square Enix, arriving March 4, that could fill the void left by Fire Emblem – it has somehow been almost three years since the release of Three Houses, and the newly announced Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes can only do so much to satiate our need for a new adventure.

Nintendo used its most recent Direct to confirm that the delayed Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp – a remake of the legendary Game Boy Advance games – is set to launch April 8. That’s followed by the release of Nintendo Switch Sports, a successor to the legendary Wii Sports, on April 29 and the return of Mario Strikers on June 10 – Mario Strikers: Battle League is the first entry to the bombastic sports series since 2007’s Mario Strikers Charged on Wii and it looks like a hell of a good time. 

That’s how Nintendo is kicking off the year, and there’s plenty more for Switch fans to get excited about in 2022. The big lure for this year is of course The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2. A continuation of the 2017 adventure that helped launch the Nintendo Switch, the Breath of the Wild sequel will see Link return to the open-world Hyrule we all know so well and let him explore the skies above it with a suite of new powers. If you didn’t play last year’s Skyward Sword HD there is still time to squeeze it in, as Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 is still without a confirmed release date.

Splatoon 3 Nintendo Switch

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Keep reading

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Kirby and the Forgotten Land hasn’t forgotten its roots but it’s packed with exciting new ideas

Actually, you may not have the time to spare – it depends on whether you’re excited about the release of Splatoon 3. Nintendo is giving its popular shooter a fresh coat of ink for this long-awaited 2022 sequel, as we head to The Splantlands for a new round of turf wars with a new single-player campaign, new multiplayer modes, the return of Salmon Run, fresh weapons, moves, and styles. Sadly, the Nintendo Direct didn’t provide a release date for Splatoon 3, but we’re confident it will make a splash this Summer. 

On top of all of that, there’s also PlatinumGames’ Bayonetta 3, yet another sequel that feels like it’s been many, many years in the making. Arriving some seven years after the last game, it will be interesting to see how much impact the witch’s return will have on the industry – yet another no-show in the Direct, leaving us with an ambiguous ‘2022’ release window to consider. 

One game I’m particularly hyped for this year is Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope – another sequel, yes, but it’s proof that some experiments are worth investing in. Ubisoft’s bold crossover between its Rabbids IP and classic Super Mario characters in a turn-based strategy game was an unexpected hit, which has led to us getting this expanded sequel in 2022. 

Still more to come

Kirby looking shocked in Kirby and the Forgotten City

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo doesn’t need Mario Kart 9 when Deluxe is still such a good time

That’s all to say that the Nintendo Switch has a really exciting 2022 planned. It’s a year stacked with exclusives, a blur of returning classics and innovative sequels. And it’s bizarre just how closely the upcoming Switch games lineup for 2022 mimics the 2017 launch year. There’s an almost absurd amount of symmetry between the two, albeit with some different numbers affixed to the back of each title. There were unsubstantiated rumors of sequels to 1-2-Switch, Arms, and Snipperclips in the run up to this Nintendo Direct although they ultimately failed to materialize, as did a follow-up to Super Mario Odyssey. Although, with the Mario movie scheduled to release on December 21, 2022, perhaps we should just be thankful that we aren’t getting a tie-in game with Chris Pratt replacing Charles Martinet as the voice of Mario. 

There will be more announcements to come this year – this Nintendo Direct is just the beginning. Given the success of Metroid Dread, many hoped Nintendo would build upon that momentum and use this Direct to detail Metroid Prime 4. The long-awaited sequel to 2007’s Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has found itself in a development hell of sorts; first announced in 2017, production was restarted in 2019 over quality concerns, which led to original series developer Retro Studios gaining stewardship over the project. We’re hoping it will reemerge in 2022. 

Speaking of series making big returns, 2022 won’t see the release of a brand new Mario Kart – even with rumors suggesting that Mario Kart 9 is in active development – but the unstoppable Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is getting all-new DLC, in the form of 48 remastered tracks released over the next two years. E3 2022 is scheduled again for June – albeit online-only for the third year in a row – and Nintendo’s treehouse is always a place for reveals and lengthy looks at new games

Even without any of these long-awaited announcements though, 2022 is looking incredibly strong for Nintendo and the Switch. After 2021’s slightly muted Switch releases, it’s exciting to see the console having the year it really deserves. 

Everything announced at the February 2022 Nintendo Direct, from Nintendo Switch Sports to Xenoblade Chronicles 3

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