Last year was a pretty terrible year for the Nintendo Switch. Its software release schedule was average at best (outside of the phenomenal Metroid Dread), Nintendo Switch Online bemused us all with its rip-off Expansion Pack and the Nintendo Switch OLED, while a capable upgrade, wasn’t the Nintendo Switch Pro we all wanted.
While I had some fun with a couple of Switch games, mainly Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury and Mario Golf: Super Rush, 2021 was easily the year I have played the handheld/home console hybrid least. My Switch spent most of the last twelve months jammed inside a carrying case and stuffed in the back of a drawer.
If you’d asked me a month ago, I would have said that was to be my Switch’s fate for the foreseeable future, but something has changed. Over the last few weeks, I’ve rediscovered my love for Nintendo's hugely popular console. Here’s why the Nintendo Switch has earned its spot back as one of my go-to gaming devices.
The power of portability
Like many people, late last month I traveled home for the holidays. While I was sorely tempted, I decided that attempting to carry a bulky PS5 or Xbox Series X on a crowded train was a recipe for disaster. I settled for throwing my Switch (and dock) into my bag instead.
Arguably the Nintendo Switch’s biggest selling point is its portability, and to be honest it was the main reason I bought the console at launch. For obvious reasons, over the last 18 or so months, I’ve had precious few opportunities to actually go anywhere. This meant I effectively viewed the Switch as just another home console, and through that lens, it struggled to compete against the shiny new next-gen systems sitting under my television.
Once I was back home for a period of almost two weeks, sharing a house with my immediate family, I quickly rediscovered the power of portable play. You really come to value being able to seamlessly pull the Switch out of its dock and continue playing without a hitch when you don’t have complete control over the main living room television.
When my adventuring in a galaxy far, far away via the recent Switch port of Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic was disturbed by a sibling wanting to watch the new Home Alone movie on Disney Plus, I could just pluck the Switch from its dock and continue my questing.
This is hardly a new revelation. The Switch turns five years old in a couple of months, its capabilities are well documented, but I’d forgotten just how useful being able to play anything on the system in either handheld or TV mode really is. It’s not an exaggeration to say the Switch managed to prevent a few family squabbles in my household.
The Nintendo seal of quality
While putting several dozens of hours into my Switch over the festive break, the other thing I was reminded of is just how strong the best Nintendo Switch games are.
I’ve seen many people claim the PS5 and Xbox Series X had a relatively disappointing first year in terms of must-play software. While I think 2021 was a stronger year for gaming than many give it credit, there are some pretty excellent games you probably missed, even I can’t deny last year was definitely devoid of many truly top-tier releases.
Jumping back into the likes of Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Smash Bros Ultimate and Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze was a stark reminder that the Nintendo Switch has a glut of impressive software that you cannot play anywhere else.
This doesn’t excuse the fact that Nintendo's output has been a little ropey in the last two years. Animal Crossing New Horizons has been the only real smash hit (and it's not to my personal tastes), but the Switch really does have a library of exclusives that are well worth periodically revisiting.
Nintendo Switch: Looking ahead to 2022
I’m hoping that my re infatuation with the Nintendo Switch doesn’t burn out as quickly as it has begun. In order for that to happen, Nintendo needs to come out swinging in 2022 and give me reasons to keep picking up those Joy-Cons throughout the year.
Right now, the upcoming Switch schedule is looking solid, if a little sparse. I’m not traditional a Pokemon player, but Pokemon Legends Arceus has piqued my interest. Similarly, Kirby and the Forgotten Lands has captured my attention. I'm curious to see more from both of these games in the next few weeks.
On more familiar ground, the likes of Splatoon 3 and Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope will almost certainly be excellent, and I can’t wait to play them later in the year. However, the big one is, of course, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2. I am keeping just about everything crossed that it doesn’t slip into 2023.
I've previously written about how the first Breath of the Wild was so good it ruined all other Zelda games for me. If Nintendo manages to keep up the same level of quality with its hugely anticipated sequel, then I can’t see it being anything but an absolute masterpiece. Its release would probably single-handedly keep me glued to my Switch for months on end.
Here’s to hoping that 2022 can be a year where my Nintendo Switch doesn’t see any prolonged periods stuck inside a dark and dusty draw. Nintendo you’ve got me excited about your platform once again, don’t let me fall out of love for a second time.