It goes without saying that the Switch has had a phenomenal first year on the market. Thanks to a remarkable first-party line-up including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, along with enthusiastic support from indie developers, it is already outpacing the lifetime sales of the Wii U – that’s truly incredible. Going into 2018, it’s natural to assume that Nintendo cannot possibly continue such relentless momentum, and with an influx of ports and remasters making up a large portion of their upcoming release schedule, a lot of fans are understandably a bit worried.
You only need to head onto a few gaming websites and undoubtedly see a bevy of comments from Nintendo fans and critics alike: “Nintendo need to step up their game in 2018”; “They’re NintenDOOMED” – yeah, I think you know the drill at this point. The concern is there and it’s real, but I’m here to tell you that there’s really nothing to worry about… at least, not yet.
It’s true that much of the Switch’s first year was made up of a lot of ports, and it’s also true that a lot more ports will make their way to the system in 2018. But, you know what? That’s okay. Now, I completely get why someone would look at the situation and feel a tad underwhelmed – I understand that. It’s important to remember though that despite the Switch receiving many games previously available on rival consoles, the portable hybrid is not even remotely competing within the same space.
Whilst Sony and Microsoft have been trading punches over who has the better 4K machine, Nintendo has swooped in and tapped into a market that no one thought even existed anymore. That’s why these ports work. It’s all well and good to rerelease a game on a home console with prettier graphics, but when you add portability into the equation, it becomes an entirely different ball game.
Dark Souls Remastered is due out on May 25th, and whilst I could easily get the game on PS4 Pro and enjoy silky smooth 60FPS gameplay and 4K graphics, you can bet I’ll be opting for the Switch version. The draw of being able to explore the ruins of the Undead Burg on the go (or, yes, on the bog) is an irresistible prospect that fits my lifestyle to a tee. I’m not a teenager anymore – my time in front of the TV is severely limited, so yes, the Switch is getting a lot of ports, but these ports are – pardon the cliché – perfect for Switch.
There’s evidence to support this theory, too – Team Meat most recently heralded the release of Super Meat Boy as a huge success on the Switch, with sales comparable to its initial launch on the Xbox 360 way back in 2010. Similarly, The Flame in the Flood was confirmed to have sold more copies on day one for the Switch than any other system. The portability of the Switch is clearly a massive selling point for gamers, easily beating out the technical upgrades you’ll likely get with the PS4 and Xbox One. It’s also important to consider that whilst the Switch is indeed receiving many Wii U ports, no one bought a Wii U. I’ve no doubt in my mind that the vocal minority currently lambasting these ports are the few that actually owned a Wii U and already played these titles. Many more never did.
Now, in a sense, Nintendo have shot themselves in the foot at the first hurdle. Be releasing Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey – two of the finest games in existence – within the Switch’s first year, they have set the bar to an almost unreachable height. Fans’ expectations are understandably through the roof, with the mere mention of a Nintendo Direct sending the internet into sheer chaos. Gamers are constantly expecting megaton announcements, and when Nintendo ‘fail’ to deliver, the prospect of more ports and remasters suddenly isn’t particularly appetising.
It’s only January though after all, and we’re still actually within the first year of the Switch’s lifespan. The assumption that Nintendo is going to play its entire hand so early on is unrealistic at best and downright absurd at worst. More original games are coming – we have Kirby and Yoshi titles confirmed for 2018, with Metroid Prime 4 and a core Pokémon title currently in development. The big hitters are on the way – relax. If Nintendo want to plug the gaps with a few ports and remasters, who are we to judge?
One final point I want to make is that this issue is not exclusive to Nintendo in the slightest. Cast your mind back to 2014 – after the PS4’s launch at the tail end of 2013, the console’s software line up was incredibly thin on the ground, to put it lightly. So, what did we get? That’s right, an avalanche of ports and remasters. Throughout 2014 and 2015, we saw the release of The Last of Us Remastered, Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition, Metro Redux, God of War III Remastered, Gravity Rush Remastered, Dishonored: Definitive Edition, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, and more. Food for thought, perhaps.