“Too many games” season is officially upon us. I’ve been spending more time than usual looking at the video game release calendar lately and marveling at how many of them I’ll be playing on Switch. It’s rarely a bad (or normal) time to be a Nintendo fan, but fall 2021 is shaping up to be a lot better than I had initially expected.
From the outset, 2021 was projected to be a tough year for video games. With the pandemic still underway, the accompanying long-term complications of game developers working from home suggested this year would be defined by delays, not big releases. There’s certainly been plenty of delays, from Diablo Immortal to Horizon Forbidden West. Nintendo seemed especially hard hit earlier in the year. For much of the spring and most of the summer, my Switch collected dust, at least outside of the occasional throwdown in Pokémon Unite. But the recent Nintendo Direct showcase tells me Switch owners will no longer see their devices collecting dust.
Here are some of the exclusives coming to Nintendo’s handheld hybrid over the next three months:
- Metroid Dread - October 8
- Mario Party Superstars - October 29
- Shin Megami Tensei V - November 12
- Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl - November 19
- Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp - December 3
It’s a decent and diverse lineup, especially since most had already written this year off due to the lack of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2. But with games like WarioWare: Get It Together! and Eastward rounding out summer 2021 and with promising updates for existing top Nintendo franchises, things are looking optimistic. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is set to get its last DLC character shortly, ending a three year saga. A sizable update containing new characters and courses just came to to Mario Golf Super Rush. And in November, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is finally getting Brewster, a beloved barista pigeon that fans have been begging for since release. Vince McMahon meme intensifies.
Then there are the multiplayer games which, while available on multiple platforms, I’ll still play on Switch. Portability means these anticipated games can be taken anywhere: Actraiser Renaissance (great so far!), Castlevania Advance Collection (haven’t tried it yet), and Disco Elysium: The Final Cut (can’t wait). If I’m lucky, I will eventually get around to Deltarune: Chapter 2. Perhaps there will even be time for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. In light of the recently announced remake and December accidentally turning into Star Wars month, it feels like now is the correct time to return to it (while holding it in my hands and lying down on the couch).
Usually, Nintendo seems to have one big game to hang its hat on and distract from the more powerful boxes that can play everything else you might be interested in. This fall, the company doesn’t have an all-star playmaker. Instead it has a deep bench, with something new happening almost every other week, alongside new games to scratch every weird itch.
Multiplayer party game? Check. Survival shooter? Check. Dense JRPG about school kids? Check. A big, possibly overpriced hit of Game Boy Advance nostalgia? Check. And Pokémon, because there must always be Pokémon, but after taking 2020 off the time feels ripe to dive back into remastered versions of two of the series’ best games.
None of this is to discount everything else that’s coming out. The PS5 just got an expansion for one of 2019’s best games in the form of Death Stranding Director’s Cut, but there’s stuff beyond big-budget releases, too. There’s indie console exclusives like JETT: The Far Shore (Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP folks) and Solar Ash (Hyperlight Drifter folks), both of which will soon let you platform through moody sci-fi futures. Big third-party games not coming to Switch include Far Cry 6, Battlefield 2042, and Call of Duty: Vanguard, though I have complicated thoughts on these for many complicated reasons. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy will be on Switch, but, well, we’ll see. Switch ports of beefy blockbusters have a way of being technically impressive while still suboptimal to play. And of course, the year would not be complete without Halo: Infinite in December.
Not a bad list for the other two consoles. Taken together, you might be able to argue it’s on par with or just ahead of the Switch’s hyped lineup. While we can’t know how these games will actually pan out, given what we’ve seen so far of Metroid, Pokémon, and the first Shin Megami Tensei game on a console since the PS2, the Switch seems set to have a worthwhile end to 2021 after all.