The Days of Whining and Re-releases, or: One Year on from Zelda: 30+ Switch Games I’m Slightly Interested In!
I was disappointed with the Nintendo Switch when I first got it: as a portable it’s great, but as a home console and successor to the feature-rich Wii U, it seemed like a step backwards in so many ways. Besides that, most of the big games for it in the months following its release, seemed to be full-price re-releases of stuff I’d already played, including a good portion of Nintendo’s own Wii U library, and people were lapping it up as if they never knew the Wii U existed. Breath of the Wild was a good launch title (although a bit overrated IMO), but after that game, which I finished one year ago this month, I didn’t buy another Switch game until Mario Odyssey came out. Mario Odyssey though, I loved without reservation.
I should say that I don’t have as much time for videogames as I used to, the Switch is my only console this generation, and for a substantial majority of the last year, I’ve been away from home, and from my Switch, either for work or travel. Well, this year I’ve been compelled to try and get into videogames again, and I bought three more Switch games in March: Axiom Verge: Multiverse Edition, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+, and Rocket League: Collector’s Edition.
There’s a common thread between all three of these games: they’re all slightly older indie hits (which I’d never played before) by Western developers, being re-released in physical, ‘ultimate’ editions at the relatively “budget” price of CAD $40. And while I didn’t particularly love any of these games (I couldn’t get into Isaac; Rocket League is brilliant with friends, but pointless solo; and Axiom Verge, which I finished, was decent but nothing special IMO), I’ve found myself obsessively researching the Switch’s considerable library for more such games that may be worth a shot.
And the Switch’s library is considerable! In just over a year, it has, if Wikipedia is to be believed, amassed a library of over 1000 games, compared to only 700 or so in the Wii U’s entire lifetime; the Switch, like the Wii before it, has a huge library, with so many potential gems falling below the radar. The Wii was my favourite console ever for this reason, but whereas I loved the Wii’s library for all the unsung mid-level Japanese games, the Switch seems to be saturating with even smaller games from mostly Western developers, and as someone who prefers more original/ambitious/strange games like Fragile Dreams or Muscle March on the Wii to the more technically polished, challenge-based, retro-style platformers and the like which are abundant on the Switch, I’m finding it even harder to weed out which games I might actually like.
Further complicating things for me is the emergence of the limited edition market, where any successful indie game seems liable to get a physical edition released months after the eShop release. The assumption seems to be that fans will just buy the same game for the same system twice. But as someone who loves physical media (and I’m especially fond of the little Switch cases and cartridges), doesn’t want to fill up space unnecessarily on my Switch, and would prefer to buy my games only once, this has just made me afraid to buy eShop games. I won’t buy a game digitally if I think it’s going get a physical release later! Absolutely the most interesting game on the eShop to me right now is Golf Story, but I won’t buy it, because a Limited Run edition was hinted at. Without any definitive confirmation that it’s coming though, what can I do? Wait for it and whine about it not being released, or bite the bullet and buy it digitally, then whine about it when it finally is released… On the flipside of this, a game I might only be slightly interested in, or on the fence about, I’m much more likely to pick up if there’s a reasonably-priced physical version, especially if it’s a limited edition, that I’m pressured to buy before it’s gone. It’s sort of a strange time for physical media, where big games are being released, frustratingly, digital-only, but at the same time, thanks to the collector’s market, small games that never would have gotten physical releases a few years ago, are.
What do you think of it all, dear, hypothetical readers?!
Anyways, I’ve compiled a list of some 30+ Switch games both upcoming and already out, beyond the five I own, that I’m at least slightly interested in playing. In order from most interested to least… I probably won’t end up buying most of these, but feel free to recommend any you think I’d really like!
Black Bird (TBA 2018, Digital Only)
Yoshiro Kimura is like, my favourite videogame developer. Little King’s Story is, IMO, one of the best games ever made, but its financial failure has compelled Kimura to pursue smaller projects, under the banner of his new indie studio Onion Games. Onion Games is amazing. They released two iOS games, both wholly original, charming, and highly polished. Brave Yamada-Kun is a genuinely incredible RPG – like, the best iOS game ever – and Million Onion Hotel is an endlessly addictive arcade-y time-waster. When I heard they were making a Switch game, I got so excited! Day one. I don’t even need to know what the game actually is.
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes (TBA 2018, Digital Only)
Suda51 is writing and directing again, for the first time since the original No More Heroes. I’ve played nearly all Grasshopper’s games since then, and liked most of them a lot, but they can’t live up to No More Heroes or Killer7, games which left me thinking Goichi Suda was the coolest man alive. The fact he’s back on the helm for this one has me hopeful for a return to form, my excitement tampered only by the news that Robin Atkin Downes was not offered to reprise his role as Travis (!!!) and that the game might not get a physical release.
Golf Story (Out Now, Digital Only)
This is the kind of novel and charming premise that obviously appeals to me in a videogame: an Earthbound(?)-style 2D RPG, with golf instead of combat. I obviously want this game.
Super Smash Bros. (TBA 2018, Physical Copy)
I sort of expect this game to be a rerelease of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, with just enough new content to bill it as a sequel, similar to Splatoon 2. But in the case of Smash Bros… of course I’m still going to buy it!
Owlboy (May 29, Physical Copy)
Out of all the indie platformers garnering critical acclaim on the Switch – and Owlboy is near the very top of the pile in terms of critical acclaim – Owlboy is maybe the most appealing to me. Its world and art style has a very, almost Zelda-like charm. I jumped on this right away when the physical version went up for pre-order.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (July 13, Physical Copy)
As much as I’m not excited by Nintendo re-releasing its entire Wii U library… when it’s a Wii U title I missed out on the first time around, that’s a different story! After Super Mario 3D World, I felt I’d gotten enough of the Captain Toad levels and didn’t really need an entire game built around them, but now that some time has passed and this is being re-released… I think it might be a worthwhile game after all!
Minit (TBA 2018, Digital Only)
A lot of the games I decide I’m really interested in, I kind of make snap decisions about. I don’t even really know what Minit is. Something about one-minute long puzzles in a 2D Zelda-like game, or something. But I remember seeing it get some buzz when the PS4 version came out, and the art style, and aura of originality just instantly appealed to me.
Ōkami HD (August 9, Import)
Ōkami is like my favourite game ever, and when it was released as Ōkami HD for PS3, I thought, that version was just absolutely perfect. I was jealous when I saw the PS4 and Xbox One got physical releases of the HD version, and when the Switch version was announced, the lack of a physical release totally killed my interest in buying this game a third time. Well, like the PS3 version, it is getting a physical release in Japan, and this time around, I’m totally importing it (it better have the English language option)!
Thimbleweed Park (July, Physical Copy)
A Twin Peaks-y point-and-click adventure game by genre pioneer Ron Gilbert? I’m interested. That this game turned out to be the first Switch title released by Limited Run Games… I jumped on it right away.
Stardew Valley (Out Now, Digital Only)
As someone who adored the original Harvest Moon on SNES, I’ve been really keen to play this. I’ve only put it off until now because, one: I’m reluctant to get addicted to another farming sim I could sink hundreds of hours into, and two: since PS4 and Xbox One did, I’m still holding out hope the Switch will get physical copies of this game.
Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition (TBA 2018, Physical Copy)
I read this was filmed by the cinematographer of Forrest Gump. I guess that makes this the Forrest Gump of classic videogames. At any rate, the game looks like a laugh, and a unique piece of gaming history, which is getting a Limited Run release this summer. I’m down.
Steamworld Dig 2 (June 19, Physical Copy)
I kind of dig the premise, of shovelling your way deeper into the world and bringing what you collected back up to the surface to sell… or whatever you do in this game… At any rate, this is another amongst the most highly acclaimed indie Switch platformers, which I’ll have to give a go, now that it’s getting a physical release.
Sine Mora Ex (Out Now, Physical Copy)
I found this bullet-hell shoot-em-up game too hard for me when I bought it on my brother’s Xbox 360 back in the day. But given that it’s a Grasshopper game, and given that it now has a physical release, and given that this updated version apparently contains an easier difficulty setting, and given that it’s priced at CAD $30 – $10 cheaper than any other Switch game I've seen – I’m going to have to pick this up soon, and give this weird Hungarian-dialogued game another chance.
Night in the Woods (Out Now, Digital Only)
This looks like the kind of indie game that’s more my kind of thing – a charming adventure game. With some dark humour maybe? I don’t really know what this game is actually. But it’s apparently really good. I’ll definitely buy it if it gets a physical release…
Firewatch (TBA 2018, Digital Only)
I love the visuals. Looks really interesting. Another game that wasn’t on my radar at all until I heard a maybe-false rumour of a limited physical release.
Doom (Out Now, Physical Copy)
The lack of price parity between the Switch versions of games and other consoles can be hard to swallow. I’d like to play Doom, but I refuse to buy it while it’s three times the price of the PS4 and 360 versions, even if the Switch version does have 100x better cover art.
Celeste (Out Now, Digital Only)
Celeste is #3 on Metacritic’s list of the best-reviewed Switch games, right after Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey. And while it sounds to me, gameplay-wise like just another ultra-challenging 2D pixel-art indie platformer… I’d like to see what the hype is about… maybe when it gets its inevitable(?) physical release?
The World Ends With You: Final Remix (TBA 2018, Physical Copy)
I remember this game being pretty popular back in the day on the DS. It seems like a pretty fresh JRPG, but I don’t know too much about it… Is it really long? Grind-y? Turn-based combat-y? Should I play it?
VA-11 HALL-A (TBA 2019, Digital Only)
A cyperpunk-visual-novel-bartender-simulator? I think the more it sounds like you’re just stringing random words together when you try to lock down the genre of a game… the more I’m interested!
Hollow Knight (TBA 2018, Digital Only)
I’m not really into metroidvanias, but this one has a really good art style, and got a 10/10 from Destructoid, so… If it gets a physical release…
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (Out Now, Digital Only)
Another annoyingly-highly acclaimed Switch 2D indie game… Maybe this is actually better than some of the ones I ranked higher?
Ikaruga (May 29, Digital Only)
This is like, a classic, right? I should play it?
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (Out Now, Digital Only)
I’ve been interested in trying the Shantae series since that DSi game I couldn’t play started winning DS GOTY on sites like IGN back in the day. Half-Genie Hero has a really attractive physical release from my favourite publisher of the Wii days, XSEED, but I hear Pirate’s Curse is the better game…
Mario Tennis Aces (June 22, Physical Release)
I really liked Mario Tennis back on N64, but this game will have to turn out pretty damn good to convince me I need Mario Tennis in my life again. It could happen. I heard the Wii U Mario Tennis was crap though.
Rime (Out Now, Physical Release)
This game seemed kind of neat, but then the Switch version got delayed, then when it finally did come out it was panned by critics for having all kinds of technical issues, and I sort of lost interest. But maybe, since it was patched, it’s worthwhile now?
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (Out Now, Physical Release)
It seems like an original and polished 1st party game. I should try it. Maybe. Ugh. I don’t want to pay full price for this.
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido (June 8, Physical Release)
I think I like the title of this game more than what I’ve seen of the actual gameplay. Guess I’ll wait for reviews…
Taiko no Tatsujin (July 19, Import)
I was kind of tempted to import this, with the drum controller, for a crazy Japanese-arcade fun-times experience. Until I saw the drum controller was not even bundled with the game, and still cost like 8000 yen.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 (October 16, Physical Release)
I played the demo of Valkyria Chronicles 1, back in the day. It seemed alright.
Yoshi (TBA 2018, Physical Release)
I’m still more interested in playing the gorgeous-looking Woolly World, which I skipped on Wii U, but maybe this game will turn out to be more fun?
Disgaea 1 Complete (TBA 2018, Physical Release)
Disgaea’s a pretty big series, and if I’m ever going to try to delve into it, an updated re-release of the first game seems like the place to start. I don’t know. Is it a lot like Fire Emblem/Advance Wars? Because I’m not into those… Is it kind of crazy and charming? Or just anime trope-y and filled with creepily sexualized children?
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (August 28, Physical Release)
I’ve been interested in this game since it was a Japan-only 3DS game called Monster Hunter Cross, the commercials for which played constantly on the subway while I was in Tokyo, and featured a spiky-red-haired Japanese teenager dramatically crossing his arms in the X-shape of the logo… But now it sort of feels like a consolation prize for Monster Hunter World, and with Nintendo soon charging for online, I probably won’t bother with this, as much as I loved 3U.
Well… This has been a ridiculously long blog that nobody will read. I guess I just really wanted to write about video games for the first time in, like, a year…
P.S. I talked way too much in this blog about physical copies. Maybe I just need to embrace the digital future... :o