Nintendo didn’t quite hit the bar it set in 2017, but that was a really high bar.
2017 was a hard act to follow for Nintendo. The Switch’s launch last year was accompanied by some of the best Mario and Zelda games each of their respective series has seen, as well as the fantastic Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. So it’s not too surprising that Nintendo had trouble hitting that bar again in 2018, but that’s not to say it’s had a bad year overall.
In the special episode of NVC at the top of the page, we broke down the highs and lows of Nintendo’s 2018, and you can keep reading to see some of the biggest highlights from the year.
Nintendo’s Biggest 2018 Exclusives
The Switch’s first-party line-up took a while to get going this year, with Kirby Star Allies being Nintendo’s only notable new release in the first half of the year. Games like Mario Tennis Aces and Super Mario Party didn’t arrive until 2018 was half done and were enjoyable enough, but just not on the same level as most 2017 exclusives.
But once the end of the year came around, Nintendo finished strong with Pokemon Let’s Go and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The return of Smash was a thrilling joy, and Let’s Go was well loved despite being a simplified semi-spinoff from the regular Pokemon games.
Nintendo also launched the cardboard Labo toy sets this year. They didn’t make an enormous splash, but still offered a glimpse of an excitingly different way to play the Switch that could be explored more in the future.
Outside of first-party titles, Octopath traveler provided fans with a new and expansive JRPG on the Switch earlier in the year. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate also gave Switch fans their own Monster Hunter game will the other consoles are playing Monster Hunter World.
A Tidal Wave of Third-Party Support
Speaking of other developers, 2018 solidified the Switch as the system of choice for indie games. Older classics like Darkest Dungeon, Undertale, Firewatch, and an uncountable amount more were ported over, with many newer indies like Celeste, Into the Breach, and Dead Cells arriving closer to their global launches. The library is ever expanding and insanely impressive.
Larger developers are getting on board with more Switch ports as well. Civilization 6 made its way over to Switch this year, along with Diablo 3, Dark Souls Remastered, and Fortnite – the last of which has apparently been downloaded onto half of all sold Switch systems.
Looking forward, it was even revealed that Mortal Kombat 11 would be coming to Switch in 2019.
Nintendo Online Service Launches
After a year and a half of waiting, the Switch finally got its official online service, but it isn’t quite as robust as people were hoping. It includes a fairly limited and slowly expanding library of NES games to play, but it’s otherwise just a price tag on something that was previously free.
Certain games like Warframe and Fortnite have also proven in 2018 that it’s possible to ignore Nintendo’s convoluted mobile voice app, and it’s encouraging that people might not be forced to use it for every single online game coming to Switch in the future.
Following the release of the online service, IGN even did an updated review of the Switch in 2018. It’s come a long way this year, even if it’s still missing features like a Netflix app, an internet browser, and the ability to customize the home screen.
A lot more happened for Nintendo than just this, so be sure to watch the video at the top of the page to hear our longer thoughts. You can also always catch us talking about the Switch on Nintendo Voice Chat, our weekly Nintendo show, which airs Thursdays at 3 p.m. PT.
Tom Marks is IGN’s PC Editor and pie maker. You can follow him on Twitter.