Despite solid releases like Bowser’s Fury, New Pokémon Snap, and Monster Hunter Rise, not to mention a new Switch model, I don’t think many would call 2021 a standout year for Nintendo. To be fair, the same can be said for most companies, thanks to pandemic-related speed bumps forcing delays and adversely affecting development. Thankfully, and somewhat amazingly, 2022 looks to be the hard opposite. Yesterday’s Nintendo Direct solidified that next year offers a bevy of reasons to be excited about owning a Switch with several high-profile first and third-party exclusives waiting in the wings. The company’s also managed to generate a ton of excitement around it as a whole.
Case in point, here’s a list of confirmed Switch exclusives coming next year. 2022 kicks off with a bang with the January launch of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, which offers the first truly open-world Pokémon title. The much-anticipated Bayonetta 3 finally releases next year and looks great. Kirby and the Forgotten Land drops the beloved pink ball in a fully 3D open world. Splatoon 3 offers new twists to Nintendo’s popular multiplayer series.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is the sequel to Ubisoft’s surprisingly good crossover strategy game. On a similar note, Triangle Strategy offers a more serious tactics game from the makers of Octopath Traveler. Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is an enormous expansion to one of the best-selling Switch games of 2021. Of course, the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, one of the most celebrated games ever made, serves as the year’s headliner. That’s a murderers’ row of software any publisher would be proud to brag about.
Those games should look mighty fine on a Switch OLED, which will have been out in the wild and gives Nintendo new hardware to print money with. It remains to be seen how well this minimally upgraded Switch performs (it launches October 8), but initial pre-orders sold out in a hurry. And let’s be honest: it’s a Switch, a platform that has consistently sold gangbusters regardless of the model. The OLED will likely spend 2022 continuing that trend as many existing Switch owners concoct excuses (or dip into those tax refunds) to upgrade to a brighter screen in preparation for the next big release.
It goes beyond just gaming and hardware. Illumination’s animated Mario film premieres next December, and I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a big hit. For one, it’s Mario; he’s the Mickey Mouse of video games and beloved by generations of fans, hardcore gamers or otherwise. An animated movie by the studio behind the wildly successful Despicable Me and Minions franchises? That film rake in the dough regardless of its quality, though we know Illumination isn’t skimping on talent. Nintendo just revealed its all-star cast featuring the likes of Chris Pratt (Mario), Charlie Day (Luigi) and Jack Black (Boswer) among others. Mario will likely resonate with kids, their parents who grew up with Mario in some form or fashion, and yes, even the hardcore skeptics shaking their heads at this part of the article. Much like Sonic the Hedgehog before it, I suspect jaded fans will initially refuse to see it before curiosity or nostalgia has them buying a ticket .
What’s most exciting is that this is only the confirmed news. Nintendo has a penchant for pulling surprise announcements out of its butt – remember when they revealed Paper Mario: The Oragami King with no hints whatsoever of its existence and launched it a few months later? Metroid Prime 4 is still out there, as is the hope of that rumored Prime Collection. Maybe we get a new Mario platformer to coincide with the film. Nintendo can be the trickiest company to predict, making it one of the most exciting to follow. We don’t know what surprises it has in store, but I’m excited to find out. I haven’t fired up my Switch this year as often as I would have liked, but with that line-up and more, it’s hard not to be pumped about the House of Mario next year.