After our hands-on session with the Nintendo Switch over the weekend, we've already covered how we felt about the hardware, but only just touched on the other, equally-important piece of the puzzle – the games. Nintendo and its third party partners have detailed a few of the titles we can expect over the system's first year. Here's New Atlas' round-up of those we're most looking forward to.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
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Due March 3 (launch day)
We won't go into too much detail, considering we gushed about this one in our look at the most anticipated games of 2017, but we'd be remiss not to mention it here. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the centerpiece of the Switch's modest launch lineup, and it looks meaty enough to keep players well-fed for months.
Nintendo is calling it the biggest Zelda game to date, with an open world full of dungeons and temples to explore in whatever order you want. Crafting and survival elements add a new angle to the usual adventuring, meaning you'll need to rug up in warm clothes before scaling the chilly mountain peaks, and find better weapons to help take down the bigger, meaner enemies.
The game looks gorgeous to boot, and playing console-quality Zelda on the go is pretty damn exciting.
Due March 3 (launch day)
The Switch's answer to Wii Sports, 1-2-Switch is a series of minigames that show off the new hardware's capabilities, in particular the much-improved haptic feedback system that Nintendo calls HD Rumble. Single players won't get much out of it, but it might help turn around an awkward party.
Quick Draw and Samurai Training both have players staring each other down waiting for their cue to strike. Table Tennis updates the Wii Sports classic, while Milk pits players against each other to see who's better at the decidedly odd task of miming the milking of a cow.
We tried a few of the minigames, and while they are fun, there's not much meat on those bones. As bundled-in software it would be fine, but the fact that Nintendo wants to charge us for a full game is a bit of a slap in the face. It doesn't seem worth the price of admission when you'll be left craving something more substantial.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Due April 28
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a weird beast. It's a big franchise to have so close to a console's launch, but almost three years after the Wii U entry, why not just make a brand new one? And does this mean there won't be a Mario Kart 9 on the Switch, or will it be the first console in Nintendo history to host two games in the series?
However it pans out, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a generous package. It brings across all of the base game's content, including the DLC packs, totalling 36 characters and a whopping 48 tracks. On top of that, there are five new characters – King Boo, Dry Bones, Bowser Jr, and the two Inkling Kids from Splatoon – and a couple of new items and vehicles. Racers can now arm themselves with two items at once, a la Mario Kart: Double Dash, and for the kids and grandmas who spend all their time falling off the track, a new option can turn on invisible bumpers to keep you on the straight and narrow.
But perhaps the game's best feature is in fixing up one of Mario Kart 8's worst parts. The bafflingly bad battle mode, which had players driving around in circles on the standard racing tracks, has been revamped into what it should've been all along: hectic item-hurling on purpose-built, non-linear courses.
When Splatoon made an appearance in the Switch reveal video back in October, we suspected it was just an enhanced version of the original game, but now Nintendo has revealed it to be a fully-fledged sequel.
The game continues the frenzy of the first, which pitted two teams of four players against each other in a turf war to cover the most ground in their team's color. Splatoon 2 throws in new weapons, like dual-wieldable paint pistols, and adds local multiplayer options, either in split-screen mode or by connecting several Switches together.
Like its predecessor, Nintendo has said that Splatoon 2 will receive ongoing updates and new content after launch.
Due (Northern hemisphere) Spring
A new offering from Nintendo, Arms builds on the basics of Punch Out, in a one-on-one fighting game that has players biffing it out with spring-loaded boxing gloves. Players take a stance with a Joy-Con in each hand, and launch punches with quick jabs of their own fists. The character is moved around the arena by tilting the controllers left or right, and you can block incoming attacks by crossing your hands over each other.
Yes, it's a motion-controlled game, but after playing a few matches, we found it works well. The Joy-Con are responsive, the gestures aren't overblown and the system can easily recognize the difference between a punch and a dodge. It's a fairly simple game to learn, but there seems to be an underlying layer of trick shots and strategy to pick up; a subtle flick of the wrist left or right during a punch can send your fist flying on a curved path, and one that your opponent might dodge straight into.
Super Mario Odyssey
Due Holiday 2017
While we were a little disappointed to learn that Mario's next outing is still so far away, it makes sense for Nintendo to hold off and save the biggest of the big guns for the all-important holiday period. And Super Mario Odyssey definitely looks worth the wait.
Where the most recent 3D platformers – Super Mario 3D World and the Galaxy series – were built on fairly linear levels, Odyssey harks back to Mario's very first forays into the third dimension, dropping the iconic plumber into open sandbox worlds like those in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine.
This time, Mario ventures beyond the familiar vistas of the Mushroom Kingdom to different outside worlds, including a version of New York City deep in the Uncanny Valley, a Day of the Dead-adorned village, and a giant spooky-looking forest. For some reason Mario's hat now has a life of its own too, and you can throw it to reach higher ground.
The best of the rest
Those are the big pillars of Nintendo's first year for the Switch, and there's a chance that more will be revealed later, but there's also a smattering of other games coming from indie teams and third parties that look worth checking out.
Joining the thin launch day lineup is Super Bomberman R, which looks like little more than a visually-overhauled version of the basic Bomberman formula. Not that there's anything wrong with that – the series is as pure as an arcade game can get, and the simplicity lends itself well to both the Joy-Con and the party game nature of the Switch.
Sonic Mania finally acknowledges that Sonic the Hedgehog games haven't been good for nigh on 20 years, and not only takes the Blue Blur back to his 2D glory days, but does so with an art style that emulates the classic Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) look.
Snipperclips is an adorable papercraft-styled puzzle-platformer, tasking two to four players with cutting each other's characters into different shapes, in order to complete various puzzles.
Those are our picks, but we'd love to hear which Switch games you're most looking forward to.
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