The Nintendo Switch has had the best launch year of any console in history. Though many will point to the Dreamcast’s Soulcalibur, Sonic Adventure, Crazy Taxi, Marvel vs. Capcom, Power Stone and more as being a superior run of games across a 365 day time period, the Switch has not only boasted two solid Game of the Year contenders in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but has also sold a brand new hardware concept to the mass market.
2017 has been such an exemplary year for video games that it can be easy to overlook just how much of an impact the Nintendo Switch has made in such a short period of time. Whereas the Wii U was trying to find its footing throughout the entirety of its life cycle, the Switch confidently inserted itself into this console generation and provided gamers with something completely different, setting itself apart from its peers and finally giving us a reason to purchase multi-platform games on a Nintendo console.
While other consoles may have seen the release of one or two classic games throughout the duration of their launch year, Nintendo has carved a completely new path that finally breaks the cycle of home consoles striving (and inevitably failing) to match PC-level graphics and performance. While Sony and Microsoft may continue to go back in forth when it comes to their consoles’ power for the foreseeable future, the Nintendo Switch offers something completely different — the ability to play Skyrim while sitting on a bus.
What has surprised me the most about the Nintendo Switch is how its trailers depicting players making use of its various functionalities is actually pretty true to life. While its Handheld and TV modes have their obvious uses, I wasn’t expecting to switch to its Tabletop mode as frequently as I have. However, being able to utilize the two Joy-Cons as individual controllers and its small screen as a portable display is surprisingly handy, and after playing a few rounds of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in split-screen while on a train journey with my girlfriend, I realized that I was basically living out a more low-rent version of Nintendo’s marketing campaign.
After the Switch, I don’t want Nintendo to return to the drawing board again like they did following the Gamecube, Wii and Wii U. I want there to always be a home/handheld console hybrid on the market, because Nintendo have nailed the Switch so well that it’s now unimaginable to not be able to play home console caliber games while on the go. The Switch has actively changed what I want out of my video games, all within the same year of its release.
But even outside of Nintendo redefining our expectations for game hardware, the console’s launch year has also been home to some of the very best games in recent memory. Not only are Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey two of the best games of the year, they’re two of the best Nintendo games period, and are both in contention for the best release of their respective franchises. Outside of these two excellent titles the Switch also saw the release of Splatoon 2, a superb re-release in the form of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and surprisingly fantastic oddities such as ARMs and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. When you add Skyrim, Rocket League and Doom into the mix, the Switch truly offered something for everyone in 2017.
Often a new console launch will see the release of one good game, followed by a period of silence before it begins to pick up steam as the new hardware is established. On the other hand, the Nintendo Switch has boasted a number of excellent games throughout its launch year, while simultaneously introducing a brand new console concept to a wide audience. As such, it’s the greatest and most impressive console launch to date — hopefully Nintendo can continue this momentum throughout 2018.