Nintendo is on the brink of greatness once again
Back in the days when I used to work for a living before I became a bearded and bloated hack, people would ask me about everything and anything Nintendo. More often than not they would ask me to suggest to them what titles would appeal to them, should they pick up a Nintendo Switch, Regardless of their gaming habits I would always suggest two titles. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Oddysey. I would suggest these title, simply because they are the two best titles on the system and flawless examples of Nintendo hitting all the right notes. Whether I knew them as COD coddlers, FIFA fanatics or APEX addicts these two top-tier titles would always accommodate a commendation. After the fact, I would offer up a 3rd opinion based upon their personal interests.
Despite my own lack of vocation (and with it socialisation) I feel that were I to be asked this same question right now, the answer would remain the same. I struggle to see any other title on the Nintendo Switch that, at the time of writing, is a must-experience, genre defining game. Don’t get me wrong, there are A LOT of very good titles on the conglomorative console; Luigi’s Mansion 3, Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 to name but three, providing majestic moments a plenty, weaving charm and charisma into the overall cromulence of the game’s package in abundance. But are they games that will be considered greats aeons from now? Likely, it seems unlikely.
Why did the elephant cross the road? To get out of the room after his presence was addressed.
Obviously, Animal Crossing is a different beast entirely. The timing of its release; as countries the world over went into varying levels of Lockdowns, offered people something that they couldn’t get in the real world. Connection. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is an important title, perhaps in the grand scheme of things the most important title on the system but is it a great title? No. Not by a long shot. Important, yes! But Trump was an important man, at least that’s how he’ll appear in the pages of history.
What else released in the last year? Paper Mario. Not even a good game. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. A good game, but despite it’s affluent license, very much a niche title. Xenoblade Chronicles? A great game… on the Wii. A very good game on Nintendo Switch. Pikmin 3? Again, a great game… on the Wii U.
Scrap the last two titles, ports don’t count. That said, let’s make like Nike and just do it. And by it, I mean break down every single unique title that has been Nintendo (and select partners) have developed and published soley on the Nintendo Switch. Oh, well, except Breath of the Wild as that was released in tandem on the Wii U and Switch.
One list to rule the all
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – GREAT, GOAT, GOTY. EVERY YEAR!!
- 1,2 Switch – Should be the Switch’s Astro Playrooms
- ARMS – Good, but shallow and ran out of LEGS
- Splatton 2 – The DLC is godlike, but why didn’t they call in Spla2n?
- Super Mario Odyssey – A special, truly GREAT game
- SnipperClips Plus – Very, very, very good
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2 – With the godlike Torna DLC, sooooo close to greatness
- Kirby’s Star Allies – Cromulent
- LABO – Honourable Mention
- Sushi Strikers: Way of Sushido – good, not great
- Mario Tennis Aces – An improvement on its predecessor, but no Virtua Tennis
- Super Mario Party – Ain’t no party like a Super Mario Party ‘cos a Super Mario Party don’t have ONLINE!!
- Pokemon Let’s Go – The best Pokemon games on the Nintendo Switch, but not truly great, just more nostalgic
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – As my Mrs. oft says to me, almost!
- Fitness Boxing – A solid fitness option, but mot a great game
- Yoshi’s Crafted World – As good a game as it is, my ears have never recovered from the soundtrack
- Super Mario Maker 2 – I mean, it has slopes. But no amibo support, which as an I have lots of amiibo kinda guy, is a crying shame
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 – As the world was caught up in Avengers fever, MUA3 failed to prove quite so infectious
- Fire Emblem: Three House – Again, close but a little niche and just a shade to weeby for my liking to be a god-tier title
- Tetris 99 – I’ve got 99 problems, but ranking this on Switch ain’t one!
- Astral Chain – If you don’t love me now, you will never love me again.
- Daemon X Machina – More like – Daemon X MEH-ina – Be honest, who else thought that this was a Cel-shaded XCX sequel when it was revealed?
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening – Do I include this? I feel I should as it was built from the ground up, admittedly for 3DS… Regardless, that frame rate is unacceptable for a Nintendo title
- Ring Fit Adventure – A bangarang of a title that successfully merges fitness and RPG elements.
- Luigi’s Mansion 3 – A very, very, very, very, very, very good game. So. Close.
- Pokemon Sword and Shield – An average title that decided to charge you for its endgame content. Not cool
- Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training for Nintendo Switch – A snappy title. Some nice ideas. Execution sometimes found wanting
- Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX – A 7/10 title if ever I saw one.
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons – A good game that was released at the most perfect time imaginable to resonate resolutely
- 51 Worldwide Games – A different game for every week of the year. And then a week off to mess around with the synth and keys!
- Paper Mario: The Oragami King – Why did they allow this battle system into the final version of the game?
- Super Mario 3D All-Stars – 3 classic Mario titles, given sweet FA care and love. The menu alone looks like it was made by an intern, realising the night before it was due that he hadn’t done his work-from-home-work.
- Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit – Mario Kart, IRL. Good, wholesome family fun.
- Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity – Good game. Good game. In fairness, despite the gameplay genre, any excuse to revisit that Hyrule and flesh out the lore was always going to be a winner.
- Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm and Excercise – Much like Fitness Boxing, only newer.
- Buddy Mission Bond – The name’s Bond! When are you being localised in the West Bond.
So there we have it. That’s a mighty impressive list packed with a slew of high-end gaming experiences. But only two truly great games.
Super Smash Bros. comes close; the sheer amount of content elevating it towards the upper echelons of gaming greatness, only falling short due to its lacklustre single-player campaign.
Bowser is furious!
Now, moving on to the recently released Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. While SM3DW is a highly competent, infectiously enjoyable title that, due to the Wii U’s much-maligned sales, shifted less than six million units, it is a port and so can’t make the list. Bowser’s Fury though – the all-new content – is unique and robust enough to warrant a voice in the conversation. What Nintendo EAD has done with the latest round of port-justification DLC is nigh on perfect. It’s refreshingly refined, to the point of hubristic and its sandbox approach leaves a lot to be admired, and perhaps more importantly, desired moving forward to whatever Nintendo release as the next all-new Mario title. Make no mistake, Bowser’s Fury is a result of the Odyssey design team experimenting with new ideas and being given the creative freedom to implement them in a boxed-in game world.
To aim criticism at Bowser’s Fury, well, it would be remiss to mention how the game grows a little stale and repetitive as it reaches its climax. The foreplay leading up to the initial completion was a heady mix of wonderment and dread; as you explored the sandbox, unlocking new secrets tucked away and hidden beneath the malice-like substance. All of which could be intersected at a moments notice, as the rain sweeps in from the left and Furious Bowser awakens.
Unfortunately, by the game’s end, the sense of intrigue feels like a distant memory and the entire experience goes from euphoric exploration to point and click adventure, as the game decides to bestow upon thee a list of each Shine’s location and a fast-travel system between lighthouses. It’s a crying shame as the back-end of Bowser’s Fury tarnishes what remains – in the first half of the game – as a truly oofy Mario offering, one that perhaps provides the most juxtaposition since that offered by Super Mario Bros. 2, in comparison to Super Mario Bros.
While it may never have been considered gaming greatness – a gift from the gaming gods – even if it had remained engaging to the last, it sure came close and in the opinion of this self-deprecating scribe, it shows that Nintendo might just have another truly great title on the horizon in the next iteration of Mario’s 3D adventures. Will it be a sequel to Odyssey, the third iteration of Galaxy, or something new entirely? Only Nintendo really know but if it adopts some of the bold design choices utilised in Bowser’s Fury and expands upon them exponentially, to borrow from the PlayStation marketing playbook – GREATNESS AWAITS.